food for thought for those gunning for a scholarship at a very selective universities

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by educateme, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. educateme

    educateme Member

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    As the season is full on for AROTC scholarship applicants, I would like to share some experience watching my son going through this whole thing last year.

    If you are aiming at top tier universities or colleges, please understand that the hoop you jump through to get the Army ROTC scholarship may be much easier one than the on you need to jump through to get into your choice of the college or university. You need to be very careful about the school choice list and if you are lucky enough to get a scholarship, which school you pick within 30 days before the college admissions decisions come out.

    Case point 1: My son was told by the UVA ROO that a couple of years back, a top ROTC scholarship winner at his battalion failed to get admitted to UVA in spite of several meetings between the battalion officers and the school admission officers. Oh, by the way, she was also later accepted into West Point. So, we are not talking about a slacker here.

    Case point 2: My son's friend (three years older than he) had academic stats that are smack in the middle of Duke's enrolled stuents' score/number distribution. He got the scholarship offer to Duke all right, but in spite of numerous "interventions" by the battalions officers, the school admissions officer refused to grant him the admission. Note that if you get the scholarship from the Army, you got your EC part down pat. So, it came down to the academics stats. The middle of the road academic qualification was not good enough for him - white, NJ/NY/CT area, both parents college graduates, not on an athletic admission track, etc. In short, as a non "under represented minority", his ROTC scholarship winner status was not able to let him overcome his "middle of the road academic stats" in that school.

    Case point 3: My son's case. Well, he got the 4 year scholarship in the first round to one of the most expensive schools in the nation. So, I assume he was a strong candidate. However, he had one problem in his college application package. He had some hiccups with GPA. Pretty good, and definitely well past any huddle from the AROTC scholarship perspective but not a safe number for the top tier schools he was gunning for. He applied to ED to the #1 school on the list that he was offered the scholarship for (last year, the first board decision came out just in time to apply to ED based on the scholarship decision).

    He got admitted all right. However, I have to tell you, it was a nail biting experience. Though his SAT was probably well within top 5-10% of their enrolled students stats, his GPA became a major problem, even though ED admission is supposed to be a little softer than the regular admission. In his battalion, the officers have a close relationship with the admissions officers, and I know they advocated for him big time. The admissions officer assigned to his case called my son a couple of times, asked my son to give him a coherent and plausible explanation for some hiccups in his transcript and asked him how he is not going to repeat it at college (this school takes its academic mission DARN seriously!). In the process, it became very clear that the admission officer had numerous interactions with the recruiting officer at the battalion. Truthfully, I don't think my son would have gotten in without the advocacy from the battalion.

    Later we learned that several other students who got the scholarship offer to the school failed to get admitted to the school. The school won't budge.

    So, this is the case where the battalion officers work very closely with the admissions officers and they DO have influence (e.g., my son's case). Even so, apparently, this is not sufficient. Also, don't forget, when the PMS get the list of scholarship applicants to his battalion, they do preliminary screening to see whether the student at least has a chance to get admitted to that school. If not, PMS will say "Nay" when Cadet Command sends the initial list down to the battalion. This preliminary screening may be just looking the overall stats, or in battalions that work closely with the school, may even involve some preliminary input from the admissions office. However, even if the admissions office initially say "Um..... not a definite no. Perhaps this candidate has a chance", it's not a guarantee that later the school will admit him/her.

    So, moral of this whole story? If you are gunning for a top tier, highly selective/competitive school, don't assume that securing a scholarship to that school will get you past the admissions hurdle. Also, don't assume that you can transfer your scholarship to other school later when all the college admissions decision are out. It'a hit or miss. Case point: at my son's school, they did not backfill the scholarship slots left empty due to the scholarship winner failing to get admitted to the school (changing budgetary condition).

    So, my advice: if your family's financial situation is such that worst comes worst, your family can pay for the college expenses with or without scholarship, go with your heart and what you want. However, if you REALLY need scholarship for the financial reason, be very careful. You may need to aim just a little lower when it comes to the college selection. So, instead of picking a scholarship school that is a reach, you might consider a match or even a safety.

