Am I making the right choice?

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by jlwilkes101, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. jlwilkes101

    jlwilkes101 Member

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    Well, I just got a call today from one of my top ROTC schools, and they spent about 30 minutes on the phone telling me all the reasons I should go to their school instead of West Point. The issue is, they had some points. The one thing that's worried me about West Point is the lack of time for additional studying and learning outside of the core material/cadet duties. For example, I'd very much like to learn Farsi, or Dari, or Urdu, or a language of that nature in addition to Arabic. Would I have time to even attempt this at West Point? Would I have time to supplement any of the standard military education with things that would seriously help me once I get in the actual Army? Will I actually end up behind my peers in ROTC, by whom I mean ROTC cadets in universities of comparable status to West Point?

    I love West Point. I have for about 3 years. Before I send in that gray card though, I want to make sure that I'm making the right choice. I'm not someone who cares about West Point's name recognition or how much it'll help me in the "civilian world", which is unfortunately all I hear when I tell people I'm planning on attending the Academy. The reason I want to go is that I've always felt that the Academy will prepare me to be a stronger officer and a better leader than ROTC would...and if that's not true, I'd rather realize that now than 4 years down the road.
     
  2. BenjaminZ

    BenjaminZ Member

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    Any grad will tell you that West Point creates just as great of leaders as ROTC, OCS, etc. What it comes down to is where YOU want to attend, do not let others make the decision for you.
     
  3. HendrikKim

    HendrikKim Member

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    I was in a very similar position to you earlier this year. I had an ROTC scholarship and a West Point appointment but I was unsure what was the best path. I spoke with a West Point representative who happened to have been commissioned through ROTC. My dad was a colonel who was commissioned through ROTC. Both have told me that there are great officers that come from ROTC but there are also many bad ones too. They said not all West Point officers are great but the vast majority are. Another thing to consider is that the Army is downsizing and getting slots for Airborne school and Air Assault school are becoming increasingly difficult. If your main purpose is to be a Army Officer, I think West Point will provide the best opportunities and training. That's why I chose West Point.
     
  4. HendrikKim

    HendrikKim Member

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    But what BenjaminZ said is right, in the end it's your decision. Good luck!
     
  5. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Certainly one thing to consider is the overall environments. One is quite regimented and the other is much closer to a normal college experience. One, because of its closed nature is much more difficult to get in unwanted trouble at. The other will force you to endure adverse peer pressure and expose you to drugs and alcohol - potential for big trouble and being disenrolled from ROTC. ROTC will certainly allow time to pursue other areas of interest but keep in mind the military science courses and PT and MS lab which will also take up time.

    I say chose the environment you think you'll feel comfortable with and Excel within. For some that's WP. For others that's ROTC. Be sure your making any decision for yourself and not to meet the expectations of others.

    BTW, I'm sure poor officers come out of either program. I don't think that's the fault of the program but of the officers themselves. You'll get out of it what you put into it. Also George Marshall and Colin Powell did not attend WP.

    Good luck with your decision.
     
  6. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    Not too long ago someone posted statistics about the success and advancement of those who commission through SA's/ROTC/OCS. I recall there not being a huge difference in the first 5-10 years after commissioning. However, at the top levels of command there was a huge difference, of course, favoring the SA's.

    #1 DS is an AROTC cadet for whom an SA would simply have not worked. In high school, he played tennis, is an excellent violinist and loves languages. He spent his junior year in Brazil and his gap year in Taiwan. He wanted the University life. He had the choice of at least 10 different Math classes his Freshman year. He is majoring in ChemE, but is interested in many things. There are about 50-60 Chinese students in his dorm and he constantly has Chinese speakers to converse with in the cafeteria. ROTC is a huge commitment, but not so much as to be drudgery. It's his favorite part of his college experience.

    #2 DS is junior in high school and wants to attend USNA or USMA. He wants to study MechE. His approach is simple. He wants to be around huge powerful machines and direct their operation. He cares about his grades, his Lacrosse team and his buddies. I once asked him how he would handle hazing by and taking orders from older cadets who may not be as bright as he or who are arbitrary. He said if that's how they do it, then that's how they do it. Thousands of others have gone through it.

    I love both them to the ends of the earth, but their ways of relating to the world couldn't be more different. Teachers are shocked to find out that the the two are related. We like to tell them that #2 is heaven's reward for not quitting after having #1 as student.

    You will get much better informed responses than mine. I was simply struck by how your thought process seems to be falling along the same line as the personalities of my sons.
     
  7. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    Hazing is not allowed at West Point. Not quite sure what to say about the rest of the sentence.
     
  8. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

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    The one thing I love about WP is that you will get opportunities that your peers in ROTC can only dream of, be it trips all over the country and the world meeting very relevant people in the military and civillian setor, more extensive summer training opportunities (definitly one of the biggest advantages militarily WP has over ROTC) that extend to military schools such as Airbourne and Air Assault but also into internship/academic opportunities as well. I would not have been able to travel as much or meet as many cool people if I had gone to a civillian school as a freshman I don't think.

    Academic wise, taking classes outside of the core stuff, that really depends on your major and how many classes you validate. If you're an engineering major and didn't validate anything, odds are you won't be able to put too many electives in to explore other things because your schedule will already be full. If you're a "softer" major, you'll have more opportunities to explore other areas. For me, I'm in a pretty good position to take classes that both interest me and probably do an harder major because I was able to validate enough classes to free up room in my schedule for later.

