Benefits for High School Seniors to Join the Military

by Kenneth Richmond
Over 100,000 high school graduates join the U.S. military annually

Entering the workforce after graduation can be a daunting experience for a high school senior. While many seniors struggle with which career path to take, some decide to enlist in the U.S. military. Whether they’re looking to enlist in the military for four years or want to become a careerist, the military offers numerous benefits for high school seniors, the such as a delayed entry program, participation in Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, job security and college scholarships.

Delayed Entry Program

High school seniors who want to enlist in the military after graduation can be guaranteed a slot through their selected service branch’s Delayed Entry Program. According to the United States Marine Corps, DEPs place prospective recruits into an inactive reserve status in exchange for the recruit agreeing to report to basic training at a specific date in the future, giving the recruit time to work on his stamina and strength while he completes his education before reporting for duty. High school seniors may join the DEP from several days to one year prior to graduation. For instance, a student who wanted to enlist in the U.S. Navy in September 2014 could join the Navy DEP as early as September 2013 in his senior year. According to information given by the Navy Delayed Entry Program, joining the DEP allows high school seniors to decide if the military is really the best choice for them while holding open their spot in the field and tour of duty length they commit to in their enlistment contract.

Participation in JROTC

The United States Army JROTC maintains that JROTC programs are designed to instill citizenship and patriotism as well as prepare students for leadership roles, whether in military or civilian life. According to the Navy, high school seniors who have successfully completed a minimum of two years in JROTC may enlist in any service branch at the pay grade of E-2. Those successfully completing three years of JROTC may enlist at the pay grade of E-3. Most seniors enlist in the military at the pay grade of E-1. However, JROTC seniors are promoted to E-2 or E-3 with more pay and greater responsibility before they take their first step off the bus at basic training.

Job Security

One of the major benefits of high school seniors joining the military is job security. Unpredictable economic times have caused many young people to forgo the pursuit of six digit salaries. Unlike their counterparts in the civilian workforce, seniors entering the military will be exempt from many of the tribulations and challenges associated with a struggling economy. For instance, Go Army states that, based on a high school senior's qualifications, she will have guaranteed technical schooling as well as a job, duty station and pay every two weeks as long as she is serving honorably until she decides not to reenlist or retires from military service.

College Scholarship Opportunities

Unlike many of their peers, who often must take out multiple student loans to pay for college, high school seniors who join the military are given the opportunity to earn college degrees through multiple educational programs. The Tuition Assistance Program provides financial assistance and may pay a substantial portion of college tuition for service members pursuing a college degree. Reference Service Press reports 237 college scholarship programs available to high school seniors entering military service. These scholarship programs pay 100 percent of college tuition for many of the post-secondary colleges and universities throughout the United States.

About the Author

Kenneth Richmond is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) officer, certified U.S. Navy mediator and MBTI facilitator for the federal government. He serves as the subject-matter expert and senior technical adviser to government agencies on all matters pertaining to EEO and diversity management. Richmond holds a Bachelor of Science in education, training and development and a Master of Arts in human resources development.

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