View Full Version : Graduate or dropout?

10-12-2015, 22:45
Let me start by expressing my gratitude to all who have served and to all of those who will serve. I hope this post will help others in a similar situation as myself. Also, this will not be a short post, apologies in advance.

Which course of action would you personally recommend? I am attempting to hear as many different opinions on this subject as I can. My intention is not to be spoon-fed specifics, and if in my post questions arise that have already been answered, then please feel free to let me know. I honestly appreciate everything you all do on this website. It is an invaluable resource. Thank you. I realize that I have a long way to go, and a lot to learn. Which brings me to my current situation. I will get to it:

I know I want to enlist in the Army and pursue Special Forces. That is my goal. I am currently nearing the end to the first semester of my sophomore year in college. I have had an increasing desire to dropout and pursue an 18X contract. I know I am capable of completing my degree (GPA 3.8), and I have also been blessed with aid and scholarships that are allowing me to pay for school.

My problem is, I am not passionate about my studies. I simply do not see the worth in attending classes that I am not engaged in, when I know I could be pursuing a dream. I do not feel like I am getting the most out of my education. I know that I am going to pursue Special Forces, and at this point college is in the way.

I feel if I enlist (which is my plan regardless of whether or not I have a degree) my experience in the Army will give me better perspective on what I want to do for the rest of my life. If I am fortunate enough to make it to a team, and love it, then I will stay in the Army. If not, I will be able to return to school after my enlistment, finish my degree with a better clarity of what I want out of my education.

I understand that ultimately it will be up to me to decide what I do, but I was hoping to receive some feedback from you all.

I want to challenge myself. I am not challenged here at school. I want to be a part of something bigger than myself. I want to make a difference. I want to be a soldier and one of the few. I have been researching this for months now, and I know it is what I want. I know that if I do not try, that I will regret it. I am as aware as I can be that the road is long and not easy. I will not act like I know what it takes. I know that I have a lot to learn. I also know, that be it now, or after school, I will be trying to make it.

So, stay in school or dropout?

Thank you for any feedback. I apologize for the long post, I tried my best to completely flesh out my thoughts. If you notice any flaws in my logic, or have any observations, they would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


10-13-2015, 03:29
No mater what you'll have to finish your degree. Harder if you make it into SF and decide to make it a career.

But a Big retirement change is coming so if you go in after another 2 years you'll be under the new system.

You could look at an 18X ship date and take as many core classes for your degree as you can before you ship. That way if you decide to stay in you'll be chasing more fluff classes.

But in the end it's your decision and you'll have to live with it.

Santo Tomas
10-13-2015, 05:59
Decide what you long term goals are and set your marks.

Do you always quit when you get bored or it gets difficult?

10-13-2015, 06:36
Maybe I missed it, but what are you studying? It should be possible to link your passions for wanting to be Special Forces with some field of study in academia. I mean, unless it's merely a passion to "jump out of planes and shoot somebody in the face" in which case you should attempt to join the Rangers instead. However, if you are passionate about being part of an unconventional warfare effort, many studies should enhance your contributions to a team - and I don't mean "security studies" or getting a degree in "special operations", but an actual degree in science, economics, finance, etc. :rolleyes:

As an 18X, don't show up to a team as useless as a box of rocks. Remember the prior service guys at least bring experience from elsewhere in the Army. My studies in computer science paid off dividends for my team - the knowledge gained from my studies, not necessarily the degree (unless you count getting paid immediately as an E-4). Now, you don't need a degree - I self-taught most of my classes to myself since I wasn't keen on actually attending, but still got straight A's.

If you're going to spend the time learning, you may as well get a degree. You will need one once you leave the military or if you decide to go the ossifer route since those guys now put their greasy paws on everything ;)

10-13-2015, 08:12
I was in the same boat at your age. I got tired of spending money on an education that I wasn't excited about at the time. So, I went the Ranger battalion then SF route. I finished college and law school after my active duty time (while in Guard/Reserve SF).

Pros and cons to both sides. One con is this---I was in a patrol base one day, pulling security rather close to the slit trench (you'll find out what this is later). A captain came over to use said trench. I realized then and there that we were using the same slit trench, doing essentially the same work, but he was making about three times the money I was at the time.

Pros----while your friends are sitting in philosophy class mentally masturbating to Kant, you will get to go jump out of airplanes and blow shit up.

10-13-2015, 09:19
I was in the same boat at your age. ...same slit trench, doing essentially the same work, but he was making about three times the money I was at the time.

Pros----while your friends are sitting in philosophy class mentally masturbating to Kant, you will get to go jump out of airplanes and blow shit up.