    The professors here will really take a vested interest in furthering your education though, whatever you do, which is one of the reasons I love it. They're trying to teach you, not only to become proficienct in whatever the subject matter, but how to be a better leader when you graduate. You'll be able to pull a lot more from their wealth of knowledge with the majority of professors being military personnel or having some strong tie to the military in their lifetime that you will rarely see at a ROTC detachment.

    The con's are, well its not a normal college lifestyle. You'll sacrifice some of the short term fun your peers are going to have at other schools, but you're going to learn a lot more about yourself and your capabilities than most of them I feel that its worth it in the end. I really can't imagine myself anywhere else, but I can definitly see how a lot of people wouldn't do well here. You have to want to be here and want to do well.
     
  9. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Ever hear of the ROTC old grad network? Yeah, me neither. There's a reason that even though those of who didn't have as much fun in college as kids at Birdpoop State (kidding) who get to drink and carouse and all that jazz spend so much time and effort meeting up with classmates, attending old grad functions, and helping young folks attend USMA.

    They say you spend 4 years trying to get away from West Point, and the rest of your life trying to get back.

    Tomorrow I'm going to the Founder's Day dinner in Nashville, where grads from all generations will meet up to eat, drink, and be merry. Does the school that tried to convince you that you should go there instead have that kind of following? Do graduates meet up with one another solely to make merry one another and celebrate the joys and sorrows of lives of service? I drive two hours from work some Thursdays to the Benny Havens Hour at a bar, where old grads who are both in the Army and long since out meet for a few drinks to just get to know one another and talk about life. This happens all over the country. Very few non-SA schools can lay claim to that level of camaraderie.

    Why did this school call to convince you? Because they know they have to convince you. West Point didn't call you because they don't have to. USMA is an aspirational goal. This other school wants you to come there because they think you're out of their league. Do you want to be a feather in their cap? All that means is they know you could've done better and are glad to have you. Sure, the ROTC school will provide you more "fun" and "college-ish" opportunities. But in 10 years you won't remember most of the beer you drank or parties you attended. You'll remember everyone from your USMA class, though. They'll be like kin.

    As for officership, there are many metrics. Over half of the folks who got promoted early to major this year are USMA grads. But only 22% of officers are USMA grads. You can do that math.

    I was deathly afraid of USMA but went anyway. It changed my life and I thank heaven everyday I had that opportunity.

    Do something that scares you a little. Go to USMA. A ship in a safe harbor isn't good for much.
     
  10. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    Dixieland, my bad. Hazing is not allowed at USMA or USNA. However, according to everyone one #2 DS and I have spoken to who is either there now or graduated from either of those academies, baiting, hassling, heckling, needling, riding, taunting, annoying and otherwise bothering are part of the program.

    The rest of the sentence? In every institution, there are those in authority, who exercise that authority in a seemingly arbitrary fashion. They often do so using arrogance and/or bravado to compensate for their own deficiencies. That can be tough on any kid in a closed environment without access to the usual outlets of emotional release.

    The import of the question was not its factual accuracy, but rather to guage #2 DS's ability to deal with high physical and mental stress in a closed environment. Right now he comes home from a 2 1/2 hr LAX practice in sleet and his mother has a big bowl of hot chile waiting for him after he jumps out of the shower. We talk about how the day went, etc. He then catches the last 20 minutes of Pawn Stars before heading off to do homework. Replace Mom and Dad with a 20 yr old kid who is demanding to know the next day's lunch menu.

    His answer to the question was what I wanted to hear. No long winded explanation like he would have gotten from me, but a simple "that's how its done". It implies that the SA's know what they're doing and that whatever he is going through is what everyone is going through and it must have a purpose.

    My apologies if my tone suggested derision.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  11. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    And it DOES have a purpose. The battlefield isn't stress free and one has to quickly assimilate and use information under these conditions. Among other reasons I guess.
     
  12. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I sent you a Private Message
     
  13. Nabilmmezher

    Nabilmmezher New Member

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    Please go to your ROTC school. There are too many cadets like you at the academy who are taking up spots that could go to people who truly want to be here and deserve it as much as you.
     
  14. BigNick

    BigNick Member

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    I will make this short.
    Of course it is up to you - go with your gut.
    My son faced the same situation last year - he had a WP offer and a 4-year scholarship at an Ivy League school. He chose WP and is in the class of 2015. He has told me MANY times that he made the right choice for him
    1. If you want to be an Army officer West Point is the CLEAR choice
    2. If you want the best leadership training in the world WP is the clear choice
    3. If you want the normal college experience then ROTC is the clear choice
    4. If you are not sure DO NOT take the WP slot – hundreds of very qualified people want that slot
     
  15. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I'm not a trumpet blower for the Academy but that remark was way out of line.
     
  16. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Just out of curiosity, If West Point is the clear choice if you want to be an Army Officer what does ROTC make you...a Girl Scout?
     
  17. geneyoo

    geneyoo Member

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    I think he was just implying at the fact that West Point offers a constant military atmosphere - competitive yet motivating. Everyone at the academy has very similar, if not the same motives and goals whereas enrolling under ROTC at a civ college would place you in a pool of very different people.

    At least that was my main decision breaker when I accepted my appointment over ROTC.
     
  18. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    A Brownie. You get promoted to Girl Scout!

    You asked for it! :thumb:
     
  19. FlyBoy1993

    FlyBoy1993 Member

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    There are some schools, such as Texas A&M that indeed, do have such a following and "old grad network."
     
  20. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Right. And I would certainly say the folks in ROTC are like minded and have the same motivation as those in the Academies where many of them applied and fell just a tad short. I would add they get a lot more exposure to the real world. It is different not lesser.

    Scout, you rascal! You're evil! :biggrin:
     

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