How do colleges base admissions decisions if a student has been out of school for a period of time?

EDIT: I am in the US.

High school ends for me in May, and like many of my peers I have plans for college. The dilemma, however, is that I’m not sure this is what I want to do immediatley following high school. It isnt that I cannot get in to college - my test scores are superb, and I’ve scored in the 90th percentile, which is really very high. My grades arent the best, though, because I’m lazy. This is why I’m considering the military. My initial plans were to go through college with a technical major and join the navy. After going through officer training school, I would be an officer, blah blah blah. This seemed like a pretty good idea, but college is expensive and I’m just not sure it is what I want to do yet, so I have recently considered enlisting when I get out of high school, carrying out a 4 year commitment, and going to school on the the money the government will give me after that. HOWEVER:

How would a college base admittance after I’ve been out of high school for four years? I have already been accepted to the schools that I’ve applied to. Would that make any difference?
What would be different about college after the four years out of school? Like, would it make any difference on courses I was required to take?

I’m just really confused, and nervous. It is like my life up to this point has been leading to what I do this May, and I have no idea what I’m going to do.

Perhaps you can talk to the colleges you are interested in attending and ask their admissions folks what the impact of going into the service would be for you. I don’t see how it could work against you, but I don’t really know.

For the record, I just enrolled in community college 11 years after I first dropped out and had no problems. I also vote on favor of talking with the admissions offices to get their policies on acceptance.

I think colleges generally like older students, as they tend to be more mature and focused. You will probably have to take the SATs again, and they will look at your work record, test scores and a bit less at your high school transcript.

That said, there are a couple of considerations.

Life has a way of happening, and there is a more than significant chance that somewhere in the four years you will have the chance to go down a path (by having a kid, or whatever) that doesn’t lead to college. It gets harder to make room for education the older you get. So you have to account for that and know how you are going to handle some of these choices.

Another is that you will be in a different place socially than the other students. It can be strange to be in a room of 18 and 19 year olds yapping it up, while you have had adult responsibilities and matured in a way that makes it tough to be a part of the “normal” college scene. That may be perfectly fine with you. But for some people this will make a difference.

These are not dealbreakers or reasons to not to go through with your plan. It’s more of a reminder that putting college off is as active of a choice as choosing to go to college now. There may be good reasons to put it off (if you think you don’t have the discipline to get good grades, for example,) but choosing to coast through life can’t be done without any consequences. At some point you have to start making choices, or else life will start making them for you.

I’m in college after four years in the military. I fuckered around in high school so I’m having to go to community college to bring my grades up. When I apply for transfer I have to usually have around 24 credits and they’ll look exclusively at my cc grades. If I had less than 24 credits I have to submit my high school grades, SAT scores, etc.
If you go into the military knowing you’re getting out in four years college is doable. Don’t get a girl knocked up. But, the odds are after four years you’re going to want to stay in. And if you do get out you’ll want to go back.

You also wont want to get in the dorms as a freshman. You may not see it right now, but as 22 you’ll realize just how idiotic and annoying 18 year olds are, you’ll not want to have to live with that.

I have been looking into the transfer requirements for UCONN. They say that if you complete 12 credits of college courses, you are considered a transfer student. HOWEVER, they also say this,

“Students with less than two years of college are evaluated on the basis of high school and college work; i.e., high school average and class rank, SAT or ACT scores, quality of academic courses, and college performance to date.”

So, what they look at has nothing to do with time, and everything to do with credits.

Now, this is probably different for every school out there. The community college needed my high school transcripts but I seriously doubt anyone gets rejected for their grades. My sister applied to her local community college and they didn’t just want proof of her GED, they wanted her scores as well and it’s been over 15 years since she took the test.

Basically, they’re probably going to look at the most recent grades you have. If you decide to go into the military, see if you can rack up some college classes before you get out. If you get enough credits, they probably wont look at high school. Also, they will probably give credit for some of the courses you have to take in the military. I have had a bunch of active duty military classmates in my online classes.

Oh, and the UCONN website has a whole section on special stuff for veterans. I bet most colleges do.

RandMcnally is right. Don’t be surprised if you realize in 4 years that you want to slap a good portion of the 18-year-olds in your dorm. It’s not unheard of for older students to live in dorms. Hell, when my boyfriend was in college, one of his roommates was an almost-30 veteran. But, your tolerance for your roommates may be a lot lower than it would be right out of high school.
If you’re thinking about the military anyway, is it too late to look into ROTC? That will give you the discipline you’re looking for while allowing you to go to college right away.

Another option - call up the schools you’ve already been accepted to and see if you can defer enrollment until you get out of the military.

When my mother applied to graduate school, she had been way from “college” life for 15 years or so. They wanted all original undergrad transcripts. I can’t remember if they asked for high school or not. So yes, it apparently mattered, but then so does a lot of other things. It’s also different because a LOT of people return for a Master’s degree years or even decades after leaving their last class.

