I know it gets asked a lot, but grad or non grad for the reasons?

#1
Hi all,

I know this question gets asked a lot and I have researched a lot into this question, not only through the threads on here but online and with careers advisor. I would like to know which would you say is best for becoming an officer based on my reasons. I know you will probably think "well if he cant make decisions for himself, how is he going to lead others?", but I'm hoping that opinions and suggestions from here help my decision.(making use of the team's opinion ;) )

I'm currently 16, a sergeant in the space cadets and I live on a garrison town. I always wanted to join the RAF as a pilot but decided that the army would be better as I enjoy leading and like the idea of being an officer first and foremost and then having a secondary line of work. I would like to become a pilot in the AAC but I know how difficult it is, having said this - I really like the idea of spending time as a Platoon Commander and getting frontline experience on the ground so that I could relay that into a flying environment if I ever got to join the AAC.

I love leading and working as part of a team and although I enjoy learning I really want to get straight in an start doing what I love. So I'm wondering whether to look into going straight in for AOSB after I leave Sixth Form or go to uni and then apply? I definitely see the benefits of getting a degree for when I inevitably leave the forces (all assuming I were to get in) but I also really like the idea of being a young officer who can build and work well with his troops.

From the research that I have conducted I have gathered that from non-grad officers 2nd Lt to Capt will take about 5 years and Grad 2-3 years. From what I gather if I were to take a 4 year uni course I would be looking to join the army around 22/23 so really, I wouldn't be any better off that if I joined at 18 rank wise. I'm not too fussed about the money at the minute, but who knows - peoples ideals change.

I've also thought about becoming a teacher if I were to leave the forces (around perhaps 35) but obviously that would require a degree and teacher training, which could be done when I come out but it would be hassle I guess. That's not an absolute must, becoming a teacher, but an exit plan of some sort is obviously very important. One of the things that puts my off Uni the most is the fees, I hate being a debt and If I'm going to potentially owe £9000 per year's worth of uni fees, thats going to be some burden I feel.

Based on what I have said above, I'd like to gauge what peoples first opinions think whether it would be worth me going grad or non grad.

Thanks in advance,

Tim
 
#3
Well, for what it's worth, when a general visited our unit, his ADC was saying that it was easier for graduates to get on in the army (him being a non-grad), but on the other hand, I thought they were getting rid of the extra seniority that being a graduate gets. Perhaps someone could confirm that? As for the debt, you'll only service the loan when you're earning over a certain amount. Although, it's £9,000 + accomodation, where I go, the basic living loan that SLC gave you did not even cover accomodation fees to speak nothing of eating and actually living at uni.

I'm not really trying to put you off, there's many benefits to going to uni, but you should see all points of view.

Oh and you may as well do AOSB sooner rather than later, that way, if you have any issues, you'll have time to work on them prior to leaving 6th form, because if you do it when you leave and get a cat 2 or 3 and are told to come back in 6 months or whatever, that's a bit of a bugger right there. You can always defer once you have it, or if you change your mind, you can turn down their offer of a place at sandhurst. Oh, and you can potentially get bursaries for 6th form and uni too.
 
#4
I would advise a bursary as well. To be honest the advantage of being a graduate has lessened although for a few reasons I think it's worth it.

University is great fun. You get to meet people from all over the place and do all kinds of things that you will not in later life. You will live in halls with 100's of other blokes your age and more to the point 100's of girls who are at their peak. You learn new things, can be whoever you want to be. You can even do Army stuff, either through OTC or even joining the TA.

If you join at 18 you will miss all that. You will live in a mess with people older than you in some cases 10+ years older. You will go to work everyday. You will do duty, you will worry about your men, who in your case will be your age or older. You will also study but it will be regimented. You will have days off and leave when the army tells you. You will earn money and not get into debt.

There are advantages to both and disadvantages to both. I personally think uni is good for the space it gives you to develop personally.

A big question as well is: What makes you, as an 18 year old, feel that you are suitable to lead men most of whom have been fighting in Afghan and Iraq for the last 10 years?
 
#5
I agree with Stabtoreg, I reckon it's better to go in as a grad. The extra time to mature and all, the experience that uni gives can make a positive difference. It gives you a chance to experience some of the world (I'm sure people will snort with derrision, but compare to someone who went straight to Sandhurst) and extra time to make up your mind. You can do OTC or TA to get some experience of military stuff in a more serious environment than cadets too, and if you commission while with an OTC, you get extra seniority by holding the commission and experience as a subaltern minus the pressures of leading and training a group of regulars.
 
#6
It is important to remember that even if you make it in to the Army, you may decide that it isn't the lifestyle you want afterall. In which case, having a degree behind you could really help when going back in to civvie street.

Going through university also gives you extra time to mature and you will get more life experience, especially if you find yourself doing a lot of mixed group work at university - Not to mention you can have some good fun with the independence you get whilst at university.
 
#7
Usually, I would encourage people to be a graduate; however, I am now changing my tune for two reasons.

