DS finally admitted he doesn't really want to go to Uni

(28 Posts)
mumblechum1 Sun 09-Dec-12 13:44:05

I should have seen it coming,I've been hassling him for ages about his UCAS application and have been the one checking Track for his offers etc. (he has 3 good offers so far)

He has always wanted to go in the Army and although he isn't very academic (predicted BBB for Uni after messing up his ASs), he always said he knew he needed to get a degree so that he can go to Sandhurst and train as an officer

He's been in the TA for 10 months and absolutely loves it. He's on a 48 hour exercise this weekend in -2, sleeping outside or rather being woken for sentry duty every 2 hours, eating cold beans out of ration packs, but he will be loving every second of it and depressed when he goes back to school in the morning.

He admitted the other night, when I asked why he never looks on Track and seems uninterested in which Uni to go to, that he really doesn't want to spend another 3 years in academia, he just wants to join up as a squaddie and get deployed as soon as possible.

He realises that his chances of promotion are v limited without a degree and that he'll earn an awful lot less.

How can I persuade him to give Uni a chance, or should I let him make his own decisions?

PottedShrimp Sun 09-Dec-12 13:45:45

Let him make his own decisions. Uni is not the be all and end all for everyone. He can always apply for uni later. I think, he needs to work this out for himself, and forcing him to uni will not work.

Pantomimedam Sun 09-Dec-12 13:49:03

All you can do is spell out the likely implications of the decision, either way. He's old enough to make that decision himself. If he goes to university because you want him to, he won't make the most of the opportunity. He may well end up in loads of debt for no purpose.

Anyway, he clearly wants to be off and doing rather than studying. As for promotion if he joins as a squaddie, who knows, he could end up regimental sergeant major one day!

If he really wanted to go to university and join up afterwards, couldn't he get sponsorship from the army? Dunno how it works for ordinary soldiers, but my friend who is a navy surgeon was paid throughout her medical degree. May be different for other courses, though.

mumblechum1 Sun 09-Dec-12 13:55:01

Yes, he could apply for a bursary which would contribute a couple of thousand a year towards costs, but the money isn't really an issue.

I think maybe he should take a year out after A levels, get deployed via the TA and then go to Uni the following year. Only prob with that is that he's likely to go to Afghan, whereas if he goes straight to Uni next Sept, and goes in the regulars 3 years later we'll be well out of Afghan by then.

Rache1S Sun 09-Dec-12 13:55:23

My Bro in Law joined up at 16 and has worked his way through the ranks. He wasn't even 30 when he first got asked to go to Sandhurst. I am not in the Forces myself but I am told that Officers who have worked their way up on merit rather than buying their way in with qualifications are held in much higher regard. At the end of the day it's his decision.

senua Sun 09-Dec-12 13:57:00

Sorry, can't remember and can't be bothered to stalk search: what subject has he applied for?

expatinscotland Sun 09-Dec-12 13:57:17

What's wrong with going into the military first? He's an adult, he needs to make his own decisions about his life, it isn't about 'letting' him.

creamteas Sun 09-Dec-12 14:11:20

Ultimately it is his decision, and you'll need to support him what ever he decides.

Could you look at some of the different options within the Army with him? Lots come with the chance to study for qualifications alongside serving, and that sometimes involves doing a degree!

mumblechum1 Sun 09-Dec-12 14:16:00

Oh, it's not a matter of "letting him", he's very much his own man.

My concerns are twofold:

1. If he joins up as a squaddie next summer he will probably go to Afghanistan and therefore I worry that he will be killed or badly injured.

2. If he does the above, he will find it much harder to climb the ladder than if he has a degree under his belt.

Sandhurst do take people without degrees but only 10%.

boomting Mon 10-Dec-12 01:33:15

If he was to go to university without really wanting to be there, then most likely he will either (a) drop out, or (b) not be motivated to work, and so end up with a poor degree classification.

He's clearly found his calling with the Army, so I think he would be better off following that path, truth be told. I presume, however, that he has considered the option of going to a uni with a UOTC and / or a nearby TA.

Does the army ever allow people to take three years out to do a degree, and then go back? That might be an option if they allow it, and if that's something he decides he wants to do later on.

BertieBotts Mon 10-Dec-12 01:46:46

If it's not Afghanistan it'll be somewhere else to worry about, though. If this is his career choice it's something you'll have to accept unfortunately.

ChippingInAWinterWonderland Mon 10-Dec-12 02:01:53

I'd tie him down until he promised not to sign up sad

Grown men signing up is one thing - boys this age signing up shouldn't be allowed (IMO) far far too young.

I would do everything in my power to make something else or uni far far more appealing.

