Distance to the detachment and the likelihood of sticking with ROTC

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by jro, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. jro

    jro Member

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    I'm hoping to get some input to help my S make a ROTC decision. He is interested in attending college as an AF-ROTC cadet. After he identified a few schools of interest, he determined that most of them did not have AF-ROTC on campus, but rather cadets traveled to a "neighboring" school that housed a detachment. In some really informal inquiries to these detachments, we're getting the sense that many/most/all cadets drop out of the program if the distance from their school to the detachment is too great. 3 examples: 30 miles -- 0 cadets remaining; 20 miles -- 2-3 cadets/class participating; 3 miles -- 10 cadets/class participating. Any input? Is this a common occurrence, or more unique to the schools we've inquired about? Any help would be very much appreciated.
     
  2. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    That makes sense, the question is... how great is too great a distance? Many variables. The real question is... how long does it take to get from the cross-town school to the Host school, and back? It if is 15 minutes each way, no big deal. If 30, that starts to be a concern. That extra hour commuting will happen 3 times per week, possibly 4. It it's 45 minutes, that's about 5 hours per week commuting to the Host campus. Maybe that five hours is the straw that breaks the back of the cadet already pushing to the limit....

    so there is the Host ROTC ave. weekly cadet commitment of, let's say... 12 hours. Add 5 more for commuting, and that could just be the deal breaker for most cadets. Beyond the time is the sense of being an outsider. This wouldn't be the case if the Battalion looks like this: Host: 20, Cross-Town A: 12, Cross Town B: 15, Cross Town C: 8. In that case, MOST of the cadets are commuting in, and the commutes wouldn't feel as much on the outside. However, if the best Battalion cadet leadership positions are taken by Host campus cadets, then the commuters would really feel like they're on the outside looking in... the last guests invited to the party that only know a few of the other partiers well, and get that uncomfortable feeling.

    I suspect it is the feeling of being on the outside of the core group of cadets looking in that is more a problem than the extra commute time.

    You've got to get specific about what is offered at the Host vs. Cross Town school. YOu have PT, Class, and LAB. In some cases PT and MSI and MSII classes will be offered on the Cross Town campus, with LAB at the Host... and then MSIII year everything is at the Host campus. Every Host-Cross Town arrangement is not the same.

    P.S. When my DD was looking at schools to list on her AROTC Scholarship application form, the only school that she listed that wasn't technically a 100% host school was University of Miami. At Miami, if I recall, it was a sort of Hybrid situation where MSI and MSII took their class and lab on campus, but by MSIII year, Class and Lab were at a school 30 minutes away in another part of Miami. This information caused her to move Miami from #3 on her initial wish list to #7 (last) on her official list.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012
  3. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Our DS commissioned in May, one of his closest friends throughout his 4 yrs in AFROTC came X-town and commissioned with him. His other close friend, roommate, dropped AFROTC after his C200 yr even though they were on campus.

    I would be lieing to you if I said it is easy, especially since I don't know anything more than he would be x-town.

    You know your child. You know the travel issue. Is he going to have a car or is he going to rely on other cadets or mass transit? Big factor when you have to be there at 6 a.m. for PT, and bigger when you become a POC and have to be there at 5 a.m. because you need to do weekly meetings.

    Is he a social person, or does he sit out on the sidelines? Part of AFROTC enjoyment is bonding with peers. Host schools typically have military fraternities, such as, Honor Guard, Arnie Air, Angel, and Silver Wings. They meet at night weekly. That means either a long day at the host school, or returning again. Host units also traditionally have GMC nights, same deal.

    Some colleges require cadets to clean up the college FB stadium after the game...this is not voluntary, it is mandatory. Hard to get into picking up cups and wrappers when you could care less if they won or not.

    When you don't attend the host college there may be a disconnect for some cadets.

    In the end, it is simple, AFROTC requires all grads that commission to serve at least 4 yrs ADAF. Is he willing to be tied to the AF until he is 26/27? You say he is interested in attending a college that has AFROTC, but not that he is interested in serving in the AF. Many of those cadets that left may have had the same feeling, and decided they didn't want to serve.

