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AAR: From the Marines to an MBA/MPP at Stanford and Harvard

david leeAfter coming to the conclusion that I wanted to transition off of active duty and go to graduate school, I did some preliminary research on resources for veterans’ transition and stumbled onto Service to School’s page. I filled out the contact form and was put in touch with an ambassador who helped me tweak my resume and essays for my target schools over the course of the application season.

S2S was especially helpful when it came time to gather information on the culture and fit of different schools. S2S served as a one-stop shop not just for admissions advice and mentorship, but also for leveraging the veteran network and reaching out to veterans at various programs throughout the country. While many MBA applicants from traditional business backgrounds have the benefit of mentorship from their supervisors who have their own MBAs and have been through the application process, most service members lack that benefit and have to typically navigate their own way—figuring out on their own how to properly coach recommenders, tweaking essays, and learning to translate resumes into something that admissions officers can appreciate. S2S provided these tools that were necessary to successfully navigate the transition back into the classroom.

Equally importantly, S2S also provided a community of driven veterans who are eager to give back and make an impact on the veteran community and society at large through lives of continued service in various sectors of society. For today’s generation of veterans who typically quietly and individually dissipate back into the general population, it was encouraging to know that a welcoming veteran community existed on “the outside.”

After a long application season, I was admitted to my target schools and will be pursuing an MBA/MPP at Stanford and Harvard, respectively. My many thanks to S2S for bridging the gap and providing an avenue for veterans to successfully make the jump and enabling today’s generation of veterans to live lives of further impact and service.

David Lee commissioned through the NROTC program at the University of Michigan and graduated with degrees in Political Science and History. As a second lieutenant, he was stationed in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii with 1st Battalion, 12th Marines where he served as a platoon commander, the assistant operations officer, and the operations officer. David is currently serving with 3rd ANGLICO as a firepower controller and will be pursuing his MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and his MPP at Harvard Kennedy School.

My Test Prep Journey to a 710 on the GMAT

The Veritas Prep program allowed me to reach my GMAT goals and re-learn all of the quantitative skills that I had forgotten over the past several years. I am an Army veteran, six years out of college, and Veritas Prep was the perfect program to teach me the skills I needed to succeed on the GMAT. I am thankful for the quality of the curriculum, and also very appreciative of the generous scholarship from Veritas Prep through the Service to School organization. Throughout the self-study lessons, I could always count on the on-demand videos to deliver engaging, thoughtful content and guide me through the lesson of the day. I particularly enjoyed Brian’s humorous references (the “alge, brah” joke stands out): The human element to the videos definitely helped me to remember many topics and leverage them on test day.

My goal was a score over 700, and I knew that I needed a structured, high-quality program to help me to get a top 10% score. After looking at several programs, Veritas Prep stood out as the one that would work for me. On day one of the program, I was contacted by Colleen Hill, who told me how to get started and offered her time for any questions I had throughout the course. I have to admit, I did not expect an actual person to contact me; it was a pleasant surprise! Upon receiving my materials in the mail and logging on to check out the online resources, I was again impressed by the quality of the materials. I found that I was more and more excited to begin the course. With everything organized and a thirty-day plan ahead of me, I began the course.

The curriculum was demanding, as I worked through it over a thirty-day period, and well-balanced to where I didn’t feel that I was ever losing ground in either quant or verbal. While working through the lessons, I could also always take comfort in the fact that if I didn’t understand a specific question, I could use the online homework help as a resource. Homework was challenging, which was great, and I found the explanations covered anything that I had missed when it came to why the correct answer was right, and why the wrong answers looked tempting.

When my test day finally came, I felt confident. I felt that the Veritas Prep practice tests had provided a very accurate measure of the difficulty of questions that I faced. Throughout the test, I remembered the lessons, always looking for logical ways to answer the question and leveraging a mastery of the content. I felt calm and confident throughout the test, and when I finished I had a 710. I am ecstatic at that score, especially as it is my first attempt, and I can attribute it to nothing but the exceptional quality of the Veritas Prep curriculum.

For someone who is looking for high-quality, comprehensive preparation for the GMAT, Veritas Prep should definitely be their first choice. I want to give a sincere “thank you” to Colleen and the rest of the Veritas Prep organization; you have helped me get a head start on my journey towards an MBA.

