Author Topic: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)  (Read 5978 times)

CCGStache_01

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Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« on: April 12, 2017, 08:14:34 PM »

College Life or Military Life?


That is the question I've recently begun asking myself, as college is approaching in 2 years, and for me, the cheapest it would be, without scholarships and/or grants, would be about $240,000! (this figure includes food, travel, rent, personal spending, tuition, and one other cost I will get too later.


Life Situation: I am a sophomore in high school, and I don't currently have a job, and thus not taxes, but no income either.
 
I currently (as of Jan. 2017), have about $4,000 saved in a standard savings account, so I don't expect massive capital gains. Every month $50 is automatically deposited into the bank from my grandfather, and I don't pull any money from it. I will be getting a job within the coming months, and I will have put at least $15,000 more dollars into it by the time college starts.

I have a small, somewhat decent gas mileage car, (1988 Suzuki Samurai) with no payments, and liability only insurance (will be covered by my parents throughout college), and a brand new, multi-use bike (in-city and mountain hybrid). I will have these throughout college, and afterwards too.

After college, or when I get my own apartment or home, I will have furnishings for it from my current house (bed, desk, nightstand, drawer, TV & PS2 (no cable), small laptop, and desktop computer.
The computer I use for some YouTube side work to gain some small income while also doing something I enjoy (creating content).

Current expenses:

Gas: $40/ month
Movies, etc. (money spent hanging out with friends): $100/month

Assets:

At time of college starting these will be my current assets (this will be updated if things change, such as acquiring stock)
  • Car: can be sold for at least $5,000 in case of emergency
  • Furniture: can be collectively sold for about $1,000 dollars
  • Computer: desktop (parts or entire machine) can be sold for at least $1,500
  • $20,000 cash

Specific Question(s):

Here is the unique point to this study, I want to be pilot, which alone is not strange, but the current high school I am attending, the Southwest, Aeronautics, Mathematics, and Science Academy (SAMS for short), would allow me to get my private pilot and instrument ratings done, for free, before college, which would shave off $40,000 or more of price, depending on the school I go too.

This study is assuming the worst case scenario, me getting no scholarships or other funding, which is unlikely, because I qualify for more than double the cost of college, so I should receive some. Here are my choices:

Go to College

- I would get $180,000 in student loans, because I am a good mustache and do not spend as much as the average person.
- I would graduate with my degree, and start flying a small regional airline, which is where all new pilots must start, which has an average salary of $22,000/ year before taxes or deductions.
                         - The important thing here is that new pilots are effectively paid in experience, to get the opportunity to fly for a
                            major airline, which has an average closer to $200,000.
                         - The average pilot can expect to get the higher pay between 12-20 years of beginning flying.
- This would get me a job as a pilot within 4 years.

OR

Join the Air Force

- I would have no debts, and the rest of my flight training would be free.
- I would get the starting air force pilot pay of $34,000/ year.
- I would complete training within two years, but I would have a commitment to stay at least 10 years before retiring from the military in favor of private work.
                         - I would then, however, be able join straight onto a larger airline, making closer to the $200,000/ year mark.


Some other important notes are:
- my family would prefer not joining the military, but will not disown me if I do
- I would not go to an in-state college, because there is not a single college in my state that offers a flight program (that's right, a high school has a better aviation program than all of the colleges here)

This post is assuming the worst case scenario, which will most likely not be the case, but always prepare for the worst.

So what do you, my fellow Mustachians, suggest I do?

Thank you for your help, CCGStache'

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Cool Car? You wanna see something cool, look at my bank account!"  - Mr. Money Mustache (2018)

MMbergmann

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2017, 09:28:55 PM »
This sounds like it would do better on a "pilot discussion board" if there is such a thing. I don't think you should speculate income/expenses/assets until you have something solid

Sailor Sam

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2017, 09:50:47 PM »
I applaud you for considering serving your country, but I think your plan has a hole. If you want to fly for the military, you must be an Officer, not Enlisted. In order to be an officer, you must have a Bachelor's degree. My specialty isn't USAF, so I might be missing some sort of Direct Commission program, but I'd be hellaciously surprised if a Direct Commission program resulted in you getting to fly a plane. The USAF has 60,000 officers but only 20% are pilots.

I'm not trying to bash your dreams, or talk down to you, but I do think there needs to be about 1000% more research before you start making decisions. If you do go talk to a recruiter, bring a parent or some other secondary person. The recruiter isn't going to lie to you, but from personal experience it's easy for the person being recruited to hear the positives and gloss over the negatives.

Bimmy

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2017, 10:00:53 PM »

College Life or Military Life?


That is the question I've recently begun asking myself, as college is approaching in 2 years, and for me, the cheapest it would be, without scholarships and/or grants, would be about $240,000! (this figure includes food, travel, rent, personal spending, tuition, and one other cost I will get too later.


Life Situation: I am a sophomore in high school, and I don't currently have a job, and thus not taxes, but no income either.
 
I currently (as of Jan. 2017), have about $4,000 saved in a standard savings account, so I don't expect massive capital gains. Every month $50 is automatically deposited into the bank from my grandfather, and I don't pull any money from it. I will be getting a job within the coming months, and I will have put at least $15,000 more dollars into it by the time college starts.

I have a small, somewhat decent gas mileage car, (1988 Suzuki Samurai) with no payments, and liability only insurance (will be covered by my parents throughout college), and a brand new, multi-use bike (in-city and mountain hybrid). I will have these throughout college, and afterwards too.

After college, or when I get my own apartment or home, I will have furnishings for it from my current house (bed, desk, nightstand, drawer, TV & PS2 (no cable), small laptop, and desktop computer.
The computer I use for some YouTube side work to gain some small income while also doing something I enjoy (creating content).

Current expenses:

Gas: $40/ month
Movies, etc. (money spent hanging out with friends): $100/month

Assets:

At time of college starting these will be my current assets (this will be updated if things change, such as acquiring stock)
  • Car: can be sold for at least $5,000 in case of emergency
  • Furniture: can be collectively sold for about $1,000 dollars
  • Computer: desktop (parts or entire machine) can be sold for at least $1,500
  • $20,000 cash

Specific Question(s):

Here is the unique point to this study, I want to be pilot, which alone is not strange, but the current high school I am attending, the Southwest, Aeronautics, Mathematics, and Science Academy (SAMS for short), would allow me to get my private pilot and instrument ratings done, for free, before college, which would shave off $40,000 or more of price, depending on the school I go too.

This study is assuming the worst case scenario, me getting no scholarships or other funding, which is unlikely, because I qualify for more than double the cost of college, so I should receive some. Here are my choices:

Go to College

- I would get $180,000 in student loans, because I am a good mustache and do not spend as much as the average person.
- I would graduate with my degree, and start flying a small regional airline, which is where all new pilots must start, which has an average salary of $22,000/ year before taxes or deductions.
                         - The important thing here is that new pilots are effectively paid in experience, to get the opportunity to fly for a
                            major airline, which has an average closer to $200,000.
                         - The average pilot can expect to get the higher pay between 12-20 years of beginning flying.
- This would get me a job as a pilot within 4 years.

OR

Join the Air Force

- I would have no debts, and the rest of my flight training would be free.
- I would get the starting air force pilot pay of $34,000/ year.
- I would complete training within two years, but I would have a commitment to stay at least 10 years before retiring from the military in favor of private work.
                         - I would then, however, be able join straight onto a larger airline, making closer to the $200,000/ year mark.


Some other important notes are:
- my family would prefer not joining the military, but will not disown me if I do
- I would not go to an in-state college, because there is not a single college in my state that offers a flight program (that's right, a high school has a better aviation program than all of the colleges here)

This post is assuming the worst case scenario, which will most likely not be the case, but always prepare for the worst.

So what do you, my fellow Mustachians, suggest I do?

Thank you for your help, CCGStache'

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Cool Car? You wanna see something cool, look at my bank account!"  - Mr. Money Mustache (2018)

I served in the Air Force (enlisted side). This is more than a simple discussion about money. This is a solid decade of your life that you are planning out here.

I think it is awesome you have already discovered MMM in high school. I also think knocking out your pilot training during high school would be awesome. I would lean heavily toward steering people to serve in the military. You would gain experience and "resume credibility" that few other places can give you. Putting "veteran" on my resume gets me noticed.

Few people are willing to pay you to learn. The Air Force would do that. However, I would also encourage you to look at the other branches. The Navy has a lot of pilots. The Army also has a few pilots (and they get the cool helicopter pilots).

I think going to 180,000 in debt to go to school is a poor choice. That's a ton of money to gamble on a very narrow career field. I was an in the Air Force- until I suddenly lost my medical clearance. Then I became worthless to the mission. I accepted a severance package and was honorably separated. What happens if you go 180,000 in debt- but lose the ability to fly? What do you do with that super specialized knowledge?

I like the military route because you are very diverse and able to take on almost any leadership position after you get out. ROTC or a service academy are both solid options. Some people enlist with the hope of going to OCS. Enlisting is an ok option, but it will take years for you to get the chance to go from enlisted to officer.

That being said- its YOUR choice. Not Mom and Dads. Not your teachers. Not your buddies. Your choice. It's not one to be taken lightly.

 
Bimmy. Close relative to Billy and Jimmy Lee of the Double Dragon Series.

Bimmy

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2017, 10:03:32 PM »
I applaud you for considering serving your country, but I think your plan has a hole. If you want to fly for the military, you must be an Officer, not Enlisted. In order to be an officer, you must have a Bachelor's degree. My specialty isn't USAF, so I might be missing some sort of Direct Commission program, but I'd be hellaciously surprised if a Direct Commission program resulted in you getting to fly a plane. The USAF has 60,000 officers but only 20% are pilots.

