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Old 04-26-2004, 08:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: Alexandria, VA
USMC Recruiting Question

Hey everyone - I figured that with the diverse group of people here, someone would be able to help me figure this out.

I'm currently an undergrad at a 4-year college. However, I just learned I'm going to have to be here for 5 years and I don't have the money to pay for it and nor do my parents. As a result, I'm looking into a variety of ways to pay for the fifth year. I don't want to take out a loan for 15,000$ or so and be stuck paying it off. As a result, I started researching enlisting in the USMC and getting tuition assistance from them.

The main thing I saw that would work the best for me was the PLC (Platoon Leaders Class). That would enable me to go to training over the summer and not miss class. The most important thing to me is to not drop out of college - I want to get my college degree. So with that in mind, I went to talk to my local recruiter today.

He brought up an interesting idea - if I enlisted in the Reserves (doing the 6x2 plan (6 years active reserve, 2 years inactive reserve)), I'd be eligible for the GI Bill and get about 22,000$ for tuition aid. This would solve all of my money issues. Then, during next summer, they would send me to PLC and I would get my commission. However, there was a catch. In order to enlist in the Reserves, I had to go to Basic (not a problem) and go to job school. Basic + combat training + job school would end up being about 24 continuous weeks. This, obviously, would seriously fuck up me going to school.

The job I was interested in out of the four that were available where I live was 0621 - Field Radio Operator (more information on it here). However, if I did some other job (I don't remember the number, just some construction job if I remember right), I could do the "split plan", as my recruiter called it. I'd go to Basic this summer, then I'd go to combat training and job school next summer. That way, I wouldn't miss any school and I'd enlist in the Reserves. However, my recruiter explained to me that it was nigh impossible to change jobs within the USMC once you went to job school.

My question is: what should I do? I'm not too keen on the construction job, but I'm also not keen on taking off a semester of college. To anyone who has gone through the recruiting process, what are my options?

Thanks.
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Old 04-26-2004, 10:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I suggest that you go to the Army or Air Force recruiter and look into the OTS courses. I personally would stay away from some of the non-civilian jobs such as infantry or flightline. Careers that may suit you may include eye doc, safety inspector, quality inspector, audiology, contracting, civil engineering, non-destructive inspection (NDI, awesome job with very few civilian training institutions), x-ray specialist, airfield maintenance, and flight safety.

My last used personal favorite is respitory specialist.

Health care is on the up swing, bonuses are huge. Look into it.

If I knew then what I know now......
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Old 04-27-2004, 04:40 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You don't seem to mention how interested you'd be in this profession and only say you started researching it when you found you couldn't pay for next year's schooling.

So, my first piece of advice would be not to enlist solely for tuition assistance. You will be stuck for several years in something you may hate.

Secondly, going in as an officer is far better than going enlisted. The Marine Corps PLC program does not offer real tuition assistance in the sense of paying for all your costs (or even a significant portion of them). Once you complete a segment of training you can receive something like a $100 a month for 9 months per year. If going PLC you do two six week sessions at Quantico over two separate summers. If going Officer's Candidate Class--OCC you do a single ten week session over one summer in your senior year or just after graduation.

The Army, Navy, and Air Force typically have better deals with regard to paying tuition but I believe the commitment comes first unless you get an ROTC scholarship of one sort or another.

Student loans are not so bad especially if you're only talking about $15k.

I'm not about to discourage anyone from serving in the military, just be certain it's for you and that the long term commitment is worth it for the short term problem you're now facing.

--Paul
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Old 04-27-2004, 04:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Most services (I know for a fact the AF does) have a college loan pay off program, you can stay in school for now with a loan, then enter the service should your heart still desire and they will pay off the loan up to a certin amount, I would ask the recuiters about that though...
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Old 04-27-2004, 04:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Boo
If I knew then what I know now......
Don't I know it!

That seems to be my mantra, of late.
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Old 04-27-2004, 05:39 AM   #6 (permalink)
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My questions to you: Why choose to give up 6 years of your life (most reserves are currently overseas) for a few bucks, rather than make loan payments? Why go into a field you are not interested in, in order to split up training? You will be with that job for 6 Loooooonnnnngggg years! You seem in a hurry to do something that will take time -- no matter which road you choose. So please, I enourage you, choose looking at the whole picture, not just the here and now.
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Old 04-27-2004, 05:54 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The one piece of advice I have for you is NEVER take the recruiters word for anything. Make sure you have it in writing. Recruiters used to be infamous (and I assume they still are) for making lots of promises to get you to sign up and then if you hadnt made sure all those promises were in the contract you were screwed.
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Old 04-27-2004, 06:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by sexymama
My questions to you: Why choose to give up 6 years of your life (most reserves are currently overseas) for a few bucks, rather than make loan payments? Why go into a field you are not interested in, in order to split up training? You will be with that job for 6 Loooooonnnnngggg years! You seem in a hurry to do something that will take time -- no matter which road you choose. So please, I enourage you, choose looking at the whole picture, not just the here and now.
Well, I don't have any objections to serving in the military, and used to want to very much - before I got interested in computers. Computers are still my first "love", in terms of jobs, but I've got no problems serving in the military. And yes, ideally I'd be an officer. At the moment, I'm just looking for the most information.

