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Joining the Military after College

For some college graduates, the thought of joining the workforce can be very intimidating. Sometimes it can be difficult to find a job in the field you want. It may be that a recent graduate isn’t sure what type of job they want or what field they want to go into. For others it’s a must to find a good paying job in order to pay off their student loans from college. Some graduates choose to continue their education with a master’s program or take time off from school or work to travel around the world. One option that some may choose is to join the military, whether it be the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard.

Pros/Benefits to Be Sure to Explore

There are several pros and cons of joining the military after college. Two of the most important pros are

  1. a college degree qualifies you to become an officer;
  2. college loan repayment programs.

After college you have the option of joining either as an enlisted soldier or as an officer. Enlisted soldiers specialize in specific fields while officers manage the enlisted. As an officer and a college graduate, you will be paid more and will be placed into more leadership positions than if you were enlisted. Even if you don’t plan on making the military a career, the leadership experiences you will gain as an officer are extremely beneficial once you’re back in the civilian world looking for a job. These leadership skills are highly sought after both in government and private corporate positions.

Each of the services have some type of student loan repayment program that will significantly help you in paying your student loans off. Also, most of the branches offer additional educational benefits so you can work on more advanced degrees while you serve or after you have completed your commitment. There are a lot of unique opportunities that are afforded to officers, including bonuses and going into specialized fields such as medical doctors, lawyers, and chaplains with a higher rank.

Links to How to Join as an Officer

The following are links to more information on the requirements and processes on joining one of the branches as an officer.


Air Force



Coast Guard

Cons/Important Considerations

One important consideration you must contemplate is THE MILITARY IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. As a college graduate, you can either join as an enlisted soldier and attend basic training, or as an officer and attend officer training. You will be a little older and more mature than the new 17 or 18-year-old recruits fresh out of high school if you decide to go to basic training. You will have to ‘toe the line’ and follow orders just like everyone else. For some this may be an issue if you are not used to being told what to do or ordered around, especially having been on your own in college.

Another con is that you are not guaranteed to get the field you want. As an enlisted soldier or an officer, you are at the needs of the service. For example, even if you have a degree in engineering, you are not guaranteed to get an engineering job in the military. If there are specific areas that are short when you apply you may be placed into one of those areas.

Additionally, there’s always a possibility of having to deploy overseas. For some this is an honor, but for others it can be a very frightening thought, especially due to the last decade of wars and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lastly, another con to joining the military is that you will have to move around frequently to different duty stations. Most times these duty stations are not of your choosing. Again, they are the needs of the service. For some, moving around is not a con but a benefit as they like to travel. However for others with families and kids it can be a burden to have to keep moving your family around and changing your kid’s school. Thus ensure that you truly consider if the military lifestyle is for you. If it is, be sure to research which branch of the military you want and what field you want to go into so that you can enjoy your military career and then afterwards have skills that you can use towards a civilian career.

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