Junior ROTC leadership experience underrated?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by www, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. www

    www Member

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    In several of my college-related applications, it almost seems to me that my NJROTC experience proves much less acknowledged than I feel deserving.

    I am currently a Naval JROTC Battalion Commanding Officer. Based on my observations inside as well as outside my unit, an Junior ROTC unit Commanding Officer faces a greater number and greater variety of leadership situations, in such matters as motivating the team, planning, unraveling personnel issues, and helping with a team member’s personal problems, than does a class president or a sports team captain. (Not that a class president or a sports team captain does not face such issues.) I always thought my experience as an NJROTC Battalion CO would be a major boost in college applications. However, my encounters seem to show otherwise.

    Before I even started my college applications, I talked to a recent West Point graduate about my chances of making it to a Service Academy. When he asked about my leadership experience, I first named my NJROTC position as the Battalion Commanding Officer, assuming it would be a big hit. However, it wasn’t until I told him I was also a Captain of the Cross-Country Team did he say I have enough leadership experience on my résumé.

    At the interview for my Service Academy nomination, before my interviewers (Service Academy graduates who have retired as field-grade officers) called me into the room, I heard them discussing the strengths on my résumé. They pointed out to each other my academic standing, my position as Captain of the Cross-Country Team, and my LOA – but not a word about me being a Battalion Commanding Officer, not mentioning my finishing the NJROTC Leadership Academy ranking 1st out of over 130 select cadets from 5 states.

    A few weeks after that, at my AROTC Scholarship interview, I told the LTC who interviewed me about my leadership experience as the NJROTC Bn Commanding Officer and Cross-Country Team Captain.
    Then, on a form, the LTC wrote down my Cross-Country Team Captain position, and proceeded to ask me whether I held any position in a “student body, club, of any other organization.”
    I asked him, “Doesn’t me being the Battalion CO count?
    He said, “Well, I guess… Were you elected to this position?”
    Seeing a field-grade military officer sitting in front of me, I felt almost ridiculed by this question, but I explained to him in a natural tone I was “appointed” rather than “elected.”
    Then I was asked to clarify that my Senior Naval Science Instructor is a CDR, and my NSI a Senior Chief Petty Officer.
    It just seemed as if an elected position (like the President of the Class or of some Honor Society) would show more leadership ability to the interviewer than an appointed position. Wouldn’t he at least assume the NJROTC instructors, who are experienced military leaders, would appoint a cadet with strong leadership skills to lead the battalion?

    All the persons mentioned above are current or retired military officers, who understand it takes much to be the 1st in command of a military unit. If a military member does not adequately recognize the value of leadership experience in Junior ROTC, how would a civilian college admissions board member perceive its value? I am aware that "instructor-run, cadet-figurehead" JROTC units do exist, but aren't many of other school organizations or even sports teams much the same? I can’t help feeling that in college admissions, the value of JROTC leadership experience is underrated compared to positions in other organizations and on sports teams.

    My knowledge might be limited. My biggest question is: Why would people value leadership experience in school organizations, sports, or other things more than that in JROTC?
     
  2. rudyinok

    rudyinok Member

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    I'm certainly interested in the replies you get to this...

    my son has recently joined the Civil Air Patrol and might have similar opportunities as you describe. he is a freshman in HS.

    thanks for the good question.
     
  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    I suspect that what you need to do here is not just lay out the "title" but also be prepared to tell what it is that you do in that leadership position.
    Team captains are kind of a known commodity- most military guys have played varsity sports at one point or another so they understand what it means to be a team captain and how the individual got selected for that job- which is usually the rest of the team who votes on the player who has demonstrated the most dedication, inspirational leadership qualities etc. To have your peers recognize that about you is a real indicator of leadership capability.
    JROTC I suspect is a little different- I don't want to imply that it's not a leadership position but an awful lot of folks - to include military officers- don't know much about what you do in JROTC; who participates in it; who runs it etc.... So if it were me- I would be working on how to briefly sum up what the job responsibilities are of a JROTC Bn Cdr; how you were selected and by whom; how big your unit is and from what size group of potential candidates you were selected. Like any resume- most of the time when you are writing it you are not talking to someone intimately involved in the things you have been doing- so you need to translate it in a sentence or two into something that is clearly what they are looking for.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  4. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Nice post WWW, a perfect description! My DS ran into the same thing and he was only Operations Officer and that was almost a negative lol
    He gave up explaining it at Civilian colleges and just mentioned his sports positions.