Brycie Mon 10-Dec-12 02:33:25

Can you suggest another of the forces. The Navy could pay part of his fees and is less dangerous at the moment. Withdrawal from Afghanistan is end 2014, dpending on how long his training is how likely is he to be in that time frame.

mumblechum1 Mon 10-Dec-12 10:26:01

grin Chipping ever tried tying down a 6 foot 3 blackbelt?

He is a man, not a boy, he's one of those people who matured way earlier than most of their peers.

He has chosen his Unis based on which TA units are close by so that he can transfer.

If he does go, hopefully he'll go to Manchester (he has an offer) as there's a 4 Para TA unit in St Helens. Maybe jumping out of planes at the weekends will be a reason to stay in education for another 3 years wink, by which time Afghanistan will be over but of course there's always conflict somewhere in the world.

I just keep harping on about the possibility of the best of both worlds, ie Uni and every third weekend away with the TA.

Thanks for your input everyone.

NewFerry Mon 10-Dec-12 13:49:58

Mumble - What has he applied to study?
I am wondering whetehr there might be some benefit in looking at degrees with a high "hands-on" content, such as engineering or geography/geology.
Otherwise - ((hugs))

As an aside, a friend's son was hoping to get into Sandhurst after taking a degree in military history, but has reluctantly given up that dream after seeing the recruitemnt in the area he was interested in being severley cut back.

ajandjjmum Mon 10-Dec-12 14:03:32

Two of DS's friends at uni are being sponsored by the Army - although most of their spare time/holidays are taken up with Army activities.

Battlefront Mon 10-Dec-12 14:12:30

I didn't go to Uni, despite getting some good offers. I started work over the holidays, the company promoted me after about 6 weeks, so I stayed.

My Dad was devastated when I didn't go and I sometimes feel like I've spent the rest of my life making it up to him. Everything I ever achieved in my career was to show my dad I didn't need a degree, but even so I did eventually do one, p-t aged 30+ with 2 DC under 4 (nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be, no idea how they manage to string it out over 3-4 years f-t wink )

My sister went with her heart just not really in it, failed, dropped out, changed subject etc so that it took her 10 years to actually graduate.

So what I'm saying there is it needs to be his reasons for going not yours.

That said, I fully understand why you don't want him to join up. DH served in the first Gulf conflict and the worry was like nothing I've experienced since or hope ever to do again. DCs though are worryingly keen to follow in his footsteps. DH was a squaddie, but he had a trade (metal smith) which had the dual benefit of leaving him better equipped for a proper job when he left and also meant he was never really in the thick of it (although I realise the current war is a completely different proposition) Might your some be able to join up as a tradesman?

BTW DH's mother refused to sign his papers aged 16, so he messed about doing an apprenticeship he was never going to use and signed up as soon as he turned 19. it does seem to be a calling if they want to do it.

Frizy Mon 10-Dec-12 14:17:06

I am now 25 and my boyfriend is a TA officer, so I have an idea of how he might feel, as bf is the same.

Bf joined the TA in year 13- age 17, and was desparate to deploy. Parents said no, and strongly advised him to go to university.

This was the best thing that could have happened for him. He spent 3 years at university with the TA, and at the end of Uni attended Sandhurst- he is now an officer in the TA, and soon to be captain.

He is now ready for deployment, but as we are withdrawing from Afghan over the next year, they are not really sending out lots of newbis- he would therefore be better off doing the uni and sandhurst route, to be ready for the next deployment to a new country in the future.

I think the way to phrase it to your DS is as follows:

1) Uni is a great experience- he could spend every weekend with the TA, and do another sport such as boxing or even just fitness training, to complement his TA stuff. But alongside this, uni offers so many other things!

2) I know a lot of squaddies, and they tend to get less glamourous jobs(cleaning toilets etc)- compared to an officer. As an officer he would be responsible for their lives day-to-day, which is a responsibility he might want!

3) He will need to be well-read and have a degree to go to sandhurst. This is a very intense year, but I believe uni is a great place to learn a lot of the skills you need in the army and at Sandhurst- you have to be able to speak to lots of people from different backgrounds, cook and clean for yourself.

4 Para are a great unit, but he will need to be incredibly fit to be deployed with them- 3 years at uni would allow him to build his fitness to a level where he could cope with Para activity on a daily basis. He will also need to review his nutrition and ensure he gets the right mix of protein and carbs.

However, if he really really wants to go straight into the army... it's only 3 years... by this point he will only be 21... and could always go to uni then if he chose this path, so don't worry too much.

Good luck- tell him to speak to a recruiter- as someone has mentioned above, if he's fit and good, the army may sponsor him through uni x

goinggetstough Mon 10-Dec-12 14:18:41

Mumble you are quite correct that the Army doesn't recruit many 18 year olds for Sandhurst. However, has your DS considered applying for a Commission now and seeing how he gets on. At the Officers' Selection Board they will tell him if they think he has potential for the future after university or whether they would take him now. They may be able to persuade him.... and even offer him a scholarship!