I'm not trying to bash your dreams, or talk down to you, but I do think there needs to be about 1000% more research before you start making decisions. If you do go talk to a recruiter, bring a parent or some other secondary person. The recruiter isn't going to lie to you, but from personal experience it's easy for the person being recruited to hear the positives and gloss over the negatives.

Agreed. I was USAF- we don't have the enlisted Warrant Officer positions that fly helicopters- that's the Army. He will need a bachelors degree no matter what. He could go ROTC, but the academy guys get "first dibs" on the good spots.
Bimmy. Close relative to Billy and Jimmy Lee of the Double Dragon Series.

driftwood

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2017, 02:05:09 AM »
I will have furnishings for it from my current house (bed, desk, nightstand, drawer, TV & PS2 (no cable), small laptop, and desktop computer.
At time of college starting these will be my current assets (this will be updated if things change, such as acquiring stock)
  • Car: can be sold for at least $5,000 in case of emergency
  • Furniture: can be collectively sold for about $1,000 dollars
  • Computer: desktop (parts or entire machine) can be sold for at least $1,500
  • $20,000 cash
I wouldn’t count the computer/furniture resale values in your assets.  The furniture you listed doesn’t sound like $1500 worth, used.  The computers will depreciate quickly over time.
- I would not go to an in-state college, because there is not a single college in my state that offers a flight program (that's right, a high school has a better aviation program than all of the colleges here)
 Go to College
- I would get $180,000 in student loans, because I am a good mustache and do not spend as much as the average person.
A third option would be to move to the state where you want to go to college, and live there for long enough to receive in-state tuition rates.  During the waiting period you could work and also knock out your basic college courses at a local community college.  This could drastically reduce the student loan amount for your degree. 
Join the Air Force
I’m an active-duty AF Officer now, but non-rated (not a pilot).  There are three ways for you to commission in the AF (excluding direct-commissioning program for medical/legal professions). You can apply to the USAF Academy, go through a ROTC program at a college, or get a Bachelor’s Degree and apply for Officer Training School.  Either way, you MUST have a Bachelor’s Degree to become an officer, and a pilot in the AF. The Academy is paid for (competitive), ROTC has a range of scholarships, so both of those routes could save you money. 
As the other AF vets above have mentioned, you need to consider a lot more than the $$$ when deciding whether to join the military or not. A 10 year service commitment is a bit deal, if you change your mind partway through you’re still stuck doing the job. You may be supporting a mission/war that you don’t believe in, so you need to settle that moral situation before you sign. That being said, the pay/benefits are really good. The military can be a great route to get training/experience/opportunities that you might not find elsewhere.

*Nothing I post should be taken too seriously*

davisgang90

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2017, 03:00:55 AM »
Naval aviator here with 27 years of experience.  As others have said, with few exceptions, you need a bachelors degree and a commission as an officer to fly in the military.  The Army has Warrant Officers who are high school grads that fly their helicopters.

In the Air Force, roughly 1/6th of the officers are pilots.  Additionally, the Air Force is working very hard to hire and train a large cadre of RPA (Remotely Piloted Vehicles) pilots.  These pilots have an abbreviated flight training path and are not eligible to fly manned aircraft.  The numbers of pilots (we call ourselves Naval Aviators (better than pilots ; )) are even lower in the Navy, since large portions of our service support our ships, submarines etc.  Similar story with Marines.

In every case, a pilot slot is not a guarantee.  All the services would agree that anyone who wants to join should want to be a service member first and a possible pilot second.  I know plenty of officers who went into the military to be a pilot and ended up disappointed.  You need to be comfortable with serving without flying, otherwise I would counsel against joining with that in mind.

What might make more sense given your situation is looking to enlist, serve your commitment and then use the GI bill to pay for college. 

Good Luck!

Check out my blog.  Early retirement from a military perspective.

http://chartprepping.com




Villanelle

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2017, 03:43:55 AM »
Check out airwarriors.com, though it is primarily Navy.

If your goal is to be an officer, do not enlist.   And you can not enlist in the Air Force as a pilot.  Pilots are officers, and being an officer requires a college degree.  There are programs for enlisted service members to commission as officers, but you still have to have a college degree (though some of the programs would cover that; specifics depend on the service), and most importantly, those are far, far from guarantees.  You basically have to apply all over again, and may or may not be accepted.

Look in to ROTC scholarships, and OCS.  And consider whether you are 100% set on Air Force. 

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2017, 05:47:58 AM »
Join the Air Force

- I would have no debts, and the rest of my flight training would be free.
- I would get the starting air force pilot pay of $34,000/ year.
- I would complete training within two years, but I would have a commitment to stay at least 10 years before retiring from the military in favor of private work.
                         - I would then, however, be able join straight onto a larger airline, making closer to the $200,000/ year mark.


Some other important notes are:
- my family would prefer not joining the military, but will not disown me if I do
- I would not go to an in-state college, because there is not a single college in my state that offers a flight program (that's right, a high school has a better aviation program than all of the colleges here)

This post is assuming the worst case scenario, which will most likely not be the case, but always prepare for the worst.

So what do you, my fellow Mustachians, suggest I do?

Thank you for your help, CCGStache'

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Cool Car? You wanna see something cool, look at my bank account!"  - Mr. Money Mustache (2018)

I joined the Air Force.  It was the best decision I ever made as a teenager.

That does not necessarily mean it would be the best decision for you.  Let me start by reiterating what somebody else already posted.  Without a college degree, in the Air Force, you are enlisted.  This means that you do not fly.

Pilots are officers.  To be commissioned as an officer, you must have a college degree.

You write well, actually surprisingly well for a sophomore in high school.  This indicates intelligence.  Does that intelligence translate into grades and other demonstrable achievements?  I ask because if you have top grades (and I do not mean a 3.0 B average) you might consider whether you have what it takes to apply for the Air Force Academy (or Naval Academy - the Marine Corps and Navy both need pilots). 

A military academy is top notch in terms of education - and free.   You would be killing not just two birds with one stone, but all of the birds with one stone.

Military academies are very selective, however.  You must be cream of the crop to go that route.

There is also ROTC, if a military academy is not possible.

These options should keep you occupied researching for a few hours.

Again, joining the military was the best decision I made at that point in my life (just about your age - I joined delayed enlistment and actually went in when I was 17 and turned 18 in basic training).  It may be the only good decision I made when I was around age.  You really need to consider whether the military is a life for which you are cut out, though.  It is not like civilian life in high school as a teenager.  Things will change dramatically and swiftly, and, don't forget, you may be called upon to serve your country in a way that requires your life, and not just in some figurative sense.

Heroes821

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2017, 06:15:25 AM »
Prior Air Force enlisted here,

1) Big Giant Congrats on finding MMM in High school.  Take everything you can from this website and you can do anything you want with your life.

2) If you really want to be a pilot apply to the academy.  If you have your license prior that might help your application.  Talk to a recruiter or a ROTC/JROTC person about what tests you need to take now to try and get the AFSC (job) that you want as a pilot.

The academy is a college you will graduate with your BA and then you can still serve your country without owing student loans.

mgnhrvth

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2017, 07:22:35 AM »
Only other items I can add:

Recommend you complete a general/flight physical. You'll need to meet certain physical/health requirements to safely fly (in general) and if you want to join/fly in the military, there are additional standards. Would hate for your to put all of your eggs in one basket and then be derailed due to a health component. Additionally, being a military pilot is very demanding both physically and mentally - not a bad thing but please be aware that the dynamic is different than a civilian/commercial pilot.

The USCG (DHS not DOD) has pilots too but I'm not sure if they are Officer-centric or have enlisted/Warrant Officer opportunities (from what I understand, the USCG is also increasing their UAV capabilities so I also encourage you to explore that area as well). Alternatively, could you join as a Reservist (to start your military tenure/TSP/healthcare), then complete college (not sure if you can put loans in military deferment if in the Reserves...), then apply for opportunities in the aviation community?

EDIT: I forgot - there is also a NOAA Aviation program as well.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 07:26:20 AM by mgnhrvth »

CCGStache_01

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2017, 06:25:37 PM »
Thank you all for your suggestions and help! Although I did mention only the financial aspect of it, my family has served in the military for many years. My great-great-great-grandfather served for the Union in the Civil War, my great-grandfather on my dads side served during WW2, and my my great-grandfather on my moms side served during Vietnam, and my aunt was accepted into West Point (but ultimately chose to go to college here in-state to stay close to home, didn't actually join). So this is not solely about money for me

 I do intend to try to get accepted into the Air Force Academy, and I have talked to ROTC recruiter's here at my local state college, as well as looking in at the local USAF recruitment office.

I do currently have a cumulative (roughly) 3.75  GPA, and have gotten several achievements throughout school, including entry into the Junior National Honor Society, 1st place at State Science Olympiad, and others.

I am also currently doing Dual-Enrollment classes through the local community college, and will continue to do so throughout college, as I am hoping to have an associates when I graduate.

Knowing this as well, what other advise would you give?
I am very much split on what to do, because while I would like to join the military, I am not sure whether it is the right choice to make.

As far as my assumed assets, the car's value will not change, as it is somewhat rare and in high demand (I have received offers for the car, even though it is not currently for sale). The sale value of the furniture will fluctuate, but all the furniture could still potentially sell for that much (or be used to furnish an apartment or rental), and the current value of the computer is closer to $3,000 (guilty pleasure, but it has serious future-proofing and is used for hobby and work).

The cash is guaranteed to be that much however, due to generous grandparents giving $10,000 each for college (if I go), my grandfather did careful and smart stock choices when he was younger, and so he is now benefited by an abundance of money that he never plans to use (he built he house from scratch, using only scrap materials that he already had, and has spent a grand total of $20,000 on a house and property valued at about $165,000, and he was mustachian before the word existed.)

