Life as an NROTC Midshipmen?

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by rownavy2020, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. rownavy2020

    rownavy2020 Member

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    Hi all,

    After receiving my scholarship the reality of becoming a midshipmen just became very real to me.
    I was curious as to if current parents/mids could share their experiences and thoughts with NROTC?

    What did you like/dislike about being in the program?
    Do you think at the end of the day working hard for the four years and earning my commission is worth it?
    As a midshipmen at a civilian school, are we allowed to live a "normal" college experience outside our NROTC obligations? Ex: Going out to explore the surrounding era, attending the occasional party/tailgate, taking part in greek life, etc?
    How much time will I need to commit to the program while at school? (work load, PT, summer obligations, etc)
    If you have any fond (or not fond!) memories/experiences from your time in the program?
    Anything which could paint a better picture for me and maybe others as to what life in NROTC is truly like would be much appreciated.

    I know I can find some of these answers around the official website but I just wanted to see what you all had to say first hand :)
    I'm very grateful for the opportunity I've received and want to completely understand what I'm getting myself into!

    Thanks
     
  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Whether it's worth it varies by individual. My son worked very hard and it was worth it to him. He now loves every minute with the Corps, especially since he has learned to embrace the "suck"... a necessary trait. However there are folks I know who dropped from the program in their senior year just prior to commissioning. Clearly it wasn't worth it to them.

    You can live a normal college experience. Folks on this forum have kids who joined fraternities. Many NROTC units have their own tailgate parties paid for by monies earned cleaning stadiums after home football games (06:00 Sunday), etc. It's possible to participate in non-NROTC activities. You can party but you cannot drink alcohol until you are of age and you certainly better not get a DUI or any run-in with the police while drunk (or sober for that matter). Any of these things are likely to get you tossed from the program.

    The time you commit to the program increases over the years as you take on more responsible billets (leadership positions). A typical week as a freshman is 3 hours of Naval Science classes, 3-5 hours of PT at 0:dark30, 3 hours of lab, additional time drilling, working out on your own, a couplr hours of stadium cleanup,,, and I'm sure other things I missed or activities that vary by unit. Of course you will also have your other academic responsibilities. Some second semester freshman begin to take on leadership positions as squad leaders, etc. That adds more hours spent passing word up and down the line. Over the years it's more hours as you become more responsible for actually running the unit. I bet by second semester senior year DS was spending 15-20 hours a week on NROTC duties as he was holding down 2 or 3 very responsible billets.

    My son loved participating in NROTC. He had many friends in the unit and many outside the unit. His leadership skills grew and grew over time. Many times the most effective comment to let subordinates know they were on the wrong track was simply to say, "Really?". Other times a different tack was used. You will develop your own leadership style over time and it will vary with the situation. As I said earlier, it seems like he's enjoying every minute in the Marine Corps and is excited about something each and every day. YMMV.

    EDIT: I should add that people also discover the program is not for them. Of the 50 people who started with DS's freshman class, only 15 finally commissioned. The remainder dropped out, or were tossed out for severe bad judgements over the years. 20% were gone by the end of freshman orientation. If you are having doubts remember you can drop from the program without obligation anytime prior to the first day of classes in your sophomore year. It doesn't hurt to try it out and see how it fits.
     
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  3. ck15

    ck15 Member

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    I am a 4/C in the college program(no scholarship).

    I love the NROTC program. Great group of friends you'll make. I did not apply for NROTC or USNA as I wanted to enlist after college, but after being in the program I could not give it up, I've improved as a person so much! You can be as involved or distant from the unit as you desire. If you are physically fit, you're only obligation will be (for my unit at least) 1 PT session, 1 lab, and 1 Naval Science class a week. In my opinion this is unfortunate because many scholarship students choose this path. They do not volunteer for fundraising, color guard, and other ROTC affiliated events nearly as much as the college programmers. So that being said you could also show up for PT 3x a week, lab, naval science class, color guard, fundraising, moral events, and other things and have ROTC take up a bunch of your time. So its all up to you. You'll have time to do all those things you listed.
     
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  4. rownavy2020

    rownavy2020 Member

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    Thank you for the insight!
     
