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  • Joining the military before or after college

    PLEASE READ THE WHOLE THING AND GIVE YOUR THOUGHTS

    I am almost 100% determined to join the military despite of what my parents say. Right now, I'm wondering whether it would be smart to join before or after college because circumstances have changed to that I might not be able to participate in Advanced ROTC. Most people say college first is smart, but I have friends in the Army feeling out of place as they are over 20 while the kids they are training with are only 18 or 19. What do you guys think?

    Also, considering I am going to the top private school in Massachusetts, ALL of my friends and family feel that this decision of mine is rash and totally idiotic of me but I feel like I need to accomplish something in my life. If all goes well and I get into a great college/university (e.g. Harvard, MIT-considering I don't enlist before then), do you guys think I should still join the military?

    Finally, I KNOW I want to be either Infantry or an Engineer despite my awesome super smrt-ness (on purpose), would the better choice be the Army (9 week basic+AIT afterwards) or the Marines (12 week basic+wtvr else)?

    I do know about the physical and mental challenges of both branches and I have been preparing. I am going to the gym as much as possible and the insane homework load in the top private school is getting me prepared (though nothing could prepare you for the mental stress of combat-I know).

    This is possibly the biggest (and last if I make the wrong one...yikes) and most important decision of my life. I am only a freshman in high school but this is what I know in my heart I was born (but not raised) to do. Please read this and take it seriously because this is my life that I could be signing away and I am not looking forward to dying at the age of 21(or whatever).

    Please give detailed answers :D

  • #2
    Re: Joining the military before or after college

    There are pros and cons to joining the military before you finish college. It is something you have to figure out for yourself and decide which is best. Assuming you were to join today, you would be enlisted. If you were to finish school you would most likely be an officer once you join after graduation (there are exceptions to everything).


    Pros to going to school first and becoming an Officer afterwards:
    Better pay
    More responsibility now
    Better potential on the outside once you leave

    Cons to going to school first:
    Less choices of assignments
    Less choices of career field, if any
    Depending on field, less assignment opportunities
    Less free education opportunities while serving (some exceptions)
    Longer obligations to serve on Active Duty


    Pros to joining now as Enlisted:
    Much shorter obligations to the military
    Lots more job opportunities
    Tons of opportunities for free educations (Degrees using Tuition Assistance)
    The GI Bill
    A lot less responsibilities at 1st (more time to mature)
    Ability to still become an officer (OCS)
    Depending on field, there are cash bonuses for enlisting

    Cons to joining now
    Miss out on the college scene - part of growing up


    Now this is a very crude run down on my personal perspective on the pros and cons for each. There are tons of other scenarios out there, all contingent on what you really want to do. You have to decide what will make you happy in life. No one should tell you how or what to do at this point in your life. However, college is a must in this life and you need to do it either now or while you are in, it simply has to be done to move up in this world .

    You should also really explore what you want to do if you do join, regardless of before or after college. There are tons of jobs in all the services that each has their pros and cons in life. Some have extra money involved, some the satisfaction, while others afford for lots of travel. No one can tell you what is best for you, but try not to limit yourself to simply infantry or being an engineer.

    As for the combat part, it is simply a reality of life. Depending on the field, that will drive where and how much you actually have the chance to go to combat. Certain fields are not needed as critically at certain times, while others are in high demand and keep you deployed. Along with that, most will depend on exactly where you get stationed and what type of unit you are assigned to.

    There are plenty of current and past military here that I am sure can chime in and also give you some solid input on the benefits and drawbacks to what you are thinking about….
    "The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed they have good laws." -Machiavelli

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Joining the military before or after college

      Big C makes alot of good points, but having been in the military for 8 years going on niner, go to school, the military isn't going anywhere, get a BA and come in as an officer, and don't be CE or INF, with your schooling, go INTEL or some other type of S-2 andset your self up for your futer in the FBI,DHS,CIA oe whatever, trust me.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Joining the military before or after college

        Originally posted by TheBigC View Post
        There are pros and cons to joining the military before you finish college. It is something you have to figure out for yourself and decide which is best. Assuming you were to join today, you would be enlisted. If you were to finish school you would most likely be an officer once you join after graduation (there are exceptions to everything).


        Pros to going to school first and becoming an Officer afterwards:
        Better pay
        More responsibility now
        Better potential on the outside once you leave

        Cons to going to school first:
        Less choices of assignments
        Less choices of career field, if any
        Depending on field, less assignment opportunities
        Less free education opportunities while serving (some exceptions)
        Longer obligations to serve on Active Duty


        Pros to joining now as Enlisted:
        Much shorter obligations to the military
        Lots more job opportunities
        Tons of opportunities for free educations (Degrees using Tuition Assistance)
        The GI Bill
        A lot less responsibilities at 1st (more time to mature)
        Ability to still become an officer (OCS)
        Depending on field, there are cash bonuses for enlisting

        Cons to joining now
        Miss out on the college scene - part of growing up


        Now this is a very crude run down on my personal perspective on the pros and cons for each. There are tons of other scenarios out there, all contingent on what you really want to do. You have to decide what will make you happy in life. No one should tell you how or what to do at this point in your life. However, college is a must in this life and you need to do it either now or while you are in, it simply has to be done to move up in this world .

