Rethinking my future as an ROTC cadet.

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by Penguin_Mojito, May 9, 2015.

  1. Penguin_Mojito

    Penguin_Mojito New Member

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    Hello all, this is my first post so I would like to start off with some insight into me.

    I am currently a Penn State student that is attending another school as a cross-town AFROTC cadet. I am an aviation enthusiast and have always wanted to become a pilot. I know it is nothing like actual flying but I have almost 8 years experience on flight sims; along with this I have come to have a good understanding of the systems, the terms used, and the communication that is involved in flying. Due to my financial situation I have not been able to get any seat time towards a PPL.

    In highschool I averaged a 3.6qpa and had an SAT of 1550 and a ASVAB score of 70 (taken my Sophomore year I believe.) I have 4 years of Army JROTC under my belt which doesnt mean much but does give me a slight advantage in D&C and some understanding of Warrior Knowledge.

    I enrolled in the local AFROTC program and attended the local Penn State university.

    So, now that the basics are over with I will go over my college experience so far...

    I started off my college freshman year as a tech major (Aerospace Engineering) because I thought it would give me an advantage. Sadly it did the opposite and I ended my first semester with a 1.68 (school) which translates into a 1.89 with AS100 class included. Now you can start to see my dilemma. I had academic probation (Special student status) my second semester due to my grades but did end up switching into Administration of Justice (AOJ) and increased my QPA to a 2.4. (Not much, but a big improvement). Now I am looking into my AS200 year with a big disadvantage in comparison to my classmates and only one semester to help my chances for EA. It will take 17 credits and a 3.77 average to get me near the 2.9-3.0qpa range and I am really rethinking my future in ROTC. I dont want to waste my time or my Cadres time by not getting picked up for FT and I dont think I would be able to handle the heartache of it all. This is my dream and being one step farther from it would be devastating. Now I have heard of AS500 and I have a good understanding of OTS but I really dont want to go down that path. I am kindof banking on doing really well on the AFOQT (Atleast the pilot portion) and developing a good friendship with my Cadre and doing my best on the PFT, but I have no idea if that is enough.

    My questions to you guys are;

    What do you think is the best choice for me? (Asking those who have been in similar situations)

    What does AS500 and OTS entail and what disadvantages would I have?


    _______________________________________________
    I apologize if this is all over the place, my mind is everywhere today.
     
  2. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    First off, what if we said walk away, would you?
    ~ The fact is none of us will live with the WHAT IF I didn't question for the rest of my life, except you.
    ~~ If you do walk because strangers said walk than you have a 2nd question for you to answer. Are you 200% all in, or 100%? If you want to be a pilot, I can tell you college is a cake walk compared to UPT. Not only on the academic side, but the rigor.
    ~~~ Read raimius blog on this site. Search the forum here for raimius and I believe he still has a hyper link to his blog as his signature. The 1st few pages are USAFA life, but than it is all about IFS and UPT.

    Second,
    Yes, you have an uphill battle, but there are non-techs with a 2.9 that get selected. A lot has to do with all of the factors. What is your PFA right now? 98 or 88? Have you asked your CoC how you are racking and stacking right now? The CoCs rack and stack is the biggest chunk.

    Third,
    AFOQT is important, but it isn't just the Pilot section. It is everything. Even if your goal is to be a pilot, the AFOQT will be replaced by the TBAS. Just saying don't assume or think a 98 on the Pilot portion is going to be the be all for SFT, or the rated board.
    ~ Be smart...study this summer for the AFOQT. A lot has to do with time management for the exam.
    ~~ For rated boards, your sim. hours will equate to no bonus points. Flying hours, even as little as 6 can give you a bump on your PCSM.

    Fourth,
    500 is not the same as OCS.
    ~ 500s will compete their spring semester junior year for you. That creates a problem because the standard has been you must be a POC for 3 semesters. Iows, you would need to graduate Dec. 2018 at the earliest.

    OCS is totally different.
    ~ Come spring your junior year you would go to a recruiter and start the application process.
    ~~ I do not know if they only use the AFOQT or they use TBAS for selection.

    There are two types of boards. Rated and non-rated. They are held in January and July. If selected you will know before you start your Senior year in college what AFSC career field you will be going to be as an ADAF officer. You will find out during the year when you will go to Maxwell for OCS, usually in the spring right before graduation. Unlike AFROTC grads, upon graduation from OCS (commissioning) you will be ADAF immediately. You could be like AFROTC grads and wait 6 months before starting UPT, but you will be paid and probably what is called casual status. Casual status could mean your job is working Maintenance on the flight line.

