Differences between SMC and AROTC

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by GoArmy92, Oct 11, 2014.

  1. GoArmy92

    GoArmy92 Member

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    Throughout my time here at an SMC I have been thinking about why I really wanted to come to this school. When it all comes down to a boil it is because I wanted an active duty commission. I have not really thought hard enough if the academics here suit me. I am thinking about switching schools (where the program I personally want to get into best fits me) by the end of this semester; but at the same time I am aware of the fact that I will be in a regular AROTC program which I am fine with. I just regret the fact that I did not put enough thought as to why I should or shouldn't come to this school.
     
  2. VMI82

    VMI82 Room 131

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    GoArmy92 … this is very vague and I do not see a question.

    So I am going to ask questions to help flesh this out - not so much for you as I do not know your situation - but for others that read these forums in the future.

    1. 'Throughout your time at SMC' -

    Well, GoArmy92 …. how long, specifically, have you been at an a SMC?

    If you are a Rat, Knob, Fish future readers should understand the perspective vs 2 years into the school.

    2. When it all comes down to a boil it is because I wanted an active duty commission

    When someone uses language like 'it boils down to' that is called a 're-frame' I.e., you are reframing the argument from why you asked to attend the SMC in the first place to what you are now stating is the 'real' reason

    This cognitive dissonance is the process through which we humans rationalize a change in our behavior instead of simply saying 'I do not like this and want to do something else'

    So … have you changed your mind and no longer want an Active Duty Commission? Or … ?

    3. "I have not thought hard enough if the academics suit me"

    … that sounds … like fluffy language and vague.

    So, let's ask:

    - are you doing well in academics (i.e., good grades) but do not like the coursework?

    - do you dislike the academic major?

    - do you dislike the professors?

    - what basis of comparison do you have to other academic programs to really know how whichever program you wish to transfer to is a better fit?

    4. I am thinking about switching schools (where the program I personally want to get into best fits me) by the end of this semester

    Okay … thinking or doing?

    And if you are in the process of doing this -- How are you going to switch programs by the end of the semester given it is middle of the semester now?

    So, what is the REAL reason you want to switch?

    5. but at the same time I am aware of the fact that I will be in a regular AROTC program which I am fine with

    This amazes me … you want to leave the SMC yet manage to make other ROTC units sound like 'less than' at the same time! Wow.

    No kidding - you come across as willing to lower yourself to a 'regular AROTC' program (by the way, which ones are the Irregulars? )

    If a PMS at a 'regular' AROTC unit read this why would he/she want you at his school?

    6. I just regret the fact that I did not put enough thought as to why I should or shouldn't come to this school.

    Understatement of the year.

    Okay. Here is my advice.

    I) Talk to your PMS and detachment asap. Seek counseling (Chaplains, Counselors, someone/anyone you trust)

    Please do not throw away this once in a lifetime opportunity because of how you are 'feeling' in a down patch.

    SMC graduates all share the hallmark of not letting their 'feelings' drive their decisions. We learned to not make major choices when at the top … OR the bottom.

    II) Get real about your reasons.

    Either you did not know how to convey what your real reasons for wanting to leave are … or you do not want to come out and just say it.

    BUT:

    - If you are struggling with academics - 'fess up. Ask for help. It is okay to struggle. You would not be the first nor, by any stretch, the last.

    - For many that come to a SMC they are used to being the best & brightest and the concept of struggling is … nothing they have ANY experience with. So if you are struggling … welcome to the club. Just. do. not. stop. Ask. for. help.

    - If you do not like how hard it is as a Knob, Rat, Fish, whatever - Admit it.

    Truth is, none of us that graduated from SMC's thought it was 'Club Med' (Well, maybe you cats down at the Citadel :) )

    Seriously, few, if any, of us would do it again. They simply are not fun places compared to "Wattsmatta U" BUT we are glad we did it the first time.

    So, if not liking how hard an SMC is - is the issue, You have a choice: - Either suck it up. Or ask to leave.

    You do not have to like how hard it is. You just have to endure it.

    BUT be clear about that being the reason, if in fact it is, if you leave.

    III) You have been chosen by the United States Army in the depths of its largest drawdown to receive an Army ROTC scholarship to a SMC. That is extraordinary.

    Please understand how many people would give their eye teeth for that privilege … and you are …. heck, I do not know what you are doing.

