Parent with no service background/knowledge needs help with ROTC and service question

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by mshaffe, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. mshaffe

    mshaffe New Member

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    hi everyone,

    I'm hoping someone can shed light on the ROTC and college admissions process/ and military experience. Sadly, our family members with past service experience have past on and we don't know anyone in the service who will provide a 'real' description of military experience for our son. So far the few I have met at different events did not make the service their careers whereas our son wishes to make service his life-career.

    Our son is a junior and has been talking of ROTC and college for several years. But, when we have spoken with local recruiters they push for direct enlistment and our son knows he doesn't want that option and says his service goals are higher... Anyway, we are behind him 110% and are trying to find out as much as we can about his career choice--- but info on ROTC site ect is a bit confusing ... I'm a doctoral student and McNair alumni so I am very familiar with the college admissions process. BUT this ROTC/college admissions and academics is a whole other ball game!! So..I'm hoping someone on the boards might have some advice or links to help us decipher this admissions process and requirements for ROTC and the college applications.

    Also, since we are not familiar with the 'lingo'-- our son mentions he is interested in careers related to 'active duty combat' ...but is not sure what academic programs would be most beneficial. However-- this is also a young man with exceptional talent and passion in the sciences and we remind him that ROTC and college experiences will change his ideas ect so its a bit too soon to make a firm commitment to anything as specific as active duty combat service and to remain flexible.

    Any advice or links would be so very helpful-- thanks!
     
  2. soccmomer

    soccmomer Member

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    M - welcome! You have definitely come to the right place for information. My DS is a Sr right now, so we have gone through a little of this. The recruiters also wanted him to enlist, and they called relentlessly until I told them to stop!
    Does he know which branch of the service he is interested in? We only researched AROTC (Army ROTC), so I can only speak from that angle. However, if you go on each ROTC website (Army, Navy, Airforce) you will be able to find links to careers in those services. They do differ. Often what they major in, is not necessarily directly related to the branch (job) they end up in after they finish ROTC.
    Has he considered the service academies? Definitely look at each of those as there is a wealth of information on careers, majors, requirements, service commitments, etc. Applications have opened up for Juniors to apply for the summer experience programs at these academies. Again, my son only researched and applied to US Military Academy (West Point), because he only really wanted Army.
    Applications for national scholarships for ROTC for a Junior would not be done until his Senior year(end of summer, beginning of fall semester). The application process for college admission is totally separate from ROTC - just look at colleges he likes and see if they have ROTC. On the ROTC sites, they usually list colleges by state that have ROTC units. You can talk to the ROTC people at each school to find out specific information about their units AND they are usually very willing to explain the whole ROTC process. Each college, with an Army ROTC , has an enrollment officer (or ROO, as they are often referred to). They love to recruit kids - that is their job! If there is a local college that has ROTC, even if your son is not interested in going there, you can sit down with the ROO and they will explain the process. This is how we started the ROTC process.
    I know I only touched on things, and I know many others will chime in! Good luck!
     
  3. mbitr

    mbitr Member

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    Your son sounds fairly starry-eyed. Don't discount the advice you've heard from others just because they didn't stay in until they retired. The majority of those who serve don't stay until retirement. Your son is entirely too young to to know what he's going to want at the time he finishes college, never mind 20+ years down the road.

    I am assuming he means he wants to be an active duty officer in a combat arms branch through Army ROTC. Is he thinking about scholarships, or just walking on to a program? Does he know where he wants to go to school yet? If the school you're a Doctoral candidate at has Army ROTC, go to their office and get the contact information for the Recruitig Operations Officer. He'll be able to help your son get started.
     
  4. jrobertschmidt

    jrobertschmidt Member

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    Look into the ROTC National Scholarship program for high school students.

    http://www.goarmy.com/rotc.html

    This site will explain the benefits, the participating schools, commitments and requirements for gaining the scholarship.

    I would also suggest that you encourage your DS to consider applying to West Point as well (time is now to begin this as a Junior). Doing so now would also help your DS be possibly accepted to West Point Summer Leadership Experience (SLE) for rising Seniors. This is a great way for your DS to test drive the academy, as well as peek into Army life.

    http://www.usma.edu/admissions/SitePages/Pros_Cadets_Juniors.aspx

    Doing both will help your DS explore several options while meeting the many requirements and deadlines along the way to helpfully arrive at a choice come next Spring/Summer.