    Finally, you have one more option. Probably the hardest in my opinion. Going Guard. Guard is akin to applying for a job in the corporate world. They may have an opening for you or they may not due to their manning needs. They may prefer a different applicant if given a choice between multiple candidates. If there is a dream airframe you want than you have to apply to that particular unit. For example the 193rd ANG flies EC130s, (PA) the 104th flies F15s. Want the 15, you apply to the 104th in MA, not to your home state Guard unit.

    I wish you the very best, but as a Mom that spent 21 years following Bullet (O5 retired F15E WSO) around the world, with a DS (o2 C130J pilot AFROTC grad), I say listen to your folks, your academic advisors and your cadre....not strangers here when making a life changing decision that could be decades of living the what if question.

    Aim High....Above All....believe!
     
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  3. Penguin_Mojito

    Penguin_Mojito New Member

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    Pima, let me first say thank you for your reply and I am taking it all into account.

    I have 17 credits registered for next semester and will need a 3.77 average to become competitive. High but not impossible. I really want this and am hoping that a good AFOQT score (I think I meant I wanted to score high on the pilot portion, but do well overall), good PFA scores, and a good relationship with the Cadre could help me get the EA I seek. I still have one and a half semesters to show them what I have to offer.

    My dream is to become a pilot, I wont stop until I achieve it some way or another.
     
  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Actually you only have 1 semester. The cadre will have to submit packages in Feb. basically only a few weeks after returning from winter break. Unless things have changed your midterm grades are not going to be included.

    Many large dets. will sit cadets down in Dec. and tell the cadets the reality if they will even be supported for SFT.
    ~ There are units that politely tell cadets that they don't really have a chance for selection. It gives the cadet the chance to disenroll and try to jump over to AROTC.

    As I said before spend this summer studying for the AFOQT because a 3.77 is going to be more difficult than you probably think. The avg. Non-tech cgpa will be @3.3/3.4, thus even a 2.9/3.0 cgpa is going to require your to have the high end of everything else to offset that cgpa.

    I would also rec. again, if you can afford some flight hours start doing it now. It helps not only for your scores in AFROTC, but at the start of IFS. The rigor of academics in college is nothing compared to UPT. As hard as it is to read, the truth is 20% will not make it through IFS.
    ~ You start academics on Wed. 1st exam is Friday. Bust it and you get a retake on Monday. Bust Monday and you are out. Pass it and you are back on track with the other students. However, the problem is as you spent all weekend studying to retake that 1st exam, everyone else was studying for the 2nd exam that will be given on Tuesday. Iowa, you are behind the 8 ball immediately. There were students that never flew at IFS because they never made it past the exams.
    ~ This is repeated again at the beginning of UPT.
    ~~ DSs IFS class started with 28. 22 completed the screening.
    ~~ DSs UPT class started with 30. 24 made it through the T6 phase. His class started the track phase with 30 again (wash backs were picked back up). He winged with 24.
    ~~~ If you convert those numbers from a pool of 100. -20% =80 from IFS. 80 start UPT 80 -25% will mean 60 move onto tracking. 60 track -25% will wing. 45 out of the original 100 will wing. If you want fighters, a typical class only has 25% go this route. Thus, the overall chance from the original 100 students pool will be 10% that will go the T38 route.
    ~~~~ Beware T38s drop more than airframes that start with an F. B52 and 1s drop out of the 38s, along with ACs. Thus, statistically it is even lower to get an F airframe.

    I am just saying as hard as this year seems academically it will be your path for 6 more years. (IFS, UPT and airframe schoolhouse. = 2 years).
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    OBTW, somewhere here in the bowels is the mathematical formula they use for the cadets ranking. It is a formula that also depends on the size of the unit. Believe it or not it can hurt to belong to a large unit. They than take that score into points for the SFT.

    I do not recall where it is, but it is in the SFT thread for 2014. If you are still in school, I am sure your det. has the formula for ranking cadets.
     
  6. Penguin_Mojito

    Penguin_Mojito New Member

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    Thank you for the information.

    I am actually in a relatively small det at the moment. We had 14 AS100's, a handful of AS200's, and I believe only one AS300 going into their AS400 year. We had an almost 100% selection rate for FT this past semester which was nice.

