Virginia Wounded Warrior Program - Home of Virginia's Veterans and Their Family of Supporters

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Getting in

Each college has its own admissions application requirements, forms, fees, due dates, and acceptance procedures. It is important to keep track of this information since different colleges have different due dates for different forms with a college application checklist.
Like any application, it is important to look good on paper. Typically, college application packets  require a completed application, high school or college transcripts, college admissions test scores, a personal essay, references, and an application fee to be submitted by a particular due date. Make sure you proofread your application materials and have submitted all the required documents. Consider having a family member or friend review your application to make sure that all sections are completed since it is easy to miss or skip a section.

American Council on Education Military Registries

Former service members can receive college credit for their military experience and the relevant training they may have received during their career. These additional credits mean that the veteran may not have to take certain classes or may be allowed to take fewer classes toward a degree.  After veterans access their AARTS transcript (for Army) or SMART transcript (for Navy or Marines), the veteran can submit the transcripts to the college registrar or transfer center to be evaluated for the credits which might transfer. Air Force and Coast Guard veterans can request transcripts from their respective education services office.

Test Taking

SAT? ACT? These are acronyms from the world of college admissions. Most four year colleges request SAT or ACT scores when a student is applying as an undergraduate (seeking a bachelor’s degree).  Students have to register in advance to take the test. Some schools do not require that you take the SAT or ACT if you are over a certain age or have a specified number of college credits. Check each college’s requirements carefully.
If a school requires SAT or ACT scores, you can decide which test you want to take and which scores to submit to the college. Many students decide to take the test more than once, but this can become expensive.  For that reason, studying and practicing for the test, or taking a test preparation course, can prepare you for the day you have to sit down and actually take the exam.
For students who are applying to a community college, SAT and/or ACT tests are typically not required. Instead, a community college may ask to see your high school transcripts in order to measure your academic readiness. Community colleges use standardized placement tests to determine your placement in classes like math and English. Unlike the SAT and ACT, the school administers the placement test so students must apply to the college first. Before taking the placement tests, many students find it helpful to know what types of questions will be asked.
For students with disabilities who are taking placement tests, accommodations may be provided when a student shows documented need for an alternative test taking format. For instance, a pen and paper version of a computerized test might be provided or the test administrator may extend the time limit for students who take longer to process written information. These accommodations level the playing field for veterans who may have an injury which affects their test taking ability.  Veterans should start the process for receiving accommodations for the SAT and/or accommodations for the ACT at least two months before the desired date of the test.  Contact your college’s testing center or disability support services office to determine how to request accommodations for placement testing.

The Essay

Traditionally, colleges require an essay or personal statement so they can learn more about you and your written communication skills. Some colleges will ask you to write on a specific topic, or they will ask a series of questions for you to answer. Others will have a more open approach, allowing you to write on a specific topic of your choice. Your writing will reflect your organizational skills, your power of persuasion, and your general mastery of standard written English. For more information on writing a personal essay, visit the College Boards website
Some veterans elect to disclose their injury in their essay, especially when it has taught them an important skill or value, such as resourcefulness or resilience. You should carefully consider this decision, and talk with your family or mentor about including this information. If you decide to talk about your injury, focus on your strengths and what you have learned. Keep in mind that the college admissions application will NOT ask you about having a disability so, unless you tell them, the college will not know. Also, having a disability is not factored into your application review.
Share drafts of your essay with a mentor or friend for input. Remember: if you send the same essay to different colleges, make sure you use the correct college name in the essay. This mistake is common and made by many students applying for college, so remember to proofread your work!

Letters of Recommendation

Getting letters of recommendation requires some thought. Ask people who know you well and with whom you have had a positive experience to write a letter of recommendation. It can be your employer, military supervisor, counselor, religious leader, etc. Make sure that the persons writing the letter of recommendation for you know if you want them to refer to your injury in their letter. Again, this decision is a personal one; if you decide to include information about your injury, make sure that you demonstrate what you have accomplished.
Requesting letters of recommendation has some unwritten rules and expectations:
  • Always ask your references if they would be willing to give you a positive letter of recommendation for college admission.
  • Ask well in advance of your application deadlines (at least two weeks; or, if you are asking a counselor, mentor, or other professional, ask them how long they need to get a letter ready for you).
  • Give all of the information your references will need at one time — such as a stamped, addressed envelope; the recommendation form or information requested by the college; the program you are interested in studying; and also a summary paragraph of your activities related to the individual writing your recommendation, or a sample paragraph of qualities or traits that you feel you exhibit
  • Send your references a short thank-you note for their time and thoughtful consideration.
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