AFA or AFROTC?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Heath13, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. Heath13

    Heath13 Member

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    I am going to be senior in highschool and I am curious about both courses and which one I ultimately want to choose. Information about life in each would be great! Ive read up on a lot and I am a little more lenient on AFROTC right now. Are there any benefits you guys know of that one path may have but the other doesnt? Should I apply to both?
     
  2. AFrpaso

    AFrpaso USAFA '17

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    Bottom line: Apply to both.

    Search "Air Force Academy vs AFROTC" on google and read the threads that come up.

    There's already a lot of discussion on this topic. It is a broad question and thus difficult to answer. There are only a handful of cadets that have experienced life in both environments. I'm not sure what you mean by "lenient on AFROTC". It might be easier for us to help if you are a little more specific in your questions.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2016
  3. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    These are two different systems with different methods; yet, one similar goal. To produce quality military officers/leaders. Each has their own method on HOW. And that HOW is very important. Not that one HOW is better or worse than the other. Simply that it's DIFFERENT. And as such, different people will respond differently to the training and HOW, compared to another individual.

    Personally, if you know enough about each that you feel comfortable in either setting; then definitely apply to both. On the other hand, if you are simply looking at it from the receiving a military appointment perspective, then I recommend you look into it deeper.

    It's like asking; should I go into the "Active Duty" or join "The Guard"? They are both the military and both serve the same ultimate goal. But HOW they do that is totally different. Well, the academies and ROTC are the same example. The HOW they do it is quite different. You have to decide if you like BOTH or only one. Just like many applying to the academy, also applies to ALL the other academies too. Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine. If you've researched all, and feel you will be comfortable in any of them, then definitely apply to all. But if you really can't see yourself serving in a particular branch, then you should not apply to that academy. My son and I had this very conversation when he first was interested. In the end, he only applied to the air force academy. That is what he wanted. He could see any of the others fitting him. If he hadn't been selected, he would have gone off to college with one of his other scholarships, and he would have joined ROTC. (You don't need to have an ROTC scholarship to be in ROTC). If that hadn't of worked out, he would have applied for OTS/OCS after receiving his College Degree on his own.

    So research yourself. Determine what you want, like, and are comfortable with. If both the academy and ROTC seem like a good fit; then apply to both. If one doesn't seem right, then don't apply to it. This can NOT be about an education/scholarship. It has to be about you spending the next 9 years in the military. (4 years of college/academy and 5 years commitment). So, figure out the HOW you want to become a commissioned officer and leader. Then choose. Best of luck.
     
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  4. Heath13

    Heath13 Member

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    To be more specific I don't want to be a pilot but a mechanical engineer. And I meant to say I am leaning towards AFROTC but I don't want to go ROTC and then end up missing out on something exclusive from ROTC but not AFA. I read up a little seeing that AFA cadets have a good chance of getting into certain programs while it is extremely competitive for ROTC members. Will this affect me as much if I don't want to fly but be a mechanical engineer. I guess my question is even though I know both routes give the opportunity to become a commissioned officer, do AFA graduates get the upper hand on everything? Are ROTC grads looked at as second best choice after AFA?
     
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    The main difference when it comes to PROS and CONS of the two paths; is that at the academy, you can major in anything you want. You want to major in history, behavioral science, english, computer science, economics, etc. go for it. You're allowed. And in many cases; especially pilot; it doesn't matter what your degree is in. There are pilots coming out of the academy with degrees in economics, history, behavioral science, etc.

    Now, there are some jobs that are a bit more specific. If you want to be an engineer, then you'll probably want to get a degree in the area of engineering you want to get a job in. Also, if you want to apply to go to grad school immediately after the academy, and you are in the top-10%, you'll probably want a degree in something that will get you accepted to grad school.

    ROTC on the other hand is more specific. Most can't get ROTC type degrees if you want to major in history, economics, etc. So in that regard, the selection is easier. For you, being you want to be an engineer, ROTC is an option. For the person who wants to major in economics, ROTC is probably not an option.

    As for ROTC grads looked at as 2nd best, that's simply a perception that only exists in some people's minds; and it only lasts a very short time. A 2nd Lt graduating from the academy and from ROTC, and reporting together at the same base on the same day, are BOTH CALLED LIEUTENANT. And while in the mind of some people at your first base, the academy may seem more prestigious, usually within about a month, your commander and peers will know whether you're worth a crap or are a piece of crap. And on that day, it will no longer matter if you were an academy or ROTC grad.

