You've heard it all your life: ''You have to go to college first to be successful."

It's hard to break this mind-set America has had for generations. But this mind-set has added $1.4 trillion in student loans to the national debt to be paid by young adults who are unemployed or underemployed.

The current American model for college attendance is this:

  • Take loans to pay for an education
  • Take on debt after college
  • Slowly gain experience
  • Reach your earning potential decades later.

There are alternative paths to a college degree and rewarding career - minus the debt.

One of those paths is the U.S. Army.

The Army provides a model for college attendance that looks like this: Join the Army and gain experience first! Attend college for free (during and after the Army)

Get paid throughout the process while learning leadership, teamwork, and gaining veteran's benefits along the way.

The Army allows young Americans to avoid debt while getting a free education and gaining experience in more than 150 career fields including cyber, medical, aviation, and STEM.

It's time America reconsiders its model for college attendance. We have to stop looking at the Army as an alternative to college and start looking at the Army as a better path to a free education. If you are interested in opportunities in the Army visit

I'm Col. Eric Lopez and that's my Point of View.