Between AFROTC and USAFA

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by kpeckham43, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. kpeckham43

    kpeckham43 Member

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    So I was wondering if someone could give me some advice. Both from people who have been through the Academy and people who have went through ROTC or know about it. I have a full tuition AFROTC scholarship and an appointment to the Academy. I know some people would say I'm crazy to consider turning down the Academy, but I want to make the right decision for my personality. I know will get a commission either way and I would like to become a career officer, right now looking at a pilot. I know that the Academy has a benefit as far as pilots slots but what else really makes the four years of hell worth it when I could do AFROTC and come out the same officer and build myself into who I wanted to be and not be built and molded by others. I have a very strong personality and vale free time and being an individual and I questions a lot about what makes the officer, the man or the institution? I think when you get in the Air Force where you got commissioned shouldn't matter, but I don't want to get 10 years down the road in my career and wish I went to the Academy or went AFROTC. What's somebody's opinion on the topic?
     
  2. mdsu

    mdsu Candidate

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    personally i would go to the academy because i want that kind of lifestyle compared to a traditional college, but by this quote i can see you would be more suited for ROTC because you would like the freedom at a trad. college. if you really wanted it, it wouldnt be a question. so idk from your quote it sounds like you wouldnt like the "hell" at usafa, it looks like you would like rotc more.
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    My opinion.


    You will have more of a life in AFROTC. You will have more fun and more of a "real" college experience.

    With USAFA you will develop bonds with classmates which will last forever and blow any relationships you had prior right out of the sky (I would have said "out of the water" but this is the AFA thread). You will come from a college that is known and whose graduates are attractive to the private sector.

    I don't think an academy really "molds" you, it certainly breaks you down initially but it's up to you to determine what kind of person you become. You will feel plenty of responsibility and I think it helps to mature a bit faster. Doesn't mean you won't mature at a civilian college though.

    And it's true, you'll come out at a 2LT just like the AFA grads if you decide to go the AFROTC route. Either way, you will serve your country in one of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and no one can fault you for that.
     
  4. PDub

    PDub Prospective

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    I'm one of those that might consider you crazy to turn down an appointment:eek:, but on the other hand, not many of peers have any idea how much I've wanted it/worked for my LOA and nomination:biggrin:.
    I think with the Academy, you know it's a great education and military training. In fact, it's the best you can get if you want to be an officer. With AFROTC, a lot your education/training depends on the detachment, college, local culture, etc - many variables that may contribute or have detrimental effects to your four years. I've turned down my Type 1 and accepted my appointment, and wouldn't have changed my decision even if I got into MIT or Stanford.
     
  5. HNeedle

    HNeedle Member

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    try to search for threads here or on CC. we've had this discussion numerous times.

    dont take an appointment if this isnt what you truly want
     
  6. ordnance18

    ordnance18 Candidate Appointee

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    Ditto.

    kpeckham43, don't go to the Academy. If a forum discussion could either persuade or dissuade you to accept the appointment then you are not going to make it through BCT. The cadre is trying to make you quit, trying to weed out everyone who has enough doubt about their future Academy experience to sign the dotted line and wash out.

    I would hate myself if I washed out and then realized that I had robbed someone of an appointment who had dreamed of going to the Academy their entire life.
     
  7. kpeckham43

    kpeckham43 Member

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    Haha...well a forum can not persuade me either way but can give me some insight I hoped. I have wanted to go to the academy since I was a freshman and became interested in serving my country and so I begin to talk to officers in the military to see their viewpoints and the biggest thing they said was how well you do your job matters the most...not were you were commissioned from. I know I can make it through either way, but it is will I know fully that I made the right decision. I don't want anyone here to think I haven't thought about this and don't sound dedicated enough to make it through the Academy, it is a lot more than that for me. It is a discussion about whether it really parts you that far ahead than anyone else. One of the biggest virtues in life I believe is humility and I guess sometimes I wonder if I will find that in large quantities at the Academy because how can people be humble when they have went through the trials of the Academy, of course you will have swagger and a little ego, but I hope this is not so apparent that it forms the environment of the Academy.
     
  8. HNeedle

    HNeedle Member

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    should've come and visited before recognition :)
     
  9. Nick

    Nick New Member

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    Okay, if you want perspective, I have plenty.

