the importance of the reputation of a major in a college

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by educateme, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. educateme

    educateme Member

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    While we are waiting for the board results, I would like to get some more input and advice from the wise folks on this forum.

    My son's intended major is International Relations. Suppose he is fortunate enough to get a 4 year national scholarship, he has 30 days to choose one school, as we all know.

    I got plenty of input saying the choice should be more based on the school, rather than a battalion.

    How about the reputation/strength of the major at each school?

    Given that the cadets are way too occupied with the ROTC commitments and what not to take advantage of the internship opportunities, etc, and also given that they are not entering a civilian work force right after the college, how much does it matter if school A has a better reputation/program for his intended major than school B??? Note that my son intends to commit himself to a military career on a long term basis.

    Suppose he has the following choices (he should be so lucky!!!)

    School A: very well known in his major. terrific location for that. great internship opportunities and what not.

    School B: strong academic reputation. The major is not as strong as school A, but fairly good. About 50% of the ROTC cadets get free room and board: it's first come first served, so if he choose this school after the first board, he will get it. If he gets free room and board, this becomes a full ride option.

    School C: strong academic reputation. The school is not particularly well known in his intended major. However, the school provides free room and board. $50K additional total benefit for four years. This makes this school a full ride opportunity.

    What are your thoughts?

    (of course, none of this would matter if he is not given a scholarship to these schools, but I can still do some research in case he needs to make a decision on the fly once the results come out).
     
  2. Centhea

    Centhea Member

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    Personally, I don't believe it's all that important. I'm sure there are others who will tell you the opposite. But here is my reasoning:

    a) It does not appear that he plans to attend graduate school right away, so reputation of the undergrad program will not play into this.

    b) If he does go to grad school, he will have work experience to overcome any bias against a lesser-known program.

    c) He should attend a university that is a good "fit" for him. If the top-rated program is so challenging that he cannot commit as much time as he wants to studying or his ROTC commitments, something has to give. In this case, he may be happier and more successful at a less rigorous program.

    d) Free room and board is a good thing.

    One last comment: after all the results are in on scholarship and school acceptances, have a conversation with him about the pluses and minuses of the options he has, then let him decide for himself and support whatever decision he makes. This might sound like overstating the obvious, but sometimes we get so wound up in the process we forget that this is the first decision our kids make that will shape their adult life. I would not have picked my son's big state school for him, but he's quite happy with the choice and I am glad I didn't try to change his mind. It's his choice and there have been some major challenges, but he is a better and more mature man for having worked through them.
     
  3. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Excellent advice.

    Our job as parents is to ask the challenging questions - Did you consider this? - when our child seems to be focused on any one aspect of their decision and to continue to challenge them to examine their thinking. Ultimately, it is their decision that they will live with. If they feel you've helped them make a thorough decision with the best information and consideration possible, they won't look back and say - Why didn't I? It is an important life lesson - make the best decision you can with the information available and whatever trusted couseling is available and don't look back except to improve upon those sources for future decisions.
     
  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I agree with Centh especially on him choosing which college he wants to attend.

    Every kids will have their own reasons, and I don't think if you ask any of them that is because of 1 specific reason.

    Ours selected his for a variety of reasons ranging from the ROTC program to the school location and the fact that he was selected for the scholars program which requires them to intern. He knew that the internship was not for his future career, but for his own personal gratification.

    ROTC is an aspect of levels in how much you put into it, but it is not going to be the only thing in their life for the next 4 yrs. College will be too. IMHPO, the fastest way to end your ROTC career is to attend a college you do not want to go to. Enjoying where you are at is a big player in the amount of success you obtain. You need to WANT to be there.

    Our DS has managed to juggle academics, ROTC, internship and membership in AAS (arnie air society ---it's an AF fraternity) very successfully. I think it is because most importantly he loves the school as much as he loves AFROTC.

    The military will also require you to find the right balance for you personally. Some officers live to work, and some work to live, yet, in both cases I have seen them be both successful and failures. The reason why is because they have not figured out how to balance the two.

    Good luck, like Centh stated, you need to let him decide, because he is the one that will have to live with his decision. You would be amazed how many kids turn and say I hate it here, leaving the parents wondering why, to me it was always clear, they never wanted to be there in the 1st place, yet, as parents with all of our good intentions we were usually the ones that pushed them off that cliff. We were the ones with the small comments that swayed them, and they just followed thinking we knew what was best for them.

