Armed Forces instead of University?

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#1
Report 16 years ago
#1
Hey everybody,

I was just wondering, most people our age are only determined to get into University and higher education; anyone considering (or have brothers/sisters) who have been commisioned as an officer in any of the three armed forces straight after A-level? I'm goin for RAF commission, but becasue of my grades everyone says i should be applying to the top univeristies (university just doesn't appeal!).

I just wondered who knows people who have done it. What did they do? Did they regret not goin to university? Is it worth being commissioned as opposed to having a degree - technically i won't miss out becasue i will do an in-service degree, but is the "student life" unmissable?

Let me know what you think. Thanks

Scotty


PS Don't take it as a sign of indecesiveness by posting on here. I've already decided im going for commission, just interested in any expeirences ppl have had.
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lou p lou
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Report 16 years ago
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I think it's a really big decision you've made- i considered getting a commision in the army instead of uni, but now i've decided that i am going to go to uni and join the OTC, that way i get the best of both worlds.
If you are sure that's what you want (which it obviously is) than i think just go for it. i think the main reason i didn't is although i know what i want to do, i just think 17 is such a young age to choose + go into the big scary 'real' world- if i stay a student for 3/4 years i can put off that decision.
good luck
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I went through uni sponsored by the RAF, and am now at a base working alongside guys who joined straight from school doing the same job as me.

There are advantages and disadvantages as I see it. What branch are you applying for?

As a pilot, you'd find that going through uni means you can complete Elementary training on your local University Air Squadron, and that's one less course to do after you graduate. Going straight from school means you'll have to do EFT afterwards, but have the benefit that you don't have to try and get a degree at the same time; but you do have to pack it into 6 months rather than 3 years.

You could wind up at Basic flying training working alongside guys aged around 24. On my Basic Fast Jet course, we had a 30 year old, a couple aged 25, the majority 22-24, one aged 21 and one aged 19. Only one had come straight from school.

To be honest that's not uncommon; the older guys do, perhaps unfortunately, tend to fly better. The majority of fast jet guys are graduates nowadays. That's a sweeping generalisation, but also older candidates tend to do better at IOT; I've seen a lot of guys go straight from school who can't cope with it as well and sometimes get a couple of recoursings; no great shakes, but worth bearing in mind. On the other hand of course there's plenty who get through.

I've seen a few guys fly perfectly well who get into a lot of trouble through flying training because they're either immature or perceived by flight commanders as being immature. A lot of them want to live a little like students; away from home and earning for the first time; but that doesn't always mesh with what's expected of an officer. Being older does seem to help to be honest, that little extra maturity does get you through better, so bear that in mind.

Perhaps the biggest issue is pay; I went through BFJT as a Flight Lieutenant, as having a degree earned me a great deal of extra seniority. You'd be graduating IOT as an Acting Pilot Officer, who earns under half what a Flight Lieutenant does.

Also, you'd find yourself in flying training with a lot of Flying Officers who have all been on UASs together, and it can sometimes seem a little cliquey. Of course, all of that means squat if you're not joining as aircrew! I went through uni first because I liked the idea of being paid a packet at uni and doing my Elementary Flying Training spread over four years, but still not losing out at all on promotion. As a result, I went through IOT a bit older and wiser, and performed much better through flying training than I might have done otherwise. Is it worth getting in 3 or 4 years earlier and flying VC10s, or would you prefer to wait and end up in a Harrier? Not applicable to everyone obviously, but I've seen it happen.

The In-Service Degree doesn't help; it gets you a degree, but the main reason people want a degree before joining is because of the increased seniority and rapid promotion. A four year graduate sometimes spend as little as 6 months as a Flying Officer, and is then bumped straight to Flight Lieutenant; straight from school you'd need about a year as APO, a couple as a Pilot Officer, and then ANOTHER couple as a Flying Officer before you became a Flight Lieutenant.

Either way you've not made a bad choice; there's no reason why you can't have just as much success with slightly less pay coming straight from school. If you're smart and mature you'll get your commission, and if you work hard as you can and don't get suckered into the EFT live-and-drink-like-a-student lifestyle, you'll get the flying slot you want.

Good luck; drop me a line at [email protected] if I can be of any help.

Mark
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Katie Pierce
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#4
Report 16 years ago
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If I had my time again I think I'd apply straight to the forces. Instead I've ended up as a graduate, doing a job that I could have done straight from school (with GCSE's) and earning substantially less...

At the end of the day it's up to you, only you know what you want from life. But it's a tough choice and I don't envy you, I think the debt hanging over me now would be my deciding factor. Then again, when I applied to Uni I thought I wanted to be a clinical psychologist, and now I know I don't, so there are definitely plus sides too!

Good luck!
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Chris L
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I know of someone who got straight A*s at GCSE's and went to Sandhurst. Also I know someone whose currently on a gap year commision with the Army, he's currently in Germany undergoing training and then in September he's off to Aberystwyth to do Computer Science. He thinks he's got a brilliant deal as he gets a degree for after the forces, gets to enjoy the Uni life and gets a job straight after leaving.

Chris
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