And yes, I agree that taking the "bad job" (construction) to split the training isn't a good idea - as I'd end up hating it. And so I am considering taking a semester off school to do the better job. My main concern isn't about entering the military (career military family), but rather about making sure I end up in the right place and complete my undergraduate degree.

The largest thing I don't understand is the whole "job school" thing. How come there were only four jobs open locally? It seems like there'd be dozens of different job school opportunities - why only a few open? And how long until more jobs open up?
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Old 04-27-2004, 06:38 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: USMC Recruiting Question

Quote:
Originally posted by Pragma
My question is: what should I do? I'm not too keen on the construction job, but I'm also not keen on taking off a semester of college. To anyone who has gone through the recruiting process, what are my options?
I think another question you may want to ask yourself is 'Do I really want to go to war?' Our country is at war right now, and will be for the forseeable future. Enlisting right now is pretty much like booking a non-guaranteed roundtrip flight to the Middle East. If you are enlisting in the military for financial reasons and you have another way out, AND you feel that having to kill people because someone else told you is a bad thing, then you are doing it for the wrong reason, and especially at the wrong time.

Those that choose to serve, serve, and I salute them.
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Old 04-27-2004, 07:49 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I have no problems at all with going to war - and the reason I liked the PLC/OCC summer programs so much was that I wouldn't have the chance of being called up and sent to war until after I graduated - and my first priority is graduating.

That said, I talked with the recruiter more, pushing that I didn't want to take a semester off college to do training, but that I didn't want to do the split program for the construction job, and that I wanted to interview for the OCC program. He said he'd get back to me about possibly doing the split program for other jobs - amazing how it changes from no openings when I push on that point. Still, we'll see what happens.

Ideally - both in terms of financially and in terms of my future - I'd get into the OCC program, spend next summer in training, and when I graduate from college I'm a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC. Now the trick is trying to make that happen.
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Old 04-27-2004, 07:58 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by shalafi
The one piece of advice I have for you is NEVER take the recruiters word for anything. Make sure you have it in writing. Recruiters used to be infamous (and I assume they still are) for making lots of promises to get you to sign up and then if you hadnt made sure all those promises were in the contract you were screwed.
What he said--take their words with a grain of salt (more like the whole damn shaker). Recruiters will sell their soul to get one more person to enlist.
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Old 04-27-2004, 08:38 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Sounds good - I'll be sure to get my recruiter to get everything he's said in writing.
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Old 04-27-2004, 09:01 AM   #13 (permalink)
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A lot of companies will pay off your school loans while you are employed with them. I would maybe look at some companies that you might be interested in working for and see if they offer a tuition reimbursement program and if they are hiring.

My friend just joined the AF reserves for the same reason as you. He took a semester off from school and went to basic training and is now training to do Logistics Planning. He seems to like the job he chose.

Best of luck to you, Pragma!
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Old 04-27-2004, 10:32 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Dont enlist is my first word of advice.

Yes the GI bill is great for those that have the dedication. But I read a statistic that 80-some % of those that enlist for the GI bill and recieve it instead spend it on other loans or a car. I know for a fact that 65% of enlisted are on food stamps, so that $40,000 is huge for them.

ROTC would have been a good choice (it's what I'm doing now), but they dont offer scholarships to those who are already seniors so that rules that out.

PLC a lot of my friends switched to when they didnt get the ROTC scholarship. The only major drawback is you dont get much money up front, it's paid later in assistance with loan payments and officer pay.

If you are serious about being in the military there are many student loans that have the option to be forgiven with time served in the military. Some are only 4 years, others are up to 10.. all depending on how much is borrowed. My father did this in the 70s, every dime of his college was paid for... but he did stay in for 23 years.

If you are serious about signing up ask to speak to the recruiters OIC (Officer in Charge). The enlisted recruiters are not held responsible for anything in writing... the officer is. He is not held directly responsible for keeping a quota, and is pretty much guaranteed to give you the straight shit.