    This is long, winding road that I think is difficult for an aspiring student/future officer to do on their own. You can help in so many ways by becoming educated on the topic and helping your DS stay focused while meeting deadlines. This site will prove to be invaluable in this regard. Check it often and the answers to your questions will most likely be there. Good luck.
     
  5. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Good comments so far. Here's a link to a video that gives a brief overview of NROTC and specifically the Marine option. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TC2KWFliJ7A I'm sure there are other youtube videos available for the other programs.

    Although each program differs in its details, at the core they are all the same. PT 3 or more days a week at 0:dark'30. Military science classes (academics) of some sort pretty much each semester and a Military science lab each semester where you'll get some training etc. away from the books. Each program has a "make the cut" training/screening session one summer. Navy has training each summer the others do not, although there are sometimes some optional summer training session available in the other services. Branching (infantry, armor, air, logistics, intelligence, air) pretty much depend on one's OML which is some combination of how they perform in the program plus their cumulative GPA.

    Often, what you major in has nothing to do with what your job is in the military. One should select a major based on what they are interested in and what they want to do after the military. And there will be an after the military: whether one does a five and dive or stays for twenty.

    Investigate each branch of the service to see what turns your son on. Investigate and apply to the appropriate academies and their associated ROTC programs. Acceptance to a college as part of ROTC is a separate process and is the responsibility of the ROTC applicant.

    Good luck. As you explore further I'm sure you'll have more specific and more detailed questions you'll be able to ask. These forums would be a great place to do that. :thumb:
     
  6. JMS

    JMS Member

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    mshaffe: first let me say this is a great forum to learn about ROTC and other military schools. It is, I imagine, confusing to the uninitiated. It is really a bit of a parallel universe.
    I am a father of a AROTC cadet and former enlisted CG, and so have been through a bit of this just ahead of you. I agree that the SMP/enlistment program is not a good choice for many.
    You may wish to spend a little time on the sticky thread on acronyms. It is long, but a good reference point. One I read above is "OML," which is short for Order of Merit List. Think of it as the military version of a GPA or class rank. This will be a fact of life for him for many years to come.
    The short version of the application process: Your son will apply to colleges in the usual fashion and with the usual criteria, except he will want to add ROTC to his check list of things to look for. The various services (Army, AF, Navy (and the navy's red haired step child) operate their ROTC programs independently and so each may be at any particular college or not. If your son is interested in a particular program and it does not exist at a particular school, it may exist at a nearby school where he can participate. You may see this referred to as a 'cross-town' affiliation and is fairly common. Being in a cross town program can mean a few blocks or many miles. It should be something to ask questions about at the ROTC unit when you visit.
    As he applies for college, he will also, separately, apply to ROTC. The ROTC application includes academic stuff (similar to the college app) plus a physical fitness test, and a medical exam. So you can see it is a bit more involved than just another college application. Read up on the PT test and the medical DQ stuff. If PT has not been your son's thing or there are medical issues, going in with your eyes open will save some angst and heartbreak later. Have a plan for college without ROTC money. The ROTC app will ask for his top 5 schools (one must be an in-State school). It can happen that your son changes his mind about his most preferred school and the ROTC puts him at another school. Transfers of the ROTC scholarship are possible, but not automatic.
    Finally, it is possible (and even common) for 'college programmers' to join an ROTC program without a scholarship. They still must apply, and if they do well are often awarded scholarships later. These are commonly known as 'side-load' scholarships.
    As you have more questions, use the search function here. Lots of stuff has already been aired. And feel free to ask, too!
    Best wishes.
     
  7. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    I was in basically the same boat you're in several years ago. While this is a great forum to fill in all the details, I believe nothing can replace face-to-face contact. Take every opportunity to visit colleges, making SPECIFIC one-on-one appointments with ROTC instructors while you're there. Take a list of questions and ask your son to dutifully go through every question until you feel like you're both beginning to understand what he's really getting into.

    My son's college has a program coming up for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors to experience cadet life from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. (National Leadership Weekend, April 4-6 at UNG in Dahlonega, Ga.) Look for programs like that and your son will have the opportunity to make friends of cadets, ROTC leaders and other high school students who will be able to answer all sorts of questions he might be having.

