Should the military come before or after college? – Chozen Pierce
By: Chozen Pierce
For those who think about joining the military, the question of when to join is a big decision. Should it come before or after college?
“It depends on the person,” said veteran and University of Nevada graduate Mike Bowers. “For example, when I first graduated high school I wasn’t mentally prepared for college.”
Bowers enlisted into the Army after high school and served a term of four years. After serving he attended UNR. For Bowers, the pros of joining the military before college was the financial opportunity the military gave him and the learning experience he got while serving.
“My folks didn’t have the money for me to go to a University,” Bowers said. “It was the right choice for me. I was a B average student in high school and after serving, I learned to put my work first and play second. I was a 4.0 college student because of the discipline I got in the military.”
Student veterans have a higher GPA than the national average, according to veteran writer Barrett Bogue. Meaning Bowers’ experience holds true not only for himself, but for many student veterans.
Bowers describes the pros and cons for those who are thinking about joining after being a part of an ROTC program in college.
“There are more financial benefits being an officer that went through ROTC in college compared to those that just enlist,” Bowers said. “But the people that do go down that route aren’t as respected by the individuals that enlist.”
The reason for this is because officers who are fresh out of an ROTC program in college are inexperienced, typically expected to lead soldiers who have been in the military for years. Overall the pro of joining the military after being a part of an ROTC program in college would be a higher salary. However, the con would be the struggle of earning respect from your enlisted counterparts.
In terms for serving in the special forces Bowers suggested that being a part of an ROTC program is a good idea because it’s more of a condensed group of individuals.
“They have more respect for each other, no matter what circumstance you join in,” he said.
Another perspective comes from Spencer Church, a student at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is currently aspiring to be a Navy SEAL after he graduates college. However, is taking a different approach to achieve this goal. Instead of joining the SEALs team by becoming an officer with his college degree, Church plans on enlisting.
“From what I can understand at the moment, when you go in as an officer, you still are involved in combat,” Church said. “However, it’s more of a leadership role, you don’t get to specialize in one specific role. You’ll eventually end up doing more desk work than combat compared to those who enlist.”
For Spencer he wants to be involved in combat for as long as possible. Being able to serve as a sniper and possibly begin a career afterwards in the CIA.
“I want to be able to specialize in a combat role, rather than a leadership role,” he said.
Overall, the choice to join the military is difficult. However, it seems the choice varies depending on what motivations you have when joining, and your circumstance when you graduate from high school. For Mike Bowers it was the circumstances that led him to join the military first. Through his circumstances he was able to join and succeed in college. For Spencer Church it was the choice to have higher education and the time to develop his aspirations in college before serving in the military.
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