    My low cGPA was an unfortunate result of being involved in something I did not understand, engineering. I was underqualified for it and should never have let myself enter that major. With the amount of people that switch out of engineering it should have been clear to me. Not to mention I only had 14 credits my first semester so having bad grades with that amount of credits really hurt me. I know for a fact with this new major I can atleast get high up in my semester GPA for the fall, this is a major I enjoy and feel I can actually do well in. I also filled my next semester with some GPA boosters and have a total of 17 credits to help out. My schedule is also fairly spaced out so I will end up with only one class on Tuesday and Thursday, ultimately helping me with my time management. I think I can pull it off.

    I had a question regarding AROTC actually; I have considered becoming a rotary-wing pilot and it is pretty evident the Army is the branch for that (over AF atleast). What are the differences between the two ROTC programs and why would I join the AROTC as a backup? How does their program work in contrast to the Air Force?
     
  7. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I think you should ask clarkson or Jcleppe regarding AROTC and the rotary pilot aspect as a cadet.

    All I know about that world is their UPT program is much, much shorter. I also believe that it is not like AF flying. AF pilots typically are guaranteed gate months until they meet their 1st gate. You usually will not step out of the cockpit until after your 2nd tour or around 8 years in. Do a desk, and come back in to the flying world. Than step out again, after that it becomes iffy regarding flying again because now you are at an O5+ rank.

    I would talk to Jcleppe or scoutpilot on how to go this route. What the process is like for selection and winging.

    Clarkson can assist you in if you decide to transfer into AROTC, regarding how the process works. IE, can you transfer in spring semester sophomore year or do you have to wait until fall of your junior year.

    I am actually shocked that PSU is such a small unit for the size of PSU. I would have thought you would have had at least 100 cadets in your unit. Our DS attended UMDCP. The cadre when he was there had close to 300. The year after he graduated, they had 400 cadets.
     
  8. Penguin_Mojito

    Penguin_Mojito New Member

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    I am actually cross-town that attends University of Pittsburgh AFROTC. But I have some friends at PSU and it is definitely a much larger det.

    I am not against going the Army route. Infact I would welcome it if it was more attainable to me.
     
  9. Axxif

    Axxif Member

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    Ah, good ol' Pitt :)

    I will say that if you are thinking of transferring to Army ROTC at PSU, I would be wary, as they have the biggest unit of cadets in the Army ROTC world, with only the Academies and Military Colleges having a larger number. This factors in to the size issue previously mentioned. On the flip side, since I am guessing you live close to the Pittsburgh-area, I would look into the Army ROTC programs at either the University of Pittsburgh (Let's go Three Rivers Btn!), Slippery Rock University, or Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as they are all smaller units that might be able and willing to help you. Although transferring schools might not be the most attractive option, if you truly desire to join AROTC it might be your best bet (at least from my understanding).
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I don't think they are considering transferring, it was my bad for thinking they were at PSU.

    As for switching branches from AF to Army, remember to look at the whole picture of what life will be like in the military. College and ROTC are 30 weeks out of the year (plus any summer training), 20 hours a week as a student, 5 days a week, and somewhere you decided to attend college.

    It is not 24/7/365 days a year and work weeks can be much longer than 40 hours a week. You may request to be assigned to Hawaii or Anchorage, but they may decide that they need you in S Korea or places like Ft. Polk for the Army or Minot for the AF. The saying service before self becomes apparent once you are AD.

    i get you want to fly. Truly I do. My DH flew for 21 years, and my DS is now a pilot, so I can relate as a wife and a Mom that desire you have in your heart. However, for everyone that had that same burning desire and got the chance there is someone that never did, yet, because of their ROTC commitment they did serve. The question for you is which branch would you rather serve in?
    ~ Do you know what they call a student pilot at UPT (no comments from the peanut gallery) in the AF and the Army?
    ~~~~ LT!

    As a pilot in an operational squadron for the AF, you will have a 2nd job. You do not fly 5 days a week every week. If you are not flying you will get a job, such as scheduling, plans, tactics, weapons, etc.

    I do not want you to believe in any shape, form or manner that you won't get SFT. I am only trying to stress that SFT selection will be the easy hurdle if you want to go rated.
    ~ My DS was in a 55% selection year group for SFT, and he was not nervous at all about being selected. His stats were strong (Top 1/3rd det. 98 PFA, 90 something on his AFOQT----lowest of the portions was an 88, highest was 94. I think he had a 91 comp. , his cgpa as a non-tech was 3.43, in AAS, also a CFC), he was also an AFROTC scholarship cadet, but knew that would not be a factor for selection.