Villanelle

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2017, 01:35:25 AM »




Is there a reason you are set on the Air Force? If you are open to other services, you could greatly increase your chances of becoming a pilot through all of the various options (Academy, ROTC, OCS).

If you are willing to consider the academy, I believe that means you are willing to risk being in the AF and not getting a pilot slot.  (I am ASSuming the AF Academy works similarly to the Naval Academy, in which case you get the free education and the follow on service commitment, but you can't know ahead of time in what job you will end up.)  If that's the case, you might as well also look at ROTC.  The downside to that is you graduate with a commitment to take a commission and serve, and if you don't get a pilot slot or aren't medically qualified*, you still have to serve your time in order to pay back Uncle Sam for the tuition he covered. 

OCS is, in the Navy, the only sure way to know ahead of time that you have a pilot slot.  The downside to that is that you have to pay for your own college. 

Personally, I would not recommend somene I cared about enlist in any service unless they were either way too immature to have any success in college (and even then, I'd hesitate), or they had a specific job in mind that they really wanted to do and that job happened to be an enlistedman's job. 

If a niece or nephew told me more or less what you are, I'd recommend they apply to the Air Force and Naval academies, as well as to colleges with AF and Navy ROTC programs (and apply for the scholarships). It they didn't get any of those, prep school for a year might be an option.  The Navy offer NAPS, but if you don't get a spot in that, there are prive prep schools.  Husband attended one.  He was initially accepted to the AF Academy adn West Point and denied by the Navy.  Being the stubborn man he is, he decided to go to prep school again and then reapply, and was nominated and accepted on the 2nd try.  However, you can also attend a school with ROTC and apply in your second and third year for scholarships.  (Don't know if this applies to AF, too.)

davisgang90

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2017, 05:04:20 AM »
Quote
Personally, I would not recommend somene I cared about enlist in any service unless they were either way too immature to have any success in college (and even then, I'd hesitate), or they had a specific job in mind that they really wanted to do and that job happened to be an enlistedman's job. 

I'm sure this wasn't meant in a disparaging way, but I wouldn't recommend anyone enlisting that was "too immature for college".  Our enlisted force is made of up incredibly well trained professionals and getting through boot camp and the follow-on technical training required for many of the specialties is no joke. 

The benefit of the enlisted route is that you can serve your commitment and then have college and living expenses fully paid for through the GI bill.  A very mustachian way to do things.  Plus you can max TSP contributions while you serve and get in on the lowest fee retirement plan in the world.
Check out my blog.  Early retirement from a military perspective.

http://chartprepping.com




Villanelle

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2017, 07:40:12 AM »
Quote
Personally, I would not recommend somene I cared about enlist in any service unless they were either way too immature to have any success in college (and even then, I'd hesitate), or they had a specific job in mind that they really wanted to do and that job happened to be an enlistedman's job. 

I'm sure this wasn't meant in a disparaging way, but I wouldn't recommend anyone enlisting that was "too immature for college".  Our enlisted force is made of up incredibly well trained professionals and getting through boot camp and the follow-on technical training required for many of the specialties is no joke. 

The benefit of the enlisted route is that you can serve your commitment and then have college and living expenses fully paid for through the GI bill.  A very mustachian way to do things.  Plus you can max TSP contributions while you serve and get in on the lowest fee retirement plan in the world.

I certainly didn't say or mean to apply that enlisted personnel are immature.  I said I wouldn't recommend that life for someone in my sphere of influence except under those circumstances.  Of course it's no joke and many couldn't make through.  It's a ton of hard work in often grueling conditions, and for relatively low pay.  It's certainly worthy of a ton of respect, but it can be a very hard life.  So it's not that I think it's only for the immature, but I think there are more paths with generally more benefits for most people.  If someone in my life didn't seem prepared for those things, enlisting might be an great option. 

If the benefit to the enlisted route is having college paid for, one (who qualifies) can get those things via a service academy or through ROTC (not the living expenses bit). And you can contribute to the TSP at probably a higher rate since you have a bigger paycheck. 
« Last Edit: April 14, 2017, 07:43:01 AM by Villanelle »

Sailor Sam

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2017, 11:16:00 AM »
Thank you all for your suggestions and help! Although I did mention only the financial aspect of it, my family has served in the military for many years. My great-great-great-grandfather served for the Union in the Civil War, my great-grandfather on my dads side served during WW2, and my my great-grandfather on my moms side served during Vietnam, and my aunt was accepted into West Point (but ultimately chose to go to college here in-state to stay close to home, didn't actually join). So this is not solely about money for me

 I do intend to try to get accepted into the Air Force Academy, and I have talked to ROTC recruiter's here at my local state college, as well as looking in at the local USAF recruitment office.

I do currently have a cumulative (roughly) 3.75  GPA, and have gotten several achievements throughout school, including entry into the Junior National Honor Society, 1st place at State Science Olympiad, and others.

I am also currently doing Dual-Enrollment classes through the local community college, and will continue to do so throughout college, as I am hoping to have an associates when I graduate.

Knowing this as well, what other advise would you give?
I am very much split on what to do, because while I would like to join the military, I am not sure whether it is the right choice to make.

You certainly sound like a good contender for an Academy, though there's obviously no guarantee. What makes you unsure if the military is the right choice to make? If you lay them out, this community might be able to help talk you through them.

I'd also encourage you to research merit scholarships for traditional college. There's are many, many ways to avoid $180k in student loans. That level is crippling, and crazy. 

Nords

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2017, 10:27:31 PM »
Knowing this as well, what other advise would you give?
I am very much split on what to do, because while I would like to join the military, I am not sure whether it is the right choice to make.
Here's some more thoughts.

Study a STEM degree or a huge foreign language major like Chinese, Russian, or Arabic.  The STEM degree will show that you can handle a technical field as well as other careers like finance or intelligence or personnel.  No offense intended to those in finance or intel or personnel, those fields have plenty of technical issues too, but I'm talking about writing your own ticket with a hardcore engineering or science degree.

Do the first year of ROTC and the following summer training program in order to get an idea of the military options.  (As well as priority class registration for freshman & sophomore years.  Those ROTC courses are only held on certain days/times.)  If you don't like what you see during the summer training after freshman year then you can drop ROTC before your sophomore year with no obligations.

Here's my biased pitch for the Navy:  want to fly jets like the Air Force?  Try Navy air.  Want to shoot artillery or be a grunt like the Army?  Try Navy with the Marine Corps option.  Want to drive ships like the Coast Guard?  Try Navy surface line.  Want to drive submarines?  Well, if you really wanted to do that then you wouldn't even be asking about the Air Force, but part of the submarine force shoots nuclear missiles just like the Air Force.  Want to do intelligence, cryptography, meteorology/oceanography, civil engineering, human resources, public affairs, communications, cyber warfare, medical, or special forces?  You can see where I'm going with this.

My daughter did NROTC in an engineering degree, and her spouse did cyber/computer science at USNA.  Both are on active duty now, and they'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.  They talk with a lot of young adults.
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M5

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2017, 10:27:46 AM »
I'm SO glad you asked this question, as so many don't and make mistakes.

If your goal is to be a professional pilot, the air force is the way to go. You get all of your ratings (minus ATP) for free and they pay you to fly (way more than regional airline pay) while you build up your hours. Of course you must have a degree first, but most major airlines require a bachelor's anyway.

You may not have heard of this option, but I'd recommend talking to your local Air National Guard recruiter. You can enlist in the guard, get some of your tuition paid for, and get paid for the part time duty you pull each month. And the best part? Once you finish your degree you can apply for pilot slots within the guard and have a pretty decent shot at getting it. And the environment is much better than active duty. This option would both minimize your school costs, plus allow for you to reach your goal of a professional pilot. Oh and by the way, major airlines are much more likely to hire a low-hour military pilot than a high-hour regional captain.

If you'd like more info, feel free to message me and ask away! I'm currently in the guard and work with pilots everyday, so I have an extensive knowledge of the subject. Good luck to you!

schmerna

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2017, 01:47:48 PM »
Are you familiar with the Academic Common Market?  It is a tuition-savings program for college students in 15 SREB states, who want to pursue degrees that are not offered by their in-state institutions. Students can enroll in out-of-state institutions that offer their degree program and pay the institution’s in-state tuition rates. More than 1,900 undergraduate and graduate programs are available.

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2017, 06:02:47 PM »
Are you familiar with the Academic Common Market?  It is a tuition-savings program for college students in 15 SREB states, who want to pursue degrees that are not offered by their in-state institutions. Students can enroll in out-of-state institutions that offer their degree program and pay the institution’s in-state tuition rates. More than 1,900 undergraduate and graduate programs are available.

Thank you for telling me about this, as it was not something I have heard of before!

I will look into it, but, seeing as it has never been talked about here before, it may not be available where I live.

CCGStache_01

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2017, 06:38:52 PM »
You may not have heard of this option, but I'd recommend talking to your local Air National Guard recruiter. You can enlist in the guard, get some of your tuition paid for, and get paid for the part time duty you pull each month. And the best part? Once you finish your degree you can apply for pilot slots within the guard and have a pretty decent shot at getting it. And the environment is much better than active duty. This option would both minimize your school costs, plus allow for you to reach your goal of a professional pilot. Oh and by the way, major airlines are much more likely to hire a low-hour military pilot than a high-hour regional captain.

If you'd like more info, feel free to message me and ask away! I'm currently in the guard and work with pilots everyday, so I have an extensive knowledge of the subject. Good luck to you!

Thank you for the advice, I appreciate all the replies I am getting on this thread, especially those that have flight experience and/or military experience.

