Get A Life...Alternative Ways to Meet Your Goals Without Joining The Military

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Eventually we will have tons of information and resources on how to achieve your goals without joining the military. In the mean time, here's a taste:

Paying for College
Scholarship Search Tools
Scholarships and Grants
Getting Ready For College
Job Training
Trade Schools
Finding a Job
Getting out of the House
Change the World: Living/Working/Volunteering Abroad
Challenge Yourself
Serving Your Country
Other Resources


There are many reasons people consider joining the military. You may be thinking about money for college, job training or the physical challenge. You may just need to get out of the house, out of the neighborhood, out on your own. You may want to travel, serve your country, do something meaningful with your life.

Before you sign away 8 years of your life, it is important to know what other options you have.

Yeah, it’s a pain to do the research to find these options but there are good options out there that don’t require that you risk your life, your personal freedom or your peace of mind.

Paying for College

The government provides financial aid to help students pay for college. In addition, there are MILLIONS of $$$ in scholarship grants, if you know where to look for them. Start by checking out your state’s financial aid. States have their own financial aid programs in addition to Federal financial aid

NY State Financial Aid Info

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Apply for student financial aid from the federal government, including Pell Grant, Perkins Loan, Stafford Loan & work-study. Its free. You can download FAFSA forms in English or Spanish, get help filling out the forms and track the status of your application. Deadline: June 30th.

Federal Student Aid Information Center 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)

Scholarship Search Tools

There are several web tools that help you search for scholarships. You type in info about yourself and they send you info on scholarships you could qualify for. Important note: Many of the scholarship searches give your info to the military, so you may start getting mailings and calls from them.

Quintessential Careers

Scholarships categorized by race and ethnicity

Info on scholarships for students of color

College Board Scholarship Search

College Answer

Free Scholarship Guide

Info on financial aid for undocumented students

Scholarships and Grants

You can also search for scholarships on your own. Here are a few examples:

Hispanic College Fund

United Negro College Fund

Scholastic Art & Writing Award

Art & Design Scholarship Guide Good info plus list of Arts Scholarships.

Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarships Up to $7000 for 4 years. Deadline: April 1st.

NASA Scholarship Programs. Scholarships for science, aerospace etc

Scholarships for Volunteering & Community Service

Getting Ready For College

Free SAT/ACT Test Prep

CollegePrep-101 A really helpful site to help students prepare for college.

Job Training

There are other ways to get job training in the field you are interested in, without having to tie yourself to the military for 8 years. None of the options are perfect or easy, but if you are considering joining the military, you must already be prepared to put up with a lot of restrictions and rules.

Job Corps: This program gets you out of the house, and provides academic, vocational, and social skills training you need to gain independence and get quality, long-term jobs or further your education.

YouthBuild: Teaches young people how to build new homes for people in need, and new lives for themselves. Receive a combination of classroom academic and job skills development and on-site training in a construction trade. Info: 617-623-9900,

Americorps: Jobs in all types of community programs. Provides training, work experience, stipend and scholarships. w

Free training and job placement in NYC

YEAR UP NYC is a unique, year-long training and corporate internship program. Earn a stipend of up to $260 per week and 10-16 free college credits. Learn in-demand technical, financial and professional skills for 5 months. Succeed in 6 month corporate internships with Fortune 500 companies. Belong to a community with on-going career support and guidance. YEAR UP is for students ages 18-24, with a high school diploma or a GED.

Free training and job placement for NYC Housing Authority residents

Trade Schools

Maybe college is not for you. Maybe you are thinking of joining the military because you want to learn a skilled trade that will earn you a good living. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate among young military veterans twice as high as their peers who didn’t enlist.

Why not consider a trade school instead? There are programs for every field you can imagine. In most cases, the same financial aid that is available to college students can be used to pay for trade school.

Be sure to do a background check on a school before signing up. Many of them are completely legit, but some are a rip-off. For tips on how to do this: Choosing a Career or Vocational School

Thinking About Going to a Career or Technical School?

Vocational Information Center. This is a GREAT website. It includes a searchable directory of trade, career & technical schools, list of apprenticeships, career exploration quizzes, test prep, interview skills, resume writing tips and much more. Take some time and check out this site thoroughly.

Directory of Online Degree & Training Programs:

Finding a Job

Finding a job is a lot of work. Start by checking out your local newspapers to get an idea of what is out there and what you qualify for. Also check your local Dept of Labor. They should have a Job Center and list of local jobs, especially for youth. Try:
Here are some other resources that can help:

Job Search Sites:

Getting out of the House

Sometimes you just need to get out of the house. Joining the military is not your only option.

If you are ready for college, apply to schools with dorms. Don’t forget about Job Corps, which provides housing along with job training ( ). If you’re looking for an apartment, you can look in the classified adds in your local papers. If living on your own is too expensive which it often is, you can find a roommate online at . This link will put you in contact with many people who are looking for roommates all over the country. If you are thinking about running away or have already left home, the National Runaway Switchboard is there to help you. It’s free & confidential. or 1-800-621-4000.


