DS Intending to Enlist Instead

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by Mnoopk, Jan 23, 2018.

  1. Mnoopk

    Mnoopk Member

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    My DS has been waiting for the AROTC scholarship 2nd board results. But he is now intending to enlist in the Army instead when he graduates from high school in June. He hopes for MOS 35P (linguist) or second choice 35G (geospatial analyst). He'll be taking the ASVAB and DLAB ASAP (Feb, March) and ship not long after graduation. At least that's the plan that is taking shape right now. We're about to set the ASVAB/MEPS date with the recruiter. The DLAB comes later.

    He just doesn't want to go to college right now. Profile: he turns seventeen in a few days. He's sharp as a tack and has a resume of significan work experience (farm labor, construction labor, restaurant work). But he's not very interested in school right now. He aced the SAT and will do very well on the ASVAB and DLAB. Of course, DLI is a year of school and it's a 50-hour week of studying, but he's okay with that. It's only a year, not a four-year slog. Plus he likes languages. He's had four years of high school Chinese and has taught himself a smattering of Dutch and how to pronounce Korean writing.

    Maybe when he's twenty or so he'll start going to college part time while he's still serving. He has been accepted by George Mason for the fall. Maybe someday in the future if he is stationed at Ft. Meade he can commute to Mason part time.

    In short, DS is about to turn down the AROTC scholarship, if lucky enough to be offered it, and enlist instead. I wonder how many people in our country's history have done that. It's a little odd, but I'm happy with it. Is there anything I should be aware of? There is a sense of "What the heck is my DS doing? Just accept the scholarship, son, and be resolved to study whether you like it or not!" Actually, I'm looking forward to watching move forward with the enlistment adventure he's about to embark on. But should he reconsider? There is a lot of wisdom in this forum for which I'm grateful, so I thought I'd post.
     
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  2. doireann

    doireann Member

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    My son is Army NG and is at college also. He did try ROTC in college but didn't like it. He did the split option program and gave up two summers in a row for basic and ait. He says he is sorry that he didn't enlist full time from day one. He is an okay student ; definitely not stellar. He feels that the ROTC kids don't take it seriously enough in the beginning and that he thinks they look at rotc as another class, instead of the serious class it should be. He is not bashing rotc at all ; actually his brother is waiting to hear from the second board.
    I think whatever makes the kids happiest at the time is important. My son is infantry and really loves the guard. Sometimes I feel that maybe I pushed him on the college route and felt that he would have the best of both worlds doing NG and college.
     
  3. rothnroll

    rothnroll Member

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    Show him the pay chart. The difference in pay between a private and a 2LT is monumental.
     
  4. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Back in 2015, my DS was talking about enlisting when he was a sophomore in HS. I had him speak with his brother in-law, (DD's husband) who served as a platoon combat medic for the 10th Mountain about the difference between officers and enlisted.

    We also had him watch the National Geographic video, "Surviving West Point."

    He ultimately was struggling about his leadership interest versus his desire to be a "door kicker." He was concerned that as an officer, he would be much less likely to do the "cool stuff."

    We too, showed him the pay chart.

    Ultimately, the discussions helped him dig deeper at the differences between service as an officer vs. enlisted, and he felt better about pursuing college ROTC. The decision was his, but he also knew that all three of his siblings went straight to college and that influenced him as well.

    He is now on track to commission in 2019.
     
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  5. Soldiergriz

    Soldiergriz Husband, Dad, Soldier

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    I'll simply say Thank You.

    When less than 1% of our population volunteers to serve the nation - your son's actions deserve nothing but respect.
     
  6. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

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    When it comes to serving in the Military, the paycheck should never be the deciding factor. There are some officers making more money that truly do not like their job, it really comes down to how you want to serve. Good for your son for identifying what he wants early on and having a plan. There are more then you think that make this same decision.

    Tell your son good luck with the DLAB, that is one very interesting test, one you really can’t study for and knowing other languages don’t really help much. I’m sure he’ll do fine.

    Best of luck to your son.
     
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  7. THParent

    THParent Member

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    If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.

    I met a lot of enlisted guys that I would take a bullet for. Nothing wrong with going that route.
     
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  8. max5757

    max5757 Member

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    Good luck to your DS. I met a number of guys along the way who first went in via the enlisted route and then went on to do either did ROTC or the Green to Gold program. Most of them said it gave them great perspective to first be enlisted and then an officer. There are many routes as others have said and I would encourage him to cast a wide net and talk to others sources. He can see how his results come out from the Feb/March tests. And, the 2nd Board will come out soon and if he's selected he has another option.
     
