A high school graduate has many decisions to make. They have talked
to their parents, counselors and other advisors about college. However, getting
financial aid to attend traditional colleges is getting more difficult, and
students may want to earn money while going to school. Their grades are good
and they have spent their high school years taking challenging courses in
advanced math and science, perhaps even studying a foreign language to prepare
for higher education. But how do they earn money while learning a technical
skill or pursuing a degree?
There is an option that enables students
to earn a salary, train for a vocation or profession, get a college education,
as well as serve the country. The United States Armed Forces provides opportunities
for high school seniors and high school graduates.
Recently, the war
has caused many young people to reconsider the military as an option. However,
the four-year enlistment of most military branches must be weighed against
the associated monetary and educational benefits.
Some of the job
skills training offered in the military is not as readily available elsewhere,
yet it's a qualification for many civilian jobs. This training is provided
for free through the military and may be college-accredited. All branches
of the United States Armed Forces offer a wide variety of educational training
benefits and bonuses that extend beyond the military commitment.
to the Navy Recruiting District, Chicago website, "The navy offers many programs,
such as the Navy College Program, which allows sailors to earn credits for
the training they receive in the navy. Additionally, navy college counselors
are available to facilitate college degree planning. Navy Tech Prep is an
educational program geared toward high school prospects interested in pursuing
an associate's degree through technical training.
"Through the program,
students still in high school take preparatory courses at participating colleges.
Prospects study advanced science and math courses in high school, enlist in
the navy's Delayed Entry Program and continue at a community college for one
or two semesters, and then enter the navy's training pipeline in one of 17
different job opportunities. Upon completion of a school, recruits earn an
associate's degree. Seventy-five colleges in 19 states have agreements [with
the program], and several other states have shown interest."
Scott A. Sanders is director, national call center, Headquarters Air Force
Reserve Officer Training Corps. He describes a program offered by the Air
Force. "The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) is a program
for interested students of any major to pursue their college degrees while
simultaneously earning their commissions as Air Force officers. There are
144 colleges and universities, which offer the AFROTC, and over 1,000, which
offer cross-town agreements for students to participate in the program.
students will take four years worth of AFROTC courses, which they sign up
for just like any other college course," says Sanders. "Between students'
sophomore and junior years, they will attend field training. There is also
a two-year program offered to students who decide to join AFROTC later in
their college careers, for students who are in graduate school."
United States Air Force is looking at how to match or exceed the educational
opportunities available to potential airmen in the civilian world. David E.
Smith is the Air Education and Training Command's public affairs operations
division chief at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. He says, "The Air Force
has a white paper -- the Air Education and Training Command's roadmap to the
future of training the young men and women entering the Air Force in the digital
age of the 21st century. The command is looking at the digital technologies
surrounding teenagers today -- iPhones, iPods, wireless laptops, etcetera
-- and reviewing the educational delivery/teaching methodologies we are using,
with a view toward delivering information through those digital technologies
our airmen have already embraced.
"The older generation of airmen
in the Air Force has been forced to adapt to the digital world and are referred
to as 'digital immigrants.' Today's young people have grown up surrounded
by digital technology and are considered 'digital natives,'" says Smith. "To
most efficiently train those digital natives, the Air Force is moving from
predominantly platform and lecture delivery to wireless delivery, online lectures,
distance learning, and is looking to the future to evaluate emerging technologies
to fully exploit the talent of those digital natives."
public affairs specialist for the army, says, "While on active duty, service
members can take accredited college classes in their off-duty time under the
Tuition Assistance Program and receive 100 percent reimbursement from the
military. Most military installations (even overseas) offer on-site college
classes through a variety of colleges. These can be undergraduate, graduate
[or] PhD level classes," he says. "Service members can also take classes at
local college campuses and be reimbursed. The army also offers the Student
Loan Repayment Program. Army members can have up to $65,000 of student loans
repaid that they have incurred prior to joining the army. These loans must
be from accredited lenders for college expenses."
benefits extend beyond the enlistment period. The military offers the Montgomery
GI Bill, which provides financial aid for college. According to Your Future
Begins Here!, a brochure produced by the Air Force Recruiting Service, "This
educational assistance was enacted by Congress to attract high-quality men
and women to the Armed Forces. After completing three years of honorable active-duty
service, participants will have more than $35,000 for educational expenses.
These benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training,
apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses. Generally,
benefits are payable for 10 years following your release from active duty.
Participants are offered the opportunity to sign up for this program during
Basic Military Training."
Beyond the educational benefits of enlisting
in the United States Armed Forces, there are other advantages. Scheck adds,
"The main advantage is independence. Young people are on their own, making
their own decisions and preparing for the future. In an era when the average
college graduate lives at home until they are 25, this is a big advantage.
We offer free medical and dental benefits [and] low-cost life insurance. Single
military members are provided free housing and food, so their military pay
-- around $1,100 a month to start -- is their own to save and spend as they
wish. They earn 30 days of vacation a year.
"We have plenty of military
installations where they could be stationed all over the world, including
Italy, Germany, Hawaii, Japan and Korea," says Scheck. "If you decide to stay
in the army past your initial enlistment, career soldiers who spend at least
20 years on active duty are eligible for military retirement. Besides a retirement
check, retirees have free medical benefits for themselves, their spouse and
their family (children are covered until their 23rd birthday if they are full-time
college students). Retirees and their family have access to any military installation
to utilize the post exchange (our own department facilities, to include gyms,
bowling alleys and golf courses).
"We are always hiring,"
he adds. "If the person is morally, mentally and physically qualified, we
can offer them a career in the military." All branches of the military are
eager to hire qualified young men and women. High school students and high
school graduates can therefore consider the military as one of their postsecondary
options. Local Armed Forces recruiting offices are available to provide students
and parents additional information about a career in the military.