NROTC Wisdom From a Fellow Midshipman

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by J_PapiChulo, Feb 15, 2015.

  1. J_PapiChulo

    J_PapiChulo Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    5
    Hey everyone! I just wanted to take some time out of my busy lifestyle to give back in any way that I can. I myself am in NROTC at UC San Diego. I'm a Tier 1 Nanoengineering major at one of the most academically competitive schools in the country. In addition, I am in one of the top five largest units in the country in regards to members of the unit. I'm a little more than half way through my 4/C year here at my San Diego Unit and boy is it exciting! We get a lot of hands on applications of what we learn in class since we live in a city highly integrated by the Navy and Marine Corps. At first, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. But now, I am filled with honor and pride to the things that I do and will be doing in the future to serve this great land of ours.

    I know the applicants out there are filled with exceptional marks in Standardized Tests, GPA, Physical Fitness, Athletics, Leadership, Community Service, and all the other important stuff that cannot be quantified. While all these factors do predict outstanding naval officers, I personally think that these numbers only define oneself up until they actually arrive at their respective unit. The real test is to replicate these high marks in a highly strenuous environment that will test your limits mentally, physically, and morally. The other real test is if one can lead, a huge factor that is not quantifiable. Social skills are also important. The Navy isn't looking for socially awkward officers that can't speak up for themselves.

    I applied to this scholarship with the notion that I would never get it. I applied in October 2013 and got notified of the scholarship within 2 weeks via ISR. This came as shock to me because thousands applied months before me with extremely better numbers and they haven't even had a decision made yet. Oddly enough, my numbers weren't that high. Til' this day, I have no clue as to why I got the opportunity that I did. Some higher force decided I was qualified, I suppose. I wake up every morning and thank God for how everything turned out.

    I myself am a fairly bright individual. I was active and played sports all my life. In addition, I took on multiple leadership roles throughout my high school career. I entered the unit with standards that were far below my fellow peers. By well rounded, I mean well rounded. It was a shock to me to actually be behind the pack for once since I was use to leading in high school. After this first semester, some peers of mine got a 4.0 GPA IN COLLEGE, near perfect Physical Fitness Test Score, and a plethora of extra curricular. Truly amazing individuals enter this program. Despite me being leagues behind everyone else, I still managed to pull off being towards the top of my class. I wanted to be in the medical field. Life happens in mysterious ways and here I am with an aspiration to be a Nuclear Surface Warfare Officer! With that being said, Naval ROTC, or any form of ROTC/Military Academy may not be what you had envisioned. It is important to keep an open mind about this. Utilize the fact that the first year is an experimental year.


    Here are a few tips for multiple stages of the transition from a civilian to a ROTC Cadet:

