Balancing Further Education With Military Ambition

Introduction

Military Commitment Ceremonies are new to many high schools and rising in popularity as a fitting way to honour students enlisting in the Armed Forces. Ten students at Mentor High School in Ohio were drawn to the military by its many opportunities and some are planning to continue their studies and earn a degree while serving their country. The thought of juggling studying with a rigorous training programme might seem daunting to some potential recruits but with generous funding options and a number of different ways to enter the military, there are plenty of opportunities to take on an apprenticeship, learn a trade or study for a degree.

Financing Your Degree

Financing a degree is often seen as a barrier to studying for civilian students but both the federal government and nonprofit organizations offer money to active personnel in the form of Federal Student Aid. One of the students from Mentor will be sponsored to study at university while at the same time being enrolled as a cadet. Around 1,700 colleges offer Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarships where students can experience a traditional college education while preparing to become an officer. However, these scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit rather than personal need, so when an application is unsuccessful and federal aid still doesn’t cover all costs, private funding could bridge the gaps.  

Studying On Duty

There is no doubt that higher education for active-duty troops can be complicated but this year, more than one million service members, veterans and their families will take college courses fitting them in between combat patrols and 12 hour shifts. Two siblings from Chilcothe who have recently graduated high school have surprised their parents by both choosing to join the military. Their daughter has signed a seven year contract with Intelligence which will involve training and studying whilst on duty.  Finding time and space to study might be a challenge for her and being posted overseas or constantly being reassigned makes studying in a traditional classroom very difficult for many personnel. In these situations online programs offer a level of flexibility that cannot be achieved in a traditional classroom setting and allow active personnel to complete lessons and assignments during downtime.

The qualities required for a successful military career – commitment, self-discipline and working under pressure – serve students well when balancing studying with continued training or service. Despite some practical difficulties, there is no reason to postpone studying as education whether before or during deployment is always advantageous to furthering a career both in the military and afterwards as a civilian.  

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