“Traveling” with the military often means invading a country and blowing up the residents. If you are lucky enough not to get sent to a war zone, you’ll spend most of your time on a US militaty base, often in a country where you will not be welcome. “Traveling” with the Navy can mean 6 months confined to a ship, without ever going ashore.

If this is not what you have in mind, there are many other options.

Change the World: Living/Working/Volunteering in Other Parts of the U.S. or Abroad offers lots of information on a variety of programs, scholarships and helpful tips.

Student Conservation Association: SCA offers internships in over 50 disciplines throughout the US. If you are 18 or older and want to make a difference, serving with SCA offers many benefits to you and the world. Conservation Internships are 3 - 12 month expense-paid opportunities to preserve environmental and cultural resources. Benefits include Living Allowance, Housing, Travel Expenses, Scholarship $, Professional Training/ Certifications, Academic Credit and more.

Service Civil International- SCI was founded in 1920 with the mission "Peace thru Deeds". They offer affordable volunteer abroad experiences. Participate in short term 2-3 week international workcamps, made up of 5-20 volunteers of all backgrounds, ideologies, and nationalities. Choose from hundreds of opportunities in over 50 countries. Long term 3-12 month volunteer programs also available. Volunteer projects include building, planting, working with children, the elderly, or others with special needs as well as art and environmental related projects. The fee is $235 for international camps and $100 for US camps. The cost of the workcamp includes accommodation and meals during the project along with minimal accident insurance coverage. You must arrange and pay for travel to and from the workcamp site.

Youth Action for Peace (YAP) is an international movement which aims for societies of justice, peace and human solidarity. It struggles against the different forms of violence, exploitation, injustice and exclusion; against networks of ideological, religious, sexist, political, cultural and economic oppression and imbalance of natural surroundings. It supports all those, women or men, who want to take their destiny into their own hands so as to organise collectively a responsible and liberating society."

The Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organisations is an International Non-Governmental Youth Organization that promotes intercultural education, understanding and peace through voluntary service.

Peace Brigades International:PBI is an international organization that helps countries like Guatemala, Columbia, and Indonesia promote non-violence and helps protect human rights by supporting local activists politically, without fear of repression. PBI offers volunteer positions, paid job positions (which are limited) and internships.

Independent Volunteer: A database of volunteer work around the world organized by country and type of work.

Global Crossroad: Global Crossroad organizes volunteer and internship programs.

Global Volunteers: Global Volunteers organizes teams of volunteers to work in local communities and help with projects run by local leaders.

AVSO-Association of Voluntary Service Organizations

Council on International Education Exchange

See The World: Cheap Travel

Study, work & travel abroad

How to plan a trip abroad:

There are many great books in cheap travel. You can get them at your local library or buy them used on for very little money. Check out:

Very useful book: Arthur Frommer's New World of Travel, 5th ed. Amazon has used copies. It has chapters like: “Volunteer Vacations for Free or Almost Free” “New Destinations for Better, Cheaper Trips” and “”Political Travel, to See for Yourself, to Widen your View.”

More books:
Transitions Abroad Alternative Travel Directory: The Complete Guide to Work, Study, & Travel Overseas, by Clayton A. Hubbs

Finding Voluntary Work Abroad: All the Information You Need for Getting Valuable Work Experience Overseas (How-to Series) by Mark Hempshell

How to Fly Around the World Almost for Free As an Air Courier, by William Halken

Fly Free, Stay Cheap!: "How-To" Strategies and Tips for Free Flights & Cheap Travel, by Vicki Mills

You Can Travel Free, by Robert William Kirk

How to Go Almost Anywhere for Almost Nothing, by Maureen Hennessy

Encyclopedia of Cheap Travel (Updated Annually), by Terrance Zepke

Work Worldwide: International Career Strategies for the Adventurous Job Seeker, by Nancy Mueller

Challenge Yourself

There are many ways to challenge yourself physically & mentally, without joining the military. There are other careers that command respect. Here are some things to check out:


Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics:

Aviation School Directory: A complete directory of flight schools, aviation colleges, helicopter training, and aircraft mechanic schools.

Police and Detectives:

Serving Your Country

You don’t have to go to a foreign country & kill people in order to serve your country. Just look around. There’s plenty that needs doing right here at home

Check out: Americorps
Public Allies

Build On: Make a difference in your own community. Travel to developing countries and help build schools and improve access to education.

City Year brings together young adults, ages 17 to 24, from diverse ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds for a demanding year of full-time community service, leadership development, and civic engagement. United in their desire to serve, their diversity, and the power of a young generation, these young leaders invest their talents and energy to critically engage their communities to solve real problems and make a positive difference in others' lives. They provide you with Career and skill development, Weekly living stipends, assistance in finding roommates and affordable housing, A full uniform, Health insurance coverage, Child care coverage and an Education award of $4,725.

Other Resources

It's My Life This is a GREAT book that you can download for FREE.

Local guides to alternatives to the military:

Great Jobs & Careers (So. California

Alternatives to the Military

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