Going into the military after college

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by sjbd94, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. sjbd94

    sjbd94 Member

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    So this might need to be posted on the OCS side, but i feel like it would get more attention on the ROTC page. I was offered a 3-year ROTC scholarship to an in-state school. I also go into the school near my home, which does not have ROTC. I personally really dont want to live in a dorm and all the stuff. So my question is how "hard" is it to go to OCS or OTS after college. I really do want to go into the military but considering I only have a 3 year offer and my lack of desire for the "college experience" i want to know if it is a must to go to a school that offers ROTC to have a chance at becoming a military officer. How low are the chances of getting into OCS after college? Thanks!
     
  2. pilot2b

    pilot2b Candidate Appointee

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    Is there a particular branch you plan on joining? Also, have you talked to your Officer Selection Officer (or whatever they're called for each separate branch) about the possibility of OTS/OCS?
     
  3. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    There is a lot that goes into answering that question.

    First, a lot will depend on how you do in college and what your GPA is when you graduate.

    After you graduate you would then see a recruiter and put together a packet to submit to the Army for OCS. The packet will include your college transcript, Army testing results, and APFT scores among other things.

    A while back the acceptance rate for OCS was fairly high, not so much today, and nobody knows what it will be like in 4 years. Odds are with the planned draw down in the Army over the next few years OCS will continue to tough to get and very competitive. During a draw down like this OCS gets hit the hardest.

    With a 3 year scholarship, while you will still need to be on top of your game your freshman year, would be a safer route to take. If you do well the first semester there is always the chance of having the scholarship upgraded to a 3 1/2 year. Once the 3 year scholarship kicks in you would be contracted, barring any mishaps or dropping below the minimums of the contract you would commission upon graduation.

    On the other hand if you go to a college you really do not want to attend the chances of doing well drop a bit. Going to a college you like that would give you a better chance at success would give you a better chance should you decide to try for OCS.

    It's a tough question, one that you will have to weigh the risks of either choice.

    I just remembered that you had posted a while back about whether to accept the 3 yr to ECU or the 4 yr to UNC. Just wondering after all the effort to transfer and the decision making on which to accept, why just now have you decided you do not want the college experience and want to go to a local school with no ROTC. Just trying to understand the course you have been on.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2012
  4. Packer

    Packer Member

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    The college experiece, just like about everything else, is what you make it. I don't think there is a typical college experience just a stereo typical one. You may want to think on this for a bit but as previously stated the 3 yr scholarship will give you better odds of commissioning.
     
  5. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I agree with all posts on this thread. Unless there is some financial trouble meeting room and board I don't understand the logic behind not wanting to live in a dorm. If that's really the issue then perhaps a military life is not for you? No disrespect intended, but there will be many dorm-like experiences in the military, will there not?
     
  6. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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    You are asking about something that will happen 4+ years in the future. If becoming an Army Officer is your goal then "a bird in the hand...". Currently to get OCS you will still have to attend Basic (and live in the barracks at BT), then get selected for OCS, then complete OCS (and live in the barracks), prior to getting branched and attend your basic course. All this will have to happen after you earn your bachelors degree.
     
  7. sjbd94

    sjbd94 Member

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    I feel like living in a dorm with a bunch of college kids I dont know vs brothers in arms is a totally different thing. But the whole UNC thing didn't work out so I am now going to try to transfer it to another college in NC if i do plan on going away for school. Cost is an issue as well as transportation while at the school and all the other kinds of monetary issues that arise with living on ur own. I mean even with the 3 year scholarships I would have to pay room and board which is more than tuition itself. But im just kinda having second thoughts on going away for college and its not like a sudden shift, its kinda been on my mind for awhile. But i would hate my lack of wanting to get away impact what i want to do with my life. I really dont know what to do!!!
     
  8. Aglahad

    Aglahad Member

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    I don't know you or your personality but just flippantly throwing away the college experience is in my opinion selling yourself short. Trust me its well worth it to live in a frat or dorm during at least a couple of your college years. It's not a bad thing to have non-ROTC friends because it keeps you better connected to wide variety of social networks around the school.

    As the sir said, you have an offer why not take it and use the room/board to enjoy college.
     
  9. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I think a year in the dorms would be a great experience. Perhaps after that you can share an apartment with some ROTC buddies. That's the path DS is taking. He loved living in the dorm but would now rather share an apartment with his best friends who are also midshipmen. Look on it as a growth opportunity and go with a bird in the hand. You have to leave home someday.
     
