Big Fish in a small pond?

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by Rdelahunr, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. Rdelahunr

    Rdelahunr Member

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    I just received notification that I was awarded the commandants scholarship at a state school, the University of Minnesota Duluth. It covers full tuition and part of room and board, much like the type 2 and type 7 AROTC scholarships do. I read that 20% of AROTC applicants receive type 2 and even more can earn a type 7, I'm assuming. A type 2 or 7 will cover my expenses the same as the commandants scholarship I just received. My question is whether or not I would be better off as one of the top cadets with a strong potential to be the cadet wing leader (commandant scholarship winners are on the fast track) at UMD or if I would be better at the larger, more selective University of Minnesota Twin Cities. UMD has a fairly new engineering program that is well regarded from what I can tell, but the UMTC engineering program is tried and true and more selective. What would best suit me in pursuing the highest quality assignment and opportunities, being the big fish in a small pond or a big fish among other big fish? This is all depending on whether or not I get an appointment to the USAFA.
     
  2. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I assume you meant AFROTC, not AROTC

    Best advice is to pick the school you feel you will succeed the best.

    Don't count on being the Big Fish quite yet. The Scholarship means nothing when it comes time for selection to SFT. You will be competing with every cadet, scholarship or not for those slots. Being the Big Fish will depend on how you do academically and in ROTC. Once you start your scholarship will mean nothing more then payment of tuition.
     
  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    +1 to Jcleppe. Further, pick the school you feel most comfortable at and best meets your educational needs, not the unit. If you do well at the school you will typically do well in the unit. The reverse? Perhaps not so much.

    No one is going to fast track you or give you anything. You have to consistently perform for three years before you EARN that cadet wing leader slot. But don't worry... you'll get "educated" about that during your freshman year.
     
  4. Rdelahunr

    Rdelahunr Member

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    I understand, it's completely dependent on whether I pull through and get cadet wing leader style grades and show leadership ability. I did mean AFROTC. but what do you think is the difference between a 3.5 gpa cadet wing leader and a 3.5 gpa where you are good, but not cadet wing leader good in comparison to the other cadets?
     
  5. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    A couple pieces of advice.

    Don't get hung up on the idea of being a Wing Commander. Work on the things you have control over, GPA, EC's, PT (Or whatever the AF calls it) and ROTC. Do well and things will fall in line.

    For now, concentrate on what you need to do to be accepted to SFT when your sophomore year rolls around, that will be your main goal.

    As far as your question goes, I can only give you the example of my 2 sons. While they are both AROTC there are some similarities. Both my sons attended a smaller public university, the Battalion is small compared to larger schools. Both have enjoyed the smaller Battalion, they had better opportunities for leadership positions, were able to be very active in ROTC EC's, and had a more personal working relationship with the Cadre. This is not saying that a large Battalion would have been worse, it just worked well for both of them.

    Both sons selected the school based on the school, not the ROTC program. Both have done well at the school because it was a great fit and they really enjoyed being there. Their success in ROTC came as a result of being at a school that was a good fit.

    As far as being a 3.5 at either a small or large school, your biggest competition will be those 4.0 cadets. Grades will not always determine who is Wing Commander, or in my son's case Battalion Commander. My older son finished ROTC ranked #1 in the Battalion, even so he never held the position of CO or Battalion Commander, the PMS at the time gave those positions to cadets he felt needed more experience in leadership positions. My younger son's PMS does it the opposite, he gives the positions based on the OML and overall performance.

    At Larger schools/Battalions, cadets may be a CO or Battalion Commander for as little as two weeks or a month so they can give a chance for leadership to more cadets. At my son's school with the smaller Battalion he was CO for the entire Semester.

    There are benefits to both small and large schools, again select the school based on the right fit for you, the rest will follow suit.

    Now if you were to ask either of my son's, they would tell you that the Big Fish in the little pond was the way to go, they would also tell you that is still hard to be the Big Fish no matter what size the program, but that's just their opinion.
     
  6. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I am not what you mean by cadet wing leadership? Do you mean a job in the unit, such as flight CC ? If that is your assumption as a 100 you will have a position like this, you are wrong, unless it is an insanely small det. The CWC and CWC will be 400s.
    ~~~Fall leadership positions are handed out in the spring. Plus, they hold these positions for 200s since they will be up for SFT in Feb. Of that year. Additionally, these positions are rotated each semester to spread the wealth. This of course is on top of the fact that your 100 yr is about learning the system. Hard to be in wing leadership when you have yet to learn what you would need to know to lead your peers.

