Choosing ROTC Scholarship over SA

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by USMAROTCFamily, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

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    I would be interested in hearing from anybody who chose an ROTC Scholarship over an appointment to a Service Academy. What were your main reasons for selecting that option? Did you have any regrets that you passed on attending a SA? How about somebody who decided to go to a SA and turned down the ROTC scholarship, but later regretted it? I'd like to get the perspective from others who had several options to choose from and the decision-making process. Thanks.
     
  2. grevar

    grevar CGA Admissions Partner

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    I will say that has been the topic of discussion with my son. He is applying to USNA, USCGA and the NROTC scholarship. His first choice has always been USNA, and going to NASS this summer solidified that in his mind. He also attended AIM and is very interested in USCGA, especially since he will likely get to play varsity lacrosse there. The dilemma (and a great problem to have) is what if he gets selected only to USCGA and the NROTC Scholarship (That he already has been awarded)????

    He has been trying to weigh out his options. I guess it boils down to if you want a normal college experience with the added flavor or ROTC, or do you want the rigors of academy life? Of course, he has to weigh whether he wants his mission to be more in line with the Navy or Coast Guard as well.

    I too would be interested in hearing from others who faced that decision and determine why they went one way over another.
     
  3. mbitr

    mbitr Member

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    Your son is smart to recognize the tradeoffs between the two. Talk to as many folks with firsthand experience as you can on both sides of the aisle. Behind all the pomp and flair they are two very, very different lifestyles that lead to the same place.
     
  4. terp1984

    terp1984 Member

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    DS turned down USNA appointment at the last minute. He attended the CVW, the plebes that he was with were not happy at that time and did not encourage him to attend and he listened. He was in a different position as he didn't apply for the NROTC scholarship. So he gave NROTC a try and earned a 2 year scholarship. He never regrets his decision. He is now a 4th year and its service selection time. There is no advantage given to USNA mids vs NROTC mids during service select. The exact percentages are awarded to all diciplines. Financially the SA is the better choice as all room and board is included. Where DS attends, his major is much better than at the SA's. IMHO what college life do you want. Most officers will say after 6 months in the fleet it makes little difference where you went to college but how you are performing in the fleet.
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I am guessing USMAROTC is looking at Army as the branch.

    Please remember AF/NROTC commissioned will go AD, whereas, AROTC have options (Guard/Reserve)

    In the end of the day, if choosing an SA over ROTC for career option, promotion chances is your motivating factor; I will leave you with this.

    Gen. Powell was AROTC.
    Currently, 50% of ADAF Flag officers are AFROTC.

    Kids go ROTC for a lot of reasons.

    ~~~~Our child was an AFROTC brat. He wanted to live life as a "real kid"
    ~~~~ He had 4 noms (Pres., 3 MOCs), 1390 One sitting SAT (720 M), NMSF, all APs, and Jump start at the local college.
    ~~~~ AFROTC scholarship and Merit from the college was the factor.
     
  6. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    I have two children in college. One (daughter) is a senior in AFROTC and the other (son) is a junior at USAFA.

    My daughter did not apply to any SAs as she wanted the civilian college experience. She couldn't imagine (then) why anyone would want to attend college AND live with the 24/7 days of military training for 4 years.

    My son applied to the 3 big SAs and all the ROTC programs (except NROTC MO). He really wanted the SA experience and applied for the ROTC scholarships as a backup plan. He visited USAFA during the Fall of his HS Senior year and despite some less than positive opinions from the cadets that he met, KNEW that USAFA was the place for him. As soon as he received his USAFA LOA and Nom....everything else was forgotten...he was going to USAFA. He did eventually receive 3 ROTC scholarships and a LOA to USMA...but was certain USAFA was for him.

    As of today: my daughter still can't understand her brother's choice and still thinks she made the correct choice for herself. I would agree...for her it definitely seems as though she chose correctly. My son can't imagine attending a civilian college and is certain that he made the correct choice for himself. I would agree...for him it definitely seems as though he chose correctly.