    But, without looking in your eyes, hearing your voice, and seeing your situation first hand it sounds a lot like you are … letting short term pain (whatever your real issue is) drive you towards making a long term decision (leaving a SMC) which you may come to regret more than you can imagine years hence.

    So … Slow down. Seek Counsel. Get Clear.

    In the words of carpenters … measure twice, cut once!
     
  3. GoArmy92

    GoArmy92 Member

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    I am currently at Va.Tech and I have been here for a semester and the reason I decided to attend an SMC is because I know that one can get an active duty commission on the spot upon graduation however I didn’t really consider the academic aspect of my purpose of going to this school since it is predominantly an engineering school and nationally ranked as one; I am a global affairs major and although I am doing fine I know the opportunities to excel here in that field aren’t as “great” as they would be at the school I wish to transfer to. I personally know some of the faculty at the school I wish to transfer to and since the institution (GMU) isn’t far from D.C. I feel that there would be more opportunities that I can get out of going to that school and utilizing the professors there. Academics come before ROTC whether or not you are looking for an active duty commission. At the same time I would not want to be at a school where the lifestyle ½ military and ½ civilian. I know people that received active duty commissions participating in ROTC at a non-SMC. I am not on scholarship as well (I think you assume I came here on a scholarship) also I am not trying to “bash” commissioning sources by stating one is better than the other.
     
  4. Frankie

    Frankie Member

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    IMHO - You are not enjoying life as a freshmen at a SMC. There are many before you and many more will come after you who decide that the lifestyle was not for them. Whether they couldn't 'hack it' or just did not want their college experience to be like that. Reasons vary. It will get better after the first year. Or, sometimes, it does not. I can't really help you too much on what you decide to do in life. It kind of seems like you came here to seek comfort in your decision to leave.

    If you really don't want to be there, than leave.
     
  5. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Actually it sounds to me like the original poster is on the horns of a dilemma. He likes being at and SMC (vs traditional ROTC) but thinks he would have more opportunities in his academic major if he were attending a college closer to DC that offered his major.

    My own opinion is that most of those "opportunities" come over the summer and I still think he should be able to take advantage of them. He also should consider the advantage of the leadership program at Va Tech vs not having that.

    In any case, I think OP has to struggle through this on his own, unless someone from GW or GMU or whichever it was, can offer him more insight.
     
  6. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    For people reading this thread, commissions are not handed out "on the spot upon graduation" from an SMC. Commissions are earned, and are ultimately based on the recommendation from the school's PMS. Each school has a certain number of commissions available. Each school accepts far more new cadets than it has commissions available for. Your PMS will determine who among the SMC cadets are worthy of the commissions available. The word "guarantee" is thrown around leading people to assume that being accepted at an SMC means a guaranteed commission, but it does not mean that. It means you must work hard to gain the favor of the PMS so that he/she puts you on the list of "guaranteed" commissions. The question to ask any SMC's PMS is this: how many commissions does your PMS have available to give this fiscal year?

    If there are more "qualified" cadets than there are slots available at your SMC, they will find a way to disqualify you. There are no true guarantees.

    To the forum: I apologize for bringing this up so often. It's just that the word "guarantee" floats around regarding SMCs all the time, and it clouds people's minds into thinking that earning a commission is easy. It is not. It is competitive all the way through senior year of college.
     
  7. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Sent you a PM
     
  8. GoArmy92

    GoArmy92 Member

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    Thanks for the insight there, I came to Va.Tech because of the whole "guarantee" factor. From what it looked like to me you could get an active duty commission so as long as you are qualified by virtue of attending an SMC whereas for ROTC at a civilian college you had to work much harder.
     
  9. Frankie

    Frankie Member

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    You have to work hard regardless.
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Okay, I am going to premise this with I have kids at both GMU an VT. Neither are in ROTC.

    That being stated. Part of fall semester is adjustment, and unless you know VT and GMU, than you can not understand how these two colleges are polar opposites. I mean everything..

    One is a spit eye away from DC, the other is boondocks. Roanoke is the closest city 45 miles away for VT.

    One looks like Harry Potter was filmed there. The other looks like they could be in any Modern day movie.

    One is a college town, the other is a college in a city.

    One is an ACC school and that is part of their social life, be FB or BB. The other has no FB, BB is it!

    VT is an SMC and they must be in the Corps....more time....GMU is not.

    GMU is not a host unit. VT is. That is something they need to really think about. I know AFROTC GMU cadets go to UMDCP, but I don't know if AROTC goes to Hoya or Terp. Either way you are not rolling put of bed and running across campus to be there for PT. Hoya and Terps are amazing units!

