Alright, so I'm a freshman in college and I'm doing Army ROTC. I absolutely LOVE it. The military has been the only thing that I've known I wanted to do when I was having major questions about what school to go to, what to major in, etc. This semester, school has just been blah for me. I find my self counting down the days until summer vacation because I'm just tired of school.
Something I've previously thought about was enlisting and I'm beginning to think about that option again. But before I talk to a recruiter, I would like to talk to those who have experience (because like college admission people, not all recruiters are 100% honest).
Everything I've read tells me that ROTC is the better option in terms of pay and benefits. I would commission as a second lieutenant earning almost double what I would if I enlisted. But IMO, you should not join the military because of benefits- you should join because it's something you know in your heart you want to do. I wonder if enlisting may be the right option for me? I would be proud doing something I love, and it would give me time to figure out what exactly I'd like to do with my life after the military and eventually I could go back to school for that. My parents want me to do what will make me happy- I've constantly done what they've wanted and they realized that and have told me that they support me in whatever I do.
So I want to hear from both sides of the spectrum (ROTC and enlisted). Are there any benefits to enlisting rather than doing ROTC?
"People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"
Pa-eternally laboring in the infinite creative and sustentative work of the universe
Go for It..
my neice went rotc, and yes, enlisted at a 2nd Let.
She graded to a Capt in the Army......
and is now attached/but not/as a private contractor in
Afganistan.... loves the work .. job? teaching people what
democracy is, their rights...
her first tour was in Bagdad/shock and awe.
her 2nd was in Tirkit when they secured Saddam
her 3rd was in kabul, Afganistan
she loves it... has vacation every 90 days, spent the last one
sailing in the adriatic sea off the coast of croatia.
She cant imagine herself doing anything else.
Educational benefits are awesome
I think you already know your own answer... just ask a lot of questions going in ... to be sure you get exactly what you want.
I'm writing for my husband, who went through ROTC and commissioned as a second LT. We had a few friends who got tired of school and enlisted. I have to say, college isn't for everyone, and if you hate school, it is going to be a long few years. He's planning on staying in for the long haul, and we just got to five years. It's a lifestyle, and you have to love it!
I personally would stay in school. Of course, you don't join the military for the benefits, they aren't that great! On the other hand, you have to be realistic about your goals and future. If you get married, want a family, want a horse, etc, all of those things are easier on an officer's salary.
The other thing to consider is exactly what you'll be doing in the army. As an officer, you will spend much more time doing paperwork, and your career path gradually takes you away from "the fun stuff" as he says, interacting with your men, running through the woods, etc. As an enlisted person, you are the person carrying the fight to the enemy, and there's a lot to be said for that. There are options for officer's who would like to pursue that path as well, SF, Ranger, etc.
This is a tough choice, but remember this: there will come a day when you get out. Maybe it's not for 20+ years, but maybe it's alot sooner than you thought. Maybe you get hurt, maybe you decide you can't put up with the politics, or maybe you do your time and want to try your hand at something else. THEN- the college degree will be a big help. For me, it's just like my parents told me when all I wanted to do was ride- don't count on your future turning out like you planned it. It never does! It's nice to have something to fall back to doing.
"One thing vampire children have to be taught early is, don't run with a wooden stake."
My husband is also an Army officer - he did ROTC and military school. He commissioned out of school, was IRR for a year, and has now been in for 5 years. This is long and ramble-y, but here are some things to consider...
If you have the option of going to school, even if you don't love it - stay in school, do ROTC, and then commission into the military. Even if you don't plan to use your major in your branch of service, just having that education and experience will serve you well in the military and after.
It's awesome that you feel that the military is what you want to do regardless of the pay and benefits. Some aspects are great (job security!) and some are pretty awful (multiple long deployments) but overall, you get out what you put in. It can be a great lifestyle but be aware that it IS a lifestyle, not just a job. You will move around the country/the world without much control over your next destination. That can be hard on the horse habit, not to mention hard on your personal relationships. It seems like officers have a tiny bit of control over their duty stations but even then it is not much. Your prospective branch will also dictate some of your locations, so make sure you look into that before you make a decision. (Maybe you can tell... we are currently stuck in them middle of nowhere for 3 years and I am finding it hard to look on the bright side! )
Have you given much thought to what branch you would like to pursue if you commission? DH is combined logistics (came in as a QM) and he likes the wiiiiiide range of 'jobs' that are available. Joining the military as an officer definitely doesn't mean your career decisions are made for you. Right now he is getting ready to be in command of a logistics company but he is already looking at post-command opportunities, deciding what jobs he'd like to go after, and doing the background work to set himself up for those opportunities. He has attended some different schools, including his career course, and is working on a graduate degree in his 'free' time. I am just sharing this because it doesn't sound like you really have a plan for what you want to DO in the military, and that's pretty important to determine how happy you will be following either path. As an officer you will definitely need to have some motivation to continue your education and personal development if you want to move up the ranks and succeed.