    As an engineer, assuming you are really good at it (In College/academy), the only real benefit to the academy grad, is a better chance of getting a direct shot at grad school. e.g. AFIT. Air Force Institute of Technology. Not that an ROTC grad can't get an AFIT slot; simply saying that an academy grad may have a better chance of getting it immediately out of the academy. Other than that, there aren't really any major benefits. Not really for the individual who wants engineering.

    ALL OTHER MAJORS, there is an advantage to the academy. If you want to be a pilot, the academy is pretty much a guaranteed slot. And you can major in Basket Weaving if you want. You won't even get into ROTC with that major. Same with other jobs. You can major in ANYTHING (27 majors) at the academy. ROTC most times only wants technical majors.
     
  6. Heath13

    Heath13 Member

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    Okay that helps. I know I am kind of walking off the path with this but there are boundless careers in the air force but when in comes to officers, it slips down to management. I know enlisted airmen do the work and the officers supervise it right? I want to have a career in the air force as an officer, not enlisted, but still be able to work with my hands and not be at a desk all day. Can I do that? And if I was to let's suppose be an officer that works with weaponry, how do I major in that? There isn't really a major for that so how do I go through the academy with my major and then be put in that field? Do I major in something like mechanical engineering and then recieve technical training in that field? That's what I'm confused about. I know it's not really related to the academy and if you can't answer it's completely understandable but anything would help thank you!
     
  7. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    There's obviously a lot of officer jobs that are hands on. You spoke of being an engineer. That's an officer job. Pilot is obviously an officer job. My son had a slot for pilot. During grad school, he changed his mind and decided he wanted to be "more involved". Not that a pilot isn't, but except for war (not talking cargo planes), his job would be more time behind a desk or on the ground than flying. So he got permission to try out for special ops as a Special Tactics Officer. He's training in that as we speak. He does all the same training as the enlisted he will be leading. Combat control, parachuting, underwater diving, air traffic control, rescue, survival, etc. as an STO, he will be attached to special operations/forces with the Air Force and other branches of the service.

    Point is, there are plenty of hands on job. Meteorologist, STO, pilot, lawyer, Doctor, engineer, just to name a few. But you are correct that there are definitely hands on type jobs for enlisted.
     
  8. Heath13

    Heath13 Member

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    Yeah but all engineers do is design the product, not build it right? I want to be the guy who gets his hands dirty but still maintain the officer rank. I looked this up and all anything says is officers manage the enlisted. They record all work done and who is doing while the enlisted actually do the work. I know I will get to recieve the training but at the end of the day I end up sitting behind a desk typing and pencil pushing. And also did your son's major have anything to do with his career now or did he just choose that major and then choose a different job?
     
  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    In the beginning, my son was considering going to medical school. That was one of his options before accepting the academy. So at the academy, he took the normal pre-req type classes for medical school. Organic chemistry, anatomy, etc. In the process, he started taking psych/soci/anth/type classes and realized he liked behavioral science. So he kept the option open for medical school in the area of Psychiatry. But probably into his 3rd year at the academy, he still liked the idea of flying. And because the academy/air force doesn't care what a pilot's major is in, he stayed with behavioral science major. Unfortunately, there are very few master's programs in behavioral science. Most people in that field get into counseling and similar areas. They usually have just a bachelor's degree or they go for a PhD. Only one option for grad school out of the academy would accept a behavioral science major for grad school. Fortunately, that was the RAND; and they offered him a 3 year PhD program which he accepted.

    Now; during that PhD program, he had a change of heart about remaining on the path to be a pilot. He had always wanted being a Special Tactics Officer; but until then, I think he was playing it "SAFE" with the pilot slot. But he made up his mind and tried out for selection for the STO career. And after he passed selection, he was interviewed. And the question came up from the board interviewing him. "Why does an officer, with a Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD want to be in Special Operations; and how does degrees in Behavioral Science and Policy Analysis help Special Ops"? He mentioned that his PhD Dissertation was on PTSD; as was his research for his Bachelor's. He felt he could help the fellow airmen, soldiers, and sailors in special ops with PTSD type issues related to the job. Plus; his PhD in Policy Analysis prepared him for how to work within the system to get the resources his team/squadron needs to succeed in their mission. Apparently the Colonel and the rest of the review board liked his answers and believed he would be an asset to the Special Operations Command.