I have considered the Air National Guard, and a recruiter has come and talked at my school, because you can join at 17, and I think it is a definite possibility, however a (5th) option has made itself available:

- At my school we can do dual enrollment at the local colleges: the community college (CNM.edu if you want to look into its majors and such) and the main state college (UNM.edu).
- The new option is to do dual enrollment while I am in high school, and then finish my bachelors degree before I go into the military.
              - I would get all my tuition paid until graduation, and I can take as many classes as I want, so long as they are required
                 for my major. Then I would finish there (in about 2 years) before joining the military for flight training.
OR          OR          OR         OR          OR          OR          OR          OR         OR          OR          OR          OR          OR         OR          OR          OR          OR          OR         OR          OR
- I could get my A&P Certificate/Degree (airplane mechanic certification for those not in the aviation field) at CNM, and then move onto a college for my flight training.
                      - I could then work part time as an airplane mechanic. :)


Just a reminder however, that any cost of getting flight training at a 4 year school could be up to halved because of my high school giving us our flight training for the most expensive parts, which would normally cost up to about $40,000 worth of training.

gaja

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #21 on: April 22, 2017, 09:49:02 AM »
Have you considered studying abroad? A lot of countries around the world, especially in Europe, offer tuition free education for their inhabitants, and some also welcome foreign students at no cost. The language might be a challenge, but often you can also get language classes for free. This map shows countries with free college/university: https://twitter.com/Amazing_Maps/status/853691993314267140/photo/1

Here is one example of a aviation degree you can get tuituion free in Norway (but living expenses are high): https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=no&sl=no&tl=en&u=Https%3A%2F%2Fuit.no%2Futdanning%2Fprogram%3Fp_document_id%3D275406
Travelling southern Norway, Iceland and the Faroes in an electric car: http://travelelectric.blogspot.no/

WildJager

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #22 on: April 25, 2017, 12:11:14 PM »
I'll drop in here with my experience.  I won't rehash what a lot of the other's have said, but I'll be available to answer any specific questions you have.

I went to the air force academy and graduated with a pilot slot.  The academy is the most guaranteed way to get a pilot slot, I would estimate about 70% of those who want to fly get to out of there.  From ROTC or OTS, you have to be near the top of your class to get a slot depending on the school you go to.

As other's have mentioned, flying with the air force provides a better opportunity for civilian follow on flying.  Flying the larger cargo planes get you most of the ratings you need, and there are even special assignments that can get you civilian type ratings.

However, there is always the possibility that you won't get a pilot slot.  My advice here is to be prepared for the worst.  Get a good degree out of the academy so you have a fallback skill if you can't fly (most common if you're a good student at the academy is because of medical reasons).  Non flying commitment is 5 years post academy.

Don't necessarily consider the pilot route to only be a 10 year commitment.  That 10 years starts when you get your wings.  It took 2 years for me to get mine because the pipeline was backed up, so I'll have been in for 12 years all said and done.

However, if you can swing this route it's a very stable life (financially at least).  You'll always have food, shelter, and a job, which was an important consideration for me when I started.  The lifestyle is busy, and you'll be on the road a lot.  It can be very difficult to have a stable family life.  If you do choose to have a spouse, they have to be very flexible and willing to move (and have you gone for a decent portion of the year).

It looks like you could be a good candidate to get into the academy.  Keep working on those extracurricular activities.  Join things like sports teams to show leadership potential.  I did earn my private pilots license in high school, which both helped my application and made pilot training easier.  I thoroughly enjoyed pilot training compared to many of my peers, and I attest that to prior flying experience and a decent amount of flight simulator time (it was a hobby of mine as I couldn't afford too many real flying hours).  When you apply, you'll have to get a recommendation from your senator.  There are plenty of resources online how to do that.  Look into a falcon scholarship, which is basically a prep year for academy candidates. It provides a year at one of the various military prep schools, and as long as your academics aren't trash you're almost guaranteed to get in.  Plus, the curriculum is basically the same as the first year at the academy, which really helps because you'll be so busy there.

The academy is hard.  Really hard.  Physically and emotionally, you'll be drained by the end of the four years.  However, it makes everything that comes later seem almost easy.  If you go into it, commit completely.  Otherwise, don't waste your time.  Research and know what you're getting into before you go.

Going this route is guaranteed to make you FI before your commitment is up.  And if you enjoy it, you can stay in until the pension for even more of a buffer.  By 40, you'll never have to work again multiplied by a factor of 4.  Don't fall into the debt trap that many people in the military do.  Marry smart.  I started investing with my first paycheck at the academy, and by the time I can walk away from my commitment I'll have over 60x my annual expenses saved up (DINK for the record).  I don't plan on staying in because the love affair is over, but to each his own.

Starting a flying career in the civilian sector after college is expensive.  You'll be paying your way every step of the way.  So while the lifestyle might be a bit more free, financially you'll be much more constrained.  It's really a decision between your ideals and what you want out of life.

Finally, baseops.net is a go the go to forum for air force pilots.  There are subsections on how to get started.

If you have any specific questions, I'll be around to answer them.  Good luck!

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2017, 08:47:19 PM »
I won't rehash what a lot of the other's have said, but I'll be available to answer any specific questions you have.

I went to the air force academy and graduated with a pilot slot.  The academy is the most guaranteed way to get a pilot slot, I would estimate about 70% of those who want to fly get to out of there.  From ROTC or OTS, you have to be near the top of your class to get a slot depending on the school you go to.

As other's have mentioned, flying with the air force provides a better opportunity for civilian follow on flying.  Flying the larger cargo planes get you most of the ratings you need, and there are even special assignments that can get you civilian type ratings.

However, there is always the possibility that you won't get a pilot slot.  My advice here is to be prepared for the worst.  Get a good degree out of the academy so you have a fallback skill if you can't fly (most common if you're a good student at the academy is because of medical reasons).  Non flying commitment is 5 years post academy.


Hello WildJäger (like the name), thank you for your advice!

I have been researching both the Air Force Academy (entry requirements, etc.) and other colleges, and I am still leaning towards AFA. As I said before my family has a history of military service, having served in the American Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam war, and I would like to continue that service while also doing what I love.

I do plan on serving more than 10 years, as I would like to have a pension to provide extra buffer during FIRE, as well as being able to provide for hobbies (such as owning an aircraft), and I put the ten year commitment to put a timeline onto the original post.

I am currently trying to get a computer science associates degree while completing high school, which will also provide a buffer should I be unable to fly. I do understand that I may not be able to fly, however I have not yet had any medical problems that limited my flying ability so far. I will look into the Falcon Scholarship that you spoke about, and thank you for telling me about it. I have meet my state's senator before (unique quality of the school meant he came to visit, it is the only flight high school in the US). I can always send a letter to any member of my state gov't, so I have the ability to get senatorial recommendation rather easily.

Unfortunately, the uniqueness of my school comes at a (trivial) price, for sports we have: Basketball, Track, Soccer, and Volleyball, and they all compete in the charter league rather than the normal high school league (read: low exposure, less competition), fortunately I can participate in sports activities at other schools. I was in wrestling until my family moved in 8th grade, after that, I joined my high school basketball team (JV), and next year I will be on the varsity team. I am considering getting a job from now on, during summer and the school year, last year I was the sole archer for my schools youth archery team (I got 2nd place at the competition) and several of my friends want me to join the lacrosse team at another high school. As far as sports are concerned, I have the opportunity and ability. For non-sports extracurricular activities, I am in Civil Air Patrol, I was previously a Boy Scout (may return to get my Eagle Scout), I was a middle school state Science Olympiad champion, I currently mentor my schools middle school Science Olympiad, and I was in student counsel last year.

I do understand that military life involves a great deal of travel, and that is a sacrifice I am willing to make in order to have a more free life.

You stated that you completed the academy with a pilot slot, did you enjoy going to the academy, and if you could do it over again, what would you do? (attend regular college or the Academy)
ALSO: What programs did you attend before acceptance (ROTC, etc.)? What advice would you give me, knowing what I have posted so far? (if I hadn't stated a college preference or Air Force preference) How long have you been in the Air Force (post-graduation), and what kind of aircraft do you currently fly (type, model: cargo such as the MC130J or fighter/attack such as the A10 Warthog/Thunderbolt)?


I have something to admit though, I do not plan to go FIRE until 35 at the earliest, I have my flaws, some of them including a love for cars (and vehicle modification), motorcycles (mainly dirt bikes), airplanes, and running my YouTube channel (expensive equipment). All of these hobbies are very expensive. I am trying to reduce my impact with these as much as possible (home built gaming rig instead of pre-built, secondhand motorcycles (and eventually aircraft), and modifying used cars (like my 1988 Suzuki Samurai), however some things I cannot simply let go, mainly airplanes and YouTube.

I do however try to make up for this with other, more cash friendly hobbies, such as woodworking (I sell custom made pens for as cheap as $15 plus shipping if you're ever interested, along with salt and pepper shakers, and razors), metalworking (welding, etc.), construction, reading MMM, and YouTube (which is currently not producing money, but... baby steps).

WildJager

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2017, 10:16:22 AM »
Hello WildJäger (like the name), thank you for your advice!

I have been researching both the Air Force Academy (entry requirements, etc.) and other colleges, and I am still leaning towards AFA. As I said before my family has a history of military service, having served in the American Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam war, and I would like to continue that service while also doing what I love.

I do plan on serving more than 10 years, as I would like to have a pension to provide extra buffer during FIRE, as well as being able to provide for hobbies (such as owning an aircraft), and I put the ten year commitment to put a timeline onto the original post.

I am currently trying to get a computer science associates degree while completing high school, which will also provide a buffer should I be unable to fly. I do understand that I may not be able to fly, however I have not yet had any medical problems that limited my flying ability so far. I will look into the Falcon Scholarship that you spoke about, and thank you for telling me about it. I have meet my state's senator before (unique quality of the school meant he came to visit, it is the only flight high school in the US). I can always send a letter to any member of my state gov't, so I have the ability to get senatorial recommendation rather easily.