    1. What you were in high school is the past. Feel accomplished in the fact that you got the scholarship, got accepted to a university with a unit, and are finally all booked and ready to begin. You need to realize that countless others around you went through similar accomplishments, and some might be more successful on paper. However, the moment you step foot at that unit, you are standing on a clean slate. Everyone else is on the same page as you. You are surrounded by the most well rounded and competitive individuals in the country and it would be foolish of you to think that you are superior to someone else. That is not what makes a good sailor, especially someone who will be leading other sailors. Work hard in silence and let your actions speak for you.
    2. Just because you received a scholarship, doesn't mean it's the end of the road and everything is done for. Yes, it's an amazing accomplishment and you should feel proud of your unique success. Do not forget about DoDMERB, which is a tripping wire for quite a few people. Furthermore, just because you get snagged on this part, doesn't mean it's over. Personally for me, it took me 4.5 months to get myself cleared due to incorrect diagnosis of my childhood asthma shown in my records. I can breathe perfectly fine and yet I had to travel across California to meet with a doctor to perform a test to show proof that I am fine. DoDMERB, in addition to other hurdles, are still in the future before you can actually call yourself a Midshipmen. Without a doubt, the biggest hurdle is snagging a golden ticket (scholarship). Congratulations!
    3. If you do not get a scholarship, the hope is not lost. College Programming is a completely viable option. At my unit, we have over 200 MIDN, MECEP, and OC with diverse backgrounds. A good portion, I would guess about 20%, are college programmers. Throughout their time in NROTC, a respective portion of these individuals get a side load scholarship. Within my 4/C alone, 5 have gotten scholarships within these past few weeks. Don't give up hope if you really want this lifestyle! My Commanding Officer addressed our battalion saying that it is an exciting time to be a College Programmer because within this next year or two the boards will be giving scholarships to CPers in an noticeably increasing number. Not initially getting the scholarship is CERTAINLY not the end of the road. In fact, your chances rise to get the scholarship.
    4. Just because you have a scholarship, doesn't mean that it's yours. People will lose their scholarship standing for multiple factors ranging from being out of physical shape, grades, drugs, alcohol, or misconduct. High standards are put on those with scholarships. Every action has a reaction that could possibly jeopardize your career. Think long term. Even though the unit and your commitment is not 24/7 like those in the Naval Academy, it is important to think of the unit as being with you 24/7 to prevent yourself from doing stupid stuff. Being at a college campus has its obvious temptations. Be smart.
    5. Stay in shape. So many people enter units as a freshmen below physical standards, me being one of them. While I was in shape, I never really tested myself on my own terms the format of the Physical Fitness Test. 2 min pushups. 2 min sit ups. 1.5 mile run. All back to back. I was so not prepared for it initially. As a result, getting into shape to succeed at that test was a huge stressor for me since my scholarship was on the chopping block if I didn't get in shape by the end of my freshman year. Don't let that be you. Spend the summer ensuring you will do good at this test so that it's not a stressor to add to your already stressful lifestyle.
    6. Get organized and prioritize. Balancing ROTC, the transition and life of being in college, the potential of being far from home, extra currics, and more can be very overwhelming. There are lots of resources out there to help you succeed. The question lays in whether or not you want it or not. Reach out to senior MIDN for advice on what they did. Talk to your Officer Instructors and Chain of Command. Be proactive in your success!
    7. Be humble. Work hard and you will be rewarded.
    8. You will mess up. Sometimes it will be small mistakes and sometimes it will be huge mistakes. Learn to use that mistake as a learning mechanism for success in the future. I've learned more from messing up than from doing things right.
    9. It gets easier/better. I promise.

    These were just some of the few things that came to my mind while typing this out haha. If you have any specific questions about life in NROTC, in college, the juggling of it all, or my experience through the application process, then do not hesitate to message me! I would have no greater honor than to help someone just like how I was helped when I was going through the acceptance process last year. Time flies... To those that have a scholarship, congratulations! Be humbled and honored for the amazing opportunity given to you! To those that have not yet made a decision, have hope but have a back up plan. I know a few MIDN who got notified on the last week of boards! To those that have been sadly denied, the light at the end of the tunnel is still there if a commission is what you seek! College Program is a great opportunity that should be researched and pursued! I look forward to someday meeting some of you fine people in the fleet some day! Hooyah!
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2015
    d22, turtlerunnernc and vtechroomie1 like this.
  2. turtlerunnernc

    turtlerunnernc Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2014
    Messages:
    383
    Likes Received:
    306
    ^^^ I will be having my son read this. He is waiting on AROTC scholarship decision. Whether he gets it or not, this post is sound advice. Thank you.
     
    J_PapiChulo likes this.
  3. Marci Lawson

    Marci Lawson Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2015
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    4
    Great words of wisdom that I am glad to hear. I will also have my son read your post. As a retired Air Force JAG (commissioned via AFROTC), I too often wondered how/why I was selected to be an Air Force JAG. (Many folks with higher grades and test scores than me were not selected.) Being thankful for every opportunity offered and to try your level best everyday is the best advice any cadet, midshipman, or officer can ever give. I wish you the very best in your future as a student and future Naval officer.
     
    J_PapiChulo and turtlerunnernc like this.
  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,809
    Likes Received:
    956
    If the mods should make any post a sticky on this forum this should be it!

    This holds true for every ROTC candidate/cadet/scholarship/non-scholarship recipient regardless of the service branch they intend to join.

