Reasons freshmen drop out of ROTC program?

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by lgarmy, Dec 7, 2015.

  1. lgarmy

    lgarmy Member

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    I've been reading quite a few threads, and many give advice about not relying completely on the ROTC scholarship due to the kids that drop out after one year. However, I've only read general statements like "it wasn't for them", or "the program wasn't a fit". Is there any more specific reasons why they drop? Is it conflicting too much with school? Does it detract from the college experience? Is it the actual coursework itself? Is there no time for a "social life"? I'm still on the fence whether I'd like to take out loans or go ahead and accept the ROTC scholarship, and I'd like to know if its minor sacrifices or something as major as suffering grades (in which case I'd rather wait to try for HPSP and take out loans for college). Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Cadets have dropped for all the reasons you listed as well as others. Failing the APFT is a big reason some drop out.

    A lot will depend on what your major is in regard to the load you'll be carrying. From your previous posts you seem to be working toward Medical School, if this is the case then you really need to think hard about ROTC if medicine is your #1 goal.

    Remember, you can accept the scholarship, complete your first year and then decide if it's something you want to continue. You can leave the program after your first year without any obligation or repayment of your scholarship as long as you don't start ROTC your sophomore year. So if you're worried about these issues try it out for the first semester and see how things go. While your goals may seem set in stone now, a lot can change once you actually start college.
     
  3. bman

    bman Member

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    Of the three in my DD's class who dropped out of NROTC their freshman year, the reasons were:
    1. wanted to be a doctor and realized that there is no guarantee of that in NROTC
    2. wanted to be in intelligence and realized that is not an option directly from ROTC
    3. became tired of having to get up early for classes, PT, etc., didn't want discipline of military life
     
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  4. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Many will drop out because they realize the military isn't for them or doesn't align with future goals (such as medical). You can always accept the scholarship and do your first year. You can drop after that and there is no payback. This would allow you to really explore military training, the lifestyle, and also help to decide if serving is what you want.
     
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  5. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I concur with give it a try, unless you really can't afford the college without the scholarship. As far as reasons people drop out that I have direct knowledge of:
    1. Couldn't handle a Sgt screaming in their face during orientation
    2. Couldn't handle limited hours for sleep during orientation
    3. Showed up drunk for PT one morning
    4. DUI
    5. Grade problems
    6. Decided it was too hard, wasn't for them, too much competition
    7. Too much stress trying to fit everything in (usually a sophomore or junior year kind of thing)
    8. Didn't get the MOS they wanted (non-scholarship)
    9. And finally my favorite.... decided to take a swing at a Sgt.during OCS (post-junior year).

    Keep in mind that each person began professing things like
    1. Committed to ROTC
    2. Life long dream to be an officer
    3. I can handle tremendous amounts of stress
    and other things of that nature.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
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  6. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    ^^^ #8 just gave me a laugh!
     
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  7. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Just so other readers know, it's #9 after I did some editing.
     
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  8. afrotc16

    afrotc16 Member

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    A decent percentage of freshman and sophomore cadets do drop out of ROTC for various reasons. Most that I know of are (mostly mentioned above) because of grades, medical issues, not passing the PFA or just because they realize it's not for them. Or in my year, many cadets were dropped because of the low SFT selection rate.
     
  9. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    Now, who among us...just kidding.
     
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  10. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Hahahaha! Oh man, if they only knew Marines in the fleet... we just make them run extra and do alot of extra burpees and other fun activities.
     
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  11. Norfolk63

    Norfolk63 privateer

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    Grades are a significant factor. Most of these kids take on rigorous engineering majors at top universities and enter the ROTC environment that - unlike the service academies - is not geared toward helping them succeed. Think long and hard about this option and walk in with eyes wide open.
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    For our DSs friends (AFROTC) it was more about realizing after the 1st year in ROTC (19 yrs old now) that on a good day they would be 27 when they could walk away.
    ~ AFROTC payback starts not at commissioning, but once they report to their 1st assignment. It can take 6-9 months before they report, thus they are closer to 5 yrs after graduation than 4 yrs.

    To a 19 yr old, 27 yrs old seems incredibly old.

    Our DS's best man at his wedding was an AFROTC scholarship recipient. Went to SFT in the summer of his rising junior year. He interned as a sophomore where the company offered him to come back as a paid intern ($25/hr, 20hrs a week) in the fall.
    ~ He came back as an AS300 after graduating from SFT. Requested dis-enrollment from AFROTC and handed a 43K bill.
    He took it because he realized that he was willing to pay that back for his own personal happiness.