I got my computer science degree at the academy.  They have a good program there.  It's a tough balance between the academic and military requirements, but you can make it work.  If you don't fly, the air force provides a lot of opportunity for cyber now a days.  It's a top priority right now with some interesting missions.

Unfortunately, the uniqueness of my school comes at a (trivial) price, for sports we have: Basketball, Track, Soccer, and Volleyball, and they all compete in the charter league rather than the normal high school league (read: low exposure, less competition), fortunately I can participate in sports activities at other schools. I was in wrestling until my family moved in 8th grade, after that, I joined my high school basketball team (JV), and next year I will be on the varsity team. I am considering getting a job from now on, during summer and the school year, last year I was the sole archer for my schools youth archery team (I got 2nd place at the competition) and several of my friends want me to join the lacrosse team at another high school. As far as sports are concerned, I have the opportunity and ability. For non-sports extracurricular activities, I am in Civil Air Patrol, I was previously a Boy Scout (may return to get my Eagle Scout), I was a middle school state Science Olympiad champion, I currently mentor my schools middle school Science Olympiad, and I was in student counsel last year.
I also went to a more specialized high school that required me to play hockey at a different school.  Great list of activities there, keep it up.  The acceptance board eats that shit up.  Continue striving for leadership roles in your chosen extracurricular activities, they will be looking for leadership potential.  Sounds like you're well on your way there.

I do understand that military life involves a great deal of travel, and that is a sacrifice I am willing to make in order to have a more free life.

You stated that you completed the academy with a pilot slot, did you enjoy going to the academy, and if you could do it over again, what would you do? (attend regular college or the Academy)
ALSO: What programs did you attend before acceptance (ROTC, etc.)? What advice would you give me, knowing what I have posted so far? (if I hadn't stated a college preference or Air Force preference) How long have you been in the Air Force (post-graduation), and what kind of aircraft do you currently fly (type, model: cargo such as the MC130J or fighter/attack such as the A10 Warthog/Thunderbolt)?
I didn't particularly enjoy the academy.  It was stressful and extremely difficult, but manageable.  The experience was good for me though, I don't know if I would have had the discipline at the time to focus on academics as much at a civilian school.  The structured life teaches you time management, and the military exposure puts you in a better position than your peers after you graduate.  You'll make lifelong friendships going through the suck together though.  And some people enjoyed the experience, so it's very much personality based.  The location is awesome though.  You get some time off to explore Colorado.  Great snowboarding in the winter, and top notch hiking just outside your back door.  I used to grab my pack many Fridays and hike up the mountains for awesome camping experiences.  You mentioned archery earlier.  They have an amazing walking course on base that's free to cadets.  I have yet to find a better course anywhere else.  It was my go to location for stress relief.

I did navy JROTC at my high school, played hockey, some time in the CAP, and a few other hobbies.  Your list is much more comprehensive than mine, which will definitely make you stand out among your peers.  As I mentioned before, just stay engaged with the programs you enjoy and excel at them as best you can.

I fly C-130s, the standard cargo model.  There are tradeoffs for haulers vs fighters that I won't belabor here.  There is a lot of time between now and when you'll be choosing your path that will make it almost impossible to guess what's the best fit for you.  When the time comes, you'll know what you want.  Most pilot wannabes at the academy go in with the fighter or bust mentality, but that often changes a few days into pilot training.  My decision was made with family considerations in mind.  There are many factors to consider, but you'll have plenty of leadership who will help you make the right decision.  Regardless of what you choose, military flying is leagues above civilian in terms of the complexity of the mission sets and the locations you'll be flying around the world.  Going back to civilian flying will almost seem boring, and you'll be leagues above your peers in terms of your skill and situational awareness.

I have something to admit though, I do not plan to go FIRE until 35 at the earliest, I have my flaws, some of them including a love for cars (and vehicle modification), motorcycles (mainly dirt bikes), airplanes, and running my YouTube channel (expensive equipment). All of these hobbies are very expensive. I am trying to reduce my impact with these as much as possible (home built gaming rig instead of pre-built, secondhand motorcycles (and eventually aircraft), and modifying used cars (like my 1988 Suzuki Samurai), however some things I cannot simply let go, mainly airplanes and YouTube.

I do however try to make up for this with other, more cash friendly hobbies, such as woodworking (I sell custom made pens for as cheap as $15 plus shipping if you're ever interested, along with salt and pepper shakers, and razors), metalworking (welding, etc.), construction, reading MMM, and YouTube (which is currently not producing money, but... baby steps).

If you go for the pension, you won't be out of the air force until you're just shy of 40.  As a quick wag, the pension for officers equates to about $2million invested over the life of it.  Consider that when you're make the decision to stay in or walk away.  A lot of people get follow on careers after the military.  For some, it's poor life decisions and bad money management.  For others, they like toys and travel.  I would say that saving and investing most of my income is a rarity in the military, because it's a "work hard, play hard" culture.  Find a balance that works for you as you progress through your career.  Just be careful not to fall into the debt trap (or divorce with child care trap) that many fall in to. 

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #25 on: April 29, 2017, 01:23:48 PM »

I got my computer science degree at the academy.  They have a good program there.  It's a tough balance between the academic and military requirements, but you can make it work.  If you don't fly, the air force provides a lot of opportunity for cyber now a days.  It's a top priority right now with some interesting missions.

The structured life teaches you time management, and the military exposure puts you in a better position than your peers after you graduate.  You'll make lifelong friendships going through the suck together though.  And some people enjoyed the experience, so it's very much personality based.  The location is awesome though.  You get some time off to explore Colorado.  Great snowboarding in the winter, and top notch hiking just outside your back door.  I used to grab my pack many Fridays and hike up the mountains for awesome camping experiences.  You mentioned archery earlier.  They have an amazing walking course on base that's free to cadets.  I have yet to find a better course anywhere else.  It was my go to location for stress relief.

There are tradeoffs for haulers vs fighters that I won't belabor here.

I have discussed the idea with my parents and flight  instructor, and they all express support for me going into the AFA. So I have decided that I am going to try to get into the AFA.

I had discussed what planes I would like to fly when I had first started really considering the Air Force (last year) with my flight instructor, and I had decided that I wanted to fly larger cargo planes or bombers, such as the C-130 or B-52. HOWEVER this decision was made before I discovered Mr. Money Mustache, which means it was made with the assumption that after getting a pension and leaving the military, I would join the civilian aviation industry. Because civilian airlines prefer cargo pilots over fighter pilots, this influenced my decision, and I am now unsure of what aircraft I would like to fly with the goal of FIRE in mind.

I have been to Colorado Springs before, and it is quite nice, I would like going to school there, especially since it is close to home in case of an emergency. I do skiing in the winter, and hunting in the spring and fall, so the location would be one the best I could possibly have.

(WildJager) As a fellow Mustachian who went to the academy, do you have any advice for me for acceptance, life at the academy, how to be Mustachian at the academy, etc.?

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #26 on: May 01, 2017, 10:44:17 AM »
I have decided that I am going to try to get into the AFA.
  Keep us updated on how it goes.

Heroes821

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #27 on: May 01, 2017, 11:27:44 AM »
I'm not sure how useful it is, but if you know any honorably retired military members I would ask them for a letter of recommendation. Also you mention the Academy being close to home, if so it would probably be advantageous to go there for a tour and get a concrete list of what they expect from applicants.  I only know one person that went to the Academy after enlisting and it was a very detailed process to cross from A1C to Cadet.  Most of the officers I've worked with that went to the Academy went in right out of high school and it was pretty much the same as applying for college, but I'm sure there are ways to stand above the other applicants.

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #28 on: May 01, 2017, 11:31:55 AM »
I have decided that I am going to try to get into the AFA.
  Keep us updated on how it goes.

He has started a journal at https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/air-force-academy-bound/msg1533091/#msg1533091

I guess, he forgot to mention it here.

CCGStache_01

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2017, 01:47:40 PM »
I have decided that I am going to try to get into the AFA.
  Keep us updated on how it goes.

He has started a journal at https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/air-force-academy-bound/msg1533091/#msg1533091

I guess, he forgot to mention it here.

Thank You CIA! I was coming today to let people know about my journal, however I see you have beat me to it, thank you for the help. I do have one thing to mention however: Can we keep discussion about the journal limited to this case study, as I do not want the journal becoming to cluttered to allow easier reading for others at later dates.

NorCal

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #30 on: May 02, 2017, 05:33:41 PM »
Congrats on the choice to go for the Air Force Academy!  It's a solid choice, and can lead to some great options later.  Contrary to popular opinion, the military is one of the better places to build a nest for financial freedom.

You've received some great advice so far.  I won't pile on too much.

The only thing I'll add is to focus your efforts on what you need to do in order to get accepted.  Don't worry as much about majors or being a pilot vs. not being a pilot.  People's initial exposure to the academy and culture has a tendency to change people's minds about what they want.  Also, have a backup plan.  Hopefully you don't need it, but the fallback is important.  It's not super common, but small things like your physical can blow up well laid plans.

I spent 8 years in the Army, with 4 years enlisted, and 4 years as an Officer.  I went the ROTC route.  Feel free to PM me if you have general questions about the military life, or if you want to know why the Air Force is the most inferior branch of the military.

WildJager

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #31 on: May 05, 2017, 08:50:07 AM »
I have discussed the idea with my parents and flight  instructor, and they all express support for me going into the AFA. So I have decided that I am going to try to get into the AFA.

