Concerns about credits and NROTC

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by theagentofchaos, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. theagentofchaos

    theagentofchaos Member

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    Hello, all,
    I've been doing a bit of research in preparation for scheduling my freshman year of classes in the fall, but I'm running into a bit of trouble as I do so. At the MIT NROTC battalion where I am set to begin the program, the following list details the academic requirements of a Navy Option scholarship student:

    Calculus - 2 semesters
    Physics - 2 semesters
    English - 2 semesters
    College Algebra (or Advanced Trig) - 2 semesters
    Physical Science - 2 semesters
    American History or National Security Policy - 2 semesters
    Regional world studies, world culture or world religions - 1 semester

    I'm more than a little perturbed by this. As I look over the basic degree requirements for the major my scholarship has been designated to, I'm increasingly unsure that it's actually possible to fulfill both. As a Tier 3 student (East Asian Studies), I am unable to apply the vast majority of the courses listed above to the stated degree requirements. To think that I'll be taking some ten semesters of what will be nothing more than 'electives' on my transcript is a bit disturbing when I consider how many credits I must earn just to get the degree.
    I've heard in the past that NROTC LREC students (those with foreign language/area studies degree designations, similar to mine) are virtually unable to earn all the required coursework for both Navy's academic standards and that of the university, and only now is this reality truly hitting me. I'm afraid that, in being a part of NROTC, I'm walking into a situation that inherently creates difficulty for non-STEM students.
    Worse still, while I might have been able to avoid this sort of issue at a state university (I've taken numerous APs and SAT IIs in all of these subjects over the course of high school), Harvard- the school I've committed to- does not offer credit for AP or SAT II-driven results. Naturally, Navy's only stipulation on waiving the required academic courses is that the university a student is attending grants the credit. If the U won't recognize it, the requirement stands unfulfilled. As such, I'll have to take all of these courses (even trigonometry, it seems) again, as an undergraduate.

    I guess I'm just nervous that I'm going to get reeled into a major I don't desire if I stay the course with NROTC, simply due to the STEM-heavy courseload. One of my local officers was quite heavy-handed with the 'suggestion' that I look again at a technical major after I'd learned that I had a Tier 3 scholarship, and I'm more familiar than I'd like to be with stories of students pushed to switch to Tier 1 or 2 after the fact.

    Atop that, I'm a bit uncertain that I'm making the right choice in the long-term by striving for a Naval commission. I don't know how I'll be able to use a background in foreign language and area studies in any of the unrestricted communities. I read over the descriptions of Surface Warfare and Aviation, and I just don't see a place where the skill set I hope to cultivate can see any use. It seems as though Intel is something that Navy only moves officers into five or eight years down the line, and I hate to think that I'll have nothing to show but a rusty fluency by the time I'm actually able to work in a field that applies the abilities I developed as an undergraduate.

    There are virtually no online accounts of how students at Harvard swing this sort of thing; though I've noticed that the bulk of said students are in concentrations like Chinese and Economics, so I do believe it's possible. I just don't know how to get in touch with someone who can explain this to me, and I hate to imagine showing up at INDOC in August still doubting my choice in this way. Harvard's financial aid is sound enough that I'm not in a total bind if I give up the scholarship, but that truly isn't what I want. I really desire the NROTC experience, and serving in the military is my dream. I just don't want to be useless if I do have the privilege of commissioning.

    To sum up, I guess there are two main questions here. Is Navy an academically sound choice? For what I intend to study and become skilled in, is it a smart career move?

    Again, thank you for bearing with this disjointed post. Any advice is appreciated.
     
  2. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    That was a lot of information, I apologize if I seem blunt in my response.

    The Navy does not keep the Academic Requirements a secret, I'm sure you must have been aware of them throughout the application process.

    I would imagine you fully researched Harvard prior to submitting your application. During this research you no doubt realized that your AP classes would not be given credit.

    Since serving in the military has been your dream and your first choice is the Navy I would imagine you did your homework. You must have researched the different missions within the Navy and how your field of study would work in each.

