career advantages: Academy vs ROTC

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by endoftheline, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. endoftheline

    endoftheline Member

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    i've been reading this thread for a while now (just joined) and i am getting that there are no career advantages between going to the academy vs rotc. from my research the academy is supposed to be the air force's premier leadership institution and it's supposedly harder than rotc programs. if both of these are the case, are there ANY perks of going to the academy on one's career? i.e. does any of it count towards retirement or service, do you get paid more, promoted quicker, etc.? i understand the academy has more slots for desirable jobs, but is that ALL there is too it?

    thanks!
     
  2. Strike Eagle

    Strike Eagle USAFA Cadet 2015

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    You will be in the same place when you commission. The Academy offers an outstanding experience and a lot of perks while you are attending and increases your chances of getting the cat. that you want. Other than that, you are in the same place in the Air Force and are not distinguished. Just remember what you can get while you attend the Academy.

    And looking passed the Air Force, the Academy looks outstanding on a job resume if you are looking for a job after your commitment time is up, unless of course you make the Air Force a career thing.
     
  3. Drew_22

    Drew_22 USAFA Cadet

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    I think that I read somewhere on here (Though I'am not 100% sure), that if you do well at the academy and that you are Pilot Qualified that you are virtually are guaranteed a pilot slot. I know ROTC doesn't do that. Also alot more Academy kids go to pilot school then ROTC. I'm pretty sure anyways, anyone can correct me if I'm wrong.
     
  4. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Strike Eagle's point about "job resume" is really important, unless you go to a brand-name ROTC school (which may balance things out).

    FWIW, in the Army, to choice assignments used to go to USMA grads and Distinguished Military Graduates (top ROTC grads). Not sure whether it's the same in the Air Force.
     
  5. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    While there are no guarantees, the academy generally gets about 40% of UPT slots while graduating about 20% of the officers. Also, from a networking perspective, academy grads have a leg up when they enter active duty. For example, at my UPT base, I recognized dozens of people the first day I got here.
     
  6. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    For those who don't have deep pockets, ROTC scholarships are great but don't always pay for all of the expenses. If you are in a swanky (read: EXPENSIVE) college and not all your costs are covered, expect loans or hefty checks from your 'rents. Nice graduating with a car, money in the bank, and a job.

    My sons compared their USAFA experience to their friend's AFROTC experience at State U, and they do not compare at all. Still, they'll both be 2nd Lts.
     
  7. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    There are no career perks for going to USAFA over ROTC, per se.....but USAFA has some huge perks you can't get in ROTC or are much more rare. USAFA has a lot of great experiences (jump, soaring, travel) etc. which are more common, but here's some real perks that are not usually discussed. Caveat at the end.

    -There is a larger USAFA "club" out there. If you are a good officer, USAFA grads have a tendency to watch out for each other and mentor-ship is more natural when a senior officer grad works with a junior officer grad. It's a quirky brother/sisterhood.

    - You can make some incredible connections at USAFA. The AOCs and many of the professors are there because they were exceptional in their fields. They usually auto-promote to LtCol from USAFA and, if not retiring, will likely be O-6s and O-7s while you're a CGO. That's a great resource to have. We have many speakers, guests, etc. who come for many events at USAFA. Some people form mentorships with senior govt, military, and private members through their interactions as these events. While I didn't form a relationship, I met the SECAF, Michael Donley, at an event at the Supe's house and he was also at my squadron's commissioning (along with Bullet!). Most ROTC don't have that chance. Short story: Gen Rice (then LTGen Rice of 5th AF Japan) told us his story. He was the Wing Commander as a cadet. When he was a Captain, anther senior officer remembered him as a cadet and that he was top notch. That experience led him to a job as a Captain that rocketed his career to Gen (his account). His USAFA experience influenced other's judgment of him.