  9. Pima

    Pima 10-Year Member

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    1000% agree show him the pay chart and than sit with him about how he is going to pay for all of his expenses.
    ~ IE:
    New/Used/Leased car payment = $300
    Car insurance = $150
    Car registration, repair bills, new tires, oil change, etc. = $75.
    ~ A new car that covers bumper to bumper still does not cover oil changes, tires, wipers, or registration/tags. Plus, being as young as he is, it is highly doubtful he will get a 0% int. loan, so those Toyota ads in fine print may mean you have to co-sign the loan...more debt on your credit. A used car will be cheaper, but the loan will be higher than 0%, and bumper to bumper is not there for him.
    Gas =$75...assuming $2.50/gal 30 mpg, no fun trips away for the weekend.
    Cell phone = $50
    Clothing...not talking Hollister, but new tee shirts, underwear and uniforms, plus of course expensive date night clothes from Target. = $100
    Sundries... shampoo, soap, deodorant, shaving cream, razors, etc. Just the necessities. = $25
    Movie and Applebees 1-2x a month, go with matinee price for himself, than add in the what a date costs? =$75
    Quick snacks, such as, soda, Gatorade, Dorito chips and cheese dip to keep in the dorm = $75
    PS4 games, just 1 a month = $50
    laundry/dry cleaning = $25
    Haircuts, depends on how high and tight he wants. =$25
    travel home 1x a year = $50/month for 600 annually airfare
    spending money to go out with friends when visiting home =$25/mo for 300 annually.
    TOTAL monthly expenditures @$1100.
    ~ Nothing invested for when he gets out in 4 yrs to survive on when he leaves, lets say 75/month, he is at 1175.
    ~Nothing put into the equation for when the buddies say let's go to the beach for the day tomorrow after he just went to the movies and dinner last night. Let's say it is again 75. He is now at 1250
    ~Nothing put aside for him to take college classes via the Education Office (UMD, Webster. ERAU, etc offer classes on post). He can use TA, but still will owe 25% + yrs back in service. Classes are 9 weeks long, so assume $125/mo
    NEW TOTAL =1375

    Notice there is no credit cards in my scenario.

    I believe as an E3 the salary would be around 23K. Remove fed/state taxes, SS, disability, ins, etc., and he is looking at maybe 1500 a month in pocket.

    Do I agree with others that say, do what you love? Yes, but I am also old enough to know that stress regarding paying bills can make you fall out of love with that job very quickly! I 1000% support going the enlisted route for the right reasons. They are:
    1. UNDERSTAND the financial aspect
    2. UNDERSTAND that there is no I give my 2 weeks notice for years...they own me.
    3. UNDERSTAND they can promise you XYZ position, only to be assigned the ABC position, see #2.
    4. UNDERSTAND that they can send you wherever they want, whenever they want. The recruiter can say it is highly likely with your foreign language background we will send you to Ft. Meade, but instead say we need you in TX see above #2

    As a spouse that married an officer at the ripe old age of 23, I learned the biggest life lesson. I was excited to see the world by Bullet's side as an AF wife, believing I had no fears or qualms leaving home. I quickly learned that my family roots were deeply planted. It was insanely hard calling home on a Sunday to hear my siblings and Mom laughing as they passed around the phone. It was hard to miss every birthday, and the majority of the holidays, not just Thanksgiving, but 4th of July too.
    ~ You state this is a 50 hr/week school for a yr. Does he realize that during that yr. it means he may not make it home for Thanksgiving and Christmas due to the cost of flying home at that time, and that is if they say you can go home. They may only have off Dec 24-26th, and that might be too far to go for just 3 days.
    ~ Our DS was at UPT when my MIL died. He was unable to come home for his grandmother's funeral. He is now deployed for 6mos. and we are on the deathbed watch for my FIL. He will not make it back for that either. Not because he can't afford to attend, because the AF owns him.

    I am just saying, before he signs, he needs to understand that going ROTC, even if he doesn't go GMU, he can go to a CC and be in it too (GMU is the host unit) may be a better option from various aspects.

    Please also understand that I lean more to ROTC over enlistment also comes down to the fact that AROTC scholarships allow him to bolt after 1 yr with no payback. Enlistment does not have that option.
    ~ If he comes to you in Nov. and says GMU was a mistake, than I am sure he can still enlist, and be AD within a few months. However, he does not have that option when it comes to enlistment. He is now in it for a couple of YEARS.