    Your plan is to pursue a Lib Arts/East Asian Studies, I would think that tear are enough required elective credits to make room for the classes the Navy requires, I could be wrong. In researching Harvard I'm sure you were able to view what type of schedule you would need with your desired major.

    My point is that none of this should have been a surprise to you.

    Nobody can tell you whether it is worth pursuing NROTC and the military, that is only something you can answer. Either you are having serious second thoughts or you went into this whole process blind, I'm betting the former. You are right, you do not want to show up day one with serious doubts about the program.

    You have some soul searching to do, talk with other mids and take a hard look whether the military is right for you, dreams are great unless they turn into a nightmare.

    I wish you the best of luck.
     
  3. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I agree with Jcleppe, this should not have been a shocker to you if you had done the research.

    Honestly it is 13 classes over 8 semesters, or basically 3 out of 10 per yr. if you are only carrying 15 credits, DS has only carried 15 credits once in his 4 yrs, and it is this current semester, his last semester. Otherwise even as a Govt major he has always carried at least 18 credits...which means 6 classes per semester, and 1 class isn't a biggie IMPO. Of course he did 18+ credits because of the exact same requirements. The only requirement he did not have was Physics, and he too was not allowed any AP or Jump Start credits, all he got for that was the ability to enter at a higher level for these courses, in other words instead of English 101 he had 201.

    Your college even as a LAC major will also require many of these courses for graduation, such as Math, English and history...just as they would require LAC courses for the engineering major.

    I agree with Jcleppe only you know how bad you want to be a Navy officer. If this is a deal breaker for you than it is probably best to decide now. NROTC and academics are demanding even for those who bleed Navy blue and gold. Many mids at some time during their college career question if they should throw in the towel, some will and some won't it happens every yr. NROTC does not expect 100% of any incoming class to commission 4 yrs later.

    JMPO, but I wonder if this is more about 2nd thoughts regarding commitment than anything else. Again, very common and normal.

    Just remember every single one of you on scholarship will endure the exact same thing so you are not alone, and they too survived the pain.
     
  4. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I expect that if you view your core liberal arts requirements that you'll find that there is 2 semesters of English, 2 semesters of math, and two semesters of science that these courses will apply to. I expect your double counting your science requirements in your post. The National Security Policy and American history can probably be applied to other core requirements and frankly are courses every citizen should take IMHO. Your East Asian studies will serve as a background skill in any posting, just like your organizational and leadership skills will. And it will probably help in being posted to the beautiful sunny Pacific. Not a bad way to serve your commitment. NROTC isn't easy. I think you can handle it, but if its really that big of an issue there is always Marine Option which has a much less stringent set of required courses.
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Kinnem,

    I thought the same about the science, and actually Math too because as I read it they must take 4 classes, 2 calc and 2 algebra. A school like MIT will not have advanced Trig, instead they would expect all to take Calc classes.

    This may mean that it is not 4 classes, but only 2 and it has to be Math that is no lower than advanced algebra.

    Same with the science portion. They must take at least 2 classes in science with the min class being physical science or Physics.

    FYI, theagentofchaos also look into the mins for your school regarding mandated classes. Our DS and DD at 2 different schools, in 2 different states and 2 different majors both had to take:
    Econ (Macro and Micro)
    Psych or Sociology
     
  6. Packer

    Packer Member

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    theagentofchaos: I would bet that kinnem is correct. I bet if you dig a little deaper this isn't as bad as you think. If the school allows you to enroll into calc and you pass they will likely waive the trig. It would make no sense to make you take trig if you already passed calc. You are going to take English classes no matter what, so I don't think they are going to be extra. If you want to be in the Navy do a little more research.
     
  7. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I believe theagentofchaos will be attending Harvard, MIT is the NROTC host school for Harvard.

    If I'm wrong I apologize, I was just referring to his/her previous post regarding his/her acceptance to Harvard.

