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Friday, December 1, 2017
Leveraging Military Experience in Graduate Admission Essays
Since its passage in 1944, the GI Bill has offered financial support to U.S. military members in their pursuit of higher education. In the years since, nearly every state has created tuition incentives in some form, which allow for whole or partial coverage of college and graduate school expenses for current and former service members. Despite these financial advantages, students with military backgrounds must play the admission game just as shrewdly as their competition. Which is why writing candidly about their service can help breathe critical life into their personal statements.
Military service has the potential to give applicants a vital edge in the application process. Values like discipline, responsibility and team unity are some of the philosophical cornerstones of the U.S. armed forces. Most service members join as teenagers so that, by the time they are applying to graduate school, they have garnered a richer and more diverse set of life experiences than their collegiate competition.
There are many reasons why a veteran may not want to write about their service. For some, it is too raw and personal. Others may be wary about broaching topics that could be deemed political in nature. And while a quality essay will avoid excessive military acronyms or unnecessary drama, it has the potential to be deeply persuasive. Whether a reader has military experience or not, the essay is likely to stand out. As with any essay, the most effective work will be that which is reasoned and sincere.
Though statistics on military service are notoriously difficult to pin down, it is estimated that less than one percent of the U.S. population is actively serving. Though the number of veterans is higher, it remains statistically distinctive, and small within the general population.
What gives most student-applicants the greatest anxiety is wondering how to best make themselves stand out in an application essay. For military members, this part of the battle is already won.
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