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Guide for enlisted soldiers & marines seeking to infiltrate gain admission to the University of California and other top universities

This is not some stupid meta guide that purports to help you choose a career path and determine the necessary educational requirements to get on it.  Nor is it a guide to getting the most out of your college education.  Because the truth is that you can get a good education from books, by dicking around on Wikipedia 8 hours a day for a couple years, or by attending most accredited colleges and universities in this country.  Rather, this is a practical, how-to guide for enlisted soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who are nearing the end of their enlistment, are emotionally and contractually ready to get out, but who have something to prove.

You've had enough with deployments, with training, with being dirty, and the mind-numbing stupidity of military life.  You're tired of saluting officers you don't respect, of course; but you're also tired of the attitude you get from civilians when you come home, and who assume you're an idiot, a victim of PTSD, and that you lack both creativity and imagination.  You're tired of meeting college girls at parties who assume you're dumb and closed-minded because, paradoxically, they're dumb and closed-minded and don't understand there are good and noble reasons for joining the military.  Reasons you perhaps no longer believe in, but whatever.  Maybe a high school friend who made a snide remark about the military -- and, well, let's just say that you can bitch about the military with the best bitches in your squad, but when someone from outside your family criticizes it, you know which side you're on.  

Nobody messes with my retarded brother.

Speaking of which, perhaps you've seen Annie Lennox's retarded brother, Julian Assange, misrepresent you as a "collateral murderer," after dishonestly editing some leaked helicopter gun tape, and you're angry about it.  Perhaps you're simultaneously angry that the officers and DOD civilians above you let this happen in the first place because they refused to act on a legitimate FOIA request, and afterward did nothing to protect you.    


What this is, is a shallow, mean-spirited way to get revenge on both the military and this vast, simpering group of civilian [email protected]#%ers at the same time.  You get to say [email protected]#$ you to the Army by taking its money for 36 semesters.  And you get to say [email protected]$ you to the civilian assholes who think they're better than you by beating them at their petty game of education pedigree and prestige.  It is a game I succeeded at, and that you can succeed at, too.


  • Previous college level credits -- not necessary
  • SAT score -- not necessary
  • Good high school grades -- not necessary.  
    • Don't believe me?  I had a 2.01 high school GPA and a 2.5 college GPA prior to joining the Army.  I was accepted at UCLA and UC Berkeley, though chose not to attend.
  • A fair amount of intelligence.  Let's say that you should have a GT score of 120 or above.

Step 1 -- Imagine yourself as a student in California:

  • Read this excellent piece over at This Ain't Hell.
  • Decide whether or not you wish to attend one of the University of California system schools as a transfer student.  If you do not, keep in mind that much of the advice in this post, particularly steps 2, 3, and 4, is specific to that system, so your mileage may vary.  Consider skipping to step 5.
  • If you do wish to attend the University of California, pay close attention to the specific advice in steps 2, 3, and 4. 

Step 2a -- If you ARE from California:

  • Look at your DD214 and verify that your Home of record is somewhere in Calilfornia.  
  • Verify that you have paid the appropriate amount of California income tax.
Step 2b -- If you ARE NOT from California:

  • Change your home of record to California.  
    • You should be able to do this through your Battalion S1 shop.
    • Do this at least one year prior to ETS'ing.  
    • Yes, this means you will pay California income tax for one year.  Suck it up.  Someone has to pay for all these massive public sector pensions.   
Step 3 -- Identify a Junior college or Community College that works for you.

  • The college should have good weather and good looking women.  Basically, find one close to the beach where they can't hide a jelly roll and armpit fur inside sweaters and baggy pants, and you should be good to go.  
  • Make sure you can find cheap housing near the college.  Craigslist is a good resource.  I had a great roommate but a good friend and study buddy, who had been a Marine, ended up sharing a room with a very hot porn star.  Sadly, the porn star had hygiene issues; now my friend only dates fat chicks who wash their dishes and carry those teeny bottles of hand sanitizer in their purses.
  • I had an outstanding experience at Orange Coast College.  Here is a link to their admissions requirements which are, I'll warrant, similar to those of most California JC's.  And once you've established yourself as a resident (See step 2) you can begin applying for financial aid.  Speaking of which, as a veteran, you will probably qualify because the financial aid department won't look at your parents tax return, only yours.  Either way, California JC's are very cheap...  
  • ... Here's a link to OCC's fee schedule.  Yes, you read that right.  $26 per unit.  If you take 15 units, that's 15 * $26 = $390 per semester.  Beat that, other states.  This is one area where California dominates.
Step 4 -- The IGETC is your friend.  

