Hi all...I'm a newbie here and I've been perusing the forums for some answers but still can't quite nail down a few questions. It's possible that I might not be using the best terms to search, but I did give it my best. My son Jonathan is currently a junior in high school and he is 17 y/o. He will be 18 when he graduates high school. He recently informed us that he wants to join the Navy. He told us that he thought it would be a good decision because he can't really figure out what he wants to do in the future. He is an exceptional student and is also in the school's award winning Marching Band and is currently enrolled in 4 AP courses in Physics, Calculus, English and US History and he will be taking 4 AP courses in Psychology, English, US Govt, and Music Theory next year along with a Dual Credit Calculus course at the local University.
My son and I recently paid a visit to the Navy recruiter and talked to him for a short bit. He was actually the assistant recruiter, but he was pretty knowledgeable. My son already took the ASVAB before we went to visit with the recruiter and he got a 93 on the test. He performed very well in the Math, Science, and English fields but not so well in the Electrical/Mechanical fields. The recruiter told us Jonathan could pick anything he wanted and suggested the Nuclear Field. He talked about the STA-21 program and NROTC and joining the DEP. He also suggested that Jonathan join the DEP this summer so that he will be ready to go to bootcamp after he graduates next summer. There were a couple questions he couldn't answer either, so I thought I'd ask here.
We are supposed to meet again with the main recruiter in the next couple of weeks so that my husband can also meet with him. I have more questions now than I thought I did when we first visited with the recruiter. Here are a few:
Since my son has taken so many AP courses and will technically be a student at the University next year, how does that translate if he decides to join the Navy DEP program? Is it wise for him to have all of these credits under his belt and enlist or should he take a different path like holding off signing up until he completes his sophomore year in college (which would be sooner than a two years) and join the NUPOC program at that point?
If we decide to enlist and since Jonathan doesn't quite know what he wants to do in life except that he wants to maybe make components or things that are technical. What kind of path should he take in the Navy? Jonathan tried to take the test that helps you decide what you like, he said it was TOTALLY lame and didn't help at all. He said that most of the questions didn't line up properly, especially because he is so influenced by being in marching band. Nuclear seems amazing but are there other options that may be related to math and science? I've done some checking on the Navy COOL site that the recruiter suggested to us. However, it still seems difficult to decide on a pathway. So...any suggestions for jobs would be so helpful.
That's probably more questions than can easily be answered...sorry :( I will admit I am usually long-winded. LOL
He needs to decide between officer and enlisted... an officer is far less hands on than any enlisted sailor. Nuke officers certainly do a lot more than "desk work", they are hands on, but all the physical work tends to fall to the enlisted folks. So there's that to think about. The money for officers is twice as much, but so is the amount of responsibility and protocols. If he wants to work with his hands, enlisted is the choice.
I had a couple years of college when I enlisted (ages ago) and I didn't consider officer for a moment. I didn't want to be one, flat out. Some people prefer the work officers do, and like the "respect". Not me. I was an ET (electronics technician). I found it very interesting and enjoyable. I did do a lot if janitorial work initially, but that's part of the job. I didn't mind, I was being paid just the same.
My nephew is a nuke on a sub. He has long hours, and long deployments. Nukes are always the first ones aboard to get the power plant up and running, and the last ones off. The nuke officers have even longer hours. However, the crew is a small tight family, they get a lot of leeway when possible, and the current re-enlistment bonuses are quite good. He loves it. Subs are on a volunteer basis only.
Thanks for your response Anti M. Your information is quite useful. I was in NJROTC in high school so I have somewhat of an understanding of the Navy. However, since I never joined, I still have a lot to learn. hehe Talking with my son, it seems that he DOES want to be an officer at some point. The recruiter showed us the "pipeline" of the Nuclear Field and how it would progress and how it could lead to him being an officer, even if he started out as enlisted. He seems to really have his mind set on the STA-21 program, even though the recruiter said the forms to apply for it are twice as much as applying for the ROTC scholarship and the competition is greater too. I'm hoping the recruiter can help us understand those processes a little more clearly.