  10. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    One thought about the difference between the dorm experience and your AD experience... You picture the "brothers in arms" differently from the college students in your dorm, when in reality they won't be that different from each other. Think about this... You are a young man, soon to be (if not already) 18. Many of your subordinates will be very similar (18-20) and newly acclimated to the military. The "living away from home with a bunch of strangers" will be something they will have been through, just like what you may experience in dorm life with essentially similar young adults. And while you picture them as dedicated as yourself, they too are young people learning what committment is really about. They may learn during this time that the military isn't what they thought is would be. They may lose that drive and committment along the way. There will be some "less than perfect" soldiers you will have to command.

    The question you need to ask yourself is what do you want to experience and at what price?

    You have a choice of a 3-year scholarship (btw, if R&B > tuition you will want the scholarship to pay for the R&B which is your option) where you have a direct shot at what you visualize as your post-college career. It comes at a cost - both financial and social experience.

    Your other choice is living at home and going to school locally. You may be in a more comfortable place to perform better at home and be more successful in school (which in the bigger scheme of things is more important). Many students don't adjust well to life away at school and the fact that you are aware of your potential discomfort with that situation (not to mention the financial stress) says that your education may be impacted being away at school. To this I would say that home cooking may be for you.

    Yes, OCS is a crap shoot. If after 4 years and an undergraduate degree OCS is not available to you, you can still enlist and camp on a G2G opportunity, if your true desire is to serve your country first. Yeah, the income isn't quite as good, but you will also have some experiences that others who go from a SA or ROTC straight into O1 duty won't experience.

    So many paths, now you need to make a timely decision on which you will take...

    Best of luck.
     
  11. bsherman92

    bsherman92 Member

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    He is right though. There are unexpected, outward costs that come with living on-campus. If this is a financial issue, there isn't much that can be done about it: you're either able to pay the enormous price of tuition and room/board, or you can't. I think it's quite noble that you are concerned about the price your parents have to pay for tuition and room/board. Don't put so much weight into the ideal college "experience." Most students realize it's overrated after their first few weeks in. Some don't care about the school aspect of college and just want to get away from home for the first time to an exotic college location. The first priority of college is education... Academics are the most important thing there. If being an off-campus student will help you focus on school, so be it.

    That being said, it's a very big deal to turn down your 3-year scholarship. I think you worked too hard for it to now consider turning it down. The last thing you and the rest of the people here want is for you to regret giving it up. That could mean forfeiting both the college life you could've had and the (almost) guaranteed chance of officership. The above posts are correct: OCS selection is getting more and more competitive, and if you're not going in from enlisted, it's the least ideal method for becoming an officer (for branching, they get last picks after West Point and ROTC). It's also very hard to project what selections will be like in 4+ years. At least with the scholarship and ROTC, you can have sort of a foot-in-the-door deal, given that you pass the APFT, get contracted, and stay in the program (this is all assuming you're looking for Army, right?). I'm a commuter student, though I live in NYC so it's commonplace here for students to commute to school. Sometimes I enjoy it, sometimes I don't. Throw in ROTC and morning PT and it's usually less exciting. I value my sleep and when I have to wake up at 0330, I'm usually not happy. I spend a good portion of my time at school because I live too far to come home in between classes. Being a commuter student living at home is not bad, but there will be times when you wonder if you're missing out on something important, whether socially, academically, for pure enjoyment, or for your potential career. Building a network of not only friends, but also professors, colleagues, and acquaintances is a fundamental component to your future and career, and it's usually easier to do this when you're fully involved in school activities. And yes, you're probably missing out on a lot of "fun," whatever it may be. Be smart about this. Do not jump to conclusions. College is not like high school, if that is what concerns you. The academics are harder, there is less drama, people actually mind their own business, you have more freedom (more or less), and you have more responsibilities. Don't think you won't fit in well with your dorm-mates because of any preconception you may have about college life. Don't let yourself grow sour with regret because the way you feel now negatively affected a very big decision in your life as you go on to college. Perhaps if you're given the privilege to attend a ridiculously-priced institution tuition-free, then by all means you should just embrace the opportunity you've been given! The Army has awarded you a ridiculous amount of money to become an officer in their armed forces because they deemed you fit. This is also guaranteed full-time employment after graduation... Sort of, if you go Active. If it's really financial trouble you're facing, there are always third-party scholarship sources and FAFSA to cover the cost of room/board... Be resourceful, proactive, and use Google. If you want a non-ROTC, but still guaranteed commissioning experience upon graduation, you don't have to wait until graduation. If you're willing to go to another branch, there are always other programs like the Marine Corps' PLC, Air Force's TDSP, and the various Navy OCS programs (NUPOC, CEC, BDCP, etc). Think twice about your decision, be very careful about it, and really consider what it is you're about to throw away. That's all I have to say. Good luck and Hooah!
     