    FWIW: if my son wasn't certain which way to go (ROTC vs SA) and had both an AFROTC Scholarship and an Appointment to USAFA....I would have suggested that he take the AFROTC scholarship and re-apply to USAFA during his freshman year of college. While there is no guarantee that he would receive another Appointment, I think the chances are reasonably good. This approach would also give him a year of experience socially/academically and with AFROTC in a civilian college. This experience would be helpful in deciding whether an SA is a better choice and in succeeding at an SA ...if that is the route he chose...and if he was fortunate enough to receive another Appointment.

    While I understand how difficult it would be to turn down an SA Appointment, IMHO...I think it would be a mistake to attend a SA unless you feel strongly that it is the right direction for you. Again....JMPO

    Good Luck! :thumb:
     
  7. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    My nephew chose USNA over NROTC at Berkeley. It wasn't even a close decision for him.

    My daughter chose AROTC, and didn't apply to the Academy. It wasn't even a close decision (to apply to the Academy).

    He knew he wanted the regimented 24x7 military lifestyle. It took him a while to choose between USAFA and USNA, but in the end he was confident in his decision. He also was 100% sure he wanted to be a Naval Aviator. He will start Thursday in Pensacola after spending the past two years at MIT.

    She knew she wanted to study Neuroscience, to be in a Sorority, enjoy college, and then go into Military Intelligence. The jury is still out as to whether she will get the MI Branch, but so far, so good as far as GPA, standing within the Battalion, APFT, etc. and summer work (Project GO Arabic in Morocco for 8 weeks). She is entering MSIII year in three weeks.

    Kids just seem to know once they are exposed to to the similarities and differences within their options. They know in their gut.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2013
  8. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    That's a good point. I would say one should trust their gut and not their head on this one... if the two are fighting one another that is.

    DS started his application to USNA but never finished it. He decided he wanted a normal college experience while doing NROTC MO. He didn't win a high school scholarship but did win a sideload scholarship his sophomore year. I have to say he made the right decision. He's thriving. Others will thrive in an academy environment. It's different for each individual.
     
  9. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    So I'll add a slightly different perspective. I chose to go to USNA over doing NROTC (or PLC) at a civilian school. I don't regret this decision at all and I loathe the "But didn't you want to enjoy college?" question, mostly because I actually did enjoy college. Some things that helped me make my decision you may want to consider:

    1: I wanted to do my best to develop myself as a leader. I kind of debated writing this one because I don't want to make it sound like I think NROTC guys don't care about their leadership development or whatever. But I know that I can attribute a lot of who I am as an officer to my experience at USNA, both from being in leadership billets and succeeding/failing and watching others do the same. I obviously can't say with any honesty that I would have been a "bad" or "worse" officer had I gone NROTC, but for me personally the SA system worked. I've met and worked with phenomenal officers from NROTC and there are plenty of service academy grads who, honestly (in my opinion) "waste" their time at an SA and just sort of bide their time until they get their commission, but I personally wanted as many chances as possible to test myself and figure out what I needed to improve on. There is no shortage of leadership opportunities at a SA if you're willing to work for them and I get the impression from talking to my friends who did NROTC that that may not necessarily be the case depending on your unit.

    2: I knew what degree I was interested in getting and wasn't really at a disadvantage for it if I went to USNA. I was pretty sure I wanted to major in history (which I did) and USNA has a decent history program...and one that's good enough (and that I did well enough in) to not sweat getting into a decent grad school that much. If you're interested in a very specific degree or program not offered at the SA of your choice, like the neuroscience example dunninla mentioned, then an SA is not necessarily in your best interest.

    3: I just was not that interested in the "normal college experience." This does not mean "I hate fun" or "I didn't want to ever drink alcohol." I had plenty of fun at USNA both in the SA sense and in the normal college way, and I guess probably could have had more at a civilian school. This is really one of those "your mileage may vary" things. To me, though, the balance of "free, really good college" outweighed being in a sorority. Things that may have attracted me to a civilian school like a semester abroad or rare internships were either options at USNA or not appealing enough to make me change my mind.