    Yet a year later as a 300 with the same stats, plus graduated top 20% of his SFT class, he was a bunch of nerves for the rated board because he was unsure if his TBAS was high enough for UPT. He was positive it was high enough for rated, just not sure it was high enough for UPT. It was obviously. From there it kept amping up on the hurdles. He was medically cleared for DoDMERB, but now it was the FCA FAA physical. Cleared that, and it was IFS. so on and so forth. The sigh of relief did not come when he winged. It came when he became MQ at his 1st operational assignment this past Feb. (He commissioned May 2012. Attended IFS 2/13. Started UPT 4/13. Winged 4/14. Graduated schoolhouse 1/15), until that time there is going to be a weight on your shoulder you carry. it will always be...1 bad flight, 1 bad sim. 1 bad test and if you can't get up and wipe the dust off, you are risking everything you worked for all those years.

    This is how long this will go on for you if you decide to choose the AFROTC path that leads to ADAF.

    Now, if you choose to look into the Army world and their flying path, please look at everything.
    1. AFROTC will select rated cadets in the spring of their junior year. TBAS and PPL flying hours matter in the selection.
    ~ There are 4 rated options.
    ~ Not selected for rated, you will go to non-rated in the fall of your 400 year.
    2. AFROTC grads traditionally do not get offered the option of Guard or reserve. It is ADAF.
    3. If you wash out of any rated school, HQAF has the right to decide whether to keep you in a non-rated capacity or release you from the AF.
    ~ If they keep you, it could be an Intel officer at Cannon AFB in Clovis NM or Maintenance at Minot ND
    ~~ You might look back and say I wonder what if I had jumped to AROTC, and washed out there too....would I have been happier in their non-rated career fields?
    4. If you wing, the chances are you won't be able to walk until you are 32 at the earliest. The commitment clock does not start until you wing, and it is 9 years.
    ~ If they send you to Del Rio, you could land up being a FAIP for 4 years there. Anyone that has been there will find the humor in this:
    ~ [​IMG]


    That's what you need now to think about, all of the little twists in the road. The rated process for AROTC. The commitment owed upon winging.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a pilot and fighting for it starting in ROTC. You just have to ask, which branch you will be the happiest in if you don't get it.

    Nothing worth anything in life comes without a fight. There is no easy path and only you know if it is more about flying, or about being an officer.

    Good luck, I am sure our country will be in great hands with you defending it.

    PS I am sure in the Army world that Lion King cartoon is floating around with another town named.
    ~ I actually saw it on FB from a friend that is another poster on this site. LMAO when I saw it. So true! The only person not jumping for joy on assignment night out of DSs class was the 1 that got FAIP.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2015
  11. Penguin_Mojito

    Penguin_Mojito New Member

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    Pima, I really enjoy the help and the insight from someone who has experience with this.

    I feel I might aswell give a bit of story to why I want to become a pilot. Just so I can show how much I want it. Excuse the wall of text or irrelevance, I just like telling my story.

    My dream of flying wasnt just something I woke up with, and I am sure its usually not that way. I have wanted to fly since I was a kid, and that dream has only diminished once and that was during a rough patch in my life. I knew I did not want to become a fighter pilot, I thought that was too typical. For some odd reason I always wanted to fly the heavies and helicopters. I started flying on sims as a kid because I was pretty nerdy and decided it was more appealing than Call of Duty or whatever my friends were playing. It didnt take long before I started doing short flights, following routes, and actually grasping an understanding for the gauges and the systems onboard my virtual airplane. It progressed into a hobby and I began flying on VATSIM (Virtual Air Traffic Simulator) which required actual flights and routes to be filed, actual ATC to Aircraft comms, and hour to two our long flights. I will in no way, shape, or form say I know how to fly with that information. I will say that it has only stoked the desire to fly and helped me vastly in the understanding of aircraft and how they work. When I say I want to become a pilot, its not just a choice, its something I yearn after every night. I dream about it, think about it, and stress out over it almost every day. I've had people tell me to go after something more attainable, and I have put in place some backup plans. But ultimately my choice is solidified. Sadly, as a student I cant say I have put myself in a good position and I am freaking out over it a bit. I really appreciate your information about UPT and I know its going to be difficult, but I feel up to the challenge and will fight my way to it. My dedication is there, sadly my academics are not lately. I will have to work my hardest this semester to even get a chance.

    Pima, your experience and information you have provided really helped my understanding and for that I am extremely thankful. It seems you are the one I have to talk to with anything regarding this.
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I am not the one to talk to regarding this situation.

    I am just an outsider that had/has an insight look.

    Here is my problem with you right now if I was your CoC:
    I want to be a pilot!

