A question for parents: Did you guide your DS/DD toward SAs and/or ROTC?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by PlanAhead, Jun 26, 2016.

  1. PlanAhead

    PlanAhead Member

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    I have a son who is interested in USNA and ROTC, but he's not passionate about it...yet.
    My husband and I see so many ways that ds' personality, interests, abilities, and drive would nicely match up with military training, at least in college. We could see him easily adapting to the training schedule, expectations, and rigor.

    However, this is a big decision and HUGE undertaking, and we want the decision to be ds' because he's the one who'll have to do the work and endure setbacks as well as successes. I don't want to push him into such a big commitment.

    Having said that, I'm wondering if any parents guided their kids in this direction because they (the parents) have the benefit of experience and intimately knowing how their kid "ticks", even if their kid was sort of ambivalent. I'm assuming that at some point the young person will be "all in", but until that point there is much to be done in terms of academics, ec's, physical fitness, etc. You can't really wait til Oct. of your senior year to figure out what you want since many of the requirements take advance planning to achieve.

    Should we parents guide this decision if ds/dd isn't chomping at the bit, but will likely get there?
    What if (due to personality) your dc never really "chomps" but is relatively enthusiastic, nonetheless?

    I see some applicants say they've wanted to serve their country, be a pilot, be an officer, etc. since they were 10 years old. Ds doesn't think that way, but I think he'd like it and would be good at it. Is this enough reason to guide him in this direction?

    I'd love to hear your thoughts.
     
  2. skismuggs

    skismuggs Member

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    How old is your child?
     
  3. PlanAhead

    PlanAhead Member

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    15, almost 16.
     
  4. brovol

    brovol Member

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    My son is reporting tomorrow to West Point for the class of 2020. Leaving him might be the hardest thing I have ever done, but knowing that this is his choice, and knowing he is looking forward to it, will allow me to drive away after R-day. The commitment to an academy, and the service thereafter, is an individual decision all the way, and must be that way.

    Having said that, as a parent you can certainly offer insight, as you would if your child was deciding between two regular schools. Be very careful though not to push the academies too much. It would likely backfire one way or another.

    Honestly, right now I am sitting in a hotel room near West Point, and knowing my life with my son and best friend is changed forever. That is not a horrible thing(although it feels that way right now), but I would hate to be thinking that I made him do this. He has seven weeks of Beast Barracks and I will only be able to speak with him two times for only seconds. And knowing it will be tough on him. It needs to be the kids choice 100%, or he/she will have a horrible experience, and may opt out before finishing.

    Encourage your child to make a thoughtful decision after considering and educating himself or herself on what would be best, all things considered. Offer to talk about it, but don't push at all.

    That's my thought anyway.
     
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  5. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    I think brovol hit the nail on the head. If you say "son/daughter have you ever considered a SA/ROTC, it might be a good fit for you?" and let them run with it...that is probably all that needs to be done...if they think it is a good fit, they are likely to pursue it on their own and if not, then something else might fit better. Don't forget that an SA/ROTC program isn't just about succeeding in college...it is also he service commitment thereafter.
     
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  6. coachkarl

    coachkarl Member

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    For my P2B, it was USNA or bust. No interest in the other SAs and none in ROTC.
     
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  7. landlock

    landlock Member

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    My DD who is class of 2019 came up with it on her own after going there for a sports camp before junior year of HS. She absolutely loved the place, the people, and her future with an education there. She was USNA or bust ever since then. She really wanted it all on her own and she has thrived there. But looking back if we as her parents didn't take her there for camp might she have ended up somewhere else? Will never know but it was all her idea, it was not on our radar. Now with a rising sophomore in high school who has been there for sports camp, football games, visits to see his sister on leave, weekends at our house with up to 9 of her company mates at a time, he is in love with USNA and wants to be a naval officer. I think besides the great idea usnabgo08 has above, and you say he is interested, take him there! Meet some of the people there. Go on a tour. See if there is someone from your community who has gone and could talk to him. See when or if your congressional district has a service academy day, ours did with reps from all SA's and ROTC from our state schools. I found that helpful for me as a nonmilitary parent to understand the different pathways for leadership/service. After that seeds are sown and I would say it is up to him.
     
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  8. Jcc123

    Jcc123 Member

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    When my son was 11-12, he said he wanted to go to the Naval Academy. He held on to the idea for 2-3 years, and did JROTC as a freshman in high school. By the end of his freshman year, he had lost all interest in the military.

    He did not apply for an ROTC scholarship as he had no intention of participating. When we attended freshman orientation at his university in April of his senior year, students had to sign up for three different "breakout sessions" about different school activities. I "made" him choose AROTC as one of his sessions. As luck would have it, one of the cadets manning the session graduated from my son's high school, and convinced my son to fill out an interest card. The school called a week later and offered him a 4 year scholarship.