    But you have to realize that special operations isn't something you just decide you want and you ask for it. It's one of the few careers where you actually have to go through a selection process. Intense basic training type environment. Mental, Physical, etc. The selection starts with many applying. Out of those, they will select about 27-28 to come to selection. Of those, about half or over will quit, drop out, or be released. About 12 will actually make it through selection. Then, of those 12, after interviews and boards, they will select about 5 to actually become part of the Special Ops program. Of the officers who become Special Tactics Officers; there is ONLY about 80-85 of them in the air force. The others not selected, go back to what they were doing. Of those selected, they have all sorts of majors from the academy or college. Physics, History, Behavioral Science, Management, etc. But just like they asked my son, they would ask you how does your training and education benefit Special Ops. So no, his major didn't matter. But how he APPLIES that major to the program would.

    That would be the same with any type of major. Of course, like I mentioned previously, there are some jobs that must have a certain major. Meteorologist probably needs more than an English Degree. Electrical Engineer probably won't get that job with a History degree. Also, except for pilot, they do take into consideration your major in giving you your job. I.e. A person with a business/financial/etc. type degree might have a better chance at getting a job in Acquisitions, contracting, financial services, etc. than an individual wanting the same job and had a degree in chemistry. Not that they can't get that job; just that if they think you have a natural disposition for the job, based on your education, that will definitely help.
     
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  10. Heath13

    Heath13 Member

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    Okay that makes sense. Obviously some careers like the STO don't have majors that fit them but for whatever career you want, you want to take a major that can be applied to that career path is what you are saying, correct? This has been a huge help to me. Thank you for everything
     
  11. Hodge

    Hodge Member

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    AFROTC vs USAFA is such a different way of thinking. After doing a year of each I would say they both have ups and downs. I personally have enjoyed my time at USAFA a little more just because of the opportunities available and challenge it presents. ROTC is really cool if you want the traditional college experience while still wanting a commission. Definitely think about the pros and cons of both if they both present themselves as options. If you want more information let me know.
     
  12. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Yes and no. Depending on what kind of engineering you get into, and what assignment you get, you may do more or less hands-on work. All officers will have a certain amount of office work in their career. The Special Tactics Officers and pilots may have less than the contracting or finance officer, but they are certainly not immune. I do a lot more office work than flying!
     
  13. Heath13

    Heath13 Member

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    Okay that sounds a lot better. It is completely understandable that they do all sit at desks sometimes but I just dont want that to be my whole job. Do you know where I can find a website or anything that can give me more insight on officers who get out of the office or is it just mainly combat officers and pilots?
     
  14. USAFADAD2017

    USAFADAD2017 Member

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    My DD is also a Behavioral Science major at USAFA, Christcorp.. great in math, but didn't want to go the engineering route. Back up in post #9 you mention RAND.. What is that?
     
  15. USAFADAD2017

    USAFADAD2017 Member

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    Christcorp.. My daughter is also a Behavioral Science major at USAFA. Always great in math, but didnt want to go engineering route, and wants to fly the heavies. You mention RAND in post #9 above.. what is that
     
  16. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    RAND; Officially called 'The Parde RAND Graduate School". It's part of the RAND Corporation. One of the world's largest "Think Tanks". The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy. They have contracts with the government and many other corporations, countries, etc.

    Anyway; the Parde RAND Graduate School is a Grad School. They offer a PhD in Public Policy Analysis. In your PhD however, you can concentrate your studies on just about any area you want. But you will be taking all their Policy Analysis courses too. For instance; my son's PhD is in Public Policy Analysis, but his dissertation was on PTSD and how the military and civilian world handles it and can handle it better. (A lot of people think only Military people get PTSD. That's not true).

    Anyway; anyone can apply for the RAND Fellowship at the academy. They offer 3 slots per year. A typical class size is around 26. Besides the 3 air force academy grads, the rest are made up of civilians. Many from different countries. My son's class had individuals from the Ukraine, Israel, Bolivia, Canada, and many other places. It is the only immediate grad school slot out of the academy that is 3 years and offers a PhD. FWIW: The majority of the 26 people in the class, has a lot more than the 3 years to get their PhD completed. The air force only allows 3 years. So you have to sort of bust your butt if you want to get your PhD completed. But if you don't finish your PhD, you'll probably have the master's done. About a year and a half into it; the grad school told my son one day; "Oh, by the way.... you finished your masters. Congrats". Too funny.

    Anyway; here's a link if you are curious about it.
    https://www.prgs.edu/
     
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  17. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    P.S. My son had a pilot slot and also went to RAND, so that's no a problem.
     
  18. USAFADAD2017

    USAFADAD2017 Member

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    Thank you for the information, Christcorp. I'll pass it on to my daughter.
     

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