    Good points everyone about classes doubling up. When my son and I first looked at the requirements and counted up the credit hours our eyes popped out thinking he was going to be taking 24 plus credits a semester. After he researched further and talked to an advisor it became much clearer for him. There were som required classed that would count toward 3 requirements. Once all the dust settled his schedule was very manageable. Son did most of this research before deciding on a school which helped him in the selection process.
     
  8. basilrathbone

    basilrathbone Member

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    Have you called the Unit? They will get you in touch with Harvard NROTC LREC midshipmen so that you can find out from them how it all works out. It is possible to do so I wouldn't worry about having to switch to a Tier 1 or 2 major. You will have an NROTC advisor, and a couple (at least!) Harvard academic advisors. There may be colleges where you can fall through the cracks but Harvard isn't one of them. You will get plenty of help in planning it all out. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's definitely doable.

    If you go to admitted students weekend in April, meet up with the NROTC midshipman, get up early and go to a workout with them, hang out with them in the evening. Keep in mind that all of those mids also turned down Harvard's incredibly generous financial aid and chose NROTC anyway. Ask them why they think it's worth it. At the very least, do NROTC for your Freshman year, go to CORTRAMID over the summer where you'll have many opportunities to ask about language relevance at every major line community. You can always back out of NROTC before you show up for your Sophomore year if you decide it's just too hard to work it all out. Giving up your scholarship now is just a scholarship lost, it won't go back into the national pool.
     
  9. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    We had many of the same concerns but from the MIT side (OP is planning on Harvard). My son is majoring in Chem Engr and there are obviously a lot of requirements for that program, in addition to the GIR's (General Institution Requirements), HASS (Humanities, Arts, Social Science) requirements and NROTC requirements. In his case it's more trying to fit in the history/national security/world culture classes so he's going to have to try really hard to make sure they satisfy another requirement at the same time if he doesn't want to overload. Meaning that he may not be able to take an elective HASS class he'd prefer if one of the NROTC required classes can also fit that requirement. You'll probably have to do the same.

    That said, he says everyone does this every year - from Harvard, Tufts and MIT. No one that he knows of has had to spend an extra year to get requirements in or had an overly hard time with it if they were proactive going in (like it sounds like you will be). I'd recommend you contact him (I've PM'd you contact info) and he can give you some contacts of Harvard NROTC students who can give you better advice. This isn't State U. There are only around 4 Harvard freshmen in the battalion - so you will be worked with individually and the schools (and battalion) will do all they can to accommodate you in getting those classes. I also wouldn't worry at all at Harvard about trying to be forced into a Tier 1 or Tier 2 major - he's already heard of students being allowed to switch from a Tier 2 to a Tier 3 (which is pretty much unheard of anywhere else in NROTC) so I don't think you will encounter pressure since you already have the Tier 3 (and are attending Harvard, not MIT).

    Finally, just one more heads up as you make this consideration - the biggest complaint he's said that Harvard/Tufts students have about NROTC is the loss of time due to travel. They've lost at least one (possibly 2?) students so far just for that reason. Figure Naval Science class twice a week, leadership lab once a week and PT at least once a week - all at different times and all at MIT and it really eats into your available hours for scheduling. I believe this semester they're trying to condense the Naval Science into one 2 hour class (instead of 2 one hour ones) to make travel easier, but the instructor's schedules come before the students so there's no guarantee of this in the future. I'm not trying to be negative but wanted to make you aware of this challenge as well.

    Feel free to PM me with specific questions or for additional contact info.

    Crossposted with Basilrathbone saying some of the same things! ;)
     
  10. theagentofchaos

    theagentofchaos Member

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    Hello everyone- thank you so much for the responses.

    I do come off an quite ignorant and ill-informed here, and I want to apologize for that. I don't mean to make excuses, because this certainly isn't something I wanted to run into at this stage, but for posterity's sake I should mention that individual detachments seem to sometimes take liberties with the academic requirements general applicants are made aware of. For those of you who are familiar with the NROTC website (as in, the one run by the Navy itself), the academic requirements are explicitly listed there- and they bear only passing resemblance to those listed on the MIT website. To quote the Navy site:

    In addition to normal course load, midshipmen must follow these general academic guidelines:
    Calculus (one year by end of sophomore year) (not required for Nurse- or Marine Corps- option students)
    Physics (one year of calculus-based physics by end of junior year) (not required for Nurse- or Marine Corps- option students)
    English grammar and composition (one year) (not required for Marine Corps option)
    National Security Policy/American Military Affairs (not required for Nurse-option)
    One semester of language or culture is required.