    - The career type opportunities after graduation are amazing. Along with myself, about 10% of our class went to grad/med/nursing school. We're at AFIT, Harvard, UofMaryland, MIT, RAND, etc. Not usually offered to ROTC grads. These themselves have amazing perks. For me, through my RAND work already in 6 months, I am in conversations with one of the Deputy Assistant Secretaries of the AF and he has put me in contact with about 7 LTCs, Col, and senior civilians in the Pentagon and service HQs of the AF, Army, and DoD on issues that I expressed interest in for dissertation work. He is acting as a mentor and helping me to develop a research dissertation that will benefit the AF/DoD. Also helping me with an Army project I am a part of at RAND. That's my own story, but it is repeated with many people who received scholarships and other post-grad opportunities.

    So, are there any guaranteed perks? No. But I could tell you about so many indirect OPPORTUNITIES and doors that open due to USAFA. That's not just confined to a military career. You can make contacts that last after separating. Like someone else said, that USAFA degree is quite a commodity. I know flieger likes to say his job offer was about having that degree and it being recognized as an achievement!

    Hope that gives you some insights. Think outside the box. Also, don't choose USAFA or ROTC based solely on job opportunities, choose the one you will like better. Ultimately, you will do better where you are happier.
     
  8. Derrick

    Derrick USAFA Class of 2015

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    Mostly adding on to what's been said, but right afterwards, you'll end up in the same spot (for the most part). As a 2nd Lt in the USAF. But if you decide to leave the service, the academy looks stellar on a job resume. My ALO was telling me about being offered a job right away after leaving the AF and how eager the company was to pick him up. My mom's also worked with people in the corporate world who have graduated from the academy and she tells me they're some of the sharpest and most qualified people she's ever encountered.

    I heard that the class of 2010 sent about 51% of its graduates to UPT. Those are pretty awesome chances. A 2nd Lt from the class that was welcoming us for the visit said that the last person in his class got a slot to give you an idea of the likely possibility of a pilot slot.

    I'll also touch on this point. From speaking with alumni from both USMA and USAFA, both have said if not the greatest, one of the greatest parts of the academy experience is the friends you'll make. They've all said they made friends for life during their time at the academy. While this could be the same situation at some AFROTC programs as well, once combined with the other benefits make the academy IMHO the best choice. I believe it comes down more to a "now vs then" situation. If you got to AFROTC at a normal college, you could have much more freedom, attend parties, etc, but post graduation and service could/would be different than the academy. If you want to enjoy your college years while you're there, the academy probably won't be the best choice from what I've gathered. In the end, are you just trying to be an officer in the AF? Or do you want the little perks and academy experience as well.
     
  9. falconchic88

    falconchic88 Member

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    Are all ROTC graduates garranteed an active duty position upon graduation, or are they commissioned as a reserve officer and have to "find" an active duty slot?

    I know back in when I went thru, there was a big advantage graduating from USAFA because you were given a Regular commission vs a Reserve commission, and active duty slots were not a sure thing upon graduation from ROTC, you had to compete for an active duty tour or were attached to a reserve unit as a weekend warrior. Therefor no full time job upon graduation. I thought I had read somewhere that this is no longer the case, but was hoping someone here could clarify.
     
  10. xeonv2

    xeonv2 USAFA '15

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    @falconchic88

    Once in the ROTC program, cadets are still competing for a "Field Training" spot, which from my understanding is the ticket to a commission, (End of Sophomore year). And from what my local Detachment hinted, the spots for field training are becoming more selective due to budget constraints.

    So in that respect the Academy + 1
     
  11. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Ramius and Hornet said it best. While "Technically" there are no advantages, "Realistically" there are plenty. Besides all the "Extra" activities and the "Experience" that only the academy can offer, if you want to be a pilot, the academy overwhelmingly gives you a better chance of becoming a pilot. Not that an ROTC grad can't become a pilot. Just that an academy grad pretty much is guaranteed a pilot slot. A lot of people mention that about 50% of the academy gets pilot slots. The truth is: That's because that's about all who want a pilot slot. 85%+ probably come into the academy saying they want to fly. But after 3-4 years at the academy, and reality setting in, many "Choose" to not dedicate 10 additional years to the military. (That's the minimum if you want to become a pilot). Basically, less pilot slots would be available to non-academy officers if more academy students wanted it.

