Gap Year or Uni with Army Sixth form scholarship

#1
So this is a slight twist on a frequently asked topic. I was lucky enough to be awarded an Army sixth form scholarship in October 2011 with the initial proviso to continue through sixth form and then university. I am now having definite second thoughts about university and see it as more of an unnecessary detour from heading to Sandhurst.

I have a few questions really:

1. What are the advantages of a degree in the army?
2. I am well and truly aware of RMAS's reluctance to expect 18 year olds and that they would want a gap year, do they offer any ideas for what you can do in the gap year (money is tight so can't disappear travelling like I'd want to!)?
3. Would joining the TA be a good idea in a gap year before Sandhurst?
4. Is it just REME that require a degree to get into (I would be looking at doing an engineering degree if I did go to university)?
5. To finish, quite a particular one, are the army funny about sixth form scholars not going to university, I know it can be done but the assumption for it being awarded is that you will continue to university?

All and any replies will be greatly appreciated!
 
#4
Go to uni, it's fun and you'll have a degree to fall back on after the army/if you decide you don't like the army/if you get injured and medically discharged.
 
#5
And you think you won't encounter that at RMAS? Go to Uni, enjoy it, get a degree and then go to RMAS. However, you might find you're directed to UOTC and if that was a requirement of your scholarship then you might want to rethink things - why play soldier when you could actually train to be one?

My mate had a scholarship from the Army in his final year at Uni and wasn't required to do UOTC. However, you WILL bump into some of the posh boy types at Uni/RMAS and if you really can't stand them, then join as a Tom!

What you thinking of studying and where?
 
#6
Valid point, I guess I will have to live with them!

I'm thinking of dong mechanical or aeronautical engineering at Sheffield / Nottingham or Loughborough not really narrowed it down yet.
 
#7
1.It appears that 80% of all officers are graduates, so that would suggest there is a wee bit of a bias.
2.I would go for the degree route and make the most of the Army scholarship to do all the things you want.
3.HM Forces is very unpredictable at the moment with the draw down from BAOR, trim back from Afghan and a rather cronic shortage of dosh. So put your own plans in place as I don't think you can trust what is going on around you.
4.My son did all he was told by the ACO the gap year, degree, join the OTC and after RCB was told to come back in 2 years he has since joined up as a Trooper and is having an absolute ball.
 
#8
All excellent Uni choices and very good degree. Just a thought, you may find that with a high calibre degree from a good uni, that the job offers in civvy street would be very attractive compared to the salary of a junior officer. However, those type of degrees would be highly valued in the REME or AAC.

Might I also suggest a look at Coventry University? Ex-poly, but flying through the league tables and some excellent Mech/Aero engineering courses. You could also join Birmingham UOTC from Cov, know plenty who have. (Biased, but it's where I went).

I'm gonna be a tom with a degree and don't think it will hurt at all. The current education system means that a lot of lads have A-Levels and lots have degrees now. With those born in 1995 now having to stay in Education or Training until 18 it could be the norm to see Soldiers with equal quals to officers, especially in regiments such as the AAC, REME, RE, Sigs, to name just a few.
 
#9
All excellent Uni choices and very good degree. Just a thought, you may find that with a high calibre degree from a good uni, that the job offers in civvy street would be very attractive compared to the salary of a junior officer. However, those type of degrees would be highly valued in the REME or AAC.

Might I also suggest a look at Coventry University? Ex-poly, but flying through the league tables and some excellent Mech/Aero engineering courses. You could also join Birmingham UOTC from Cov, know plenty who have. (Biased, but it's where I went).

I'm gonna be a tom with a degree and don't think it will hurt at all. The current education system means that a lot of lads have A-Levels and lots have degrees now. With those born in 1995 now having to stay in Education or Training until 18 it could be the norm to see Soldiers with equal quals to officers, especially in regiments such as the AAC, REME, RE, Sigs, to name just a few.
Of the 15 that passed out with my son from Basingbourne last year 4 had degrees. Police recruits, if the plans go through will soon have to have 2 A levels to meet the minimum entry criteria.
 
C

count_duckula

Guest
#10
If they let you have a Gap Year, take one! You don't have to be a fool, one guy I know did a ski season in Austria and took German lessons at the same time to give him some quals/experience. There are a million things worth doing that aren't just getting high on a beach in Thailand with a bunch of rah cnuts. If I had done one, Id've done a ski season and then worked through the summer to get my skydiving quals. Would've been a good giggle.

