Regular College and ROTC vs. Prep School

Discussion in 'Service Academy Preparatory Schools' started by surgicalghost13, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. surgicalghost13

    surgicalghost13 Member

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    I am trying to prepare my plans B, C, D if not accepted to WP this year. I have a couple of options that have been presented to me. I am trying to select the best option that gives me the best chance this year. I want to get some unbiased input and see what you guys/girls think of my options.

    Option #1

    I have been accepted to a regional college. Here I would be able to continue my involvement with my high school and probably volunteer as a coach get an internship with my MOC, maitain my current job, and a few other benefits. I would be involved with the ROTC program; however, it is just a satellite program vs. a main program. I have also already taken a few college courses here and know how difficult the professors are and the college life in general. However, if not accepted to WP next year, I do not want to be stuck at this school for four years.

    Option #2

    I have also been accepted to my state school, University of Kentucky. I would also be involved with the ROTC program there and have made some great connections with the staff. I've toured the campus and am fairly familiar with the setting, but no where near to the extent I know the regional college. I also would get an ROTC nom. This option would also provide a fallback if not granted admission to WP next year.

    Option #3

    I have been accepted to the SAP program at MMI. This would probably offer the best preparation for the academy. It has cadet life, the specific pipeline to the academy, etc. However, if not granted admission to WP next year, it would kind of be an all for nothing deal.

    Any input on which would give me the best chance for success next year would be great. Thanks for your time.
     
  2. Physicsguru

    Physicsguru Member

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    A note on option 3...you can dual track in the Early Commissioning Program while at MMI. If you don't get picked up by WP, then you get your reserve or Guard commission when you graduate with your associate's degree. You can then get attached to a reserve or guard unit in KY and get finish your Bachelor's degree. You'll be eligible for promotion to 1LT when you graduate. Contact LTC Lewis at MMI and he can fill you in.
     
  3. surgicalghost13

    surgicalghost13 Member

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    Alright I'll contact him and see what information I can glean from him. Is the early commissioning program just for reserve/national guard or can you graduate active duty?
     
  4. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Not really "all for nothing". The SAP courses are readily transferable and you would get your first year of ROTC in. If you don't get accepted to WP you can stay for the second year and then transfer. MMI Cadets do transfer to some pretty good schools inclduing Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M to name a few.

    ECP - after you commission you can only serve in the Guard or Reserves until you receive your bachelor's degree. Then they will open the door for you to transition to Active Duty.

    The bottom line is this: Which option you choose probably is not as important as HOW you do. Whichever one you pick be prepared to give it your all and go with it.
     
  5. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Well you also ought to consider- going to MMI ensures that you must transfer at some point during your college years- While you may choose to do so if you are fortunate enough to get selected next year for USMA while a student at Kentucky or another 4 year college. So by picking MMI- you Will have your pipeline shut off whether you like it or not after your Sophomore year. It will not matter if you like the academic department that you are majoring in, whether you have made connections and relationships in school etc... You are going to put yourself in a mode where you will be stuck moving regardless of what you want.
    While kids transfer colleges all the time, I would say that it is pretty stressful at anypoint, and is usually the result of dissatisfaction with their current surroundings- so it happens early on in their time in school. But if you don't happen to be one of the few who are selected for appointment to USMA next year- going down the MMI path will ensure that you are going to two schools, transferring after your Sophomore year, and you will be no further along in your path to commissioning than you would have been had you gone to your preferred back up school and taking ROTC there. Commissioning thru ECP is an OK way to become an officer in the National Guard, but it won't get you on active duty until you get that BA or BS so you have to finish college somewhere. So while I applaud your dreams of reapplying to USMA next year if necessary, I would suggest that you consider your option 2 as the principal fallback should you not be successful this year. It's an opinion- yours may vary. If this was a sponsored prep program I would probably have a different opinion as the likelihood of winding up at USMA would be very high- but as a self prep- It's still a long shot .
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  6. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Pipeline? Not sure what this means. If you are talking about transferring - this happens all the time.
    With college expenses becoming so high more and more college students are transferring - many from a lower cost community college.
    I have a kid who tranferred TWICE during her college years and the third time was the charm :)
    MMI actually has a terrific transfer department - all of those who commission ECP actually MUST go get their Bachelor's and there is a time limit. Regardless if they stay in Reserve forces or not.

    This is not to say that MMI is the right choice but it is a choice. If he is already accepted into SAP and can dual enroll in ECP this might be a good opportunity to commission in these times - if an AROTC scholarship has not been sought after already. One thing to think about is - with ECP your ROTC is done when you transfer. Hence, you can transfer to any college you want; with or without ROTC and you can concentrate on finishing your degree, while drilling, of course.
    I would not rule this out because it's unconventional.
    If the OP has MMI on his radar, he should take Physicsguru's advice (who has actually taught there for a number of years) and call Col Lewis.

