Opportunities for enlistment in the military are plentiful. The five services offer over hundreds of schools and thousands of courses of instruction. This training, and the experience that follows, give the military veteran a real advantage in the civilian world.
Enlisting in military service right after high school might be your best option. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard provide job training in many fields, as well as opportunities for enlistees to take some college-level courses. The services can also help you to build a college fund.
The National Guard consists of two components: the Army National Guard (ARNG) and the Air National Guard (ANG). It is obligated to serve the state in times of natural disasters or civil disturbances, and the nation in time of war. Flexible scheduling makes it possible for you to combine service in the National Guard with work or school. The Guard meets one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. The National Guard also offers educational benefits.
If you are considering military enlistment, you will need information on the specific services. Each service sets its own enlistment qualification requirements.
Each service sets its own enlistment qualifications. Contact your local recruiters for information or visit their websites regarding qualifications and program opportunities.
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)
The ROTC program provides the opportunity to attend a civilian college while studying military leadership as part of a total undergraduate program. ROTC is a college elective that requires about four hours a week. It is offered at hundreds of campuses. The program is divided into two parts: the basic course and the advanced course. The basic course is normally attended during the first two years of college with no military commitment. After completing this course, selected students may enroll in the advanced course. Enrollment in the advanced course incurs a military obligation. Applications are available upon request from college ROTC units or on the websites.
The program is divided into two parts, the basic course and the advanced course. The basic course is normally attended during your first two years of college with no military commitment. After completing this course, students may enroll in the advanced course. At this time, they will incur a military obligation.
ROTC – Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines
You can receive a stipend of $100 per month up to the full cost of your college education, plus all expenses, if you make a commitment to serve in the military after college. Contact the college ROTC office or your local recruiting office to find out how the military will help pay for your college education.
The United States maintains five service academies: the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York; the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland: the United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; the United States Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut; and the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. The mission of the service academies is to provide the instruction and experience necessary to produce graduates with knowledge, character, and leadership abilities to become career military officers.
Students interested in attending a service academy should begin research/planning as early as the spring of their junior year.
Service Academy Admissions Process
- Determine if you meet the requirements and qualifications. Each candidate must:
- Be 17 but not yet 22.
- Be a U.S. citizen at the time of enrollment.
- Be unmarried with no dependents.
- Have an above average high school record.
- Have strong scores on the SAT or ACT.
- Be in good physical health.
- Have above average strength, endurance, and agility.
- Apply for a nomination. As a minimum you should apply to your two United States senators, your congressional representative, and the Vice President. Some members of Congress will not accept applications for nominations after a specific date. You should request a nomination as soon as possible. In addition to the letter, the nomination process may include a questionnaire or interview.
- Start a file at the academy. Send a letter to the admissions office requesting a pre-candidate questionnaire. The academy will open a file for you upon receipt of the completed questionnaire.
- Fill out the academy forms. These forms will be sent to you after an evaluation of your pre-candidate questionnaire.
- Take the SAT or ACT. Send your scores to the academies to which you are applying.
- Pass the medical exam from the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DOD MERB) and the Physical Aptitude Exam (PAE).
- Receive notification of the evaluation and status of your application. This may arrive as early as November for outstanding candidates; final decisions are made in April.