It's always worth getting a degree too, engineering will be four years of hard work but one day you will leave the Army and do something else. A recent leaver I know is struggling to find a decent job due to the reluctance of Civvy Street employers to recognise or credit service in the Forces of any kind. Finally, I'd choose Shef. Really friendly and cheap living. Notts is fun, I've spent a bit of time there but it can be rough and isn't as cheap as up North. Good luck!
 
#11
Of the 15 that passed out with my son from Basingbourne last year 4 had degrees. Police recruits, if the plans go through will soon have to have 2 A levels to meet the minimum entry criteria.
Not wishing to divert the direction of the thread. But that almost seems a good(ish) idea. Lots of forces (or more correctly, ''Departments'') in the US require either military experience or atleast 80 credits from a College (equates to having done atleast one year at Uni, but failed one module). Much better than having an NVQ in Anti Bullying and exceptional conflict negotiation skills that the current plod seem to require. If I'm having my head stamped on outside a kebab shop at 4am I want some 18stone ex squaddie to rock up, not a 5ft 2" 10 stone skirt who can ''identify and counsel victims''.
 
#12
Perhaps I can offer a view as a serving officer. The reason that most Army Officers are graduates is because many 18 year olds lack the maturity required (or desired) by the Army/Sandhurst. I certainly fell into this category, however I know a number of officers who joined at 18 or 19 and have been exceptional, so it is more of an individual thing.

Some questions you might like to consider: Which part of the army do you see yourself going into (only the REME really need you to have a degree)? How long are you planning to stay, therefore how important is having a degree to you in terms of post army employment?

You would also do well to ask about the opportunities for doing an in service degree (i.e. sometime after Sandhurst). I believe the REME may offer this and would enable you to do a degree while being paid in full.
 
#13
I was in this position 3 years ago. My parents convinced me to go to uni and I have never been more glad I listened to their advice! I'm now going into my final year and over the past 2 years I've grown up considerably, made friends that I know I'll always remain close too, learned how to drink properly and had a load of fun, as well as doing a degree which is both interesting and will be useful in the future.

Had I gone straight to RMAS I would have missed out on what have been the best years of my life so far. I know that in just over a year from now when I'm soaked through lying in a puddle in the bottom of a hole in Thetford forest I will be far better prepared than I would have been at 18 straight from school.

Go to uni, get a degree, have fun, make some friends, play sport, chase girls and do all the things you won't be free to do once you're in the army. If you are a bursar (as I am) you are expected to attend UOTC. There is a load of threads on this but personally it wasn't for me so I transferred from a training bursar to an admin bursar as I'm quite into my rugby, I have a ton of coursework and wanted some time off from 'green stuff' before doing it for real at RMAS.
 
#14
If you absolutely must bin going to University, and I strongly recommend you don't, the look at going on a Raleigh International programme.
 
#15
Advantages of a degree in the army; outside of a technical corps, very little. Advantages of three years at university before a year at RMAS and three years in a regiment; huge. As has been mentioned you learn essential life skills, such as how to blag and cuff at the last minute, drink a skin-full and make it home in one piece, dress up as a nun using nothing but black nasty and your imagination, etc.

Most importantly, you have the rest of your life to work hard and get fucked about, there is (usually) little harm in having 3/4 years to square yourself away and do all the things you’ve watched on the internet. If you’re having doubts about uni I would recommend choosing a degree that really appeals to you, rather than one that you ‘feel’ you should do. There is nothing worse than spending 3 years slaving away at something that bores you.

With regards to gap years; if money is tight then get a day job, an evening bar shift and work your tits off for 6 months, then spend the proceeds chasing Swedish girls in exotic parts of the globe. South America is a good launching pad, and whilst it does have quite a few of the SE Asia ‘gap yah’ crowd, you can escape them easily and there’s a lot to see.

UOTC/TA: Take the OTC for what it is, it can be a really good laugh and you’ll gain an insight that will help you in the 1st term at RMAS. There is also a very eclectic crowd of people, not just chinless wonders. From what I understand, only a 2nd hand perspective, the TA won’t have as a good a social life as the OTC, which realistically the main draw whilst at uni.

Most importantly you will be more mature and have a greater degree of life experience post uni. As has been mentioned, how can you be expected to deal with the numerous and varied dramas that your soldiers will bring to you if you don’t even know how to set up a utility bill and dodge paying your tv licence?