Veritas Prep is a proud sponsor of Service to School.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? Check out Veritas Prep’s GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to find them on Facebook and Google+, and follow them on Twitter!

By US Army Captain Chuck Wood

AAR: From Army Infantry NCO to Wesleyan

Dennis White is a recently-transitioned Army Infantry NCO with three tours downrange under his well-worn reflective belt. Dennis is currently an ambassador with Service to School and a Posse Wesleyan Scholar.

I sat in the back of a HMMWV, shuttling troops back from a Fort Hood range with the commander and XO of what would be my last active duty unit. I was attempting to be quiet, sitting behind the driver, when the commander realized he had never spoken to me since I joined his troop. Not once. He turned around in his seat and gave me the routine he probably saw in a briefing somewhere: “Sergeant White, are you getting out? What are you plans? Are you a good student?” All in an overly patronizing tone. The final question seemed innocuous enough on the surface, but made my blood boil: “What school do you want to attend?”

I replied, “UT, sir.” The CO and XO looked at each other with sarcastic smirks. Both scoffed and looked back at me with a half-smiles, as if I were a child that said, “Gee golly, guys, I wanna be an astronaut!” Their expressions and attitudes infuriated me and, for a moment, made me question myself. However, I made a decision to dig deeper and redouble my efforts, perhaps even set my sights a little higher.

Earlier that year, I had made the decision to end my service and put together a hasty plan to pursue my dreams of higher education. More than anything, I wanted to attend the University of Texas at Austin. When I spoke to the admissions office, they promptly told me the quickest way to gain entry was to attend a local community college and transfer after accumulating enough credit hours. Sounds easy enough, right?

The answer is yes, but if you want to be competitive for more prestigious universities you have to get involved in the community in a meaningful way while maintaining respectable grades. Good places to start for me included volunteering for a political campaign, helping register people to vote, and tutoring other veterans. The other side of the equation was simple — work hard. I worked harder than I did in the military, this time without needing the First Sergeant driving me to get results. This was my choice, my decision.

Before I separated from the Army, I enrolled at Austin Community College and started the long process of working my ass off to get into UT. Along the way, some of my professors advised me to think bigger, to set my sights higher. So I started looking into Harvard, Yale, Amherst and other elite New England colleges. There’s no use in having goals if you don’t set them high enough, right?

Fortunately, I discovered two organizations that helped me chart my path and changed my life: Service to School and The Posse Foundation. Service to School is an incredible organization founded by absurdly ambitious and generous veteran alumni, aimed at helping our nation’s veterans navigate the complicated song and dance routine most of us come to know as the college application process. The Posse Foundation identifies high-performing public high school students who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes and forms them into groups — or posses— for accelerated leader development and education at premiere educational institutions.

My Service to School ambassador quickly assessed my strengths and weaknesses, and calmed my nerves with a frank discussion on the challenges of the application process at an extremely selective school. My grades were good, my test scores high, and my service record impeccable. But I still needed help — I reached out to an old Army buddy and a high school friend to help edit my application essays. The Posse Foundation channeled me through a rigorous application process that included an intense series of three interviews, concluding in New York City.

The acceptance call caught me on the train to the airport. It was a validation of the promise of my abilities and proof that my dreams were mine to achieve. I could not have accomplished what I did without help, a reminder that we are stronger together than we are alone. One phone call represented a long, rewarding journey from the backseat of a HMMWV on Fort Hood.

Today, our veterans have access to an unprecedented amount of help to fulfill their educational ambitions. The government provides educational benefits to an entirely new generation of veteran students. Top tier universities — including Yale, Amherst, Tulane, Georgetown and many more — are actively recruiting veterans to join their campuses. And organizations such as Service to School, the Posse Foundation, and the Warrior-Scholar Project provide assistance to veterans seeking admission to the nation’s elite educational institutions.

For many transitioning enlisted troops, the advice received is often negative or very limited in scope: Focus on community college, Think about a trade school, or Are you sure college is for you? Why should we allow anyone to tell us what we cannot do, rather than what we can do? Instead, I ignored those who scoffed or rolled their eyes. I leveraged a network of friends, peers, and veteran support organizations to gain admission to Wesleyan University, a far more selective school than anything I ever hoped to achieve.

I dared to dream.

Are “Military-Friendly” College Lists Really That Military-Friendly?