One of our biggest hurdles is that we can't really afford to send our son to college. He is going to have to make it happen if he wants to get his degree. We might be able to contribute some, but our budget doesn't have room for it and I'm not too sure that we'll qualify for governmental support. Jonathan's grades will qualify him for quite a few scholarships, but I'm still not sure if that will be enough to make it work. So, that is one of the reasons he is looking to the Navy. He knows he can get an excellent education with the Navy and apply it to his future. I really think he might want to make a career of the Navy, but I don't think he's made up his mind at this point.
I've told my son to look more closely at the job descriptions listed so that he can make sure he understands what he'll be doing. He told me today that he thinks that working with Nuclear Physics would be amazing and would lead him to all kinds of opportunities in the future. We want to let him make his own choices, however we also want to make sure he doesn't get taken advantage of, especially with all of the schooling he already has under his belt.
Thanks again for your advice! I must say...this website and these forums are so helpful. I've gotten a lot of answers already just by digging through them and it's also making me and my son EXCITED for the future!
In addition to the officer programs, he can try to attend college while enlisted. There are limited opportunities for this, as the Navy always takes precedence over classwork. But it is yet another option. Also, the Navy training which is unclassified can be used for credit in some cases.
My nephew did re-enlist, and plans to do 20 years, and he knows his training will get him a job anywhere he decides to go. There's more to nukes than just the power plants apparently. My husband is retired Navy, my dad was retired Navy, my nephew understands that the retired pay is merely okay, but the healthcare is golden. There's a long family story in there, but he really wants to have Tricare as an option no matter what he does as a civilian later. He joined at 18, so "retirement" comes at age 38. Same for my husband. Looking ahead, that's two careers, not one.
That's so AWESOME that your nephew wants to make a career out of it! My step-dad who raised me, was an engineer in the Navy during WWII. He got a medical discharge due to the fact that he suffered a stroke onboard the ship. He ended up going into the Army after that and retired as a Captain. I have to say that the healthcare coverage was GREAT for our family and worthy to work towards. As far as retirement...who could ask for anything better, you can retire at 40 and hold another job in the civilian world and get two retirements! HOW COOL IS THAT???
I think that we will learn a LOT more after we discuss our options with the recruiter. My son is TRULY excited about learning Nuclear Physics etc and he assures me that I'm just being too much of a mom. LOL So...at this point...I'm going to ride this wave and enjoy the ride. He's a smart kid and really has his ducks in a row and knows what he wants. I trust him to make the right choices and I'm sure that after we talk to the recruiter I will feel more comfortable.
Thanks again for your reassurances...it makes all this craziness seem a little more calm. I'm not sad or scared, I just want to help give him the right springboard to his future. In fact...I can't WAIT til the day he goes to MEPS and gets into the DEP if that is the path he chooses. Don't get me wrong...I'll be tearing up...but mostly because that patriotic bubble comes up and I can't control myself. LOL It happens every time I hear the National Anthem or say the Pledge of Allegiance or see some formation of planes fly overhead.
We signed the paperwork to send him off to MEPS in a couple of weeks, and then he will join the DEP. He decided this is the route he wants to take, so I will let him make his own choices at point. We did meet with the recruiter again and I felt a little less apprehensive about his options for the future. Now, the excitement begins!
There have been a number of discussions on this topic. Click on the links below.
My son was a nuke officer on a sub. He joined the Navy after graduating in 2006 with honors (degree in electrical engineering) from an university with a top engineering department. He majored in Electrical Engineering with enough courses in Physics he probably could've gotten a second degree in no time. Coming out of high school, his SAT I & II in Math were 800 (perfect). In Physics it was close to 800. At Nuke school, he actually found a few of guys with HIGHER scores. He joined the Navy because he wanted to not because he had to. My other son attended West Point for two years. His scores were not as strong as his brother's in Math but he had a couple of 5s in AP History (European and US) and a 4 in Spanish. He was recruited for one of the sports teams. They were both superbly fit and were Athletes of the Year (in high school) multiple times.
