Should I join the military, and if so, which branch?
December 9, 2003 2:03 PM   Subscribe

I went into an Army recruitment center, got 79 out of 99 on a pre-test, and I was told by a sergeant that I could be doing intelligence for the military.

What should I do? I don't even have a High School diploma, and im getting my GED right now. They told me that if my scores are high enough it shouldn't matter. Should I do the Air Force instead? I want to have a great career, and this feels like a good start. Help!
posted by Keyser Soze to Work & Money (52 answers total)
1. Get the GED.
2. Go to a community college for a year.
3. From there go to a four-year degree program.
4. Get a graduate degree.
5. ??????
6. Profit!!!!
posted by anathema at 2:07 PM on December 9, 2003

What test was it? The ASVAB?
posted by bshort at 2:10 PM on December 9, 2003

Some serious questions: How old are you? What else are you interested in? Does anything that you've read on MeFi about military policy and military intelligence give you pause? Do you have resources to get by on if you were to do a degree? Do you like school?
posted by stonerose at 2:11 PM on December 9, 2003

I went into an Army recruitment center, got 79 out of 99 on a pre-test, and I was told by a sergeant that I could be doing intelligence for the military.

Not that I know you, but just realize that the recruitment guys will tell you that you get enthusiastic handjobs from mermaids every weekend if they think it'll get you to sign up.
posted by Skot at 2:12 PM on December 9, 2003

Response by poster: Im poor, so is my family. I would need to get money to go to college, and I don't want to pay loans for 10 years.

The position is known as 98-Xray. Computer and hardware intelligence ops.

I could get something like 30 grand for college for 4 years of hard work. The sergeant is blowing a little smoke up my ass, that's just his job. But intelligence? That could get me laid. (Hahaha)

Seriously, I am 20 years old. I dropped out of school at 16 but I read and want to learn more things all the time. I keep an open mind and I like people.

I love computers, I am passionate about computer hardware. I like school if I had personal freedom (college would be more like me).

I did not take the ASVAB. I took a pre-test. I live in Oregon. Tech jobs are very hard to find, much less get.

In response to things I have seen on Metafilter: I agree that there are many terrible things that can happen that I would indirectly be helping if I was in the military. Maybe I could transfer to the CIA, as the sergeant said was possible. Probably very hard to do.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:17 PM on December 9, 2003

Response by poster: Also: I took a few pre-ged tests and I am very high up on the ladder. My weak point is Math. I was told my odds of getting a GED "with honors" is great if my Math comprehension went up. Thank you all in advance for any advice.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:19 PM on December 9, 2003

Federal student loans currently have the lowest interest rates since the inception of the Federal student loan program. Loans for school are an investment of exponential value. Looking solely at the amount you will have to repay is short sighted.
posted by anathema at 2:21 PM on December 9, 2003

Keyser, I would say that unless you find being an infantry grunt on the front lines in Iraq or worse (whatever your nightmare scenario might be) an appealing or at least moderately livable option for the entire period of your enlistment, then the military is probably not the best option. It certainly could be a path to better things, but you'll have to be willing to pay your dues at the bottom of the pile before you can get there. Don't assume you'll be able to follow your passions, especially not right away.
posted by daveadams at 2:22 PM on December 9, 2003

Federal student loans currently have the lowest interest rates since the inception of the Federal student loan program.

This is true. My wife's loan for her just completed MBA came in at under 2%. Of course, it's a variable rate, so that's not guaranteed.
posted by daveadams at 2:23 PM on December 9, 2003

Keyser - read Anthony Swofford's fantastic book "Jarhead" first - it will give you some insight into the recruiting process and to what it's like to serve in active duty... it's sort of surprising how close Skot's "handjobs from mermaids" characterization really is...
posted by judith at 2:23 PM on December 9, 2003

Keyser on thing to keep in mind is that very few people actually get the money for college from the military. There are special requirements and exit tests you must take to get all that you are promised. I know two people who were unable to get the money for college they thought they were getting, instead they qualified only for outside scholarships which they might have been able to get anyway.

