ROTC and a military career

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by Goose, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. Goose

    Goose New Member

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    Hello everyone.

    I have been reading about possible career and college routes I could take like cray and I am getting a bit confused on some things. I need some advice too. I'm thinking about ROTC vs. SMC.

    If someone goes to an SMC, they have this going for them

    "The Secretary of the Army shall ensure that a graduate of a senior military college who desires to serve as a commissioned officer on active duty upon graduation from the college, who is medically and physically qualified for active duty, and who is recommended for such duty by the professor of military science at the college, shall be assigned to active duty."

    Besides that, what other benefits are there to choosing an SMC or ROTC?

    Is it very hard for ROTC candidates to get active duty? How does branch selection go for SMC vs. ROTC? Is it much easier for people from SMC's to get the active duty branch they want?

    As its looking now (which of course can change.), I'd want to make a life long career out of the Army. Or at least have that option easily available for me. Is it harder for ROTC people to stay in as long as SMCs or anything like that? I'm very interested in branching armor. How competitive is armor? From the little I've heard, it is quite competitive, how much of an edge does an SMC graduate have over an ROTC graduate at a traditional college?

    Really what I am asking through all of this is, how much reserve in Reserve Officer Training Corp is there?

    I'd like the military college experience, but I do feel I could pull off vastly better grades if I am given the freedom of a traditional college. Although I don't want to sacrifice any long term career aspirations for more undergraduate freedom. Any information would be helpful.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my post too.

    Goose.
     
  2. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    In the Army: if you have an ROTC scholarship - you will get active duty upon graduation. Today- if you are a non-shcolarship college program ROTC graduate and you want to go on active duty you will pretty much go on active duty. 4 years from now of course things could change but the Army is searching hard for qualified Junior officers. Truthfully in terms of commissioning and your subsequent career in the Army - you very quickly will be judged on who you are - not where you are from (which is not to say that you won't benefit a little from having an "old boy" network - the sheer numbers of alumni from the military colleges will give you a higher likelihood of running into a classmate or fellow grad in a professional capacity).
    Branching is done by an order of merit list - and a VMI grad won't be on a different plane than a Boston University grad- same list and same criteria.
    So bottom line- you can have a fine military career going into the Army from either a Military College or a regular college ROTC program.
    So really the decision needs to be yours to make and it really should be based on what you value. The military aspect of the VMI education is really a process rather than an outcome- they believe that there is an educational and character development benefit to the highly disciplined adversative approach that they apply to college life- they seek to develop graduates who have learned to function and lead in highly stressful environments in an honorable manner. I also think that this is a valuable lesson to learn- but it doesn't mean that you can't be equally as successful coming from an entirely different environment - nor does the service think so either clearly as they do not require this approach of their ROTC cadets. In fact one of the finest officers and men who I ever had the pleasure of knowing was a Navy Seal and Princeton graduate who was my boss for a 2 year joint assignment. I would have walked over hot coals for that man.
    So really you should make your decision based on what you want to accomplish during your college years. Frankly if you don't want to be at an SMC- you will hate it and probably not get much out of it other than a long case of the chops before you quit. So really you have to take stock of what you want, what you like and what you really don't like and make your decision based on that. The Army will be there for you from either source - as long as you do take your academics, fitness and your ROTC requirements seriously and demonstrate that you have the ability to be a solid officer and leader.
     
  3. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Just the other week I was told that last year 4400 ROTC cadets were commissioned. Of those 2800 requested Active Duty and 2400 got Active Duty.
    I have never heard that those with an ROTC scholarship are guaranteed Active Duty - is this in the contract? I thought they got chosen off the OML.

    The ability to select Active duty and your branch is based on OML. The two biggest components of the OML are your college GPA and your score at LDAC.

    Questions you might ask of an ROTC department are
    "How well do your cadets do at LDAC?"
    and
    "How many cadets get their first choice or second choice of branch."

    There are other things that can influence your OML score - your APFT score, participating in SMP (after your first year at college), certain summer training like Airborne and Air Assault, if you are on an athletic team, serving as a leader in your battalion and or clubs.
     
  4. NHUSNAhopeful

    NHUSNAhopeful Member

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    Just A Mom, I do not see a sticky thread that spells out what those acronyms mean. Can you please explain? Thank you.
     
  5. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    ROTC = Reserve Officers Training Corps
    OML = Order of Merit List (this is a list developed by Cadet Command that ranks every ROTC student in their senior year)
    GPA = Grade Point Average
    LDAC = Leader Development & Assessment Course. Every summer rising senior ROTC students go to Ft Lewis Washington to take this 5 week course.
    SMP = Simultaneous Membership Program. When an ROTC cadet is also in the Nat'l Guard or Reserves
    APFT = Army Physical Fitness Test.
     