  • What is the IGETC?  It stands for Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum.  What that means in English is that everything you need to do, every scholastic hoop you need to jump through, is listed on the fine print of two sheets of paper.  It shows which specific courses qualify and how many from each department are necessary to fulfill the transfer requirements to either the University of California System (UC), or to the California State System (CSU). Basically the IGETC covers any state school, even the more prestigious ones -- UC Berkeley, UCLA, or Cal Poly SLO from the state school system.  
  • To see what an an IGETC list looks like for Orange Coast College, click this link.  
  • Many private universities, including Stanford, will accept classes from the IGETC list as well.
  • College counselors, specifically transfer counselors, are a mixed bag.  Be aware that while they aren't necessarily anti-military, they are often stupid and condescending.  Like most Californians, they've been conditioned to believe that you, as a veteran and member of the warrior class, are even dumber and more gullible than they.  They also just know you are a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Which, well, lets say that you may in fact suffer from PTSD; but you are not a PTSD victim.  You are a PTSD survivor.  F### them.  And F### anyone who thinks they can judge you or look down on you for your service.  
  • Speaking of dumb, don't worry.  You may think you're dumb, or are too ADD/ADHD to succeed at one of these institutions.  But you're probably not too dumb or ADD.  And even if you are just a little dumb like me, keep in mind you have a secret weapon that trumps your dumb-ness, and puts the smack down on your ADD.  Having this secret weapon like this is kind of like holding an M203 in your hands while the other guy is pointing a chocolate brown dildo at you, and is covered in Step 6.
Step 5 -- Choose your classes wisely:

  • Take easy classes.  Not because you're lazy but because easy classes don't exist.  Easy classes are just classes where you feel you're going to have an edge.  Good at English?  Load up on those easy English classes.  Good at social sciences?  Ditto.  Don't be going and taking a bunch of difficult math classes to prove a point to you or to your parents or to anyone else in the world unless you really like Math and are good at it.  There is of course one important caveat, which is...
  • ... If you know you want to be a doctor, like my hero Doc Russia, and know you'll have to take a certain number of very hard classes, or classes that you know you aren't going to be good at -- like Calculus or Physics and Organic Chemistry -- be sure to take them at the Junior College, and not at the 4 year school you transfer to.  Part of this is that the competition is a little weaker at JC's, but a more important part is that lower division classes at the fancy schools are bigger, and too often taught by graduate students from weak ass countries like Taiwan or France.  Seriously, a foreign graduate student with some [email protected]#ed up accent who can't communicate well in English -- and is probably stressed out enough already trying to figure out how to get her Ph.D -- will rarely be the equal of your Junior College instructors, and is not worth your time or your money.  
  • Bad at Math?  Figure out how to take a statistics class to fulfill your transfer requirements. Statistics uses pretty basic math, and will actually prove useful one day when, for example, one of your smug former high school friends stupidly observes that the military is over-represented by minorities, because of this country's inherent racism, and you'll be able to prove, statistically, that after 9/11 at least, the percentage of African Americans who have enlisted is the same as their percentage of population.   
  • Case in point:  If you read through the  Orange Coast College IGETC and compare it to the OCC Course Catalog, you'll see that just this one statistics class fulfills the math requirement for transfer to any of the UC or CSU schools.  See how easy it is?
  • Figure out what your hard classes will be, and then be sure to take all your hard classes during your last semester.  There's some advantage in being in school for a while before tackling the hard stuff, of course, but of potentially much more advantage to you is a significant loophole that few new students are aware of:  Most universities, including Berkeley & UCLA, will not get a chance to see your last quarter/semester of grades prior to making their decision to admit you.  For example, lets say that you enroll for Fall Semester 2011.  Your target school will see those grades.  They will also see your grades from Spring 2012, Summer 2012, and Fall 2012.  But Spring Semester 2013 doesn't finish until the middle of May, and admissions letters go out between March and May 10 of 2013.  Your targeted admissions department won't see your grades because they do not yet exist.  
  • Take as many classes that start at 8:00 am as you can.  The reason for this is that adults with jobs won't take these classes, and they're your most serious competition.  Which leaves a bunch of kids in these classes who are still asleep, and who you will use to lower the curve.  Because you'll be awake.  Heck, after the military, you'll be bright and shiny because you slept in way past your 6:30 formation and you have a nagging feeling like you're getting over.  Which is a good segue to Step 6, where you finally get to learn about your secret weapon. 