    Last year, I saw a post by a parent who was elated that CC awarded scholarship to his son for Princeton (and nowhere else). She seems to have taken it for granted now her son will attend Princeton on a scholarship. I don't know what happened to her son, I hope he made it, but when I read the post, I felt like saying "Oh..... be careful. You are talking about a school that admits only ~8% of the applicants. If you are not legacy, not on an athletic scholarship, not a URM, etc, it's a very tough row to hoe"

    Sorry if I sound like a party pooper, but as sobering as it is, applicants who are gunning for really selective schools must realize that getting an AROTC scholarship, as competitive as it is getting now, may not be the toughest part of the whole equation.

    epilogue: happy ending. at high school, my son used to "experiment" how little he can invest and still get a good grade. Needless to say, this "efficient strategy" fell apart in a few course, and hence a spotty transcript. my son is now taking his academic work so seriously, he spends his time either in the library studying or training for ROTC. He made it to Ranger Alpha team, so it's a lot more time commitment. I think he really is into studying because he wants to commission into a branch that is very competitive, and he know that GPA is 40% of the OMS. In a school known for academic rigor, he knows he needs to give it his best to get a top tier GPA. This school also has a rather robust reputation for partying, and he is missing out on all this. He has no time to goof around. I told him that I won't tarnish his well earned reputation at high school by sharing any of this with his friends back home.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  2. MNDad2015

    MNDad2015 Member

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    Also, keep in mind that for Class of 2016, indications seem to be that the vast majority of scholarships will be 3 or 4 year to lower cost IS, and so competition for private and OOS will be fierce. Also, you need to take into account that something could happen down the line where you could lose your scholarship (and the list is long, some in and other not in your control) and would you be in position to pick up the full tab going forward (and in some cases needing to reimburse what $s were already received)? Of course, I would expect anyone that gets a scholarship to a top tier private school would most likely be getting other merit based $s as well, but you need to take all things into consideration.
     
  3. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    This is why I strongly advise everyone to join www.collegeconfidential.com . Use their discussion forums and be honest. Colleges vary, and you need to understand ROTC scholarships are one part of the equation. On that site they will be more brutal about your chances than anything I have ever seen here. They will tell you every which way from Sunday if you are a match.

    You can play ostrich, or you can go there and have insight like here. It will also allow you if you get accepted in areas like dorms, classes, meal plans etc.

    Use Naviance, but understand that just like ROTC, admissions looks at the WHOLE applicant, and Naviance does not show legacy, or hooks.

    I would also say that if this school is a reach academically, understand freshman yr is the hardest, and you can find your child losing a scholarship due to their gpa, but not academically given the boot.

    Emotionally that is hard.

    They can stay, but the scholarship is gone and you need to ante up.

    They can stay if you can pay, but commissioning maybe an issue because OML includes their gpa. A 2.something at the end of their freshman yr., will hurt them, because their career assignment comes out in the beginning of their SR. yr. That means they really only have soph and jr yr to bring it up big time.

    I am not implying that they should not attend their reach school, I AM IMPLYING that they grasp the enormity of the weight if the reach school took them because of their scholarship. If they do not have the academic foundation, and lived with fear of the loss of scholarship, they will be entering college with 2 strikes.

    Not every cadet/mid will graduate and the services understand this. As a Mom of a 3rd child entering the college application process now, it is not only to be the devil and the angel on their shoulder, but HONEST with yourself as a parent regarding your child and their abilities.

    Too often we get wrapped up in beating the Jones's and bragging that we lose sight of if they are going this route for the right reasons.

    P.S. I did not mean to offend anyone when I said the comment about their abilities, it was meant to say that 4 yrs ago, and our 1st, DS having Cornell, UP, Harvard, Stanford and Notre Dame plus the AFA knocking on the door did something to me, and I lost sight. I got wrapped up in my worth as a parent. To this day I would say he would have succeeded, but he would have also been the most miserable person in the world because he would have done it for us, and not for him.

    Glad to know I now live by the expression, IT IS YOUR LIFE. I do, and right now it is hard for me, DS2 wants 2 schools, and if he can't get in, he has said he will go CC and re-apply before he goes to a college he doesn't want to attend. It is his life! I respect that, and I am proud of him for saying, I am not giving up on my dream, but it may mean I take a different path.

    Sound familiar?
     
  4. hokiesfan

    hokiesfan Member

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    Another thing to keep in mind is that if the top-tier, competitive school is a reach academically, you need to not just get in but do well enough once there to keep your scholarship.

    ETA: Sorry, cross-posted with Pima saying much the same thing. And her point about GPA is really, really important. A semester or two of academic probation from your ROTC unit will come back to haunt you.
     
  5. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    The debate over top tier vs. lets say perceived lower tier universities have gone on for years.

    In the end the best advice I've heard, and given to both my son's has been to find a school you want to attend, one that seems the best fit for you. Once you make that selection then try for the scholarship, if you don't receive it then look at your options and have a plan B.

