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Hi Everyone,

My name is Cynthia and I have an 18 year old son, Adam.  Adam is interested in joining the Navy.  I was wondering if you guys can give me some advice.  Is it better to go to college first and join as an officer or just enlist now and get education while on active duty?  I was told by someone who has a brother in the Navy that going into the Navy as a private is terrible and they get no respect and are not treated well.  I was told it would be hard to move up in ranking ect.  I was also told not to trust what the recruiters tell us.  I don't know what to believe anymore so.. I am coming to the experts..MOMS!!!

Any advice will be appreciated.

Thank you!

Cynthia

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I enlisted right out of high school, and so did my husband.  We both had the opportunity to go to college, but it wasn't the path that either of us wanted to take.  Now our son has done the same thing, and he enlisted right out of high school.  I have some family members who were also in the Navy, one of whom went to college first and came in as an officer. 

It's hard to say what is better, because, honestly, as the others have said, so much depends on your personality type.  My mother in law had a hard time for a long time over the fact that my husband didn't go officer.  He had many opportunities, but it wasn't for him.  He LIKES being enlisted, he loves being part of the Chief's Mess and doing what's called "deckplate leadership" as opposed to leading from a wardroom.  (NOT bashing officers, but it's a different sort of leadership, and takes a different sort of personality.) 

Also, there's an expression that says "choose your rate, choose your fate".  Some advance quicker than others - with some, you have people who are smoking hot in the rate but still worried about high year tenure and everything.  Other rates, you come in as an E-3 and get promoted to E-4 as soon as you graduate from your school (the one my son is in, you get "push button E-4, and they currently have 100% promotion to E-5, so the advancement times are pretty good...)

Also, as far as the respect / treated well thing goes - a lot of it depends on your expectations.  No, a Seaman fresh out of boot camp isn't going to have it as well, or get as much respect as, say, a Master Chief.  When the time comes to scrub toilets, it's going to be our 19 yr old, less than a year in E-3 son, not my 40 yr old, 22 yrs in E-8 husband - because one has paid his dues and the other hasn't. Like with anything, you have to earn those privileges and respect.  But, to be fair, that also goes for the civilian world... think about it, a new employee, working down in the mail room, isn't going to get treated as well or get as much respect as, say, the general manager of the company... That doesn't mean that they get treated BADLY, just that you have to work your way up.

Same goes with the Officers, they have to work their way up. 

Hi Cynthia~ I'm no expert but a newbee. My 21 year old son is leaving for BC 6~20~12. He has some college units that I guess will go towards his Navy schooling? Not sure if i'm saying that right. However, I, personally am glad he waited to make this enlisted decision because it gave him time to mature and grow and to really think about his future. Not to mention the bonding that those years gave us. I feel every family situation is different and it just comes down to the childs personal choice. It is their life. As a mom, we can offer advice and support.  I'm a single mom of two boys and trying to hold on to them as long as I could. lol! I know I'm being selfish. I have mixed emotions about him leaving, but I fully support him.  I couldn't be prouder. I wish you and your son good luck with whatever choice HE makes.

Cynthia,

I think getting his degree first is best. My son did. He is now in Navy 3 1/2 years. He got two degrees and the Navy is paying off all his student loans. The reason I think it's best to go to college first is when coming out of high school it's much easier to acclimate directly to college and they have math, science, english etc fresh in their minds. My son Michael couldn't find a job...even with two degrees so he is serving his country honorably and loving it, boot camp was a breeze, your much more mature after college. By the way, going into the Navy with a degree is not terrible. My son did not want to go to Officer training school. If your son has a degree the recruiter can not talk to him until a Navy Officer does, that's the rule. My son did very well on Asvab entry test so he got better choices and went in with a higher rank.By the way, my son is an E-5 now after 3 years which is great. Your son can go up the ranks without being an officer. If he chooses military first that's fine but I can say he will be pretty busy like any job and going to school will be a commitment just like anyone who has a full-time job and goes to college part time

Some of his friends went in Navy first and than did the college thing. one out of three finished their degree

I can also say that if he chooses college later that's fine too. Take time to read the new GI Bill which will benefit your son and even his family.