Hope this helps.
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Old 04-27-2004, 10:34 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pragma

Ideally - both in terms of financially and in terms of my future - I'd get into the OCC program, spend next summer in training, and when I graduate from college I'm a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC. Now the trick is trying to make that happen.
If you go the OCS route, PM me. Been there done that and can offer some tips if you'd like.
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Old 04-27-2004, 11:09 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Rediculous assertion ALERT:

Quote:
Originally posted by Seaver
I know for a fact that 65% of enlisted are on food stamps...
I seriously doubt this to be a FACT...and would appreciate a source for this assertion. Without a credible source this will be bold faced LIE imho.

Maybe 65% percent of e-2's and 3's who have over five children. MAYBE...

That out of the way,

GI bill is not really a good way to ~pay~ for your studies as it is a small monthly stipend payed while attending classes and maintaining your grades, in order to assist with the education process, over a certain amount of time, upto the maximun allowable benefit. It will not pay your tuition.

It is a good way to keep food on the table or the rent paid.

It's been ten years since I used my GI Bill bennies, and that is how I remember them working.

Don't be mesmorized by the total possible dollar value of the benefit. If you do you are sure to be disappointed and disgruntled.

Other then that I highly encourage a tour in the Marine Corps. Best experience of my life, although I wouldn't sign on for the reasons you presented.

Good Luck,

-bear
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Old 04-27-2004, 12:04 PM   #17 (permalink)
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^^

My fault, what I said was false. I meant new recruits, so yes E-1 through E-3. The majority of these on foodstamps have a family which is what puts them over the edge budget wise. Single recruits usually make it out fairly well, but there is a thing called Navy-Goggles (in the Navy, other forces call it something else). Where you're out on deployment so long some guys end up marrying the first girl who will let them touch her.. so staying single isnt always as easy as some plan.

Thank you for correcting me Bear.
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Old 04-27-2004, 01:35 PM   #18 (permalink)
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No worries. Apologies for being such a prick about it...

/kicks self for always being a prick about things like this.

/Thinks 'bold face lie' was over the top.

I remember sailor (or soldier or airmen or Marine)goggles too. Man were their some desperate gijoe hos around every base I was stationed...or port I pulled into.

The good ole days....

-bear
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Last edited by j8ear; 04-27-2004 at 01:37 PM..
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Old 04-27-2004, 05:06 PM   #19 (permalink)
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No matter what branch of the service, it doesn't matter what they say, if it is not in writing then you are not guarenteed anything. Heard many a time "but my recruiter said". I'm not saying don't enlist just be sure to get what you want in writing.
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Old 04-27-2004, 05:34 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I'll go ahead and throw in my two cents, seeing as I was a NROTC Scholarship recipient, and also signed a contract with the U.S. Army that didn't pan out as I wrecked an elbow beyond repair.

Get your degree, take the loans out if necessary. Trust me, this is honestly the best "first" step in any situation--FINISH YOUR SCHOOL.

Then, if the loan payments are something you don't want to manage (they should be roughly $60/month for each $5000 borrowed over 10 years depending on your interest rates), THEN enlist as each branch offers a certain degree of loan repayment for college tuition. If you go Army with a B.A., B.S. or B.B.A., then you are automatically bumped to E-4 rank going into basic, and with the Army, you get any job you qualify for (which there are PLENTY for someone who graduates college).

If you don't like being enlisted, and would be willing to make the loan payments instead, submit your package to go to OCS.

If you enjoy being in the services, and feel like renewing a commision or re-enlisting, the bonuses are fairly nice. I know my Naval History prof's son got ~50-80k for renewing his commission with the USN, and he's only a surface warfare officer, not even a pilot or nuke.
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Old 04-27-2004, 08:33 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Here's a couple points to take into account.

#1 if you go the OCS route, you WONT get any tuition reimbursement - at least that's how it is for Army OCS. I presume USMC is the same way.

#2 I thought the GI bill can only be used for *future* schooling, and it only goes into effect after you served your 3 years or whatever.

#3 Enlisting does offer tuition assistance.

#4 You can do ROTC as long as you have 2 years remaining. Want to start working on a masters?
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Old 04-28-2004, 05:31 AM   #22 (permalink)
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My question is what degree program you are in, because based on that (if it is an engineering degree) you can get a ROTC scholarship fairly easily, provided you have good grades. If your grades are "eh" then your options become much more limited at that point - it becomes much harder to get into any officer training program.
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Old 04-28-2004, 08:43 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Grades are "eh", and I'm in a computing major. I think what I'm going to do is wait on the Reserves until after I graduate, based on what everyone's said here, and then just try to do the summer OCC/PLC training next summer. That would be the best of both worlds, as far as I can see it.
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Old 04-28-2004, 01:23 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Sounds like a good plan.
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