Is an SMC right for me?

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by caleb74, May 10, 2011.

  1. caleb74

    caleb74 New Member

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    The only reason I want to go to college is for ROTC other than that I would just enlist in the Air Force. I am planning on majoring in computer science and would have to transfer into one my sophmore year. I was also curious what freedoms you get such as owning a computer or car etc? Is the only advantage having a guranteed slot for feild training if you meet all requirements? Thanks for any help!

    Edit: I cant easily visit one the nearest to me is over 200 miles.
     
  2. sprog

    sprog Member

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    I can imply here that you want the full-time military immersion. If this is the case, and you want Air Force, you should first apply to USAFA.

    If USAFA falls through, and you still want the immersion in the military environment, then a SMC is a viable option. There are advantages to an SMC, but also obvious drawbacks when compared to other "regular" colleges. On the plus side, there is a strong academic program, a tight kinship with your fellow cadets, great avenues to pursue leadership opportunities, and usually a very active ROTC presence in daily life. Each SMC is a bit different, with some being more restrictive than others, but generally the negatives center around you not having near the freedoms of your counterparts at a "regular" college. You won't be able to go off to various parties every weekend, you can't sleep late, you have to clean your room, etc. That said, it is a college, so there are avenues for social interaction. There are plenty of extracurricular activities to suit various interests, and as you gain seniority, you'll have more and more access to things that are more enjoyable.

    You can of course have a computer, as all SMCs are institutions of higher learning. Some may even require it nowadays. As far as a car, that depends on where you go. It used to be at VMI (my alma mater) that you could have a car in your junior year. I think only seniors can have them now. As far as the other SMCs, I have no idea. You certainly don't need a car as a Rat, as you can't leave the post except for school-sponsered activities.

    I went onto active duty in the USAF. I met a few graduates in the service, but I didn't have near the network that USAFA has. This is for obvious reasons. Still, most officers on active duty have heard of the SMCs, and you are bound to run into a few grads as you go about your career. In that case, I'd say there is a bit of a professional plus for SMC grads in the military, but nowhere near the extent of the SA grads. In the end, it is how you perform individually that matters most.

    All the SMCs have strong academic programs with some being a bit stronger than others. The chief advantage of VMI, for me, was the top-notch liberal arts education I received at the place. VMI set me up well for law school, which I attended after my stint in the Air Force.

    You have to weigh the benefits and costs (both financial costs and costs of giving up traditional college freedoms) and come to a conculsion that best fits your needs. Keep in mind that SMCs, unlike the SAs, do have tuition and other fees. Some of the schools are expensive, but that can be mitigated depending on certain factors. There is financial aid available, and of course ROTC scholarships and other academic/athletic scholarships are there for those who qualify.

    PS: VMI has a computer science major, and I'm sure most of the SMCs do (you'd have to check that out with each school).
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2011
  3. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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    Careful with this. Going to an SMC does not come close to guaranteeing you a slot. At VT, our selection rate for field training was only slightly above the national average. HQ doesn't care what school you go to.

    The only way to improve you chances for FT slots, pilot slots, etc is to get a high GPA, high PT scores and high UCR. You dont have to be at an SMC to do that. Also, being a tech major will help.
     
  4. bjkuds

    bjkuds Parent

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    SMC's for my DS seem to be the perfect choice. He seriously looked at VMI and Norwich. The guarantee to commission is a plus but its not the only advantage IMO. The discipline factor means a lot to my DS. He wants to challenge himself not just academically. The school size and personal attention also are a big factor for him. The main thing you have to consider though is what do you want to learn and how do the college programs stack up. It's about getting the best education to prepare you for whatever goal you have. DS is not interested in the "regular college" because he would rather avoid that party scene and the Honor Code and brotherhood that are prevalent at SMC's is very appealing to him. At VMI you don't have much freedom except to "strain" your first year. (that's what we've been told):biggrin: Its hard in every aspect and the only cars on campus belong to Seniors. The benefits of going through it are great in the end. You learn to lead by putting others first and you gain a sense of personal responsibility for others and yourself and take pride in every detail of your life. When touring the SMC campuses you will notice a big difference in how the cadets carry themselves. Maybe I'm wrong but I see VMI in the same light as a SA, except with more options for branch of service choice and the choice to not commission. SMC's are very different in every aspect. At VMI DS will have only the necessities of life in his room which includes his laptop, but access to social networks etc is even limited the first year. It is a barracks, not a typical college dorm...and compared to the modern barracks I've seen on military bases, even those have air conditioning stateside :)
    You need to find a way to schedule a visit. That is the only way you will know if its right for you. Check out the websites thoroughly. They have a ton of information. Good Luck to you.
     
  5. sprog

    sprog Member

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    Is it really that competitive to go to Camp these days?

