Senior finds alternative postsecondary path through military

October 19, 2022

Senior David Stoev, like most Prospect students, plans on attending college after high school. The only difference between his plans and the majority of students’ is that afterwards, he plans to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. Stoev is a current member of the Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) at Prospect, having joined freshman year due to his underlying interest in the military beforehand. After enjoying the initial summer course, he says, he never looked back.

“I … really like the structure of the military,” Stoev said. “ … It’s a community of volunteers because it’s not like they’re forcing anyone [to serve], and it’s just its own culture.”

Stoev plans to major in mechanical engineering and become an officer in either the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Air Force. 

To do this, he will apply to both a college and that college’s ROTC program — a more demanding version of the program offered in high school — and, if accepted, he will study for four years before graduating and serving in the military for a set amount of time, with the minimum often being eight years. He can then apply for an ROTC scholarship, which can have benefits ranging from a stipend of the overall tuition to a full ride scholarship.

Stoev says that the combination of the economic benefits that come with military service and the close-knit military structure are what pushed him to pursue this path, and he wishes that more students were aware of the advantages that the military offers outside of simply serving one’s country.

“I think the misconception is, ‘Oh you’re just going to be on the frontline and killing people,’” Stoev said. “But really … a lot of [military careers are] in the background … They’re not in the frontlines fighting.”

One place where Stoev feels the military’s alternative benefits could be highlighted more is in high school classrooms. He remembers that when counselors met with students to discuss students’ various post-graduate options, the section dedicated to colleges lasted for roughly 30 minutes, whereas the section discussing trade schools was only a few sentences long, a difference that he feels undervalues and limits the potential for success that these pathways hold. If he had not already been a member of JROTC, he says, this presentation would not have represented many of the aspects of the program he enjoys the most.

“That wouldn’t have sparked any interest; they didn’t really say anything,” Stoev said. “They just said, ‘Oh, talk to these people if you’re interested’; they didn’t explain any benefits or anything.”

To learn more about other potential post-high school paths and the push to give them more attention, check out the front page story of Issue 2 of the Prospector.

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