  6. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Great post Bruno, that should be a sticky here.
     
  7. Goose

    Goose New Member

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    Thank you for the advice.

    One question still lingers in my mind, do ROTC grads tend to do not as well as SMC grads in LDAC? More specifically towards the military training they get. Do SMC cadets get more direct military training than regular ROTC?

    Also, its not that I completely don't want to attend a military college. Thee is a side of me that really wants to attend an SMC, I'd like to be a part of the traditions and have the military college experience. Its just I feel I could pull of a higher GPA at a traditional college.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  8. CornellPMS

    CornellPMS New Member

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    Keep Your Options Open

    Active duty commissions are based on a point based OML. Points are earned from a variety of areas; LDAC performance, GPA, leadership, etc. It is very competitive regardless of what school you attend. Your success is based mostly on you, although a solid ROTC BN program helps.

    We can talk more if you are interested and have a strong file (SAT 1300, GPA 3.5, leadership experience, and sports).

    sea74@cornell.edu
     
  9. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    ROTC cadets do just as well as SMC grads at LDAC and in their career if they are motivated to do so (and frankly if they are focused, smart and dedicated- they do just as well in their career as Academy grads). The military training you will get at an SMC is not professional MOS type training. Will they be better at drill and ceremonies? Yes they will. Could they be better at the direct tasks you are going to be evaluated on - possibly but that's not really a function of going to the SMC. Will they be prepared to deal with pressure and stress- they should be since that's what they have been mostly getting. But will they be markedly better at terrain analysis and land navigation, small unit tactics etc than their civilian college brethen? No they probably won't have a great deal more functional training in those areas either. The ROTC curriculum is dictated by TRADOC (USA Cadet Cmd) and is going to be very similar at any program you go to. My son probably spent more time in the woods than his friend at the University of New Hampshire- but that was because they had FTXs run by VMI independent of the ROTC departments which focused on things that were only tangentially related to the stuff you will get evaluated for at LDAC.
    Again- at the end of the day-going to a senior Military college is about what kind of challenges and life style do you feel right in pursuing during your college years- you can be a good soldier coming from USMA, VMI or a civilian ROTC program. What will make you successful is your level of performance, attention to detail, your ability to communicate, your fitness and leadership potential. In the Army and in civilian life-where you come from will rapidly cease to matter in the face of what kind of person you are and what you have shown that can do. So my advice- go where you believe you will succeed and be happy doing so - You will do fine at LDAC and as an officer thereafter.
     
  10. singaporemom

    singaporemom Member

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    I have one son in ROTC at IU and one son who is in the application process of SA and ROTC schools. I think a main consideration should be "How do you want to spend the next 4 years?". Older son is involved in so many things and doing really well academically. He's able to juggle the social pressures along with everything else and does not feel insulated. Work, studying 2 languages, Fraternity, and ROTC. There's a lot to be said for being out in the world and making your way. He decided that was the college experience he wanted.

    Now I have my youngest trying to figure that out. He's got a great resume, studies Chinese (in China right now), and exceeds the qualifications that CornellPMS listed. But where would he feel most comfortable studying Math and Chinese...SA or ROTC? It will be interesting to see where he ends up. There is a strong pull toward SA. He wants to be surrounded by kids that are fit and academically strong. But I can see why a traditional school would be very appealing.

    Both applications are completed and now he'll wait and see what options are presented to him. My advice would be to apply to both military college and traditional school and see which appeals to you next spring. Give yourself a lot of options.
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Oud DS selected the ROTC route for the same reasons as Singapore's DS. He spent the 1st 18 yrs of his life being an AF dependent, his intention has always been to make the AF his career, so he just wanted 4 yrs where he could be XXX and not Cadet XXX. He wanted to live a collegiate experience, while still having the military in his future.

    As far careers, I know many ROTC cadets that go on to make flag. Colin Powell was not an SA grad. It is your leadership skills and what you do after you graduate that will determine how far you progress. The SA's open the 1st doors for you, but it is what you do after that door is opened that is crucial.
     
  12. Goose

    Goose New Member

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    Let me step back a couple steps. I have another dream too. That is to work in the world of finance, on Wall Street.

    My head is spinning! I don't know what direction to take. Its just the back in forth in my head is killing me! It is a question of following my childhood dreams or not. Will I attempt to follow the life I would want if I knew everything would be fine? Or do I follow the safer ideas in me? The ones that are based on what I know about myself now. Based on current reality and not my childhood fantasies. It is a question of taking myself as I am now, or attempting to take what I could be.

