Civillian ROTC vs SMA

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by taymcg12, Jul 29, 2015.

  1. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    For a while, I have been dead set on the Citadel as my backup school to the service academy, with VMI as my other backup since I live in VA. I have been planning on applying to both Virginia Tech and Texas A&M for a while (I have been a HUGE Hokie fan since birth since that is where most of my family attended). I thougt since I was a little kid that I would e a Hokie one day until I decided that I wanted to go military. Recently, I read some threads that talked about the Corps at A&m and VT, and they reignited my interest. Alumni talked about their experiences and said that they got the strict and tough military experince that they wanted (and needed for academic succes , but also got to have fun (party XD) in college, meet girls, etc. So if I want a long military career and need rigor and discipline for academic success, how is VT and A&M vs. the citadel and VMI? Having fun is definetly not a top priority for me (which is why I was content on a service academy or the Citadel); top priority for me is leadership development and a commission into the military. Although it would definetly be nice to have a little bit of fun in college as long as I kept good grades and was formed into a great leader. I will be having overnight visits to everywhere except A&M. I have also grown up being around Tech, so I know almost everything about the campus, I am just not very educated on the Corps.
     
  2. Megan'sMom-Okla

    Megan'sMom-Okla Member

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    Our DD has been on the path of serving her country as an officer in the military (I will not state her branch preference here) since the 8th grade. Like many young people just like her, she has worked tirelessly toward goal. She had applied to both USMA and USNA for the Class of 2019, and due to our residing in a extremely competitive district in our state (the dean of admissions at USNA told her had she lived in any other district in our state, she would have received an appointment). She, unfortunately, received the dreaded TWE for both academies. However, she was awarded a 4 year AROTC and a 4 year NROTC scholarship, and she accepted one (again, I'm not stating her preference per her request) and has already begun reapplying for the Class of 2020. Now here is just a little tidbit of info on TAMU; my DD attended their JCAP program this last spring. They offer one in the fall and one in the spring every year. While she did receive a scholarship and the promise of in-state tuition for attending this event, she came away from the experience with the feeling of "meh"..... In the parent information meeting, her father and I came away even less impressed. We learned that less than half the cadets in the Corps of Cadets actually go on to commission and serve in the military.... less than half. For some reason, that troubled us...... I don't know if it was all the hype we've heard that the Corps of Cadets is almost a "junior academy" or what.... While we would have supported her if she had chosen TAMU for her scholarship, we are relieved she didn't.
    Now, I am sure I will get some heat for this opinion, and that's fair I suppose, but it is OUR perception, and we are entitled to it.
    It is commendable that you are considering every aspect of every option available to you, and I wish you much luck, taymcg12, in whatever path you choose to reach your goals. God Bless and thank you for your willingness to serve!
     
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  3. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    Thank you very much for the detailed answer! You will receive no flak from me for thinking of the TAMU Corps like that (as that as what I have always thought the civilian college Corps would be like). I was just trying to get a different perspecitve on the matter. The fact that you, as a parent, were not all that impressed, speaks volumes to me, because parents should know the most of anyone about discipline and strictness. Thank you for the encouragement, it truly means a lot!
     
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  4. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    Another big piece of the puzzle is that if I did not want to be a leader and to get a college degree, I would enlist right now. So I want to go somewhere that will make waiting another 4 years to join the service worth it, not somewhere where I will waste 4 years of my life on false promises of discipline and leadership development that could be spent helping people and serving my country.
     
