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When to enlist? Pros and Cons

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  • When to enlist? Pros and Cons

    (I didn't intend to write an essay, but I hope you like reading.)

    Since I have limited knowledge of the Guard and its benefits, I wanted to gather more opinions on my question. My question is: When should I enlist, before or after I graduate with my Bachelor's?

    The Backstory:

    I have about a year and a half to go until I graduate in Illustration and a minor in Business. My last year will be part-time, so I am able to apply for jobs or internships in my career path. I am interested in joining the Guard as a linguist while pursuing an MBA in Marketing, paying off my student loans, and building leadership as well as communication experience to have more opportunities in my career outside of the National Guard. I currently work part-time during college and really don't have a whole lot of free time, but my summer is wide open.


    Here are my options:

    1) Take the ASVAB before the summer, enlist, possibly participate in RSP during school, go to Basic Training as an E3 over the summer, monthly training while in my last year of school, graduation, AIT. This option would allow me to to get Basic Training out of the way earlier and would allow me to really focus on the ASVAB without having to worry about applying for internships, creating portfolios, and attending interviews. I would also get the 50% bonus after AIT sooner, which would probably go straight towards my loans a year sooner than the 2nd option. However, this option takes out the opportunity of a summer internship, which will be much harder to get after graduation. I can still do a fall internship or something in my career path during my last year of college.

    2) Take the ASVAB before the summer, work a summer internship in my career path, enlist in August after my internship, attend RSP for the school year, graduate college, enter Basic Training as an E4, AIT. With this option, I can have my summer internship then take care of Basic Training and AIT after college. The downsides are, I will be under more stress studying for the ASVAB and applying for internships in the same semester. I will also be jamming Basic Training and AIT together, which pretty much sucks, especially since I've read that AIT for linguists is almost 2 years. That means I'll be away for 2-3 years before I even do any Active Duty assignments. Boo. Plus, it might be overkill to get an internship, then another one while I'm in school. I already have one internship.


    Variables that I don't know much about but would play a part in my decision include: getting paid the most ASAP (to put towards student loans as they accrue interest, probably saving several grand in the long run), the enlistment bonus, the student repayment program (up to $50k, depending on MOS from what I've read), and completing a Master's while receiving the GI Bill.

    Yes, I've talked to my recruiter. He basically said, the sooner I enlist, the sooner I get my training done.

  • #2
    Re: When to enlist? Pros and Cons

    If you are in college, especially a year or two in, you won't need to study for the ASVAB. I was relatively smart in highschool and I never studied for the ASVAB and got a 99. So most likely if you are in college you should at least score in the 70's or 80's. The most challenging stuff is some highschool physics and pre-calculus.

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    • #3
      Re: When to enlist? Pros and Cons

      I am my 4th year in and graduated high school with over a 4.0 GPA, but I'm still going to study to ensure a top score. Some of the jobs I'm interested in require a score of 105.

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      • #4
        Re: When to enlist? Pros and Cons

        Originally posted by mspratt View Post
        I am my 4th year in and graduated high school with over a 4.0 GPA, but I'm still going to study to ensure a top score. Some of the jobs I'm interested in require a score of 105.
        If you achieved over 4.0 in high school, your GT score will probably exceed 130 even if you take the ASVAB cold. Then again, studying can't hurt. Good luck.

        edit: The 99 that CollegeGuard refers to is the AFQT percentile score; you cannot exceed 99 on that scale. The 105 you are referring to is a GT score (this is not given in the form of a percentile but rather as an absolute score). They are highly correlated but not identical.
        Last edited by Jersey Dirtbag; January 14th, 2013, 03:21 PM.

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        • #5
          Re: When to enlist? Pros and Cons

          Originally posted by mspratt View Post
          I am my 4th year in and graduated high school with over a 4.0 GPA, but I'm still going to study to ensure a top score. Some of the jobs I'm interested in require a score of 105.
          Being 'smart' is so overrated. I graduated with my M.Ed and a 3.9 GPA while teaching full-time. I currently have a 4.0 in my doctoral program in Organizational Leadership. But when I took the ASVAB 'cold' I scored a 106 GT because I hadn't seen high school math since your parents were your age, and I have test anxiety. Studied the math, nothing else, took it again and scored a 110 GT. It's not about being smart so much as test taking strategy and being strong in the areas that will increase your GT score, which is math reasoning and that other category that I forgot about.

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          • #6
            Re: When to enlist? Pros and Cons

            You are correct...which is exactly why I'm going to study and not rely on being "smart." But the ASVAB wasn't my concern in this thread.