    Secondly, you are making an assumption that because you got the CLS, you are going to be the star. Approximately 20% of all cadets receive a scholarship. Your premise would mean that you won't be the only shining star, and again, even at large units there just are not enough jobs to spread the wealth.
    ~~~~honestly once there people don't talk about scholarships. It is a clean slate and you need to prove yourself all over again.
    ~~~~ Not every kid interviews at a det. for the AFROTC scholarship. AFA candidates applying for AFROTC as plan B can have their ALO submit their rec. Some kids will go to one university for the interview because it is the closest. In essence, that means both of these candidates will not be in the running for the CLS since it is the CoCs choice and since HSSP is national, not tied to the school the COC will not know of their existence....hence no CLS offer.
    ~~~~ If a candidate has been boarded they too cannot be offered this option.

    I am not trying to take anything away from this great award, just trying to enlighten you come fall it may not be as big of a deal as you think with regards to success in the unit.

    One additional point is the fact CoCs are ADAF. They PCS every 3 or 4 yes. This CoC maybe leaving come June. If that is the case you are starting off just like everyone else...a name.

    Finally, when you go up for SFT, scholarship accounts for 0 on the WCS. Your cgpa, pft, and CoCs rec. Can it help for the rec.? Yes, but don't underestimate the fact that almost every cadet will strive just as hard as you. The CoCs are professional, if there is a non-scholarship cadet that is a better option over a non they are going to rank them higher. They too are reviewed by ADAF for promotion, thus they want the best, hence why it is a clean slate as soon as you get there.

    As others have stated go to the school you want to attend and commission from in 4 years. Why do some great HS students do poorly in college? Many times it is because their heart is not into attending that school. Taking the CLS means that even if you wanted to transfer that scholarship won't go with you. Just saying make sure you want to attend that school for the school, not just for the scholarship.

    Good luck.

    Oh and I forgot to ask what is your intended major? The breakdown for scholarships are 5% go type 1, 15-20% go type 2 and 7 gets the remainder.Now here's the twist for 1 and 2, the bulk go Tech. 5% of the 1s go non-tech. @15% of the 2 go non-tech. You need to place that into your equation too.

    I would also say look into the bowels here for SFT selection. This yr it appears that for SFT selection they are asking non-tech majors to announce if they will be going rated. The reason behind this is ADAF are cutting non-rated slots, and they are looking at the AFROTC pipeline taking non-tech, non-rated into their equation for manpower needs.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
  7. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Again, +1 to Jcleppe. Glad he posted first so I didn't have to try to be eloquent like him. DS's experience with his NROTC battalion is similar including who gets what leadership positions. It doesn't always go to the #1 guy for any particular billet. It's sometimes who needs the experience.... or even who needs to be given the opportunity to fail. Sometimes the top folks end up on staff (low visibility) where they can contribute their experience and expertise in other ways and perhaps more broadly.
     
  8. Non Ducor Duco

    Non Ducor Duco I am not led, I lead

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    Wing commander is a job you apply and interview for, you have to submit a full O-plan for the next semester (what you want to accomplish, training program, full OPs group wing chart for who you want in which position, etc). A 4.0 isn't going to automatically get you the job, or recommendation for the position and it certainly won't make them chose you over someone who has a real vision for the cadet corps and a solid plan to execute it. Pick the school based on academics and whether you really want to go there, not whether or not it will set you up for a det position 4 yrs from now. There are so many more important things to worry about that are much closer than that. Coming from HS, most ppl have a skewed view of how easy it is to keep a high GPA in college. A 3.8 in HS is child's play, that in college? Maybe for a liberal arts major, and even then it's a good deal of work to get that. But engineering??? A 3.5+ as an engineering major, and maintaining that for the 3yrs before applying for wing commander, is exceptionally difficult. I know, I know, you were number 1 in hs, you can do a 3.5 easy :rolleyes:. You'll see after your 1st year. I was so happy to have a 3.3 at the end of my 1st yr, really a 3.1-3.3 is a great GPA to maintain, puts you well above most of the ppl in your major. It's a lot harder than you'd think to do so, especially if you validated almost all your fluff classes from hs like I did. Your grateful for those BS history classes then, makes you feel like a freaking genius after frying your brain in Physics III lol.