    That said - U of K is a great school. If you are going without a ROTC scholarship, I would contact the folks at the Battalion and find out what your level of participation would be. These days non-contracted cadets can be left out of a lot of training because of budget cuts.
     
  7. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Going to College is about graduating from college with a bachelors degree- that's a pipeline. The pipeline that runs thru MMI ensures that 2 years from now you will have ZERO choice - you are committing to changing colleges regardless of how you feel about it two years from now. Sure lots of kids wind up transferring colleges because they have academic issues at a school or because they just don't like it- but voluntarily making a change because things didn't work out is not quite the same as being locked in to a course that you know will not get you across the finish line without changing schools.

    Again- if this was a sponsored prep program then I would suggest going the route to MMI- but on their own because they might get an appointment next year to USMA and with no financial reasons that would influence the ability to go to a 4 year school where they would like to stay the course ? (That's why people go to Community College for 2 years and then transfer- not because they enjoy the experience of changing - they do so because it's a way to get 2 years of credits at a lot lower expense. That's making a virtue of reality- but it doesn't mean that you would say that's the preferred approach if you could afford to do otherwise would you?)

    I would suggest that the OP thinks really hard about likely outcomes and what happens if they don't work out the way they would like. In my opinion that would lead to deciding to go to the school that they could see themselves staying at for 4 years, and really applying themselves in school and ROTC there rather than choosing to go to someplace that might work out (but the odds are against getting that appointment still ) but if not then means that they will preclude the option of having the chance to experience a more normal college experience at a 4 year school which they upfront would choose as a place to stay at and succeed at. If the OP doesn't consider the issue of changing colleges that big a deal- ok.
     
  8. surgicalghost13

    surgicalghost13 Member

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    These were some of my concerns exactly. Where MMI might offer the best prep, I would still have to transfer. I haven't really had any experience transferring credits or anything of the sort, and it doesn't really sound that enticing. However, MMI has the luxury of trained staff specifically for the USMA process. However having all your ROTC done in two years would be nice. I have read on goarmy forums that it is hard for officers to switch from reserve to active duty (not sure why but that's what I've read), would this be true in this situation too? Who knows, I might get a ROTC scholarship next board, which would make this decision a little easier :biggrin:
     
  9. sprog

    sprog Member

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    If it's me in your shoes, I'd go to UK. Get good grades and enroll in ROTC (and be as involved as you can be with the unit).

    That's a well-known public university, and if you are successful there taking the plebe-level courses, I think you'd be in good shape. Also, as bruno notes, if you don't end up with the USMA appointment, you can stay at UK and graduate. I would imagine that UK has the highest academic reputation over the other two choices. Even if that doesn't end up appealing to USMA, it puts you in better shape for other opportunities if you end up graduating from the school.

    My best friend (classmate from VMI) did a graduate degree at UK. I visited him there when I was looking at schools for post-grad programs for when I got out of the USAF. I thought Lexington, KY was pretty awesome. I think it'd be a great college environment to end up if you don't ultimately go to USMA.

    All that said, this is what I think. JAM and bruno have their own opinions. You have to decide what is best for you.
     
  10. GoArmyBeatNavy

    GoArmyBeatNavy Member

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    Another thing to consider about the early commissioning options is that your "career timeline" could be affected for the active Army. Even now, it is still a quick promotion to Captain (3 to 3.5 years) and you should want 18 months to two years as a line platoon leader (or equivalent in support branches) and a year or two as an XO or specialty platoon leader. Losing two years of your timeline in college might not be what you are looking for on the active side. Still it is a very good option for National Guard as they have a longer timeline (I believe. Based on schooling with National Guard soldiers during my career).
     
  11. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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  12. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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  13. RLTW

    RLTW Member

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    MMI options

    Back to the OP, DS did a year at MMI and dual tracked SAP and ECP. USMA was his goal, SAP helped prepare him (he's at USMA now), and ECP has both the benefits of finishing ROTC "early" (2 year track) as well as the same potential opportunity you'd get in any ROTC program of winning yet another nomination slot to USMA from the PMS of the ROTC program. That is not unique to MMI, that is a ROTC opportunity, but having another possible nom. is worth considering should you opt for MMI. Seems like changing schools is not necessarily that big of an issue, I mean if you want to go to USMA you'll be changing schools anyway and none of your credit transfers there, so I'm inferring that change is not a blocker for you. It wasn't an issue at all for DS, he actually thought that should he never get into USMA (heaven forbid!) that he'd enjoy finishing ROTC in 2 years and then go somewhere totally different for his final two years -- that appealed to him. Personal stuff.

    That said, you don't mention why you think you might not get in to USMA this year, if you are QNS then an SAP route may work well, if not fully qual'd then you should toss into your thoughts what you'd need to do anywhere else to increase your qual's and see how that tips the scales.

    Seeing as you are undecided, I also recommend you contact Lt Col Lewis, it's worth a phone call.

    RLTW
     
  14. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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  15. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Folks,

    If you want to debate the merits of prep schools vs. regular colleges, you are free to do so. However, this can -- and MUST -- be done without insulting fellow posters.

