Its crisp, white form causes your hand to sweat. It’s your DD-214. The document that proves you no longer work for the military. You look at it as a symbol of your freedom. Suddenly freedom turns to fear as the inevitable question you have been putting off pops up in your head. What are you going to do now?
Depending on your circumstances, transitioning into the civilian sector can be a harrowing experience. It doesn’t have to be. Whatever you decide to do in the civilian world make sure that it includes going to school. If you didn’t already start your college education while in the Marine Corps then it is important to get started once you get out. Here are five reasons why.
The job market is competitive. The economic disaster of 2008 has sucker punched most every American where the job market is concerned. No longer is a bachelor’s degree adequate for getting a job. The competition is fierce with master’s degree candidates competing with those who have a degree and work experience in the desired field. It’s an employer’s dream except that many employers have had to lay off their employees because the recession has hit them hard too. Going to school is your best bet for competing for jobs out there today. It has become a minimum requirement in order to be competitive in the job market.
The government will pay for your schooling. If you signed up for the Post 9/11 GI Bill (and you should have as there is no excuse not to) the government will pay your tuition and even additional expenses for housing. This depends on your time in service and rank, details you can find on the VA website. Taking advantage of free school is one of the main reasons many enlist in the military.
The GI Bill has a time limit. Do not wait too long to enroll in school because there is a limited time you can use for your GI Bill. Even if it is a few years, those years sneak up fast. It is best not to put it off. Enrolling in college can afford you the opportunity to network and meet other people. From there you never know who you might meet who has connections to job opportunities. Additionally, many colleges have a career center with leads on where to find jobs in your field of expertise.
Keeps your mind busy. Transitioning is difficult. Serving years in the Marine Corps, taking orders constantly only now to have the freedom to do what you can cause anxiety. It’s worse on those who have been deployed and experienced traumatic events. Going to school can take care of how to navigate your financial future but it can also keep you busy. Sometimes, that’s what’s needed most. You should pursue a degree that you enjoy but also one that is in high demand if you intend to apply it in the civilian job market.
Give you time to figure out what you want to do. If you don’t already have a plan for what you want to do after the Marine Corps then school will definitely help you figure that out. It can buy time while you learn more about the options out there.
The best advice I can give is to get into school as soon as possible. If not while you are still in the Marine Corps then definitely as soon as you get out. Even if you have never liked school or thought it to be a waste of time. In this day and age, it has become the minimal requirement when competing for jobs in the civilian work force.