I had discussed what planes I would like to fly when I had first started really considering the Air Force (last year) with my flight instructor, and I had decided that I wanted to fly larger cargo planes or bombers, such as the C-130 or B-52. HOWEVER this decision was made before I discovered Mr. Money Mustache, which means it was made with the assumption that after getting a pension and leaving the military, I would join the civilian aviation industry. Because civilian airlines prefer cargo pilots over fighter pilots, this influenced my decision, and I am now unsure of what aircraft I would like to fly with the goal of FIRE in mind.

I have been to Colorado Springs before, and it is quite nice, I would like going to school there, especially since it is close to home in case of an emergency. I do skiing in the winter, and hunting in the spring and fall, so the location would be one the best I could possibly have.

(WildJager) As a fellow Mustachian who went to the academy, do you have any advice for me for acceptance, life at the academy, how to be Mustachian at the academy, etc.?

I wouldn't worry too much about what you are going to fly based off of your follow on life.  There is a lot of time between now and when you'll be able to separate, so goals will change beyond what you could possibly imagine.  Plus, as anyone in the military will tell you, planning your future in the military is a bit of a lost cause.  Any roadmap you build will be blown up by the needs of the air force.  That can be a good thing when doors open that you'd never expect, but it's also frustrating when you had your heart set on a goal.  Nature of the beast.  When you get to pilot training, just bust your ass and aim for whatever interests you at the time. 

For acceptance, just keep doing what you're doing.  Get good grades at school, and continue to be involved in your community.  Start the application process early, because it's fairly rigorous.  Your application packet will give you all the guidance you need to get in.

Life at the academy will be exhausting, but keep perspective on your long term goals while there.  Lean on your friends to help you through, and help others as much as you can.  Life there is much harder if you try to do everything alone.  Learning how to work with a team is one of the key learning objectives there.  You'll have more work than you can realistically accomplish, but that's by design.  You'll learn how to prioritize objectives and develop time management skills to get everything done.  Go in humble and ready to learn.  Know it all's usually don't excel, especially once you get to pilot training.

Start learning how to invest properly, and do that from day one.  Freshman year you'll get a stipend of $100 per month.  Develop budgeting skills from the get go.  I started budgeting and investing right out of the gate, which my peers thought was crazy, but it paid dividends in the long run.  USAA offers cadets a loan at extremely low rate (my class was offered $32k at .5% interest).  Take it, and invest it.  Don't do what most did and buy a car. 

After you graduate, you'll get a substantial pay raise.  Year after year your pay will increase.  Pay out of the academy is pretty decent to provide for a good life... stay at that standard of living and invest the rest.  You'll be FI easily by the time your commitment is up.  Everyone around you will be buying cars and stuff and houses.  Don't be like them.  Max out your TSP (government version of a 401k) every year after you graduate.

In terms of housing, for the military specifically I recommend renting.  You're on station for such a short amount of time relatively that the costs associated with buying a house end up breaking even with the amount of appreciation you get over a 3 year tour.  Basically, buying is a lot of hassle for no benefit.  Usually your BAH (housing allowance) will be more than actual rent in the local market will be, so you'll come out on top.

What you give up in terms of life control (location where you live, deployments, etc) is made up for with stability.  You'll never be worried about shelter or food, which is nice. 

Enjoy the journey.  There is a lot of crap you'll deal with in the military, but there are also plenty of awesome experiences.  Try not to let yourself become jaded too early.

Finally, treat the folks you work with well.  Some people come out of the academy thinking they're superior to others.  That's not true at all.  The academy likes to tell you that you're the "best of the best".  Take that with a grain of salt, and remain humble.  The military is a team, not a competition.

WildJager

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #32 on: May 05, 2017, 08:51:34 AM »
I spent 8 years in the Army, with 4 years enlisted, and 4 years as an Officer.  I went the ROTC route.  Feel free to PM me if you have general questions about the military life, or if you want to know why the Air Force is the most inferior branch of the military.

You're just jelly because our food is better and we stay at nice hotels instead of tents.  ;)

meatface

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #33 on: May 05, 2017, 10:56:56 AM »
I would definitely focus on trying to get an ROTC scholarship. The Air Force gave me one, and it wasn't that hard to get (although it was 20 years ago). I was a good student (all Honors and AP classes) and had a 1310 SAT - nothing amazing. I dropped the scholarship after my first semester in college because the AF wasn't for me. But from what I remember, it's not a slam dunk guarantee to be a pilot. You have to earn it, but if you study hard in college and generally kick ass, then you'll get it.

CCGStache_01

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #34 on: May 05, 2017, 11:51:16 AM »
I spent 8 years in the Army, with 4 years enlisted, and 4 years as an Officer.  I went the ROTC route.  Feel free to PM me if you have general questions about the military life, or if you want to know why the Air Force is the most inferior branch of the military.

You're just jelly because our food is better and we stay at nice hotels instead of tents.  ;)

I have been to my local Air Force Base several times over the years, and I can attest that the food is good.

I have just posted a small update on the journal, and I will be starting a discussion forum that I will be linking to to keep the journal all in order.

Homeward_Bound

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #35 on: May 10, 2017, 03:46:02 AM »
Seeing your comments about a Congressional 'recommendation' makes me suspect you might not fully understand that process.  A nomination (usually Congressional but there are sources as well like the VP) is required to be considered for an appointment/admission.  They are limited and very competitive.  Each Congresscritter typically only has one to offer in a given year (and under some circumstances may not have any).  You should plan to request a nomination from all of them that serve you, and from any other sources you may be eligible for.  I would also suggest that securing a nomination should have it's own section in your goals, with a plan for how you'll get it.  Each one does it their own way, but most are like a high-stakes job interview.  Anticipating what questions you may be asked and practicing could really increase your chances.

You may also want to think about what you would do if you don't get an AFA nomination but end up getting nominated to a different service academy.

Wings5

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2017, 11:07:49 PM »
I'll drop in here with my experience.  I won't rehash what a lot of the other's have said, but I'll be available to answer any specific questions you have.

I went to the air force academy and graduated with a pilot slot.  The academy is the most guaranteed way to get a pilot slot, I would estimate about 70% of those who want to fly get to out of there.  From ROTC or OTS, you have to be near the top of your class to get a slot depending on the school you go to.

As other's have mentioned, flying with the air force provides a better opportunity for civilian follow on flying.  Flying the larger cargo planes get you most of the ratings you need, and there are even special assignments that can get you civilian type ratings.

However, there is always the possibility that you won't get a pilot slot.  My advice here is to be prepared for the worst.  Get a good degree out of the academy so you have a fallback skill if you can't fly (most common if you're a good student at the academy is because of medical reasons).  Non flying commitment is 5 years post academy.

Don't necessarily consider the pilot route to only be a 10 year commitment.  That 10 years starts when you get your wings.  It took 2 years for me to get mine because the pipeline was backed up, so I'll have been in for 12 years all said and done.

However, if you can swing this route it's a very stable life (financially at least).  You'll always have food, shelter, and a job, which was an important consideration for me when I started.  The lifestyle is busy, and you'll be on the road a lot.  It can be very difficult to have a stable family life.  If you do choose to have a spouse, they have to be very flexible and willing to move (and have you gone for a decent portion of the year).

It looks like you could be a good candidate to get into the academy.  Keep working on those extracurricular activities.  Join things like sports teams to show leadership potential.  I did earn my private pilots license in high school, which both helped my application and made pilot training easier.  I thoroughly enjoyed pilot training compared to many of my peers, and I attest that to prior flying experience and a decent amount of flight simulator time (it was a hobby of mine as I couldn't afford too many real flying hours).  When you apply, you'll have to get a recommendation from your senator.  There are plenty of resources online how to do that.  Look into a falcon scholarship, which is basically a prep year for academy candidates. It provides a year at one of the various military prep schools, and as long as your academics aren't trash you're almost guaranteed to get in.  Plus, the curriculum is basically the same as the first year at the academy, which really helps because you'll be so busy there.

The academy is hard.  Really hard.  Physically and emotionally, you'll be drained by the end of the four years.  However, it makes everything that comes later seem almost easy.  If you go into it, commit completely.  Otherwise, don't waste your time.  Research and know what you're getting into before you go.

Going this route is guaranteed to make you FI before your commitment is up.  And if you enjoy it, you can stay in until the pension for even more of a buffer.  By 40, you'll never have to work again multiplied by a factor of 4.  Don't fall into the debt trap that many people in the military do.  Marry smart.  I started investing with my first paycheck at the academy, and by the time I can walk away from my commitment I'll have over 60x my annual expenses saved up (DINK for the record).  I don't plan on staying in because the love affair is over, but to each his own.

Starting a flying career in the civilian sector after college is expensive.  You'll be paying your way every step of the way.  So while the lifestyle might be a bit more free, financially you'll be much more constrained.  It's really a decision between your ideals and what you want out of life.

Finally, baseops.net is a go the go to forum for air force pilots.  There are subsections on how to get started.

If you have any specific questions, I'll be around to answer them.  Good luck!

If you want a pilot slot in the USAF, the best thing you can do is play lots of Ace Combat.

davisgang90

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #37 on: May 20, 2017, 04:53:09 AM »
A letter written by a Naval Aviator who also flew with the Air Force.  Posted without comment.

Quote
LETTER ON WHETHER TO BECOME AN AIR FORCE PILOT...... OR A NAVAL AVIATOR......

The piece is written by Bob Norris, a former Naval aviator who also did a 3 year exchange tour flying the F-15 Eagle. He is now an accomplished author of entertaining books about U.S. Naval Aviation including "Check Six" and "Fly-Off".

