August 23, 2012

The question: School or no school? One Marine gives his take

Cpl. Sean Dennison
Desert Warrior Staff

I started college again two days ago at the time of this publication and I don’t know why.

Many Marines join the Corps for college. Without having anything to back me up, I predict those types of Marines will swell even with the drawdowns, due to the Afghanistan campaign winding down.

There is nothing wrong with that. Devoting yourself to your country for years at a time so you may better yourself and contribute to society more fully is an admirable goal. And yes, there’re those who could care less about being a Marine and more being a student, but I’m thankful those seem to be few and far between.

That said, signing up for classes got me thinking on why Marines go to college while still in the Corps.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bored in good old Yuma, and that was a driving factor in going back to school. It’s the same I reason originally went back to school last year before deploying (and subsequently getting checked for $200 for one of my classes because I guess working up for a deployment isn’t a good enough reason to drop-out late but that’s another story entirely). The people in my English class seemed like people who were interested in the subject, but mostly getting a reprieve from the same routine every day.

They didn’t seem to be interested in the class so much as interested in focusing their attentions away from the heat. I was the same way. I enjoy English, but it was a basic class and I just drifted through it.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy learning. On the contrary, I love it. Doing it in a socio-normative setting like college, not so much.

The entire reason I dropped out of college in the first place is because I felt like a somnambulist. After a while I got tired of hearing the same self-congratulating tone the students used when they thought they figured out life. As my disinterest grew, my grades started slipping until, like Clark Gable, I didn’t give a damn.

The Marine Corps changed that. It gave me something to focus on. And now that focus is wavering, as its wont to do when you stare at something too long, and I’m seeking new avenues of mental convergence.

Going back to school, or hell, going to school for the first time, is one of the hardest things a Marine can do outside their military commitments. Doing anything outside the Marine Corps requires time and consideration, the latter dictated by the former. It’s a tricky balancing act. Throw in things like homework and finals to an equation constantly changing thanks to operational tempo, and the whole idea seems unattractive.

For that reason, I hope Marines consider their options more than I did. What’s the point of going to school if you’re going just to go?

A lot of people decry the veterans who never touch the G.I. Bill, claiming it’s leaving money on the table. I wonder if they ever consider that maybe those veterans don’t want to go back to school so as to pursue other routes of personal growth.

Personally, I’m going the autodidact route when I get out, whenever that is. Teach myself things using a foundation of what I already know. It’s doable.

Yes, even I may use the G.I. Bill, but only because it’s there. And despite what I just said, is that really such a bad thing?

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