    Be respectful in your comments and criticisms.

    That is all.

    USNA1985
     
  16. surgicalghost13

    surgicalghost13 Member

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    I'm curious as to how the finishing ROTC at MMI and then transferring to finish my degree would work. So I would graduate MMI commision as a Nat'l Guard or Reserve 2nd LT. Then I would transfer to a regular college and drill. After i graduate and recieve my Bachelors would I automatically be offered a chance to go active or would that be a fairly difficult thing to achieve? All assuming I do not get into USMA this year or any following years at MMI.


    I don't think I will get in this year just because I talked to my RC about it. He informed me I was the first alternate for my congressional principal nom. However, it looked like that candidate would most likely accept his appointment. I basically hit all of the averages in all categories. I think what I need to do is just go the extra mile in each of those sections.
     
  17. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    How bad do you want to attend USMA? If it is a burning desire, go to MMI. The question is not what your odds are out of MMI but your odds of applying if you attend UK. As a BGO, I always ask backup plans. An average of a half dozen or so unsuccessful 3Qed individuals each year tell me they will reapply. Maybe over the following summer one or two will, in fact, reapply. In the last dozen years or so, I have had only TWO candidates actually complete the admissions application and seek another nomination. One was a walk-on athlete and the coach told him he was crazy to take calculus, chemistry, history, and English composition. Of course he was not accepted. The other one graduated last year. Were the other hundred or so lying to me? I don't think so. Their priorities just changed. It is too hard to change schools. They are comfortable where they are. In ten years will they regret not reapplying? Maybe some will. If you feel that you are one of those who will, go to MMI. You will almost guaranteed reapply.

    Active duty out of ROTC is not a given today. Those without a scholarship even more so. Physicsguru and Just A Mom can probably help you there. The other argument against MMI:
    just doesn't hold water anymore. There are over 7 million junior college students in the USA today. Over 5 million of them are in a four year transition program. It has become the rule instead of the exception. Four year colleges have had to adapt.
     
  18. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    You are making no sense. Bruno is not saying that going to MMI dooms you for life. He's saying that going to a 2-year school when your goal is a bachelor's puts you in a position where, even if you love the place, you have no choice but to move schools to get a bachelor's. He's 100% right.
     
  19. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    But... he does say it like it's a bad thing. There is no stigma to transferring and it's not an anomaly. In many areas it's quite common due to the high cost of college. Many 2 year college have transfer agreements with 4 year colleges including MMI.
    I still don't understand his comment about the "pipeline". If a kid goes to MMI for one year, takes MS I and then transfers to a 4 year college, he can finish his degree in three years and not miss a year and be behind.
    IF the OP goes to UK and then gets into WP then he is going to transfer - so I don't see it as being a problem, necessarily.

    I don't have an opinion on what the OP should do. That decision is up to him and his parents. I simply aim to provide correct information so he can make an informed choice and provide some considerations - pros and cons of each choice.

    If the OP really, really, really, wants to try for West Point again and his is already accepted into the SAP program - this can be an excellent choice and he won't be necessarily set back if he does not gain admission.
    He will be in a program that is focused on his winning an appointment. MMI had 5 Non sponsored candidates be offered appointments last year. He will have every opportunity to enhance in application in all areas - academic, physical fitness, leadership and military. He will have support of those around him. If he does not win an appointment he can transfer to UK and pick up in MSII and move on.

    IF the OP is ready to move onto a 4 year college and is just keeping the option of West Point open - then UK is not a bad choice at all. He can settle in and have a great 4 years. He might be accepted into West Point or then again he may get there, bond with the school and program and forget about West Point.

    Yes, once you graduate with your bachelor's degree you request accession into the Active Duty Army. It's my understanding that there are slots reserved for ECP LT's to access into AD.
    Definitely call Col Lewis - as others have suggested. He has been doing this for a lot of years and he can candidly answer your questions.

    My final comment is this. Sometimes in order to reach a goal we take a risk. Sometimes it doesn't work out. With good solid factual information, one can evaluate the benefits and risks of a certain path and decide if the risk is worth it.
     
  20. 2012mom?

    2012mom? Member

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    To the OP:

    I would not recommend that you go to NKU vs UK (and I say this as a U of L grad).
    - UK's academics are better
    - the ROTC unit is far stronger
    - the experience of being a bit farther away from home can be a great learning experience (but you're still 1-2 hours from home)
    - If WP doesn't work out, there's no need to transfer.

    I don't have any personal experience of MMI. From what I have read, its benefits would be that it's a small school, so you should have great academic support. You would be in an environment with others who also want to gain entrance to WP, with a high level of discipline.

    One big factor in your decision, IMO, is the strength of your study habits, time management skills, and work ethic. UK is a much bigger school than the other two, so you would be much more on your own, with respect to your academic progress. Only you know how you would respond to a larger "party school" atmosphere versus the other two schools.
     

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