    OBTW, yes, it is true that they will go straight to their career, but one thing to understand is and the class of 10 for AFROTC can tell you, 4 yrs ago when they selected their college they never even heard of a RIF, only to be released from their obligations months before commissioning. None of us are psychic, none of us can tell you that a RIF won't occur or even if they will stay with ROTC once they have joined.

    Again, I think there needs to be a blend of both ROTC and academia.

    As for the grad school situation, most officers will do that during their AD yrs because the military will pick up 75% of the tab, thus when they do leave, they already have that box checked and are very competitive in the corporate world.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  5. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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  6. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I would suggest you pepper him with questions, and just let him talk. Don't respond with, well XYZ offers this compared to the school you are talking about. He will tell you where his heart is, and that is where he should go.

    Ask him what if ROTC was not an issue at all, where would you go?

    What is your long term goal?

    Our DS is dual majors of govt and politics with dual minors of military history and international relations, plus his ROTC scholarship requires 9 credits of foreign language that does not fit into any of those, so he has to carry more credits to satisfy the ROTC scholarship. In 3 yrs he has never taken less than 18 credits per semester, plus ROTC, plus an internship, plus scholars seminar, plus his military fraternity. We supported his decision for his college because we knew this was going to be the last time for many yrs to enjoy what he really loves from an academic standpoint. He knew what he was getting into by selecting this college.

    It was his choice because we did ask him, what if the AF played no part in your decision, where would you go?

    He told us, where he is now attending.

    We were at the Bursars office placing a deposit a few days later, and he has never looked back.

    The reason why he chose this option was mind boggling to people because he pulled his AFA packet before they closed the board. It was because the det (BN in your case) matched him for his desires, but he also got the academic opportunities that he wouldn't have had elsewhere. One of them was an internship for a Senator on the Hill.

    There is nothing worse for a parent to hear than I hate it here and wish I went to XYZ instead.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  7. educateme

    educateme Member

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    thanks for the thoughtful replies here.

    this is an on going discussion between us and our son at home these days. We have an understanding that all the money we are not paying because of free room and board etc will go straight to his account. As such, it will be his money he will be saving. So, he is making a decision based on various trade offs.

    The main thing in his mind is really the strength of the major he intends to study. He was very impressed with the ROTC battalions in School B and C. If he goes by the major, he should choose school A. If by the battalions he likes, B or C. However, I learned on this forum that the battalion fit is less of an issue. I shared that info/advice with my son.

    One big decision factor still left is, how relevant/critical is the strength of the major? Of course, he may change his mind and decide not to join the active duty. Of course, there may be other possibilities. A lot of things may change, but let's at least consider the most likely scenario first. But for now, it's a safe bet that he will want to spend at least 15 years in the Army. Let's also assume the academic rigor is not going to be a problem. In all three schools I mentioned, he has very competitive stats (top 10-15% of the enrolled students).

    Also, he visited all three campuses, and he can see himself happy in all of them - pros and cons but they balance out and cancel each other out.

    I heard a bit of an opinion that since he is not going to head to a graduate school right away and since he will have years of Army experience as a major portion of his resume, the relative strength of the major is less of an issue.

    Is this a commonly held belief on this board? I would like to hear more opinions on this issue.

    Thank you very much for your help in advance.
     
  8. Centhea

    Centhea Member

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    I think that is pretty hard to predict. If he's planning to go to law school, then yeah it could definitely be an impact because getting into a top law school is extremely competitive. But if he is going into a grad program in international relations, I don't think it will play that big a role. It will also depend greatly on the timing. There is (or was) an option for an educational deferment that allows the newly commissioned officer to go straight to grad school, so college academic record and program reputation will be very important. But if they go later, even mid-career, it won't be as important.

    I go back to my original comment...the school needs to be the one that he fits with the best. It's not a scientific decision, it's really just a gut check.
     
  9. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    false. Cadets are not 'way too occupied' to take advantages of internships etc etc. Cadets can do internships and even study abroad - as long as they time it and plan it.
    In fact - Cadets who are involved in things outside of ROTC - clubs relating to their major etc. - will get added points in calculating their OML>

    They might be. If they do not make the 'cut' for active duty -they will commission in the Guard or Reserves. It happens.

    Pick the college you wish to attend and can afford and pick the major you want to study. This is the most prudent course to success and overall happiness.

    educateme:
    Does your son have a plan if he, for some reason, is not awarded a scholarship?
     
  10. educateme

    educateme Member

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    if he does not get a scholarship, we can pay out of pocket. However, that will be a shame since he is going to join ROTC anyway once he is on campus. If that happens, he will shoot for the campus scholarship.

