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Seniors commit to a different path

Morgan+Renihan+%2812%29+was+accepted+into+Carthage+College%2C+but+instead+decided+to+join+the+military.
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Seniors commit to a different path

Morgan Renihan (12) was accepted into Carthage College, but instead decided to join the military.

Morgan Renihan (12) was accepted into Carthage College, but instead decided to join the military.

Morgan Renihan (12) was accepted into Carthage College, but instead decided to join the military.

Morgan Renihan (12) was accepted into Carthage College, but instead decided to join the military.

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The autumn after graduating from high school is a time when most students pack their cars and drive to their new homes for the next four years. In three months, the majority of Vernon Hills graduates will head to college to start their post-secondary education. While this is the most traditional path for high school graduates, it is not the only one.

There are some VHHS graduates who will not be attending a four-year university in the fall, and instead of packing for college, they will be packing their bags to attend basic training.

Joining the military has long been seen as an alternative to going to college. One Vernon Hills student who will be going down this alternate path is Morgan Renihan (12). Morgan had been accepted into Carthage College where she planned to play lacrosse, but realized that joining the military was what she wanted to do.

“I had been thinking about it [joining the military] since elementary school … but junior year, I realized I didn’t want to go to college at that point. I had to sit my parents down and tell them, ‘This is what I want to do,’” Renihan said.

This decision between college and the military is one that many future armed forces members go through. Frank Garcia (12) is another Vernon Hills senior who will be joining the military after high school, and he also had to grapple with this decision.

“I had considered going to college plenty of times. I especially thought about sports, and maybe playing football in college, but eventually I just saw myself [joining the military]. I’d been working toward it for a while, and wanted to stick with that goal,” Garcia said.

While Renihan is joining the Army and Garcia is joining the Navy, a shared experience is the entrance process that is in place for all military enlistees.

After contacting a recruiter, prospective armed service members will then take the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB Test. This test is administered in order to gauge the abilities and strengths of those joining the military in order to see what career fields applicants would do well in.

Next, applicants will take the Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment System (TAPAS test). This test measures the ethics of applicants to see if they are suited for certain environments or situations.

“The tip I got from my recruiter for how to answer these questions is WWJD: what would Jesus do?” Renihan said about the tests. “The jobs offered to you are dependent on your overall score … so it is vital that you study and take it seriously.”

Upon passing both of these assessments, applicants will attend an enlisting day, held at a Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS. At the MEPS, applicants undergo an extensive physical examination to make sure they are in adequate physical shape. Next, applicants will meet with a counselor to discuss their purpose for joining the military and their future career goals. They will often discuss what jobs they would like to perform in the military, such as a translator, infantry member, engineer, or medical worker, so the counselor can make sure the enlistees have a clear path that they’re following.

“You definitely need to know your purpose … make sure you know what you want to do,” Renihan said.

Zak Kind is a Vernon Hills alumnus who graduated in 2013. He joined the Marine Corps out of high school, and has been a Marine ever since. He knows that joining the military is a hard process, but believes that it is rewarding in the long run.

“The advice I would give is be prepared for anything. Listen to your leaders, enjoy the people you meet, have an open mind, ask questions and have fun,” Kind said. “Remember, it’s a very difficult path to take, but it will prepare you for anything life throws at you.”

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