Several of them indicated that in today's hot economy, a college graduate could earn a lot of money. Several of them had anecdotes of college graduates whose entry pay was significantly higher than the entry pay and bonuses being offered in the survey" (p. 109). This study also found that all of the high school seniors surveyed "had a negative view of the military as a job or career option. They all considered the military to involve dangerous work, and they thought the amount of money being offered did not compensate adequately for the perceived danger" (Asch et al., p. 109).
The majority of the respondents in this study also reported having great confidence that jobs and careers were sufficiently available for college graduates and that having a guarantee of a job from the military was not much of a benefit. For instance, Asch and her associates note, "Several participants offered anecdotes of private companies that offered guaranteed jobs after college graduation. Therefore, they did not see enlistment in the military as a necessary step to getting such a guarantee" (p. 110). Other reasons cited by the high school respondents concerning why they had a negative view of the military as a career option included: "too much discipline," "lack of sleep," "rules, like how to fold your socks a certain way," and "getting yelled at"; some of the respondents also reported anecdotes about how harsh military life was, based on the experience of friends and relatives (Asch et al.). Finally, it would seem that many young people do not believe that the U.S. military provides the specific type of job or working environment they were seeking in life. In response to a question concerning whether they thought the military might provide the type of environment or job they envisioned, the respondents answered as follows: "no," "possibly," "yes, public service," "yes, because it has a lot of structure," "no, they have nuclear weapons and they don't need people these days," and "the military has nothing to do with what I want to do with my vocation" (Asch et al., p. 110).
There is also the question of promotion and advancement requirements within the U.S. military that might cause some people to reconsider the military as a career option. For example, if an individual wants to pursue a career as a truck driver in civilian life, he or she will be able to drive a truck until retirement. By sharp contrast, though, people in the military must advance within their given occupational specialty or face demotion or even discharge. Indeed, truck drivers must assume increasing responsibilities as motor pool supervisors and transportation coordinators with higher commensurately higher ranks and will likely never sit behind the wheel of a "big rig" again.
The research showed that while many young people continue to join the armed services, there are some who are unconvinced that life in the military is compatible with their occupational goals. The research also showed that in some cases, jobs in the military are much like those in the civilian world, but in others, job specialties are unique to the military. Finally, the research also showed that for those who do join the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, though, there are some important benefits available that may not be available in a civilian work environment or available in lesser amounts such as the aforementioned hefty enlistment bonuses, significant educational benefits, generous vacation time (30 days a year), free state-of-the-art healthcare (provided by the individual service during active duty and by the Department of Veterans Affairs following active duty service) and retirement benefits that make military service more palatable.
Asch, B., Du, C., & Schonlau, M. (2004). Policy options for military recruiting in the college market: Results from a national survey. Santa Monica, CA: Rand.
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