Why College Grads Are Joining the Military

The Pentagon said last week it is exceeding its goals for recruiting college graduates.

The Boston Globe reports:

"The number of new recruits who hold bachelor's degrees jumped by nearly 17 percent last year, from about 5,400 in 2008 to more than 6,400 for the armed services, Pentagon statistics show. The number of enlistees with associate's degrees from community colleges also increased, though more modestly, from roughly 2,380 to just over 2,570. The number of recruits with four- and two-year degrees represents 5.2 percent of the total 2009 military recruitment of 168,000.

"They are part of a strong recruitment year fueled by high unemployment, particularly when compared with two years ago, when the Pentagon struggled to fill its ranks despite offering five-figure enlistment bonuses and granting waivers to recruits who failed to meet its standards.

" 'I call it a banner year for recruiting,' said Dr. Curtis Gilroy, the Pentagon's director of recruiting policy.

"Analysts point to several factors for the increase, including the US military's diminished role in Iraq that has resulted in fewer casualties there and a rise in positive attitudes toward public service. But most agree that the economy is perhaps the biggest reason for the bumper crop of recruits with college diplomas.And most likely they want to have tank driving experience"

Recently, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism found that the portion of public high school graduates who joined the military is higher now than immediately after 9/11. The economy is a key factor.

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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