1. The cost of a degree now is that if you are not going to go to a good University and do a good degree (meaning you need at least an A and 2 Bs at A Level), the degree probably isn't worth it when you're 18 - 21.

2. By the time you're 18, graduates and non-graduates will be on the same career path, be paid the same and do the same amount of time as a Lt and Captain. So there's no benefit.

My view: if you're going to do very well at A level and go to a good Uni, then do it. If not (and there's nothing wrong admitting it, I was dire at A Level and walked away with a pump degree), go to the Army at 18. You can always go to Uni after being in the Army for a few years or not bother at all.

I disagree with a lot of the above. Uni isn't an experience for life; it is education. If you're going there for the parties, it's an expensive way to do it. Feel free to PM me.
 
#8
Usually, I would encourage people to be a graduate; however, I am now changing my tune for two reasons.

1. The cost of a degree now is that if you are not going to go to a good University and do a good degree (meaning you need at least an A and 2 Bs at A Level), the degree probably isn't worth it when you're 18 - 21.

2. By the time you're 18, graduates and non-graduates will be on the same career path, be paid the same and do the same amount of time as a Lt and Captain. So there's no benefit.

My view: if you're going to do very well at A level and go to a good Uni, then do it. If not (and there's nothing wrong admitting it, I was dire at A Level and walked away with a pump degree), go to the Army at 18. You can always go to Uni after being in the Army for a few years or not bother at all.

I disagree with a lot of the above. Uni isn't an experience for life; it is education. If you're going there for the parties, it's an expensive way to do it. Feel free to PM me.
I agree, if you are going to go to a poly and read hairdressing studies then its not worth it, you might as well join the army if they will have you. If you have the ability to go to a good university then it's still worth it.

The army is changing and it will become harder to make a full time career. The average salary for graduates is roughly 85% more than the average salary for non grads. That is food for thought. The funding is also different for non traditional students (mature) which means it may cost more later on.

University should be an experience for life. You will never again have the same opportunity to experience things, become comfortable in your skin and fulfil your education in both the academic or wider sense. You don't have to do that, you can just sit in your room and play computer games, which is what a lot of people do. They tend to think uni is shit.

It is of course not about the parties. However they are a major part of uni life. When you are sitting in a DJ at a dinner night in a room full of men, spare a thought for your student peers who will be experimenting with a variety of semi dressed 18 year old girls. Yes you can go back to uni later but it will not be the same as a 25 year old. The army will be exactly the same as a 21 year old however.
 
#9
As a recent graduate I highly recommend uni.

9,000 is extortionate so my advice would be to look at a foreign university, if you study in the EU you pay the local tuition fees (if they have tuition fees, many countries such as the Czech Republic have none). The teaching will be often be in English, you will learn a foreign language, and you won't be able to come home every weekend with your washing which will no doubt be beneficial for the army.

Those are just my thoughts, I'm not in the army but a current postgraduate student so if you want a different perspective feel free to get in touch.

Also uni can be a waste of time for shagging etc but if you take advantage of the opportunities there is a lot available such as study abroad, the chance to move away from home, opportunities for work experience, and the chance to get a taste for army life in the Officer training corps (OTC).
 
#10
Thank you for all of your comments so far, It's definitely food for thought! I start Sixth form in September, so still plenty of time ahead but I'm sure it will come around very fast! I'm doing Geography, Maths, Physics, English Language and Critical thinking plus I still have the option of doing a 6th if I want to. So all fairly classical subjects, no dinosaur studies or sociobiology?! I would only want to study something like Geography or Physics at Uni so I guess both are about as classical as it gets baring maths. I have a few pals in the OTC now and it looks tip-top, especially when compared to the UAS. I intend to plough on an work as closely as possible with some of the blokes from Colly, so I will be able to gain some experience of working with them which will be a bonus. I like to make plans but I guess given the current situation with costs I will just have to play it by ear as much as possible.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#11
Put simply, you will find it easier to assimilate the training as a 21-22 year old grad than you will as an 18 year old non-grad. You will also find it easier to get through AOSB and overcome soldiers' suspicion at being commanded by someone who is still a teenager.

Having said that, Nickhere's point is valid: if you can't get a place on a good course at a good university - and get a good result at the end of it - you will potentially be spunking a lot of cash on not very much. Under those circumstances, it might be better to try out a short service commission first and do a degree afterwards when you have some 'experience'.
 
#12
However, never under-estimate the advantages of 3 years of lie-ins and shagging.
 
#14
I'm a grad, and the seniority and life experience have helped, but the degree is worthless, but then thankfully cost me next to nowt.

These days with seniority disappearing and the cost of a degree I really don't see the point. I'd recommend a gap year for the extra life-experience and maturity it would give you (plus of course the rather enjoyable holiday, booze, and shagging) followed by joining at 19.
 
#15
Soon to be finished with Uni, and I would recommend it even if the course is completely irrelevant to what you want to do. The skills you use will invariably become useful (especially analytical and critical skills) outside of your field of study.
 
#16
Grad all the way. University is the best time of your life!