    At no point have you said I want to defend this great nation. At no point have you said you wanted to be an officer.
    ~ All you say is I want to be a pilot...yadda, yadda, yadda. Great. but where is the I want to be an officer
    ~~ Sorry. I hope you will say something in response akin to, I will be happy in any position, but my goal is pilot.

    I am incredibly proud of Bullet and my DS. I just don't think you get why. It has nothing to do with them flying. It has everything to do with the fact they want to be an officer. Flying is just gravy. If they didn't get rated they would have served.

    Can you say that?

    Take time and decide if you want to defend our country or fly? It sounds silly, but you don't understand there is a difference.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2015
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  13. Penguin_Mojito

    Penguin_Mojito New Member

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    If all I wanted to do was fly I would have went a different route and chose to do civilian aviation.

    Maybe it wasnt as clear as I wanted it to be but there is a reason I chose to do AFROTC and that was to become a member of the U.S. Air Force while doing what I dream about. Its never just been the fact of being in the cockpit of an aircraft, its always been about serving my country while doing what I want to do with my life. I have talked to pilots that have come back to visit my det. I know that you dont get too much flight time and at the end of your career you end up doing mostly paperwork, I get that. I tend not to focus on that because that is not what scares me.

    I had an enlistment packet filed when I was a junior in highschool for the AF. I decided to just follow my dream and fly while serving. There has been no question to my dedication to serving this country. I grew up in a military family, I was around it my whole life. I went to museums (NMUSAF), military bases, and airshows when I grew up. I did 4 years of Army JROTC because I loved the military life.

    It is somewhat confusing that this was in question? If I didnt want to serve my country I wouldnt be here, in a ROTC program, talking to people on this forum.

    But I guess I still dont get it?
     
  14. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Robert Morris U also has an AROTC det.

    Penguin, just as long as we understand each other: UPT is NOT Microsoft Flight Simulator. IFS is NOT a video game.

    It is good to hear you (finally) say you want to serve your nation (even the STEELER NATION!). As a mom of TWO USAFA grads from the 'burgh, I can tell you that neither would want to repeat UPT. And PIMA's Del Rio cartoon: only too true.

    PIMA, I remember the LT who FAIPed at Del Rio. No smiles there. haha
     
  15. Penguin_Mojito

    Penguin_Mojito New Member

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    Thank you FencersMother,

    I guess I have to reiterate that the flight SIM was ONLY a way for me to get more into aviation and know at least some aspects of flight. I am not, and have not said that it is flying experience and can be applied to UPT. Passing off a video game as an actual experience is illogical. But like many games (Simulators at least) there is information to be learned that can help.
     
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  16. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    The programs are different in many ways....just a few:

    1. AROTC does not have SFT that you need to be accepted to attend, all AROTC cadets attend CLC the summer after their Junior year.

    2. You are not guaranteed Active Duty through AROTC, this is something you compete for, some AROTC cadets are forced Reserves. Your position on the national OML determines whether your receive Active Duty. GPA, APFT, PMS Evals, and Standardized Testing are used to determine your placement on the OML. GPA is calculated from your first three years in college....up to the end of your junior year.

    3. What you branch within the Army is also determined by your OML. You list your preferences in order and then are given a branch depending on your OML and the needs of the Army. Branch assignments come out the first semester of your senior year.

    4. Just so your aware, Aviation is one of the hardest branches to get in the Army, it has one of the fewest slots available.

    You would have until the end of your junior year to bring up your GPA, you would need to be in the 3.6 range to have a shot at Aviation. Your major will not matter so what you have switched to would be fine. You would also need to do well in ROTC and have good Evals to give you the best chance.

    There are always AFROTC cadets that make the switch every year, most do just fine in AROTC.
     
  17. Sampia

    Sampia Member

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    Just to toss the idea in there, from what I hear, the Marine are short on pilots. However, might be a good chance you would be in a awesome looking helicopter instead of a jet. Before my DS decided he wants to be a signal intelligence officer with the goal of working in cyber warfare, he had considered being a pilot if he could fly one of the helicopters. He wanted the best of both worlds. He wanted to be part of his platoon and not riding solo in a jet. I am glad he changed his mind though. It just sounds way too dangerous. However, as a mother, it all sounds way too dangerous! :yikes:
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
  18. Sampia

    Sampia Member

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    I woke up to the news today of another major earthquake in Nepal. And The terrible news that a Marine helicopter with six on board is missing. I am praying for them all
     
  19. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Penguin, why don't you check out the flight schools available in the Pittsburgh area through local community colleges? Beaver CC, Butler... even CCAC have flight programs that are not TOO expensive and will get you some experience.
     

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