    As an applicant, I saw that list and found it altogether manageable, and applied knowing of no possible deviation from those requirements. I had also looked over the MIT NROTC website, but at the time, the list of requirements in my original post were not available on the page. Recent staff changes led to a number of updates to the MIT website after I had been awarded a scholarship. The academic standards I'm grappling with now were not listed in the months of application and waiting for an answer, and are far more extensive and detailed than any I was aware of from having studied the Navy's website.

    With regard to the classes I am required to take by the university itself- Harvard's 'core curriculum' is a bit unusual when compared to most liberal arts programs. If you'd like to learn more about it, the specifics are available on the admissions website, but to sum up: only one semester each of a math course, natural science course and physical science course can actually count toward the core curriculum. Only NROTC stipulates that two semesters of each be taken.

    I do share many of your suspicions with regard to the listing of classes like 'trigonometry/college algebra'. I've parsed Harvard's course catalogue, and it doesn't seem like they actually offer a course that specifically corresponds to trig. It's equally odd to think that MIT would, and I'd bet money that Tufts doesn't, either. Pima and Kim- I also believe that some of these requirements, RE: the sciences, might be doubled-up. I'm going to be dropping marciemi's son a line this week, and reaching out to my detachment to get the particulars on this. Hopefully more answers will be available as the 2012-2013 school year gets closer.

    Please, let me reiterate- I want this very, very badly. The opportunity to be a part of NROTC means the world to me, and I'll do anything to make it work. I just don't want to make any heedless mistakes as I start- I want to meet the academic requirements in an efficient manner and plan ahead as much as I am able. With regard to career paths, I am determined to experience one year of NROTC at the very least. In my mind, no better chance exists to learn about the possibilities within a naval career. My chief concern is that I'm going to be ill-suited to actually serve the Navy's purposes when college is behind me. I'm in horror of 'useless degrees', and I want to understand how Tier 3 students fit into the bigger picture. I don't want to be dead weight in anything that I commit myself to.
     
  11. DeskJockey

    DeskJockey Member

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    First, the list you have of required courses is overinclusive. (The algebra and physical science courses are alternatives for non-scholarship mids.) Of the courses that you do have to take to satisfy NROTC academics, they should easily fit within the parameters of the Harvard core curriculum that you are going to have to take anyway. (Of course, as at all NROTC schools, you will also have to take a Naval Science class each semester that will probably not count for academic credit).

    Second, it is a distinct advantage to have a Tier 3 major, as you have a lot more flexibility to fit these courses into your schedule (and Harvard's core curriculum is more flexible than most). I think it is highly unlikely that you will have any problem graduating in four years. By contrast, Engineering majors typically have very few electives, and while they will automatically satisfy the calculus and physics requirement, it can sometimes be a real challenge to find slots for the particular history and foreign studies classes.

    Finally, and most importantly, many (perhaps most, and maybe even all) incoming freshman NROTC students have serious doubts about what they are getting themselves into. It is hard to do something that is different from the ordinary, and harder still to be one of a small handful who will wear a uniform on the Harvard campus once a week. But you should also realize that all the freshmen at Harvard (or any other college), whether or not they are in ROTC, are asking themselves the same sort of questions about their future. I would give you all the same advice - stop worrying so much about what you will be doing ten years from now (although you should give it some thought), and enjoy the place you find yourself in today. As an incoming student at Harvard, you are in one of the most interesting places on earth. All of the little details (like your course load) and all of the big details (like whether NROTC a good fit for you) will take care of themselves in due time.
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    First off, so I can grasp this, you are now saying it is:
    2 semesters Physics based
    2 semesters Calc based

    Not 4 semesters of science and 4 of Math.