If you genuinely want to be in the military it's a different story, but if you are only going for College I would suggest that you get your GED and start researching the combination of student loans, community college for the first two years, and scholarships that may be available to you. You will have a better chance of getting college money this way.
posted by cell divide at 2:26 PM on December 9, 2003

And you could subsidize your tuition as a computer hardware consultant to the school.
posted by anathema at 2:29 PM on December 9, 2003

Federal Student Aid.

Plus, there are private loans that you could probably qualify for.
posted by anathema at 2:31 PM on December 9, 2003

I recall reading somewhere (perhaps a review of "Jarhead") That unless they put it in writing that you will get a certain position or education track, they can transfer you anywhere else they feel like instead. Apparently getting something in writing is like trying to hold back a greased pig on a rampage. Well, you get the idea.
posted by jester69 at 2:32 PM on December 9, 2003

Response by poster: I will keep my head up and see what I can do with Student loans. What do you think I can do with school, if I want to learn more about computers and hardware? Can I make a feasable career that I could be happy with? Sorry for the stupid questions. I know that these are things I must learn on my own, along the way.

It's nice that you all are talking to me about this. I appreciate your pointers.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:35 PM on December 9, 2003

I like school if I had personal freedom

Doesn't sound like a match for the miitary to me.
posted by dobbs at 2:37 PM on December 9, 2003

There's always law school.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:40 PM on December 9, 2003

Response by poster: Has anyone done Military Intel?
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:40 PM on December 9, 2003

"Computer and hardware intelligence ops"

My bullshit meter is going off.

Outside of the military this job might be known as "network security engineer". You toss in a top secret security clearance and you have a resume that is golden in the tech sector. My company (a military contractor) would hire such a candidate in a heartbeat. And pay a premium to do so. Good computer people with security clearances are very rare.

So....... The possibility that the military is going to grab you off the street and train you for something like this is zero. The competition to get a job like that must be incredible.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:41 PM on December 9, 2003

Having worked for several years in the exciting world of student financial aid, I can attest that the federal GSL programs and other programs, like the Pell grant (free money), are excellent resources and can make college a reality for just about anyone. I finally finished paying off my own loans last year--$140 a month over ten years was a small price to pay for an entire college education; when you consider my earning potential now versus if I'd never gone, it becomes a no-brainer. And, let's be honest--I spent a lot of that money on beer.
posted by vraxoin at 2:47 PM on December 9, 2003

listen to anathema!!!! : >

Im poor, so is my family. I would need to get money to go to college, and I don't want to pay loans for 10 years.
I'm poor too, and worked my way through, taking classes at night--It ended up taking me 10 years to get my bachelors--but i did it--you can too! Plus you end up with an excellent resume (much better than those people who just went to school full-time) can work on campus for free tuition at a lot of places too (I did that for a while--it was an easy job, and saved me thousands and thousands)...go make an appointment somewhere (a local community college?) just to talk--they're very nice, and want interested, motivated people like you--they can help...Please don't sign your life away to the armed forces unless you've exhausted all other options. Try one or two classes a semester at first and try to get financial aid that not's repayable (get grants instead of loans, investigate scholarships online, etc)...Give regular college a shot even at night before you sign up--Bush isn't finished sending soldiers all over.
posted by amberglow at 2:51 PM on December 9, 2003

Finish your GED first thing; don't let the recruiter's need to hit his annual quota pull you away from that. If the military is something you actively want to do, think about that afterwards; otherwise look at community college or other further education, and fund it with education loans (which will pay for themselves many times over). But be sure you're doing what you want to do, and keep your options open. I think joining the Army -- especially before finishing the GED -- might risk closing a lot more than you want to, and more than they'll tell you about.
posted by nickmark at 2:55 PM on December 9, 2003


I did the Army for 4 years and went to college afterwards. Of course I signed up for Field Artillery.