    My best wishes, hopes and thoughts.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
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  10. DesertCaliMom

    DesertCaliMom Member

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    My dearest family members attended DLI as their AD AF school. One spent a year, the other spent two learning more languages. Total between them is 42 years of translating. Below are the tips they gave my son.

    The most important tip they give those wanting DLI is to get it in writing. That military enlistment contract needs to be perfect. They saw three people not go with them from basic because their contract didn't spell out their school.

    The next tip- enlisting really isn't the best place to "find yourself," especially at language school. The hours are long, the tests rough, social life minimal. Fail the wrong test and immediately lose your school. Know what you want, commit to it, and if you don't make it, be prepared to fulfill your contact doing something else.

    And lastly - if Uncle Sam will send you to college right away, do it, and reap the benefits for life. School, family, deployments and staying on the promotion list can be difficult to manage. Take advantage of every opportunity to get ahead.
     
  11. Tex232

    Tex232 Member

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    If he has no desire to lead others and is OK with being told what to do all the time (when to eat, sleep, shower, etc.) then being a Private in the US Army is probably going to work for him. But make sure he knows going through ROTC would allow him to start off as an officer, which would thereby give him greater freedom. Not only would finances be less of an issue, but he would also be in a position of authority that commands a certain amount of respect, rather than being on the receiving end of all the orders (whether they be good or bad).
     
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  12. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

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    Older son completed SOF Language School this past November, while this was condensed into 6 months I can attest that it was hard and came with a lot of studying including a one month immersion in Latvia....his language was Russian. Desert is right, the tests are hard and there are always failures in every class.

    The experience and benefits are great if you make it through.

    Actually if he enlists in the Army and has his MOS in his contract, they won't be assigning him ABC. The hard part is getting the MOS in the contract if it is a popular one or they do not have any openings. There is always a chance that you will have to wait awhile until there is an opening in the MOS that you want.

    As another said, make sure that they have DLI clearly stated in his contract, have someone on the outside look it over if there is any doubt. I assume from your original post your son will take the DLAB prior to signing any contract so he will know ahead of time if he qualifies for DLI.
     
  13. Mnoopk

    Mnoopk Member

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    I knew I'd get a lot of insight here. Thank you all so much. These comments will enhance my discussions with DS. Maybe I'll just show him this thread.

    As for pay, I did show DS the pay difference. He was unfazed. But I need to drill down like Pima suggested. (As for 35P compensation, there might be extra pay/signing bonus to help, so it might be more than $23K. Not sure.) Thanks, DesertCaliMom/Jcleppe about the contract tip. I have a friend who is a major in the Army and he has instructed similar caution, but your point about having DLI specified is well taken. (DLAB is taken on a separate trip to MEPS after ASVAB. Not sure if he has to swear in on the first trip. Seeing the recruiter today about that.)

    Thank you all once again. I will keep an eye on this thread for more.
     
  14. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012 5-Year Member

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    The "better" choice is to go with the AROTC scholarship...if he doesn't like it, he still has an "out" with no commitment, or if he decides school isn't for him he can leave and enlist instead. He will have a lot more freedom of choice and on commissioning (if he sticks with it) will financially be in a better place than if he was enlisted and have a much higher QOL in general. If he just is full of piss and vinegar and wants to go do something now instead of waiting four years to get to the Army, he should probably cool his jets a little. The Army's been around for 200+ years, it'll still be there in 4.

    However, let me temper Pima's post with a more positive counter example. I have enlisted Marines who turned down offers to amazing schools (MIT, etc.) and are, frankly, way smarter than some of the pilots (including yours truly). Those kids will be fine, and in a lot of cases may be better off in the long run from their enlisted USMC experience than if they'd gone direct to college. There are some huge traps, particularly financial*, that kids can get in while enlisted, but as long as he's smart about it he'll be fine.
    From a different perspective, an alternate timeline:
    18: Enlist in Army. Spend a year in school, go to Big Army.
    22-24 (I'm assuming linguist positions have longer active contracts than normal?): Get out. Have four years of work experience, more maturity than some kid right out of school, a skill (language), possibly some money put away, and possibly some college credits. Go to school with the GI Bill.
    26-28: Functionally in a similar spot as a dude who went to college right out of high school, if not better (work experience, less/no debt). Most of my peers who did not enter the military are in this age group now, and many are still grinding at lower level jobs trying to get required experience, often outside of the field they really want to be in.

