ROTC/SMP advice needed

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by wareagle316, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. wareagle316

    wareagle316 New Member

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    I have somewhat of a rare situation. I am a 20 yr old computer science major currently enrolled in the local community college. I was a homeschooled student in my younger years so I never attended high school. I am starting my third semester of college in January and am searching for a university to transfer to after it is over.

    I've always felt the call of the military (Army) ever since I was young. My father was a soldier and I would like to follow in his footsteps. I am interested in being a helicoptor pilot. My father has urged me to join the service and become a warrant officer while simultaneously going to college to get a degree. However, I don't like this idea. I know myself and I would abandon school and commit myself to working. For this reason I have decided to look at other options.

    I have found 2 programs that have peaked my interest. The ROTC program and the Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP). I am actively searching for universities that offer a good program for my major in addition to a good army ROTC program.

    My questions are:
    What factors distinguish a GREAT ROTC program from just a GOOD ROTC program?

    How can I find information about those factors?

    For my particular situation, would you advise me to take an ROTC scholarship or enroll into the SMP?

    What are the fundamental differences between SMP and ROTC scholarship? They seem like almost the same thing to me...

    Would I be more likely to get an aviation commission if I attended a Senior Military School?

    Does the ROTC program take up ALOT of my time?

    Would the time taken up by ROTC activities be significant enough to hurt my grades?

    Does being a part of the program hinder me from doing things that normal college students do?
     
  2. alfonsonso

    alfonsonso Member

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    If you have over 30 hours of college credit, then you are not eligible for ROTC.

    in my opinion, a good ROTC battalion would have good performance at LDAC, which is required of all ROTC cadets, and also the battalion would have a good number of cadets who get their first choice of branch after comissioning.

    ROTC will take up a good portion of your week. you must attend a military science class each week, usually on a tuesday, and then go to a lab later in the week. in addition to this, there is required PT every week, usually 1-3 days. occasionally, there will be some activities on weekend.

    I dont know much about SMP, and when people asked about it on this forum the general response was ask a recruiter.
     
  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    ??
    I don't think that is correct- in fact I'm fairly certain it is incorrect (see below)


    http://www.goarmy.com/rotc/college_students.jsp
    SMP and ROTC Scholarships are pretty much mutually exclusive propositions. SMP basically allows you to enlist and drill monthly with a Guard or Reserve unit (I don't have drill pay, but you can find that on a National Guard or USAR website). You will get credit for Time in service - you will be able to draw your monthly Stiped from ROTC - which as a Junior would be around $450/month. You would not get Tuition and fees paid like a Scholarship Cadet would get (although you might get some tuition assistance from the State if they offer that to a soldier drilling in a Guard unit). A Scholarship Cadet on the otherhand will basically get everything paid for less Room &Board plus a travel allowance and the monthly stipend.
    Because you would be coming in to ROTC at the 2 year mark- you would have to complete a one month Leaders Training Course that they give each summer at Ft Knox before entering the ROTC Advanced Course.

    What makes a good ROTC program? Well I know of nothing published that rates ROTC programs. My take- go to the best College that you can go to that offers the programs you want to study. Frankly- what makes a good ROTC program is good cadets. A school that accepts 99.5% of it's applicants and which is a lowest common denominator kind of school will also be pretty likely to have that same kind of ROTC program. Commissioning rates and branches are a function of a national order of merit list (OML). Performance at LDAC (summer camp) an Individual's grades and PT scores are what determines those assignments. So how do you rate the quality of the ROTC program? Look at how big the program is and how many Cadets went on active duty and in what branches. But numbers are not everything-
    I suggest you go find a couple of current cadets and talk to them. If they feel like they are engaged in the program, challenged by the program and they feel a sense of comradery with their fellow cadets and with the Officers and NCOs assigned to the program then you probably are looking at a "good " program.
    Finally- Would you be more likely to get aviation branch coming out of a Senior Military College? Not necessarily. By law an SMC graduate is guaranteed a commission on active duty if they want one and are recommended by the PMS. That is pretty much the only guaranteed benefit you will get out of an SMC over any other ROTC program. Beyond that- where you stand on the OML will determine your chances of getting your branch preference. Truthfully- with 2 years of college under your belt I can't see going to an SMC as a real choice. More than anything else- life at VMI is about gaining privileges and responsibilities as you progress - and the most important thing you will have is your class. But in your case you will only be with your class for 2 years- so the things that you will prize the most will really not be something you will share. It's possible to go to VMI as an Academic Second Classman while being a Rat- but I would certainly suggest thinking very hard before going that route.
    As your father suggested- one way to be certain of being an Army aviator is to enlist for the Aviation Warrant Officer program.

    Hope above gives you a few things to think about. Good luck-
     
  4. wareagle316

    wareagle316 New Member

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    I was under the impression that while in the smp program you gain the use of the GI bill and that would be enough to pay for college. Is this not true? Furthermore, while part of the smp program I know you receive E-5 pay. Is the E-5 pay in addition to the ROTC stipend?

    Another question that came to mind after i posted was. Where do I go to see if I am eligible to recieve an ROTC scholarship? Would i go to the cadre of the school or is it done through a recruiter?
     