Several things:

1) If you don't get it in writing when you sign up with the recruiter, it might happen or it might not. But if you do get it in writing, it will happen. The Army is a lot more flexible than most people give it credit for.

2) The Army and Air Force are closely tied together, much like the Marines and the Navy. The Army is much more strict, the Air Force is almost college-like in how it deals with it's personnel. But the two branches do interact a lot, you will have access to both Army and Air Force bases.

3) The four years I spent in the Army were some of the funnest of my life. If you have the discipline to accept the sometimes onerous demands, it can be a blast. Travel everywhere, lots of perks.

4) In the Army you will get deployed places for months to years at a time. This includes the field, foreign bases, wartime situations. You must become basically rootless, don't get used to being anywhere for long. The Army will move you places that it wants. You can request specific locations to be stationed at, but don't count on it.

5) As to the college funds, I've never heard of anyone having any problems receiving them. I had no problems collecting mine, and no-one that I've talked to has had any problems either.

6) If you have any problems with authority, people telling you what to do, then the Army probably isn't for you. You will have people telling you what to do, clean that toilet, dig me a ditch, etc. A lot of these people aren't particulary nice or even smart.

7) You will meet great people. The diversity of people I met was extraordinary. I had more friends in the Army than any other point in my life.

8) If you're not in great physical shape, don't worry. But be prepared to get in good shape.

9) When you get out of the military, you have so many bonuses in life. VA Loans, college funds, plus most people who have been in the military look highly upon others who were as well.

10) The military life isn't for everyone, it wasn't for me. I enjoyed my time in, but I was glad to get out. The military is a huge pretend life, where you have to follow a rigorous set of rules and procedures. Some people need that structure, some don't. Regardless if you do or don't, you will need to live by it while you are in the military.
posted by patrickje at 2:56 PM on December 9, 2003 [1 favorite]

Normally I wouldn't feel qualified to respond to this, but in the interests of providing a dissenting voice — I think you're right to be wary of school loans. Sure, a college education is valuable, but it's getting less so every year and tuition is going up at the same time. Is it valuable enough to spend 10 or 20 years in debt for? Maybe it is, but I wouldn't take that fact for granted.

You may have opportunities to go to school while in the military, at their expense; ask about that. And I will second what everyone else says regarding not trusting recruitment officers; anything that's important to you, get in writing. If they won't put it in writing chances are they're bullshitting you.

Don't underrate community colleges. Especially in a technical field like systems administration/networking/hardware, an associate's degree and maybe a certification or two might be enough to get you a job that can help put you through the last two years of school on your own dime, or at least with a drastically reduced need to take out loans.

This is coming from someone who dropped out of community college at 16 and hasn't been back, and whom wild horses couldn't drag into the military, so take it with a grain of salt.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 3:01 PM on December 9, 2003

One last thing, if you do join the military, you're not in the Cub Scouts, or at some college. You're joining an institution whose primary function is to defend the country. This includes going to war and other nastiness. I thought George Bush Sr. was a huge pile of ass-nuts, but I still went to war when he said. Some people aren't ready for the reality of what the military is, and what it's purpose is.
posted by patrickje at 3:03 PM on December 9, 2003

Good computer people with security clearances are very rare.

It hurts! It hurrrrrrrrrts!
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:05 PM on December 9, 2003

Response by poster: I will call my recruitment center and schedule an appointment, and require that any promises made be written. That is great advice. I will also heed the college advice, by meeting with people within the school system and finding out my needs and requirements.
posted by Keyser Soze at 3:15 PM on December 9, 2003

I'm 21 and graduating college in May. I'd urge you to find out what kind of student loans and grants you could qualify for before getting too far into the military stuff. As pointed out already, rates right now are fantastic. Also, if you haven't already, you should take the SAT or ACT. I got a couple letters from state universities in other states that offered me their in-state tuition rates because of my scores, and my scores weren't insanely high, either. Lots of undergrad places are dying to throw money around to get "diversified" classes. To state universities, just the fact that I'm not a resident of their state is attractive.