  12. -Bull-

    -Bull- Member

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    I agree with this quote completely. The dorm experience is not bad and I think, looking back on it, was a good experience.

    I'm saying this and I lived in a dorm (the same one my parents did) that has no air conditioning (yes, they still exist) in a southern state where humidity is above 90% almost all year. This built somewhat of a bond between the others in the dorm, because we all kept our doors open to let air flow through the dorm and thus, became alot more social towards each other instead of feeling like an apartment complex. Some of the people in that dorm are some of my really good friends and some of my best friends are in ROTC. In my opinion, you need friends outside ROTC, in order to get away from it sometimes when it gets overwhelming. It's hard to make those friends if you live at home.

    And we all understand money issues. We've all experienced them. But if being an Army officer is your ultimate goal and is what you seriously want to do, wouldn't you think with 3 years of paid tuition, and a job when you graduate, you could find a way to fund 1 year of tuition and room and board? Especially if your other option was a different college with no ROTC scholarship and no guarenteed job when you graduate.

    I mean all of this to be in no way disrespectful.
     
  13. Aglahad

    Aglahad Member

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    I disagree. Many posters on here champion the idea of ROTC/Academies as being conduits to develop a young person into a leader and productive member of society. I agree as well, but leadership is not as foreign to the average college kid as you may think. The college experience is an integral time in one's life where every day choices and decisions are made to slowly develop a student morally, academically and financially over the course of four years.

    Sure, living at home might ease the financial burden but I assure you this moral growth as well as social life will suffer as all their buddies are off to school and you are still living with mommy and daddy.

    College helped me forge a path for my life and aided me in making a recent decision to drop my ACTIVE duty offer and switch to the reserves to pursue further education. In my experience without the full college experience I wouldn't not have had the confidence to make that decision and turn my career into 180 degree (not backwards though :p ) direction.

    To each his own.
     
  14. bsherman92

    bsherman92 Member

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    Sure. You can attest to that better than I can. I'm usually bottled up in my room because of where I am, but it's not terrible. I'm in no position to complain; in fact, I like it this way most of the time for my studies. It's hard for me to comprehend the "developmental effect" college has on its students because I just see college as a place to attend class. Of course, living there for four years is going to change your attitude about it. The off-campus student is probably sheltered and out-of-touch with the social life he/she could have, but I'm sure the development is still very much similar. It's not like living at school is going to present you a challenge that's going to shape you into an adult... If anything, it makes your life more convenient for the fact that your class is 5 minutes away. It should help you develop socially though, I'd bet. And maybe teach you to manage your finances better... And to launder on your own once in a while. But from my position, I can't classify being "on your own" for the very first time in college a hardship that will forever help you make rational, adult decisions. College students live on campus because mommy and daddy are footing the bill back at home, except for the very rare self-sustaining student who is paying his/her way through school. Now that's a real challenge. Perhaps colleges have overblown the idea of the "college experience" to being an integral part of every student's fundamental development. I thought the point of college was to learn, and maybe a secondary goal is to prepare students for the job market. Is it necessary to send yourself over to the school and immerse yourself in campus life for four years to get everything you need out of your young adulthood? I would hope not. Especially now that the prices have gone up to levels most can't afford right now. We have people who don't choose to attend college right after graduating from high school, maybe never to attend at all: vocational/trade school, direct entry into the workforce, enlisting into the military. Many have turned out just fine without the degree or the experience of living out college. In fact, most probably have more real world experience than their college student counterparts. But in sjbd94's case, he's being given an opportunity that doesn't come everyday. It's an extremely big thing to pass up, and he's probably worked very hard for it. It's not just a matter of "whether to live on campus or not." Once again, choose wisely!
     
  15. Aglahad

    Aglahad Member

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    Well looking at the average hourly rate for vocational/trade school grads around where I live, I bet most easily trump the income of the average college graduate. Those schools truly prepare a student for the job market. I wish my high school spotlighted more vo-tech schools rather than shoving the 4-year college and debt cascade down our throats. But I am rambling back tot he topic at hand :p...
     
