AROTC SMP advantages pitfalls?

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by Tgun, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. Tgun

    Tgun Member

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    Hello;

    My son is preparing for his AROTC Scholarship Interview with the PMS contact next month. He has expressed interest to me in possibly going the SMP route.

    I am a little concerned about SMP however. His post-college goal is to serve on Active Duty as an Officer (Aviation branch is his first choice).

    The additional financial benefits are appealing, however I am concerned about the extra weekend committment affecting his grades and ROTC unit participation in other activities.

    I went to college while being a Air National Guard enlisted person (prior active duty) for the $$ and tuition benefits, but I do remember it impacting on my studies/homework. Also, the annual training deployments also sometimes conflicted with my college schedule... yes, the needs of the military comes first (and being a student in a liberal state university yielded instructors who did not cut any of us guardsmen and reservists any slack whatsoever).

    Also, I would think that a new private awaiting a basic training date could also be impacted by a university / basic training scheduling conflict (again, needs of the military come first).

    Anyone who can chime in with SMP experiences and/or recommendations?

    Many thanks,

    USAF (ANG) Major (ret)
     
  2. Ohio2015Parent

    Ohio2015Parent Member

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    Tgun,

    Funny you should ask a SMP question...my DS is National Guard SMP and left for BCT on 6/13. His school is very supportive of Guard/AROTC(also AFROTC) so he saw little or no impact from weekend drill requirements. This may change in the upcoming year since his course schedule will now be more challenging as he moves from university requirements to the upper class hours of his major(Polisci/prelaw). I would find out which schools your DS is listing have strong SMP programs with good relationships with ROTC. This should eliminate some potential issues. Also, DS was told once he contracts(this fall) that AROTC will take first priority over NG in cases of conflict, again I don't know of if this is AROTC at his school or a standard policy. He was told the NG worked better with AROTC than Army Reserves(again, his school).

    Now I hope when you talk with ROTC that they can honestly speak to the number of SMP contracts they will offer. DS entered the program understanding that ALL SMPs would be offered contracts(provided they met basic standards) and then around Thanksgiving it changed to "we have 16 contracts available for SMPs...internal OML to compete for who gets them". Luckily DS is in that group of 16 as of last OML and should climb a few spots after this most recent quarter ended. But please do inquire about actual contracts that will be offered -- without the ROTC contract the NG contract stands and your DS will serve those conditions. My DS would serve as a 88Mike(truck driver) if his ROTC contract doesn't come thru....with a 98 on the ASVAB 88Mike might be a horrible waste of potential, but contract is contract:wink:

    And then the big one-BCT. Yes, most of his SMP buddies took a grading period off to attend BCT(many also did straight thru AIT too in order to max the income with their kicker) DS was in a group of 11 cadets offered to do BCT during this summer, come back contract and never attend AIT. Sounds good until the BCT graduation dates and back to school dates start to get too close...example: DS's last exam was 6/7 - came home for 4 days left for BCT...now we wait while he's in reception at Ft. Benning. IF he clears reception and is picked up on 6/20(next possible training group) he will graduate on 8/23, drive home with us from GA and be back at school 8/26 to move in and begin classes 8/27(this is best case scenario). Unfortunately we all have heard nightmares about reception going on forever...if he starts the following week - 6/27 he will not be back in time to start school. However, we decided if he is only one week late he will not withdraw from the university and will bust butt to catch up. Luckily, the profs have a good track record of working with NG/ROTC when these situations arise. Of course if anything else delays his graduation(illness or injury God forbid) he will probably withdraw from the university for 1st semester and then be delayed in contracting until winter semester....not a great situation.

    Sorry to be so wordy - but I hope you can use some of this to start formulating a list of questions for the AROTC schools your DS is interested in visiting. SMP was a plan C or D for DS, but even with the potential pitfalls I believe he would still have raised his right hand:thumb:

    Take care.:smile:
     
  3. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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    for some schools SMP is the bread and butter. In my Battalion we have about 20% SMP, but the recruiter I work with knows that missing a semester to complete AIT is not the preferred method. Some of my SMP cadets do have conflicts or their reserve commitments cause some difficulty, but for the most part we work things out. I would definitely ask around at the Battalion he is planning to join as some units get along better with the guard/reserve world than others. I would also caution your son to take with a grain of salt all the talk about being a better officer if you have served as an enlist soldier...especially if he's looking at Aviation.
     