We just took a look at the 2015 Military Times “Best for Vets” college rankings, and we can’t help noticing that the top three colleges on their list have graduation rates of 42%, 39%, and 34% respectively — and that’s for the traditional, full-time student population! And those rates reflect graduation within a generous 6 years after starting at a 4-year program. Dismal.

That’s just one example of why we are skeptical of “veteran-friendly” or “military-friendly” college rankings.

You can do better. We are here to help.

Why You Should Apply to Become a Tillman Scholar

The Tillman Scholars program is an unparalleled opportunity for student veterans and spouses who care about continued service to use higher education as a launch pad for their career goals and to make positive change.

Every U.S. military veteran and spouse pursuing higher education should submit an application to become a Tillman Scholar. The application is currently open and will close at 11:59pm PT on March 3rd, 2015. If you’re a military veteran or spouse pursuing a bachelor’s or graduate degree next year and haven’t applied, please read on. Based on our first-hand experience, there are three important reasons why you should consider applying ASAP. We are fortunate, honored, and humbled to be part of the Tillman Scholars community.

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Here is why being a Tillman Scholar means so much to us:

1. Be a part of an enduring legacy

Pat Tillman was the quintessential Post-9/11 US military veteran. A deep thinker and leader on and off the football field, Pat sacrificed a lucrative NFL career and volunteered to join the military at a time of war. Pat was truly a selfless individual. Marie Tillman and the Tillman family have transformed their personal tragedy into something beautiful: an investment that will return dividends to come for generations of veterans and civilians. We are—and will forever remain—grateful for the support of the Pat Tillman Foundation.

2. Fellowship with an inspiring community

Once selected, Tillman Scholars participate in the annual Pat Tillman Leadership Summit. This intensive experience provides a space for veterans to share their perspective with, and learn from, the experiences of fellow Tillman Scholars as well as thought-provoking speakers. The Summit is humbling if not outright intimidating given how many remarkably accomplished veterans you will meet.

Worry not. If you’re at the Summit, you deserve your seat at the table. Your Tillman Scholar peers will be an essential resource as you work to continue your service during and after your degree. Case in point: Tim’s roommate at the 2012 Summit was Adrian Kinsella:

Adrian is a Marine Corps officer completing his studies at Berkeley’s Boalt Law School. This spring, Adrian will graduate and return to service as a uniformed lawyer in the Marine Corps. Importantly, Adrian’s service never stopped during his time at law school, and the Tillman community played a vital role in Adrian’s groundbreaking actions. In the past two years Adrian has led the charge to ensure that the United States does not forget Afghan interpreters who served valiantly and selflessly with U.S. Service Members. Understanding that our mission in Afghanistan went beyond drawn-up battle plans and bilateral Status of Forces Agreements, Adrian worked tirelessly to ensure that America did not betray the safety of his interpreter, Mohammad. But Adrian didn’t stop there. He made it a personal mission to ensure the safety for Mohammad’s entire family by advocating for their relocation from hiding in Afghanistan, to safe passage in the United States through a notoriously difficult and complicated Humanitarian Parole application. The mission is not over for Adrian. To this day, he continues to help Mohammad and his family transition to the United States. The Tillman community is behind him every step of the way.

You can learn more about Adrian here and here.

3. Enabling Continued Service

Servant Leadership is the ethos that animates Marie Tillman and the entire Pat Tillman Foundation. This leadership philosophy is the bedrock of the Leadership Summit and defines the Tillman community at large.

Case in point: At the same Leadership Summit where Tim met Adrian, he also met Jake Wood, the co-founder and CEO of Team Rubicon. At the Summit, Jake shared Team Rubicon’s important mission: to provide much needed disaster relief while giving veterans an opportunity to continue their service.

An underlying conversation about service is at the heart of every Leadership Summit, and Tillman Scholars continue the conversation well after their time in school. Query the leadership pages of the most effective organizations serving veterans’ interests, and you will undoubtedly find Tillman Scholars serving in key leadership roles.

We are co-founders of Service to School, an organization that provides free application assistance to veterans applying to undergraduate and graduate school programs. The Pat Tillman Foundation has been integral to the success of Service to School. Countless Tillman Scholars have selflessly volunteered and mentored veterans in need of application assistance. The PTF leadership has also helped to cultivate and expand S2S’s offerings, and this year we are proud to announce an official partnership between our organizations. Service to School would not be where it is today without the support of the greater Tillman community, and our leaders constantly seek to emulate PTF’s servant leadership mantra.