    4: I probably could not have gotten into an equivalently good civilian school. Granted, I didn't apply to any Ivies or anything, mostly because I was 95% sure I wanted to go to an SA, but USNA was the "best" school (by most metrics) I got into. I didn't exactly shoot for the stars with the civilian schools I applied to (I got into all of them, by the way...) but the best "normal" college I was accepted to was GWU. Great school, but just not the same as USNA as far as prestige or name recognition. This sounds cynical and isn't something that you're really supposed to care about, but there you go.

    5: Financials. This was not going to be a huge issue for me unless I'd gone to GWU (shudder), but it's definitely something to think about if you're doing ROTC without a scholarship or it doesn't cover everything (honestly don't remember how this works).

    6: Personality. I'm that competitive jerk who can't sleep at night for weeks if I feel like I didn't try my absolute best at something or if I think I took the easy way out. Frankly, USNA sounded like a challenge, and I wanted to see if I could succeed there.

    I'll put out there that there's not a huge difference on the Marine Corps side between officers from different commissioning sources. I've really liked and respected the NROTC guys in particular that I've interacted with and by no means are they inferior officers compared to USNA grads. It all comes down to personal preference: what do you hope to gain from your college experience and how do you want to use it to become a better officer?
     
  10. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    @Hurricane12 - That was so well worded, thought out, fair, and balanced that you ought to save it to re-post this time next year! :thumb:
     
  11. markbrown6

    markbrown6 Member

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    Academy was uncomfortable.

    Son walked away from USAFA appointment in favor of ROTC. He did summer seminar there, we visited, he listened/talked with others. It didn't feel right for him; something about the culture didn't hook him. He mentioned the religious climate discussions he came in contact with. Anyway, he took AFROTC scholarship at big detachment and has been glad. Naval Academy might have been more attractive, but he didn't get appointment.
     
  12. QA1517

    QA1517 Member

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    Just a slightly different perspective, SA you can walk away from after 2 yrs with no re-payment. If your on an ROTC Scholarship and walk away then you have repayment. Things can change in 2 yrs and one's priorities may change.

    If you decide the SA is not for you you can always go back to a traditional college. DS talked to a few people this summer that are doing ROTC that had tried the SA's and it just wasn't for them.
     
  13. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Just a minor correction. You can walk away from ROTC after the freshman year without repayment or any other obligation. So not as long a grace period as an SA, but there is still a grace period.
     
  14. QA1517

    QA1517 Member

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  15. grevar

    grevar CGA Admissions Partner

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    Agreed...I actually printed out the advice!
     
  16. navyhopeful15

    navyhopeful15 Member

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    I chose ROTC over an academy. Here's my two cents, take it for what it's worth.

    I knew I wanted to serve in the Navy since my sophomore year of high school. I have no military background or family history in any branch or at any school, so nothing of that nature was a factor in my decision.

    When the time came to start college applications, I had a hard time deciding what route to take. I knew I wanted the regimented structure of academy life, but I was also cautious to accept something as binding as an appointment at the academy. I was fairly certain that the Navy was the career I wanted to pursue, but how could I be so sure when I had never really been exposed to it? What if I was stuck there for four years and in the service for another several after that and I hated it? It was an unlikely outcome, considering how dead-set I was on the Navy, but I decided that it would be a wiser option to pursue NROTC.

    Now that I had made the difficult decision to rule out the academy, I had to begin looking at NROTC units. As mentioned earlier, I knew I wanted something structured like a service academy. This brought me to a decision between the senior military colleges, all which have a cadet corps and an overall atmosphere similar to an academy. I'm attending one now, have confirmed that the Navy is what I want to do, and am currently on scholarship and set to commission in a couple of years.