  4. morgan0704

    morgan0704 Member

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    My DD (just completed freshman year participating in ROTC) also has quite a few SMP cadets in her ROTC class - not sure of percentage. She has completed two drills and has enjoyed it so far. She was set to leave for basic at Ft. Leonard wood on 6/3 and return to campus one week before the fall semester started. She went to in process in Montgomery and was 3 lbs. underweight for her height (she is very petite). They would not let her go on and sent her home to return on 6/29 to reweigh and get a new ship date. At this point it is obvious that she is going to get back too late to start the fall semester. We are of course not thrilled with the situation but she has made the commitment and wants to see it through. SMP will help out with her out of state tuition and her ultimate goal is to commission. She is going to try and take some mini semesters in the fall. Just be aware of the pitfalls as well as the benefits of the program and be ready with a plan B and C.
     
  5. Ohio2015Parent

    Ohio2015Parent Member

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    Sorry to hear your DD has been delayed. We heard from our son last night that unless something major comes up in his dental or eye exams he'll be assigned to a training unit that starts on 6/20(keeping fingers crossed, he wears glasses, but well within the standards and no dental issues that we're aware of). IF this training group comes thru he'll graduate in our best case scenario of 8/23.

    Speaking again to OP, another thing to consider with SMP and these possible delays at BCT/AIT, does your DS have AP credits?? Mine fortunately earned a bunch and technically could complete his degree in 3.5 years so the potential missing of a grading period wouldn't have delayed his graduation/comission date. Something to keep in mind...

    Also, I agree completely with clarkson on the two topics of missing school for AIT/BCT and the whole line about being a better officer for having attended BCT. The only time I could possibly consider DS having intentionally missed a grading period would have been if money was incredibly tight. Fortuantely he isn't in the situation with a generous cadre/school covering room and board for AROTC cadets who meet a few guidelines. The whole better officer line probably makes sense to you as former military, we are not a military family and at first did fall for this idea, but were quickly redirected by DS's PMS and of course Clarkson here on the boards.

    Good luck to morgan0704's DD -- eat the cheeseburger, fries AND milkshake:thumb:
     
  6. morgan0704

    morgan0704 Member

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    DD has definately been trying to bulk up - but not easy for her. She went to school with a semester already finished from AP/dual enrollment classes so she won't technically be behind but her father and I really don't want her to miss a semester. Of course she is very independent she will listen to what we have to say and then do what she wants! She also falls into that category that she thinks going to basic will make her a better officer. Her father, who did ROTC and is in the AF, totally disagrees with her and tried to talk her out of it - but no luck.
     
  7. Packer

    Packer Member

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    Oh to be young again and still know it all.:biggrin:
     
  8. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    You might want to add to the conversation with your daughter that there is always a risk of getting injured at BCT, Clarkson has brought this up a few times. Should something happen during BCT and she is injured it can delay her qualification with Dodmerb, worse case she could be DQ'd. If she does not need the extra money from the GI Bill by going to BCT and AIT it would be in her interest to think hard about it. Good luck to her.
     
  9. -Bull-

    -Bull- Member

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    In addition, SMP is not guaranteed...make sure she knows up front she may not get a contract, but she will still be held to her Guard enlistment. Other than that, it's a great gig. Almost did it myself had I not been awarded a scholarship. Almost did it and turned down the scholarship....
     
  10. bdaMom

    bdaMom Member

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    Many good points already made here. Our son is SMP and scholarship and it's been a juggling act. He did split option so BCT was one summer, with AIT the next. Luckily he contracted, but we were also under the impression that was guaranteed, but things change all the time and we were greatly relieved when that contract was signed. We also did not think about injuries and delays that can happen with BCT, and with the tight fitting schedules, it was very nerve racking to see if it would all work out. It HAS worked out through 2 busy years already, although drill weekends tend to always land right before the next big college exam. It's all a learning experience though, and our son has learned to take his books with him for possible down time at drill, and make the best of it. The Reserves and ROTC have been so good for him though, so I don't know that we'd change anything. Sometimes learning time management is the toughest thing, and with the Army, you HAVE to be there, and you HAVE to be on time. Some of those lessons are priceless.

    Also, ROTC always trumps Reserves (with his university anyway), so if there's a conflict of activies, ROTC writes a memo and he's excused with his Reserves unit.
     
  11. -Bull-

    -Bull- Member

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    That made me think of another thing. If you think drill will conflict alot with school, you'd be surprised how many ROTC events can get you excused from drill, but still get you paid. I know of cadets that have done a one day ROTC event and get paid for a full drill.
     

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