You mention he is in the sixth form so once he has completed his A levels he will have the academic qualifications for be an Officer. You mention he wants to join the Paras. As I am sure you are aware all Regiments and Corps have different entrance levels as a Soldier. The Infantry soldier tends to be at the lower end of entrance standards so what may be fun for your DS now may not be as fulfilling in the future. (I am of course generalising so apologies to all the soldiers with A levels/degrees who are serving in the Infantry, there are of course some but it is not the norm.) I have just spoken to an Infantry Officer and he confirms the above. He also mentioned that although it is possible to be sent to Sandhurst if you join as a Soldier it happens rarely. It relies on someone noticing you as there is no direct route. Plus in his opinion those that do this tend to be viewed as slightly different and are often playing catch up. If he is set on joining as a Soldier has he considered joining the Intelligence Corps, this may make better use of his skills.

Soldiers and Officers are different and both require different skills sets. So it is important that he joins a Regiment or Corps at a level that uses his strengths. The Army wants to recruit the best Officers and Soldiers and this is what they will be looking for as well.

Good luck to your DS.

mumblechum1 Mon 10-Dec-12 15:37:54

Wow thank you all so much for your helpful replies.

The Paras thing is really just if he does TA up North whilst at Uni there, as it would be great experience. His fitness level is phenomenal, he has a very fast running time and PT record, and already qualifies for the TA branch of the paras on that (very narrow) basis.

His degree is going to be Sociology or Politics and Sociology. He is doing quite well at Politics and History for A levels.

I think I will suggest that he has a word with his recruiting office with a view to possibly taking AOSB after the A levels are out of the way (he's off to Denmark to do a few weeks Army training in the summer as well but hopefully he'll have time to do the Board), and if he gets through, he may get a small bursary thru' Uni.

I was stupid when I was 16, left school to work in a factory because that's what my family all did and it was never suggested that I should go to sixth form never mind Uni. I ended up qualifying as a lawyer the hard way, doing A levels at night school then taking about a milliion years to qualify, so I know I'm projecting my experiences onto him hmm

ajandjjmum Mon 10-Dec-12 15:40:07

But you've come out stronger because of your experiences mumblechum smile. We all want to make it easier for our DC, but I suppose they're entitled to learn the hard way too!

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 10-Dec-12 16:05:42

I'm with Chipping. I would be bribing, handcuffing to a wall or anything else to prevent one of my boys going off to be shot at as a squaddie.

My BIL is in the Army, he is approaching discharge. He has horrendous PTSD, his marriage, his kids, his career prospects (zilch) at all totally fucked because of what he has been through. He is a shell of a man at 46.

You should organise for your son to talk to some of these guys - I can PM you more info if you want, I don't want to out myself.

When his eyes are wide, wide open rather than full of the joys of running around in fields for a living, then at least you know he has made a full decision. Until then, whatever you say he is not a man, he is a boy.

boomting Tue 11-Dec-12 00:31:32

If he's going to Manchester, then there's a TA on Norman Road, which is very close to most of the student halls of residence (15 minute walk, tops). I know one student who's part of that TA, so I presume there are more students there. There's also a University Air Squadron www.raf.mod.uk/manchesterandsalforduas/ along with a skydiving club manchesterstudentsunion.com/groups/manchester-university-skydivers and a University Officer Training Corps https://www.army.mod.uk/UOTC/5475.aspx

I'm not sure I'd fancy going over to St Helens on a regular basis - does he drive?

Xenia Tue 11-Dec-12 16:27:00

I think he should be persuaded to go. My daughter's friend was sponsored by the army and the army does like some people to have degrees. If you can present it to him that way he may be persuaded. Can you not speak to some high ranking soliders who have degrees who could take him out to lunch and show him how much more valuable he will be to the army if he has a degree and how much army stuff he can do whilst studying for his degree?

I do think getting him out to dinner with some great army role models, older men who are alls aying get your degree and the army will support you and prefer you do to that would really help and be best for the boy long term too,.

LindaMcCartneySausage Tue 11-Dec-12 16:46:39

I had several friends at university who were sponsored by the military - Army, Airforce and Navy. They had a fantastic time (if I'm being honest, academic stuff seemed to come a distant second to exercises, but they got through) and did a lot of military activities at the weekend and during the holidays and, after graduation, they went in to the forces as officers. They were considerably richer than us at university due to their bursaries from the armed forces - all had cars - and none regretted their decision to delay

It's important that your DS speaks to the local recruitment officer. I'm sure that if your Ds is that committed to the Army and as promising as he sounds, they will see him as officer material and urge him to combine academic studies and a career in the Army.

My SIL is an officer in the RAF and, for a time, handled a recruitment office in a major city. She would have advised your son to go to university and gain some life skills so he could train as an officer.

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