    My theory is: many JROTC units are not run like some of the bigger, more organized active units around the country. DS's old unit would be a prime example; as soon as the old SNSI and NSI moved on and retired (respectively), the unit dropped off the face of the planet, and now does virtually no events, except placing people in these positions to fulfill their requirements.

    Is your unit a distinguished?
     
  5. www

    www Member

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    Too bad we aren't, but we have the NJROTC Unit Achievement Award, which is "awarded only to those units that demonstrated exceptional performance but did not qualify for Distinguished Unit status."

    From what I heard, many Distinguished Units from my area go to sanctioned drill meets quite frequently, which add points to the final score used to determine Distinguished Units. We have a highly active unit, but we only go to drill meets once or (rarely) twice a year, because we are somewhat separated from the rest of the world. Instead, the vast majority of our unit's activities are community-service oriented. At an outdoor public function, I met several cadets, some of them obviously cadet officers, from a "nationally ranked Distinguished Unit." One of the male cadets was in uniform but had his hair braided and wore no cover. Such appearance would not even be thought of in my unit. So I can't help believing that the only reason we do not have Distinguished Unit status is that we don't go to drill meets very often. Correct me if I'm wrong.
     
  6. Kero

    Kero Member

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    I think part of the elected vs. appointed thing that you metioned comes down to the fact that to be elected peers and subordianates must recognizes your abilities, which is often more important because it is harder to hide your short comings. Where as, in an appointed position, someone who is technicly proficent can fool a higher up into thinking they are a good leader.
     
  7. guardianvg

    guardianvg Member

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    My daughter is also the commander of her AFJROTC unit. She is in charge of over 100 cadets and supervises the lower ranked officers with their various duties. She participates or has participated in most of the drill teams, including Inspection, Armed Inspection, Unarmed Regulation, Armed Regulation, Color Guard (Captain and Rifle), New Cadet and Unarmed Duel Exhibition. She is always an element leader on these teams. She was appointed by the Colonel and Sergeant ROTC Instructors.

    She decided as a sophomore that she was going to be Cadet Group Commander and she worked hard for it. It's not a popularity contest. Her unit is a Distinguished Military Unit. I hope that this will count for something in her quest for the Air Force Academy!! She also needed approval from the previous Cadet Commander to be appointed to her post.
     
  8. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    DS's old unit was a Distinguished unit and we (the SNSI recruited me as a volunteer the first day I dropped him off...) did events constantly. Field meets with our other Area 7 units and Rifle meets, Community Service things like Habitat for Humanity, Sea Scout sailing meets and Orienteering meets, Drill and field trips to things like Kingsbay, GA. for an overnight and a tour of a boomer. We also went to Leadership Academy and a week of Boy Scout Camp during the summers. The Unit had over 150 cadets and the money that we raised and spent was incredible! All Cadets had uniforms and grooming standards with inspections weekly.

    All that works into the requirements of a Distinguished Unit and yes, I believe the Field Meets are big, I think I remember hearing the Area Commander wanted each Unit in the state to attend at least 3 meets a year. In todays economy and budgets being what they are, booking a couple of charter buses can be way above many schools capacity today. All in all, it's you that have all that experience and it'll definitely help you when you reach your school and ROTC unit, so don't fret it, you did good! :thumb:
     
  9. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    www- a couple of things...
    High school ROTC programs generally target the bottom 50% of high school students - those who are "at risk". Their purpose is not to give a leg up on exceptional students who strive for a service academy education and officership.
    Clearly, there are some bright and motivated students who take advantage of JROTC - like you do; but by JUST being in JROTC doesn't mean you are prepared for a SA.

    Service Academies demand a rigorous high school education. You can be a strong leader in your battalion but if admissions is not convined that you have the academic rigor and potential to succeed at a SA you will not win an appointment.
    Students who take advantage of their JROTC programs need to show clearly that their JROTC courses have not replace more rigorous science, math, English and history classes.
    JROTC candidates who are successful in obtaining an appointment have demonstrated their scholastic excellence and rigor.