    I suggest you go to the school with the better program for your major, congrats on the scholarship though.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
  9. Rdelahunr

    Rdelahunr Member

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    I get where your all coming from and understand that no position is guaranteed without performance. I just know that he saw my potential but it remains to be seen whether I can live up to or exceed it with other cadets who will want it just as bad or more. I wasn't particularly worried about the leadership position I could eventually hold, but the quality of assignment I may get because of the successes I may or may not have in 4 years. My big question was, assuming I live up to my potential, am I better off in a place where my resume stands out than at the larger, tougher place where I'm middle of the pack?

    BTW, a 3.5 gpa would be great from my understanding and I just used it as a benchmark to strive for. I wasn't trying to insinuate that it would be easy by any means.
     
  10. DeskJockey

    DeskJockey Member

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    In theory, engineering degrees are pretty much the same at any school. There is a national accreditation standard with uniform curriculum requirements, and the content of a class in Mechanics or Heat Transfer won't vary much between Duluth and UMTC - or MIT, for that matter. But the reality is that a degree from UMTC will be considered to be a much stronger credential than one from UMD - and is likely to be a more significant factor in your ultimate career path, both civilian and military, than any edge you may get from a favorable cadet leadership position. Unless you have a good personal reason for attending UMD, I think you would be placing yourself at a professional disadvantage in the engineering field by choosing it over UMTC.
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Again, are you going tech or non-tech.

    It actually matters a lot.

    First off nobody here knows your academic profile and EC profile.

    3.5 cgpa is not as easy in college as pulling a 3.7 with all APs. Tech major you will be taking probably 21 credits, and ROTC. When you get to those leadership positions you will be adding 20 hours plus doing ROTC things, such as writing weekly reports for the cadets under your command. Join Arnie Air, Silver Wings, Angel Flight or Honors Guard you will have even more time taken away from academics,

    Now at smaller schools it also becomes the double edge sword, personality issues. the clicques can become more pronounced. Rub the CWC the wrong way and unlike the larger units you are a face with a name very quickly.

    Let's assume you will be happy either way at these two colleges.
    ~~~Did you ask the 64K questions?
    ~ What is your % rate for SFT selection (tech/non-tech whichever path you are going)
    ~ What is the avg cgpa/pft
    ~What is the chance getting your career field, and what are the avg cgpa/pft to feel comfortable?

    I will use my traditional example. ERAU boasts that they have the most UPT slots given out, after the AFA.
    ~ Sounds great because what you are hearing is 2nd after the AFA, but AFROTC is national. Statistically chances are no better going with them than a smaller unit, because they do not allot per unit. They allot nationally. ERAU has the same % as the national avg., they are just selling the actual number, not chancex.
    ~~~~~ERAU cadets compete against UMD, against TAMU, Notre Dame and every other college in the nation. Just like the WCS for HSSP there is an algorithm they use for the career (AFSC)

    If you are going down this path of shining, I have to say stop now.I believe your perception of the boards you will face in the future is wrong. It appears you are not thinking about this from either a national perspective or ADAF needs.
    ~~~~ Umpteenth time...tech or non-tech, rated or non-rated. ADAF is cutting personnel for the next 5 years. These issues matter, especially when you are a 200 up for selection.

    I know our DS opted to go to a large det. because his HS graduating class was 300. He wanted to be a number. His det won best in nation for large size 2x in 5 yrs. Incomimg class was always above 100. He was AFROTC HSSP non-tech scholarship, never made CWC or CVWC. He commissioned and got his dream AFSC.. rated ....pilot. At his det everyone pilot qual'd medically got UPT.
    ~ His cgpa was 3.43, he was in Arnie, merit scholarship from the college, forced him to carry at least 3.2, AFROTC wanted no lower than 2.5. He was short of getting his PPL (private pilots license), had Solo'd. A big deal because that is part of PCSM. I know his OF was 97.5. His AFOQT was 91, also a big factor for SFT.
    ~~~~ Bomb the AFOQT, I doubt the CoC will support you even as a scholarship recipient.

    I strongly suggest you investigate SFT selection because in the end for AFROTC this or AFROTC scholarship is truly only guaranteed for 2 years. No SFT selection equals high probability of disenrollment and loss of scholarship.

    It appears to me you are looking long term towards commissioning, but have yet to understand the system that will be your life for the next 4 years.

    Final point, if you are tech, but come next yr or any yr in college you decide you want to go non-tech, you will need their approval. Chances of that occurring are slim to none. it is more common that they will dis-enroll you before they approve tech to non-tech.
     