    He was very hesitant about signing up. However, I knew his personality, interests and strengths lent themselves well to a military career. To make a long story short, at this point he says he can't imagine doing anything other than what he does as an infantry platoon leader. He laughs at how I "railroaded" him into this when he was 17, and thanks me routinely.

    I think, as a parent, we can sometimes see things about our kids that they're unable to see themselves. I would never have outright forced my DS to do anything - I just made certain he was in a position to see that I was right about this.
     
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  9. THS

    THS Member

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    OP, when DS expressed interest in USNA we took a similar approach as landlock and signed him up for a sports camp the summer before his HS sophomore year. This was the only action we took to guide his decision making. At camp he had the opportunity to meet other campers and Mids and talk about what motivated their interest in USNA. I think the experience was incredibly helpful for him in affirming his interest and ultimately his decision apply.
     
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  10. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

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    I say to encourage your kid to become involved in leadership opportunities, athletics, toughest academic courses, etc., not necessarily with the end goal of a Service Academy/ROTC Scholarship, but because all of those things will give him those options, if does want to pursue them and will be huge assets to any other great school/scholarships that he may wish to apply for, even if not military related.
     
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  11. VelveteenR

    VelveteenR Just gathering dust in the nursery...

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    We discouraged our son at every step as the military is the last place we wanted him to end up. We did not participate in the process at all. He is a pluck at West Point today. We are adjusting. Kids. Can't control 'em.
     
  12. nofodad

    nofodad Member

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    When our son first told us end of sophomore year that he would apply for the NROTC scholarship we said absolutely not. Second semester Junior year his NJROTC went to Pensacola for a National Drill Comp. My wife suggested we go since we'd never been and there was no guarantee of his battalion returning the next year. We were incredibly impressed by the young sailors that we met who were so determined and squared away, and were only a couple of years older than our DS. Combine that with a cousin's son dropping out of a very prestigious college second semester junior year with a 3.7 gpa, leaving his father on the hook for the tuition and no diploma, we realized that unlike so many other millennials our DS had a plan and we were getting in the way. So after that we decided to not get in the way of his goals. The navy said no (twice, NROTC and USNA) so he tried AROTC as a walk on, got a 4 year scholarship and he reports to Benning in January '17. We still have very mixed emotions, but we're convinced he's doing what he was meant to do.
     
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  13. Dadof2

    Dadof2 Member

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    For us, (DD USNA 2019 and DS going to college this year on NROTC MO scholarship) both applied to USNA and ROTC on their own. DD totally owned the process and DS did as well, but probably benefited from his sister going through it first and got a lot of help and guidance from her. They were both focused on USNA as first choice, ROTC as plan B and "regular" college as a distant 3rd.

    Both were so focused on USNA/ROTC that we were concerned they weren't considering other options. Not that we didn't want them going the military route, just that we wanted them to explore all available options and only go if they truly wanted that life. We are not wealthy, but did save some college money and stressed that they did not have to go USNA/ROTC to pay for college.

    My advice, which is worth nothing, is to help expose your DS to all options out there. Visit all the service academies and colleges that he shows interest in. We found that seeing a lot of options helped our kids sort out what they liked and didn't like. Some of the colleges they didn't like were the most important visits. If he shows any interest in a SA or ROTC, encourage him but don't push him or do the work for him. If he truly wants it he will own the application process. I don't think it hurts to remind him of deadlines, etc.

    The good news is that the things he will do to make himself a good candidate for a SA or ROTC will serve him well in getting into a traditional college if he decides the military life is not for him.
     
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  14. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    We steered our son towards USNA and NROTC in that his Mom didn't want him to enlist in the Marines. Once she came around to the idea of the military she laid down the law with "OK. But you're going to college first and going in as an officer". That's when we introduced him to NROTC and USNA. It took him a little bit to warm up to the idea but once he did, he drove it. He did not complete his USNA application as he decided he wanted a more "normal" college experience. He loved NROTC MO and did very well in the unit. He grew by leaps and bounds and his attitude in college was far different from that of high school.
     
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  15. MIHOSER

    MIHOSER Member

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    My wife and son attended a junior "college night" at our local high school. It is a very highly-rated public high school. Our son just kept circling back to the USNA booth. We think that was the beginning of his interest, but we have never been sure. There was a young man in our older daughter's high school group at our church that went USNA and perhaps that was the impetus.

    Senior year our son applied to USNA and also for an NROTC scholarship. He had an 800 on his SAT math and both USNA and NROTC were recruiting him. Long story short, he was accepted to both. Actually, I think his interest and subsequent acceptance at USNA hurt him at Yale, where he applied ED and was waitlisted. His older sister graduated from Yale in 2009 and we hoped he would be accepted and attend for an engineering degree.

    He received an LOA and a nomination from our congressional representative. His appointment came in the mail at the end of January. We insisted that he (and we) attend a Candidate Visitation Weekend, which he did in March. We were very apprehensive about the whole thing.