    Time to sit down and discuss the real reasons of why AFROTC. Does he want to serve the ADAF? AFROTC is not like JROTC in HS. It is not like AROTC and you can go Guard or Reserve. If he wants to serve, does he understand the commitment when his dream is flying the F35 out of Eglin, but they give him Public Affairs at Eilson for 4 yrs AD?

    I would strongly suggest he look at his AF career goals, and than decide if X-town is worth it. If his goal is to be ADAF, he will be like our DS's x-town friend. They got maintenance because they were DQ'd for rated, but she stuck it out and was beaming ear to ear on commissioning day. No regrets at all because for her she got both of her dreams, her college and her commissioning.
     
  4. jro

    jro Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I should have said that he is looking at engineering school + AFROTC as an alternative if he doesn't get into USAFA -- so he is committed to serving in the Air Force, hopefully as a pilot. The point about missing out on social aspects of AFROTC that occur at the home school is a good one, which I had not considered before. Regarding leadership positions, what we've found out about one of the 3 programs is that while the total program at the host school is small (100 cadets total - 9 schools), 10 come from the school my S is interested in, and currently the Cadet Wing Commander comes from that school. So my sense is that most of the cadets are commuting in. I'm going to discuss with my S and have him find out the specific time requirements/week at the host school for each of the 3 programs. Any other specific questions he should ask? Thanks, JR
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    jro,

    There would be a couple of questions I would ask each and every det you visit.

    For SFT:
    1. Do you do mini-boards at the det for SFT candidates, or do you submit all of your C200 candidates?
    2. If you have a mini-board what is the % of C200's that you submitted?
    3. What is the % of candidates that go to SFT?
    4. What is their avg cgpa for a tech major?
    ~~~ This is important because some colleges are academically harder, thus their cgpas maybe different. The national cgpa avg LY was @3.1 for non-tech. So if it varies from that you need to find out why.

    Most likely when you put it in place with SFT, it will tell you either the rigor is harder, thus a lower cgpa, or it is easier, thus a higher cgpa if both of them had the same % going to SFT. If it is lower/higher cgpa and they had a lower amount selected than the national avg, bells should be going off why this is occurring.

    For Rated:

    Repeat the same questions, but now it is for the rated board, not SFT.

    One thing to be aware of some engineering majors are classified as critically manned fields. What this means to your DS is that if his major is one of them the AF may not even offer him a rated slot because they need him in that AFSC.

    For LY (class of 13), this was a topic because posters here stated that for the rated board, none of the EE's at their det. were allowed to go rated.

    I only say that so he understands whatever major he decides upon make sure he wants to do that as a career. There is no guarantee he will get rated. The only guarantee is he will be an officer in the AF.

    Since your DS is applying to AFA as plan A, you should discuss with the det that if he doesn't get it, are they willing to support him next yr. Most will, the follow up of course being how they will work with him in that scenario.

    Many parents and candidates are afraid to broach this subject, but don't be. It is very common for cadets to apply. The det will be happy to assist and happier to know that because he was upfront and honest, they will now be on top of it from the 1st day he attends AFROTC.

    I would also suggest one other thing if at all possible. When you set up the apptmt., ask if your DS could meet some C300/400 cadets. They don't have to be xtown, just older cadets, who have gone through SFT and are either up for their AFSC board, or already have their career assignment. Rated cadets got it last winter, non-rated are up for the board now.

    Remove yourself from this time and tell him you will meet him somewhere else. Reason why is cadets speak differently when the folks aren't around, and also every det has its own personality. He may feel more comfortable with one det than another. It may come down to that tiny little factor of why he chooses one school over the other.

    Finally, I would ask if they have military fraternities, and how many cadets are in them. It will give you an idea of how active the unit is regarding cadets outside of their ROTC requirements. At our DS's college I would say it is probably 50-60+ % that are in one of the 4 organizations. It is easy to tell when they are in their blues because the only ones with forges are those in the military frats. Each frat has a different looking forge regarding colors.

    At his college, there was rivalry between them. It was like greek frats, there is the "labeling"...oh that one is filled with engineers, that one they want to be pilots, etc. Again, why I say dets have personalities too.