    The options at the extreme ends are this. Go to a traditional college to study finance. The other is go to The Citadel to study psychology (because I know I will enjoy it studying it.) or Business Admin because of its practicality and accept my commission. Or the most versatile, traditional college as a finance major with ROTC. The problem with the middle row is that I've gone with the route of attempting to become what I can be, but then settled for less. If I go that route I know I won't want to settle for less.

    I have a 3.75-3.8 GPA on a 4.0 scale. 28 ACT. A few clubs, an academic award, a little volunteering, and now this job I've been working at the past few weeks. So I'm lopsided academically.

    I am unsure of my unweighted GPA. I've been trying to manually add my unweighted, the lowest GPA I can get through doing it myself is a 3.75. I don't know if they take the unweighted at the end of each year to average together, or each class grade together and averaged.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2009
  13. singaporemom

    singaporemom Member

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    You can be all of that!
    One doesn't have to be sacrificed for the other. Start with one thing at a time.... you like finance and dream of a wall street career.

    At this time in history, wall street careers are slightly iffy...we will become a great capitalist nation again and I believe wall street will roar back...but will it be back in 4 years? might take a bit longer. IMO

    An ROTC funded college education will provide the higher learning that you need. The military career will provide you valuable experience that any employer would want.

    You might not want a 25 year military career, but do you accept a 4-8 year one? During this time you will learn more about yourself than you can imagine.
    You will be at a better place to ask yourself again if wall street is for you. If so, you have served your country well, gained leadership experience and have fulfilled more than one dream.

    Choosing one path, doesn't mean you have to take only one direction for the rest of your life. You are very young, and only a few people at your age can say they know exactly what they want to do for the next 60 years.

    Breathe, relax. Apply to all of your options, and the decision making process will naturally occur in the spring. You don't even have options yet...give yourself some actual, tangible options and then STRESS OUT when everyone accepts you!!!!:biggrin:
     
  14. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    singapore is right, if you go ROTC, for finance, what you will become is an executive that deals with a multi-million budget...also, you can immediately start your Masters (at night) finish it and have the committment run concurrent with your ROTC. So at the ripe old age of 27, you can enter the finance world with a Masters and leadership for a multi-million dollar budget...NOT BAD

    The real issue is you will be applying for a non tech scholarship, the full rides are hard to come by and a 28 ACT hurts. Your uw maybe a 3.75, and so can be your w if you don't have honors and APS.

    Finally, never take the easy route, because in 10 yrs from now you will wonder what if, I pushed myself?
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2009
  15. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Goose - you didn't explicitly say it but I am inferring you are thinking of ARMY ROTC.

    If that's correct (since you mentioned LDAC and made a reference to the Sec of the Army) - then this advice by PIMA is probably not quite correct for an Army Career:

    Your college major has ZERO to do with your branch in the Army. You get to request a branch but you will compete for it.
    Lately, Finance has been really hard to get since it's so small.
    You probably won't be starting grad school in the Army right away. After commissioning you need to go to Officer school and school for your branch - then you are off to your post and possibly deployment. That might actually be okay since many MBA programs wants students with work experience, as opposed to straight from undergrad.

    That is not to say you should NOT major in Finance or that it won't mesh with an Army Career. Singaporemom is correct in that the Leadership training from being an Army officer is very valuable in civilian career development.
    If you go ROTC you will owe Uncle Sam 3-4 years of AD or 8 years in the Reserves/Guard. After AD you can pursue your civilian career in finance and serve the remainder of your time in the Guard or Reserves.
    You can also choose to serve all of your time in the National Guard or Army Reserves. Unless you are deployed you will serve part time - one weekend a month and two weeks a year at drill. You are free to pursue a civilian career or even grad school.

    Bottom line - if you want to major in Finance you can have your cake and eat it too - there is just no guarantee you will have a job in Finance in the Army and grad school may take a while.
     