Hope this helps

Maryanne

Cynthia,

I had the same questions as you before my son joined the Navy. I was so busy trying to figure out which would be best for him to do, but in the end it didn't matter. He did what he wanted to do. He was even signed on to play basketball in college. We kept encouraging him to go to college first, or to at least try it for a year. He was the salutatorian of his class but the truth is, he was tired of school and even tired of sports. He didn't want to wait to join. He wanted to serve his country and was ready to do something, as he put it, more important with his life. He wanted to join while he was young and in great physical shape. So that's what he did.

His PIR was Feb. 10 and he has been in Pensacola for training since then. We couldn't be prouder of him. He is very happy and still glad that he chose this path.

Check out all the info on the US Navy websites, as well as the Navy facebook pages. Best of luck to you both as the time to make the decision gets nearer. Stand behind him and support him 100%, whatever he decides.

My son enlisted at 19 without anyone knowing. It was totally HIS decision, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. He excelled while in bc...had a hard time in high school....HATED school. Because HE made hi own choices, he had nobody else to blame for anything. He LOVES the NAVY, and it was the very best thing that could have ever happened to him!

I would find out how his chances are of being commissioned. Last year, there were very few if any officer spots for people just walking in with a college degree. If he is serious about the navy, I would suggest looking into a Navy ROTC program if he wants to do that. There could be benefits of signing up and completing school once in. I don't know how that works though. I think they pull officers from the NROTC programs before they just sign random people up. Good luck.

When you are in a NROTC program (at a college which has a NROTC program), you are already in a program for future officers. Upon admission into a NROTC program, you can go to a college with a NROTC program, in a major which the Navy deems necessary to fills the officer ranks.  You can not just use the NROTC program and study whatever you want. Those admitted into the program must maintain a certain grade point average and participate in training (not sure about the schedule here). Typically, those admitted to the NROTC program are high school students who didn't want to go to the Navy Academy or were not offered an appointment. There is also the NUPOC program for those studying engineering, physics (or some other related major).

The Officer Candidate School program is for college graduates (or those about to graduate). My son did not consider joining the Navy until his senior year in college. If he had decided earlier and had been accepted into the NUPOC program (for nuke officers), he could have saved up 60 to 70K for the last two years of his education.

Here is the bottom line. If you have a degree in science, engineering, computer science (or programming) or a special skill (like fluent in Arabic) - the Navy will probably find a place for you.  If you have a degree in sociology, women's studies, history of the Ottoman Empire - it's best that you go the enlisted route first, then try an get into the OCS program.

Hope this makes sense.

BQB

My son just completed his 5 years commitment to the Navy as a nuke officer on a sub.

Hi Cynthia,

I know I am not a mom, but I understand from being married to my husband that if your son has the opportunity to go to college then he should go to college. Having a little knowledge under the belt before he went to the Navy would not hurt. But if he feels that he could be doing more, then the Navy would be a great place to learn and grow as well. Its a decision that he will carry with him for the rest of his life. If he can not decide whether he wants to go or not, then maybe he should make a list of the pros and cons. At the end of the day, the question he should be asking himself is whether or not he wants to live his life wondering "What if?.."

Hi Cynthia,

 