  12. Rdelahunr

    Rdelahunr Member

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    That was kind of my feeling. I also liked certain aspects of UMD, but it did not feel as college-y as UMTC. I also like the look of campus better and a few other things like food, etc. It will suck to be in a lecture hall of up to 700 but I'll manage. Thanks for the help deciding.
     
  13. TexanFutureSoldier

    TexanFutureSoldier Member

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    OP, a couple of other things that might be worth considering. Also this is coming from an AROTC cadet at a "big" school so I'm probably biased, but just my $0.02.

    1) Big school = more funding. Having seen the programs at other, smaller, colleges, I can say that we have much better equipment, a better cadre, and more scholarships/contracts to offer because we are a large, selective institution. Granted, there's more competition for the contracts, but even if you can't contract one semester, since we always have contracts rolling in you have a better chance of contracting overall.

    2) Sequester worries. I know Army has been closing down some of its smaller programs to cope with budget cuts, and doing ROTC as a crosstown cadet is significantly more trouble than having a unit at your school. If AFROTC ever does the same, the larger schools have bigger programs, and therefore a smaller chance of those programs being shut down.
     
  14. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Great perspective from a larger school.

    I agree the larger programs will most likely dodge the budget bullet when it comes to closures.

    I am curious, how does being a larger program mean a "better cadre". Unless the program has a fleet of Strykers what do you mean by much better equipment.

    As far as contracts go, how many qualified cadets at the larger programs do not receive a contract by the deadline.

    I imagine that larger programs, especially those at SMC's will have more funding for ROTC EC's then a smaller program would have, makes sense, not to mention more Alumni support due to the large number of graduates over the years.

    It really comes down to where you feel comfortable and see your best opportunity for success, which again should start with the school, not the ROTC program.
     
  15. -Bull-

    -Bull- Member

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    Have to side with you here, Jcleppe.

    I've seen large schools with horrible equipment and small schools with nice equipment. And vice versa. Bigger schools have bigger budgets, but also bigger expenses.

    Size of the school and "better-ness" of the cadre have no correlation. There are good and bad everywhere.

    I go to a larger size school. Pick the school you're comfortable with, don't sweat the small stuff.
     
  16. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    And I would add the cadre will undoubtedly completely rollover during one's stay at the college - so what you had when you entered will be entirely different when you leave.
     
  17. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    For what it's worth the AF already started condensing the detachments. X town can be more than just a 15-30 minute commute. It can be an hour or more. From an academic scheduling perspective this can become an issue compared to the cadet that attends the host college. That cadet can run back to the dorms, take a shower and still make it to the 8 a.m. class. The other can't because they may not be back in time, hence they have to take it at a different time, which maybe a problem if another class they need have it scheduled for the same time. Think of it like dominoes.
     
  18. Rdelahunr

    Rdelahunr Member

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    My family and I have come to the conclusion that if I don't accept the commandants scholarship by January 24th (his deadline for a verbal), then I'm throwing away $70,000. I will know on the USAFA by January 15th, so if the academy is a yes, then my decision is easy. If it's not or I'm deffered, my sneaking suspicion is that if I give him a verbal yes I can still back out later, but I will be taken out of the national AFROTC pool, so I will be left with no possible AFROTC scholarship should I choose to go to another school.

    Not gonna say I don't want to make this wonderful decision, but I'm not looking forward to making it.
     
  19. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Unless, I read the posts from Flieger wrong on the AFA, you will not know for sure if you have an appointment on the 15th. All you will know for sure is if you will be deferred, or a TWE is in your future.

    Think about how the appointment process works. You win the appointment and an MOC can only be charged after everyone on their slate has a WCS. You may have done the Nov. deadline, but cadets Smith, Jones and Tweedledee may have yet to submit their packet. That means the AFA cannot appoint anyone off that slate.

    AFA appointments always trump scholarships, so even if the appointment comes down for Mass Mailing March, they will release you.

    You are correct, you will be taken out of the national pool. Your AF options will be AFA or this scholarship to this school.

    Now you understand why those not madly in love with the school may take the risk that they will get an AFROTC scholarship, even a type 7 that they can convert to a 3 year type 2, so they have more freedom.

    MPO, this is a family financial decision. I hope that you follow what you and your family decided because as a parent the stress and strain finding the money to pay can be a burden. We are a bunch of strangers with very little insight into your life.
     
  20. -Bull-

    -Bull- Member

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    Correct. I've had 3 different PMS's, 3 different SMI's, 2 different MS2 instructors, and 3 MS3 instructors. Lot's of turnover.
     

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