In response to a letter from an aspiring fighter pilot on which military academy to attend, Bob replied with the following:

22 December 2005

Young Man,

Congratulations on your selection to both the Naval and Air Force Academies. Your goal of becoming a fighter pilot is impressive and a fine way to serve your country. As you requested, I'd be happy to share some insight into which service would be the best choice. Each service has a distinctly different culture. You need to ask yourself "Which one am I more likely to thrive in?"

USAF Snapshot: The USAF is exceptionally well organized and well run. Their training programs are terrific. All pilots are groomed to meet high standards for knowledge and professionalism. Their aircraft are top-notch and extremely well maintained. Their facilities are excellent. Their enlisted personnel are the brightest and the best trained. The USAF is homogeneous and macro. No matter where you go, you'll know what to expect, what is expected of you, and you'll be given the training & tools you need to meet those expectations. You will never be put in a situation over your head. Over a 20-year career, you will be home for most important family events. Your Mom would want you to be an Air Force pilot...so would your wife. Your Dad would want your sister to marry one.

Navy Snapshot: Aviators are part of the Navy, but so are Black Shoes (surface warfare) and Bubble Heads (submariners). Furthermore, the Navy is split into two distinctly different Fleets (West and East Coast). The Navy is heterogeneous and micro. Your squadron is your home; it may be great, average, or awful. A squadron can go from one extreme to the other before you know it. You will spend months preparing for cruise and months on cruise. The quality of the aircraft varies directly with the availability of parts. Senior Navy enlisted are salt of the earth; you'll be proud if you earn their respect. Junior enlisted vary from terrific to the troubled kid the judge made join the service. You will be given the opportunity to lead these people during your career; you will be humbled and get your hands dirty. The quality of your training will vary and sometimes you will be over your head. You will miss many important family events. There will be long stretches of tedious duty aboard ship. You will fly in very bad weather and/or at night and you will be scared many times. You will fly with legends in the Navy and they will kick your ass until you become a lethal force. And some days - when the scheduling Gods have smiled upon you - your jet will catapult into a glorious morning over a far-away sea and you will be drop-jawed that someone would pay you to do it. The hottest girl in the bar wants to meet the Naval Aviator. That bar is in Singapore.

Bottom line, son, if you gotta ask...pack warm & good luck in Colorado.

Banzai

P.S.: Air Force pilots wear scarves and iron their flight suits.
Check out my blog.  Early retirement from a military perspective.

http://chartprepping.com




Dexterous

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #38 on: May 21, 2017, 09:43:03 AM »
Have you spent a lot of time thinking about the responsibilities you will have as an AF Officer?
« Last Edit: May 21, 2017, 09:49:48 AM by Dexterous »

OthalaFehu

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #39 on: May 21, 2017, 09:51:41 AM »
I usually promote the military as a good idea for a young person without a real sense of direction, I did myself and don't regret it.

However, you seem to have things thought out WAY more than the average sophomore.

If you go to the military, do not get married! Wait until you are back in civilian life to make a decision like that. Military then college is a great recipe for 'ready for life' then you just need to work a job that relies on 'tips' for awhile and you are truly ready to be a citizen.

I have a feeling that either path you choose will work out for you, good luck!
One Day a Rains will come and wash away all you see before you, through Othala kept the true. http://othalafehu.com

NavyNukeCouple

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #40 on: May 28, 2017, 10:26:59 AM »
Hello, I can give a little insight on being young and in the military as my wife and I are both 20 years old and in the navy (we are currently E4's soon to be E5's). So what your not seeing with the military is all the additional pay you get, that 34k a year figure is almlst certainly only your base pay but once your eligible you'll also get BAH (not taxable) BAS (not taxable) and many other special pays that will likely more then double that number. My wife and I are being stationed in San Diego in June where we will make about 120k a year after tax without bonuses! And we have only been in the navy for 2 years that being said we also get over 200k in bonuses this year (half up front) allowing our net worth to get close to a quarter million dollars at 20. Also the military health system is far better then anything in the civilian world, everything is completely free for you, they even will pay for one elective surgery like LASIK, try finding that with a civilian employer. Last but not least are the college benefits, you can go to college for free while your in and then go to college for 3 years for free when you get out while still being paid bah. So long story short the military has way more benefits then just the "salary" you see listed online so I recommend it. If you have any questions feel free to email me

Lepetitange3

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #41 on: May 28, 2017, 11:07:54 AM »
I'm Retired Navy (not a pilot).  I would say Naval aviator or Air Force pilot.  Definitely please look at ROTC scholarships for college.  I went FOR FREE to a 4 year school including free room and board (the university in question gave an add-on scholarship for rotc students who were on an rotc scholarship who had also qualified for an academic scholarship from the school).  I met my husband in college rotc, and most of our lifelong friends.  Many of whom are pilots.  If you are motivated and academically successful, you can pretty much be sure you will get a pilot slot from navy rotc. Navy Rotc slotting goes by grade performance.  So if you can keep a top gpa, you will definitely be able to select pilot when you graduate.  I will also say that I got into the naval academy as well at the time and chose rotc because both were free and I wanted the flexibility.  I never regretted it.  Because I had so much ap credit going into university, I was able to get a masters during my 4 year scholarship time.  This could work similarly for you if you do dual enrollment.  Best of luck!

fixie

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #42 on: July 21, 2017, 01:42:15 PM »
Just my opinion, but don't join the military.  ANY military.  Not only can you experience an untimely injury or death due to empire, you might also be told to kill for empire.  Expect to work with striving, jingoistic, often racist careerists...Expect to deal, daily, with those who do not have the intelligence to hold a weapon or possess the launch codes or give anyone orders but, nevertheless, do.  You can also expect to make less, over your lifetime, than a similar kid who takes the college route(or not at all) or trade school and just works for a living.  You found MMM early, which means you are intelligent and thoughtful enough to just run the numbers.  Read some papers on military vs. civilian outcomes before signing your life away to Uncle Scam.
Pilots in the civilian arena can make EXCELLENT money, especially in the tourism sector(like in Alaska) or, dare I say it, the oil and gas sector.  You have responsibility without killing, make more money without killing, decrease your chance of PTSD and suicide, and the probability you will die due to someone else's stupidity decrease greatly.
-fixie

EDIT:My goal is not to besmirch or offend, simply to give alternate advice to this young person weighing his options.  I don't think I said a single untrue thing to this youngster.  Do a simple internet search of average outcomes for military veterans, not officers, and you find they are not as "good" as "be, all that you can be...".  How many vets are left behind upon leaving service, ending up homeless, with PTSD, or drug problems, unemployed and unemployable?  Answer?  Many tens of millions over the years.  How much of their situation is due to their participation in empire?  That's what I'm getting at when I am critical of the military as a financial decision.  I have worked with and for the Navy and Army, off and on, for more than 17 years...although I am a civilian.  I know and work with both former officers and enlisted, even some who went to Haiti and "helped out" after the earthquake.  I interact regularly with retired Admirals, Navy sub commanders, surface ship personnel, and regulars.  I also volunteer on occasion with Veterans for Peace and local homelessness issues.  So, I think I have enough information to both know what I'm talking about AND have an opinion, without ever to have been in the military.  Militaries are not sacrosanct institutions and I reserve the right to be critical without being 'in the club.'

I know and have worked with quite a few bush pilots in both Alaska and Canada...both helicopters and small planes.  Even when they didn't own their aircraft they could make quite a bit more than I per year.  If they owned their plane they could REALLY rake it in!  Several of them are already retired in their 40s.

We are here to be financially savvy and help each other out.  In that light, a country that spends more than 50% of its discretionary spending on the pentagon is truly wasting it's stash.  Therefore, the pentagon system is not a wise investment.  This youngster deserves as much useful information as we can provide...even if some find what I have to say disagreeable.
-fixie

« Last Edit: July 22, 2017, 02:16:27 PM by fixie »

WildJager

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #43 on: July 21, 2017, 02:18:34 PM »
Just my opinion, but don't join the military.  ANY military.  Not only can you experience an untimely injury or death due to empire, you might also be told to kill for empire.  Expect to work with striving, jingoistic, often racist careerists...Expect to deal, daily, with those who do not have the intelligence to hold a weapon or possess the launch codes or give anyone orders but, nevertheless, do.


Sweet first post.  Question: How much military experience do you have?  Not "knowledge" gained from reading second hand accounts or watching some documentary... but actual boots on the ground experience?  Specifically in this case, US military experience?

You can also expect to make less, over your lifetime, than a similar kid who takes the college route(or not at all) or trade school and just works for a living.  You found MMM early, which means you are intelligent and thoughtful enough to just run the numbers.  Read some papers on military vs. civilian outcomes before signing your life away to Uncle Scam.


I became a millionaire by age 30 by following the exact same route the OP is considering.  Most of my old friends from high school who went the civilian college route are struggling to get by on a modest lifestyle and live paycheck to paycheck.  Anecdotal, sure, but more meaningful than a sweeping generalization. 

Of course young enlisted guys straight out of high school aren't going to get paid as much, but they can get free education, food, shelter, and a paycheck.  After a few years of service they can start a career based off of that education they earned while in the military. 

Pilots in the civilian arena can make EXCELLENT money, especially in the tourism sector(like in Alaska) or, dare I say it, the oil and gas sector. 


Oh, so now you're a pilot now too?  Those tourism flights earning the pilot $50 a pop totally go a long way in paying the bills.  I mean, the airline pilots don't make jack.  You know, those guys who fly around in those big old aluminum tubes with a hundred people on board.  The ones that are mostly flown by ex military pilots.  Yup, those ones.

You have responsibility without killing, make more money without killing, decrease your chance of PTSD and suicide, and the probability you will die due to someone else's stupidity decrease greatly.
-fixie

Much more people in the military don't kill than do.  Sure, you're facilitating it so you have to decide for yourself if you're morally OK with that.  But, frankly, so do most major corporations in the US.  The military buys a lot of shit.  Are you suddenly a killer because you pledge an oath to defend the constitution as a logistician, but not when the civilian company you work for provides the military with the cell data / pens / computers / copiers / fuel / vehicles / contracted labor / toiletries?