    I understand that in case he changes his mind and go reserve, or drops out of ROTC etc, the school and major play an important role. This, I get, perfectly clear.

    I am still interested in hearing folks' opinions about whether the strength of the major really matters for cadets who do indeed join active duty and end up staying in the Army for 10-20 years. For cadets like this, does internship and what not matter at all other than OML points: I am talking about Army career benefits of having internships and such going beyond the added OML points. (by the way, all three schools' PMS told my son that study abroad is something they encourage and support. So no difference there).
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  11. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    If you can pay out of pocket and he is going to join ROTC anyway - why not just shoot for his top pick in a college and major? Why try to low ball this?


    It's not even 'if he changes his mind' ---- who knows where the bar will be in the fall of his senior year when they decide who gets Active Duty and who gets Reserves??
    He may not have a choice in this.

    But your OML points determine your Army career. How you rank on the OML determines your branch. It can also determine if you have an offer for and educational delay and graduate school right away. OML is EVERYTHING!!
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Educate,

    You are new to this system, but I know you have been told prior that he will meet another board as an ROTC cadet to determine his career. JAM was reiterating this fact.
    She is stating YES, internships matter.

    Again, if I am correct you have never been affiliated to the military.

    What is his intended field?

    They will go to some type of military school prior to operational duty. So yes, it does matter. The more he learns academically the more he brings to this school, the more he brings. the more he has a likelihood of graduating DG. Graduate DG and more doors open, because the schools send their files, like hs send transcripts. If he is now DG and the other 2-3 that PCS with him weren't he has already been highlighted.

    With all that being stated your child could go to Yale, but because he hated it there, he skipped every class and showed up for only the finals to get a C, while the AROTC cadet at ECU went to every class and got an A. When they meet up at Intel school the ECU graduate could be the DG since he went to every class and now he understands theory.

    You need to step away, and let your child decide. He could break his leg tomorrow and have to go through a waiver process, it can all be a moot issue.
     
  13. educateme

    educateme Member

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    Based on what you mentioned below, if OML is everything, I guess it does not matter if his intended major in one school is stronger or not - from Army career perspective, did I get it right - is it what you are saying? Is there a general consensus on this?

    If so, we are narrowing a field of important variables to:

    (1) whether he will go AD and spend 10-20 years or not (go reserve, drop out of ROTC, etc).

    (2) overall academic strength of the school

    (3) finances. there is a difference between being able to afford and and having financial options. If he goes to a school that provides free room and board, that's additional $50K in his pocket.

    I am trying to give him enough data points so that he can make an informed decision. If the schools all have similar level of academic reputation, and he likes them more or less the same, and the only trade off is $50K in his pocket vs. a better known program in his major, AND if the strength of the major does not make such a huge difference for his Army career, he may decide to have that nice nest egg for the future. That would indeed be a very nice nest egg in case he wans to buy a house, or finance his graduate studies in case he ends up changing his mind and serving shorter than his original intent.

    As several people mentioned, who knows he may go reserve duty, etc: that's something he needs to also think hard about.

    All I am doing is, to help S make an informed decision, taking as many data points as possible into his equation, figuring out what are the important variables and what are the non issues and weighing various scenarios.

    Several folks here seem to assume that I am making all the decision and my son is a passive passenger, or I am forcing him to go to this school and not the other. This is FAR from the truth. He is the one who made all the initiative. He is doing his own research by talking to a lot of folks on his own. It's HIS decision: I am only helping him get as much data as we as a family can collective lay our hands on. I don't have military experience, but I happen to be very methodical when it comes to decision making processes based on data, facts, and statistics. I always believed the more data you have, and the more intelligently you apply that data, the more likely you will come to make a better decision. By the way, in this all process, he is also learning a bit from me - how to build a decision model, how to assemble and analyze data, how to weigh them by putting together his priority list, and how to consider all contingencies and asses their likelihood of actually happening.

    All of you are right, something drastic may change, and all this may become a moot point. However, all well established business decision making processes have multiple contingency scenario analyses done well in advance, so much so that when the time comes for choosing an option, one can do it on the fly if that's required. No guessing game and no decision based on "guts". Yes, only 1 in 20 scenarios will unfold, and the amount of time spent preparing for the 19 scenarios may be considered a waste by some people. Most well run businesses will NOT agree with that assessment. It's like signing up for life insurance or catastrophic incident insurance.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  14. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Your DS is intelligent in your opinion, correct?