    Now before you do this, I am going to be a Mom. Apply to transfer to GMU, as a back up, but understand the following.
    1. 75% of freshmen feel like you.
    ~ My DD at VT refused to visit the school before her acceptance because she believed she would be heart broken if she got the sorry, not at this time letter! It was her dream school .End of September, I could hear in her voice, something wasn't right. (She is an AF brat, and attended 8 schools in her life). I told her to come home for the weekend. She did, and she went back on Sunday wanting to be with her friends again. She actually still comes home around this time to regenerate her batteries!
    ~ Point is it isn't just about your future, but at your age you still miss the nest!
    2. GMU will not guarantee your on campus housing as a sophomore. More importantly when you transfer to a new school, it is like HS they have their cliques and you have to start from scratch.
    ~ That includes ROTC where many did their MSI year.
    3. Internships are very competitive here.
    ~ DS1 went to UMDCP AFROTC. He interned on the Hill for a Sen. as a Govt. Major. He fought for it against GWU/American/ GMU and his UMDCP peers. Don't assume it will be easy.

    Honestly, your post is insight to 2019 candidates on why visiting the campus and asking questions are important.

    But, as a Mom, I hope you do apply and I believe come Feb. when you return to school you will realize that you will miss your friends and come next year the privileges will be there.

    However, if you say to me, I am just not a country boy, than I have to say GMU is a better fit and would sell that to the folks.
    ~ Our DD has a VT tee that says something akin to this:
    Blacksburg is not a drinking town with a college problem, but a college town with a drinking problem!

    IOWS if VT closed doors tomorrow Blacksburg and Christiansburg would fold!
     
  11. VMI82

    VMI82 Room 131

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    I am currently at Va.Tech and I have been here for a semester and the reason I decided to attend an SMC is because I know that one can get an active duty commission on the spot upon graduation however I didn’t really consider the academic aspect of my purpose of going to this school since it is predominantly an engineering school and nationally ranked as one; I am a global affairs major and although I am doing fine I know the opportunities to excel here in that field aren’t as “great” as they would be at the school I wish to transfer to. I personally know some of the faculty at the school I wish to transfer to and since the institution (GMU) isn’t far from D.C. I feel that there would be more opportunities that I can get out of going to that school and utilizing the professors there. Academics come before ROTC whether or not you are looking for an active duty commission. At the same time I would not want to be at a school where the lifestyle ½ military and ½ civilian. I know people that received active duty commissions participating in ROTC at a non-SMC. I am not on scholarship as well (I think you assume I came here on a scholarship) also I am not trying to “bash” commissioning sources by stating one is better than the other.

    1. You are correct. I did assume you are on scholarship. My bad.

    2. I think others have chimed in on the 'automatic AD' phrase - I agree with them.

    3. I am a global affairs major and although I am doing fine I know the opportunities to excel here in that field aren’t as “great” as they would be at the school I wish to transfer to.

    How do you KNOW that? Really, how can you know? If anything, your experience of 1 semester at VT demonstrates that it is hard to know a program well until experienced.

    And what specific opportunities abound there that VT lacks?

    4. At the same time I would not want to be at a school where the lifestyle ½ military and ½ civilian.

    I am not doubting you believe that … I just doubt you know the difference and/or reality of what ROTC is like at 'Regular' (your words) schools vs a SMC.

    5. I know people that received active duty commissions participating in ROTC at a non-SMC.

    This phrase reminds me of the politically incorrect phrases of the '60s by people who were trying earnestly to sound non judgmental like "But I am friends with ___________ people" (fill in blank with race, religion, etc). I am sure you do not feel like you are bashing them but perception, often times, is reality.

    My bottom line advice - re-read what I wrote above: Talk to your PMS, Counselors, trusted advisors. I think you'd best be served by "slowing down to speed up."

    I can tell you few fields of endeavor favor one undergraduate institution over another as compared to the hard work, diligence and perseverance of the individual graduate.

    Final word: My Father's name is on the Honor Pillar at VT. He was Echo Company Commander, President of the Honor Court and the 1st man from Virginia KIA in Vietnam. He was Class of '61 His Father, my Grandfather, attended VT for a year (big deal to have even one year of College in the '30s) - That year of College enabled him to earn his wings and fly with the AVG/OSS in CBI during WW2.