As far as the military goes, find out *exactly* what their payment of the $30,000 is. Is that $30k in today's dollars, or in 4 year from now's dollars? Do they pay it directly to the school or just give you the cash at once? These things are very important in calculating if it's a better "deal" vs. a ten-year loan payment. You might be surprised at how good that loan payment ends up looking in comparison. Whatever you decide, good luck!
posted by gatorae at 3:21 PM on December 9, 2003

My brother entered college in the NROTC program -- I think the military paid him for his time in military training, and this essentially paid for much of his tuition at a state school. He was studying to be an engineer and is a bright guy (high SATs, etc), but between the military training and the tough engineering courses, his GPA went way down, and he was VERY disappointed when, after college was over, they put him in infantry in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. (I'm not sure if and what they promised him, but my impression was that it was a technology related position, i.e., so he'd use his degree. But they didn't give him that because of his grades.) He was pretty bitter about this.

Moreover, because he didn't wind up using his engineering degree while he was "doing his time" after college in infantry, he had a hell of a time finding a good job after he left. He's doing great now, after going back to school for an MBA, but he had a very difficult decade between the military and now. My impression (backed up by some on-line research about 2 years ago) is that lots of people in the military get put into jobs that have little real-world application, and then have trouble making the shift after their stint in the military is over.

If you're thinking of entering the military and having them pay for college at the same time, be wary of "promises" -- recognize that they can't promise you anything because they don't know how you'll perform in college. If you're entering not intending to go to college but to get military training, be sure that you'll really get the job they promise and that this job will actually help your future.

Fifty years ago, though, the navy was good to my Dad, who was dirt poor and also never finished high school. He did get training that helped him get a job in the real world that he had for 30 years. But, things have changed. Although it sounds like things worked out for patrickje, so maybe I'm wrong. In any case, good luck to you!
posted by onlyconnect at 3:32 PM on December 9, 2003

No matter what you do, make sure that you get all the education you can while you are still young. I deeply regret walking away from any further education at 17 and it has cost me dearly both in terms of employment opportunities and salary levels. Once you reach the point where you have a family and a job and all the junk that goes along with that, it becomes almost impossible to find the time (not to mention the money). The military may be a good option if you can get the education that way, but forget any ideas of personal freedom, privacy or control over most of your life while you are in there.
posted by dg at 3:35 PM on December 9, 2003

My Brother joined the Marines 3 years ago, and was promised many specific things I was sure would not come to pass, but I was wrong. He was taught to speak Arabic and Farsi and has all sorts of money lined up for school when he gets out (It was a 5 year enlistment) That said, he was one of the first into Iraq, and is guaranteed a return visit sooner rather than later. He is pretty freaking bitter towards the military at this point and has no intention of signing up again. All the kids from his high school that he talked into signing up (to improve his own rank somehow) have all become infantry, which is not really good for your aspirations in the short or long run.
posted by thirteen at 3:38 PM on December 9, 2003

I'll add another completely unqualified opinion, but it may be worth listening to. The purpose of the armed forces is war, and the purpose of war is to kill and be killed. Everything else - the thirty grand, the fun times, the training, etc. are incentives. They are the means, not the ends.

Many men and women stationed in Iraq are there because they love their country and want to serve. Many more are there because they didn't feel they had any other options. You do have options. A GED and a two-year community college degree will give you roughly the same advantages. Don't pass up civilian options.

As some others have said, working for military contractors can also give you lots of good technical experience without the whole toilet-cleaning nonsense.
posted by PrinceValium at 3:40 PM on December 9, 2003

Questionable anecdotal bit:

A friend of mine spent two years at college because of ROTC; he didn't have (or perhaps wasn't savvy enough of the system to acquire) the means to go on his own dollar -- at least to our school. Then he dropped out of ROTC and correspondingly out of school because he got utterly sick of the military's effect on his life and his psyche.