        You should also really explore what you want to do if you do join, regardless of before or after college. There are tons of jobs in all the services that each has their pros and cons in life. Some have extra money involved, some the satisfaction, while others afford for lots of travel. No one can tell you what is best for you, but try not to limit yourself to simply infantry or being an engineer.

        As for the combat part, it is simply a reality of life. Depending on the field, that will drive where and how much you actually have the chance to go to combat. Certain fields are not needed as critically at certain times, while others are in high demand and keep you deployed. Along with that, most will depend on exactly where you get stationed and what type of unit you are assigned to.

        There are plenty of current and past military here that I am sure can chime in and also give you some solid input on the benefits and drawbacks to what you are thinking about….
        Originally posted by Boondocksaint View Post
        Big C makes alot of good points, but having been in the military for 8 years going on niner, go to school, the military isn't going anywhere, get a BA and come in as an officer, and don't be CE or INF, with your schooling, go INTEL or some other type of S-2 andset your self up for your futer in the FBI,DHS,CIA oe whatever, trust me.


        Thanks guys, that's pretty much what I wanted to hear. I figured I'd never end up infantry anyways because even though it's what I want to do, if something happened to me, I'd never let myself live through what my parents would feel especially since I'm an only child.

        Can you become an officer if you don't do ROTC (the problem is I'm not a citizen even though I've been here for 8 years and I need to wait for about another 7-8 years and if you do the math, thats already during or after college) but you finish four years of college?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Joining the military before or after college

          Originally posted by Jiang View Post
          Can you become an officer if you don't do ROTC (the problem is I'm not a citizen even though I've been here for 8 years and I need to wait for about another 7-8 years and if you do the math, thats already during or after college) but you finish four years of college?
          Yes. You can go through Officer Candidate School as a Enlisted member or as a college grad. They have tons of opportunities with that these days. Don't get wrapped up with ROTC too, there is no requirement for it to become a officer. Unless you need the money or are just curious, enjoy College for what it is. ROTC is not some end all to making a better officer. Plus you can also do the Warrant Officer Program if you want to be specialized or a pilot.

          As for the requirements for US Citizenship, there are somethings they do for that as well. They can and will give you your citizenship early for being in the military, I do not know about how that would apply to Officers though, I think they have to be US Citizens from jump street.

          Now another option is to finish your school and join Enlisted. I have seen a whole bunch of Enlisted that had Masters and even PHDs. They joined that way for the shorter commitment and the huge loan repayment advantages. Funny part is most of them were in Combat Arms fields!
          "The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed they have good laws." -Machiavelli

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Joining the military before or after college

            Big is right you can get your citizenship for going in the military but you cant have dual citizenship anymore, also if you wait that long I don't know how old you will be but you cant go to OCS if your over 30 I think, its also a 10 year contract so be wary of that, Officers don't enlist they have to write to the chief of staff to get out.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Joining the military before or after college

              I did about a year of school, was in ROTC, then decided to go enlisted. I had a great career, finished school while I was in, and came out with both a degree AND priceless life experience. It's all about where you think your heart will be. If you want to jump into some action, join now. I don't think there's any right or wrong answer for whichever path you choose. The best of luck to you!
              "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Joining the military before or after college

                Some people just have higher callings before they finish up their educations. Myself and a good friend of mine both enlisted out of highschool. We were the only two out of a class of 400+ to join the enlisted force (There was ONE girl who went to the Naval Academy).

                We're both smart. We both could have gone to whatever college we really wanted. He's a Marine SAW gunner in an INF Platoon that is going to Afghanistan for 10 months next week. I'm an Air Force Weather Forecaster finishing up my CCAF degree...

                I don't think I'd ever do this any other way. There are times where I wish I was at college with some friends of mine - but ultimately the college lifestyle is not for everyone right out of highschool. Some people just want more.

                My sincere advice to you is to fully pursue college throughout your highschool education - who knows how you'll feel about everything when you're a senior. You may decide when you're a senior that you want to just remain a citizen - and that's OK. Or, during your senior year of High School, even with scholarships and possible acceptence letters, you may decide to enlist anyway.

                As far as ROTC goes - it's not for everyone. It's also not the end-all for officers. Like mentioned above, there is OTS. If you enlist for 4 years you may very well earn your Bachelors while you are serving. There are plenty of enlisted people with bachelors, masters, hell I bet there's a PHD somewhere out there.