My son is 17 y.o. and enlisted in the Navy on March 15, 2012.  He will be leaving for bc on September 6th.  Here's my story . . . .when our son said that he wanted to join the Navy, we begged and pleaded with him to get a college degree first.  We had him talk to several military personnel, a Navy Seal, a Navy Seebee just to name a few.  Everyone recommended that he get his college degree first especially since he was a high honors student.  Regardless of what everyone has told him, he enlisted.  It didn't matter what preaching everyone did, it was HIS decision.  His reason for enlisting was that he was burnt out with school, did not want college debt, and was not interested in becoming an officer.  He is ready to start training for his Hospital Corpsman job.  When we met with his recruiter, we made it clear to him what my son wanted to do.  My son did not sign on the dotted line until he was guaranteed a spot for Hospital Corpsman.  He scored so high on his entry test that he could have been in the Nuclear Engineering program.  Not once did his recruiter pressure him into going into that field.   My son is certainly officer material.  Would have loved it if he did ROTC or attended college first, but it is not what HE wanted.  I have never seen him so happy and ready to start basic training.  The recruiter also told us that the training he will receive will convert into college credits.  That made me feel much better knowing that if he decides to end his Navy career, he will have something.  My son says he plans on staying in for 20 years.  We are very proud of him and support all military personnel.  So, I guess what I am trying to say is that you need to have a heart to heart with your son to see what he really wants to do and listen carefully.  It won't matter what everyone else's advice is.   I am happy to say that even though basic training will be tough, I know that my son will be in great hands. No worries about college partying, etc. and no college debt.  Navy4Moms has been a wealth of information and support for me.    Best of luck to you and your son!

My husband enlisted at the age of 21 after learning the hard way that even with an athletic scholarship, colleges expect you to attend classes! How unreasonable can they be? He was enlisted for 12 years then was commissioned through the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program.  He earned his degree while on active duty, but it wasn't easy since he has spent most of his career at sea. He found that his years as an enlisted man gave him a different perspective on leadership. He also finds that the enlisted Sailors have a great deal of respect for officers whom they know have walked in their shoes.

Our daughter attended the Naval Academy and is now a LTJG on a destroyer.  She found as a 21 year old ensign that it was tough to lead people who were often older and much more experienced.  That has improved over time, but her first year was pretty difficult. She was lucky to get a great education and have a guaranteed job when she finished school.  That, plus no student loans (service academies are basically free), and she is pretty set financially. 

I guess my point is this: your son should choose the path that seems best to him.  Not everyone is ready for college at 17 or 18; others benefit greatly by the years in school before choosing the Navy as a career.  Whichever path your son selects, there will be opportunities for him to advance and have a successful Navy career. 

Hi Cinzia,
We had many of the same questions. We were/are encouraging our son to attend college first and join later as this was the advice we were repeatedly given by almost every Officer we encountered. That's one thing to note, someone's personal experience shapes their response. All of the Officers we spoke with had all entered as Officers, so of course they thought it was the better way to go. On the other hand, I've also met many enlisted quite happy with their path, having opted to join ahead of college, with plans to use the GI Bill later, or take college courses while enlisted with support from the Navy.

I met one SEAL, who confessed he wished that he'd gone to school first, earned a degree and entered as an Officer, but this was more of a maturity issue versus anything else. Another SEAL told me he was glad he'd gone to school first simply because there was no way he would have been ready (mature enough) for the program before his college days. Every individual is different. My son can't be talked out of joining, which is good, in my opinion. If they can be talked out of it, they didn't really want it enough, right? ...so I tried!

It's an honorable choice at any time, and I commend each and every one who choose to serve.

Hi Cynthia,

I have to say I am curious about what decisions have been made by you/your son :) I read through all the replies but didn't see any follow up by you.

We have raised all our children with the idea of going to college after high school but that doesn't always fit in with what they want. My son is very smart but he hates pointless schooling. We realized when he was in the 6th/7th grade that he would not be going to college right out of high school because I had no intention of going with him and making sure he was doing his assignments and turning them in. High school was a struggle because he just didn't care about what he was learning. His saving grace was that he was accepted into a vocational program for Diesel technology. He spent part of his school day there. In that program he got all A's and B's because it was meaningful to him.

My son has wanted to be in the military since he was little. When he was about 12/13 I told him I was ok with that but I prefered the navy. My family has a naval background and my husband was also in the navy. So this year when he graduated high school he joined. He will be going to boot camp in Oct. With bootcamp, sub school and A school he will have possibly a year of schooling before he gets his first duty station. I am not worried about it though because it will be schooling similar to the diesel program and will be important to him. If I were sending him off to college I would be worried every day that he would flunk out.

I think you need to base the decision on what would be most in line with your sons personality. Does he love school; doing homework, writing papers, labs? Does he want to jump in there and learn what he needs to learn to get to work?

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