            Now back to my original question, should I do Basic Training sooner, or a year later? The actual enlistment date will no be much different between the two options.

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            • #7
              Re: When to enlist? Pros and Cons

              Originally posted by mspratt View Post
              You are correct...which is exactly why I'm going to study and not rely on being "smart." But the ASVAB wasn't my concern in this thread.

              Now back to my original question, should I do Basic Training sooner, or a year later? The actual enlistment date will no be much different between the two options.
              Sooner. You will make much more money and receive many more monetary benefits for college after you complete basic and ait, the difference is tens of thousands of dollars. Also if you miss a semseter to complete both (which you are pretty much guaranteed will happen) it affects you a lot less if its a year earlier rather than later when you are most likely taking more difficult courses.

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              • #8
                Re: When to enlist? Pros and Cons

                I would suggest studying for the asvab. I don't consider myself too smart but I do have a bachelors degree. My gpa was 2.7. I studied a bit for the asvab and scored 85 with 121 gt. I think it's about preparing yourself for the material on the test rather than being smart.

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                • #9
                  Re: When to enlist? Pros and Cons

                  Originally posted by mspratt View Post
                  You are correct...which is exactly why I'm going to study and not rely on being "smart." But the ASVAB wasn't my concern in this thread.

                  Now back to my original question, should I do Basic Training sooner, or a year later? The actual enlistment date will no be much different between the two options.
                  A couple things that come to mind: 1) would it hurt your internship opportunities by taking a break before going? and do you plan on taking out more student loans once you enlist? Taking option 2 may work best if the answer is yes to these two question. Not only can you ensure you get your school out of the way without any distractions or possible delays (it's no guarantee that you will be able to get a BCT/AIT slot precisely when you need it). But you can also maximize on SLRP benefits. (Keep in mind, qualifying loans must be at least 1 year old and not in default).

                  In my strictly personal opinion, if none of the above were an issue, I would take option 1 and get on board with all the benefits offered.

                  Ultimately, it will come down to personal preference and what will be available for you during your enlistment process. Let us know what you decide!
                  Last edited by RyCass; January 15th, 2013, 11:08 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Re: When to enlist? Pros and Cons

                    Originally posted by RyCass View Post
                    A couple things that come to mind: 1) would it hurt your internship opportunities by taking a break before going? and do you plan on taking out more student loans once you enlist? Taking option 2 may work best if the answer is yes to these two question. Not only can you ensure you get your school out of the way without any distractions or possible delays (it's no guarantee that you will be able to get a BCT/AIT slot precisely when you need it). But you can also maximize on SLRP benefits. (Keep in mind, qualifying loans must be at least 1 year old and not in default).

                    In my strictly personal opinion, if none of the above were an issue, I would take option 1 and get on board with all the benefits offered.

                    Ultimately, it will come down to personal preference and what will be available for you during your enlistment process. Let us know what you decide!
                    I don't quite understand your first question: What kind of "break," and before going where?

                    By the time I enlist, I won't be taking out any more student loans. The majority of my loans are at least a year old.


                    Thanks everyone, your answers are helpful!

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                    • #11
                      Re: When to enlist? Pros and Cons

                      As some have eluded, but not specifically mentioned, what are your long term goals. As far as Guard and civilian careers. Meaning, are you wanting to be an officer? If so, what branch are you wanting? If not, then what are you wanting in a Guard career? Then, what is it that you want in the civilian career. The internships could matter more in the long run than paying college loans immediately. With the right salary from a civliian career the money to pay on loans is less important. If you take a good internship that offers great potential in the future then that could be far more beneficial than the immediate money of paying on student loans.

                      If officer is ultimately where your heading, then maybe AIT wouldn't be the direction you would want to go. Follow the OCS path and complete branch training as a 2LT.

                      These are just some questions that I had and maybe a different way to look at things.

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                      • #12
                        Re: When to enlist? Pros and Cons

                        Originally posted by mspratt View Post
                        I don't quite understand your first question: What kind of "break," and before going where?

                        By the time I enlist, I won't be taking out any more student loans. The majority of my loans are at least a year old.


                        Thanks everyone, your answers are helpful!
                        I read your option one to mean you would go to BCT BEFORE you do your Internships. I'm merely asking if having a break in between would affect your opportunities to get an internship once you return. It may not, but if I were in a competitive field where internships were hard to get, it would be something I would consider in the whole scheme of things.

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