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Should I complete my basics in a community college or should I join the military and do my education afterwards?

I wanted to see what options are better, whether to complete my basics first or complete all my education after I serve the military.

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Subject: Career question for you

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Paul’s Answer

Hi Luis:

There are a couple ways of looking at this scenario. Having worked with students in college who later joined the military, I can relay some of their experiences to you.

* It appears that you have an option to attend college before you enter the military service. There are definitely some advantages to doing this. Attending college and completing a degree is mandatory if you want to become an officer. As I recall General Colin Powell took this option. In his case he went to the City College of New York and completed a bachelors degree in Geology, and while attending gained valuable ROTC experience from the military corps on campus. If you attended a college and completed a degree, and the college had an ROTC program this would definitely help in making your rise to the top easier. I have been told one advantage in doing this is the fact that the compensation that you will receive will be higher than a regular enlisted person. Even if there is not an ROTC unit on the campus that you attend, the path towards becoming an officer will be quicker, because you still have achieved a college degree. The military loves individuals who have college degrees, and they reward personnel for achieving those college degrees by providing higher compensation and promotion.

* The second option you addressed involves going into the military first and then coming out and attending college afterwards. This is the option that one of my brothers took. While he did have some college credits, before enlisting, he had not attained a college degree. So, he basically went in as a regular enlisted man. As a result his pay was lower and promotion was limited. There were some positive elements that resulted from his experience. This is the fact that the military paid for nearly all of his college education after he left the army. As a result he was able to eventually achieve a college degree and is doing very well in life.

So, you are looking at a choice. Go to college, get a degree and become an officer with the compensation and benefits that comes with it. And the other is go in without college or a degree, and become an enlisted personnel and attain the benefit of having the military pay for your college education upon discharge from the military.

I hope this narrative will help you in making your decision, and reviewing your potential options. Best of luck with your future.

Paul

Paul recommends the following next steps:

Review the military benefits and compensation for personnel who have attended college and achieved college degrees
Review the military benefits and compensation for enlisted personnel, especially the college payment plans
Speak to a military recruiter about these options. Note: Also check out the military reserves, to see what opportunities they can give you
Talk to a college advisor, and an ROTC representative, if there is one on the campus you choose to attend.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this information will help me choose a good path and see which path is better thank you so much!. Luis
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Dawn’s Answer

As others have stated, there are many education benefits afforded you in the military. It really depends on what your long term goals are. Are your plans to make a career out of the military? Once you join you could receive college credits depending on your job and training, Tuition Assistance is available while you are active, and the GI bill offers education and possibly a housing stipend after service as well. The military has a lot to offer depending on what you choose to do.
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Mohamed’s Answer

Joining the military opens the doors to many privileges including future educational perspectives and support. However completing your basics at a community College will be a plus when you join the military and a good start when you go back to education. You may explore also military academies to fulfill your two objectives at once.

Mohamed recommends the following next steps:

Explore military academies
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Jackson’s Answer

Hi Luis, I've been in the Marine Corps for 3 years now. What you want to do regarding education is completely up to you. The military will reward you to a certain degree for having college credits, but it stops there if you're enlisting.

Suppose you want to enlist after doing some community college. In that case, you will be able to enter the military as an E-2 rather than an E-1, making a little bit extra money off the bat and a slightly higher rank than a person who did not do college. The military will also pay for your college while you're enlisted, allowing you to use something called "Tuition Assistance". TA will allow you to take up to 2 classes at once every semester until you decide to get out of the military.

If you were thinking of the officer route, I'd recommend just sticking college out and then applying with an Officer Selection Officer. I'd advise you to research the differences between an officer and an enlisted service member. Officers generally make more money, have more authority, and are expected to have more responsibility.

Jackson recommends the following next steps:

Figure out if you want to enlist or commission
Talk to a recruiter, they can help you more than most people here could
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Connor’s Answer

Hello Luis,

I wanted to provide some input here as I am currently serving active duty in the United States Marine Corps while being enrolled in college. I decided to join the military for a plethora of different reasons. One of those reasons was for education benefits. Before I joined I was having to pay some money out of pocket to gain credits.

Since joining, not only is the Marine Corps totally paying for my classes ($700+) but I am also receiving about $500 of federal aid which goes straight into my savings. I have not had much difficulty participating in schooling while active duty, but this will rely on your specific job and workload.

If you are able to complete a successful four years of military service and receive an honorable discharge then you will qualify for a paid degree plan when you exit the military, to include paid allowance while you are in school.
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Jacob’s Answer

I'll keep it short. It really depends on what you are trying to do and what your plans are. If you join the military, you will get certifications depending on what job you do and you might not even need to go to college. I joined the military and got half of my degree in credits (from military training and military online classes). Also, there is tuition assistance which allows you to use $4,500 every year to take online or in-person classes. I am getting out shortly and will have only 6 classes left before getting my bachelor's degree. On top of that there is the post 9/11 GI bill which pays for 4 years of college or other forms of education. My job in the military was an Air Traffic Controller so I can get out and do that as well. The military has a lot to offer depending on what you choose to do.
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Jerry’s Answer

You can do both at the same time. Just because you join the military doesn't mean you can't go to college. Once you are in the military ( Doesn't matter the branch). You can get Tuition Assistance to further you education, all while you serve so you don't miss anytime.
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ANDI’s Answer

As others have stated, there are many education benefits afforded you in the military.
Once you join you could receive college credits depending on your job and training, Tuition Assistance is available while you are active, and the GI bill offers education and possibly a housing stipend after service as well.
We also have trainings available to us while enlisted that provide civilian certifications in lieu of, or for use during, further degrees, etc.
The website NAVY COOL has a ton of information regarding training and education in the Navy and beyond, as I'm sure other branches probably provide similar as well.
On the other hand, if you complete an entire degree prior to service, you could be eligible to come in as an officer instead of enlisted, if that is something you may be interested in.
If you choose to begin an education, but do not complete an entire degree program, before enlisting, certainly ask your recruiter about student loan repayment. There are several student loan aid programs through the military that I was not made aware of when I joined.
Good luck in your endeavors!
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