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Thread: A high school senior in your life wants to enlist...

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    #1

    A high school senior in your life wants to enlist...

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    Imagine there's a high school senior in your life and s/he comes to you saying s/he is strongly considering enlisting. What do you tell them? Are you generally positive or negative? Any advice? How much does your response depend on the specific kid?

    Would your answer differ if they wanted to commission as an officer (which would require college first, of course)? What advice and opinions would you give in that scenario? Thoughts on commissioning source (ROTC, OCS, service academy) if that's the goal?

    (I'm not in this situation; I just thought it might be an interesting conversation starter.)
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    #2
    Interesting. My kiddo is still a long way from ever joining the military, so I haven't really considered that, but I've spoken at a few career days and actively tried to discourage people to go into my profession.

    I think it would have to depend on the kid. If they were more the independent type that I felt could handle thousands of dollars being hurled at them without running to the nearest corvette dealership, then I would likely be supportive. However, if I knew they were more of the dependent type, I would likely try to steer them away.

    I would also want to know why my kid wanted to join. S/he will have DH's GI Bill, so college won't be as expensive as it was for me.
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    #3
    I would tell them to join, whether that's to enlist or as an officer after school. I've never been in the military myself, but the people I've seen go through it have only become better by it. Whether its the minimum 4 years or to make a career out of it. I love what it's given to my fiancé and subsequently me.

    Now, had you asked me this only 3 years ago, I would have said to join but only for 4 years to get a GI bill and no longer. Now that I've gotten a little older and more salty lol, I see the benefit of going career
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    #4
    This is our life right now. My husband was a USMC recruiter when my son was a freshman in high school until he graduated last spring. My son has always wanted to be an officer. Like since he was five. He didn’t get into Annapolis, but was accepted into West Point. He chose Texas A&M instead, for the Corps of Cadets and because he wants to be an officer in the Marine Corps. He will commission through their program, while still getting a college experience.

    His friends have been graduating boot camp and he’s had a little bit of remorse that he didn’t just enlist. He would already be in the “real world” and not a college kid. However, he LOVES his classes, his college, and his major. He’s also bonded with his Corps buddies. I, personally, think he’s on a great path.

    Now, my middle daughter is a freshman in high school. She is thinking about enlisting in the Air Force. She is super smart, enjoys AFJROTC, but had no desire to attend college. If this is the path she wants, we completely back her up. She feels strongly about serving, but not as an officer. That is fine. As long as she has a drive to do something, whether it be enlisting, college, trade school, anything.
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    #5
    Husband’s sister has been considering this. I have no real opinion (she’s intelligent enough to know what she wants) but his response swings between being oddly touched that she says she wants to follow him, and “shiiiiiiit no”.
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    #6
    For me, it depends almost entirely on the person. If a kid is facing HS graduation and not entirely sure what s/he wants to do and/or has some maturing to do, I think enlisting is an incredibly strong option. If they seem more or less ready for college (even if they don't know exactly what they want to do), I'd encourage them to do that first (on their own or via an ROTC scholarship or service academy, though by senior year it's probably to late for the latter unless they do a gap/prep year). The pay is so much better for those with a commission, as is the treatment (especially initially).

    Even for those who don't want to stay in long term (which of course can change), doing 4 years and getting college paid for (either with GI Bill afterwards or a commissioning source that pays for school--ROTC or academy) can be a great jump start and eliminate the burden of student loans. And it gives job training/experience that can be so useful for differentiating oneself from other job applicants, assuming someone is thoughtful when picking a military rate/job. The military has certainly been very good to us, though it's had it's hardships too, of course.

    I think the military can be a wonderful option, but I also think it depends on the person's temperament. All the above pros are sort of canceled out if the person in questions seems like they would really struggle with the basic structure of military life.
    Science always wins over bullshit. ~Dick Rutkowski
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    #7
    I think my advice would depend on the kid and what their goals are. If s/he is graduating from HS, wants to serve, and doesn't feel as passionate about college (or it isn't an option) then enlisting might be a good fit. It can also be a good fit for those needing structure and community. On the other hand if s/he wants to get a degree and knows that college is where they want to be, then the option of serving as an O is there. I think one of the big things about deciding between E and O is really wanting to lead others. As a Marine O you aren't even committed to a MOS when you commission (outside of flight and JAG), what you do on the day to day is really secondary. You all know there are a lot of benefits to serving but lots of sacrifices that are made. I would consider what background the kid is coming from too. If no one in their family is/was in the military they might be looking at not having a ton of support, not a deal breaker just a consideration. I know if I had told my parents I was joining the military it would have been blank confused stares, but then DB has a family where three out of four of his brothers served.
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    #8
    Depends on why they want to join, and if I know them well enough, their personality.
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    #9
    I echo a lot of what you're all saying - it depends on their reasoning and their personality. Another thing for me is that I would strongly encourage them to meet with multiple recruits (different branches), utilize sites like Reddit to get firsthand advice and information from other people in similar situations, and just gather as much information as humanly possible before making such a big, important decision.
  10. MilitarySOS Jewel
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    #10
    Speaking from my own personal experience, I wish I had gotten my degree before I joined. I was thinking about it in high school but didn't join until after my second year of college because I felt it was my only option when I got dealt a crappy hand in life. One of my biggest regrets is being 26 with a ton of college credits under my belt and no degree and knowing I won't have one until at least 29. I haven't had the worst experience but I also haven't had the best, and I missed out on a real college experience and I think about that often. Joining helped me out of a tight situation and allowed me opportunities but it definitely wasn't the only option I had. Plus, school is significantly more difficult the older you get and the more established you get in life and I'm not looking forward to going back in my late 20s.

    Depending on the kid, I would recommend exactly what Twinster's son is doing, or what her daughter might possibly do. If kids/teens think at an early age the military is something for them I'd recommend JROTC/ROTC before hand. Being an officer definitely isn't always the glory people think it is; that paycheck comes with a lot of stress, and enlisting doesn't mean you're worth any less, so it would definitely depend on the person.
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