    You trust him, correct?

    Nobody here knows him, correct?

    However, you want everyone to make a judgment, not knowing his stats (gpa, SAT, PFA), colleges he is applying to, and give a decision on A, B, or C

    You want an honest answer, then give stats for your child.

    Otherwise, I am going to say you he is an intelligent child and your opinion means squat since he is on scholarship.

    OBTW, if you are going to play that 50K free room and board, is that in your decision making process? Will you be handing 1K a month in spending money to him starting day one? (1K X 12 = 12K 12KX 4 yrs =48)
     
  15. educateme

    educateme Member

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    $50K room and board for four years, as in ~$12k a school is charging per year. I don't know where you came up with a spending money issue. Our decision is, any additional money we save will be put into my son's account for FUTURE use. It's certainly NOT a spending money to be spent while in college.

    The question I asked was still: does the relative strength of a major matter that much for a career military officer. This does not require a full disclosure of my son's qualifications since I was looking for a general understanding. It seems like the answer is on the "no" side. Again, I am not forcing my opinion on my son (that would mean squat as mentioned above). If that were the case, I wouldn't be soliciting advice and input, since I will be just shoving my thoughts down his throat. I am gathering data and insight from those who have far more experience and inside knowledge so that he has all the data that can help him when he makes a decision.

    Thanks to those who shared their opinion. I think I got all that I can expect from this thread.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  16. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    maybe, maybe not. Say he picks a college with a 'weak' major - they offer courses but no other real opportunities for extra curriculars, internships etc. Then he could be beat out by the same cadet who has those opportunities and takes advantage.

    Why would he purposefully pick a school where his major is 'weak' when he has the option to attend a college with a strong major? That does not make sense to me.

    Your son wants to major in International Relations. Lots of colleges have this major. However, some colleges offer fantastic opportunities not found elsewhere - like Georgetown University. By choosing the college with the strong major - he could be opening doors. He could head himself down a completely different path - yes, even in the Army.

    Honestly, if he wanted a college with a strong IR major to influence his Army career - he would pick West Point. Seriously.
     
  17. mtnman17

    mtnman17 USMA Appointee 2015

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    I was told by several PMS's that the final OML to decide branch, AD/reserves, etc gives no 'weight' or benefits to which school/major programthat is the most 'rigorous'. They told me that I could go to the hardest/most academically challenging school I could and exited with a GPA of 3.1. Even if I had almost killed myself for this 3.1 it would be on a level playing field(as in my 3.1 would receive no extra OML points because my school was 'rigorous'.) with the 3.95 from the 'easiest' school in the country. So from a statistical approach, a 'hard' school would be almost hurting your Army potential:rolleyes:
     
  18. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Okay.

    Why? Is he not trust worthy with money?

    You raised an intelligent child who deserves to defend this country, are you saying he can't be trusted with determining how to spend his "free" money?

    Let's follow your thought, he is not trust worthy enough to budget 1K a month in spending, is he trust worthy enough to go to class or PT?

    Yes, if it is going to be his intended career field. I think I made that pretty clear when I said there is no major for a RANGER, but if you are going INTEL then it probably helps to major in govt and International Relations to understand the inner workings!

    I think you love your child, but I am at the point now wondering if this is more about you than him. I wonder if you have a fear of letting him soar. Sorry, but the truth is, you make me wonder if you can accept how hard it will be as an ROTC parent for the next 4 yrs when ROTC will close you out medically, or if he doesn't get a job at the det.

    Honestly, where is your cut off line with your child? The point you say it is their life? Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, or the minute they hold the diploma? For the military it is the day they turn 18! ROTC is a college program, but they still follow the regs 18 means adult, the sooner you grasp that the sooner you can be a supporter for your child explaining why the system is just that, a system.

    I get letting go, but as I said earlier, you raised a great kid, let him soar, and stand on the side line beaming/bragging that's my kid!
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  19. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    ^
    Yes. However, all things being equal there may be opportunities educationally that could impact your Army career. Like fast tracked to graduate school.
    Does this apply to educateme's son - I have no idea.

    mtnman17 - it does look like that going forward the Army is looking to give a bump to cadets with a STEM major. I like this idea because we all know it's difficult to compare a 3.5 in Criminal justice to a 3.5 in Mechanical Engineering (no offense to CJ majors.)
     
  20. mtnman17

    mtnman17 USMA Appointee 2015

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    Thanks for telling me. What all is STEM?
     

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