    Also, as said, after your time in the military, an academy grad is presenting a degree from a university ranked in the same social strata as an Ivy League school. And when employers are looking at your resume, your academy education pulls the type of weight that a Harvard, Stanford, Purdue, Dartmouth, etc... type name pulls.

    And the initial "Stereotype" you can in the military; coming from the academy; is also real. Whether you're a pilot, doctor, civil engineer, or whatever; that academy education will give you an immediate step up in the air force. It might not be "Official", but it exists. Of course, that usually only lasts as long as most first impressions. It's up to you to live up to that stereotype. Same goes with your contacts. There will be a lot of other officers in your chain of command that graduated from the academy. Some peers, some senior to you. That is a hell of a network.

    Basically, the vast majority of career opportunities that an academy graduate receives are "Unofficial", but they do exist. Even among the enlisted force, which is obviously much larger than the officer corp. Academy grads are looked at differently than an OTS or ROTC grad. Not that they aren't respected or liked; they are. Just that the academy grad has the extra step up. Sort of like the guard vs active duty. ROTC = Guard/Reserve = Part time military / Part time civilian. Academy = Active Duty = Full time military. Granted, this is more perception than truth, but perception is 99% truth. If the perception, especially among enlisted personnel, is that an academy officer understand the military better, because they did it full time; instead of a couple days a week and certain classes; then that perception becomes truth. Until proven otherwise. No one has to tell me how hard an ROTC student/grad works/ed at getting their commission and their career. I know they have. But that doesn't mean that the academy grad isn't given a different level of respect. Sometimes however, that can backfire. Some academy grads present themselves as arrogant and "Better" than the rest. This too comes out. So either route can be totally successful. The academy is simply the difference of the "Privileged" child who got to go to a nice suburban or private school growing up; and the "Under Privileged" child in the inner city who went to public school. Technically; they got the same education. However; we all recognize the QUALITY of that education and the future opportunities it provides.
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    All ROTC grads currently* must serve AD for 4 yrs**.

    Now from an ROTC Mom here are the things I see regarding this issue:

    1. Choose wisely the ROTC unit. Talk to them. Some units like ERAU will tell you that they give the 2nd most pilot slots out, only following the AFA. Wohoo where can I sign, right?

    ~This is true, BUT, the unit is so large that statistically the chance of getting one is lower than other units... i.e VT gives out less in numbers, but higher in %. UMDCP gives out less in numbers, but much higher in %.

    2. The AFA gives a big leg up because, you have the greater chance for grad school and fellowships immediately after graduation. It is rare for an AFROTC cadet to get a Rand fellowship or to go to AFIT with a follow on to UPT.

    3. Majors matter in ROTC. When you go for SFT and are a non-tech major you do not get the same starting points as the tech major...GPA also equals it out; just because you are a tech major if you have a 2.8 and the non-tech is a 3.5 that major is not going to beat the competition.

    SFT is determined as a C200 (soph), it will hurt you as a C300 if you do not attend, because one board has already met and stated that you weren't as competitive as others.

    C300 is for AFSC (career) They are meeting right now, thus, even if you didn't get SFT you only have spring and fall semester to get that gpa up. Now you have to really push it out because according to the AF, you did not fill in one square compared to others.

    4. AFA gets the pick of the litter, and than it goes to AFROTC. If the AF has enough UPT grads to fill every UPT spot, ROTC will not be getting any.

    5. If a RIF occurs, the regs are "regular" commission aka AFA, are safe until they cut "reserve" in their targeted areas.

    Going to the AFA is not going to insure General, it is not going to get you that F22 over the ROTC grad. It is what you do when you are AD that will determine your success.