    In the late '90s, as long as you weren't a complete dirtbag, you could pretty much go if you wanted. I guess with the USAF cutting back, it makes sense that it is more competitive.
     
  6. caleb74

    caleb74 New Member

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    The normal college experience overall dosent appeal to me especially the partying etc. Texas A@M was my first choice by I also like VMI since it's closer compared to others. My fallback is ROTC at Ohio State.
     
  7. Packer

    Packer Member

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    We are being told that this spring the national FT selection rate was 60%.
     
  8. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Caleb- I can offer you all sorts of reasons why to go to a SMC, but candidly your post sends up a warning flag. A cause for significant failure at SMCs (as the admissions guys will tell you): is that kids will go there with some vague notion that the military is the important thing and forget that they are going to a very competitive College which happens to be a military college. The most important word there is: "College". You can shine until your shoes and brass look like a mirror and be the most "strac" cadet in the land- but if you don't understand that you are there for the education first and foremost- you are going to have a tough time and probably a fairly short cadetship. I personally know of a couple of cases where the cadet really was confused about their reasons for going to VMI and wound up gone by the end of the year. - You aren't enlisting - you are going to college. ROTC is a subset of college- any college including an SMC and if you aren't committed to the college concept then you are going to have a tough road ahead to success.

    So having said that: why go to a SMC?
    a. Because the environment teaches you how to function under pressure and how to function in an often stressful and physically, mentally and seriously time constrained world.

    b. It teaches you to be a disciplined and honorable person who understands completely both the concept of your honor as your personal bond and the responsibility for your own actions. (Which is not to say that you can't take your chances with rules and regulations- but that you take full responsibility for your actions and ommissions-both good and bad).

    c. Because going thru all of the above bonds you to your classmates in a way hard to describe but which will be life long.

    d. Because - at least in several cases- they are small - teaching only colleges with very low faculty to student ratios and very high PHD to faculty ratios- which means that you are getting, or at least have the ability to get a lot of personal academic attention from the faculty: you aren't lost in the crowd in the multihundred student lecture hall. That may not matter much in a "urvey of Western Lit" type course- but it'll matter a lot in many of your courses and you will appreciate the opportunity.

    e. Because (at least in the Army and the Marine Corps) there is a relatively large alumni network- you will run into grads in higher proportion than other schools. Doesn't hurt- and sometimes can help. If you are going into the Army- you do have a guarantee of AD if your PMS recommends it (keep that in mind: if he doesn't want to recommend you for AD- then sorry- no guarantee!).

    My advice- you need to go visit the school you are interested in. A picture may be worth a thousand words- a visit is worth about a million.
    good luck.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2011
  9. sprog

    sprog Member

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    VMI and Texas A&M are pretty different schools. Just in size alone.

    A&M is a major research university, with something like almost 50K students in all undergraduate and graduate programs. VMI is a small liberal arts college (with strong engineering programs) with about 1500 students total (used to be even smaller). At VMI, everyone is a cadet and lives in barracks. At A&M, the Corps is a small part of a huge university; however, I have to imagine that there is a tight kinship between those students who are in the Corps. I think you'll have a wider choice of academic programs at A&M, but keep in mind that the Corps is just one part of a much bigger picture.

    Both schools have good reputations, and I met plenty of Aggies while on active duty in the USAF. I was a missile officer, and my first deputy once I got command was an Aggie. He was a strong officer and very competent missileer.

    We had a couple of A&M exchange cadets at VMI while I was a cadet. I really, really, really hate those boots. They love them, but I think they look ridiculous. They give the appearance of a sort of cross between a state trooper, a cowboy, and a Waffen SS officer. :yllol:

    just kidding on that last bit....
     
  10. sprog

    sprog Member

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    This is true to a smaller extent in the USAF. I met a handful of VMI guys in my Wing (mostly O-4/O-5s), and there were a couple of JOs at my first base. More than you might find from State U, for sure. There are plenty of VMI guys on AD in the Air Force, but not quite the amount as are in the Army and Marines. I think VMI's representation in the Navy is the smallest (although there are still plenty of VMI Navy people).
     
  11. caleb74

    caleb74 New Member

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    I am committed to getting a college education as well I probley would have enrolled in one after enlistment however I would like to have a military career (20+ years) and it's seems better to do this as an officer compared to being enlisted.
     
  12. RahVaMil2009

    RahVaMil2009 Member

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    From what I've been told, at some schools, it's easier to get a pilot slot than it is to go to Field Training. The USAF is really kicking it up in the accessions process as a more cost effective method of force shaping (rather than putting a ton of money into training them first), so a lot of guys get weeded out before even making it to Camp.

    But that's just what I've heard from my rats (VMI '12) and a friend who just graduated from Embry-Riddle. I can't personally confirm the accuracy of the information.
     

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