We’ve listed just three reasons why every veteran pursuing higher education should apply to become a Tillman Scholar. But we could write a novel about the incredibly impressive change agents we have met through the PTF community. We hope that you will seek out the same opportunities. Student veterans, position yourself for future success—please apply to become a Tillman Scholar.

Lastly, if you are a veteran and are looking to maximize your education benefits with free application assistance, then please sign up here.

Additionally, please read and share our free guidebooks detailing how to successfully apply to top undergraduate and MBA programs, and stay tuned for a S2S Veteran Law School Application Guide which we will be releasing shortly.

Tim Hsia (Tillman Scholar ’12) and Khalil Tawil (Tillman Scholar ’13) are former Army officers, and among the founders of Service to School, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans applying to college and graduate school. Service to School has recently partnered with the Tillman Foundation.

Atlantic Council Trains Veterans in Non-Profit Leadership

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A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have it’s thinking done by cowards, and it’s fighting done by fools.—Thucydides 

Soldiers love to bitch and moan, from the ever-present complaints about small inconveniences to how a major military or foreign policy decision is flat out stupid. Usually, though, this amounts to little more than an airing of grievances (in keeping with the finest tradition of Festivus) to contemporaries who have no more ability to change things than whoever is doing the whining at the moment.

As an infantryman on the line I was no different.  But I’m no longer there and, like the rest of us at Service to School, have realized that we are now able to begin having a say in things. Increasingly, other parts of our society are recognizing the growing role of GWOT veterans in our nation’s domestic and international political discourse. In light of this, the Atlantic Council recently welcomed its inaugural cohort of veteran fellows to their headquarters in Washington, DC for the Veterans Take Point Initiative, providing them with expert training and mentorship on how to become effective leaders in the foreign affairs and national security realms.  Fellows were also able to participate in discussion seminars with prominent foreign affairs leaders, meeting with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Cartwright, and Ambassador Jon Huntsman, who can be seen addressing fellows in the photo above.  The week concluded with fellows pitching their nonprofit before a panel of judges, with the winner receiving 25,000 in seed funding.  Three finalists were selected, including Service to School, Team Rubicon, and the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF), led by Ben Kohlmann, with DEF taking the money.  All of us at Service to School would like to extend our congratulations to Ben as well as our admiration for the work DEF is doing, and are honored to have been named as finalists alongside the very impressive DEF and Team Rubicon.

The Atlantic Council also recognizes the entrepreneurial bent of our generation of veterans, and the Take Point Initiative’s mission was to educate the veteran fellows not only on direct government service, with which we already have some experience, but also on how to effectively advance American interests through non-profit enterprises.

As a fellow representing Service to School, I can say that it was a truly incredible experience, from the invaluable information received on running a non-profit enterprise, to intimate meetings with foreign policy leaders, to hanging out with other young veterans doing incredible things, such as Team Rubicon’s Amanda Burke, The week concluded with fellows pitching their nonprofit to a panel of judges, with the winner receiving 25,000 in seed funding.  Three finalists were selected, including Service to School, Team Rubicon, and the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF), led by Ben Kohlmann, with DEF taking the money.  All of us at Service to School would like to extend our congratulations to Ben as well as our admiration for the work DEF is doing, and are honored to have been named as finalists alongside the very impressive DEF and Team Rubicon.

Perhaps most of all, the fellowship highlighted the fact that GWOT era veterans stand poised as a vanguard of leaders not in the distant, but the very near future.  The opportunities are there, and it is up to us to seize them. It’s been a rough decade for this country; few know this better than we do. Current events involving Daesh (aka ISIS, but they don’t like this name), Russia, and China’s rise, to say nothing of our domestic problems, will not be wished away. However, we must still obtain educations commensurate with such responsibilities, and this is where S2S comes in—facilitating the entry of veteran leaders into prestigious university programs.

If anyone can work to take our nation in a better direction tomorrow, we can. To paraphrase General Ulysses S. Grant’s comments to General Sherman during the Battle of Shiloh, we’ve had the devil’s own decade, but we can lick ‘em tomorrow.