    * The AF can change at anytime how the ROTC grad serves, there is never a guarantee until yo show up AD and they say welcome Lt. Smith

    ** ROTC pays back 4 yrs, instead of 5, but if they go to specialty schools i.e UPT, they payback the exact same amount as the AFA grad, because that is a different commitment.
     
  13. 1993A10

    1993A10 Member

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  14. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Only recently, I was told that they reverted back to the "regular v reserve" regarding RIF for the AF. This maybe due to the fact that the AF is intending to do a RIF if they do not get enough for VSP.

    Honestly, there is always a loop hole.

    Look at UPT, certain yr groups must pay back 10 yrs, but that doesn't stop the AF from changing the rule a yr later and say they owe 8.
     
  15. bugsy

    bugsy Member

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    I am a 4 yr ROTC scholarship grad. graduated sqd commander and recently promoted full colonel (O6) in the AF, my boss is a 2 star general AF ROTC grad from Notre Dame. As everyone has stated the "zoo" USAFA gives "zoomies" a leg up upon entrance to active duty, but on day 2 your no different than anybody else. You can tell the Zoomies from the ROTC Lts. Sometimes zoomies are better, sometimes they're worse. ROTC grads got the party scene out of them and are ready to buckle down. Zoomies threw their hat in the air at graduation and now want to start the party. Some feel that their entitled to bigger and better, but all are humbled at some point. By 1Lt it all settles out and that’s where the cream floats to the top, and lets face it, if you got into an academy you should already be near the top. But we also have higher expectations from Zoomies. So when a Zoomie makes a stupid mistake it gets noticed.

    A Service Academy is a military training program designed to produce a predictable product on a predictable time line. In a SA, if you struggle in an area, you will get resources focused on you, whether you want it or not/think you need it or not. If you think the focus is wrong or unfair, you’ll get frustrated and quit. In ROTC, if you struggle in an area, you’ll get mentoring but not resources.

    So what’s better USAFA or AFROTC. In ROTC, I took bowling for credits to raise my GPA after getting a D in physical chemistry. I joined a fraternity etc. 20 yrs later I am a Colonel looking proud at my son, hoping he gets into a SA. Why, because he is far more mature at 17 than I was at that time. He understands the AF family, and AF life. He knows what he wants, when I didn’t at that age. He knows what “sucks” about the Air Force and yet still has the calling to serve. He has been grilled by me, dozens of our Zoomie friends, my 2 star ROTC boss and others, he wants this more than anything. That’s why I support “his” plan.

    Bottom line: If you haven’t heard the calling to serve. Are listening intently to hear the calling but still unsure, think it would be really cool to go to a SA. You may want to rethink your plans. Get with an active duty officer that’s not an ALO and let him or her grill you on your life plans. On the other hand, if you have the calling to serve, will fight to answer that calling, then never give up, fight to prove the naysayers wrong. That’s the kind of officer we want in the world’s greatest Air Force.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2011
  16. NMMI PREP DIRECTOR

    NMMI PREP DIRECTOR Member

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    The Colonel's reply above "nail's it". While you maybe better prepared for the USAF when you graduate from the Academy; how well you do your job, meet your unit's mission, take on increased responsibility, and function as a team member is more important than your commissioning source. As an enlisted person I worked for many junior officers. I can't honestly say one group or the other were better "bosses". As a squadron commander I had many junior officers work for me. Again, honestly, I can't say I saw much difference between ROTC and AFA grads. (as a side note: one of best 2LT's was a USMMA grad.) Each person was unique with different talents. In my current job I work with all five service academies. Some of my cadets receive appointments, some don't. If those that don't make it to an academy have a real desire to serve their country in the military - I always advise them to pursue their goals via ROTC.
     
  17. endoftheline

    endoftheline Member

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    thanks for the reply guys, it's all really helpful.

    @hornet and Col Bugsy, thanks to both of you for the detailed reply -- i think i have a much better understanding. this also answers my question why most AF generals are usafa grads, despite only graduating 20% of the officers.

    anyways, thanks again to everyone for helping me out.
     

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