    My feeling has alway been that you can get your undergrad at a school of your choice then pick a top university to receive your Graduate degree.

    As far as ROTC goes, don't make the assumption that if you go to a top tier "Expensive" school that it will somehow give you an advantage in ROTC. When calculating your OMS they can care less where you went to school, the GPA is what counts. One thing that most applicants don't realize is that schools don't all count and grade MS classes the same. Some roll the Labs and PT into one class, some split them up and give credit and letter grades for each. Some schools treat Ranger Challenge and Color Guard as EC's, some schools give credit and letter grades for both. Some schools give credit towards your degree for MS classes and some do not which can make for a large credit load for some semesters. Add to that, some schools grade with a +- system and some do not. All of these things can greatly impact a students GPA over the first 3 years.

    While GPA is important and worth 40% of the OMS, there is still a possible 61.5 points available, 62.5 if they are in an accepted Engineering program. This block of point is what can really make or break your OMS score. The fact that LDAC is very subjective in it's scoring due to the fact that it runs the whole summer and there are numerous graders over that time. The same TAC's do not grade every cadet. This results in a wide range of scoring, it is no wonder that such a small percentage of cadets receive an overall E at LDAC.

    Having a low GPA will almost always keep you out of the top 20% but a high GPA will not guarantee that you will be in the top 20%. That 61.5 to 62.5 points will be the deciding factor, a large part of that from LDAC which requires just as much luck as it does skill. Get the wrong grader and your done, get an easy grader and you get lucky. My son had routinely scored a 330 plus on his PT, when he took his test at LDAC he received a 287. He more then maxed the run and SU but when the fresh LT scored the PU...well she didn't count 37 of them. After he was done a Sgt that was watching told him "Damn, sorry about that, those sure looked good to me" The cadet next to him only had 3 that didn't count...different grader. As my son said, oh well, it's just something you have to live with. You get my point on how a little luck can go a long way.

    Sorry got off my point a bit. Regarding GPA, My son ended his MS3 year with a 3.5, he was in the top 6%, a classmate of his ended with a 3.8, he did not make the top 20%. My point here is that while GPA is important it is not the only thing that will get you where you want to be, you need to be well rounded.

    Now, my son's, both at the same school, are not at a top tier "Expensive" university, jus a simple State School know one seems to ever mention when talking about schools on this board. In the end he has been very satisfied with his choice, feels he received a top education and will be able to attend Grad school almost anywhere. He truly believes that he did well because he loved his school and was very happy there, in the end that's the most important thing

    Both son's are at the same school, both were awarded the 4 year scholarship to 5 schools. The funny thing is that both selected the least expensive school on the list even though it was OOS. The highest priced school was 48k per year and included R&B, their school is currently 19K per year and we pay the R&B. When asked, both have said if they could go back they would make the same choice, like I said it's where you feel the most comfortable and can see yourself thrive.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  6. EDelahanty

    EDelahanty Member

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    Dear Educateme:

    This story is uncannily familiar. In fact, if it hadn't been for a couple of minor details, I would have thought we were parents of the same child, in which case I would have said, no, I do remember today is your birthday.

    In any case, it's amazing what kids can accomplish when they realize slacking off isn't all it's cracked up to be.
     
  7. educateme

    educateme Member

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    Jcleppe,

    Based on everything I read, I have a lot of respect for you and your sons. My post was not meant to disrespect schools choices of those who are not gunning for the most selective colleges. My input was for those, for whatever reason, who are gunning for very selective schools - for their own reason.

    I completely agree with you that the school has to be the right match for the student, regardless of the prestige factor. For my son, the school he is at right now is turning out to be a GREAT choice. He is pretty happy, and WE are happy as parents......
     
  8. educateme

    educateme Member

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    Haha, EDelehanty,

    If I were to "FORCE" my son to keep this kind of study/training schedule, he would divorce me and there will be a third world war. It does not work that way for him. That's way, in HS, I did not force him to do anything even when I thought I was watching a train wreck about to happen. It's such an enormous relief that it's his own overachieving self that is driving him hard.... I felt that his approach will change once he is at college - and I was right. I understand him pretty well, that's why I had no problem watching him apply to a school known for academic rigor. I felt that he needed a more challenging environment to get into the overdrive mode. All of his lower grades in high school came from "easy" courses. He would get B- on really easy courses and then get A+ in AP courses reputed to be really tough with stingy grading policies. That was the indicator. If his lower grades were all coming from difficult courses, I would not have been so sanguine about him applying to the school he is attending now.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  9. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I understand completely, your advice was spot on.

