University or the Navy?

Discussion in 'Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting' started by fvrz, May 26, 2016.

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  1. I'm 18 years old and currently struggling to decide between going to university or continuing with my navy application and hopefully joining as an aircrewman. I managed to pass my FATs down at RAF Cranwell and currently waiting on my aircrew medical. However, I do have an offer from a university to study accountancy and finance and wondering what my best bet would be. Obviously I'm not completely in the clear with the aircrew application as there's the chance things may not go well with the aircrew medical or the PRNC but for the sake of the question let's say they do.
    I know a lot more about life at university than I do about life in the Navy and know that the university is something that I would enjoy for a whole host of reasons, however I'm still unclear about what life would be like while serving in the Navy for someone my age and whether or not I should just try and go straight in. I'm wondering if my experience in the Navy have any similarities to university? Would I missing out if I don't go to university?
    I'm also wondering whether or not there will be a lot of people similar in age or should I go to university and come back when I'm a few years older and a bit more mature?
    One problem I have with the aircrewman role is its transferability into civilian life. Would I struggle to find a job if I leave the navy without a degree?

    It would be good to get some opinions, cheers.
  2. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Do you aim to be an accountant and/or work in finance before joining?

    Currency, pardon the pun, is key.

    There will inevitably be a fairly strong bias from those who have a degree, be it as a current educationalist, a current or former service person and of course those who aspire to have a degree. My intent, is to therefore go against the mainstream opinion to stimulate discussion and alternative viewpoints to hopefully give you a 'rounder' picture.

    Firstly, whilst many would disagree, the primary aim of further education is to hopefully increase your earnings potential and get you a job.

    With as much as 40% of school leavers going to university nowadays, a non-vocational degree is of limited value beyond the 'life-experience' angle of being three or four years older and more independent upon graduation (unless living at home - the cheaper option). Education is a huge revenue generator for the flourishing university industry - bums on seats, whatever the degree, helps ensure educationalists have a job.

    The average graduate in England, can expect to leave with about £53,000 debt if living away from home. My son, incidentally, is (hopefully) about to do just that, he's 18 next month, aiming for an A* and three A's in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computer Science respectively at A2. He's a little brighter than his Dad.

    If we look at earnings, your gross, flat rate pay for the first 3 years, assuming you complete aircrew training, at today's rates (NEM) will be just under £60,000. At the 2.5 year point, you will be advanced to Leading Rate, with a gross annual income of £33,925 including initial rate flying pay.

    The financial difference between a non-grad Aircrewman joining at 18 & grad Aircrewman joining at 21, is about £100,000. The non-grad aircrewman will always have three years operational experience, pay increment difference and promotional seniority over a graduate doing the same job.

    The average sailor serves 6.8 years. If after 6.8 years, you leave the service as an Aircrewman, a non-grad would be three years younger than the graduate who leaves after the same length of service, with the same experience and seniority. The graduate however, has the advantage of a degree - albeit in a subject he/she hasn't touched for nearly 7 years.

    With regard transferrable skills, I've yet to meet an unwillingly unemployed non-grad former Naval Airman Aircrewman, to be completely honest. Their employment potential upon leaving the service is equally as good as any graduate technician.

    Difficult shout, but as ever...look at all angles and don't bin a degree unless you have an assured job offer which offers more than just a wage.
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  3. Even better apply for a Bursary and do both and join up as a supply officer. you will be required to do a minimum return of service .Ask at AFCO.
  4. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Yep, current Logs Officer bursary is £1500 per year.

    Completely different job to Aircrewman of course, but more aligned to the potential vocational degree in accountancy. Starting pay after uni is £25,727 rising to £30,923 between 8 months and one year after entry.

    The OP is actually in the top 3% of eligible Aircrew applicants, having got as far as passing FATs. He will be in the top 1.5% if he passes the initial aviation medical examination (IAME) - after that, it's PRNC.
  5. Trainer

    Trainer War Hero Book Reviewer

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  6. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    No, but his coalman is!
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  7. I feel I may actually have something valuable to add to this conversation, finally one I can talk at least a little bit about :)

    Fvrz, I am in exactly your situation, although pretty much one year down the line, I had passed the aircrew medical, my FATS and was on the road to my AIB when I made re decision to go to university (in Plymouth, nearer to them folk of devonport), and I can't say I regret that, as I have just submitted my papers to join the reserves, but also because I personally felt I needed a little more time to mature before joining full time. I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had stuck with joining full time (as a pilot) and I think the only difference really is that I would now not be balls deep in my overdraft, I would hopefully be at BRNC and I wouldn't have learned to snowboard yet.

    My advice: listen to some of the people on here, they're very knowledgable and can tell you what it's like to be in, but speak to some people about uni too, it's immense fun and a good challenge, it will help you develop your people skills very fast and choose the one that you will enjoy most!

    That's my 2 pence worth anyway, good luck!
  8. I think a career in accoutancy is something I'd pursue after time in the navy rather than before. Definitely feel like the navy is something I want to do while I'm young rather than when I'm in my thirties. I think if I went to university the plan would be to try and join the navy straight after, having the degree act as an expensive backup plan. However, if I opted to go straight into the navy then I'd miss out on all that debt and be in a pretty good place financially which again is also something I need to consider. Maybe the whole experience of university isn't worth the money I'd end up paying when I could be making pretty good money in the navy.

    Don't think I realised how difficult it actually was to pass FATs. Part of me thinks that if I give up the opportunity I have with the navy at the moment I might not get the opportunity in the future. Cheers for the reply!

    Definitely good to hear from someone who was in the same position! Would you recommend going to university first based on your own experience so far ? Always thought I'd have a much better time at university if I went at 18 rather than going as a mature student later in life.

