Military or College – Which is better? (College before Military or After)

Military or College

The debate over whether to attend college or military school first has raged for years and may continue for many years to come.

Graduates of high school who tend to pursue a career in the military usually quiz on Military or College.

However, is it better to join the military first and then get a college diploma, or get a college diploma first and then enter the military?

Suppose you find yourself in this dilemma to pick between Military or College, what will you do? This article will strive to help you make your career-defining decision.

Military or College: Graduating College before enlisting in the Military

Many motives exist for enlisting in the military after you graduated college and earned your Bachelor’s degree.

These benefits entice many students to pursue higher education before joining the military, giving them the upper hand when choosing between the two.

In addition, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in October 2019 that 66.2% of high school graduates aged 16 to 24 were enrolled in college.

However, attending college offers graduates of high school the usual, coming-of-age college experience.

Other Advantages of Graduating from College before enlisting in the Military

  • As a college graduate, you’ll be eligible to enlist as an officer in the military: As laid out by the US Army, getting a bachelor’s degree is recommended to be commissioned as an officer. However, earning a Master’s degree would further lead to an increase in rank as you may rise to be a captain or even higher.
  • You can additionally get a better opportunity to earn a promotion: According to the US Navy, officers tend to be exceptionally educated and experienced, possess college degrees, and rise to the leadership and management teams. 
  • You can additionally qualify for the College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP): It’s crucial to check the different military factions as they have different rules. Taking the Army, for example, the CLRP program is made available for “highly qualified candidates coming into the Army.” The Army will pay off 33.3% of loan debt every year of service, up to a total sum of $65,000. However, to be eligible, each applicant is to agree to three years of service.

It’s also easier to join the military after graduation than the other way around.

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The Disadvantage of Graduating from College Before enlisting in the Military

One disadvantage of going to college before joining the military is that you won’t be eligible for the normal military tuition repayment package that people get when they join the military first before going to college.

This may imply that some important items that would have been free or paid for by the government if you had enlisted before college may now be out of your reach.

Military or College: Enlisting in the Military before attending College

When deciding between military and college, is the military a better option? The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Air Coast Guard are among the factions available.

These military factions also have part-time reserve additives where you can attend to your civilian job and continue your military training on scheduled weekends, which are planned within a month or two full weeks a year.

To get this, you should meet an age requirement, which differs by the department, and pass a fitness screening and vocational aptitude test.

For people who enter the military earlier than attending college, one benefit is that you will be eligible for military benefits that pay for education for the duration of your military service and after it.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill® is one alternative that offers military personnel and veterans educational advantages that could assist and make it simpler to pay for college.

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Other reasons to first enlist in the Military edges over attending College

  • Some of your military education may make you eligible for a college credit score as decided by the American College on Education.
  • Enlisting in the military early provides you with eligibility to retire earlier than when you graduate college before joining the military. As reported by the US News & World Report, folks who serve for a minimum of two decades can generally collect their benefits after retirement. Conceivably, folks who enlist at 17 or 18 may retire earlier than 40, collect military retirement payments, and still not be too old to pursue another career.

The Downside of first enlisting in the Military over attending College

In the Military or College argument, one of the disadvantages of joining the military before college is that you will start at the bottom of every rank and pay grade.

Also, if you take classes while serving in the military, it is usually very difficult to balance both serving and schooling.


Whether to enlist or enroll in Military or College depends on your goal, and both options may be appropriate alternatives.

If you want to emerge as an officer, you need to finish college before enlisting in the military. If you aren’t ready to focus and engage in education, then entering the military is a better option.

Keep in mind that the military also can assist you in paying for college.

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