    Big difference, and honestly more logical.

    I get your fear, but consider yourself lucky you are NROTC. AFROTC requires that for non-STEM and 12 credits foreign language, not 3.

    This is why you will read that ROTC mids/cadets carry on avg, even as a non-tech 18+ credits. Colleges traditionally allow this and will not charge more for taking 18 credits, a "true" schedule is typically 15. It is not uncommon for ROTC kids to have enough credits to graduate early, and we are not talking about AP credits. DS could have graduated last spring, this past fall if it was all about credits, but because of ROTC requirements he will graduate on time. He actually will have a dual major/minor and a core concentration plus scholar citation. Govt/Politics, International Relations and Military History.

    He took 2 semesters of Math, 2 of Science, 2 English, 2 Econ, 1 Psych, 4 foreign because the school or ROTC mandated it for graduation, on top of what was required for his major. The scholars citation required a 20 hr a week internship for a semester. I did not include National History because that went to his major, just like the foreign language will go towards your major.

    My point here is it is doable. It still will be so much easier than the real world AD, because rarely is the AD world 40 hrs a week, and the last time I checked you don't work 30 weeks a yr like you do in college.

    Harsh? Yes. Realistic? Yes.

    What frightens me most about your post was this:
    1. How will you be ill-suited?

    2. Useless degrees and bigger picture

    ~ The Navy is paying for you to get a degree in that major. They have already deemed from the big picture it is not useless.

    3. Dead weight

    ~ You become dead weight when others have to carry you to obtain the mission. That classification is about you. Your actions or lack there of will determine if you are dead weight. You have 100% control in this aspect.

    Good luck
     
  13. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    By this I think you're asking how an Asian Studies degree could be useful to the Navy --- Man, did you get that 180 degrees wrong. All the services are investing in additional training for their Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen, O1 on up, to become, at minimum, functional working within other cultures, and preferably proficient. Trust that when the NETC granted you the Tier III scholarship, they knew what they were doing.

    I think the other posts have made it clear that 1) your original list was inaccurate, and 2) you can do it.

    Be glad that virtually NOBODY fails out of Harvard unless they've become an addict, or lost their mind... some leave for other opportunities (e.g. Gates, Zuckerberg), but virtually nobody of sound mind and body fails to graduate. Harvard has, as best I can tell, the third highest average GPA (somewhere between 3.5 and 3.6) in the country behind Brown and tied with Stanford. Just be glad you're not at Yale, where they seem to think 4 hours of sleep is a luxury, or Princeton, with its grade deflation.
     
  14. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    theagentofchaos,

    I want to echo what dunninla has said, don't worry about your degree in fact embrace it, as dunnunla said there is a big push in the military for cultural awareness.

    As far as not fitting into the systems of the Navy. your degree will not hold you back. Whichever you choose, Surface, Aviation, ect you will have the opportunity to complete. Look for instance at Pima's son, he will be going to AF flight school, he is not a Tech Major, my son will be going to Army flight school, he is not a Tech Major. During my son's interviews with different ROTC's he talked to officers from every academic discipline. We have a Festival in Seattle every year called SeaFair, the Navy has several ships that partake, they have a day when people can sign up ahead of time to take a short cruise on the ship. Last year we took part in this, we had a chance to talk to the Captain, his undergraduate degree was in Sociology. Bottom line...don't worry about your major.
     
  15. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    Just to confirm what others are saying, based on the classes you listed:

    Calculus - 2 semesters
    Physics - 2 semesters
    English - 2 semesters
    College Algebra (or Advanced Trig) - 2 semesters
    Physical Science - 2 semesters
    American History or National Security Policy - 2 semesters
    Regional world studies, world culture or world religions - 1 semester

    You won't have to take the Physical Science (if you take Physics) or the College Algebra/Advanced Trig (if you take Calculus). I know at MIT those courses (2 semesters of each Calc & Physics) are required to graduate for everyone. My guess is that the Physical Science and College Algebra options are more for Tufts/Harvard students as an alternative.
     