Zachary McDonald was born in Chicago and left Illinois immediately after high school, having enlisted in the Army as an infantryman during his senior year. A recipient of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Purple Heart, Zach served in the Al Anbar province of Iraq and Khost province of Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division, and subsequently worked on the Army staff. Currently, he is a senior majoring in political science at Yale University and Service to School’s Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions.

AAR: From Naval Destroyers to Harvard Business School

Charlie Hymen photo (1)Congratulations! The fact that you’ve found this post indicates that you are on the right path towards gaining admission to the MBA program of your choice. In fact, I was navigating MBA blogs, websites, and consulting services just under a year ago myself when I learned about Service to School (S2S).

The good news for you is that you’ve stumbled upon a program that works. Period. In the fall of 2015, I will be attending Harvard Business School, and had it not been for S2S and the incredible service it provides transitioning veterans, I’m not sure I would be able to say that.

Each of us has unique goals and aspirations and is at varying degrees of readiness to start the MBA application process. The beauty of S2S is that your ambassador will help you navigate each and every step. Aside from reviewing my resume, suggesting different directions to take my essays, and helping me articulate my reason for pursuing an MBA – however nebulous that reason may have been in the first place – the most helpful thing my ambassador did for me was to connect me with a network of current veteran MBA students at the schools to which I planned to apply. I talked to at least three current students from each of these schools, and each told me all about their experiences with the application process, the culture at their schools, and what they wish they had known earlier in the game. Each email introduction that my ambassador made on my behalf was met with an almost instantaneous reply email from that particular veteran MBA student. The hardest part for me was keeping up with all of this correspondence, as I was shocked by how eager people were to talk and how selfless they were with their time. None of these phone calls would have happened without S2S.

One of my original concerns with using S2S was that each veteran would be trying to “sell” me on attending their particular MBA program. Looking back, nothing could have been further from reality. Each veteran wanted to help me achieve my personal goals and find the program that would be most compatible with my personal ambitions. The most important outcome – and S2S made this resoundingly clear – is that veterans find the path that is best for them. Not once did I ever feel as if I owed any allegiance to ambassadors at any particular school or to anyone who had served in a particular branch of the military. We are all truly one team, and I have never seen this ideal embraced to the degree that it is embraced across the board at S2S.

There is no doubt that the onus of MBA applications is on the applicant, and each veteran needs to do as much individual work and research as possible about MBA programs, GMAT study strategies, interview preparation, etc. However, S2S provides a rolodex of veteran MBA students who have successfully navigated the process themselves and have incredible insights and lessons to pass on. The ambassadors’ guidance and reassurance not only gave me invaluable knowledge but also provided me with the confidence to tackle the long and arduous journey of MBA applications from beginning to end. Whatever your misunderstandings, insecurities, or hesitations are, I can guarantee that someone (if not most) at S2S has felt the same thing and can ease your fears.

If I were to apply to MBA programs all over again, I wouldn’t waste any time before contacting S2S.

Charlie Hymen graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2009 with a B.S. in Economics. After earning his commission, he served on two destroyers and deployed to Southeast Asia and the Middle East before working at the Pentagon as a White House / Congressional Liaison Officer for the Secretary of the Navy. Charlie will pursue his MBA at Harvard Business School in the fall of 2015.

A Paratrooper’s Guide to the Liberal Arts

In the Italian city of Padua’s Piazza del Santo stands a statue created by the famed Donatello of an armed horseman, the Italian condottiero (mercenary) Erasmo da Narni, known as Gattamelata “the honeycat.” Renowned for his skill at arms, Gattamelata was the man to talk with if you were a mid-fifteenth century Italian potentate who needed to sack a rival city-state. But he was also known for his passion for the humanities, proving he was more than a man with a talent for dealing death.

I’ve never been to Padua, but recently learned of Gattamelata’s life in an art history course, certainly not the place I would expect to learn of a Renaissance era mercenary. Nor would I have expected an art history professor to speak of a condottieri commander and emphasize the fact that he was more than a military stereotype. What significance might this have for those of us in, or recently of, the profession of arms today?


