Marine Corps Veteran Joe Prive’s path to college was anything but traditional


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How did a Marine who enlisted right out of high school, with no college courses to his name, end up at Amherst College, one of the top ranked liberal arts colleges in the nation?

Like many who enlist out of high school, Joe’s education while in the military took him places he had never imagined. He was assigned to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, where he spent a year and a half learning Arabic. He then served as an intelligence specialist in Afghanistan, analyzing seemingly random bits of information gathered by forces in the field and producing reports which could be used by commanders in planning military operations and objectives.

“My grades in high school were less than impressive. My interests at that age were sports and not much else. So, initially, I had low expectations for how I would fare in college after I ended my service in the Marines.”

“However, I knew I needed to get started, so I took community college classes while I was on active duty. I found that there were several organizations, both inside and outside the military, that helped servicemembers plan and make the most of their educations.”

Joseph joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2008 and served 5 years as an intelligence analyst.

Joseph joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2008 and served 5 years as an intelligence analyst.

The Marine Leadership Scholar Program, and its director of Higher Education Initiatives, Beth Morgan, helped Joe identify colleges that would recognize his academic abilities based upon his performance in the military and community college, while viewing Joe’s high school record in the context of service and intellectual growth. Beth also helped with the application process, aiding Joe with the basics of the college search and explaining what a college like Amherst has to offer.

Joe is now using his GI Bill® at Amherst, studying political science and English. He is set to graduate later this year and plans to continue on to graduate school. The Post-9/11 GI Bill has helped open doors for Veterans like Joe who might otherwise have had to take out overwhelming student loans in order to attend private or out-of-state schools. The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays a capped amount for tuition and fees at private or out-of-state schools, as well as a housing allowance (when applicable) and a books and supplies stipend. With the help of the Yellow Ribbon Program, an agreement between VA and schools that offsets costs above the tuition cap, Joe and his fellow Amherst students are able to reduce their out of pocket costs while still being able to attend the school of their choice. The flexibility of the GI Bill has helped millions of Veterans pursue their educational dreams and make them a reality – whether that be at a private, in-state, out-of-state or vocational school.

Joe is giving back to those who are following in his footsteps by serving as an ambassador with Service2School.org. Service to School, a private non-profit organization founded by Veterans who have recently completed their service, seeks to assist Veterans in gaining admission to the best universities for which they are qualified.


Joe Prive is a Marine Corps Veteran who serves as a Service2School ambassador. The organization helped him get accepted to Amherst College where he is currently a student.

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