                Ultimately, the time will come. Just keep your options open - don't slack off in school because you just want to join the military. Make the most of EVERY piece of education you can get while you're IN and OUT. Being a smart guy will earn you trust and responsibility, trust me.
                Skud


                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Joining the military before or after college

                  I went to a year of college and then promptly enlisted into the Army. While making it through college is a test of self-discipline and hard work, there really wasn't any life experience I encountered in that year of college that I didn't go through in the 8 years I was in. You get tested by many more things than you do in college, as well.

                  Also keep in mind that the new "9/11 Bill" that works as an alternative to the Montgomery GI Bill. With the 9/11 Bill your tuition at a state college is taken care off 100%, PLUS you receive a monthly stipend based on an E-5's BAH (basic allowance for housing, supplemental money given to servicemembers living off-post to pay for rent and such) for that area. For example, in Colorado Springs I would have my tuition (classes and books) paid for plus a monthly check of around $1,000 which you can use however you please. It's a sweet deal. There are also opportunities at any Education Center on a military installation that enables you to earn college credits/degrees in your spare time.

                  Also check into what your state offers veterans. You join now, you'll become a veteran unless you choose an exotic MOS that doesn't deploy (which is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very rare. :P). I know Ohio, for example, pays the tuition for its resident veterans.

                  It's up to you, man. Also, don't worry about the whole "if I die I couldn't stand the thought of so-and-so missing me". Life goes on. They'll miss you, but will be participants in a beautiful memorial ceremony full of tradition and far surpassing anything a civilian would receive, and will be taken care of by both the military funding the funeral and the large life insurance payment all servicemembers are given free of charge. And not to be sappy, but at least a servicemember's death has purpose. Rather that than die in some random car accident, or from alcohol poisoning, or random street violence, whatever.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Joining the military before or after college

                    skud, as for your CCAF make sure it will translate into something on the outside, I have alot of guys I supervised with CCAF's getting out and people aren't accepting it. And I beleive your at my base, so I know our ED office sucks. Just research everything man, CYA, also whats the current wind speed and direction lol
                    <---- former desk sergeant lol

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Joining the military before or after college

                      I'm part of the 1-year-of-college-then-enlist crowd. I had aspirations to be a vet, and tried my hand at college for a year. I ended up not continuing, because I felt I was having trouble dredging up the self-discipline just to get myself to classes every day, and I knew that if I couldn't even get that simple stuff done, life wasn't looking too good for me in the future. So I raised my right hand and joined enlisted in the USAF. But I do not regret my year of college one bit. I had alot of fun, and learned alot about what expectations will await me once I've finished my service.

                      I'm with Skud on this one...don't go through school with dead-set aspirations for the military. Keep your mind open, you never know what kind of calling you might come across, one you may not have ever known about. If you don't, and you're still thinking about the military once you're done with school, then great - looks like you got your calling early.

                      As for the citizenship thing, I can't even remember a basic training flight that didn't have at least one foreigner in it, mine included. I'm not sure what the exact rules are about it, but it seems to be a good enough draw for alot of non-Americans.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Joining the military before or after college

                        How does it work being in college and enlisted since you can't live on base? I've read that bases have virtual colleges but I'd rather get a real classroom experience.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Joining the military before or after college

                          I don't know why you couldn't live on base and go to school, I did that, I don't know what your asking

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Joining the military before or after college

                            Originally posted by Jiang View Post
                            How does it work being in college and enlisted since you can't live on base? I've read that bases have virtual colleges but I'd rather get a real classroom experience.
                            *This refers to Army only! The other services have other programs that are a bit different.

                            With the new E-Army U, there are tons o options. You pick the school (from a ever growing list), then either in class, or several different internet options. Most bases even have several universities (satellite offices) in the Education Center as well. Plus even when deployed, they make accommodations for you to continue there. The Ed Center will also help for other universities not in the program. I have seen plenty of students go to all the big name schools as well as Ivy League with the military picking up a good portion of the bill.

                            As for living on base, simply depends on where you are stationed. Some places have tons of housing, others they put you off post. But as a single and junior member, they usually give you dorm type living...
                            "The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed they have good laws." -Machiavelli

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Joining the military before or after college

                              Ever think of Virginia Military Institute? Best of both worlds! That is were I am headed in just 2 short years, want to be a Marine Officer.
                              Last edited by Ghost02; 11-12-2009, 08:53 PM. Reason: Even in such a small post, a type-o occures.
                              |TG|Ghost02
                              TG Pathfinder



                              "I travel alone through the valley of the shadow of death, yet in my heart I carry no fear, for Gods hands will guide me to Truth and Honor."

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