    The CVW was what changed our minds. It was our first visit to USNA and we were very impressed by the campus, the academic opportunities and the mids themselves. We attended a number of lectures and came away much relieved by the whole process. These were not John Wayne, gung ho types, but normal college students, with a different approach that was very focused on what they were doing and trying to accomplish. Every mid on campus walks like they have a purpose. No one is sitting around on the quad killing time.

    Our S graduated in 2014, is now a Lt. JG and is in the nuclear power area, currently as an instructor, soon to head to sub school.
     
  16. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    I would say there is a difference between making information available and "encouragement." I think the OP is wise enough to realize that it has to be the kid's decision, even if the decision later turns out to be "wrong" (meaning the kid attends and hates it or doesn't apply and wishes he/she had). I saw the very, very unfortunate results when kids were "encouraged" too much (read: pushed) by their parent(s) to attend.

    My mother encouraged me long before it was possible for me even to attend (she was prescient in thinking SAs would one day be open to women). Once it was possible, I rebelled and decided it a SA was the last place I wanted to go. Then, on my own, I came to realize it was where I wanted to be. At that point, my parents were . . . let's just say: hopeful I'd made the right decision and, of course, very supportive once I was there.

    I suggest you encourage your DS to apply to the summer seminar(s) next summer. Any one will do. That usually helps a person decide whether a SA might be right for him/her. Even if the ultimate decision is not to apply to a SA, the week is a great experience in many other ways. You might also seek out the local BGO or even a family friend who is/was military -- just to talk about what life in the military is like. But if your kid really doesn't want to apply to a SA or ROTC, then let it go. There are many other terrific paths on the road of life.
     
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  17. ahs67

    ahs67 Member

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    Midway through high school my son expressed his desire to serve by joining the military after college. His father told him if he was clear about that path he should definitely consider ROTC as well as the SA route. He pursued both options but I think the NROTC scholarship was his top choice IF he got into his #1 school. Knowing how unpredictable the whole college acceptance/application process can be, we were encouraging and supportive, but pretty much let him do all the driving while we remained cautiously optimistic about the outcome. He was also a recruited athlete but he chose not make sports participation his priority in the process. He was playing the field a little bit with that.
    So he got an appointment to USNA before Thanksgiving, received the NROTC scholarship before Xmas and was deferred by his #1 school. He didn't get accepted to Dream School U, but could have transferred the NROTC to other good schools he was accepted to. However, he eventually chose USNA. His decision surprised me because as OP noted about his child, mine, while committed to becoming a naval officer eventually, did not exactly exemplify my perception of the typical SA attendee. He did not bleed blue and gold. He had been somewhat cynical in fact, about past visits there. He is now a 2 class mid and I'd say, happy, looking forward to signing his 2 for 7. While he still manages to find things there to be cynical about, he understands every place has its pros and cons; ups and downs. He has not lost sight of his goals and I believe on tough days, that's what gets him through it.
    He was fortunate in that he had good choices in this process. I did not originally think USNA would be a good fit for him, but I am glad I kept my mouth shut too. When he asked for our advice or opinions, we obliged. It's good to help kids explore their options, but it's also good (and hard)to take a step back and let them decide.
     
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  18. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Daughter decided late in junior year that she would apply to Naval Academy. A shock to us since we had never even considered her applying there and when she said USNA or nothing we really got worried. She had stopped and berthed there on the way back from an instructional cruise since the captain had an in with the Academy and usually stopped there for a couple of days on the way up the east coast. We only helped with the schedule of required submission documents. No NASS and no automatic CVW but she did request and received a CVW through her BGO. It was her decision entirely as was her decision to go Marine (not her moms favorite choice). You can give advice when and if asked but it is ultimately their decision. Now Cpt. USMC. Son also came out of the blue with his decision to go for a Navy Sealift Command Commission at graduation. Now Ensign USNR. One more to go.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
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  19. PlanAhead

    PlanAhead Member

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    Thank you...this is what I'm thinking, as well.

    All of these responses have been so good to read. And the warnings not to push...duly noted. I find myself always treading this fine line of not wanting to guide too much, and yet also knowing that I have a whole lot more life experience, so I do know a thing or two. I do believe anyone signing up for this road has to be committed 100%. Even if there are hesitations or fears, it has to be the young person who overcomes them and moves forward.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.
     
  20. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO Member

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    Do not "push" or even "steer" to Service Academy, unless he/she has already expressed an interest in the military. I suspect the biggest factor in voluntary separations (and even involuntary separations) is the Midshipman didn't want to be there. Even worse is the kid gutting it out through the Academy because he/she doesn't want to dissapoint their parents. One of the most important things I look for as a BGO is the sincere interest and desire to attend. Face it, it's not you who is going be sweating through Plebe Summer.
     
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