Cover: Recruiting Youth in the College Market

Recruiting Youth in the College Market

Current Practices and Future Policy Options

Published 2003

Edited by M. Rebecca Kilburn, Beth J. Asch


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The armed services prefer to recruit high-quality youth because of their better performance and lower attrition. But high-quality youth are increasingly interested in attending college. This volume explores how military service can be made more compatible with college plans instead of being perceived as an alternative to attending college. After presenting an overview of recent demographic trends and theoretical reasons for recruiting college-bound youth, it examine trends in intentions to enlist and to attend college among American high school seniors and the relationship between these trends. It then compares civilian financial aid programs, military educational programs, and college costs to assess the relative attractiveness of current educational recruiting incentives. Finally, it analyzes the enlistment potential of different segments of the college market (two-year and four-year students and college dropouts). Youth with some interest in the military see themselves as two-year college material. Students attending two-year colleges often receive considerably less financial aid than those at four-year colleges, and the cost of attending such institutions is higher the their low tuition would indicate if the opportunity costs of forgone income is taken into account. Therefore, offering a stipend, higher pay, or other means of offsetting the cost of attending school may be an effective recruiting strategy with this group. The authors conclude that if the military wants to successfully compete with the private sector, the relative amount it pays those with some college must be substantially greater than current policies provide.

The research described in this report was conducted in RAND's National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center.

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