    Notice he was our DSs best man at his wedding. He still respected the military, and it had nothing to do with them or the program, but he could not imagine as a 20 yr old being tied to the AF until he was 27.
    ~ Their detachment was upfront and honest with every cadet. They had no problem saying as an O1 as a computer science major (tech) you could be assigned anywhere from Minot AFB to Hickham.
    ~~ They stressed the needs of the AF will come 1st always.
     
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  13. Voyager20

    Voyager20 Member

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    It is interesting to me that you mention that the SAs are geared toward helping students succeed more than non-SAs.

    This is only an impression that I have come away with over the past several years and would absolutely love someone to let me know I am completely wrong. (My comment relates to USNA SA only.) I got the impression that resources may be present at USNA, but as long as you graduate with a 2.0 or better than USNA is happy; whereas, I felt that the VT Corps of Cadet really supports education since that organization requires mandatory study hours freshman year Sunday through Thursday from 7pm to 11pm and for upperclassman as well if they drop below 3.0 gpa. USNA only has mandatory study hours from 8pm to 11pm - granted it is Sunday through Friday, but I cannot imagine many applying themselves on Friday night. I felt like VTCC is truly on top of education - meaning monitor it and ensure that tutors are available. Unlike USNA, most of VT's NROTC and AFROTC are engineering students. VTCC as a group has the highest gpa average on campus. I struggle with the fact that I feel the education is emphasized more at VTCC than at USNA and I would say they are equal on leadership development. In addition, at several highly selective tech colleges with civilian ROTC - I got the impression the ROTC units mentor the freshmen through the first year engineering type classes - Calculus, Chemistry & Physics.

    There are pros and cons to both - I am inclined to like VTCC for the first year of engineering education to at least get acclimated to the college rigor and study habits. Obviously, it is my son's decision - he prefers USNA. From an educational point of view - he prefers USNA for the smaller classroom and the access to faculty compared to a large university where much of the classes are taught by TAs or a significant number of faculty with heavy accents that may make understanding more difficult. (FYI, I graduated from VT myself...so yes, I realize, there is a bias.)

    These comments are just perceptions and I realize that does not deem them to be true or accurate. I would welcome someone's response that USNA or SAs are truly supportive of engineering students to be successful and to me successful in the educational perspective is a 3.0 or higher in engineering. Lastly, son prefers USNA for the total focus (leadership development), student body and a big plus is that it gives him two years to make a decision since we do not possess a Navy background in our family and would like more time to gain experience to make that commitment.
     
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  14. Norfolk63

    Norfolk63 privateer

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    Class size is a significant factor. At a SA you wont get stuck with a foreign born TA who barely speaks English and who blows off pre-scheduled office hours and help sessions. Your professor is your TA. During a CVW visit at USNA, the parents were told this: At USNA we will do everything in our power to get a Midshipman across the graduation stage; IF the Mid is willing to work hard, we are here to support him/her. The point is this: If you can find a ROTC program/university that offers similar advantages, great! Just do your due diligence.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
  15. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I actually would give the opposite view of USNA. USNA has so many resources available for all students then I ever imagined. Talking to current Mids it has only increased since I was there. First off, classes are very small. By the time I got to my senior level major classes I had 5-8 students in most classes. The upper level engineering classes, lab spaces, hands on work, and professors are top notch. They are extremely supportive in diving into projects that interest you and will support research and projects a Mid wants to do. There are no TAs teaching anything. Your professor will know you by name and know how you are performing. They will talk to you face to face if you they see you struggling. They will pick up the phone and call your company officer. I never had a professor not help or support me in a class, regardless of my grade in that course. There are study groups, tutors, extra instruction for all the core classes like chem, calc, physics, etc. On the flip side, no one is going to hold your hand either. If you want assistance, discussion, etc with a professor its a Mids responsibility to ask for it. The professors know the lifestyle of a Mid and adjust to it. We had profs come in at 9 pm to meet with us. They will meet us at 0530 if that is what is needed. No one will tell them No at USNA if a Mid asks for help. But, there isn't hand holding either. One of the things I noticed at USNA, is so many kids have done so well through school they don't know how to ask for help or even accept they are not doing well. As Plebes we required them first semester to map out their week, and record their studying. This helped me as an upperclass help track my Plebes academic progress and know if they are struggling, provide suggestions on how to get help, and quite frankly order them to get assistance in some cases. If I had a kid struggling, we made sure no one messed with their study time and when we say no one, it means them also. We made one kid turn off their cell phone every night during study period. It takes discipline and a setting a routine on how best to handle it all, remove the distractions, and succeed.