    I would only add, that as a HS student you believe that this is the hardest wait in your life because, yes it might mean attending your dream college or your number two, BUT, and I say this with kindness, college is 30 weeks a year and you can still commission from your number two school. AD life is 24/7/365/52 weeks a year for at least 4 years. The waiting for your career field will make you look back at these days and smile, while you say....OH to be in HS again!
     
    turtlerunnernc, J_PapiChulo and d22 like this.
  5. d22

    d22 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    286
    Likes Received:
    229
    Background: My son has been awarded a 4-year at USD, is waiting for an admissions decision, and has been cleared by DodMERB (he has also been accepted to x-town SDSU, PLNU, and is waiting for UCSD's decision.)

    A few questions. I'm sure I'll think of more later.

    Approximately when does the new class report the unit?
    Is there a summer training program, if so, when?
    Do the 4/C's room together?
    At USD Tier 1 majors graduate in 4.5 years. With the late graduation how does that affect service/ship selection?
    What do you like to do in your spare time?

    Congratulations on your decision to pursue Nanoengineering. My friend has a son who is also in that field at UCSD--he should be entering their Masters program...maybe next fall???

    Thank you for your time, and enjoy the Santa Ana's. ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2015
    J_PapiChulo likes this.
  6. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Messages:
    7,545
    Likes Received:
    1,005
    Another word of wisdom from my own perspective... each time you hit a milestone beginning with winning a scholarship, reporting to your unit with or without a scholarship, making it through your first year and every year thereafter, graduation and commission, completing your first school, etc etc... the thing that should be going through your head is "Now the hard part begins". J-Papichulo is correct that it gets easier, but it also always gets harder too. As you take on more responsibility, even more is expected of you.
     
    d22, turtlerunnernc and J_PapiChulo like this.
  7. J_PapiChulo

    J_PapiChulo Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    5
    With a mindset like that, anything is possible! Thank you so much and thank you for serving our country. JAG must be exciting!


    That's an honor for you to say such a thing! But yes, I agree! I'm sure this advice is applicable to nearly any form of commissioning. I am a tad bit ignorant in other branches and how they structure themselves, so I was a bit conservative on the title and advice haha.

    I agree completely. The wait was terrifying but everything happens for a reason.


    Congratulations! USD is a little bit competitive but not too competitive compared to most schools in CA. I'm sure that if he got the scholarship then he will get into the school. Same goes for UCSD. I can give great insight into the pros and cons of all the 5 colleges within our unit. Keep in touch with me and I can either talk to your son directly or you can pass on the word for me!

    - My class had orientation initially back in August. This was about 6 weeks before I went to school and only about 2 weeks before everyone else went to school. The UC system has a different schedule. It was split into two different weeks. One week was for SDSU/PLNU and the other orientation was for USD/CSUSM. UCSD had the choice of deciding which one they wanted to go to in order to fit their schedule. We stayed the night and spent about 36 hours for orientation. When you report to the unit after that is when you actually arrive in San Diego for your respective school. Each school starts differently.

    - There was not a summer training program. I would check online for workout programs and I would be more than willing to refer you to some for your son that have been released by Navy SEALs and recommended workouts from the Navy :)

    - There is no barrack/dorm setup for 4/C compared to other universities. However, it is possible to room with one if you request it. I'm not sure how that process works at USD. For my school, we can request roommates as long as we are in the same college and it is mutual. And in addition, there might be a chance that you will be in the same building/dorm/section of the housing area with other MIDN. So despite your son not being directly with a fellow MIDN, they might just be around the corner. That will help tremendously when it comes time for getting to PT on time or what not because that is a safety net incase you sleep through your alarm. Being late is not good. And besides all of this, you create a close group of friends within the unit really fast. USD is really small population wise so you will become great friends with almost all of the MIDN at that campus. There is about 60 or so there. UCSD has about 40. SDSU has about 60.

    - Most USD students who are Tier 1 follow the plan accordingly. If they arrive to the school Fall 2015, instead of graduation in Spring 2019, they would commission right before Christmas 2019. Does that make sense? It would be 9 semesters. My unit has commission ceremonies for both Christmas after Fall semester ends and in May when Spring semester ends. A majority graduate in May, but the Christmas one is meant for those 4.5 year students and students who had to take more classes for whatever reason. This shouldn't affect their service/ship selection as far as I'm concerned. That past christmas, we had one individual go to SEALs, a handful go to Aviation, one to Nursing, about half to 2nd Lt training, two to DDG's, and one to NPS. Nothing different from what I have observed. You will have to apply for 5th year benefits from the Navy but that is going to be guaranteed since you are not at fault for the University having a 4.5 year Bachelor's program.

