I posted this on the countryside families board and someone suggested I might get great advice if I posted it here too. My 17yo ds will be graduating in June. He isn't sure if college is right for him (he is not a sit-down-and-study guy, he has always been a better learner if he can move around and get his hands into things). For almost two months now he has been looking into joining the service. He has been talking to the National Guard and has taken the asvab test (which he scored extremely well on. Always knew the boy was smart, his grades just don't reflect it). He thinks he wants to go ahead and enlist this winter so he can get started right away and go for basic training as soon as he graduates. Because he won't be 18 for almost an entire year yet, dh and I would have to give our permission for him to enlist. We just aren't quite sure. . . Not that I don't think the service would be good for him, I actually think it is probably just what he needs; he has always done better with structure and predictable schedules. Plus it would give him an income, training, and direction for future studies in college. He would see a direct real-life application in his studies/classes, and maybe he'd realize that living with us wasn't such a tough existence afterall! What we aren't sure about is which branch he should enlist in. The National Guard recruiter says 8 years, which to me is such a long time in a young life. In the next eight years ds most likely want to go to college, get married, start a family, etc and so much could happen during that time. Are the other branches of service still 3 years and then you are out (unless you re-enlist)? The NG recruiter is telling ds that it still boils down to an 8 year commitment no matter what branch you are in. Can anyone give me any advice/input on what the different branches require and what their benefits are?