  5. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Absolutely NOT true. If you have completed two years of college then you can go to LTC in the summer in place of the first two years of ROTC.

    Bruno gave a good explanation of SMP. If you choose an in-state school then MANY states NG will pay your in-state tuition if you choose SMP. In many cases SMP is a much better financial deal than a ROTC scholarship -
    In state tuition and fees, drill once a month, two weeks of drill pay and you can use that for ROTC training (e.g. if you go to Airborne you can get your NG pay while there). Plus - when you contract with ROTC you get your monthly stipend PLUS book allowance. Plus if you do two years of SMP in college when you commission you will be paid as an O-1 plus two years. You also get ROTC "points" for your Guard drill that helps you in branch selection.
    I *think* you have to go to basic to get E-5 pay - before basic you get E-3 pay based on your college credits. You have to confirm this with a recruiter.

    This is what I think you should do -
    Choose a college with a ROTC program and go talk to the Enrollment officer - usually a Captain - who will assist you with applying for a scholarship.
    You can apply for a two year scholarship OR do SMP (can't have a ROTC scholarship if you SMP).
    Arrange to go to LTC this summer, then next summer you will do LDAC.
    Talk to a National Guard recruiter about SMP. Some ROTC programs have NG Recrtuiters on their staff.

    IF you join the Guard and do SMP - you will enlist with a contract. You can go to boot camp but if you are in ROTC then I have heard they are not allowing Cadets to pick a MOS and go to AIT. You won't have time for that anyway.

    The best ROTC program is at a college where you will succeed as a student. Some very small programs have produced some very fine officers. You can ask about how the cadets do at LDAC, their commissioning rate and how many Cadets get their first choice of branch and if they are getting Active duty vs Reserves.
     
  6. wareagle316

    wareagle316 New Member

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    You say that the NG would pay for my in-state tuition. Would the same go for the army reserve? I ask because im interested in joining the army and am most likely goinfg to transfer out of state. I live in Florida right now and am considering attend UCBerkeley in California. My problem is, that I need a program that will fully pay my tuition and room and board. Would the SMP program give me that or would i be forced to try and get the scholarship?
     
  7. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    About the Army reserve - I *think* you need the GRFD scholarship for that.
    http://www.rotc.monroe.army.mil/command/reserve_GRFDscholarships.html
    If you get one of those, you must agree to serve in the Army Reserves and won't get active duty.
    Your situation - even the 2 year Army ROTC scholarship won't pay your room and board. You could get student loans to cover that though.
    If you want to go to UC Berkeley then you really need to contact them directly about your situation - here:
    http://army.berkeley.edu/
     
  8. wareagle316

    wareagle316 New Member

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    Thanks for all the info. Its really helped alot. I'm gonna take a trip and visit the campus and speak to the cadets and instructors and see if i can get a scope on things.
     
  9. WestTexasmom

    WestTexasmom Member

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    Bruno,
    My son is a high school junior, homeschooled from beginning. He has been preparing throughout high school to apply to Service Academies. He as applied for summer seminars and been accepted to AF and WP, waiting for NASS.
    He has excellent ACT scores, strong resume and is currently enrolled in ROTC (early enrollment, non-contracted) and taking classes at community college.

    My question is, if he applies/is awarded ROTC scholarship (actually as high school senior), continues application process for SA's, and then is accepted to SA (fall '11), will he be required to repay scholarship? Is this acceptable?

    We will be meeting with ROTC scholarship cadre soon, but I just wanted to get info, especially if there is any question of ethics.

    Thanks!
     
  10. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    WTM: There is essentially a one year Grace period with ROTC scholarships if the student decides to leave for any reason. So- if he takes ROTC for his entire Freshman year and then decides that he's just not into it- he has no obligation at all as long as he has not started his Sophomore year which is when he would contract and his obligation would begin. in essence you get one year free and clear - it's pretty much a no-lose proposition for one year and it happens quite frequently that kids decide not to contract. I think personally it would be unethical if a kid had zero interest in the military and took the money for one free year planning all along to jump ship- but in a scenario like yours - not unethical at all. Good luck!!
     
  11. mariner116

    mariner116 Member

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    ROTC does not pay for room and board. However, some states, and even private schools, will pay room and board for ROTC scholarship winners. It is something you will need to ask about when talking to prospective colleges. For example, my daughter did her ROTC interview at Seattle Univeristy. She found out that university pays for all room and board and offers an additional stipend to ROTC students. Quite a good deal. I know Montana State has a similar program. Those are just two examples.
     
  12. Indianapolis ROO

    Indianapolis ROO Parent

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    War Eagle

    Check with the ROO (Recruiting Operations Officer) or Scholarship and Enrollment Officer at the colleges you are interested in. Being an SMP can be a windfall in States like Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio but may not be lucrative in other states. There are pros and cons to being National Guard vs. USAR, Dedicated Sholarship, Cadet Command Scholarship, etc. Additionally, each individual school may have incentives (housing grants, Yellow Ribbon program, etc.). The bottom line is that the ROO at each program should be the subject matter expert on all of these options. Each cadet is different.

    Additionally, depending on the circumstances and the applicant, you can enter ROTC all the way into your Junior year in your academic degree program. Good luck!
     

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