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Answers about the enlisted nuclear pipeline

et1nuke

Member
pilot
Contributor
Recently I’ve been receiving quite a few inquiries regarding the nuclear pipeline and the possibility of officer accession following an enlistment. I remember this being my drive and the recruiters definitely attempted to use it as a strong selling point. I would not suggest enlisting if your only desire is to eventually obtain a commission and especially not if you already have a college degree. Both of these topics have already been extensively discussed in other threads. I am going to try to cover as much as I can though for those out there who decide enlisting as a nuke is the right choice for them.

I was there about 10 years ago. I hadn't been to college but I knew I wouldn't have made it very far. I had something close to a 2.0 in high school and my dad failed out of college twice before graduating and I figured I needed something to help me get on the right track so he took me to the recruiter. I wanted an education and they wanted another nuke. Well they aren't wrong about all the stories they tell. They told me I'd be able to apply to a commissioning program as soon as I got to power school and probably get picked up as an officer. Well its true almost all of my friends I hung out with all have commissions now the others just got out. I think I'm the only enlisted guy left. I kept putting off applying and eventually became too old for the academy which had interested me early on. Then my best friend got into STA-21. After he left I decided to start applying. At this point I was pretty hot shit on the boat EVERYONE thought I would get it the first try. Well they were wrong, the best guys in the Navy all apply and there’s only so many slots. So I tried again the next year. No luck. Well I got married the next year and moved so I took a year off and at the same time started losing my drive. I was still working my ass off though. I've always done everything. I'm always the guy qualifying supervisory level watches and working on school when other guys were screwing around. I'm not one of those super smart kids. My SAT was barely above the min for the program, my ASTB was barely in there. In nuke school I was in the waaaay bottom half of the class. But I've always had good evaluations and I have a ton of experience. I earned my associates degree, and have almost 300 hours of flight time. Earned my private, commercial, and instructor certificates which the government paid 60% using the G.I. bill. All of these things I believe are what got me a Pilot slot finally this year. One final thing, when it comes time to applying to anything, this web forum is an amazing resource. Good luck!

Another question is “How close are you to a college degree after Nuke Power School?”
Well it varies. First off it makes a difference which RATE you become. You probably have been told that somewhere during boot camp you will get to make a preference between ET, EM, and MM. I think they use that preference loosely with categorical scores off your ASVAB plus what the needs of the Navy are (you will hear that term a lot in your career). I picked ET and I got ET which I was extremely happy about. It is the most technically demanding and we honestly do the least work. After NPS you go to prototype training and the MM's get divided again some get no further training some get to go to weld school and then others get to become ELTs (basically chemist). Those choices are based on grades and staff recommendations in the pipeline. So now you have your four basic nuke types: ET, EM, MM, and ELT. Each gets a different amount and type of credit listed on their own SMART transcript (if you don't know what that is its a very nifty electronic record of every school/course you have completed and breaks it down into recommended college credit based on ACE evaluations. All colleges know what it is and how to give you credit based on an official copy). Now as you progress through your career each school you go to adds more credit as well as advancing will give you more credit since they figure you've gained work experience. All of this automatically happens for the most part. Some random things I've had to correct or update on mine over the years. Not hard. So now back to answering the question. The number one school for accepting the most nuclear credit is probably Thomas Edison State College in NJ, although I understand ODU is very liberal as well. TESC is where I earned my associates and I'm actually only one class from my bachelors which I'll probably graduate from after I do the whole STA-21 thing. I took classes here and there and CLEPS as well. So when I actually looked into TESC I literally only had a few classes left. I was going to graduate from there and then try OCS but when I realized I was just barely still under the age limit I decided to try STA-21 again in hopes I'd get that Pilot slot and know what I'd be doing from the get-go, as well as get to take advantage of going to school on campus. Now if you try to take the same SMART to another school like MIT or something you might not get a single hour credited. Then someplace middle of the road you might get something but not as much. The reason for this difference is partly because different schools specialize in different areas and may not have the equivalent courses in order to transfer. Then the other reason is some schools don't need to beg for business and attract students like others and want to charge you for each hour of your degree at their rate. So they simply don't like transferring in credit. Hopefully all this helps everyone out there trying to decide what path to head down. Good luck!
 

scoober78

(HCDAW)
pilot
Contributor
Now if you try to take the same SMART to another school like MIT or something you might not get a single hour credited. Then someplace middle of the road you might get something but not as much. The reason for this difference is partly because different schools specialize in different areas and may not have the equivalent courses in order to transfer. Then the other reason is some schools don't need to beg for business and attract students like others and want to charge you for each hour of your degree at their rate. So they simply don't like transferring in credit. Hopefully all this helps everyone out there trying to decide what path to head down. Good luck!
To elaborate on the excellent stuff above...

