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American/Israeli dual citizenship- serving in IDF?

numero1numero1 Posts: 104Registered User Junior Member
edited August 2011 in Parents Forum
Hi everyone,

I'm a current high school junior LIVING IN THE U.S. I lived in Israel for 8 years (age 3-11), with Israeli parents and an Israeli family, and I speak FLUENT Hebrew and still read and write, talk to friends, read the news. I have dual citizenship- U.S. (born here) and Israeli (parents/Jewish)
As you guys know, Israeli citizens (males) must serve 3 years in the IDF after High School. Things are different for me- I can exempt service because I left before I was 13 and I have an American citizenship- I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS. I am proud to be an Israeli, I want to serve with my friends, and I don't want to do what everyone else is doing- I want to make my life interesting.

The question is WHEN. I want to serve with my friends, be a normal Israeli, not an American Jew who volunteers in a special American unit for a year. I want to do 3 years like an Israeli.

You see, I am an Honors student, looking to attend top colleges. Freshman year I had a really good GPA (~3.8 unweighted), but the past two years, due to bad time management and spreading myself too thin, I have been doing quite poorly (Straight B's and a few C's/C+'s, barely any A's). However the semester is about to end and I am SET on making second semester Junior year and first semester Senior year spectacular (both this year and next year I am taking 4 AP's). My ACT is 29 on a first try with no studying, so I plan to bring that up a bit. I am president of my BBYO Chapter (vice president for 2 terms), Co Founder/President of Business Club, and head delegate of Model UN committee for 2 years, and swim team for 3 years (doesn't really matter aha.)

As you guys can see, I am in a bit of trouble with my GPA if I plan on applying to top colleges (UW-Madison- in state, not that much of a worry, U-Washington, and Univ. of Virginia- I like this college a lot.)

However, I've thought that if I have an upward trend now with my GPA and I go to the IDF that this might be a HOOK- interesting essays, not everyone serves in a foreign country, this would give me leadership and life experience. Would this help me? Another question: Would I apply as International or from Wisconsin- My family is from wisconsin but technically I live in Israel (with a U.S. citizenship.) Aggh this is confusing.

My counselor said to go to the army if I want, but APPLY my senior year, and then defer enrollment- that colleges might like to see that I have plans for the future. However, I think my bad GPA would stop me from being accepted, where the IDF hook might help with essays and such.

So apply senior year, or go to IDF first? Should I do IDF after college and serve for 3 extra years (but with a profession?)

AGHHHHHH HELP ME!
Post edited by numero1 on
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Replies to: American/Israeli dual citizenship- serving in IDF?

  • glidoglido Posts: 5,082Registered User Senior Member
    If you are going to serve in the IDF, do it because of patriotism and because you have an understanding of the historic threat to the Jews of world, including today. Don't serve in the IDF because you think it might help you get into college. Your college counselor's advice seems sound. If you want to go to college first, you might want to look into the requirements to serve as a commissioned officer.
  • numero1numero1 Posts: 104Registered User Junior Member
    Yes, I want to serve because I love Israel and I want to do it. I'm just asking if it's a good idea, as I care about my education a lot. The question is not whether to do it or not, it's WHEN to do it, and if to apply senior year or after service for the best chances of admission.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 37,488Registered User Senior Member
    numero1 wrote:
    the IDF hook might help with essays and such

    The IDF hook in essays may be either good or bad, depending on what kind of political opinions the essay reader has about Israelis and Palestinians.

    Also, your political viewpoints (within the realm of Israeli politics) may affect how much you want to serve in the IDF while a certain party or coalition controls the government (since some of the biggest points of disagreement between the parties involves policies that involve how the IDF is used).
  • stradmomstradmom Posts: 3,660Registered User Senior Member
    Thank you for being willing to do this, even though you could avoid service. Seems to me that after three years in the IDF, you'll be an entirely different person, with different goals and interests. My recommendation would be to wait to apply to colleges.
  • paying3tuitionspaying3tuitions Posts: 13,328Super Moderator Senior Member
    Your GC's advice might be too generalized here.

    Did your Guidance Counselor say whether the deferred admission (as a h.s. senior) to a college holds for 3 years? Most times I hear about U.S. colleges that either don't defer admission, or if they do, hold the spot for only one year. After that, you must reapply.

    What the Guidance Counselors know, and it has merit, is that it is difficult to organize the application from overseas and while in something so busy and compelling as military service. So they understand the value of getting the application in and then "do your thing" for a year with a guaranteed acceptance.

    OTOH, every Israeli student here post-IDF managed to apply somehow while still in the IDF, so evidently it's possible to get the app done...