I have a similar experience to craigepo.

My philosophy was that I could always go to college in a wheel chair, but I would not always be a healthy 20 something year old. I was right. But it's much harder to finish later, night classes, no real learning, etc. So it depends on how far along you are. Also most schools put a 10 year clock on classes so you may find yourself taking intro to computer science or American history all over again. Of course colleges keep changing history, so you may "learn" something you never heard of before.

I was required to take intro to computer science at each new school I enrolled in. Took it 4 times.

10-13-2015, 19:48
I appreciate all of the responses.

Pete: I will keep that advice about classes in mind. Thank you.

Santo Tomas: The reason would not be because I am bored or that school is difficult, it is the opposite actually. Fortunately, school is not much of a challenge for me. I appreciate you questioning my commitment. I will reflect on my goals quite often. Thank you.

head: I am majoring in Communications with a minor in Spanish. Do you not think the 18X route prepares you for Special Forces? Would finishing my degree help me to not be a useless box of rocks? Thank you.

craigepo: Was returning to school to finish your degree after your active duty time difficult for you? Were you able to go back as a full-time student? If you could go back, would you have stayed in school? Or are you happy with the route you chose to take? Thank you.

kalanis: The age difference between dropping or finishing would only two years. Enlist now while I am 20 or enlist when I have graduated and am 22. I am currently in my third semester of school. I was aware of the clock that schools put on your college credits. My school is also a very veteran friendly university.

I appreciate all of the feedback from you all. I have read and re-read your responses. I apologize for all of the questions, I am just trying to do my best to gather information and hear personal experience from those who have actually been there and done that. If I am crossing the line or just be a nuisance or missing the purpose of this site, then please let me know. I just want to do my best to make an informed decision. I know that ultimately the decision is mine to make, and I am fully confident in my ability to make it when the time comes. Simply trying to do my best to be prepared. Thank you all again for the feedback, I appreciate it.

Thank all of you for your service.


10-13-2015, 20:38
head: I am majoring in Communications with a minor in Spanish. Do you not think the 18X route prepares you for Special Forces? Would finishing my degree help me to not be a useless box of rocks? Thank you.

The SFQC will be your initial training, however a key to being a successful SF soldier is the continual pursuit of worthwhile intellectual endeavors. Essentially, you want to be a sponge and able to apply your knowledge to benefit your team, whether the subject is languages & cultures, how to fix a car/generator/plumbing issue, programming macros for your team's supply tracker, or explaining the informal value transfer system to your team. Whether you are useless is up to you... but the saying goes "If you're going to be dumb, you better be strong."

Now does finishing a degree help you? Not necessarily, as I said in my response. However, I am an advocate for completing a degree as you will eventually want or need one, so if you're going to spend time studying something, you may as well make progress towards that endstate. Hell, it doesn't have to be a degree either, I don't look pass trade schools and apprenticeships.

I simply think that some of the difficulty that you seem to be having in finishing a degree could be alleviated by studying something that would tie into your reasons for wanting to be Special Forces. Along with that, I find it difficult to believe that you cannot find a subject that you would be passionate about.... if you're passionate about being the warrior scholar that I view that a good Special Forces soldier should be. Now, if your reasons are that you can't stand your classmates, the structure, some of those meaningless electives and general education requirements, I understand that - but lack of passion or engagement means "Communications" may not be your jig. Hell, think about what MOS you would want to be... isn't there a field of study that you could imagine being useful? (Even if you didn't end up in that MOS, hell, you'd at least already have a background in an additional role on the team).

You can be a great Special Forces soldier without a degree - many are. At the end of the day, commit to something and do the best you can towards realizing that goal.

10-13-2015, 21:54
"however a key to being a successful SF soldier is the continual pursuit of worthwhile intellectual endeavors."

head: Thank you again for your feedback and perspective. I believe this thread will help others in similar situations as myself.

I will certainly continue to look into other areas of study that would be more applicable to Special Forces. As far as the lack of passion for my studies, I suppose it could be due to the fact that I am not challenged, and see no applicable use for the material that we cover. I will continue to explore other fields.

I appreciate all of the feedback. I know there are other people out there going through similar situations, and this thread is a great benefit to myself and hopefully others. There has been a lot of great advice given here.

If anyone else has any relevant personal experiences, advice, or questions they would like to add, it would be greatly appreciated. You all have questioned me and my motives which has been very beneficial. It is refreshing to hear the advice, opinions, and criticisms of you all.

