Editor’s Note: Service to School is a 501c(3) non-profit that provides free mentorship and assistance to Veterans returning to school. While it is not a VA educational program, we strive to provide you with as much information about outside partnerships and resources as possible.
Veterans are often outsiders to the college system. Many are unaware of options, and even those who are aware do not know how to prepare a winning application. Take one recent example: a young Sgt. Saamon Legoski, who was considering his options when leaving the military. He did okay in high school but not well enough to win admission to any great schools. The natural choice for him was to go to community college. After several community college semesters, he considered other options and had nearly settled on finishing his degree at a for-profit institution.
Like many veterans, Sgt. Legoski didn’t know that many for-profit schools take advantage of those who served. Students who attend for-profit institutions are more likely to be unemployed, have higher debt, are more likely to default on that debt, and over an entire career are paid less than those who attend public or non-profit colleges. Fortunately for Saamon, more informed individuals intervened. But had they not, Sgt. Legoski would likely be worse off than he had been before joining the Army. And he wouldn’t be at Stanford. He is now a Service to School leader, helping other enlisted veterans gain admission into top undergrad institutions.
Service to School is a 501c(3) non-profit founded by veterans and admission experts to provide veterans with free mentorship and assistance to tackle one disproportionately critical transition step: college admissions. The hundreds of thousands of servicemembers that leave the military every year face difficult transition challenges, often, with minimal support. Service to School (S2S) is the only non-profit focused specifically on helping veterans get into the best school possible, and they are prepared to support any veteran applying to a non-profit institution of higher education.
S2S helps veterans win admission to the very best graduate or undergraduate institution possible. S2S was founded by Gus Giacoman, Tim Hsia, Khalil Tawil, and Anna Ivey — three combat veterans and a former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School. All three veterans earned their way into the nation’s top graduate programs and experienced first-hand the difficulties of navigating the admissions process. Anna Ivey has worked pro bono with hundreds of veteran applicants. S2S was born after the group compared notes about the unique challenges confronting military applicants, and realized that there was a wide chasm that many veterans had to cross by themselves. They realized they could fix this broken process by institutionalizing lessons learned from their own experience and creating an organization that could pass off these learnings to their fellow veterans.
S2S’s “pay it forward” model is simple and scalable:
- An applicant signs up on the website and is linked to a Veteran Ambassador. The Ambassador is a fellow veteran who has successfully gained admission to school—either on their own or through S2S.
- The Ambassador provides personalized, free admission services using the TRAIN methodology. TRAIN encompasses everything a veteran needs to address to be successful in the admissions process. TRAIN stands for: Test prep, Resume review, Application and essay review, Interview prep, and Networking assistance. To help with Test Prep, S2S has to partnered with several groups–such as Veritas Prep and AJ Tutoring–that offer test prep scholarships and resources. For application, essay, and resume review, the ambassador reviews and provides feedback on the transitioning veteran’s essays – S2S also provides a database of successful resumes and essay tips that other veterans have used.
- The ambassador conducts 1-2 mock interviews for veterans applying to schools that require an interview. Throughout the whole process, S2S helps the applicant network with veterans at their target schools. In addition to the TRAIN methodology, S2S has MBA, JD, and Undergraduate guidebooks that contain all of the best practices, tactics, techniques, and procedures our applicants have gained from years of experience.
- After a transitioning veteran wins admission, they are asked to become a veteran ambassador and help at least one transitioning veteran applicant a year, thus paying it forward, deepening their own network, and further serving their nation by helping their transitioning brothers and sisters in arms.
S2S is proud to partner with several organizations who perfectly complement the college application and preparation process, such as The Warrior Scholar Project, The Pat Tillman Foundation, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. S2S has also partnered with top schools such as Yale, Amherst, Dartmouth, and Claremont Graduate University to share best practices around veteran recruitment and admissions. Lastly, the organization works closely with the Marines’ Leader Scholar Program, led by Beth Morgan. The LSP is the only active duty organization dedicated to helping Marines win admission to top undergraduate institutions.
S2S exists to serve our nation’s veterans and to make sure that the Post 9/11 GI Bill is as effective – and as transformative – as the original GI Bill was for the Greatest Generation. To do this, S2S helps veterans win admission to the very best undergraduate or graduate institution possible. To learn more, sign up or visit us at www.service2school.org
Gus Giacoman is a co-founder and co-leader of Service to School. Gus completed his undergraduate degree and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry from the US Military Academy at West Point. As an officer in the US Army he served as a platoon leader, an executive officer, and an operations officer. In these roles he focused on a variety of projects, from analyzing human terrain in Sadr City, Iraq to negotiating training objectives with members of the Georgian Land Forces in Tbilisi, Georgia. He is an alum of the New York University Stern School of Business and works at the management consultancy Strategy&, where he works with the world’s top businesses, governments, and institutions to create essential advantage and outpace competitors.