Should I Join the Military or Go to College?

One fact about life is that it is made up of a lot of decisions. As a child goes from a teenager to a young adult one of the most important decisions he or she will make for their life is what their career goals will be. For some, they may decide to find a local job and start earning money right away, even if only at minimum wage. For some, it may include going to college and pursuing a degree (or multiple degrees).

Another option for others may be joining the military, whether it’s the Army, Navy, Marines Corps, Coast Guard or Air Force. Joining the military can be a very tough decision for any person, but there are many reasons why it could be a good decision for some.  

Why Should You Join the Military?

People have many reasons why they want to join the military immediately upon graduating high school. For some it is motivated by the emotions of duty in serving their country. This could be derived from all the tragedies that have happened starting with 9-11, or it may be because of family members who have served previously in one of the five branches. Following a family history of serving can be a rite of passage into growing up and being on their own.

Some see the military as a means of escaping their current situation or for traveling and seeing the world. A person may be trying to escape a rough life of gangs or prevent a path that leads to prison. Some may have grown up in a small town and may want to experience different cultures and countries. Others may even have chosen to join due to limited job opportunities in their hometown as there are numerous career fields in each branch of the military.

Others see joining the military for the benefits it gives a person while you’re on active duty and once you’re released. This may be one of the best reasons to join. Some of the benefits include educational assistance, health insurance, life insurance, paid time off, and regular paychecks. Some schools even give you college credit for certain military training you’ve completed.

One of the current school assistance programs for veterans is the Post 9-11 GI Bill. Soldiers become eligible for the Post 9-11 GI Bill once they have served on active duty 90 days since September 10, 2001. Benefits include tuition and fees, and money for housing and books. More information can be found at the US Department of Veteran Affairs site: https://www.va.gov/education/about-gi-bill-benefits/post-9-11/

Should you Join the Military Before or After College?

Even if a person’s goal is to join the military later in life, they may decide to go to college first and then go to the military after graduation. This could be a good choice for some going into the military to be able to help go into a specific profession such as a doctor or to become an officer instead of starting out as an enlisted soldier.

One option is to apply for a ROTC Scholarship to help pay for college. ROTC scholarships can pay for tuition, room and board, and provide a living expense. Upon graduation, you would become an officer and be required to serve in the military for a specific number of years.

No matter if you decide to join the military now or wait until after college, joining the military can help a person gain on the job training that they can use to get better jobs once they are out. Whatever you decide to do, ensure that you weigh all options to make the best decision for you and your family.

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