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  5. Lawman32RPD

    Lawman32RPD Member

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    No one school is right for everyone. Our daughter visited The Citadel and didn't have a great feeling about it, visited VMI and liked it, visited A&M, and loved it and has just finished four years in the TAMU Corps. There are challenges and benefits from attending a large Senior Military College such as A&M. You won't get the same one-on-one instruction from professors, especially as a freshman and a sophomore, that you'd get at The Citadel, VMI, Norwich, or UNG. There are economies of scale that come from being a bigger school such as Virginia Tech or A&M. Our son, and this really surprised me, ended up at A&M and will be a "pisshead" (sophomore) when classes start next month (can't believe it, he goes back in two weeks to get ready for Freshman Orientation Week), and he likes it; I never saw that coming. His best friend from high school is at VMI and loves it. A Scout friend of theirs just finished his rook year at Norwich and loves it there. One of our Assistant Scoutmasters was a Citadel graduate, and his son finished at the Naval Academy. Another Assistant Scoutmaster did ROTC at Duke and excelled there. The last two have been from VMI and West Point and did well there. There are great benefits from the smaller, focused environment of an institution such as The Citadel or VMI, fewer distractions. You aren't going to worry about laundry at VMI; at A&M you have to factor doing your laundry and getting to the dry cleaner on top of other things. Most weekday mornings at A&M you'll be up early, around 0545 and doing PT before getting into your uniform and marching into breakfast at 0700. You'll be exposed to being up and ready early in the morning sitting next to someone in class who is in their pajamas at 11am; but you know, you'll need to be able to interact with civilians even if you make a career in the military. You'll be able to have a car at A&M even as freshman and you can count that as a distraction and frill - or you can look at as a self-disciplining issue. You are going to find many who want to commission at A&M, and many who don't. There is a bell curve in just about everything, some of the units (outfits in A&M-speak) are extremely focused on having cadets commission and emphasize PT scores greatly; others not as much. You'll find "friends with benefits" at VMI or, I suspect, The Citadel; and if you ended up at A&M, that occurs there too. A&M is a big school, about 43,000+ undergraduates, with the cadets numbering about 2,500 +/-; with 800 clubs, hundreds of majors, and multiple schools within the University. The A&M cadets, particularly as juniors and seniors, go to "Northgate" and partake in all that is there. Our daughter has friends who commissioned in the Marines, the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy. A&M has a lot of traditions and is a friendly and supportive environment. Freshman (Fish) and sophomores are supposed to be in their rooms after dinner, or the library. There are learning and leadership facilities in several of the dorms and more are being constructed. I don't think you could go wrong at any of the SMCs. If you can, try to go an overnight wherever you are considering going to. You can find many videos at their respective websites, and on YouTube. A&M was a great choice for our daughter and is proving to be one for our son; but we know people who have thrived in other institutions. Largely I think the schools will be what you make of them and you'll need to figure out which is the right fit for you. I wish you the very best.
     
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  6. Akrogan

    Akrogan Member

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    I believe doing any branch of ROTC at a regular school without a Corps or anything like that can also be a valuable experience...

    I do AFROTC on scholarship at a large state school and it has been an incredibly positive experience. By being a "normal" college student, I have learned how to work with others from all paths of life...

    In summation, look at civilian colleges. Go to one and you won't regret it, I guarantee it!
     
  7. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    Thank you for the answers! I have gathered a good bit of info, so I will apply to all of them and go from there.
     
  8. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    One thing to remember is that ROTC, Commissioning, and SMC's are not all guaranteed. SMCs just like every other college have limits to the number of ROTC Contracts they can offer. This is one of the reasons you will see that not everyone in the Corps of Cadets commissions.
     
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  9. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Don't tell enlisted soldiers that they are not leaders, they will be quick to correct you.
     
  10. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    That is not at all what I meant. I have the utmost respect for enlisted men. I also understand that if I commission, I should listen to senior enlisted men more than anyone else. What I mean is that i can better myself as a leader and be put in a position with more responsibilities.
     
  11. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    One thing to always remember, West Point, SMCs, ROTC at Civilian colleges, none of these will make you a Great Leader. Becoming a Great Leader is what happens after to commission, how well you learn at BOLC, how well you learn from your NCOs, How you perform as a Platoon Leader. These are what will help form you into a good leader, where you attend school and how you commission is just the path you take to the starting line.

    Civilian ROTC programs still commission the largest number of 2LTs each year. Many of these new LTs will go on to do great things, same with the other commissioning sources, and all of them will also have new LTs that just don't quite make the mark.

    Each commissioning source comes with it's own challenges, the SAs and SMCs are much more rigid. At SAs you all wake up together, you form up together and you go eat together, then you go off to classes and then all go to your individual athletic activity. All of these are challenges that take some getting used to.

    On the Civilian college side, the cadet wakes up on his own, no matter how late they stayed up the night before, they eat when they can and it's their responsibility to get to where they need to be on time. These cadets can also become involved in Campus activities, student government, the Greek system, all things outside ROTC, but they will still need to participate fully in ROTC. All of these are again challenges that take getting used to.

    My opinion, no one commissioning source is better then the other, they are just different. The new to be cadet needs to understand the differences and then make a decision based on what will be the best fit for them. Do this and you will excel, in both school and ROTC. Don't pick a school or program just because you think it will make you a better officer, pick a school you will thrive at and the rest will fall into place.
     
  12. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I'm sure you didn't, I was saying it more in jest then being serious. A failed attempt at humor.
     
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  13. Megan'sMom-Okla

    Megan'sMom-Okla Member

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    NROTC midshipmen at our DD's university commission into AD into the Navy or Marine Corps.

    We were disappointed that not one of the cadets they chose to address the parents were planning on serving at all. Our perception, and again I realize I will catch heat, was that it seemed to us the main goal of many was to become seniors so they could purchase and wear the "special" (and often expensive) leather riding boots. It just happened that my DD was not interested in "playing soldier", she wants to serve. Again, this was our takeaway from the JCAP experience, and I wouldn't expect that to be the case for everyone, so I do respectfully apologize if anyone is offended or takes exception to our view of the experience.
     
