Help with DoD SMART Scholarships

What advice would you provide to someone considering applying for the DoD SMART Scholarship if you were the recipient of one? Which aspects of your application stood out as the strongest? For background, my application was turned down in December 2022. This year, I want to resubmit and make my application better.

Did you apply in December 2022 when you were a college freshman or as a high school senior? I’m curious because my son is considering applying, but we thought it might be wiser to wait until he finishes his first year of college.