Monday, November 13, 2006


I have a decision to make soon that I could use some help on from those of you who know me well. The Army is making the following offer (which I will explain as simply as possible to avoid swaying the reaction one way or the other).
  • As it stands, I owe the army five years of Active Service. After those five, I owe three of either Active Duty, Reserves (one weekend a month, two weeks a year, with the chance of being called back to Active Duty again) or Inactive Ready Reserve (this basically means I'm out of the army, but they can call me back if they need me).
  • If I offer three years additional (making it eight active the day I graduate), the Army will guaruntee me fully funded Grad School wherever I can get in.
  • After 8 yrs. I choose if I want to get out, with no grad school, or stay in and go to grad school.
  • If I go to grad school, I would then owe another six years afterwards...making my total commitment, from the day of graduation 16 years. (basically, retirement, since I already have three years under my belt)

Now, the thing is basically this: If I choose to do it, I am really only committing myself to an additional 3 yrs for the option to go to grad school. So, for those of you who know me, what would you say? Feel free to email me (I'm pretty sure you all have my email address...if not, it's on the blogger profile I think) and let me know what you think. For those of you in Grad School and doing it on your difficult is it? Is it worth it to get it for free...or, at least, to have that option when the time comes? A lot of you know me well enough to know the gravity of what I'm actually weighing here, so let me know.

Late Addition:

I should also explain the other reason for staying in for three more years. After five years in the Army, I will not have had company command. I will have been in staff positions and, with any luck, may have commanded a platoon (which is about thirty people, give or take). Company Command, however, involves a lot more. You get four platoons and all the resources attached. It's when you first get to be a genuine "leader" in terms of what we've been studying here for four years (five if you count my year at prep). So, do I get out before I have that opportunity, or do I stay in?


Blogger Claire said...

I think, depending on what you want to study, you can probably get some program to pay you to go to grad school without the Army's help.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that the only thing that makes you interested in staying in that long? If it is, it's not a good enough reason. If you plan in to stay in anyway, why not go for it? Then there's always the chance you might be offered something better later on....

1:48 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Adam, when I decided to go to grad school I figured hey, no one in hell is going to want to fund my research--it's not engineering, it won't cure cancer, and the people it will benefit (farmers) make up less than 2% of the U.S. population. I hoped I'd get a little aid, but I was prepared to pay my way. But you know what? I got completely funded and I don't even have to T.A. Now, I'm guessing that if you go to grad school you'll be doing something even more relevant to current national concerns than I am. And you've got amazing credentials and a killer story for your application essays. My point? I sincerely don't think you should make this decision based on money. If you want to go to grad school, you've got a good chance of being able to go for free, and if not...what's a little debt if it's buying you happiness? So if you're deciding to stay in the army longer, do it because that's what you absolutely want to do with your life, not because of the trade-off.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

One more perspective from the In Grad School category: most master's programs only take about 2 to 3 years, so in the time it takes you to serve those extra three, you could be finishing a second degree or well on your way to a doctorate, if you have the ambition.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are plenty of ways to get money to go to Grad School. I have a research assistantship, which means I get free tuition plus a stipend large enough to cover my rent/groceries/misc living expenses(in exchange for doing a research project that NASA thought was a good idea). Such arrangements are more common in hard sciences than liberal arts, but a lot of liberal arts kids pay their way through school as teaching assistants. I would argue that it is easier to find money for graduate education than for undergraduate. (My experience may be more true for public universities than private ones). I would say if that is your main reason for staying in another 3 years, don't do it.

p.s. Congrats on Intel. Live the oxymoron.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, I just realized that the feds are actually paying the tab for both alex and me. We don't even have to wear camouflage. (But sometimes we choose to.)

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do not ADSO for grad school. If you want to stay in the Army, you will find it easy to go for a major of your choice and still be fully funded. If you are at all interested in going back to teach, you should not ADSO; it actually makes you less likely to be accepted. If you do ADSO, you are NOT guaranteed an opportunity to go to grad school (read the contract). You will also have to serve those three years before you even get to attend grad school. If you don't want to stay in the Army (if you don't like the idea of seven deployments in eight years...) then of course you should not ADSO. I would call to personally try to talk you out of it, but I am going to the field until Thanksgiving. We are playing a game where they don't tell us when we leave, they just call one person in the middle of the night and we all have to be at the motor pool in half an hour...

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shoot- sorry, I forgot to add that while the concern with Company Command is very relevant for, say-- an Infantry Platoon Leader, that is because his skill set does not translate well to the civilian sector. It seems to me that the skills you acquire as an MI officer will be much more marketable even without Company Command. (Your best counterargument will be to point out that you will have to Branch Detail and therefore will only have two years as an MI officer...)

3:17 PM  

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