    Hope that helps.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
  6. jro

    jro Member

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    Thanks so much. That is a great list of questions to ask. JR
     
  7. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    jro,

    Another twist. I have said this a lot!

    Make sure that attending the college is not reliant on an ROTC scholarship.

    Take the time to understand the AFROTC system.

    SFT is masked regarding scholarship. The min. cgpa is much lower than the SFT cgpa.

    Discuss with your child if he loses the scholarship as a C300 (jr yr) how you will pay for college for the next 2 yrs.

    HS students applying for AFROTC rarely understand the impact of SFT as a C200.
     
  8. SoleTrain

    SoleTrain Must be the Kicks

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    I'm a crosstown cadet in my det, and I won't lie, it's tough. The drive for me is pretty long, 30-40 minutes depending on traffic. It also means getting up a little earlier than everybody else.

    I've seen other cadets with the same distance say forget it. And there's a sense of reasoning there, the gas and additional mileage on the car definitely gets costly.

    But for me and a few others, it's considered a worthwhile tradeoff to be able to be in the program while attending a school with lower tuition. It's all what you make it.
     
  9. tomtrout

    tomtrout Member

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    DS recieved letter yesterday stating that he received NROTC scholarship and it has been placed at University of California, Berkeley which is the host school. He had picked Stanford as his #1 choice. It looks like about 42 miles one way between the two schools and with current traffic conditions about 1 hour 15 minutes. He is wanting to get and engineering degree and is concerned about having enough time. His #2 and #3 schools are host schools. Should DS be considering them?
     
  10. EDelahanty

    EDelahanty Member

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    Both Stanford and Berkeley are great schools, which you don't need any of us to tell you. However, the commute across San Francisco Bay would be exhausting and could unexpectedly turn brutal. Imagine the havoc an accident on one of the bridges or an overturned truck on the highway could play on his schedule.
     
  11. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I take it UC Berkeley was not on his list of schools?

    I would check with the cadre to find out how many times a week the Stanford students are expected to show up at Berkeley. It might only be once per week, or it could be several times per week. If the Stanford portion of the program is large enough I would expect that they would PT on their own in the AM at the very least. They might also make some accommodation on classes by having the instructors commute instead of the MIDNs (I don't know this is ever done but it seems like a reasonable possibility). So I suppose they MIGHT only be required to show up for lab and any field training. This could bring the number of commutes way down. He should be contacting the unit in any case as a courtesy if nothing else. The question seems like a great conversation starter. (I have to say I'm a bit puzzled as to why this question is coming up now as this was a known situation when your DS applied for the scholarship. His #1 choice was clearly going to involve a commute to Berkeley to whatever extent it is. I would have thought this would have been looked into and thought through prior to listing Stanford as the #1 school. Brings to mind, "Be careful what you ask for." But enough of my soapbox, it is what it is, so let's deal with the situation at hand.)

    Berkeley seems to offer several engineering programs, and although it is not Stanford, it is a fine school. I would recommend he consider applying to Berkeley now just to keep more options open. I would do this especially if your DS has not yet been accepted to Stanford.

    Yes, he should be applying to #2 and #3 schools. Actually he should be applying to ALL the schools on his list. If he is not accepted to Stanford or any program affiliated with Berkeley then his only option is going to be to attempt to transfer the scholarship and he can't even begin that process until March at the earliest (at least in the normal course of events). If that's the case, he'll need some NROTC schools he's been accepted at to which he can transfer the scholarship. I want to emphasize that transferring the scholarship is not easy and not guaranteed. Some folks lose their scholarship each year because they weren't accepted to the school where the scholarship was awarded and they are unable to transfer the scholarship (due to full programs, higher tuition costs, different brigades, etc).

    Hope this all works out for your DS and that the required number of commutes is very low. :thumb:
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  12. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Additional research for UC Berkeley affiliates

    OK. I searched the web some. Fortunately my research fees are low! :smile: Keep in mind that the information below may be outdated and you must confirm it. The info quoted below comes from here: http://navyrotc.berkeley.edu/faq.shtml

    So it sounds like my guess that they would minimize commuting is correct but you must verify this yourself.
     

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