• Chemistry
Matsukaze
NUPOC program specifically. In short, I get paid a salary to earn my bachelor's before being shipped off. From what I can tell, it's the single most efficient program in terms of time spent and money gained.

I would like to get advice from people who understand my career pathway. I feel that a lot of the advice I've been given on the subject is from people who don't understand what you can (or rather, what you can't) do with a BS in Chemistry. I'm often told that the military in general is a bad idea because it's a time sink and I won't be receiving any relevant experience, so I'm better off finding another pathway.

While I agree, I don't know what other pathway there is. I don't have enough in savings to pay for the rest of my schooling. I would need to drop to part time status and slowly inch my way towards a bachelor’s while working. I wouldn't be able to participate in internships or lab work. Maybe I graduate, but even finding an entry level job will be an uphill battle at best without any relevant experience. Following that, the road through graduate school would be fraught with financial stress due to debt and a lack of savings.

Alternatively, I trade 5 years of my life to graduate debt free, and go to grad school with no financial worries. Sure there's a time gap, but I'm trading that for a high GPA, extracurriculars, and undergraduate research experience. While those 5 years aren't spent doing anything relevant to chemistry, in between power school and the rigorous nature of the job, I can at least demonstrate the characteristics needed to succeed in grad school. It's far from ideal, but it wouldn't be a *complete* waste of time.

I would love to hear some advice, I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out what to do from here.

https://www.navycs.com/officer/nupoc.html

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Dale

Mentor
NUPOC program specifically. In short, I get paid a salary to earn my bachelor's before being shipped off. From what I can tell, it's the single most efficient program in terms of time spent and money gained.
Are you sure about that? From my read it sounds like a typical OCS program (but for nuke) where you are not connected to the military until graduation whereupon you enter OCS and almost instantly become a military officer. As far as I know, these programs do not pay for college. That's what ROTC and service academies are for. People who enter these programs, though, as already enlisted, are continued to be paid accordingly.
I would like to get advice from people who understand my career pathway...I'm often told that the military in general is a bad idea because it's a time sink and I won't be receiving any relevant experience, so I'm better off finding another pathway.

While I agree, I don't know what other pathway there is. I don't have enough in savings to pay for the rest of my schooling.
Well, there are people who join the military solely because they want money for college or just to live, mostly enlisted. That's a hard bargain given the nature of the work, but up to them.

However, I have strong feelings about the duty of an officer here. Let me put that this way: one of my roommates plebe summer dropped out after/because of The Body Bag Speech. That's where a senior enlisted guy drops a body bag on the floor in front of the platoon and describes in detail how one of us might in 4 years given him an order that sends him to his death. Either accidentally or on purpose. There aren't many jobs in the world that have more serious of a responsibility than that and it needs to be recognized/taken seriously.

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Mentor
While I never followed this route, I had friends who did with various levels of success.

On the bottom end, one friend joined the Air Force to learn electronics and he did but his job assignments were in radar facilities where you would diagnose bad cards and replace them. He lamented that they weren't allowed to fix the cards although he and others did anyway.

On the higher end, my Dad got to go to college on the GI bill after his WW2 service in Europe. This was something he might never have done otherwise. He became a social worker for the school districts.

Others I’ve known have learned software engineering in service and upon leaving entered private industry as programmers.

Still others have gone to graduate level degrees in engineering at some of the best universities, something they might never do without government educational assistance..

It is what you make of it. Sure there’s a downside of your military obligation which is arguably more restrictive than having to work to pay off your student loans. The upside is the discipline you learn to stay on task to complete the mission.

With respect to chemistry, I can’t say much except that it’s a good degree and used everywhere in industry though not as prevalent as software engineering. It may be harder to find the right kind of job but we have the internet and PF to help us in our search.

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russ_watters
Gold Member
I did not do the military, but it was a route I considered. I took the test and all and it was a very difficult decision for me.

I don't deny that graduating free of debt is desirable or ideal, but is some debt a deal-breaker? I personally see 5 years as a lot of valuable time it might be worth considering the opportunity cost. There's a general phrase I like to repeat often especially in my engineering career, that "being cheap inherently costs more", but I think it applies to so many things including education. The reason I like that phrase is because a lot of people (myself included) are lulled into lower costs, but there might be indirect or higher order details to consider that could end up costing more later down the road. You're seeing an upfront paid off education that could save you let's stipulate $100k. What about 5 years of a career that pays you$80k each year... you usually get raises typically at least a cost of living adjustment, likely a promotion within those years, a stronger network in your field... and you'll have 5 years of experience when that's done.

My phrase still applies to how cheap I tried to be during my undergraduate career, and there was a price I paid for it too. I lived in apartments that were further away from the university (often cheaper) and had roommates, and some of them snored... frequently late to class and very tired especially on really bad snoring days. The time I spent working at part-time jobs and internships did eat into some of my studying time which was not helpful for the many classes that had curved grades. Almost all of my part-time jobs and internships paid, and I was fortunate enough to score some interesting ones relevant to my major. I was not the most stellar student and did not get a very competitive grade, but for me... everything seemed to work out maybe just luck and engineering major... I consider myself to have a competitive or desirable career at least I like it, and I'm also going to graduate school and I'm pretty happy about the university I'm going to.

Anyhow all of that above... I felt like I was in your shoes once and chose one path, and so that was my take. I still think about what it would have been like the other way around, but so far this has turned out okay I'm not regretful.

CalcNerd and russ_watters