I really want to join the army, navy or air force after high school but people tell me that I'm wasting my time wanting to do that. They then tell me you can't join the army! They will ruin your life and kill you. How do I handle people like this who are telling me not to join the military because they are scared of their fears? I'm tired of being put down for wanting to do something different outside of high school. I want to join the military because it is challenging in a good way and I'll be able to have a job in the military and won't have to worry about how to pay for college. People also tell me that if I join the military I will regret it and I'll be a failure for not going to college.
Note: I know this is a very long answer to your question, but it is a very important decision to make, since you'll be stuck with the decision to join the military for 4-8 years. So if you're serious about this, I would advise you to take the time to read through this.
I'm currently a reservist in the Army National Guard. I'm not here to convince you to join or not to join the military, but just to give you some insight from someone that has been in a similar situation as you. Of course, this is only one person's opinion!
Overall, my military career has been a rewarding one. I've meet many different and interesting people and did many things that I never thought I could've done. So yes, it is challenging in a good way. However, it is the military, so there of course is a higher degree of risk compared to a civilian job. The military, like any other life choice, has the potential to be an utter failure. It's riskier with the military because you're going to be in a contract you're stuck in for around 8 years. But, I believe it is what you make of it. If you mix with the right people and do the right things, you'll get a lot out of it.
The military can give you great job skills, depending on what you choose to do. I would stay away from rather "cool" sounding jobs like infantry, for example. While most, if not all jobs in the military will give you positive skills for the future, it is a lot harder finding a job with a combat arms-related job than a technical one. So, my advice, if you're going to go ahead with the military, is to find a tech-related job. I would suggest either going Navy or Air Force. It will make your life a lot easier after getting out.
Here's an alternative that I think could give you what you want that will also calm other people's nerves while giving you some freedom. Consider joining a reserve component (Army/Navy/Air Force reserves/national guard). You go to the same basic and advanced training as the active duty folks do, but you just serve one weekend a month and 2 weeks during the summer. There are some pretty nice benefits that'll help you pay for college along the way (Montgomery GI Bill, Tuition Assistance Programs). I did exactly this when I enlisted during college, which helped a lot with paying for it. So this is a good compromise between going to college or joining the military.
Also, check out ROTC programs, which is a program and a series of classes you take while you're in college that'll make you an officer after you graduate. A lot of financial assistance when it comes to paying for college here.
Now, for the bad. Seeing that you're a female, life in the military may be a little more challenging for you than I. The military is generally a male dominated environment, and there are bigger risks of sexual assaults and rape there. I'm not saying there is an imminent chance of it happening, god forbid. But I would advise you to be much more careful.
The military is also very restricting. If you go active, you'll have to live with pretty much whatever the military asks you to do for 3-4 years. If want you want to do changes within that time, that's too bad. You still have to serve out your contract. As a reservist, it's also very constricting in that you have to take time off work and classes (not a good thing anymore once you're in college or work) and plan your schedule around the military.
It is also very tough on those who care about you, such as a boyfriend, parents, siblings, etc. especially when you have to go away for extended amounts of time to dangerous situations.
There will be people you talk to that have had horrible experiences in the military, but there are plenty that have good ones too. It's up to you to decide what you want to do. Just DO PLENTY OF RESEARCH on what you want to do. You're going to be deciding on something you'll have a commitment to for years.
So, if you're still considering the military, I'm going to repeat these important points:
1. Pick a technical job that will transfer over to a regular job well. This will help you A LOT after getting out of the military. When talking to a recruiter, fight for a job you want. Don't be easily swayed by the recruiter and end up with a job you don't want to do. You will regret it.
2. Consider doing the reserves/national guard or ROTC over active duty. It'll give you more freedom in case you don't like being in the military and the choice to active duty/full time in case you love it. It is a good compromise between going to military and going to college. Try the Coast Guard, too!