Community colleges are great (I went to one and then transferred). They are easy to get into (my local one doesn’t (or didn’t, I haven’t checked lately) TECHNICALLY require even a High School diploma or GED, it only required that one show that they could benefit from enrollment, pretty much meaning that you need to show that you can read and write, do basic math, and have study skills that are good enough that you won’t fail every class.)

Many four-year universities take Associate’s Degree (what you can get from a Community College) holders nearly automatically as Bachelor’s degree candidates. I think I heard somewhere that FSU is REQUIRED to accept anyone with an Associate’s degree from a Florida Community College. My 4-year alma mater even waived almost all General Education credit requirments for anyone holding an AS or AA, regardless of whether or not the Associate’s degree had the specific required general education credits.

Massachusetts community colleges and state universities (they were mostly colleges until 10/2010 - then they became universities) participate in MassTransfer.

Basically if you graduate from any MA community college with the minimum required GPA (2.5), you are guaranteed acceptance into any MA state university and there is a limit to how many classes they are allowed to not accept (I think it’s 2).

I think CT might have a similar arrangement. Unfortunately, I’m trying to go from a MA community college to a CT university so there are no guarantees for me (which is why I panic every time I get anything lower than an A-).

The problem with Mass Transfer is that while you’re guaranteed admission, some of the benefits (reduced tuition for one) are only applicable for certain programs at each school. In my case, my liberal arts degree from my CC doesn’t give me any MassTransfer benefits other than guaranteed acceptance, unless I drive 75 minutes or more each way - because I would be majoring in Biology. That is much too far away for me, especially since Biology is only a weak description of what I want to do. Since UCONN is closer and Pathobiology is the absolute perfect major for me, I’ll only be using Mass Transfer if UCONN tells me to take a hike.

I see a lot about community colleges on here, and I’m wondering if it would differ at a university. I have been accepted to some pretty good schools, and simply wonder if it would differ there. I’m going to take the advice of talking to the schools.

thanks for all of the input

The main difference is that community colleges (the ones I’ve looked into at least) don’t typically care about the grades and 4-year schools do.

Talking to each school is definitely the best course of action though because they may all be different.

If you are worried about cost but want to become an officer, why not look into ROTC? From what I understand, they pay for your schooling as long as you fulfill your commitment after you graduate. If you flake out, they send you a bill.

I recently took a one year sabbatical to go back to college and do some work in a field that I’m interested in and have even worked in but in which I had no previous formal training.

They were asking for the usual: recommendations from two previous teachers, grades transcripts…

I pointed out that I’d last been in school 17 years prior; some of my old teachers are retired, others have retired six feet under. The school was perfectly happy to take recommendation letters from coworkers and a notarized copy of my last diploma (I was going to grad school, you’d be going undergrad); no detailed transcripts needed.
Whether you end up going into the military now or later (you do seem to be interested in it for its own sake), or ROTC, or any of the other options being presented to you, there will be procedures in place for “unusual students” (which are more and more usual every day, less than 50% of the students in that course were coming straight into the program) - and if the school has somehow managed to not have one in place yet, they’ll invent it. If I was an admissions officer and I had someone coming in from the military I’d be much more interested in seeing their service record (which would have information on training received during service) than some completely outdated high school reports.

The new Post 9/11 GI Bill is fantastic. Monthly you will receive the BAH rate (Basic Allowance for Housing) at the E-5 with dependents rate based upon the zip code of your college. Find your BAH rates here at this website. Don’t worry about the certificate errors, that is common with military websites. Enter your future school’s zip code, choose E-5 and it will give you the BAH rates for single and with dependents.

The new GI Bill also pays $1,000 per year for books.

The tuition bill from your college goes straight to the VA, bypassing you. The payment is between them.

36 months of active duty service gets you 100% of the GI Bill benefits. It is almost like earning your way to a full ride scholarship. The full details are here:

You’ve gotten acceptances from good schools now, with your “not the best” grades. So I take it that you’re worried that four years out of school will count as a negative, and if you re-apply again later you won’t get accepted to good schools. Right?

Being out of school that long can be a negative or a positive in admissions, all depending on what you do with yourself. If you graduate high school and then continue to live with your parents while fucking around with part time jobs so you can still act like a dumb kid, yeah, that’s not going to look good on your application. But if you enlist, and come out with a good service record (perhaps with a letter of recomendation from a CO?), that should only help out your application. Time out of school won’t hurt as long as you’ve done something productive.

I can recount my brother’s experience, although it was in the mid-60s. After four years in the Air Force, he applied to Penn State. He took the SATs and did very well, in the top quintile at any rate. They told him that if his HS class quintile added to his SAT quintile came to at most 6 he would be admitted to at least a branch campus. Since 5 + 1 = 6, he scraped in and did go for two years to a branch campus before going to the main campus.

But the bottom line is: it all depends. Talk to the college.