What Can I Expect If I Join the Military After College?

For most young men and women who join the military after completing their college education, they join to become members of the officer ranks. There are some areas of study which are not needed in as great of numbers, such as musicians, who may join the enlisted ranks. But for most college graduates, they enter to become officers for leadership roles in many different specialties.

ROTC

Some of those who enter the office ranks enter by way of college Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), which is offered at many colleges and universities across the country. ROTC offers a complete set of general military instruction aimed at those who are considering military careers.

All four branches of the military offer their own ROTC programs, with the exception of the U.S. Marines, who make their program part of the Navy ROTC program. With all of these ROTC programs there are mandatory summer programs that officer candidates take part in. The only exception is in the case of the U.S. Marines, who have their Platoon Leaders Class, which is an exclusively summertime program.

Others who join the military after they are awarded their college degrees, join via the Officers Candidate School, which gives a 90-day introductory course of instruction that leads to a commission in one of the services. The Marine Corps has no such course. So-called “90-day wonders” learn the basics of a military career.

Just the Facts

Regardless of their entry method, all new officers enter their respective services and begin by taking coursework at their own “basics school.” Since they are already familiar with the ways of the military, these schools are more service specific, with officers of each service learning the individual missions of their branch.

Back to School

It has often been said that the military is one long series of schools. For better or worse, it’s true. After basics courses are completed, new officers are usually broken down to attend numerous specialty schools around the world. These schools train their students in the particulars of their individual specialties, called their “MOS” (Military Occupational Specialty). There are also various “prof schools” where certain professionals learn their own basics. These include such professionals as doctors, lawyers, chaplains, and others.

Even officers of more general occupations such as those headed to infantry, artillery, and other careers take their own individualized training. There is some cross-over, such as the case of aviation officers who might take instruction on infantry basics, but generally the training is mission-specific.

More of the Same

After a new officer has received his or her basic officer instruction, then more specialized schools, they could be sent to even more schools for more training. Depending on the results they obtain in these schools, many officers become instructors in these schools while others are assigned field occupations, and yes, more schooling.

Fortunately, as hum-drum as it may sound, it’s not. The training that new officers receive in their professions is among the best and most comprehensive offered anywhere in the world.

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