Back to School after several years (military)--help?

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philcheesesteak
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Back to School after several years (military)--help?

Postby philcheesesteak » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:10 am UTC

I attended the University of Maryland back in 2005, got poor grades due to slackoffishness, and joined the Marines (which I'd been thinking about all year anyway.) My major was Aerospace Engineering. I had very good high school grades.

After the Marines, I took some community college courses to refresh and go slightly beyond where I'd left off. I was interested and cared this time, so I have a 3.9 average over those courses. (I don't have an associate's, just several courses.)

My question is, what do I do when applying for full-time university now? Do I have to show them those old UMD grades, and how will this affect/screw me?
Any other advice for veteran admissions/transfers would be greatly appreciated.

gorcee
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Re: Back to School after several years (military)

Postby gorcee » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:24 am UTC

It's going to depend on the university. If you attempt to go back to Maryland, your old grades will almost certainly be part of your record.

In most cases, when you transfer, your old grades do not transfer with you. You can sometimes transfer over credits earned to eliminate some (typically low-level) requirements. Again, different universities have different policies. I know my school would not transfer over grades or GPA at all, and this probably had as much to do with the class system we used as much as any other factors. I've heard that in some states, the whole state university system is inter-connected, so if you transfer to a public school in state, your GPA does transfer with you. This is just rumor, though.

As far as admissions are concerned, they're going to look at your history in a positive light. They're going to look and see, "hm, he got crappy grades, kicked his life in gear, served, and is now taking things pretty seriously". So, old grades won't harm you much, I'd wager. It's more the things you've done in the interim period that matter. You can always play this fiddle in your admissions essays, don't forget.

Best thing to do is figure out where you want to go, call the admissions office, and ask to schedule a meeting with an admissions counselor, preferably over the phone. Nothing disclosed means nothing held against you should you apply; just mention the generalities of your case, and ask what their policies and procedures are.

philcheesesteak
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Re: Back to School after several years (military)--help?

Postby philcheesesteak » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:32 am UTC

Thanks for your thorough reply.

Tirian
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Re: Back to School after several years (military)

Postby Tirian » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:14 pm UTC

gorcee wrote:As far as admissions are concerned, they're going to look at your history in a positive light. They're going to look and see, "hm, he got crappy grades, kicked his life in gear, served, and is now taking things pretty seriously". So, old grades won't harm you much, I'd wager. It's more the things you've done in the interim period that matter. You can always play this fiddle in your admissions essays, don't forget.


That last sentence is so important that I would upgrade the verb. My attitude is that your essay is your primary opportunity to make an argument in support of your matriculation, and you do that best by summarizing your strengths and then answering all the major concerns that will strike them after reading the rest of your application. It can go even deeper than that -- you should also choose your letters of reference from a range of people who can defend your underlying thesis. You can't put exact words in people's mouths, but you could ask your CO to highlight an anecdote that demonstrates your discipline and tell your favorite community college professor what you told us and that you'd really like it to be clear that you're more engaged than the average student is now and was an asset to the classroom environment.

I don't do admissions myself, but I'm all but certain that they'd agree that you're a stronger candidate than you were the first time around, especially if you are upfront about it. You made some iffy decisions your first time around, but if not adjusting to freshman year was a crime there wouldn't be enough jail cells to hold everyone. What you did is to identify your problem behaviors and correct them, and that's powerful. Phone interview with admissions? You're a Marine! Walk into their office wearing a smart casual outfit and give them that glare you guys all have and tell them that you are dedicated to achieve the objectives of getting a degree. Yours will be the first application they accept.

If I were in your shoes, I'd definitely want to talk to some ROTC people at the school you like, because they might well be your social circle next year and some of them have been in your shoes. The transfer stuff is all strongly influenced by your individual school. I'm at a SUNY school and our policy is that you can transfer up to three classes worth of credits if you have acceptable grades in them. On the one hand, that shortens your time and uses less money, on the other hand you could take the classes over again and ace them easily which impacts your GPA. You'll work this stuff out with your advisor once you start planning your course of study. But like I suggested before, I would not be at all concerned that it would count against you.

philcheesesteak
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Re: Back to School after several years (military)--help?

Postby philcheesesteak » Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:48 pm UTC

Excellent, detailed advice. Thanks for the confidence.

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Re: Back to School after several years (military)--help?

Postby Bakemaster » Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:57 am UTC

I returned to school after a break of several years in much the same way that you have, and I was able to transfer easily from community college to university despite some poor grades from my first time around. Part of that had to do with being in a state with a very developed route for transfer between community colleges and public universities, but in my experience what other users are saying is also correct. You will have to submit transcripts for your earlier work, but you have what is called a "strong upward trend" in your academic achievement, and that's something schools absolutely love.

Here at the University of California, some courses from other institutions can be transferred in for credit up to a limit of roughly 2 full years' worth of classes. After that you get credit for having taken a subject, so you can continue to the next in a series for example, but no more credit toward graduation or unit totals. Your GPA from institutions outside the University of California is thrown out, though. It's different in different systems.
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