    Obviously still have an awful lot of thinking to do but I'll definitely be keeping both options open at the moment!
  9. From what I've seen it's nothing bad going to university as a mature student, but it's more enjoyable I'd say at this age, for me it was a case of wanting to keep both options open, and it would be much easier to stop uni half way through if I wasn't enjoying it rather than the other way round! Plus you can always join the reserves to break yourself in while at uni, on the other hand you will end up with allot of debt going to university.
  10. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    I think that is key - my guess is most people would advise you to go to uni first. Those who go to uni are seldom going to claim it was a mistake, regardless (or because) of the cost, unless they flunk their degree.

    There are, of course, opportunities to undertake OU degrees whilst serving and earning a wage, but although funded by the service, the truth is a significant number do, but not many when viewed across the service.

    Most who go to uni will say there's more to uni than the degree - such as gaining three years maturity & developing life skills. Arguably those that join the service aged 16 or older gain the same, learning a job/trade, maturing in the company of their peers and those twice their age whilst earning a living and hopefully travelling around the world.

    For those yet to join, many seem to believe their social life goes into stasis when they join-up. They'll think to themselves "I'll have my last holiday before I join" or "I want to learn to drive before joining" or perhaps, as mentioned already "I'll learn to snowboard".

    For me, my first overseas holiday was courtesy of the Navy - I took leave whilst visiting Kenya, they also paid for my driving lessons/test & I learned to ski, and got bitten by the alpine-skiing bug at the RN ski championships.
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  11. I think ninja stoker has hit many a nail on the head with that last post. I can only speak from my situation and point of view, but for me I was unsure wether I wanted to go into something like coastal engineering or another branch of engineering possibly in the navy, however this first year has let me learn that joining the navy is the route for me initially although coastal engineering is definitely something I will look to take up post service.

    It's a big decision and I took almost a whole year to decide, only making the final decision a week before I moved into uni accommodation.
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  12. I can only offer advice as a parent of a student who found the royal navy by being at university, she discovered the URNU at freshers week and to be honest it has been a really positive experience, resulting in a AIB pass, and a future career as a medical officer.please consider every option, I think she has benefited by going to university by having to become self reliant,which is a life skill in itself
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  13. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Funnily enough I was 2i/c at Oxford URNU for about three years - heartily recommended for those going to uni, aspiring to join the RN upon graduation.
  14. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    For those aspiring to join as Officers, it is worth bearing in mind that starting pay, seniority and promotion for graduates is exactly the same as non-graduates.

    The advantage of joining a branch that doesn't require a degree? 18 year olds have a three year promotional advantage opportunity which may well mean they actually have a larger window of opportunity to achieve the higher ranks in relation to those joining 3 or more years older.
  15. It is your choice only, so only you can really say what is more important to you. I joined at 15, and did 12 years, when I left I eventually studied Interior Design for 4 years and have had a wonderful life ever since.
    My older sister did over 20 years, and when she left went to university for a couple of years and became a computer annalist, so once again, it is your choice.
  16. Well I thought I knew a lot about computers but have never found one that was ****:(
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  17. @fvrz simple:
    Uni; good social life, course stress, poor health (from poor diet, lack of sleep, stress etc.)/infamous "fresher's flu", debt (don't forget the inflation rise on the interest on the student loan) as well as good friends. Also, most men and his dogs have degrees nowadays and graduate jobs are very, VERY competitive as well as not forgetting the massive skills gap trend rising because of the university route most young people have opted for...

    On the other hand,

    RN; Good social life, get fit, make good friends, travel, debt-free (unless you count the I-O-U's from the previous night out.....), chances to gain education/qualifications whilst earning...

    I know which one I would pick! Hope this helps
  18. A good point squigga, I did extra schooling in the mob, got educationally qualified for the SD list, but chose to leave the mob and pursue other avenues, and have never regreted for one second doing my 12 years before the mast. We are a long time dead, so do whatever floats your boat whilst you can, or risk living a life of regret if you don't.
  19. As someone who got the RN to pay for him to go to Uni, I'd say do both!

    If being an aircrewman is what you want to do, I'd suggest you do that straight off instead of going to Uni.
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  20. Without a pair of crystal balls it's impossible to know. I have some relevant experience which may or may not be useful.

    I did 6 years as a RO from 16, then an access to HE course at a local college (condensed A levels, kind of) then Uni for 4.

    At 22 I was laughably called a mature student - but having spent 6 years in the Andrew, 4 of those at sea on hoofing deployments, the difference between my cohorts and I was marked.

    (Aside: my Uni friends / forced acquaintances had real problems with my dits. They were all mine and all 100% gen of course but nevertheless I eventually learned that they weren't ready for them yet - possibly never would be nor were they good ice breakers).

    I struggled with Uni life, not the academic aspects just the being a student bit. I found it incredibly boring. You cannot compare it in any way to being in the Mob. Although one upside was that as someone with a little bit of life experience I got stacks :)

    For many years I questioned the usefullness of it, my first job (in the City no less) after graduation was based on my time in the mob and the next 2 based on my previous job etc. I had never needed it, never even asked to prove I had a degree. Until recently I viewed it as 4 wasted years just accruing debt that took another 5 to pay off.

    However, when I moved oversees a few years back, one of the requirements for my work VISA was to have an undergraduate degree. Again, not needed for my job but so glad I endured those 4 expensive and useless years

    As others have said - only you can make the decision. I guess my (rather longwinded) points are:

    That joining up now in a branch/role that you want (and is available) does not preclude you from studying at a later stage. The double whammy of adapting to civvy and also student life simultaneously is hard but not a show-stopper. Vice versa is also true.

    Degrees can be useless but also immensly useful - if you are capable of getting one, then you should. At some point. You never know when it may come in handy.
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