  16. Ohio2015Parent

    Ohio2015Parent Member

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    You have a huge decision to make. I hope you have parents and other adults available to talk with who may understand the financial and potential living away issues that confront you better than we can.

    DS is a self supporting college student - merit + National Guard - he hopes to contract ROTC in the fall after attending Basic this summer. He hasn't loved everything about the "college experience" - of course he picked a well known party school and then was displeased that many cadets fell into the up all night, cutting classes to party and the downward spiral that typically comes with these choices. Plus a roommate that has been inconsiderate and thankfully is gone now to Basic, has left him finding dorm life a little less than ideal(new roommate is a much better fit and is a great inspiration to DS for PT since this cadet is already Max plus:thumb:). Next year he is opting to pay a little more for a private room and some sanity but will still share common areas with other cadets(something called mod style living...) After 10 weeks at Basic in the South Carolina heat he feels this is a good choice for him.

    Please talk with us, but perhaps finding an adult you can trust will be even more helpful. DS made some pretty radical choices(National Guard at 17) to secure his education when AROTC didn't come thru for him, but he had myself and others to talk with at length about his options.

    Take care:smile:

    PM me if you'd like - I've gotten pretty savy at financial aid, 2 kids in college and a job loss a year ago have taught me a lot about finding help and the FAFSA.
     
  17. Moosestache

    Moosestache Member

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    I think people are sort of dancing around it a bit but here is my take.

    1. Based on what we currently see, it is going to be very very difficult for you to become an officer using the OCS route. So if you really want to become an officer in the military ROTC is probably your only real option.

    2. Your college experience is about learning and growing, in many ways it is a very good way to prepare for military life. I think we are afraid you will regret your decision if you decide to minimize it.

    3. People are people, if you expect people in the military to be different than the people you interact with in college you may be disappointed. There will certainly be people who have your back, but there will also be knuckleheads. There will be people who are completely committed to the military, and there will be people who punch the clock, do their job, and then go home.

    Good luck with your decisions.
     
  18. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I've got one last question/comment. Have you discussed this with your parents? If not, you should. They know you best and could certainly help guide you in your decision better than we can. Also, if your concerns are financial its possible you might find you are unduly concerned. Then again you might find your concern is fully justified. In either case its input to your decision, based on data, not worries.

    My DS was unduly concerned about finances until I took him thru the numbers and showed him we could swing it without the ROTC scholarship. At the same time I explained to him he would need to take out some student loans, not because we absolutely had to, but because I wanted him to have some skin in the game.

    I expect you don't have full insight into your families finances, and perhaps you shouldn't. But a conversation with your folks would be helpful whether financial or not. Your folks will have some insight into what will be best for you, and probably understand you in some ways better than you do. Parents aren't as dumb as we look. Talk to them.
     
  19. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Great post Moosetache. :worship::worship::worship::worship:

    Moose and others are right you have no clue what the manpower needs will be in 4+ yrs.

    sjbd,

    I think you just have fears regarding transitioning into college and away from home for the 1st time. This is common. You have stated here that leaving home is an issue for you right now
    If your friends were brutally honest, they would say that this is a fear too for them.

    It is okay to have that fear, it absolutely, positively normal. You grew up with these people, and have been friends for decades, but guess what? Every other kid at college on the 1st day has the exact same fear.

    Every officer that reports to their 1st operational station feels the same way. It is natural, and not to have your fear at 17/18 is abnormal.

    This is a part of the military life, you move, and you move often. Unless you are in a specialty field where there is only a few posts/bases you can be assigned to during your career, you will move and be a stranger.

    Bullet did CGSC at Leavenworth as an AF O4, we lived on post in a cul de sac with 24 homes. Not one person ever met anyone on that block prior to the assignment. There were people who were assigned to the same post at the exact same time, with children the same age, but their paths did not cross.

    It was just like college. We all moved in within days of each other and created friendships. We were all in the same boat. That was our commonality. Just like it would be at college in the dorms. You are all strangers.

    My closest friends that I am still in contact with our not HS friends, they are friends I made after HS. Still in contact with my HS friends, but we live different lives, they don't speak in acronyms and can never imagine moving every few yrs. Our life is foreign to them. We and our military friends feel the exact same way about their life being foreign to us.

    You may chose to stay at home and not go away, but trust me your friends will leave, and their social circle will change.

    Going OCS when you have a ROTC scholarship is just putting off the inevitable IMPO regarding your social circle changing.

    You need to decide if you want it to change in 2012 or maybe in 2016. Neither is right, neither is wrong.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012

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