  16. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    While JAM is exaggerating just a tad in saying that your college major has zero to do with your branch- it's just a tad and she is pretty well dead on with all of the rest of her post. What PIMA seems to suggest might be true of the AirForce but in the Army-Finance is a tiny little branch and frankly IMO a seriously peripheral one to the mission of the Army- especially at the junior officer level. While I am I suppose pretty biased in favor of the Infantry and the other combat arms, my position is that the Finance Corps is on it's way to extinction as an accession officer branch (the day to day administrative functions are handled by enlisted personnel or civilians and they are increasingly automated- as that continues why wouldn't you outsource them completely? ) and I surely wouldn't want to be a 2LT in it. IMO Even if you were to get branched in that branch- A finance Lieutenants responsibilities will not be the Army experience that people are talking about and it won't give you much experience in critical organizational skills in a dynamic environment or challenging leadership in life or death scenarios- nor are you trading stocks or working out financing deals or any of the other stuff that someone in the Industry would be doing. Sorry to offend the stray Finance Corps officer who may be perusing this but that's my opinion of reality. Additionally again as JAM points out- it's not likely that the Army is going to send you in your first few years to get an MBA; and with the deployment schedule being what it is you will have a lot of competing demands that will make pursuing an MBA on your own time really difficult as a Lieutenant or junior captain. So bottom line- the one experience that you are not likely to get as junior officer on a first or second tour is figuring the value of money and juggling it to maximize your return. So how do you square your dreams with that?

    I think that as JAM and SingaporeMom point out- what you will get out of your time in the Army either as an active duty officer or even as a reservist in one of the major CA (Combat Arms) or CS( Combat Support) branches is valuable leadership, organizational and decision making skills and experience that you will be able to translate later into civilianese as experience for entrance into an MBA program or a civilian career. A few years ago one of the major wall street brokerages had the Commandant of the Marine Corps and a number of folks from the Marine Command and Staff College give a seminar and training to their traders on the speed of critical decision making - because they recognized that the demands for near instant and accurate decisions based on processing multiple sources of immediate and often seemingly conflicting intelligence is something that the US military has to do continuously in a war time situation. That's the experience that you will bring to the financial world: leadership, command, control, planning and direction of lots of human and technical assets in high paced, high stress environments. You will be able to combine that with a finance degree and if you are good - will set yourself up well for a future civilian career.

     
  17. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Thanks Bruno! :thumb:
     
  18. Goose

    Goose New Member

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    I don't know why I was locked in this mindset that "what I choose now is what I'll be doing for at least 25 years." Its not like going military now means I can NEVER have a finance job in my life.

    I also don't know why I forgot to mention Army ROTC is what I'm looking at. So a non technical major won't matter. I've been under the impression a 28 ACT is a good enough for AROTC because they have so many more scholarships to hand out.

    Just a rough outline I have thinking in my head. ROTC or a SMC, Army for as long as I keep signing up, and then I could get an MBA with a finance concentration and then get a job with what that lands me.

    Now aren't combat arms extremely difficult to land out of college? I've heard infantry officer is near impossible if your not from the academy. With aviation and armor also being extremely competitive. My dream branch is armor btw.
     
  19. morningdark

    morningdark Member

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    QUOTE "The Secretary of the Army shall ensure that a graduate of a senior military college who desires to serve as a commissioned officer on active duty upon graduation from the college, who is medically and physically qualified for active duty, and who is recommended for such duty by the professor of military science at the college, shall be assigned to active duty." QUOTE

    This is very misleading. Being commissioned through ROTC will pretty much put you active duty if you request active duty as long as you meet the requirements. Most SMCs that I know of are under the supervision of the ROTC commissioning program.

    QUOTE Besides that, what other benefits are there to choosing an SMC or ROTC? QUOTE

    An SMC is regimented and will provide you with more military training than other ROTC students not attending an SMC.

    QUOTE Is it very hard for ROTC candidates to get active duty? How does branch selection go for SMC vs. ROTC? Is it much easier for people from SMC's to get the active duty branch they want? QUOTE

    I don't think there is a difference. If you commission through ROTC and choose active duty, whether it is from an SMC or a University, you will most likely get what you are looking for.

    QUOTE how much of an edge does an SMC graduate have over an ROTC graduate at a traditional college? QUOTE

    SMCs give out more 4 year ROTC scholarships since they have a ton of slots. In terms of an edge concerning your military career, you get zero. Every commissioned officer, no matter what source of commissioning they receive has to prove themselves worthy to get anywhere.



    Having grown up in a military setting my entire life, and having spent time at the Pentagon meeting many officers (mother is an active duty 07 officer there) I discovered that the majority of the officers I met that was active duty was very diverse. Of course, the most seemed to be ROTC graduates since they do make up the largest portion of the Army Officer Corps.

    Hope that helps.
     
  20. Goose

    Goose New Member

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    Every piece of information is helpful!

    What about competition for combat arms? I can almost guarantee my top choice will be Armor. How competitive is armor? What kind of grades and extracurriculars will I need to have at minimum?
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2009

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