    What I'm getting at is being an Officer isn't for everyone, and there's absolutely nothing wrong or end of the world if your son decides to go Enlisted. People on here I think get in a mental trap where if a kid is smart enough to get into college, he/she has to go in as an Officer. We need sharp, motivated people on the Enlisted side as well. His life as an enlisted Soldier will be in a lot of ways much harder, but he can use his experience to ultimately put himself in a good spot.

    *Don't buy a brand new car from the guy just off base who is a "former 1stSgt and still wants to look after his boys with competitive loan rates." Don't get married. Don't drop entire paychecks on tattoos or fancy electronics that will just sit in the barracks. Don't get NJP'd. Don't get FatSep'd. Don't max out credit cards on stupid stuff. DO enroll in the TSP and put at least 10% away, DO take advantage of TA and discounted classes....etc.

    Edited for Muhreens can't type good.
     
  15. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

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    Ok this one made me laugh. Nobody stays a Private for long, if he attends DLI he will advance before he leaves the school. Leadership is not the sole domain of the officers, leadership is a large part of being enlisted.

    As far as commanding respect, sure, you're called Sir and receive a salute from the enlisted, but that is about all the respect you can command, the rest is earned and it doesn't come easy. As far as being on the receiving end of orders, you don't commission as a General so you get all the orders they want to give you.

    I was both enlisted and commissioned, and I enjoyed both and held leadership positions during both. I always felt respected by both enlisted and officers (The good ones).

    Being an officer is just one part of the military and not one that everyone wants. There are so many jobs in the military that are only open to enlisted and it's the enlisted that get to be the technical experts in those jobs, which believe it or not receive a lot of respect from the officers.

    You see it all the time, a cadet wants to Branch MP because they love police work, only to discover that it's the enlisted ranks that do all the investigative and police work, an Infantry officer finds out that he can never be a sniper, an aviation officer will never learn to repair a helicopter, the list goes on. I have the utmost respect for every enlisted soldier out there, a large percentage of them choose this as their first option for these reasons, just like the OP's son is doing. Plus 35P and 35G are great MOS's, looks real good on a resume after the military by the way.
     
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  16. emwvmi01

    emwvmi01 5-Year Member

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    So a couple of more thoughts on this. Given the MOS choices he is considering he may be better off going to college and then enlisting. The goodness in that is it would allow him to come out of AIT a SPC plus he would have the special languages pay and any incentive bonuses. The other items I would consider with college are study abroad opportunities so that if he thinks languages are his thing he will get full immersion. I am combat arms officer currently on a slot working with the cyber and intel folks. The enlisted Soldiers are amazing here but for them progression is going to include a BA particularly in the technical/language fields that is just the bottom line.
     
  17. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

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    Loved your entire post, but this should be the 11th Commandment.
     
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  18. sheriff3

    sheriff3 5-Year Member

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    I was never an officer but it sure looked better than being enlisted every time I looked. My DD was in the same boat and opted to enlist in the AF. She made E-5 in four years so she is doing fine. Tell DS to be smart with his money. If he wants to be an officer later there is always green to gold and at his age maybe the academy at some point
     
  19. Tex232

    Tex232 Member

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    The fact remains, most people who want to become leaders and decision makers have a better opportunity to do so as officers. I don’t disagree with you that the enlisted corps is the backbone of the military, and that there are still opportunities to lead as an EM, but let’s face it, the leadership decisions that you make as an officer are usually going to be bigger-picture than that of an NCO. This is why I don’t understand why some people (not on this forum but elsewhere) suggest that we rid the military of the degree requirement to become an officer, or even abolish the officer corps altogether. Sure, some NCO’s are outstanding leaders, but the point of earning a commission as an officer is to show that you (A) Are educated with basic knowledge and skills necessary for upper level management and (B) have the commitment to stick to some form of training/education program. Anyway, just my two cents.
     
  20. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

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    You're correct, but the leadership decisions made by a NCO could mean the difference between life and death on a battlefield.

    There is already the path available to become a Warrant Officer without the requirement of a 4 year degree. The requirement of a 4 year degree to become an officer is a fairly modern one, when I was in the degree was not required to attend OCS, E-5 with a minimum of four years TIS was the cutoff, I didn't have a degree when I commissioned. I'm not one of those that feel strongly that the degree requirement should be removed, but I can see where an argument could be made to make some changes, even if they were slight.