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Life-changing decision

  1. Jan 3, 2008 #1
    Hi, I'm new to PF and from what I can tell, there are a lot of good members here on the forums, so I would like a little advice from you guys since I really have exhausted myself thinking about this.

    So I joined the Army Reserves in Sept. of 2006, partly to improve myself physically and mentally, but mostly for the money they offered for college. You see, I started at a 4-year university and enjoyed partying much more than studying so I did not last past that first year. If my family could have afforded tuition, I could have came back after just a semester, but they couldn't and I was forced to find the finances myself. I worked my butt off for a year before I made the decision to join the military and worked that much harder to lose the weight I needed to join. Once I lost the weight I joined the Reserves and began taking classes again using the military money and I sweet-talked the financial aid dept. into giving me aid through the school even though my GPA was so low.

    Long story, shortened just a bit, I stopped going to classes my first semester back because I was going to be half a grade point off from what I needed it to be to contract with the ROTC program. I was going to use the money stipend and my other military money to pay bills, tuition, and whatever other life expenses I had until graduation so it was a real blow to me when I found out that extra grand or so each month would not be happening.

    So now I'm faced with the choice of staying Reserves and working my way back into school, or going full-time military and either get a more career-oriented MOS or stay combat and try school again in 4 years. I have been considering the Navy nuclear power school or, if I stay Army, there are several MOSs that I could use in the civilian world and make good money without a degree. I like the nuke idea because I would essentially have an engineering degree without the paper. The one thing about that program is that I do not learn very well in short times. I am proficient in math (I was on track for a high B in calc II this semester), and I am usually good at physics but found physics II difficult after being out of school two years, but that was mostly because I was slack on studying. What I'm worried about it getting to the nuke school and completely bombing out if my study habits don't change.

    I am now 21 years old, so I have a good deal of time to work my life out, but I know I need to get moving soon. And I apologize for being so long-winded, but there is a lot going on in my head right now and I am in need of some wisdom from people who have perhaps went through something similar. Thank you in advance if you even read this. I know how horrible it is to read off a computer screen sometimes.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 4, 2008 #2
    Go back to school!(Sorry, but IMO its always better, because I dislike military stuff)
     
  4. Jan 4, 2008 #3

    Integral

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    Are you ready to take school seriously?
    Are you certain of your major?

    If the answer to these questions is uncertain, then go for the service. Put in enough time to get your benefits and choose a job that will provide a useful civilian skill. Spend a few years meeting a diverse group of people and experiance a period of regimented life.
    When you time is up, get out.

    I can empathize with your situation, though you do not have the draft looming over your shoulder as I did. I chose the Navy as a safer option (different war) and was trained in Electronics. It took 4 yrs of my life, I gained a life time skill, traveled and saw enough of the world to last life time. After my 4 years, I returned much matured, to my local state U and completed a degree in Physics.
     
  5. Jan 4, 2008 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    I hate to see anyone join the military these days unless they are joining to fight a war. If you can't get your act together, then joining the military may be the next best option; hence, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER! :biggrin:

    I would worry about where military duty might land you. Anything can happen.
     
  6. Jan 4, 2008 #5
    I am already in the military so I am very much aware of the possibility of going overseas. I have even volunteered to go but it's a lot harder to volunteer than one might think. The fact is that for me to survive the ME curriculum I need enough funds saved up to get myself through each semester without worrying about making rent or if I'm going to overdraft my account by buying groceries. Everything is on me and it has been incredibly tough. I'm just trying to weigh my options right now.
     
  7. Jan 4, 2008 #6
    how does one sweet talk their school into giving them money?
     
  8. Jan 4, 2008 #7

    stewartcs

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    I agree with what Integral said. I'm a Navy veteran and think the skills I learned there are invaluable.

    I would recommend the military because it seems to solve multiple issues for you: (1) you get paid while you learn a trade skill (and gain an academic back ground - you can get college credit at some universities for the schools you attend in the military); (2) you learn life lessons in team work and dedication - which will help with your studying habits; (3) you will receive the GI Bill for your university education upon separating from the armed services.

    Additionally, if I remember correctly, the military will pay for your college tuition while you are on active duty (or at least a percentage of it based on your performance).

    CS
     
  9. Jan 4, 2008 #8

    stewartcs

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    One other thing though, I assumed, since you already are in the reserves, that you understand what you are agreeing to do for your country if the need be (i.e. the possibility of death while serving).
     
  10. Jan 4, 2008 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    One thing about skills learned in the service: What do you think the rest of us did while you were serving; chop ham? I got in six years of fantastic experience on CAT scanners and MRI units instead of joining the navy as a nuke. And this experience was much more valuable than my training as a nuclear officer would have been. I also got to travel.

    I know about the nukes as some ex-nukes were in college with me and hoping to start a new career. Also, my cousin was a jet mechanic in the Navy. After getting out, he couldn't get a job. His Navy experience gave him no advantage whatsoever. My nephew also just got out of the Navy where he was a sonar operator - no practical value in civilian life. If you don't believe me, then check the help wanted ads for "sonar operators" or "nuclear officers".
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2008
  11. Jan 4, 2008 #10

    stewartcs

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    I never said that anything about anyone chopping ham. Nor did I indicate that someone else's choice not to serve was less important or less beneficial. I merely pointed out one solution to the OP's dilemma, not yours.

    This is not about what you chose or didn't choose to do, or trying to belittle some choice you made. It's simply an attempt to give some insight to the OP.

    If your cousin couldn't get a job after he got out of the Navy it wasn't due to the lack of experience or skill he learned while in the Navy. I will say that a jet mechanic rating in the Navy does not directly convert to an A&P license in the civilian sector. But that doesn't mean that he didn't gain an advantage by already knowing how to work on jet engines. He definitely would have an advantage (assuming he obtained his A&P license after the Navy) over someone who didn't have his experience with the same license.

    Every person I know, that had some initiative, obtained excellent jobs after the Navy.
     
  12. Jan 5, 2008 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    My point was that the military is often touted for its career building options, but there are plenty of ways to get valuable experience without joining the military. And military service by no means guarantees that one will come out with a marketable skill.

    Would those people that you know not have gotten excellent jobs had they not served? Maybe they got excellent jobs because they were excellent people to begin with.

    The problem for my cousin was that AA and Delta doesn't fly F-18s. The airlines were only hiring experienced commercial jet mechanics.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2008
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