The armed services prefer to recruit high-quality youth because of their better performance and lower attrition. However, high-quality youth are increasingly interested in attending college. While existing policies, such as the Montgomery GI Bill, that are targeted to the recruitment of the college market are likely to continue to have an effect, new policies must be developed to successfully penetrate this market and expand the supply of high-quality recruits. Indeed, the services have begun to develop programs, such as the Army' s “College First” program, which allows youth to attend college prior to entry into the military and receive a college benefit provided by the military. To be fully engaged in the college market, the services may need to fine-tune these programs to enhance their effectiveness and will require a variety of programs tailored to reach different segments of the market such as college dropouts and college-bound high school youth.
The purpose of the research project reported in this document is to assist the services in developing and improving programs that reach the college market. The project developed, implemented, and analyzed the results of a national survey of college youth. The survey offered respondents a series of hypothetical programs, and they were asked to rate their level of enlistment interest under each program. These programs were modeled after the Army' s College First program, but varied the attributes of that program, such as the levels of college benefits and military pay and the requirements for participation. The survey data were analyzed to estimate the effects of different policy attributes on the stated level of enlistment interest. This document summarizes the final results of our study “Policy Options for Recruiting the College Market.” It is intended for policy analysts and policymakers concerned about the success of military recruiting in the college market. The report builds on previous RAND studies including MR-984-OSD, Attracting College-Bound Youth into the Military by Beth Asch, M. Rebecca Kilburn, and Jacob Klerman and MR-1093-OSD, Recruiting Youth in the College Market: Current Practices and Future Policy Options by M. Rebecca Kilburn and Beth Asch.
This research was conducted for the Office of Accession Policy, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND Cooperation' s National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the unified commands, and the defense agencies. Comments are welcome and may be addressed to Beth Asch at Beth_Asch@rand.org. For more information on RAND' s Forces and Policy Resources Policy Center, contact the Director, Susan Everingham, at Susan_Everingham@rand.org, or at (310) 303–0411, extension 7654.