You all have provided me with a lot to consider and think about. I appreciate it. I will continue to prepare physically and mentally for the long road ahead. When I do commit to a course of action, I will let you all know.

Thank you all for your service.


10-14-2015, 04:59
Quitting is addictive.

It becomes easier each time you do it. Finish your commitment. If you decide not to reengage next semester then that is an educated choice, but if you start to "accept" quitting at your young age then it will stay with you forever and it will only get easier.

You have no idea how many times you will face this exact same challenge as you pursue a life full of mental and physical challenge. You think it is going to be easy?

FINISH WHAT YOU START and give it your BEST.

10-14-2015, 05:23
There is no guarantee that you will get selected or pass the training to become SF qualified. In fact, the odds are against it. I would finish school first. You will still be young enough to apply for SF after school.

10-14-2015, 08:39
I was in the same boat as you were in in 1979. The difference was, that I was about to flunk out of college. That difference taken into account, and realizing that these are totally different times, I joined a unit in 20th Group, was a Rep 63 and off I went. The military gave me a whole lot of what I call the intangibles, such as discipline. The intangibles helped me when I returned and got my degree. My advice to you would be go for it. You will not always be at an age to do the 18X pipeline or have the motivation to do so. As for success in the 18X program, having street smarts and the ability to read people help as much as possessing super intelligence. Hope this helps you and good luck and God bless you.

Team Sergeant
10-14-2015, 10:19
There is no guarantee that you will get selected or pass the training to become SF qualified. In fact, the odds are against it. I would finish school first. You will still be young enough to apply for SF after school.

And he'll be wearing out knee pads for kicking himself in the ass for quitting school.

As has been said, finish school, then explore your options.

That advice is worth more than you paid for it.

10-15-2015, 18:38
Thank all of you again. I do not mean to beat a dead horse, but I really do appreciate the feedback. All advice has been heard.

I agree that quitting is addictive, it is a lesson that has literally been pounded into my head. I believe that is why I am having so much trouble. I am as aware that I can be that there are no guarantees in the military, especially Special Forces. I look forward to the intangibles that the military will teach me.

I will take all of this into consideration, thank you.

10-18-2015, 18:49
This is coming from a new guy in the regiment. Stay in school and finish your degree. I have found that between daily duties and schools, deployments (or JCETS) and everything else we do there is USUALLY not a lot of time to get some school in. I am not saying that it is impossible but difficult. I am going through that now. Get your degree and then try this out. I wish I had.

tom kelly
10-20-2015, 14:27
REGARD'S, Tom Kelly

10-21-2015, 15:04
You'll never get another shot to "go to college." Experience it, enjoy it, the Army will be around when you're done. If you like the Army and stay, it matters less and less when you joined. There is something kind of cool about wearing a green beret before you can legally drink a beer, but once you're in your thirties still doing college you'll wish you had just knocked it out. I guess the underlying point is that if you join as an 18X the experience is not super different for an 18 year old and a 22 year old. However you only have one shot to go to college as an 18/19/20 year old. Don't jeopardize your future, but you should be enjoying yourself. Don't rush through your youth.

10-22-2015, 19:22
I am killing myself wishing I knocked out my degree years ago with deployments, kids and training its a nightmare. Find something you actually want to do in school, take a language, STUDY. Promotions are now tied to education,well soon. Look at the long term someday you maybe speaking with a country team might as well have something intelligent to talk about.

11-01-2015, 12:07
Thank you all for your responses and time; I appreciate it.

11-11-2015, 10:57
I will give you a different angle as I received my beret before my 21st birthday. You are in shape (or can be) a lot easier now than you will be at 25-30. I would say that my youthful endurance is what got me through the Q. My youthful ignorance is what almost got me booted. How do you want to look back on your life? You can get a degree while you are in. I have been to countless countries, learned more than most do in a lifetime. I would go as far to say that my experience destroys any degree I could have acquired. I wouldn't have done anything differently besides fight even harder during my deployments. Do what your legacy can handle and be ready to fail if you come uncommitted in either realm.

The Q course is tightening it's belt. The pressure and the gates that these guys have to pass now is world class, and you better come prepared. They are non selecting like never before, and booting guys out throughout the course at a very high rate.