TTA
 
#16
Not wishing to divert the direction of the thread. But that almost seems a good(ish) idea. Lots of forces (or more correctly, ''Departments'') in the US require either military experience or atleast 80 credits from a College (equates to having done atleast one year at Uni, but failed one module). Much better than having an NVQ in Anti Bullying and exceptional conflict negotiation skills that the current plod seem to require. If I'm having my head stamped on outside a kebab shop at 4am I want some 18stone ex squaddie to rock up, not a 5ft 2" 10 stone skirt who can ''identify and counsel victims''.
That'll be your avarage 'Para' M8..small men..big chip.. :)
 
#17
TheTeaAnarchist puts it in a far less pompous manner than I would & is very right.
 
#18
Every so often a thread like this appears. The general tenor of the OP is "I'm dead keen I am, and I've got a hard-on for army life so should I bin uni/TA rather than OTC?"

First things first: nobody is going to be impressed at someone with little life experience being so fired up for the green machine that they make a piss poor life decision to run round the ranges reinacting their favourite scene from platoon.

There are good reasons why the army doesn't normally want thrusting young 18 year olds running round RMAS. Osrtensibly this is because going to uni for 3 years gives you a lot of life experience that is useful when it comes to dealing with soldiers. Why....

1. Students often get bar jobs and other manual jobs which forces them to mix with people from all kinds of backgrounds and forces them to have to work alongside people who see the world differentkly to them. It may come as a surprise but squaddies don't typically come from middle class homes and leasd the kind of lifestyle you will have been used to. Stacking shelves on a Friday night in Tescos with a group of blokes who read the Star rather than the Telegraph and who care more about whether they will still get the 50p a day allowance for handling frozen goods than the detail of Syrian/Turkish border politics will teach you far more about how to speak to, and lead soldiers than a year at RMAS when you are a niave kid ever will.

2. Your horizons will broaden at Uni and you'll get involved in things and learn about stuff you've never had the opportunity to before. You might end up doing a drama production or sketch review and learn a bit about the theatre, or join the student newspaper or something. This will make you INTERESTING as opposed to just the walking embodyment of "greenie beenie". You will need more than just one dimention to your personality and life experience if your colleagues are to take an interest in you and your soldiers are to see you as a mature, rounded individual. You don't have to be the same as your soldiers, but they don't want to be commanded by a knob-head kid who just freezes like a rabbit in the headlights when they have a drama because you've got no life experience and nothing interesting to say for yourself.

3. You will find that officers are intellectually curious and if you do make it as far as a working unit you will feel at a distinct disadvantage for having not taken the time to round yourself off.

4. The OTC is there for a reason: it is NOT there to make you into an agile killing machine. It is there for you to learn the role of the army and it will give you an opportunity to see various parts of it and to understand its command structures and the principles of command. You will also get the opportunity to go on all manner of jollies. The TA is there to provide a reserve force. It won't give a shit about your aspirations beyond the immediate needs of training you for role, and it won't fit around your studies either. For that reason a lot of COs won't take students on strength unless they are there for the right reasons. You'll be trained to be a steelie-eyed dealer of death at RMAS, the DS won't be double-shiters impressed at your warry credentials for having biffed OTC in favour of TA, in fact if anything, they'll probbaly jiff you even harder because they will epxect a standard from you.

If you are so short sighted that you can't see the ******* fantastic opportunity being presented to you (scholarship and then bursary in conjunction with the OTC and a degree) and you want to piss that up the wall to impress ****-knows who with TA credentials and an early start at RMAS with insufficient life experience to balance the responsibility with the status, then it suggests to me that you are not actually ready to start your commissioning course.
 
#19
My son got an Army sixth form scholarship, went to Malaysia with Raleigh, then went into RMAS, still only 19. Was the 3rd youngest in his intake, and got back termed at the end of Inters, mainly due to lack of maturity.

Then the really bad news. At the end of Inters the second time round, he injured his back on final exercise. This culminated in him being discharged as unfit (after 2 months in Lucknow), with the instruction "come back in 2 years when your back is healed".

As his scholarship gave him a guaranteed entry until 2012, he decided to go to Uni and get a degree instead of just hanging around. He finished Uni this year, only got a Desmond, but it's a degree, in War studies, from a decent Uni (Kent). So, due to go back to RMAS in the September intake, this week he had his PCCBC. Horror!

After a visit to the Physio (to check that they were happy with his back and it's recovery, which they were), he is told by the SMO "These type of injuries never really go away, so we're deferring you. You'll go back to Westbury for them to give you a medical, but have a plan B ready, because we don't think they will sign you off either!"

Moral of the story - at least he has a degree to fall back on.
 

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