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: 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. 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! 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. 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. 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. 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! Be humble. Work hard and you will be rewarded. 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. 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!