  16. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Looking back through this thread, the most important thing here is not what the people here say are the requirements, but those of your cadre and college advisor who sign off on your academic plan. Given your concern, clearly reaching out now to those resources will serve to ease your mind on how you will get through Harvard with the education that you want and will satisfy the requirements of the Navy.

    That being said, I think you should ask your cadre whether the requirements you list can be satisfied not necessarily through class attendance or credits, but through placement in coursework. You mentioned having taken multiple AP tests in some of these areas. You may be ready to take a class beyond the Calculus mentioned in the requirements or at least take the second semester of Calculus. You need to find out if you need to take 2 semesters of Calculus or just complete the second semester equivalent of calculus at your school. It may just be taking that 2nd semester. They may place you in a higher level of math for starting purposes (depending upon your testing results) which may or may not satisfy the Navy's requirement. It is what is on your transcript may drive the satisfaction of the requirement not the attendance of a specific class. This question should be discussed and signed off in your academic plan.
     
  17. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    OT a bit, but if the Navy is like the AF you may also want to consider your major when it comes to your military career. As Jcleppe stated both our sons, in different branches will be attending flight school with a non-tech major.

    For the AF cadets do realize that highly specialized foreign languages may actually dictate their job opportunities. For ex: If you want to go rated, but they gave you a scholarship due to the fact your major is foreign languages they can lock you into a desk job and not even consider you for rated.

    Many cadets do not understand that when they select their major, and if on scholarship to change their major and stay on scholarship they need command approval, which can be risky.

    An AFROTC cadet on this site found this out the hard way about 18 months ago. Basically was told, that they would not be supported for rated because the demand for their language skills. I got his thought process as a rated officer it would be an asset in the flying world, but I also understood the AF's POV that his language skills would be needed in the Intel, Public Affairs, or Police world just as much, if not more. Obviously the AF believed more because he got a non-rated slot.

    Foreign language and Eastern Asian is needed and will be needed for the future. It def. is not a dead wood issue.
     
  18. Packer

    Packer Member

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    I understand the AF's POV but seems that some may say if you are not going to even give me a chance to do what I wanted, I am going to do my required 4 years and get out of here. I can't see how that is good for the AF.
     
  19. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Packer,

    I will not disagree with you at all. I think for many this is what they/we see as the flaw in the AFROTC scholarship process. Candidates will try to game the system and do not understand how they now hurt themselves in the long run.

    85% are STEM. Candidates are 17/18 yo and think engineering is something they will accept as a major because what the heck, I don't have a true desire, but Math and Science comes easier to me than Lit.

    15% that go Non-tech know this is an uphill battle, but they believe as non-tech it won't matter career wise so let's go with what I want.

    Both candidates did not read the fine print. They did not investigate, which brings us back to the OP.

    Had these AFROTC scholarship candidates talked to any det. they would have been informed of the pitfalls in their thought process. If that non-tech major for a demanded foreign language told the CC I want rated as a HS sr, they would have been informed of the process.

    Not every FL is high demand, but some are, and at that point they would have had the ability to decide which matter more...rated or FL and could address this early on as a non-tech recipient.

    Let's be honest, as parents of 2012 cadets going off to flight school, we will be sitting on pins and nails for a yr until they are winged, and for months after that until they finish training for that airframe. Nothing, absolutely nothing is guaranteed in that world except owing time. They could bust, but they will owe time.


    I only stated what I stated that if the Navy is like the AF, Eastern Asian as an FL could be a factor. Not saying in 4 yrs it will be or it won't be. Just saying to talk to NROTC about the demands of the Navy and if they want rated can this be an issue.

    Contrary to popular belief not everyone enters AFROTC with flying as their goal. At DS's AFROTC unit only 30% requested rated, they were the minority, just like scholarship recipients. People tend to believe if you go AF you go to fly, it is just not true.
     
  20. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    Well color me popular then, cuz that's what I believed. Interesting.
     

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