Regardless, there is so much more the military does than kill.  When Haiti got smashed last year, who do you think facilitated the humanitarian relief?  Who maintains the GPS system we all enjoy?  Who ensures shipping lanes are safe so we can all enjoy our cheap crap from China? 

Now, I'm not saying the US military is this great shiny penny... it's not.  Far from it.  But like anything you have to balance the good with the bad, and make a decision for yourself on whether the means justify the costs.  Sweeping generalizations like you made come from a severe standpoint of ignorance rather than any knowledgeable background.

For other countries, before joining the military you have to make the same considerations.  Does what I'm supporting make sense?  In a lot of countries, that's a flat out no.  In others, it's probably a, "Yes, but..." which is OK.  We operate in that grey area that lies between morally right and wrong, and try our best to get it right.

Heroes821

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #44 on: July 21, 2017, 02:25:42 PM »
Snip

Thanks Jager.  I knew someone would reply to this better than I could and without raging at fixie.

Of all the journals and all the personal shit on this forum to pick a young high schooler who has stated multiple times he comes from a family of Veterans it's just absurd for a first post.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #45 on: July 21, 2017, 03:45:53 PM »
Vets, I hope you don't consider this post unduly disrespectful. 

I am not a vet, but have posted frequently on these boards.  My family has served in most of this nation's wars, including the Revolution, and some members gave their lives in those fights.  I think OP should consider some of fixie's points.

OP, at your age, if I had the goals you express, I would have pursued the military academies, especially Air Force.  Later, I came to believe many objections to military service are valid. It's not just a courage issue or something that civilian leaders sort out, it's something to think seriously about before you take that oath.  I have taken an oath to defend the Constitution more than once and took it seriously each time despite not being armed.  It will be even more important for you if you take it.  I don't know the best choice for you but I think you should consider two things before committing to the military:

1) On some level you will indeed be responsible for killing people.  That really is what the job is about.  You're clearly a planner.  Consider contacting vets in anti-war organizations to find out what drives their views.  If you're still comfortable with it, go ahead. 

2) Once you sign up, you're going to follow orders even in an unjust war.  There are a lot of wars these days where the justification is weak and innocents get killed, despite a lot of effort not to kill the innocents.  Again the anti-war vets will have relevant comments.  Again, if you're comfortable after giving them a fair crack at your head and heart, go ahead.

As personal testimony, I had little understanding of these issues as a teen despite taking AP History and AP American Govt from teachers who really tried hard to help us grasp these things.  I just viewed it as necessary, and a challenge of courage.  Only later did I realize there's a bigger picture.  If you are going to take up arms as a profession, research this moral aspect as well as the financial aspect.  There are many legitimate views on these things, dig into them before you take an oath.

As an outsider, it sounds like what is driving you is a desire to fly, as well as to have financial security.  If financial security were the only goal, the military has many excellent paths, as does the civilian world.  Follow MMM principles in the direction of your choice.  You will succeed financially with any of the directions you choose, unless you suffer a fatality disruption during your job, or a career-ending injury.

That said, the civilian route to flying is expensive.  There's also the risk that automated flying will reduce or eliminate civilian pilot jobs in the future, further reducing the payback.  Personally I don't recommend flying as the only way to make money.  As you get your bachelor's, seek to include a backup path that pays decently.

Like most posters, I agree that the financially thrifty way to learn to fly is the military - if you're clear on the moral aspect.  Do your research, make your choices and work your plan.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 04:00:27 PM by Bicycle_B »

WildJager

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #46 on: July 21, 2017, 04:22:47 PM »
Vets, I hope you don't consider this post unduly disrespectful. 

I am not a vet, but have posted frequently on these boards.  My family has served in most of this nation's wars, including the Revolution, and some members gave their lives in those fights.  I think OP should consider some of fixie's points.

OP, at your age, if I had the goals you express, I would have pursued the military academies, especially Air Force.  Later, I came to believe many objections to military service are valid. It's not just a courage issue or something that civilian leaders sort out, it's something to think seriously about before you take that oath.  I have taken an oath to defend the Constitution more than once and took it seriously each time despite not being armed.  It will be even more important for you if you take it.  I don't know the best choice for you but I think you should consider two things before committing to the military:

1) On some level you will indeed be responsible for killing people.  That really is what the job is about.  You're clearly a planner.  Consider contacting vets in anti-war organizations to find out what drives their views.  If you're still comfortable with it, go ahead. 

2) Once you sign up, you're going to follow orders even in an unjust war.  There are a lot of wars these days where the justification is weak and innocents get killed, despite a lot of effort not to kill the innocents.  Again the anti-war vets will have relevant comments.  Again, if you're comfortable after giving them a fair crack at your head and heart, go ahead.

As personal testimony, I had little understanding of these issues as a teen despite taking AP History and AP American Govt from teachers who really tried hard to help us grasp these things.  I just viewed it as necessary, and a challenge of courage.  Only later did I realize there's a bigger picture.  If you are going to take up arms as a profession, research this moral aspect as well as the financial aspect.  There are many legitimate views on these things, dig into them before you take an oath.

As an outsider, it sounds like what is driving you is a desire to fly, as well as to have financial security.  If financial security were the only goal, the military has many excellent paths, as does the civilian world.  Follow MMM principles in the direction of your choice.  You will succeed financially with any of the directions you choose, unless you suffer a fatality disruption during your job, or a career-ending injury.

Like most posters, I agree that the financially thrifty way to learn to fly is the military - if you're clear on the moral aspect.  Do your research, make your choices and work your plan.

Well said.  The military should not be a financial decision at all.  You must believe in what you are doing or else you will end up miserable.  But there is a reason military members get pretty decent compensation, and it goes beyond the, "Support our troops!" nonsense.  While I'm happy we as a society have learned some valuable lessons after Vietnam about how we treat our vets, let's not kid ourselves on the true intent of generous compensation.  Some people stay in even when their moral compass is a bit confused, which in my mind makes them nothing more than mercenaries. 

In some cases, military force is absolutely the right call.  However, in the history of humanity, it's often not used appropriately.  We need people in the military who are willing to answer the nation's call if they believe it's the right call, and to have the moral fortitude to call the baby ugly when it is.

I may sound like I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth, but I'm not.  Idealistically I recognize the necessity of a military.  Practically, in this current climate, I'm voting with my feet.  Hence why I'm here.  The world changes drastically in short periods of time, and we need the next generation to be willing to step up to the plate when circumstances require it, and if they believe in the cause.

To unilaterally say military service is a fools errand is, in and of itself, foolish.  We rely on our civilian counterparts to use force as a last resort during their law making.  Blaming a hammer for being a hammer in a craftsman's shop is illogical.  Every (at least semi democratic) country is a team, and the negative impacts of wars is a reflection on all of us.


Lepetitange3

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #47 on: July 21, 2017, 04:28:56 PM »
To say the military is all evil and then to reap its benefits as WildJager pretty eloquently stated is many forms of illogical and messed up.  If you are American and reside in America, you have gotten definite benefits courtesy of the military.  Most of the Western works has - for good and for ill. 

Nords

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #48 on: July 22, 2017, 12:19:39 AM »
Just my opinion, but don't join the military.  ANY military.  Not only can you experience an untimely injury or death due to empire, you might also be told to kill for empire.  Expect to work with striving, jingoistic, often racist careerists...Expect to deal, daily, with those who do not have the intelligence to hold a weapon or possess the launch codes or give anyone orders but, nevertheless, do.  You can also expect to make less, over your lifetime, than a similar kid who takes the college route(or not at all) or trade school and just works for a living.  You found MMM early, which means you are intelligent and thoughtful enough to just run the numbers.  Read some papers on military vs. civilian outcomes before signing your life away to Uncle Scam.
Pilots in the civilian arena can make EXCELLENT money, especially in the tourism sector(like in Alaska) or, dare I say it, the oil and gas sector.  You have responsibility without killing, make more money without killing, decrease your chance of PTSD and suicide, and the probability you will die due to someone else's stupidity decrease greatly.
-fixie
For all you servicemembers & vets who are having an adverse reaction to these sentiments, let's just remember that we support(ed) and defend(ed) the Constitution which gives everyone else the right to say things like this.  The fact that we're reading paragraphs like this indicates we're doing our jobs right.  No need to offer rebuttals or to pile on.

Author of "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement".   All royalties (and writing revenue) donated to military charities.
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libertarian4321

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Re: Join the Military OR Go to College (teen case study)
« Reply #49 on: July 22, 2017, 04:36:57 AM »
I spent 8 years in the Army, with 4 years enlisted, and 4 years as an Officer.  I went the ROTC route.  Feel free to PM me if you have general questions about the military life, or if you want to know why the Air Force is the most inferior branch of the military.

You're just jelly because our food is better and we stay at nice hotels instead of tents.  ;)

This is kind of a joke, but kind of true.

The Army is real military.  The Air Force, not so much.  You want to be rough and tough and hard core, go Army (or Marines).  You want to wear pretty powder blue uniforms, pretend to be military and not get dirty, go Air Force.

The Army generally has shitty bases in God forsaken locations.  You will bust your ass- often needlessly.  The AF has nice bases, where you will more or less feel like a civilian (while wearing your pretty powder blue uniform).

So if you want to be real military, go Army.  If you want to be "pretend" military, but still get all the benefits, without having to put in the work, go Air Force (or Navy).

This is coming from an ex-Army officer who realizes I could have gotten the same degree (ROTC scholarship) with a whole lot less stress, if I'd gone Navy or Air Force.