He's a much more pragmatic, hard-working, sir-yes-sir, love-of-country sort of person than I am; I'm one of those "the draft board can find me in Canada" types. So you may need to carefully consider how you feel now, and how you might feel in a few years, about introducing the military into your life.

Incidental post-script -- he has since gotten married and gotten off to a tremendous start career-wise, making almost embarrassing amounts of money despite his abortive education. I finished school and have a shit-job. The work ethic thing is sort of key here.
posted by cortex at 4:07 PM on December 9, 2003

If you are poor and your family is poor then you are golden when it comes to getting college funds. I'd strongly suggest getting your GED done, go to a community college for a year or two, then look into national grant programs.

My parents don't make squat and I found out that if you looked into it, it was easy to find $10k in free grant money for each year I went to college to finish my degree (2, after 3 years in community college). Most people don't go through the effort and don't know the money is available to them, but there is plenty out there.

I finished grad school after my undergrad and don't have too bad of loans, it's pretty close to owning a new car and having to pay it off.

When I was 17 I was in much of the same position as you. I was a good student throughout elementary school and middle school but hated high school and nearly quit. My GPA fell to 2.5 or so and I couldn't wait to get out. I thought about the military and they are pretty damn good at attracting pissed off rudderless young men, but passed on it and went to community college. I eventually found biology and studied stuff I liked and was happy not to have to deal with lame high school dynamics anymore. I went on to a good state school and finished things out. The year I finished community college (I did get a A.S. in something or other), my school of approximately 6,000 graduated 200 people, of which, 6 went on to the local state college. I don't know if that says most all community college students are lazy and don't go on to bigger things, or that eventually a few people will find what they were looking for and excel.

It's going to be a different experience for everyone, but I know plenty of people that hated being in the military, plenty that didn't really love college, but overall more college folks were happy with their experience than military folks I've known.
posted by mathowie at 4:15 PM on December 9, 2003

Even with a GED, don't rule out going to a 4-year school off the bat. Especially if you're from a less-than-rich background and get excellent SAT scores (which you can certainly try hard for), you could end up going to a state school for no money up front and minimal loans. You could also play up non-traditional-student aspect in your application (overcoming hardship, something like that...). College itself is 1. a great socializing experience and 2. a foot in the door for most companies. Good luck.
posted by The Michael The at 4:52 PM on December 9, 2003

I know loans suck, but think about it this way: you have to earn the money either way. Do you want to spend the time working to save that money before or after you're educated? Seems to me that once you have a degree, you'll have more power to earn.

I could get something like 30 grand for college for 4 years of hard work.

30 grand for 4 years of work boils down to $7500 a year. Once you have a college degree, you can easily find a job that will allow you to save an additional $7500 a year to pay off that same sum. And you won't lose those 4 years you'd otherwise spend in the service. Paying off your education by doig a tour in the service seems like the maximum-pain, minimum-pay solution.

I also went to a community college before a 4-year college and I highly recommend it *if* a good one is available. You can save a ton of money, get a head start on your studies, and transfer into a better school than you could have been admitted to as a freshman. It's a win-win proposition.

The one situation where the service can really help you out, I think, is when you know you want to leave your native state to go to college. Tuition for out-of-state students is usually much higher, and people can get stuck.

Good luck with it. And don't believe a word the recruiter says. He's not going to be watching your back in 2 years' time.
posted by scarabic at 5:02 PM on December 9, 2003

see if you can get an ROTC or NROTC scholarship. that way, you'll get the college over with before the military, and, when you do go in, you'll be an officer and not enlisted.

also, the military likes to have a return on its investment....chances are, if you don't fuck up, you'll get the job you expect. i can tell you that the marines guarantee flight officer status for their OCS or NROTC midshipmen (like i had!), but, even if its in writing, if you do lousy at school, kiss it all goodbye, and say hello to infantry.