    First of all, I was enrolled in AFROTC at the University of Tennessee for a couple years. I had some family issues (the result of living too close to home) which impacted my academic work and resulted in the loss of my scholarship. Still, I can't blame anyone but myself for that catastrophe. In the end I decided that I still wanted to become an officer in the Air Force, but I also didn't want to pay out of pocket for the rest of my education so I enlisted in the AF as an alternative route.

    Being enlisted has been a fun ride (and a hugely humbling experience), but it's not where I desire to be so I applied for an appointment to the USAFA Class of 2013. I was offered an appointment and immediately accepted :shake:. The moral of this story is that I haven't given up on my dream of becoming an Air Force officer, and I didn't think twice about this extraordinary opportunity I have received.

    I think you should ask yourself if you would be willing to do the same given my situation, i.e., being a cadet, then being enlisted, then starting from square one as a cadet. Now given that I am not yet at the Academy I have as much to experience as the next person at BCT. I look forward to the entire Academy experience and know that 4 years is a relatively short period of my life. People have survived torture in POW camps for longer. I would feel ashamed if I couldn't survive classes, homework, yelling, PT, etc. I will miss my "freedoms", but I'll earn them back in due time.

    Good luck with your decision. Either way, I'm sure our paths will cross either at the Academy or elsewhere in the small world that is the Air Force. :thumb:
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2009
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    And officer is and officer, no matter where you came from. So, if that's you're goal, and you're not really into some of the less spectacular parts of a service academy, don't rule out AFROTC.

    USAFA will set you up with a great network of people, while you serve, but sometimes more importantly after you get out. That's a plus that's not really linked to serving.
     
  11. sooner

    sooner Candidate Appointee

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    Ok I TOTALLY know where you're coming from with this, I'm in almost exactly the same situation. I'm a freshman in AFROTC, my det has a very good record for pilot slots, and I have an appointment. I'm waiting until after orientation to accept as well, though at this point it is pretty much guaranteed that I will.

    The first thing I would do is visit the detatchment if you haven't already. See if there's anyway to spend some time with some freshmen and get their perspectives. It'll give you something to compare to orientation. If you still don't know after visiting both places, then you just have to sit down and decide what you want the next four years to be like.
     
  12. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Pima, where are you on this?! :wink:

    Biggest difference? USAFA is military 24/7, uniform every day, training often. ROTC you are not military 24/7. USAFA grads have an advantage out of the gate because we are used to the military, the uniform, etc. After that, you have to prove yourself. But there is something to be said for having that ring when the Colonel is deciding who he is going to give a tough job to if he is also a ring knocker.
     
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Our DS last yr decided to go AFROTC over the AFA. There were many reasons he elected this route, but in the end it was a personal decision, just as the decision will be for you. Talk to your det commander at the university. DS did and the commander told him, if you decide next fall that this route was a mistake I will support your application to attend the AFA. The commander came to DS in the fall and asked if he was going to re-apply, and DS told him no, he loved the school and the det so he was staying put.

    I know you might believe that people will think you took the easier route or that the AFA grads will think less of the ROTC grads, but the reality is all of you will be scattered to the wind after grad. Our two very best friends are AFA grads and have never made Bullet (ROTC) feel like he was less of a leader than them. Also, if you go the UPT route nobody cares your commissioning source, all they care up is how you handle the stick.

    I truly get how you are feeling about which road to take, but you are just going to have to do a gut check.

    Bullet and I have met several of the cadets in person, I haven't seen much of a swagger on them, however, we don't know them in their environment. The ones with the swagger will lose it very quickly, because they are constantly reminded that they have much to learn. The military believes in RHIP (rank has its Priviledges) and no matter what class the cadet is, they are always going to be lower than someone else at the AFA.

    I am wondering if you are confusing humility with pride. The two can walk hand in hand, but many times they are polar opposites. You need both in equal amounts. To be humble is to accept criticism graciously, and that should be strong component for every cadet, trust me at some point in your career, your butt will be chewed on so bad it will look like ground meat! However, there are officers who are to proud not to be humble. I have seen this a thousand times, where they will argue with the higher rank and never get that the shoulder toss always wins(rank on your shoulder) and you just salute sharply and walk away. I can tell you that they exist in both the ROTC route and the AFA route, it is a part of their personality, neither owns the title for poor manners on this one!

