Should I join the Air Force or go to College?
Hi, My name is Samantha and I am 1 of 5 siblings. None of which went to college or made a life of themselves. But I am the only one out of 5 that is super smart and has excellent grades. I am a student that have straight A's and could possibly get a scholarship. But on the other hand, I looked into the Air force, which also seemed like a cool challenge. But I am stuck between both and I really don't know which one to choose. I really want to be an Aerospace Engineering but I don't know which path to take. #military #college #engineer
I am going to lay out four paths that may help you think about your options:
Path 1: Join the USAF and use the GI Bill to get a degree when you retire from the service. I have four friends that went this path, two became engineers and two became history teachers. The military helped pay for their educations and they started college a little later in life, so they came to school with more life experience. Downside is two of them went to school while married with children, which is very, very tough.
Path 2: The ROTC (reserve officer training core). I had several friends in university that were in the ROTC, mostly air force, but a few army. They got a partial scholarship from the military and had to do minor PT and military training during the school year. Then when they graduated they were placed in their branch of the military as officers. This is a big benefit as they got officer pay and officer treatment while in the military. Plus when they left the military defense contractors love hiring former officers. FYI, I highly suggest path 2 over path 1)
Path 3: US Air Force Academy. A bunch of others people have talked about the USAFA, so I am not going to go into details. Know that officers coming out of the USAFA get preferential treatment from the Air Force when compared to officers that came out of ROTC.
Path 4: Go to University and get a degree in STEM, then join the Air Force when you graduate. The Air Force will give you a big signing bonus that will help cover your student debt. This path gives you the added advantage that if you get through university and have changed your mind on the Air Force, you can just enter civilian life, you have not signed a contract.
Best of luck!
The United States Air Force Academy seeks individuals who possess an exceptional academic track record and strong leadership potential. Because we offer one of the most prestigious and respected academic programs around, standards are high. The Admissions process includes a review of two major academic performance indicators. Not sure you meet the requirements? Apply anyway. There are other paths to the Academy.
PROSPECTIVE CADETS CANDIDATE REQUIREMENTS
• Be eligible to be a U.S. citizen.
• Be unmarried and have no dependents.
• Meet specific medical standards for a commission in the Air Force.
• Be at least 17 years old and not have passed their 22 birthday by July 1 of the year they enter the Preparatory School.
The academy relies heavily on academics and uses it as 60 percent of its admission criteria. They suggest taking four years of math, English and science classes, three years of social studies courses, two years of a foreign language and one year of computer science. Honors classes and AP courses are a plus. Class rank, GPA and standardized test scores like the ACT and SAT are also taken into consideration. The SAT requirement for the Academy is 4830, and the ACT requirement is 0530.
Candidates must also undergo a complete medical evaluation. Academy applicants must complete the Candidate Fitness Assessment, which measures their strength, speed, endurance and agility. The CFA consists of a basketball throw, pull-ups, a one-mile run, a shuttle run, crunches and push-ups. Participating in sports such as soccer, football, swimming and wrestling is beneficial to perform well on the CFA. Individual skills, such as distance running, sprints and upper body strength are also important.
The academy looks at both athletic and non-athletic clubs or activities that students participate in from 10th to 12th grade. For athletic activities, earning a letter, being named as a captain or co-captain or being a member of a well-performing team can set your application apart. Students should also seek membership and leadership positions in non-athletic activities, like debate, volunteer groups or other clubs. Getting a job and working both during the school-year and summertime is also helpful.
Every application needs to be nominated for the Air Force Academy. Examples of people who can nominate students include members of Congress and the President or Vice President of the United States. There are also special nomination categories for children of deceased, disable or missing veterans, children of Medal of Honor recipients, members of the Air Force or the Air Force Reserve, ROTC and those living in U.S. territories or citizens of other countries.
After completing required courses at the U.S. Air Force Academy, cadets are required to serve as commissioned officers in the Air Force for at least eight years. While attending the academy, students receive a free, world-class education valued at over $400,000, plus room, board and medical and dental benefits. With these advantages, it's no wonder the admissions process is challenging and competitive. Students should begin preparing for applying to the academy early in their high school careers.
The United States Air Force Academy is where future Air Force officers go to college to get the best education and military training there is. Located in beautiful and rugged Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Air Force Academy is the home of around 4,000 cadets who make up the Wing. Getting accepted to this prestigious military academy takes brains, brawn, and a bit of luck, as well Samantha.
Doc recommends the following next steps:
You are in a very great position. Congrats on your grades and even more thank you for considering joining the military to serve our country. It is not for the faint of heart and requires dedication and perseverance that only so many red blooded humans can handle.
At the age of 21, after a few years of college classes, I decided the traditional college path was not for me and that I was destined for more of a hands on approach to life. I decided to join the military (Navy) and it was the best decision I have ever made. The educational benefits, experiences, and relationships that i have built have completed me in ways that some people may never understand.