Step 6 -- Your secret, m203-like, weapon:

  • I don't care what your grades were like in high school.  I don't care what your grades were like in that quarter of JC you attended prior to getting kicked out and walking into the smarmy recruiter's office. That was then.  This is now.  And you have a secret weapon.  Remember all that crap about showing up five minutes prior to a formation?  Remember how annoying it was?  Inspections?  Doing pushups if you weren't five minutes early?  Turns out it wasn't all for naught.  You learned an important lesson.  The Army may have taken too long to teach you this lesson.  And it probably didn't teach you much else that you consider worthwhile.  But it did teach you this lesson, this secret weapon you now hold.  Which is that you now know how to show up.  Seriously, showing up is the single most important trait of successful people.  Show me someone who is successful, and I'll show you someone who showed the [email protected]$ up.  Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback? 6th round pick.  Took over from Bledsoe.  Dude showed up.  Check out his wife.  Remember how Giselle Bundchen used to date Leonardo DiCaprio?  Conversely, show me someone lying in a gutter in a pool of his own vomit and I'll show you a dead man without a [email protected]#%ing watch.  Or Leonardo DiCaprio.  
  • Knowing how to show up is an incredible advantage, one that very few people have, and you now own this advantage for the rest of your life.  You will be five minutes early to every class, coffee in hand.  Not because I'm telling you to be there early, and not because you're afraid of your Platoon Sergeant, and not because you're kissing your instructor's ass.  You'll do it but because you don't know how to do it any other way.  You've forgotten how to be late.  Similarly, you will know to stand up during class in order to stay awake, which, even though you may not be learning, most teachers will respect you for doing.  Just like you stood up to keep awake while listening to a bunch of nothing on the battalion net during radio watch. You will know to do your homework, and to study, when you'd rather be stoned and watching The Simpsons, or be having beers with your friends -- just like you learned to clean your weapon first, to wipe down your equipment second, to dry your socks third, and only then to take care of your personal hygiene and break open an MRE.  You don't have to believe me on this now, I know; but you'll see it when it happens.  And even if you're a cynic, you'll start to have a little bit of pride about what you've done in the military and who you are now.  Don't fight that shit.  Embrace it.  
  • You are a different version of yourself now.  A better version.  A veteran you.   
Step 7 -- Write a good essay:
  • Your application essay is important.  You are a different person now.  And the four year schools will likely understand this.  A bad scholastic record prior to the Army/Marine Corps may even help you.  We are all Americans -- even the pathetic world-class losers who run admissions departments -- and most of us love an underdog.  
  • Look at this year's application essay question(s).  They may change by the time you apply, but let your subconscious work on your answers to them for a little while.  Here is a link to the UC system's essay question

Odds, ends:  As I mentioned, most of this advice is specific to California State schools.  However some of the advice may prove useful to gaming other elite admissions departments including Stanford, Caltech, and the Ivy leagues.  

  • Most of the elite schools discriminate against transfer students.  The reason I've tailored this to the UC system is that fortunately for you, they do not.  To the state of California's credit, the UC is required by law to accept a certain number of transfer students each year.  You may as well be one of them.  
  • Unlike the UC system, most elite schools will require an SAT score.  For a realistic chance of admission you'll need to score at least 1400.  If you've taken it in the past and scored in the 1300 range, you should be able to get 1400+ with a little work.  The best option I've seen is to use this book of official practice tests from the nerds who make the SAT.  With the proper attention to detail, enough time, and some self-discipline, you can do as well with this approach as you might with the expensive SAT preparation courses like Kaplan and Princeton Review.

Much love,

Uber Pig