As veterans returning to school, our college experience and what we take from it clearly differ from those of traditional students. Of course, we all seek a degree that will allow us to achieve our academic and career ambitions, but we can also use the time to segue back to civilian life, reflect on our time in service, make connections in the civilian world, or party on Uncle Sam’s dime. The choices are ours to make. I’ve also come to believe that college presents veterans with an overlooked but essential opportunity: to polish ourselves, from our dress and speech to our level of cultural sophistication.

If your immediate reaction is skepticism, hear me out. We should all be aware by now that succeeding in life, professionally and personally, is predicated on more than competence. No matter how skilled you may be, you will find more opportunities if you are also a personable, interesting individual. Your ideas might revolutionize the world, but they are unlikely to gain traction with anyone if you have the personality of a rock. By now, we realize that few people have any interest in hearing about “what it’s really like” or how to headspace and time a .50 cal, and I know that most of us would prefer to avoid discussing how closely Hurt Locker resembled our time overseas. Nor do the more specialized subjects, like finance or engineering, computer science or business strategy, make for the best happy hour talk with those who are not involved with those specializations. To lead fulfilling lives, we need to be able to engage with diverse groups of people, from professionals in other fields to attractive strangers when out on the town. Neither discussion of the Haqquani network nor barracks talk will do. Small talk gets your foot in the door, but what sort of topics might cast a flattering light upon you and add depth to the conversation? I would suggest the arts serve this purpose well, whether literature, philosophy, fine art or what have you.

As a young grunt, I enjoyed dipping Cope long cut and pounding Yuengling at Bragg as much as the next guy. But I’m not there anymore, and though I still enjoy lager from America’s oldest brewery on occasion, I’d prefer that my jaw not fall off and I’ve given up dip. And I can’t sling variations of the F bomb as wantonly these days. Strangely enough, some people find it offensive. So where does that leave a guy like me?

On a recent trip to Washington, DC for the Atlantic Council’s Veterans Take Point Initiative, I met former infantry NCO Jared Smith, recently of the esteemed 75th Ranger Regiment, and among our many discussions that week, we hit upon the topic of polish. What we do and know is paramount, but how can we avoid being one-dimensional and help grease the wheels of human interaction? We are both immensely proud of our service, fascinated by the world and the changing nature of conflict, but also want to be more than Zach the Paratrooper or Jared the Ranger turned-Defense-Wonk. Here we both agreed that a crucial element to leading a rich life, as well as lubricating the path to our personal and professional goals, was polish. While this includes being a well-dressed, suave cat, everyone is capable of reading GQ on his own. Ladies, I’m sure you can translate this into terms more relevant to yourselves, but the general sentiment stands. Besides looking polished, how else might we present ourselves well, be an entertaining guest and interesting conversation partner, to say nothing of enriching our own existences? Here, the liberal arts, whether literature or philosophy, history or fine art, shine.

College is a prime opportunity to explore these topics, and it is not necessary to be a tortured art student to do so. Nearly every undergraduate program will require a number of liberal arts courses, or they may be taken as electives. Having been a voracious reader since childhood, I’ve always enjoyed many of these subjects, but even if you are not keen to jump into Shakespeare, keep in mind that a little culture goes a long way, especially if you have a military background. We all know assumptions are made about us, and while we are held in high regard by many, it’s always amusing to see the reaction I get when people realize that I can discuss not only counterinsurgency, but a bit of Hemingway as well. I may not be a Gattamelata, but neither am I one-dimensional. And that helps in both professional and social situations.

short-happy-life-francis-macomberWe’ve worked, trained, traveled, and in some cases fought, granting us an air of personal gravitas not normally associated with those under age 35. Why not round that out with a dash of Renaissance Man? There’s no reason not to be all you can be, to resurrect the recruiting slogan I grew up with. To be a soldier is commendable, but to be an artist, warrior, and philosopher, in the words of Italian Renaissance artist and soldier Benvenuto Cellini, is singular. If you worry that might turn you into some sort of an effete, remember that there will be two former infantry sergeants, one from the 82nd and one from the 75th, who will be right there with you, as will the soft-minded hack Niccolò Machiavelli. Not to mention Jason Everman, who took Cellini’s advice to heart, and entered Army Special Operations following his time with Nirvana and Soundgarden. Take a spin through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or spend some time with the Stoic philosophy of Marcus Aurelius (the Gregory Hays translation of The Meditations is superb). If you’ve experienced ground combat firsthand, Hemingway’s story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” will surely resonate with you. Check the arts out. You’ll enrich your life, and your career and social life will be glad you did.