    Do me a favor … go over and seek out my Father's name on that Honor Pillar. (I will not state it here for anonymity, but it will be obvious to you)

    When/if you so so … realize that who you are is more important than where you are from. I hope it helps Honor does not one from a place but from within.

    Reflect on your goals and purpose carefully after doing so.

    Good Luck!

    PS … And if you do transfer … consider doing so after 1 year at VT.

    Freshman year classes should not be all that different 1 school to another. BUT anyone reading your CV in the future would see a more 'mature' decision than jumping ship after 1 semester. Just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.
     
  12. GoArmy92

    GoArmy92 Member

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    I live 5-10 mins away from GMU therefore housing won't be a problem. In terms of relationships with peers, I don't think I will have a problem with that--to be honest it was hard for me to develop friends in the corps simply because I feared I would be in trouble for "fraternization" even if I am with my AROTC unit. The only detachment that GMU has is AFROTC, where students go to UMD other than that GMU is the host institution for AROTC (patriot battalion) with schools that come to train at GMU.
     
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Interesting. I guess things have changed. UMDCP had a huge unit and was a host. Same with Hoyas.

    I guess they are now sending them all to GMU. If not, I don't know what colleges they are hosting.

    I know when I have visited my DS at GMU you see cadets in uniform. I assumed that they were going to travel to Hoya or Terp unit

    All of that being said, I think maybe VT is too big for you. Or maybe like I stated earlier it is about you finding your way (friendship remark you made).

    It is common. There are buses that come back to the Vienna Metro everyday. You won't get home until late at night, but maybe, just maybe , all you need is 3 days at home to realize you DONT want to live at home next year with the folks! Maybe while you talk about school with the folks you will start laughing about the stupid things that right now annoy you!

    Just my opinion, but wait until after February to make the decision. A lot can change if you allow yourself to be open to making friends.

    Honestly, this issue you are talking about happens AD. You will move every 3-4 years and have to create new social circles. You will move by yourself to a new unit where you may not know anyone.
     
  14. GoArmy92

    GoArmy92 Member

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    At the end of the day the end goal is the same--to earn a commission. As far as the deadline I will give myself, I will have to wait until Nov-early Dec. before I make my final decision due to the long process that comes with leaving the corps and the whole registration for classes and financial aid for GMU. At the same time the transfer app process has long been completed (deadline was Oct 1) there are definitely some perks that come with going to school close to my home (I am referring to financial perks) I just know that I will be living at home for the most part--however, I will join a meaningful frat to continue to develop my leadership potential (there are many pointless frats these days)
     
  15. GoArmy92

    GoArmy92 Member

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    I appreciate your advice, but in regards to transferring after a year; that maybe a risky move according to my parents since I feel it could hold me back from graduating on the prospective year (I came to Va.Tech with college credits) in regards to your comment about whether I know what ROTC feels like at a college--I do, since I already completed the first level of military science prior to attending Va. Tech
     
  16. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I'm beginning to wonder why you're here. It's not at all clear to me what you are struggling with. I'm beginning to believe it's not clear to you either. You seem to have your mind made up. That's fine if true, but it's unclear.
     
  17. GoArmy92

    GoArmy92 Member

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    Well that was the issue from the start :confused:

    my purpose of going to tech was to be away from NoVA and my parents and to be in the corps because of the whole idea that if I want a commission as an officer I could get it on the spot. I think I was short-handed in the information I gathered prior to coming here and failed to think long-term. Yes the corps is a good organization but the school has a reputation for the engineering program rather than the social science department. Looking back at it, I think I would rather go to a school where the institution has a stronger social science program and an AROTC program this way I am satisfied with myself in my decision and more comfortable in my AROTC unit (allowing me to perform better)
     
  18. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Well, if you were going to be looking for a job straight out of college I might agree with you. With 4+ years as an officer before you start looking for something outside of the military I'm not so sure the more prestigious school will make all that much difference.

    Have you spoken to the placement office at VA Tech? Any stats/info they can share with you regarding placements in your major? I suspect you might be surprised. That would do more to help you in a decision that anything you will glean here. You're just working with your gut at present. Get some facts.
     
  19. Jcc123

    Jcc123 Member

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    George Mason is hardly the more "prestigious" school - I would argue it's quite the step down, academically. No question it's a step down as far as ROTC units go. Frankly, OP, I question your desire to commission at all, but you have to do what you think is right for you.
     
  20. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Although I agree with you, I suppose it might depend on the circles one runs in.
     

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