11-17-2015, 09:30

Understand that you've asked an extremely opinionated group to express an opinion. As you can see, most of us tend to be free thinkers and are capable of thinking critically. My experience may help inform your decision a little...
I began my SF career as an 18B (weapons) and after a few years re-classed to 18D (Medic). As a medic I found my passion and upon finishing SFMS began pursuing a pre-med degree. That was seven, almost eight, years ago. I'm finally down to the home stretch with only four classes remaining; however, I need to either take those classes face to face (which is proving to be a near impossibility) or rely on the med schools that accept an online degree on a "case by case basis".
Something to consider...
Had I already obtained a degree and only needed to fulfill the prerequisites required for medical school, how many years of toil (balancing training, deployments, family, professional military education, etc, etc, etc!) might I have saved?
The Army, and recruiters specifically, do a good job of convincing people to volunteer. That's their job! You will be told about all of the programs available to finish your degree and they absolutely exist. But my suggestion is that you educate yourself thoroughly about those programs prior to making a decision about taking a hiatus from school.
I applaud your seeking advice from experienced SF soldiers as it speaks to your ability to: a) seek help when you don't know the answer (a lot of us in SF have a hard time doing this) b) shows that you have the situational awareness to understand the enormity of the decision ahead of you and c) demonstrates a certain level of maturity. These are some of the character traits necessary in SF.
However, part of being an SF soldier is prioritizing, self reliance, confidence and professionalism. We put our Team ahead of ourselves, always. If you're tasked to perform a tedious, boring job that you're not passionate about by your Team Sergeant are you going to be a professional and do the task to the utmost of your ability or are you going to go find something else to do?
If I had the ability to go back and change things, I wouldn't. My life as it has unfolded, though not perfect, has made me who I am. And thanks to the other men on this sight, the FOGs that left dinosaur sized footprints to try to follow and the guys I serve and have served beside, it has been one HELL of a ride!
I could have given you an opinion with some supporting evidence but I think that would be a disservice. This is your choice to make. All yours. Welcome to adulthood my friend, I'm sure this isn't the first difficult decision you've been presented with and I can absolutely assure you this won't be the last. Just be glad that this particular dilemma doesn't appear to have a right or wrong answer....

....I would solicit comments from other parties on my thoughts but I know they're inbound........<moving to nearest cover>

02-24-2016, 22:20
I appreciate all of the responses and honest opinions that I have received so far. They have all been heard and taken into consideration.

I was hoping to receive some further advice from y'all who have been there and done that. I have been reading and searching, but have not come up with anything specifically on this topic. If this question would be better suited for a different thread, or has already been covered; then please let me know. So, my question is:

Would enlisting in the National Guard as a support MOS attached to a Special Forces group be a good route to take prior to pursuing my Green Beret?

I would break my training up over the next two summers while drilling and finishing my degree. I have spoken to one you on the phone from 20th group in AL and he recommended this route. I have also been in contact with the recruiter, who also recommended this route.

After I graduate from college, I will attend SFRE and then begin the pipeline. They both echoed that this would be to my advantage over Rep63/18x directly after graduation.

I feel this would be beneficial in the sense I would become familiar with the Army, become Airborne qualified, and be regularly exposed to the Unit that I want to join, it would also allow some exposure to some of you QPs during my train up for the pipeline, among other benefits.

I was hoping to hear some thoughts on this course of action? Or any drawbacks/disadvantages of this route?

I appreciate your time and responses, thank you.

02-25-2016, 00:37
^^^^^Since you haven't posted in this thread for almost 4 months, sounds to me like you want someone to make your decision for you.

Do something. There is no right or wrong answer....or don't, but quit asking.

You sound like a fence rider and that is the last thing anyone needs.

02-25-2016, 07:12
"been in contact with the recruiter, who also recommended this route. "


Join the guard if you want to be a guardsman and/or if you need some tuition assistance (which you can just as easily get from ROTC if you wanted to be an O). It isnt always easy (I hear from my friends in 19th/20th) to transition into active service. That being said, no, being in the Army certainly wont hinder your chances of going SF ultimately. As the post above mine said - you have plenty of info to move forward.

Maybe Im being too blunt in saying that the main reason this thread has so many replies is that you asked a provocative (read: dumb!) question - should I drop out of college. C'mon - really?

02-25-2016, 07:45
It's not that I want anyone to make my decision. I am just trying to make the most informed decision I can, I appreciate the response. The reason I haven't posted in 4 months is I have had a lot of issues with family that I have had to tie up. I appreciate all the responses, I was just hoping to hear if anyone had gone that route, and if it helped or not.

I have already made my decision, I'm going to finish college before I pursue becoming a Green Beret, I'm not riding the fence, I know I'm going to graduate, then pursue SF. These past few months have put a lot into perspective for me. This option seemed like it would allow me to work on both at the same time.

I am not looking to have my hand-held, just some opinions. I appreciate all of the honesty, and hope I haven't come off as rude. Thank you.