    But I've never heard of a deferred acceptance holding for more than a year, so please check each college you find of interest now regarding their deferred admission policies. Sometimes it's on the website; sometimes needs a phone call for clarification.

    I currently know around a dozen Israeli-born students, men and women, who came to the U.S. for college after serving in IDF. In general, they seem to me strong students because they have already learned how to organize their personal lives (laundry! cleaning! etc.) away from home.

    Sidestory: was a guest in someonne's student apartment, which she kept very clean, and thought I needed to go out to buy cleanser after I'd left a bathtub ring. She laughed and said, "don't bother; in the army, we just used lemons." So you see, that saved a lot of needless shopping time, better used for studying :)

    On an American campus, they sometimes notice the different level of maturity between themselves and other freshmen. They compensate by befriending upperclassmen students through activities and clubs, and finding the "old souls" among the other freshmen who are l8 or 19 when they are 21/22 years.
  • numero1numero1 Posts: 104Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks everyone,
    in response to the political debate, yes I'm a leftist/liberal, I'm supporting a palestenian state but I love Israel too. I am in very good physical shape without any past diseases or something like that, so no matter what I do I will probably be placed in combat (but with good scores I might be placed in field intelligence which is combat and intelligence so that's very interesting.)

    The question is then, if I apply to college from Israel but I have an American citizenship, am I applying as an international student? My parents also live in Wisconsin.

    And applying after the IDF means I still get all the recommendations/transcripts senior year, but do I retake the SAT/ACT? I've already gotten a 29 but would it be outdated after 3 years?
  • LINYMOMLINYMOM Posts: 2,291Registered User Senior Member
    I don't have any advice but I want to say thank you for wanting to serve in the IDF. It sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders, plus the maturity to know that - with foresight and planning - you can achieve your goals both here and in Israel. Best of luck with you and be safe.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 19,569Registered User Senior Member
    You won't be an international applicant because you are a US citizen and can file the FAFSA.

    Your state of residence will be where your parents live and pay taxes. If they are still in Wisconsin after you finish your tour of duty at age 21 or so, you will be a Wisconsin resident.

    Each college and university sets its own policy about ACT/SAT scores. You need to read the websites carefully. Almost all of them will accept your scores taken in HS, and a few won't require them at all because you will have been out of school for several years.
  • numero1numero1 Posts: 104Registered User Junior Member
    I AM NOT SERVING JUST SO I CAN WRITE A GOOD ESSAY.
    Yes I am leftist/liberal BUT I LOVE ISRAEL, and even though I don't agree with the government I can serve my country doing whatever. I will be with my friends, I will do what ALL Israelis do when they're 18. This is important to me no matter what political beliefs I have.

    I was just stating that if I apply AFTER I serve, it might help me write a great essay, and help me since my GPA is not the best.
  • siliconvalleymomsiliconvalleymom Posts: 3,696Registered User Senior Member
    What do your parents think?
  • JHSJHS Posts: 14,195Registered User Senior Member
    In simple terms, serving in the IDF will not be a hook, because pretty much every Israeli applicant has that on his resume, and applicants from a number of other countries with universal military service generally apply post-service. On the other hand, it shouldn't hurt, either -- U.S. colleges are full of veterans of the IDF and other foreign militaries. Being a little older and more experienced means probably being more mature, and that will help, both in terms of how you present yourself and how you are viewed.

    You really can't apply now and defer for three years while you serve. I will give you the advice I would give anyone asking a question like this: Do what you think will make you a better person. That will make you a better college applicant, too, and it will make you better able to handle the vicissitudes of the college admissions process, and it will make you have a better life regardless of where you go to college.
  • numero1numero1 Posts: 104Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks JHS, that's good advice.
  • numero1numero1 Posts: 104Registered User Junior Member
    Also wouldn't it be viewed in very positive light that I had the CHOICE to serve and decided to still do it?
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 37,488Registered User Senior Member
    numero1 wrote:
    Also wouldn't it be viewed in very positive light that I had the CHOICE to serve and decided to still do it?

    While "serving and defending one's country" in the abstract is generally viewed favorably (other than a small number of people who abhor any military, even one strictly used for defensive and deterrent purposes), if the military is seen as doing something noxious in actual combat or other activity (whether it is due to failure to follow rules against abusing civilians, etc., or due to being used for purposes that people disagree with), being part of it (especially as a volunteer) may be seen as unfavorable by many people.
  • MikeSkylerMikeSkyler Posts: 205Registered User Junior Member
    I don't see it hurting you, but I can see it not helping at all. First check if the IDF benefits package helps pay for overseas universities. It may be a waste of three years.

    It's, once again, critical you realize the IDF have responsibilities that are unrelated to defense.
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