i would also recommend air force over anything else... unless you want to be a fighter or front-line support, in which case you need to join the marines. air force treats their personnel the best, and you have the highest chance of acquiring a skill you'll use after you get out.

but seriously...look into being an officer first. you might even be able to go mustang, which is to enlist first, go to school while being in the reserves, and then commission. they give it to you all in one nice package when you sign, so it's guaranteed IF YOU DON'T FUCK UP. if you can pull THAT off, that's your best bet. it has the longest military stint, but that's because you're going to school while in the military.

and keep in mind that you might like it :)
posted by taumeson at 5:18 PM on December 9, 2003

If you don't mind moving to Georgia, you should check out the Hope Scholarship.
Students that carry a 3.0 GPA get free tuition to any GA state school. GED applicants are eligible, but have different requirements. I think some other states have similar programs, so you might want to research the state-based grant programs elsewhere.
posted by lilboo at 5:24 PM on December 9, 2003

i don't know if you're near Portland, but Portland Community College has a few campuses--check them out.
posted by amberglow at 5:45 PM on December 9, 2003

Oh no, the first war in the green! ROTC: taumeson urges you not to fuck up, and I urge you not to count on not fucking up!

However, since taumeson was a marine, I'm abandoning the field like the liberal yellow bellied coward I am!
posted by onlyconnect at 5:47 PM on December 9, 2003

An Army grunt stands in the rain with a 35 lb. pack on his back, 15 lb. weapon in hand, after having marched 12 miles, and says, "This is shit." An Army Airborne Ranger stands in the rain with a 45 lb. pack on his back, weapon in hand, after having jumped from an airplane and marched 18 miles, and says with a smile, "This is good shit!" A Marine lies in the mud, 55 lb pack on his back, weapon in hand, after swimming 10 miles to shore, crawling through a swamp and marching 25 miles at night past the enemy positions, says with a grin, "This really is great shit." A Navy SEAL, up to his nose in the stinking, bug-infested mud of a swamp with a 65 lb pack on his back and a weapon in both hands after jumping from an aircraft at high altitude, into the ocean, swimming 12 miles to the shore, killing several alligators to enter the swamp, then crawling 30 miles through the brush to assault an enemy camp, says, "I love this shit!" An Air Force officer sits in an easy chair in his air conditioned, carpeted BOQ room and says, "The cable's out? What kind of shit is this?"

Joking aside, the military can be very good to you, but never lose sight of patrickje's last point. Cooks have been handed rifles and pointed toward the enemy. That could happen to you no matter how "safe" your job is. If you're not ready for that, then the military isn't for you. As long as you wear a uniform, you're a target to someone.

I joined the military right after high school. I had my program guaranteed in writing and, when I was medically disqualified for it, I was given the option to leave. Which I took. There's always going to be horror stories about someone who got screwed by the system because yes, it does happen. But for every story like that I've heard I know a dozen ex-military people who, if they aren't quite bubbly about their time in the service, at the very least don't regret it. Or, as my dad sad, "the best thing I ever did was joining the Air Force. The second best thing I ever did was getting out."
posted by Cyrano at 6:12 PM on December 9, 2003

All that being said, Keyser, if you really like computers you could always look into a help desk job while you go through school. The entry-level requirements are rarely that extensive, and as much as people can look down on the blue collar tech folks, the experience will be invaluable down the line no matter what branch of IT ultimately tickles your fancy.
posted by Cyrano at 6:19 PM on December 9, 2003

I could be doing intelligence for the military...
The-God-That-May-Or-May-Not-Exist knows the military could use some more intelligence.

Thirty-odd responses and nobody else made that joke yet? AskMeFi is wa-a-a-ay too serious.

