With college tuition on the rise I am trying to figure out how I will be able to afford college. I have been saving up ever since I was little, but I still cannot afford a single year. There are options, though, to get the necessary money: take out student loans, apply for scholarships or enlist in the armed services.
When you take out loans, you must pay them back within a certain number of years. The worst part is the interest rate, which could tarnish your credit record if you miss payments. I am planning on attending medical school, so on top of undergrad school that would put me in debt way over my head.
Scholarships are my next option, but it’s doubtful that I could receive a full scholarship. I am not at the top of my class and do not have any special talents. I am just a regular young man who helps his community as a volunteer firefighter.
The last way for me to attend college would be one of the hardest decisions in my life: enlist in the armed forces. There are so many branches I could join that it takes my breath away. I could join the Army or even the Delaware National Guard. I also could think about the Marines, the Coast Guard, the Navy or the Air Force. I have no doubt that I would die for my country if it meant keeping freedom and liberty alive, but in this time of war, I have to ask, Would I die to receive an education?
There are a number of factors affecting my decision to enlist in the armed forces, the biggest being how long I would have to be away from my family. I have never been away from them for more than two weeks, so how could I deal with not seeing them for a year? I worry the most about my mother since I know she would think about her first-born every minute of the day.
Even if I enlisted and went to college, there would always be the chance I could be activated and sent to war, which could delay graduation and med school. Or - and this would be anyone’s worst fear - I might not even return alive.
I watch the news every day and see American soldiers dying in the Middle East. The scariest and most eye-opening aspect is that most of them are college-aged. Most joined the armed forces for financial reasons, to help pay for college. The price of receiving an education can also cost them their lives. Could I be in this same category by next year? I guess time will tell what my fate is.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, there are benefits to joining the armed forces. The biggest for a soon-to-
be college student would be the financial help, but traveling around the world would also be a great incentive, and you also may make lifelong friends in the service.
The benefits and the risks are just some of the factors to weigh in making my decision. Every time I think about enlisting, I end up wondering, Would I die to receive an education? I have not yet figured out the answer.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.