While it’s incredibly common for young men and women to join the military straight out of high school or as a means to forego a college education while pursuing something productive and prestigious, there are also benefits to joining the military after college.
If you’ve earned a college degree or you’re currently in college, there is still an opportunity to join the military and enjoy a fruitful career in doing so. Here, we’re talking about the pros and cons of joining the military after college, the benefits, and answering other questions you might have about the process.
Is Joining the Military After College a Good Idea?
Of course, when determining whether something is a good idea or not, it depends on the person, their experience, their skills, and a plethora of factors. Something might be an amazing idea for one person but terribly wrong for another. So in such a generalized forum, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
However, we’ll pose some pros and cons of joining the military after college to help you think about whether doing so is the right choice for your particular circumstances.
Pros and Cons of Joining the Military After College
- You’ll be fast-tracked to become an officer.
- You can take advantage of the College Loan Repayment Program of the GI Bill.
- If you have a health-related degree, you can take advantage of the Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program of the GI Bill.
- You can take advantage of the Graduate Education Voucher Program.
- Those who join the Navy can take advantage of the Navy Postgraduate Dental School.
- Those who join the Army can take advantage of the Funded Legal Education Program.
- You’ll be more mature by the time you join the military after college meaning you’ll likely get more out of the experience.
- You might be one of the older recruits, which can feel isolating.
- It can seem like you’re taking a step backward while in the training period.
- You might already have a spouse or family which can present challenges that many 18-year-old recruits might not face.
- Military traditions, appearance standards, and the history of the branch aren’t instilled as deeply in officers who came from college as they are in enlisted men who work their way up, which can be a disadvantage.
What Are the Benefits of Joining the Military After College?
Now that we’ve gone over some of the pros and cons of joining the military after college, let’s go over these benefits in greater detail by breaking things down into the two major plus sides: the opportunities to become an officer in the military and military education benefits from the GI Bill.
Benefits of Joining the Military After College
One of the most lucrative benefits of joining the military after college is the fact that with your four-year degree, you are qualified to become an officer versus enlisted service member. Both officers and enlisted service members play vital roles in the overall function of the military, but officers get paid significantly more and are more likely to work in a field that interests them.
Especially if you participated in an ROTC program throughout college, you’ll be fast-tracked to become an officer in the military branch you choose. This will save you time since you won’t be working your way through the ranks like an enlisted service member must and you’ll have more opportunities for leadership roles.
Joining the Military After College to Pay Off Loans
The next major benefit of joining the military after college is the College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) offered by the GI Bill. The GI Bill outlines the education benefits offered to all military service members and their families. It’s one of the major perks of serving in the armed forces and might be a huge reason why joining the military after college can be a good idea for you.
With the help of the CLRP, you can receive up to $65,000 to go toward your student loan debt which can be absolutely life-changing for many college graduates. Furthermore, depending on the field in which you studied, you can take advantage of other educational benefits such as the Graduate Education Voucher Program if you’re interested in pursuing a graduate degree.
Logistics of Joining the Military After College
You may be aware of the minimum requirements of joining certain branches of the military, but as a college graduate attempting to join, it’s also beneficial to know that there are also maximum requirements, specifically when it comes to age.
For example, the Air Force requires recruits to be between the ages of 18-39 while the Army’s requirements fall between the ages of 19-32. Additionally, even with your college education, you’ll be required to pass some testing to ensure you’re a good fit for the military.
To help give you an idea of the process of joining the military after college for each branch, here are the step-by-step basics.
– Basic Training
- Air Force Basic Military Training lasts 7.5 weeks
- Army Basic Combat Training lasts 10 weeks
- Marine Corps Basic Training lasts 12 weeks
- Navy Boot Camp lasts 10 weeks
– Officer Training
- Air Force Officer Training School lasts 9.5 weeks
- Army Officer Candidate School lasts 12 weeks
- Marine Corps Officer Candidate School lasts 10 weeks
- Navy Officer Candidate School lasts 12 weeks
- Air Force Officer Qualifying Test
- Army has no exam requirements to complete Officer Candidate School
- Marine Corps will have you complete an interview, physical fitness test, medical exam, and background check
- Navy has no exam requirements to complete Officer Candidate School
- All branches require those applying for officer commissions to have at least a Bachelor’s degree
Joining the Military While in College
It’s important to note that if you’re interested in joining the military while you’re still in college, there are ways to set yourself up for a bright future in the armed forces. We mentioned it briefly in a previous section, but learning more about your campus’ ROTC program is one of the best ways to set your sights on joining the military after college.
ROTC programs provide officer training for college students in return for scholarship money. They are predicated on the fact that you’ll commit to serving for a set period of time after graduation. ROTC allows you to have a traditional college experience while also preparing to serve as an officer in the military.
It’s also possible that you’ll get commissioned by the military as a civilian if you have a specialized degree. Direct Commission Officers (DCOs) are often in fields like medicine, law, religious studies, or intelligence and this is just another way you can join the military after college.
As you can see, there’s a lot to gain by joining the military after college. From amazing educational benefits to help pay off student loans and graduate degrees to fast-tracking your way to an officer position, joining the military after college could be the next logical step in your career journey.
If you’re interested in joining the military with a college degree and think you meet the requirements, don’t hesitate to contact a recruiter for more information.