Life at senior military school vs SA's

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by navy2016, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. navy2016

    navy2016 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Messages:
    609
    Likes Received:
    2
    Is life at senior military schools worse than the Academy life?

    Or are they about the same?

    I was just curious.


    Anyone out there transferred from a senior military school into a SA and experienced both?
     
  2. sprog

    sprog Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    9
    The experience is not the same, but it is similar. A key difference is that at an SMC you are not on active duty (if not on scholarship you pay tuition), and there are a few areas which resemble traditional colleges. Case in point, the schedule. You will get a full summer break, as well as a month or so off for Christmas. ROTC obligations may occur during this time; however, unlike the SAs, you will only engage in military training over the summer if you are contracted. Otherwise, you can work or go to summer school during that time. Also, some cadets at SMCs can finish early or late (5 years).

    The curriculum in the major fields of study more closely approximates the coursework you'd see at a traditional college. SAs require a heavy math/science core curriculum, regardless of major, whilst SMCs (and I speak as a VMI graduate) only require math and science beyond the introductory level for those in technical degree programs. That is, an English major at VMI will take statistics and chemistry(geared for liberal arts students) as a Rat, and then maybe one or two more introductory science electives. That's pretty much it. An English major at USNA, for instance, has calculus, physics, and much more than that over the course of the four years. Of course, an engineer at VMI takes all the super-hard science/math classes as well.

    As far as the "suck factor," which is what I assume your question is alluding to, it's even. Being a Rat at VMI sucks, and so does being a Plebe at one of the SAs. Comparing the degrees of "suck" would be purely an academic exercise. In no way is being at VMI like being at a traditional college on the social life front; however, it gets better as you build more time at the school. SAs, I assume, are similar.

    A BIG difference, is that choosing to enter the Armed Forces at an SMC is exactly that, a choice. You don't have to know you want a commission right away once you get to an SMC, and you don't have to go onto active duty. SAs exist to produce officers for the Armed Forces, so you better be very sure that is what you want when you accept the appointment. An SA education means a committment to serve, an SMC education gives you an opportunity to serve, if you want it (but no guarantee).

    If I knew for sure that I wanted to go on active duty, my first attempt would be for the SA. Having said that, an SMC experience is a great plan B that gives you something similar to the USXAs.
     
  3. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,587
    Likes Received:
    0
    Excellent post, sprog. Norwich is the same as VMI and the Citadel (and I expect all of the other SMCs). One of my Norwich classmates currently has a son at Norwich and a son at USMA. He told me that, after Beast Barracks, USMA seems a bit easier in the "suck factor" department. This is because Norwich does not have a six-week Beast Barracks. Instead, it has a "rook week" in the week immediately preceding the start of classes and, while it does get MUCH easier after classes start, rookdom at Norwich extends into the school year until the rooks are "recognized" (the length of which changes from year to year -- my year, we were recognized at Thanksgiving; other years, rooks were recognized in the spring). However, I understand that plebes at USMA still have to cup their hands all the way to May (unless shortened like this year because of the Army game win). In the end, I believe the "suck factor" at SMCs and SAs is essentially the same when you view it from the end-of-year perspective.

    One of the advantages of SAs, however, is that you get to count the four years at the academy toward your 20-year military retirement benefits. If you go ROTC at an SMC, you don't (even if you are contracted).

    On active duty, there is absolutely no distinction between SA, SMC, or regular college ROTC (at least that was my observation). That said, I wouldn't trade my experience at Norwich for anything in the world!
     
  4. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,001
    Likes Received:
    301
    Not true- your 4 years in a Service Academy do not count toward 20 years- you are an O1 under 2 just like every ROTC grad. There are a few exceptions to that- prior service who go to the prep school get their time at the prep school counted along with their enlisted time but that is it.

     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2011
  5. Derrick

    Derrick USAFA Class of 2015

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    Just adding on, but this is a good point that I read from somebody else's post on here.

    Attending a SA commits you to joining that branch of the armed forces upon graduation. If you were to do ROTC at a regular college or SMC, you have your first two years to decide what branch you would like to join. Say you do NROTC for your first two years to test the water (I couldn't resist the pun), but decide to join AFROTC (or any other branch) in your junior year. You aren't required to commit to any branch until your junior year. So at an ROTC program, you have more freedom to test different branches out.
    :thumb:
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2011
  6. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,001
    Likes Received:
    301
    Actually you have it backwards- if you get an ROTC scholarship you have to commit at the start (first day) of your Sophomore (3rd Class) year while SA Cadets get 2 years before committing. If you are a non-scholarship ROTC College program cadet then you do get 2 years as typically those Cadets sign a contract at the beginning of their 2d Class or Junior year.
     
  7. bjkuds

    bjkuds Parent

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2010
    Messages:
    614
    Likes Received:
    15
    so DS who may or may not receive NROTC or AROTC scholarships but accepted at Norwich and VMI can contract in his Junior year Navy if he so chooses even if he spends his Rat or Rook year in AF or Army ROTC??
     