  14. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I was not offended at all, I'm sorry if it came across that way.

    That's the biggest difference between AROTC and NROTC, AFROTC as well, the latter two require commissioning into AD, the Army does not.

    What I was mentioning is that at SMCs, while there may be a large number of AROTC cadets, not all of them will be contracted. The battalions at SMC, just like civilian colleges, have a limited number of contracts to offer for each class. While there may be 200 AROTC cadets, there may only be 100 that were given contracts, that means there are some that will not commission into the Army upon graduation.

    I tend to agree with what your saying, Most cadets at civilian AROTC programs are looking to contract and commission but even there some will not be offered a contract by their junior year. The difference at a civilian college is that those that do not contract leave the program and go about their college life.
     
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  15. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I think its important for the OP to know and understand the different nuances of each SMC. They are all unique and the same in many ways. The uniqueness is what will make one or two of them stand out to you. Some of these schools will speak to you more than others. If you can swing it, visit them. This will help alot. Visit the ROTC detachments too. Becoming a good officer is not about the school you go to. Its about embracing the opportunities you have while in school to learn, grow and develop then transition in to being an officer.

    Texas A&M and VT probably have lots of similarities as they are both Corps in larger civilian schools. From my understanding (and others please chime in) the experience can be greatly tailored at A&M by what company you choose to serve in while there. So that can be good because you can focus on what you want to. VMI, Citadel require ROTC even if not contracted while at school. I believe Norwich requires 6 semesters. Not sure on North Georgia. VA Tech does not require ROTC, but has a Citizens-Leaders track. A&M has a similar path, but I believe ROTC is required for a certain amount of time (could be wrong). The website itself says 60% of students pursue a non-commissioning path at A&M. The commissioning rate for each school varies, but most are somewhere in the 30-60% range (varies by year, school, etc). I posted below an old thread from few years ago regarding this discussion on commissioning rates. There are others too.

    http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/index.php?threads/commissioning-rate.30909/
     
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  16. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    I see now, that is my fault ;)
     
  17. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    Thank you for taking my question further, I will be able to visit everywhere for an overnighter except for TAMU due to the fact that I live in VA (good drive from VA to Texas lol). In the end, my main goal is to get a great education and commission into the military. It seems that all of the offer at least an opportunity.
     
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  18. k2rider

    k2rider Member

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    It may sound silly to you now and it truly may not be important at all but this about "other" factors as well that may elevate your college experience. My daughter went to a smaller school that didn't have a football team after going to a high school that had a perennial powerhouse team. She actually missed the "experience" of going to the games with thousands of other fans, 66000 in VT's case. She had a high school friend that went to Notre Dame on a full ride softball scholarship. That friend, who has a 4.0 in college, says that aside from playing softball the football games were the highlight of going to Notre Dame. My daughters other biggest complaint was that her small school had such limited choices for food so after about (6) months, she was over it. She's jealous of her brother who goes to a D-1 school and has 20+ restaurants right on campus. Even I'm jealous of my son's college experience.

    Ask about freshmen bringing a car to school which you can't do at some colleges. How are the freshman dorms? My daughter did fine but now the school is in a crunch and putting (3) freshman in each dorm. They were tight enough with (2) kids in there. What else does the school offer? Do you care about a nice gym? newer library facilities? are small classes important? because if so, the GE classes at VT and TAMU will probably have 300+ kids in them and minimal access to instructors. My daughter had 3600 people at her school, 20 kids in most classes, constant access to professors and state of the art medical facilities (she was a nurse major so this was a big deal).
     
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  19. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    These are actually big things that I am considering since I am at a sort of stale-mate. As I said earlier, I am a huge Hokie fan, so that would be awsome. There are few things that I love more than college football. I always did dream of going to a big D-1 school with 30,000-40,000 students or more, I'm just not sure if it is the right fit for my goals. I already know about VT's food since it is the family school, that sure would be nice, but again, not a huge priority. Same thing with the gym. I know that VMI just finished renovating their gym, so that is a big plus towards VMI. Thank you for pointing these things out, they may just be the deciding factors in where I end up.
     
  20. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    The great part with you being in VA is you have two great in state schools with VMI and VT to really evaluate. Texas A&M offers in state to those in the Corps. Cost will and does play a factor in these decisions. Obviously its a discussion between you and the parental units to have. Citadel for out of state is over $40k or a year I believe from previous postings. So its important to understand the costs with and without scholarships. Norwich offers a scholarship that covers Room & Board for those who are on ROTC scholarship. That is a huge saver. With VT being in state, it might be cheaper to have Room & Board covered by the ROTC scholarship (if allowed, this varies by service) than in state tuition costs, especially if you have earned extra academic scholarships. Tons of things to think about and weigh as you look at schools. Bottom line is eventually you will walk on campus and one of them will feel like its the right place for you.
     
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