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Many students choose the path to college or vocational school as their next step after graduating high school. Perhaps you’ve already graduated and college doesn’t interest youmaybe sometime in the future. What if the standard path many students take isn’t a good fit for you?   

If you’re looking for direction, self-discipline, increased confidence, leadership skills, and job training, joining the military is another option to pursue. 

Reasons to join the military

While it differs for each person, here are some key reasons to enlist in the military:

  1. To serve your country
  2. To learn a new skill or trade
  3. To continue the family tradition of serving in the military
  4. To explore the world/travel
  5. The GI Bill helps pay for college, making it a more affordable option
  6. To transfer military experience to a civilian career
  7. Access to VA home loans
  8. To gain structure and discipline

What makes a good recruit

When considering to enlist, here are some qualities and basic skills the military expects from its recruits:

  • Overall good physical fitness and endurance
  • Strong concentration skills and fast reactions
  • Active listening skills and the ability to follow instructions  
  • Collaboration skills and the ability to work well with others in a team
  • Patience, the capacity to remain calm in stressful situations and work well under pressure
  • The acceptance of criticism 
  • Thinking and reasoning skills
  • Confidence to act quickly
  • Thoroughness and attention to detail
  • Completion of basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Additional requirements to enlist

You must meet the following requirements to be accepted into a branch of the military:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or a permanent resident card holder
  • Be between the ages of 17-39 (depending on the branch for which you’re enlisting) 
  • Achieve a minimum score on the ASVAB exam
  • Meet physical requirements and fitness standards
  • Be a high school graduate or equivalent

Do your research

Before enlisting, reach out to those who are currently serving or have served to get their perspective on their time in the military and hear about their experiences. Contact a recruiter with any questions you may have about enlisting or the different branches of the military, and ask them to provide a realistic assessment of opportunities available during your military career and after you’ve left the military.

Benefits of serving in the military

Serving your country comes with an array of benefits and incentives for you and your family in the beginning of your enrollment and for years after you have left the military. Here are just a few:

  • Enlistment bonus: These vary by the branch of the military you join. Contact your recruiter for more information about the availability of these bonuses.
  • Advanced enlistment rank pay opportunities: Recruiters can offer opportunities to enter the service at higher pay grades, resulting in higher base pay.
  • GI Bill: The Post-9/11 GI Bill can pay your full tuition and school fees, provide you with a monthly housing allowance while going to school, and give you up to $1,000 a year to use for books and supplies.
  • Tuition Assistance Program (TAP): TAP is available to active duty, National Guard, and Reserve Component service members for undergraduate, graduate, vocational, and technical programs.
  • VA Guaranteed Home Loan Program: This program enables qualified buyers to obtain zero-down financing, making it easier for veterans to own their dream home.
  • College Loan Repayment Program and Student Loan Deferment Program: The Military College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) is an enlistment incentive for new recruits. The Military’s Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program is a benefit that eliminates up to $65,000 in existing student loan debt.

Next Steps

If you choose to join, decide which branch of the military you want to enlist in, and reach out to a recruiter. You will need to report to a military entrance processing station (MEPS) and complete a number of pre-enlistment steps. You will then need to take the ASVAB test, have a physical exam, meet with a career counselor, and take the oath of enlistment (if accepted). You should receive your orders for basic training within a few weeks of being accepted. 

Peterson’s can help you prepare for the ASVAB exam with comprehensive test prep that includes interactive lessons, instructional videos, practice tests, and more to help you ace the exam. Sign up for Peterson’s test prep and start your military career today!