    I don't regret my decision one bit. Even knowing what I know now, I would choose ROTC over a service academy. Academies provide a great education and are an excellent option for the right person, and I have no doubt that I would've been happy at one, but I've found that the diversity, freedom, and, most importantly, balance, ROTC provides has been a key component of my education and development as a future officer.

    Instead of being surrounded by Navy all the time, I have a very wide spread of influences. I have friends on Army and Air Force scholarships in addition to my Navy/Marine friends, so I've become very well acquainted with the inner workings (at least on a ROTC level) of those branches. I have civilian friends pursuing everything from careers on Wall Street to careers in medicine. Outside of designated times for military training activities I'm free to be a normal college student at a great civilian university. I don't have to feel like I missed out on a regular college experience OR a regimented military lifestyle. And when it's all said and done, I'm putting on the same butter bars and going into the same service as any academy grad.

    I can't say whether ROTC or an academy is better because there's no definitive answer. It all comes down to individual preference. I love my school and my ROTC unit and wouldn't trade it for an appointment, but someone else might want all-military all the time and hate the ROTC lifestyle. To contrast, I know several people who have done a year at my school and transferred to a service academy.

    My advice to anyone trying to decide between ROTC and a service academy is to visit the schools they're considering and talk to people that attend them. This website is a great resource for finding people in different commissioning programs and at different schools. If there's any doubt in your mind about the military, remember: you can get out of a four year scholarship for free after your first year and stay at school, but getting out of a service academy will cause a huge hassle of applying to different schools, dealing with credits not transferring, etc. Consider a senior military college if ROTC is on your radar because they're a great balance between an academy and a normal ROTC unit. And, above all else, go with your gut. Only you can decide where you'll be most happy.
     
  17. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Very nice post, Navyhopeful15.

    Just wanted to add one thing for the OP.

    If you are awarded a Scholarship you can drop ROTC after your freshman year with no obligation, as long as you drop before you start your sophomore year, just as Navy mentioned.

    If you attend a SA, you can leave the SA's at anytime during your first two years without any obligation, ROTC allows only one year grace if you are on scholarship, you are not stuck at a SA for 4 years once you start. Navy is right, you would have to deal with the transfer of credits though.
     
  18. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

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    I appreciate everyone's comments here. Our DD had come back from USMA SLE and USNA SS this summer very pumped up and had felt she could see herself at either of the academies. But after much soul-searching and reflection, our DD has decided to pursue the route of ROTC (Army and Navy) and forego the Service Academies. She decided she wanted more of a traditional college experience, mixed in with the military training. Admittedly, both her father and I were slightly disappointed, and initially wanted her to continue moving forward with her academy applications to allow her more options after all of the ROTC scholarship, college acceptances/declines, outside scholarships, etc. start rolling in, in the spring. We now feel if her heart is not 100% into the commitment of attending a Service Academy, then we agree with her decision to not continue her applications. At this point, the consensus is that if later she has regrets, she can apply for the service academies in her Freshman year of college. Well, I guess this is just one of many decisions she will be making as her senior year kicks off!
     
  19. Aglahad

    Aglahad Member

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    I'm here at BOLC with OCS, ROTC, direct commission and USMA. Everyone has their own varying experiences but we all to to integrate rather well to the point where commissioning source is largely negligible (Well maybe not the direct commissions so much :yllol:). I think the SAs have better training opportunities but all of us are really inexperienced when we hit the force. I have personally taught USMA guys here some stuff they didn't know and they have helped me as well. No choice is bad in this situation.

    It's wherever you feel comfortable in my opinion
     
  20. Roway

    Roway Member

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    Our son turned down a USNA appointment in favor of NROTC. Weekend visit seemed to clinch it for him. He wanted a " normal college experience" and thought many of the mids he met seemed "not too happy" . He really likes his current college, is doing well and has no regrets. Ironically, his father "had the time of my life" at USNA and still laughs about all the fun/funny things that happened while he was there.
     

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