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  5. Megan'sMom-Okla

    Megan'sMom-Okla Member

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    In my DD's unit, the freshman mids all have so many required study hours a week and required sessions with tutors the unit has hired, which is good, in my opinion, since most Navy mids have a STEM-heavy schedule. This is in addition to any billets, leadership classes, drill, "voluntold" assignments, etc. But she loves it!
     
  6. rocatlin

    rocatlin Member

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    It will be a good exercise in learning balance and time management. There will be good times of camaraderie, but there will be very mundane times -- especially with things like watches, voluntold activities, paperwork, staff billets with more paperwork, early mornings, etc.

    There will be great opportunities to do things outside of the unit. Drill meets, judging jrotc competitions, various competitions, etc. Rifle/pistol team, drill team, endurance team activities.

    I will say that after the 4th class year, students learn to not take on too much. As Megan's mom alluded to, the Navy side has a lot of STEM majors. My son's unit has mandatory study hours for STEM majors. The unit wants the "college student" side of the mid to succeed. The Navy spends a lot of time and money on them.

    You'll become tight with mids in your class. Some will probably leave after freshman year -- especially those that aren't on scholarship and don't pick up sideloads. My son's class is roughly half the size of what he started with.

    Marine Option and Navy mids looking into special warfare will PT together.

    You'll get to experience things like your first Navy/Marine Corps Ball and a cool ritualistic event called Dining In. You'll drink from the grog and learn phrases like "shedding a tear for Lord Nelson."

    For the most part, it's far from glamorous. You will be set apart, however. It's a stage of life and career.
     
  7. Norfolk63

    Norfolk63 privateer

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    Ask lots of questions, particularly about graduation rates of NROTC midshipmen from their unit. Some units leave much to be desired.
     
  8. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I agree with asking lots of questions and even that some units leave much to be desired. I don't think there is any direct relationship between the two and I bet if one had the data to compare unit to unit almost all would have the same attrition rate.
     
  9. 5Day

    5Day Member

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    Way back in the 80's when I was in college at a small liberal arts college in the north east I had friends in ROTC. Not me. Once a week the ROTC students would wear there uniforms all day, to class, lunch etc. They stood out like a sore thumb. Almost like a Boy Scout wearing there uniform to school. No big deal, but not your typical sweatshirt and sweat pants. Also, they were early risers. PT twice a week in the morning and there ROTC classes were also early. The early class was so it was impossible for their ROTC classes interfere with any of the academic classes, The earliest academic classes started at 8 am. So, I would say there classes were at 6:30 to 7 am. So if you are in ROTC don't expect the college experience that many have which is sleeping till noon and studying till 3 am. Most seemed to be doing it as a way to pay for college, some wanted a career in the military. Other than that there college experience was the same as everyone else. The NROTC experience is going to be different from college to college. Call the ROTC programs at the schools you are considering. Ask them to have one of their midshipman call you. Go visit and talk with them. There are too many variables from college to college.

    I think a more important question to ask is what is life like in the Navy. There is a far larger difference between having a civilian job to being a Naval officer than Midshipman to college student.
     
  10. rownavy2020

    rownavy2020 Member

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    Thank you all for the insight :)

    I have called and setup a Q&A meeting/visit with the CO and a current mid at the unit which I will most likely be attending next year in order to get the best picture!
     
  11. RedOctober

    RedOctober New Member

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    Currently a 4/C Mid in a NROTC unit. I think it all really depends on what sort of unit you get. I had friends who were hardly any different than your "average" college student at other schools. My unit was much more strict. PT 1-3 times a week (more for MO's/Spec War), mandatory study hours, Naval Science classes twice a week plus "Leadership Lab." Required color guard practice/events, "voluntold" events, plus collateral duties. There were also a bunch of additional opportunities. As a 4/C I am doing between 15-20 hours a week of Navy related work, not including homework.
     
  12. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    You're correct that it varies widely by college. Love your screen name. Let me guess... a "subtle" indication you hope to go subs?
     
  13. RedOctober

    RedOctober New Member

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    Actually, hoping to hunt them from the skies. Love to be a P-8 pilot.
     
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