Joking aside, the military can be very good to you, but... As long as you wear a uniform, you're a target to someone.
Joking aside, this thread alone demonstrates that AskMeFi is a more-than-worthy addition to the site, for the pure information being provided (even when it is totally non-relevent to my own life - my military experience consisted of qualifying for the Draft Lottery the last year of its existence and coming up with a risk-free number in the 270's), as well as for the helpful, non-argumentative atmosphere. Good work, Matt (and everybody else...)
posted by wendell at 7:13 PM on December 9, 2003

Dude, we're at war in two places. Don't even think about the military right now. Get into college just in case Bush wins again and reinstates the draft... Yes, I'm serious... Yes, I'm a (combat) veteran as many here can attest...

I don't want to see anyone else die senselessly. Get to work, get to school, and plan on enjoying a long healthy life.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 7:19 PM on December 9, 2003

Response by poster: Yes, I like this new site. Everyone is glad to help, that is new to me. Nobody making snide remarks because they want their name written on some webpage.

You've all been a great help. The future is wide open right now.
posted by Keyser Soze at 7:20 PM on December 9, 2003

If you *primarlily* want to carry a gun and shoot things, join the Army.
If you *primarily* want to live on a ship, join the Navy
If you *primarily* want to be truly "hardcore" and be able to kill anyone with your bare hands, join the Marines.

BUT...if you want to serve in the military and NOT necessarily have any of the above as your primary skill or job, then join the Air Force.

Yes, every single member of the U.S. military is prepared to defend the nation and follow the orders of the President - but there are many career fields which drastically minimize the chances that you will have to actually fire a gun on a regular basis. Medical, chaplain assisant, paralegal, and (AFAIK) most computer-related fields.

ALSO: the anecdote that Cyrano quoted is humorous, but rooted in reality :-)

E-mail me if you want some more specific advice on military life. Good luck.
posted by davidmsc at 8:08 PM on December 9, 2003

Response by poster: Chaplain Assistant was what Billy Pilgrim started out as.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:09 PM on December 9, 2003

in Slaughterhouse 5? (well, he survived Dresden, after all)
posted by amberglow at 9:26 PM on December 9, 2003

Keyser Soze, I live right beside a huge Army base, which coincidentally contains an Air Force base in it. From conversations with both branches of servicemen I have it on excellent authority that the Air Force is much better to its people than the Army. One reason I wouldn't let my son apply to West Point. Seriously.

If you do decide on the Army, let us know if you get stationed at Fort Bragg.
posted by konolia at 4:10 AM on December 10, 2003


The army is only branch of the military that guarantees 100% that you will be trained and work in the job you sign up for. Every other branch can completely ignore your wishes upon signing up. Chances are they won't, but they can.

The GI Bill is paid directly to the student. I'm collecting it right now. Every month on the last day of the month I go online and verify my enrollment and a couple days later the money is put into my account. When I signed up in 99, the GI Bill was paying 500 some a month, now it is over 900.

Don't pick a job with serious hopes of turning it into a career afterwards, unless you go to school to expand on your military knowledge. I learned more about telephone systems then anyone needs to know and still couldn't get a job at SBC of AT&T. If I had gone to school for it afterwards, I probably could have gotten a job with real life military experience plus college theory.

The military isn't easy, but it was a lot of fun. Get that GED, and work on school while in the military when you can. You can take a course a semester and most of your cadre should be willing to help you in any way they can. They pay a large chunk of tuition while you are enlisted.
posted by Apoch at 5:02 AM on December 10, 2003

If you go in the Military make sure anything promised is in writing.

Please get your GED first: it will benefit you with more pay. Good Luck; it's your decision so make sure it is what you: your future self wants.
Add, if you like traveling, my brother has circled the world twice in the Navy & has been stationed inland the past 2 years in Germany.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:51 AM on December 10, 2003

Portland Community College is really quit good, keyser. My girlfriend has taken a couple of language and professional classes there, and a good friend used PCC for the "community college followed by a four-year" route. Both said that the school really wasn't characterizable by the "diploma factory" stereotype of community colleges.

And other than possibly the math part, I think you can pass the GED without evne studying.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:00 PM on December 14, 2003

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