Consider that if you don't finish school now, you will probably be in the position of taking classes on your own time to finish your degree at some point in the future, and at that point your education may have to play second fiddle to your day job.
And for my 2 cents as a military wife, with pretty much everyone I know being involved in the military somehow... yeah, none of our families are in it for the benefits, but that's no reason to look the benefit horse in the mouth. "Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort."
It's always better to finish college when you can do it full time. Doing college and working full time is rough, and if you're in the military it can be hard to stay one place long enough to finish school, or even find the time to finish online coursework that is of course more portable. If you want a very portable course that the military will teach you and you can take into civilian life then respiratory technician is a great one. But lots of jobs in the military aren't very portable to civilian life and you will probably have to go back to school for months or years after you retire to qualify for a good job, or go to school parttime for years to finish school. Stay in school and then go into the military to get more experience and you can make a contribution as enlisted or officer. Don't mistake being sick of school for a reason to enlist, since you'll spend a lot of time studying either way. And if you finish school you can have a choice of branches or jobs that may not be available to you during a first enlistment.
I'd stick with the ROTC. You have plenty of time to look at everything and you don't actually have to commit until your last two years of college. Enlisting now really wouldn't get you anywhere not to mention, you wouldn't get any positive or tangible benefits over ROTC.
My husband enlisted at the age of 16, with parent's consent. Went in at 17, spent four years enlisted, then went to college through ROTC, came out commissioned as a 2nd Lt, and is now a Lt. Col. He always wanted to be in the Army, but he realized he also wanted a different career path in the Army, which required him to go to college. He said he would always recommend staying in ROTC and finishing college first because it does open more options to you, but if you absolutely hate school and just want to be in the military, then go for it! The military is pretty fantastic about giving you the educational opportunities for you to succeed down the road. And hooah, and all that!
Now if he'd been really smart, he would have joined the Air Force like my Dad.
Maybe the problem isn't the college but what your major is? Maybe you need to switch majors to something besides what you're studying now? As others have said you can use any major and still go in the military. I work where they train all of the Army's helicopter pilots (and tons of foreign countries) and the students have all kinds of majors from West Point engineers to liberal arts grads from California, and they all became pilots and have great opportunities, and there are tons of other MOS (military occupational specialties) open to you. I would look at goarmy.com and look at all of the possibilities and see what calls you. It's like they say about jumping "throw your heart over and jump after it"--you need to have a plan and a goal and everything else will fall into place. Things usually work out in the end the way they are supposed to.
Thanks guys, its a lot to think about.
I do think that part of the school problem is not liking my major. I honestly don't know what I want to major in. Right now I'm a chemistry major... and I like chemistry but I still don't feel like it's 'the thing' i want to do. The only thing I've come up with that I would love to do is photojournalism (but schools for that are way expensive and hard to come by) or some sort of intelligence/security job (we have an intel/security studies minor here but I can't apply for that until next year and I honestly do not know how I'm going to fit the classes for it into my schedule). I've been to goarmy.com and I think I'd try to get into either a military intelligence job or something like the CBRN Specialist.
I would rather be out there with the action than sitting around doing paperwork and I tend to be more of a follower than a leader which is one thing that makes me unsure of ROTC. I know as an officer I will be put into more leadership positions than as an enlisted solider, and I wonder if I may be more suited to the role of an enlisted solider instead of more of a leadership role.
Obviously this is not a decision to be made overnight, and I fully plan to talk with a recruiter and the cadre with the ROTC program. I know what my gut instinct wants to do... but I need to carefully weigh both options and think about the long term aspect of each.
"People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"
MI can be very rewarding, but after a few years they are mostly in the office or teaching in the classroom. If you want to go MI the Army will train you after graduation, and since you have paid schooling finish it-people still go enlisted with college degrees by the way, so you aren't limiting yourself by completing your education. And lieutenants don't lead anybody very much-you won't get into real leadership on your own for quite a while because a lieutenant is still a beginner and needs to be trained to lead in the real world.