College credit transfer is a voodoo art. The simple fact is, as ET1 pointed out, that you never know. Don't be deluded into thinking that your SMART transcript is credit you have earned, because such a thing doesn't exist outside of a college...and that is just the point.

Every college is its own degree granting institution and while there are minimal attempts at standardization, each is its own little kingdom. My first college, St. John's, Annapolis grants a BA in liberal arts, as do many other colleges, however, I guarantee you that nowhere else in the nation will you receive an education like you do at St. John's. It is that different.

My second college, Cornell University, looked at my one year of St. John's education and my time in the military as a senior in rate qualified Reactor Operator and gave me exactly 36 credits. (I had 34 credit hours from St. John's and somewhere around 120 from my SMART transcript) Almost all of them where from my time at St. John's. Cornell essentially gave me PE credit for my SMART transcript.

Two pieces of advice then. The difference between the credit hours accepted shows you how different the schools, and consequently the education that you will receive there are. I am making no statements about what schools are better than others, however, I will say do not sell yourself short. Don't choose your school based solely on the number of credits they extend to you. Just because a school A gives you 70 credits and school B gives you 40, does not mean that you will get a better education, get more out of, have a better time or learn more at either. Choosing a school based on transfer credit is like picking your platform based on service ceiling....stupid.

Second, when you apply, talk to an admissions dean, and fight for your credits. Explain to them why drawing a primary sample and analyzing it means that you understand the concepts of basic water chemistry. Explain that being a military member means that you know how to eat a proper diet (even if we don't) and exercize. Bring course catalogs (you all have them right!) for classes you have taken and make a coherent argument as to why they equal classes at school B. Give them more than the gibberish in the SMART transcript to base their decision on. Remember, these people often by themselves, decide what credit will transfer, and most have no idea what your military career has been like. Respectfully explain it to them.
 

EM1toNFO

Killing insurgents with my 'messages'!!
None
I'd second everything that's been mention thus far, but also add that I actually looked/had an interview with Southern Company (who runs/owns the nuke plant in GA, AL, and some in MS). I interviewed with them in June as my EAOS was coming this March. They were interested in putting me at their plant in Baxley, GA. They weren't at all intersted if I had a degree or not. They were simply focused on my Navy Experience. They were especially interested in the fact that I have been through an RCOH (Refueling and Complex Overhaul). They were starting me off at $29 an hour with 10 hours a week gaurenteed overtime. That combined with the bi-annual refueling equated to roughly $89k per year. That's a darn good salary to live in Georgia... But, to each his own. I'm stayin til retirement. I just wanted to let some light on the story about getting out and finding a good $$$ job as a prior Nuke enlisted.

EM1
 

SuccessStory

FY08 STA-21 SNFO SELECT
This Is Real Good Knowledge For Anyone Thinking Of Going Nuke. I'm An Em1 Nuke Myself For 8 Years Now And I Would Have To Agree With Everything That Was Said Above... Good Job Fellas!
 

68 Chevelle

MM1 Nuke->FY08 STA-21 NFO Selectee
I completely agree! Excellent gouge, I too was sucked into nuke with the premise of a commission, only to find out it was much more difficult than they made it sound. I truly feel for the guys with completed degrees that get sucked into the e ranks with the false pretense that its 15 minutes of paperwork and a few interviews to get them a commission.
 
I was an officer nuke, and I can't say enough about how well-trained and SMART the enlisted nukes were (are). From my own experience though, some points of caution.
1) Don't let somebody talk you into it; as a college sophomore, I was academically smart and dreamed of parachuting into communist jungles--somehow I let the recruiter talk me into becoming a nuke. It was great training, I worked with great people, and I don't regret it. I probably should have done something else though.
2) Take a look at aviation. Serving on a carrier, a lot of my colleagues foul-mouthed the aviators. They'd show up in the chow line 30 minutes early, make all the XO movie nights, and when the journalists came on board (I served in the Fall of 2001), a lot of people were bitter about how much attention the aviators got. From my observations, the aviators work hard when they're required to, but relax when they can. That's the way to do things.
3) Many of my colleagues as O-Nukes got a Master's degree from Old Dominion with just five (I think?) correspondence courses. It is nice when schools can recognize the power school pipeline. To reiterate, I had two e-nuke friends who went to the same Illinois University. One argued for credit from his Nuke time, and was granted 24 MORE credits than the other!

Good luck to any considering the program. I'm not discouraging you, but know what you're getting into!
 
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