    You can pm me and I can tell you more about DS and why he choose this route. BTW he loves every minute of the life he chose and he never has looked back with regret. When you make that decision, don't look back just keep putting one foot in front of you.
     
  14. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    What do YOU see as the benefits of USAFA and ROTC?
    Things that I absolutely love about USAFA might not be important to you, and things I could care less about may be of extreme importance to you.

    Please tell us what your priorities for college are, and it will help us advise you better.
     
  15. kpeckham43

    kpeckham43 Member

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    I guess what a lot of benefits of both places that I don't see in other places. I guess what I would like most about college is the ability to choose what to do 24/7 and no when I get out that I made myself, even I fall into the typical college trap of drinking and partying then the fault is only to myself, but if I go through college and find sucess both academically and personally then I will have known that I had the choice to go a much easier route but kept myself pointed in the right direction. In college I would like the fact that I could go to the library and just read whenever I wanted or join in on a political discussion I would have time to do that, I think free time to pursue intellectual interests not found in the classroom is very important.
    With this said I realize my goals in life and what to become a career Air Force officer and find excitement and adventure all the while performing a career that has meaning and helps people all over the world. Since I first started high school and started planning my career I focused on the Air Force and read everything I could get my hands on. My room is like many of yours I'm sure, wall to wall with posters of every plane in the Air Force fleet. The Academy seems like the place to be for someone as myself who has focused for so long on making a career in the Air Force and pursuing the military life, yet I feel they Academy my restrict some of the personal growth I would receive in college. Many mentors I have talked to say college, if used correctly is the biggest learning experience about yourself and about life that you will ever have. I do not doubt the amount I will learn about myself at the Academy, but I do wonder how much I will learn about the world around me as the Academy is a semi-artificial environment. Some say that you don't need the real world experience because you will be in the military world and not the real world. One more thing I would find that I value at college is that I am looking at the University of Kansas for AFROTC and the campus is extremely liberal. Some people see this as a negative if your in ROTC, but I see it as a plus just because I think you learn the most of those whose opinions are different from your own and I want to be questioned about what I stand for because it will only reaffirm what I believe in. I hope this clarifies a little bit about my personality and what is affecting my decision.
     
  16. JustCallMeDan7

    JustCallMeDan7 USAFA Cadet

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    Sounds like, to me at least, that you wouldn't enjoy the Academy as much as the ROTC route. You sound like you want to do what you want, when you want. Thats pretty much the exact opposite of the Academy experience. I do disagree though that you won't learn "the real world" around you if you go to the Academy. I think even more so, you will be studying what is going on around the world and you are even allowed to be sent to foreign countries through programs to experience that first hand. Its up to YOU though....this is YOUR decision. You can't really ask people to choose what they think, its irrelevant since it should be only your choice....good luck
     
  17. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Ok, here goes...

    USAFA has a LOT of opportunites (some of which are mandatory). If you are looking for a lot of AF-related training while in college, USAFA is probably the place to be. It is an immersive experience in AF culture. One of the big benefits, IMO, is the training opportunities. Some programs at the academy are unique or very competitive for ROTC cadets, while academy cadets are voluntold to do them. A couple examples would be Space 251 and GE. Some of the Space cadre were ROTC cadets, and had worked hard to get there. The cadets in Space 251 were placed into the program because they did not get into the one they wanted. In Global Engagement, we had 1 ROTC cadet. He worked hard and volunteered for the program, while the academy cadets were automatically placed into it. USAFA cadets get advantages in training opportunities over ROTC cadets. In the 3 years I've been here, I've done BCT, Global Engagement, Space, Soaring, a 3-week internship at Dover AFB (Ops), and helped run enlisted basic at Lackland AFB for 6 weeks. Through those programs and other academy stuff I've seen the Atlas rocket factory, the inside of an ICBM control center, flown gliders, done a mock deployment, seen both sides of basic training, visited Spain, and have been trained on marksmanship and tactics (part through basic/GE and partly through the shooting team). I would not have been able to do most of these things elsewhere (or at least not for free). To me, the training opportunities are a big deal.