  8. Derrick

    Derrick USAFA Class of 2015

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    I knew you had to commit at a SA by your junior year, but I thought you had to commit right away if you had an ROTC scholarship. I had meant what you said in your last sentence. I just poorly conveyed it. Thanks for the heads up and correcting me.
     
  9. Derrick

    Derrick USAFA Class of 2015

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yep. As long as he isn't there on a NROTC or AROTC scholarship. If he is on either, then he has to commit by his sophomore year to AROTC. Not sure what happens if he doesn't. So...

    Perhaps bruno could answer this for me. If I go to say VMI on an AROTC scholarship, but don't commit to the Army my sophomore year, what happens? What happens if I decide I want to go AF or Navy? Is it the same that cadet command/the government decides whether or not I pay it back?
     
  10. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,587
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cripes! I was told just yesterday, by someone who I ASSUMED would know this, that it DOES count. Thank you for setting the record straight. I had forgotten the old Army mantra concerning the word "assume".

    My son is currently evaluating between AFROTC/NROTC/AROTC and SA as well (he received an appointment today and is awaiting another), and I'm trying to give him the best advice I can on this subject, and it is very hard. Thank goodness for this Forum!!! And thank you, too, Bruno!

    I just wish this process was easier on the ROTC side of the house. The whole system where you have to accept a scholarship to a particular college without knowing if you're accepted to that college is very unnerving, indeed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2011
  11. bjkuds

    bjkuds Parent

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2010
    Messages:
    614
    Likes Received:
    15
    that was my next question ;) Bruno?? :biggrin:
     
  12. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,001
    Likes Received:
    301
    Yeah- I know it's a frustrating thing. The Army had a much more friendly system a couple of years ago- now it's a bureaucratic nightmare that every PMS I've talked with hates. 3 years ago- they were throwing money around like water (which was also nuts,) but rather than tightening up and telling the Detachments to manage to a budget they centralized everything and it is now a cluster all around. Typical Tradoc goat-rope. But it is what it is.
     
  13. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,001
    Likes Received:
    301
    If you go to VMI or any other school on a ROTC scholarship you have until the first day of your Sophomore year to withdraw without incurring any obligation to the service. So- if you decide that you don't want to be in the Army at the end of your Freshman year- you don't owe them a dime and you are free to try and enroll in another service's ROTC program if they will have you. If you are on scholarship - in order to get any money for the upcoming 3d Class (sophomore) year you will be required to sign a contract on the first day of the academic year. If you are a nonscholarship Cadet- you have no obligation until you contract at the start of 2d Class Year. Up until then you can request a transfer to the other ROTC programs- which they may or may not allow you to do.
     
  14. bjkuds

    bjkuds Parent

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2010
    Messages:
    614
    Likes Received:
    15
    so if DS keeps his grades up and does well in ROTC then he really has more options at VMI or Norwich on down the road so to speak...Cool!:smile: Thank you Bruno and everyone else that helps make sense of this process.
     
  15. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,587
    Likes Received:
    0
    bjkuds, don't tell bruno this, but GO NORWICH!
     
  16. NU81

    NU81 Parent

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Actually if you go to USMMA you have just as many options as Norwich or VMI and many more then the other four SA. When you graduated from Kings Point you have the ability to pick the service that fits what you are looking for. I have met grads that are flying fighters for the AK National Guard; in the Navy and in the Coast Guard there are also a couple of astronauts. You can also go into the civilian world, but must fulfill your Maritime Naval Reserve obligation.
     
  17. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,587
    Likes Received:
    0
    Do you mean that you can attend USMMA at Kings Point and then select active duty in the US Army Infantry after graduation?

    What about going to med school after Kings Point and then serving your obligation in, say, the Air Force?
     
  18. Derrick

    Derrick USAFA Class of 2015

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ok, thanks for the info bruno.

    I'm not sure how med school works at USMMA. If I had to guess, I'd think it'd be similar to the other SA's. That'd be a question to ask in the USMMA thread. And I do believe you can commission into any branch in order to fulfill your commitment obligation.

    Taken from Wikipedia "Graduates may elect to fulfill their service obligation by working as licensed officers on U.S. flagged merchant vessels, as civilians in the maritime industry, or as active duty officers in any branch of the armed forces of the United States. Regardless, graduates are required to maintain their US Coast Guard issued merchant marine officer's license for a period of at least 6 years.

    Those graduates electing to enter the civilian work force in the Maritime Industry, and those sailing in the Merchant Marine, are also required to maintain their Naval Reserve commission (or another reserve component commission) for a period of at least 8 years and are required to serve in the maritime industry for at least 5 years following graduation."

    (Don't flame me for using Wikipedia.)
     
  19. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,587
    Likes Received:
    0
    The one thing that has impressed me the most about SAF is that there are two groups of folks on this website, besides lurkers: (1) parents/students seeking information, and (2) generous people like yourself providing information to help others.

    A few weeks ago, I decided to become an active poster on SAF because I was absorbing a TON of useful information but was not paying it forward by also helping others. Thank you for taking time to respond. Anyone who takes time to answer a posted question should never be flamed.
     
  20. Derrick

    Derrick USAFA Class of 2015

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the kind words! I'm paying it forward as well.
     

Share This Page