    - I love going to the beach to swim or boogie board. It's across the street from my dorm and takes only a few minutes to get to so it's so convenient. I play intramurals. In addition, I love to read, work out, watch movies, and just relax. I am involved in multiple organizations on my campus ranging from Red Cross to even Black Student Union. I volunteer dozens of hours to the community in a multitude of ways. ROTC takes a tole on your mind and body but it's manageable and is fun.

    That is what I was essentially getting at. Thank you for clearing that up haha I think I forgot to mention that important point. It gets easier in the sense that what was once hard becomes second nature. The level of difficulty increases, but so does your arsenal of skills and experience to tackle it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2015
  8. navymomwannabe

    navymomwannabe Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2013
    Messages:
    859
    Likes Received:
    120
    d22, first of all...congrats! My son is not at UCSD, but I can answer a few of your questions generically. Keep in mind that every unit is a little different.

    DS arrived 5 days prior to freshmen move in for SOW (student orientation week). They were bussed off campus to an army base for 4 days.
    His unit discouraged 4/c's from rooming together. Consequently, he does not room with anyone from NROTC now and next year he won't either. He wants other friends besides the guys in the unit who he sees all the time.
    I don't know how 4.5 years affects the service/ship selections but my son is also on the 4.5 year plan for mech e. Good question.
    In his spare time, DS is involved with Hoofers (outdoor org. that goes camping and white water kayaking), Is a paid leader in ALPS (adventure learning programs), participates in CRU (Christian Crusaders for Christ) and is working to provide a fun camp experience for kids who's parents have cancer with Camp Kesem. The point being....you can really get involved in anything you want as long as it doesn't conflict with NROTC duties and your studies. I think the biggest thing Mids need to learn is time management. I am grateful my son seems to have figured that one out. Phone calendars are a must!

    good luck!
     
  9. navymomwannabe

    navymomwannabe Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2013
    Messages:
    859
    Likes Received:
    120
    J_papichulo and I were posting at the same time. :)
     
  10. J_PapiChulo

    J_PapiChulo Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    5
    Another great and valid point! Every unit has different operations and functions differently to accomodate their situation(s). 4/c's are indeed encouraged to not room together because building a network of friends outside of your unit is important in my opinion. It makes you feel like you're actually a college student. I see my MIDN at the crack hours of the morning almost every day. I see them on Saturday mornings for drill. And I see them for extra events hosted. Long story short, I see them enough! :yllol:
    Nearly all MIDN are involved in a variety of other things. Some play collegiate athletics at all levels. Some are in a fraternity or sorority. Some take on leadership roles in other organizations. This innate desire to be busy is within us all, it's why we got chosen! Time management is definitely key or you will be eaten alive. Great points navymomwannabe!
     
  11. Wilco

    Wilco Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2014
    Messages:
    199
    Likes Received:
    124
    Very good tips and observations! Thank you J PapiChulo, also your comments on host vs. crosstown. Hopefully DS (AROTC awardee) will read and appreciate, as coming from another cadet vs. from his "now always wrong, know little father." Like when I told him last week not a good idea to dye his hair orange when he qualified for HS state championships because still other college and cadre meetings coming up. 4 hours of scrubbing now a dull rust.
     
    kinnem likes this.
  12. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Messages:
    7,545
    Likes Received:
    1,005
    LOL! Never had an issue quite like that but I sure didn't know anything at that age. Surprisingly, you will become smarter over the next 4 years, especially as you approach year 4!!!
     
  13. d22

    d22 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    286
    Likes Received:
    229
    Thank you all for your responses, your insight is invaluable. J_PapiChulo, I'll have my son read this thread, and if he has any questions I'll have him reach out to you, thank you for your generous offer.

    In full disclosure, I am from SD and a PLNU alum (thrilled that DS may attend school in SD...) I'm also ignorant in regards to the ROTC programs and how they work. :(

    All the best to those DS and DD's of ours who have chosen to serve our country.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015

Share This Page