    Study hours are from 1930-2300 at USNA for a Plebe. They can stay up late, but its something that is monitored. Sleep is necessary and some kids think just studying to study will help. They need to know how to study. USNA has tutors, classes and tips on how to improve study skills. They also have time to study in off periods, weekends, and after class if there is no drill or intramurals (believe it not plenty of days without this stuff). So many Plebes are bad at time management and it takes them a while to adjust to the new academic rigor. Nothing different then any other university. But they are trying to balance the demands of their upperclass, duty, working out, etc. Alot of the same things any kid at a university is facing. The upperclass stuff and pro knowledge is probably the part that stresses alot of new plebes out, but if you talk to a Plebe now they have figured it out and know how to balance their workload and days.

    The bottom line is the school your child will succeed at the most is the school they are happiest at it. VTCC is a great school. Tons of friends and fellow Marines who went there. USNA is 24/7/365. VTCC is close, but not to that level of 24/7. If the 24/7 environment is not one you can see yourself in, then a SA is not the right place. USNA has its pros and cons, but its all about picking the school that fits what you prioritize. I loved USNA, was not an engineering major and now work as an engineer. Have been completing a Masters in engineering and have had no issues with it. So I guess you could say I am also biased about USNA too!
     
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  16. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I agree with what has been said about picking the school and environment that best suits you and your goals.

    While every ROTC Battalion is different, I can say that the battalion both my sons were part of were very supportive of the cadets when it came to academics. Grades were tracked, those getting below a B in any class were brought in for counseling and set up with a mentor/tutor for scheduled study sessions. Education was a priority and the cadre would go out of their way to help and advise cadets. Voyager20 was right when they said that Grades are very important in ROTC success, cadets know that they are a large part of getting Active Duty and the Branch they want, so a lot of time is spent on academics and much support was given.

    I can't disagree with the subject of class size and TAs. Sons were lucky to attend a smaller State School, class sizes were much smaller, TAs did not teach the classes even entry level classes. Access to teachers and advisors were excellent. This is one of the reasons they both chose the university it it worked well for both of them.

    This is going to sound contrary to what would seem the norm but here goes. Both sons were also members of the same Fraternity on campus all four years, while most will see that as a distraction (and I don't doubt it is at many schools) for my sons it was a great experience. Being in the Fraternity also helped them academically (Believe it or not) The house had mandatory daily study hours, 2 hours min., 5 days a week for freshman, drop below a 3.0 and it was mandatory for any member no matter what year. The min. GPA to live in the house was 3.0, room selections were based on GPA. Their house had the highest average GPA the entire time they were there. The house average would range between 3.5 and 3.6.

    I only mention this because when any student can be a part of something that puts a strong focus on academics it can be a huge plus, be it the school, a service academy, or even a fraternity or other organization. Find what's best for you and take every opportunity you can.
     
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  17. ddiamond

    ddiamond Member

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    Unfortunately, known a few who left ROTC, graduated, then enlisted and went through OCS later. It is a "life journey" afterall! The most common reasons in cases I saw were "burnout" (from PT, uniforms, extra commitments), bad grades, missing mom and dad (no kidding), and just generally not knowing what they wanted to do when they grew up.
     
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  18. Wilco

    Wilco Member

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    See the below as to Kinnem's #3 reason, drunk for PT; and Hoops comments,"...if they only knew Marines in the fleet... we just make them run extra and do alot of extra "burpees and other fun activities."
    WARNING: some may find the Marines language offensive, specifically one word used as an adjective, adverb, verb, and noun.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzc_6TUjtcs
     
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  19. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    :lolatyou: The link in Post #18 was absolutely comical (and accurate). If I didn't think each one of those thoughts over the course of my active duty time I certainly know someone who did. And as NavyHoops notes, I recall my Platoon NCO's delighted in finding "that" guy and helping him get rid of any excess stomach contents.
     
  20. ginko

    ginko Member

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    One of my DSs is at USNA. It does seem like they want to protect their investment and get those students across the stage. Plebe treatment is brutal but they seem to pick students who can succeed. Lots of tradition there.

    Other DS is at a small Army ROTC battalion. It seems like they are waiting for all the freshman dropping out to happen. DS said they started with 80 freshmen but there are only about 20 seniors. The structure seems like a large bottle necked weedout. If DS is correct on the number of seniors then one in four will stay in. I will say that the former enlistment/guard students seem annoying. DS says they lord it over him that they have been through boot camp but their grades and study skills are bad. I don't know if that is a normal situation. I'm glad my DS has more restraint than I do. I probably would have been kicked out by now because I would have had a problem with the boot camp graduates.
     

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