    From your comments, it sounds like independent learning and self-achievement are important to you. Some ROTC detachments will be better for this than USAFA. USAFA has been compared to "drinking from a firehose" and it is often true. There are times when you have more work than time to complete it. This doesn't leave much time to go to the library and spend a couple hours reading your topic of choice. It can be done, but it is difficult to make the time to do it (unless it is a major priority to you. I actually commented to someone last night that I wish I had more free time to wander the library, because it contains a LOT of strange and interesting material (we found an shelf of WWII propoganda, and I've seen a shelf of DoD reports on nuclear tests--the originals as far as I can tell).
    Also, we are required to do a lot of things. Some things which may be considered extra in other places are mandatory here. If you are the kind of person who takes pride in going above and beyond, USAFA will raise that bar in some areas...but it will also limit some of the discretion for doing things your way.

    If this sounded biased toward USAFA, that is because I am. :smile:
    I get a lot of satisfaction for overcomming things thrown at me and am happy to get the opportunities I've experienced here. This is a "fit" for me. Hopefully, some other cadets can give you their perspective on their experience.
    (You can also search for the "Pros and Cons of the Acadedemy" thread, although that did go into flame-war mode partway into it.)
     
  18. USAFA hopeful

    USAFA hopeful Member

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    He's right, there's so much more opportunities at USAFA. I put in for a PDT at my detachment this year and didn't get one because I wasn't on scholarship. At the academy, you're pretty much guaranteed to be able to participate in these programs. An example is the jump program; where only one ROTC cadet from each detachment can attend. The point is, just by being at the academy, you have plenty of opportunites an ROTC cadet wouldn't have.
     
  19. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    This has been and always will be a topic of debate and discussion. And sister Pima and brother Bullet know that I have nothing but love and respect for them and ROTC. But I do have to make a couple comments/observations.

    1. Deciding between USAFA and ROTC will play more importance depending on what it is you want to do for a living in the Air Force. If you want to be in the aerial world, the academy does have the edge. Not that an ROTC can't, just that it's easier if you're at the academy.

    2. How you do your job and not where you graduated from is definitely the most important. However; given 2 individuals that are pretty much equal in their job, the Academy grad will normally be given the edge. Again, depends on what it is you're trying to accomplish.

    3. The military is very much political at times. Your success is mostly in your hands. I always end each conversation with my son with "CYA". Not meaning; "See Ya"; but as in "Cover Your A..". Not in a bad way like people are after you. But in the; "Take the initiative to advance your career". There's a fine line between this and being arrogant, know it all, kissing up, etc... But your promotions, assignments, tdy, etc... is very much in your hands. The academy is just another edge you have over ROTC and OTS. Many times you get a commander or such that doesn't "Take care of" their people like they should. You need to take care of yourself. That might include getting involved with the process of decorations, jobs, assignments, etc...

    4. Generally speaking (EMPHASIZE GENERALLY); academy grads and the enlisted folks that work for/with them; have a "Different" rapport. I don't want to say better. But definitely different. One of my 2 favorite commanders I mentioned in another thread was OTS and the other was academy. But the academy grad went through 24/7 military for 4 years. They also worked around enlisted personnel. I think there is a better understanding of the enlisted force by academy grads. As such, the enlisted folks tend to automatically attract a "Different" respect for the academy grad officer.

    The hardest thing about the college years is that teenagers are in the maturing and growing up process. Some prefer the "Part Time" military environment of ROTC to balance with their civilian life in college; and thus their growing up. They know they will be "Full Time" military one day. They just prefer to "Ease" into it. Others like the idea of the "Full Time" military that the academy offers.

    Comparing ROTC to the Academy for college is like comparing the Guard to Active duty for mission. One is "Part Time" and one is "Full Time". Both have their purpose and importance to the mission. And when called upon, BOTH will do what they need to do. And they will do it admirably. Same with ROTC and Academy grads. Both will produce fine officers. Neither is "Better" at being an officer. ROTC has many benefits. Obviously in the "Growing Up" years in college. The academy has many benefits. Mostly when being considered for certain careers and assignments.

    Anyway, too much talking. I know there will be disagreements. That's OK. These are just my observations. Some of my closest friends are academy grads, ROTC grads, OTS grads, as well as enlisted. This subject has come up many times in our conversations. And Pima/Bullet; you know there's nothing but love here. :jump1: later... mike....
     
  20. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Love you to Mike.:yay::worship:

    Everything he said I am in total agreement. :rockon:

    Only thing to add on is that the ROTC cadets got their specialties last month at DS's det. everybody that had the 3.0 gpa and asked for UPT got it, so dreams can come true on that route if you strive for it!
     

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