Zach McDonald was born in Chicago and left Illinois immediately after high school, having enlisted as an Army infantryman.  A recipient of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Purple Heart, Zach served in the Al Anbar province of Iraq and Khost province of Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division, and subsequently worked on the Army staff. Currently, he is a senior majoring in political science at Yale University. He is also Service to School’s Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions.

DeVry? No, Stanford

Like me, many of our brothers and sisters are returning from war to start their new lives and embark on their higher education. And that is great! This is where I am now:


But the reality is that predatory schools (for-profits) are still exploiting our uniformed men and women to make a quick buck. They leave our vets with MASSIVE debt, low job prospects, and a piece of paper (diploma) worth about as much as the paper it is printed on.

graphBut there’s something you can do about it.

Instead of Stanford, I almost ended up at the for-profit college DeVry. Back then, I didn’t think I could get into a good college and thought it was my only option. Luckily, someone I knew convinced me to endure community college for a little longer and try to transfer. If I had gone to DeVry, there would have been less than a 40% chance I would have graduated. I would have been in an even worse situation than before I joined the Army.

maya angelou

I joined a nonprofit called Service to School, and we’re a bunch of veterans and a top admissions consultant who help veterans get into the best college possible—for free. While there, along with Stanford’s own Reagan Odhner and a Yale veteran named Zach McDonald, I helped write a 50-page Undergraduate Admissions Guidebook specifically for veterans. We wrote it to show veterans:

1. The tricks for getting into a good college

2. How to put together a great admissions packet

2. To stay the **** away from for-profit colleges

In other words, this free guidebook is a one-stop shop for veterans who dream of attending a top university like the ones we’re at right now.

I need your help: share this guidebook with any veterans you know. You can download it here:

Thanks for your support.

Saamon Legoski

OEF 11-12

Platoon Sergeant | 113th Combat Stress Control

Psychology BA Candidate 2016 | Stanford University

AAR: Dallin Rosdahl (Army to HBS)

386441_801249063410_1468473150_nI found Service to School in early 2013. I was deployed to Afghanistan, and had been thinking about getting serious about separating from the Army to attend business school. I had known for a while that I would get out as I had always wanted to work in finance. But as I began to prepare for the GMAT, I realized that I really didn’t have a clue where I wanted to go, or how I could go from sitting in my CHU in Afghanistan to being a successful applicant.

Luckily, a good friend of mine from West Point reached out to offer his hand. He told me about Service to School and offered his help by being my S2S Ambassador. He had recently been accepted to HBS, and was excited to help me navigate the process.

I had purchased the GMAC study guides for the GMAT prior to my deployment, but my study really hadn’t gotten me anywhere. We quickly drew up a plan for me to take a prep class when I returned from my deployment. By the fall of 2013 I had successfully conquered the GMAT with an acceptable score, and we quickly moved on to school selection and networking. As I began creating my list of target schools my ambassador put me in touch with veteran students at each school through the S2S network. I cannot overemphasize how helpful this was in the process as I was quickly able to assess my fit with each program while gaining valuable insight into each school.

Over the next six months I visited each school that I was planning on applying to, every time being greeted by the various veterans clubs on campus that I had been put in touch with through S2S. With my list of schools in hand, I began my applications in the summer of 2014. I applied to four schools round one (HBS, Wharton, Booth, and Tuck) and Columbia Business School (rolling admission). My ambassador kept in check by providing constructive feedback to my essays while putting me in touch with veterans at each school that could provide additional feedback on everything from essays to my resume.

When interview invitations came out (I was invited to interview at all of the previously mentioned schools) the relationships that I had been able to build through my ambassador the year prior enabled me to conduct critically important mock interviews as I prepared for the different interview formats. After a stressful month of interviews and then admissions decisions, I am thrilled to report that I was admitted to Harvard Business School and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Having been accepted to my two “dream” schools I quickly withdrew my applications to Booth, Tuck, and Columbia. After carefully considering both options, I have decided to matriculate to HBS this coming fall.

I owe so much to Service to School; the holistic approach that my ambassador took in my admissions journey enabled me to take deliberate steps over the past two years that ultimately resulted in success. Thank you Service to School!

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