By the way to clarify the situation between grads and non grads. The Army recently changed the terms of service so that grads and non grads are the same but I think this only applies if you are of a certain age. E.g. if you went to uni you would graduate at 21/22 (depending on degree and gap year plans), but if you went out to work for 3/4 years, i.e. a non-grad but with life experience, you would join on exactly the same terms of service and not be disadvantaged. Rightly, I believe, is that it recognises the value of life experience as equal to time at uni. However if you join at 18 you will not be given any seniority and thus be 3 years behind your comrades you will go through Sandhurst with. Also consider whether you think that you will be mature enough (physically and emotionally) at 19 to command a Troop where almost everyone will be older and wiser than you. At least Uni will give you some unique developmental experiences (living on your own, self-budgeting, etc) that will be useful when as a Tp/Pl Comd your lads come to you for advice.

My advice is crystal clear - go to university and have the time of your life! Consider applying for a bursary and joining the OTC or TA (friend of mine joined TA SF whilst at uni and loved it) in order to gain some experience. I spent 3 years in the infantry as a private and it gave me a great grounding prior to my commissioned service. Sod the expense, it's worth it. I left with a huge debt but it was worth every penny.

Any other questions feel free to PM me.

PS study a degree you will enjoy, not one that will impress. The choice of Uni is worth more than the title of the degree (pref a top 20 uni at least).
 
#17
Thank you everyone that has commenting thus far, all comments have been very helpful! How exactly does this whole seniority of officers work? Is it an official thing or an informal Hierarchy? I understand what everyone says about being behind your troops, and that doesn't appeal to me. If I went to uni I would no doubt apply for a Bursary and join the OTC, however TA SF sounds rather smexy, although I thought you had to have served previously before joining 21 or 23 Reg?

I had not really thought too much about the type of uni although I can appreciate how it matters. The plan is to potentially become a Secondary School teacher after the army as I think it would probably be a good transition and a good place to implement leadership and teaching skills previously obtained. I've been hearing about Non Grads having to do a degree whilst serving, is this right and if so how does it work exactly?

Thanks again
 
#18
I forgot to add another option, though slightly risky if you don't get it.

Join up and 18, pass Sandhurst, do two years Tp/Pl Comd then apply for in-service degree. You will be limited on degree choice and location but on the (massive) up side, all your fees will be paid for, you keep earning your salary, get a house/flat and finish with a degree for next to bugger all! I know some of the Corps offer this such as RE, REME, et al. But it does depend on where you want to go. Not sure AAC offer this but it is a good question to ask? But you will be expected to uphold military ethos and standards at uni, so if you fancy a sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll university education this option might not be for you.

I am sure someone will correct me but prior military service is useful but not mandatory for TA SF. My mate did it whilst training to be a doctor and he had no military background whatsoever - it is v hard though and you need to be well switched on and very very fit! However, if you are intent on a regular military career then any TA unit you will join will offer great opportunities (and more so in the next few years) so either way you will get great experience to draw upon. OTC will offer great training too and they do stacks of adventurous training as well.

If you fancy being a teacher post-army career (I am presuming you are considering a short Army career), my advice is go for a standard 3 yr degree in a subject you would like to teach. Then on leaving the Army undertake a PGCE (1 year full time study) and bob's your uncle, your a teacher!
 
#20
I forgot to add another option, though slightly risky if you don't get it.

Join up and 18, pass Sandhurst, do two years Tp/Pl Comd then apply for in-service degree.
You say that so blithely. 18 year olds who will be able to cope fairly well with the commissioning course are few and far between! It's a hard course. I know I would not have lasted past the first 5 weeks when I was 18, I just wouldn't have been up to it. It's tough, and a lot of guys will be early to mid 20's. Don't understimate how much you grow up and gain in confidence in those few years after leaving school.


My advice, don't join at 18 full stop. Do something else first, be it University, a ski season shagging fit gap year students or working in a bar in some random city in australia or just doing something a bit different for a couple of years.

All of a sudden you will get to Sandhurst and your life as you know it will be over. Everything will be GREEN. You will be in turbo and you will not know what the **** is going on. You will hardly see your civvie mates, you'll be overwhelmed in a whole new culture and you will miss out on a lot of experiences other guys will have had.

Trust me when I say when you are on that recce at 0200 on a december morning in sennybridge when it's -14 in the windchill and you are a soaking wet gibbering wreck, the memory of hanging out the back of Jemima the fit blonde chalet host with the big tits will keep you going!!!

Sandhurst is ultimately very rewarding, but it's also ******* hard work and pretty shit day to day. You will also have to compete against ex-rankers, guys with TA commissions and guys who have done herrick tours. Unless you are a very very very confident bloke who is very fit, you will struggle to shine as an 18/19 year old. Don't get me wrong; it is entirely possible to do so, but it takes a very strong character.


My genuine advice is go away, get a few years experience of living away from home under your belt, be it at uni or doing another job here or abroad, then think about getting involved in the whole army career!




PS. Take all of this with a pinch of salt as I am still at sandhurst and therefore don't have the benefit of hindsight like the guys here who are already commissioned!
 

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