GS Student Veteran Discusses His Journey from the Army to Columbia

GS student veteran Shivam Sharma '23 enrolled at GS after serving as an I.T. Specialist in the U.S. Army. He discusses his nontraditional journey to higher education and why he chose Columbia.

November 08, 2021

Tell us about your background and what prompted you to enlist:

I’ve always been attracted to STEM. In high school, I took plenty of classes surrounding programming and computer science in hopes of gaining insight into the technology industry. One of these classes as taught by a Navy veteran who would always share stories about his experiences in the Navy. One day, I had the chance to ask about his journey and was astonished by all of the things he had gained through his military service. After dedicating hours of research, I finally decided to enlist as an I.T. Specialist in the U.S. Army.

How did you learn about GS and what made you decide to apply?

Being the avid Reddit lurker that I consider myself to be, I stumbled upon a post that described a veteran's experience at an Ivy League institution. This institution turned out to be the School of General Studies at Columbia. I was intrigued by the rigorous Ivy League experience catered towards nontraditional students and decided to apply.

GS Student Veteran Shivam Sharma

How did your military experience impact your journey and transition to Columbia both personally and academically?

Coming from a place that upholds the culture to adapt and overcome has made the transition to Columbia less strenuous. The task of completing a mission in a designated time frame has translated to submitting assignments on time and planning my day-to-day activities. I make sure to assign a sufficient amount of time for exam preparation and to make time to look after my mental health. Cultivating healthy time management skills has done wonders for me during my time at Columbia thus far.

What advice would you give to other active-duty service members and/or veterans who are considering applying to GS?

I would recommend reaching out to Service to School, which is a non-profit that provides college application counseling to veterans and service members. Their advice and guidance really helped me during the application process. I would also recommend reaching out to GS Veterans Resources and Initiatives with any questions you might have and ensuring that you have successfully transitioned into a full-time student before applying to GS.