It’s not so much that the private schools fill up first, although some do. I think the reference may have been to the ratio of public/private scholarships given out overall. Cornell rarely, if ever, fills up so that’s a pretty safe bet for your son. What’s harder is getting into their Engineering school. The NROTC Unit at Cornell gave us a very helpful spreadsheet of the admission stats of the NROTC students & their majors, and the average admissions stats broken down for each school there. The officers at that Unit would be a great resource for you and your son. I would suggest contacting all of the Units on his list to find out when each Unit generally fills and if they take off their waitlist. That is just helpful information to have when filling out school choice. Although your son has as good a shot as any at getting into Cornell, it’s good to be prepared. I think it’s likely that your son will get picked up for a scholarship on his first board. In fact, if he doesn’t I would call the NROTC office to find out for sure if his packet went before the board. If something gets lost, your local recruiter would usually not know about it so don’t rely on the local recruiter for information after his application has been completely submitted. It’s still a good idea to explore additional options for schools. If your son puts Cornell as his first choice and gets picked up for a scholarship in October or November, he’d get placed in that Unit. If he finds out in April that he didn’t get into Cornell, he needs to then switch his scholarship to another school. He has more leeway since he currently has a private school spot. If he had been admitted into all of his 4 other NROTC schools on his list, then he can switch to one of them, private or public, as long as they haven’t already filled up. That’s why it’s important to have contact with all of the Units on your list. For complete flexibility, he’ll want to already be admitted to at least a couple of schools that rarely fill their Units. The hope is that by April your son will have both an Appointment to USNA and an NROTC scholarship to a terrific school and then he can choose which kind of college experience he’d prefer to have. Both are tremendous opportunities and great choices.