    Glad to hear he is happy and doing well, tell him good luck with RC, my two are heading to Ft. Lewis right now for RC this weekend, it is so cool they get to do this together on the Alpha Team, it will be the only time they have ever competed together.

    And don't worry, I was just shaking the pom pom's for the little schools, no offense was ever taken.
     
  10. EDelahanty

    EDelahanty Member

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    How one could force a teenager a thousand miles away to rise for strenuous exercise at 5am five or six mornings a week is above my (admittedly low) pay grade. You are correct: they have to drive themselves from within. It sure isnt his bon-vivant roommate, who on occasion is stumbling to bed just before dawn, having sedulously partied to maintain the school's reputation.

    It wasn't always like this. If I had retained the deluge of form letters from the HS disciplinary dean: "Dear Delahanty, your d_mn son cut yet another class...has again been tardy for classes without explanation...was discovered sleeping soundly in a pickup truck at the far end of the school parking lot during study hall, etc.," I might now be a prominent dealer in scrap paper. Today, however, Cadet Delahanty is a model of self-discipline. In fact, he is astonished that some of his fellow battalion members can be so indolent or unfocused as to miss a single Ranger Challenge Team session. And where he was once content to get a grade of Pass, only an A will satisfy him.

    The dumb stuff is mostly though not completely over. But as I watch him mature, I do think the ROTC experience has been extraordinarily helpful in his development.
     
  11. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    Not very many kids work while in college anymore, so also understand that your child's 12-15 hours per week of ROTC commitment is time that other students might be studying, or sleeping, or doing other things to increase the chance of competing in the classroom for the grades.

    Actually I read somewhere, I think it might have been UCLA's work-study program, that students who do not work at all seem to fare worse in school than students who work, say 5-10 hours per week. Those who fare the very worst are students who need to work 20+ hours per week to pay for school.
     
  12. educateme

    educateme Member

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    delahanty,

    my son's room mate is a pot head prince from a very, very, very rich family who has no problem inviting his friends to "party" in his dorm room any time of the day and very well into the night and these "friends" have no problem spilling beer and what not on my son's bed and opening all of his stuff while in drunken stupor. That's why my son does all the studying at the library..... AND I am told he complains a lot about my son making noise when he is getting ready for a day at 5 AM, though he is trying his best to be as quiet as possible.

    We had a long discussion about this, and I told him it's part of life's lesson to deal with A$$ H$$$s of the world. Told him some horror stories of the truly Olympic grade top world class A$$ H$$$ that I had to work for, and it's much worse than having a bad roommate since this A$$ had the right to evaluate me and could potential make my career, at least for a while, a living hell....

    Sigh...
     
  13. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    oil and water :(
     
  14. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Believe it or not this is why both my son's joined a Fraternity. That may sound silly but in the Houses on their Greek Row they have sleeping porches. The kids all share a room where they keep there stuff but they sleep in a large room with bunk beds. This allowed them to get to sleep whenever they wanted and still be able to hang out in the rooms with there friends.
     
  15. Ohio2015Parent

    Ohio2015Parent Member

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    DS's school requires 2 years on campus housing and the AROTC has a floor where all the freshman cadets live together. The RA's are MSII/MSIIIs which has been very helpful. Next year they do not have to live together, but many do since their pt schedule does make for earlier nights and those wonderful early mornings:biggrin: The MSIII/MSIVs typically have a house off campus for the final two years.

    I would say we agree, the right school is the right place. Letting a child who is not academically prepared for a rigorous school set their heart on a top tier or Ivy is setting them up for failure. Watching my older DD and now DS settle into the college routine has been a great experience, they each picked schools they really want to attend.

    Scholarships are only becoming more competitive all the way around. ROTC will be hard to "chance" for 2016. Good luck to all of you applicants & parents.
     
  16. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    No truer words can be said.

    Of course we all have our kids apply for a reach school, but there is a difference from a reach school and a reach-reach school.

    If they do not have the academic foundation under their belt, SAT/ACT/AP are indicators than all you are doing is setting them up for failure.

    We may all want to believe not my kid, but look at college retention rates, even at the Ivies, there are a lot of not my kids that become MY KID.

    Look at the SAs. They have @75% retention rate. Do you think that when they accepted that BFE, they thought they would be one of the 25%? Of course not!
     

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