Military Training vs College Education

Jason - houston, Texas
Entered on February 16, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

During my public school education, I never really excelled like my peers. I was great at some classes, but mostly just barely got by. I managed to graduate and get accepted to South West Texas State University, and failed at that like a penguin flying. So I joined the United States Navy to get some discipline, some good training, adventure, and I didn’t think all the travel would hurt either. Little did I know that military training would seem to be the best form of education at first, but it ended up lacking aspects that are learned from going to college.

I enlisted to become an Aviation Electronic Technician, which is one of the more difficult positions to obtain. I didn’t think I was smart enough for this, but my recruiter said that with my test scores it should be easy. I don’t know why I would doubt a person who has been putting people in the Navy for years, but of course he was right. Instantly the Navy way of training seemed to be my kind of learning environment. I liked all the hands on training and it seemed to help me retain information better. Getting shocked by a capacitor that is not plugged in will make you remember that its function is to hold power if you fail to retain this from class.

Electronic school was considered one of the more difficult portions of my training pipeline, but it was easy for me and I finished top in my class for the first time in my life. It seemed that the military had figured something out that the public hadn’t of courses. In Pensacola, FL, I learned about basic electronics and advanced electronics. I also learned that not all the Gulf of Mexico has nasty brown water; it was amusing to go into the water and still see my feet. From there I moved on to Brunswick, ME, where I learned how to survive at a prisoner of war camp. I was confused as to why I would need to know this kind of information, but come to find out, I was slated to become an aircrew-man aboard a reconnaissance aircraft. I guess that’s what I get for being top of my class. This training proved to be the best course I have taken in my life, and probably will ever take. This is primarily due to that fact that it causes you to find out who you really are deep down and know how you will react in a situation, instead of always wondering. After that I moved on to Whidbey Island, WA; this is the place where I was to learn about the plane that I was designated to fly on. This is also the place that I realized that I had never taken more than one course at a time since I had been in the Navy. I thought I had figured out why I had done so poorly in college. Maybe I’m not good at taking multiple classes at a time.

Come to find out I didn’t have it all figured out. After all of my military training, I began to start flying and doing my job. This is where the big light bulb went on. I would look around at all the people I worked with, both officer and enlisted. We all did about the same jobs, but got paid a lot differently. I kept wondering, why do officers get paid more than I do? I can operate the same system as they can and I can also fix them, when they had no clue where to start. This bugged me for a few years, but I didn’t grasp it until the officers that I started flying with were my age or younger, but for some reason had a maturity about them that we enlisted did not.

One of my Lieutenants, a good old boy from Texas, helped me with my confusion. He was a prior-enlisted that got out, went to University of Texas, and then came back as an officer. He said the problem with military training is it lacks character. They only teach you what you need to know, and it’s all one class at a time. This doesn’t make you sit at home on a Friday and Saturday night and study instead of going out and partying. He said college makes you take time outside of class to do work and write papers about your point of view and helps build your character and maturity. College makes you take classes that you don’t want to, but the fact that you have to force yourself to do something you don’t like makes you a stronger person.

So here I am, a person who while in the Navy was one of the smartest in my field sitting here struggling to write an English 1301 paper. I guess the good old Lieutenant was right; if I wasn’t required to take English or History I probably wouldn’t. They are just classes that I don’t think that I am good at, but for the fact that when I got out of the military it took me forever to write my resume: I realized maybe I do need to work on that continued education portion of it. I think that college is a much needed step in life that not only helps you get a good job, but possibly some good money too. I enrolled this semester because even though the military gave me good training and I can get a decent paying job; I’m still missing some aspects in my education and my overall well roundedness. So let’s try to make this penguin fly again.