Anyone who thinks getting into the Navy is a cake walk these days will have a rude awakening. I am humbled by the quality of applicants we have in the Navy. But there are opportunities too for those who were underachievers in high school but scored high on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test. I know a young man who enlisted at 18 as a nuke, got his degree (STA-21), then became an officer through Officer Candidate School. At 30 years old, he just complete his MBA at a prestigious school paid for by the Navy. I know another young man who went in at 18 also. He completed his certification as a fire fighter and paramedic. He is also taking college courses as often as he can. Even without a college degree, he estimated his starting civilian salary will be at least in the 65 to 80K range with great benefits. Most enlisted nukes score in the 97 to 99 range on the ASVAB.
It is without a doubt that having the Navy nuke training makes it much easier job wise (should your son decide not to re-up after the initial commitment); however, the program in all honesty is brutal. If he thinks he could handle the technical aspect, go for it. If your son has any shortcomings technically - find something else. I hope this information is helpful. I encourage you to help your son explore all his options and choose a path that is right for HIM. I wish your son the best of luck. He certainly sounds like a fine young man. BQB
P.S. I personally would have him talk to someone about applying to one (or more) of the service academies in additional to ROTC.
Sierra - The reason they want him to sign up now is if he's a junior that is going to be a senior, he can DEP in for 455 days. Normally it's only 1 year. Read the rules here at para 010101:
I also noticed you said "If we decide to enlist". There is no "we" part of it. It is him that needs to 100% decide to commit to the Navy. He needs to fully understand that it was him that decided to choose his path. It's great for the parents to give their inputs, but ultimately it is him that must choose.
Per the Nuke thing, I'm sure Bunker would 100% agree. If you like extremely hard work, little appreciation, long hours, and little liberty, then people go Nuke. But if you want to see the world, go on tours while in-port in different countries, then go any rating except Nuke. While most of us "normal" sailors (I was a CTM) were on liberty, the Nukes were still on the ship doing their qualification and other stuff that Nukes do. In most of the ports, I was receiving maximum liberty, and could go on tours, while the Nuke stayed behind. Nukes were always the last ones to leave the ship, and the 1st ones that had to return because of their job. But one thing for sure, Nuke have that pride thing going on. The pride within the Nuke community is awesome.
With that said, Nukes make a heck of a bunch more money when they get out of the service. So its one of those things, do you want a great job when you get out, or do you want to have fun in the Navy when your in? It is up to your son to decide that...
Lastly, since I would with a bunch of new sailors. Being as smart as your son sounds, most of the time they are not physically fit because they are on the computer, reading books, and stuff like that. Is your son physically fit were he is eligible to join the Navy? I just want him to make sure that he must maintain a certain weight standard. In the Navy, if you fail 3 physical fitness test in a 4 year period, you are kicked out..... He needs to know all the rules when he make the decision to join or not....
I talked to my son the other day after I pulled up the PT regulations required for him. He was surprised at how many push-ups he had to do. Needless to say, he's got some work to do. He said he believes he can manage the curl-ups and the mile isn't a problem for him as he likes to run a lot and they run around the track a LOT for marching band. He's not sure yet about how he would do on the swimming but has a friend that is a lifeguard at our local pool that he can work with to be a better swimmer.
I pulled up the training programs available at Navy-prt.com and I will be passing those along to him to help him build up to the requirements. Thankfully he's got a year to work at it and it seems our recruiters work pretty hard with the kids in the DEP too. It's going to be an interesting year!
I'm sorry, but with my son in town on leave, I had him read this thread to see if he had any advice. He couldn't stop laughing.
The benefits to being in a 900 division means, that while other divisions may have some down time, your son will be practicing. There is no real benefit to being in the 900 division unless he desires to be in the Navy Marching band one day. My son played the trumpet in high school and opted not to mention it when he arrived at Great Lakes. He also said, marching band just messed him up for marching at Boot Camp. He said it was not the same, so he had to unlearn first what he already knew.
Also, as to pushups and swimming, the way to get better is to get out there and train. Having a friend who is a lifeguard isn't going to help him much (my son was a lifeguard at the local water park). (also, there really is very little swimming at Boot Camp)
One thing I found while my son was in DEP. I couldn't do anything to help him. Your son needs to research this stuff on his own and decide that he wants to do it. He has to want it badly enough to do it on his own. Or he can go in like my son did where he wanted everything to be a big surprise! WEEEEEE!
Even if they want to be in the Navy Marching band..the 900 division has no impact on if they will or won't be allowed to join.