    PM me if you want more info. I'm happy to help, though many posters on here know far more about military life than I do. Good luck!
     
  8. VMI82

    VMI82 Room 131

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    a book recommend: "How to Win ROTC Scholarships" by Lt. Col. CW Brewer, USMC (Ret) is an excellent read & primer for those new to the topic

    you can download it on a kindle, nook or order paperback
     
  9. Luvmycountry

    Luvmycountry Member

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    EARLY, EARLY, EARLY!! Do everything way before it is due. Apply to all of the colleges before the deadline and complete your scholarship packet ahead of time. There are many steps in completing the packet and there are many snags that can occur, so when the application opens, begin the process. Between now and then, do all the research you can about the process. Be prepared. And then be prepared to wait... and wait.. and wait some more. Good things come to those who (prepare early) and wait! Good luck.
     
  10. jrobertschmidt

    jrobertschmidt Member

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    Hit the nail on the head!
     
  11. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    There is some great advice posted here in this thread and on many other threads in this forum. I was in a very similiar position 6 years ago. Most posters are better informed than me but may I add a few things.

    1) Your son must lead in the process. He must be the point of contact throughout ROTC. You should be completely involved and a resource for him. It should be continous discussions and problem solving with him and yourself. But when it comes time to speak with others in the process he must lead it. He must understand where he is, what he needs and act on it. Worst thing you can do is become too involved with the ROTC cadre or schools. You can always ask questions but he must really show he is the driver of this. What you show outsiders in the process is that you believe in him and fully support him.

    2) Have him always focus on the next objective. He needs to understand he needs to meet deadlines and complete submissions. Advise him not to dwell on things that are 2, 3 ,4 years out. He must take care of the things in front of him or the things further out will not matter or happen. What we always say here is control what you can control.

    3) Always have him keep all of his options open. Life is a continous process of change and doors open and shut. Always remember that sometimes the dreams of a 16 year old are sometimes different than a 19, 22, or 25 year old.

    4) Relax through the process. The best thing about this time in your child's life is watching them grow up. There are peaks and valleys but they always do some amazing things. Enjoy it!

    5) Ask questions here. This forum for me was and still is a great resource.

    Best wishes and enjoy the ride.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  12. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Good post Norwichdad (of course!). Ought to be a stickie. :thumb:
     
  13. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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    Visit colleges and talk to ROTC enrollment officers/ROOs/whoever is in charge of the recruiting process for their program. They will be the expert on the process and the options (versus the recruiter, who's heart is in the right place, but whose priorities may not be your son's). There is a ton of information on the internet. If he is interested in a school or a major use google to search for XXXX university Army/Navy/AF ROTC and you will find home pages, facebooks, and maybe even a helpful blog that will explain the options and show him what it's all about.
     
  14. Ohio2015Parent

    Ohio2015Parent Member

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    Great comments and advice here already, but I'll chime in with one point. The national scholarships for any ROTC program are highly competitive. Many great future cadets were not awarded scholarships over the 3 or so years I've been on the forums. Always have Plan A, B, C, D and so on. As you research the various schools and ROTC programs ask about "walk on", "programmer" and other non-contracted cadets experiences with their schools. Doing this as you visit schools now will help if/when your son needs to make quick decisions later.
     
  15. ABF

    ABF Member

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    +1 to what Clarksonarmy and Payitforward had to say.

    The best bet is to encourage you kid to go to the university and speak to the ROTC cadre. You will have the opportunity to sit and listen as well. I assure you it won't be the same experience you received from local military recruiters. (It's the same team, but they are working on recruiting different players / positions.)
     
  16. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    mshaffe: You have gotten great direction thus far. I just wanted to add a comment regarding the last sentence of this quote where you speak to making the service his life-career.

    There have recently been several threads regarding this issue - I encourage you to go back and find them. You will find personal experiences shared by both those who thought they would make it a career (and didn't) and others who thought they would do the minimum and get out (and didn't).

    While you son thinks he knows what he wants, he is a long way from really knowing. Its good to understand that even when you want to stay in, there are events that can derail that plan (downsizing, marriage, etc).

    I offer this commentary to encourage you and your son to seek out and learn as much as you can about the application process, the training, the active duty life AND what can happen along the way. This realization may make a difference on where you go to school and what you major in.

    As kinnem says: whether 5, 20 or 30 years... there will be a life after the military.
     

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