    Kero - also makes a good point. Admissions makes a distiction between being appointed to a leadership position and being elected by one's peers.
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    My 0.0198432 cents

    1. Many times SA cadets do not see JROTC/CAP as the "WOAH...WOW" issue is because too many times candidates think that makes them better than the other candidates. Sometimes they portray an attitude of "I know that because I am in JROTC". AFA cadets will tell you that it is great you are in CAP, but leave that at the bus door!

    2. I disagree that JROTC is for "at risk" kids, and that 50% of the det are those students. In the 2 hs's that our children have attended, it is true that there are freshman who believe it is an easy A, but those that have stuck with it for 4 yrs are not "at risk". For example, AFJROTC class teaches more than how to salute or rank, they actually get into things like aero space and military history. These kids also are required to wear uniforms, show up early or stay late for drills, and do community service. The "at risk" kid or the one who believes it is an easy A, will quit after yr 1.

    I do agree that if you are the leadership in JROTC, but did not take rigorous courses it will not help you in the least. You can be the squadron commander, but if you stopped at Chemistry it won't help you get in.

    The thing to me is people remain mum about JROTC because in the back of their mind they believe the candidate is bringing it up to say "See, I have an idea of what it is like at the SA because of JROTC"...the cadet is thinking to themselves "You have no clue" and laughing in their head at the thought of the look on their face at BCT when they realize JROTC meant absolutely nothing.
     
  11. kpweb

    kpweb Member

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    I find it interesting that your JROTC position was overlooked. I am Air Group Commander in AFJROTC and I feel like that was the strong point of my resume. At the nomination interviews everyone seemed amazed and intruiged. My unit is not distinguished or anything like that. Just saying, maybe it means more to some people than you realize?
     
  12. Fuji

    Fuji Member

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    www,

    I am sorry that you felt that your JROTC experience was "underrated."

    You would think that "uniformed" people would understand the worth of your JROTC experiences. You would also think that college admissions people - especially people who work in an Academy setting - would understand as well.

    Unfortunately, you can never assume anything.

    In my own 25 year military/maritime college admission experience - I have seen some horrible JROTC/CAP/Sea Cadet/ Sea Scout units. I have also, more often - seen outstanding units.

    Unfortunately, some uniformed people as well as people who work in college admission offices have had more experience with bad units - and the students who come from those units.

    Be that as it may - be proud of your accomplishments - and for those of you who are involved in different uniformed units - be sure to be pro-active in explaining your unit and your active involvement in that unit. Do not assume that anyone knows what you have accomplished - either in the classroom, athletic fields, part time job or within your unit.

    Document all of your experiences as well as be prepared to verbally state all of your accomplishments.

    Your ability to do both of those things will make you a good candidate for whatever you are trying to achieve - and will maximize the reward that you have earned for the work you have put into your unit.

    Happy Holidays,

    Fuji
     
  13. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    I myself was in a high position in the Army JROTC battalion in high school. I did not view it as special though. Most people tend to think its a big deal when I agree with the fact that elected positions mean more. It means your peers and subordinates thought you were a great leader. Those being the ones who feel the effects of your leadership more directly.

    It seems you expected your position to be a "big hit" but if you look at it from a different perspective you can see it only requires you to manage people while a being a sports captain means to have to actually make on the spot decisions and actually lead a team to victory in an event as opposed to just making sure staff does what they are supposed to do and not ever competing directly.

    My time in JROTC and different positions helped me learn basic military knowledge and how chain of command works but I do not consider it a big boost of leadership. I could, like most JROTC commanders, say "I was in charge of 100 cadets" when in fact the commander only interacts with 1-4 subordinates directly about policy while a captain is required to be actively involved in a team keeping his subordinates happy and leading them to success.

    People here actually get made fun of for mentioning what they were in JROTC.

    I also disagree with JROTC targeting the bottom half of students. Although the first year can be seen as "easy", it is a volunteer course and the programs I have been a part of make cuts into the cadets allowed to take the next level course.

    I find it odd they were so amazed since many people going to nominations hold similar if not higher positions.
     

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