I give my background to say, I am pro-military as long as you are ready and willing to dedicate your life to a cause much greater than your own. My friends and family that decided to take the education route and stay in their home town have great lives and nothing I say is to minimize them. The experiences that military folks have been a part of tend to widen their perspective on matters of the world vice what is happening in their town.
I highly recommend talking to a guidance counselor, an AF recruiter, a mentor, and/or a current military member to get their take on active duty life.
I support your decision either way.
I really can empathize with your situation in life. Like you, I was the first and only to get good grades and obtain a college degree. I never regretted this decision. I am a registered nurse (retired) but ultimately had an incredible career and went on to earn a Master's degree of nursing. I believe going on for your advanced degrees will be a life enhancing decision.
I appreciate the answers you have received so far, but I would really like for you to speak to your high school academic counselor before making a final decision. You need to review what is needed to enter into an aerospace engineering program and look at the best schools. You also need to carefully review the requirements needed to apply for the United States Air Force Academy as they are very specific.
Please carefully read through these links. Review the possible career opportunities available to you once you have earned your engineering degree (either through the best college of your choice or through the US Air Force Academy). Stick to your goals and carry through to your ultimate success!
I know you can do this!!
Suzanne recommends the following next steps:
If you receive one of those scholarships, then you are free to choose any university to which you are accepted that offers Air Force R.O.T.C. - there are some great engineering universities out there that offer R.O.T.C.: Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Clemson, Texas A&M - look into that.
I have many friends who were in Air Force R.O.T.C. and went on to have full military careers, or, serve their 4 years on Active Duty, and then go into commercial aviation careers. Good luck!
Secondly you can get in then graduate if there is no option of defer and do collage after.
Best of Luck.
I’m an active member of the Air National Guard. At the beginning, I joined for the college benefits, but later I was able to obtain a full time job. I love my job and the people I work with.
Talk to a recruiter Guard, Reserves or Active. There are different options to help pay for college. Even if you join the Guard or Reserves, you will get resources and benefits. Many of my peers do a 4 or 6 yr commitment, while attending college then once their contract is up or once they graduate from college they separate from the military with small to no college debt.
If the airforce does not offer you an opportunity to study while serving, then you would rather go to college and be an aeronautical engineer.
As an Army Veteran, choosing between college and Military are two different experiences.
My biggest advice is to ask yourself these questions, what is your reason to joining the AF besides experiencing a cool challenge? How long do you want to serve? Active, or reserve/ Enlisted or officer? Are you ready to possibly deploy and be away from from your family/friends?
Remember that joining the AF is to be an Airman first and everything second. Do research, watch YouTube videos, talk to recruiters/veterans. If you think this is for you, go for it and don't let anyone stop you. The AF is a great choice and they encourage you to expand your education.
With the information you've provided I would always suggest taking the higher education route if you have the ability. Doing so will put you in a better position even if you want to enter the military. Without a degree you are going to join the enlisted ranks, which is not bad by any means, but with a degree there are commissioned (officer) programs that put you and your big brain into leadership roles which can be very rewarding. I think a higher education provides you more options which is not a bad thing.
I went into the Marine Corps directly following high school and did 12 years. It was fantastic and I learned a ton about the world, myself, and nicely got some very good skills to move out of the military with. It was the best experience I've ever had but do wish I had taken more time with higher education before I did this as at times I think the lack of that experience has created blockers for me.
In short, I don't think you can go wrong here but order is and can be key so I'd certainly suggest attending college 1st if you are able as your options will increase exponentially by doing so!
Great question and lots of great answers above. With anything, do your research to make the best, most informed decision for YOU.
As others have said, you do not have to choose between college and joining the Air Force. Becoming an Officer will allow you to do both.
There are multiple paths to becoming an Officer, but all of them require a college degree. I would recommend either pursuing a commission (the document that allows you to serve as an Officer) via a Service Academy like the US Air Force Academy or via Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), a program that allows you to pursue a degree at a civilian college or university and commission upon graduation.
As a current Navy Officer, I'd also like to plug the Navy ROTC and the US Naval Academy. The US Naval Academy (USNA) has an excellent Aerospace Engineering Program. Before making a decision about ROTC or a Service Academy, I would also recommend talking to a current student at your top choices to hear about what life is like there.
Last note-if you are interested in pursuing the Air Force to become a Pilot, the US Navy also has a huge aviation program and opportunities to become a Pilot as well.
Best of luck to you!
Meighan recommends the following next steps:
I would consider the ROTC path.
I personally went down the ROTC path at first and switched out after deciding the army wasn't right for me. What I liked about ROTC is that you're getting a college education and likely scholarship. You have the ability to switch out until you commit with no penalty other than paying back any scholarship dollars that you spent so far. This really gives you the ability to try out both worlds and get a good idea if the air force is right for you while not losing any time at college. Additionally, if you like the airforce you're entering as an officer with more options for your career. If you decided to leave the airforce post college, you would have your degree already and can put in your minimal time commitment and take a normal engineering job after as well.
It's a great win win option for you that allows you to learn more before making a decision. Good luck!