USAFA vs AFROTC....?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by endoftheline, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. endoftheline

    endoftheline Member

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    so i've been looking around and have seen a lot of threads comparing USAFA vs ROTC, and am a little confused on something. according to the USAFA's homepage, the USAFA vision is to be "the Air Force's premier institution for developing leaders of character." so why is there so much discussion over which one is "better"? clearly, if the Air Force says that the Academy is the premier leadership institution, shouldn't that throw out even the possibility that AFROTC is comparable to the USAFA? you wouldn't think so after all the discussions though....somebody help me understand :smile:
     
  2. urbonman6

    urbonman6 Member

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    USAFA's vision

    Like you said, it is the Academy's vision[/B] to be the premier institution for developing leaders of character. The Air Force doesn't say that we are in fact the premier institution. That is where all the debate comes from. It could be a ROTC detachment's vision to one day be the best, but that doesn't make it true. Same applies to the Academy.
     
  3. Jacobryan10

    Jacobryan10 Member

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    The whole point of going through AFROTC or the USAFA is to become an officer. Both programs are very well designed to produce officers and the question is really what route you want to take. Granted, AFROTC is less strenuous than the AFA because you can enjoy having a civilian life and turn off when you are not in your lead lab classes. The freedom you get with being able to take random classes that don't have anything to do with you major (for example art, cooking, guitar) is also a nice perk. So depending on your personality and whether you want to put up with the intensive AFA environment, AFROTC might be better for you

    The USAFA has the upper hand on academics and funding compared to most colleges. It is the premier institution as you said, so the Air Force tends to put more funding and attention into it compared to your typical AFROTC Detachment. As a result they get more pilot slots and opportunities to do programs such as parachute jumps, and gliding than AFROTC. The Academy also has a high level of presige associated with it comparable to ivy leagues, so it looks better on a resume than a state college or community college. The Alumni network a great resource as well for finding a job, as many grads are willing to help you out.

    Really, its a matter of preference. Go to where you think you will do better at and enjoy. The Academy is a huge commitment so you have to decide if you want to take that plunge. If you don't feel like dealing with an intensive environment and would rather enjoy a normal college life, then you should opt for AFROTC. In the end, you will become an officer anyways. I think its who you are rather than where you came from that determines how good of an officer you are. Both routes are great
     
  4. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Comparing the academy to ROTC is like people who compare active duty to the guard/reserve. It's apples and oranges. Yes; both are designed to educate individuals and make them officers. Each has their benefits, and each have their drawbacks. The academies are 100% 24/7 military. Training, education, social, physical, mental, etc... ROTC is like the guard/reserve. "X" amount of ROTC classes. (1 weekend a month) type of mentality. But the ROTC has advantages in the social areas. While they may not be as disciplined, they are generally socially more mature.

    But as already mentioned; the academy's VISION is to be the air force's premier institution. Doesn't mean they ARE the air force's premier institution. Just that it's their vision.

    Now; it's up to you as a candidate to determine which one, to you, is the closest to actually being the air force's premier institution for education. Problem is with ROTC, is that while the ROTC classes could be identical nationwide and have continuity; the 95% of the student's classes, that aren't ROTC; e.g. math, science, history, art, whatever.... I not consistent. University of Texas is not going to teach their classes the same as Louisiana State University, or Rutgers, or Michigan state. The air force academy is one place; and every student receives exactly the same exact education.
     
  5. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Here's a thought (from my mother) that I shared on the ROTC board:

    "If you attend an SA or SMC, EVERYONE has to live the military lifestyle and undergoes the same burdens associated with that. However, in the civilian college ROTC situation, while you are running around doing your ROTC stuff (PT in the morning, leadership labs, Ranger Challenge, and weekend drills), your fellow civilian classmates are busy studying for that upcoming Biology examination. Thus, if you are ROTC at a civilian college, you will have to work a little harder than the others to keep up. The disadvantage becomes even more pronounced if you have to commute to another college in order to participate in ROTC.

    In this respect, ROTC at a civilian college is like having sports-team commitments on top of your regular studies and could potentially place you at a somewhat disadvantage academically when measured against your civilian peers. However, at an SA or SMC, ALL of your fellow classmates are all in the same boat, unless they additionally play sports.

    If your main purpose for attending college is to obtain a quality education and do well and set yourself up for graduate school before entering the military, this is something to think about. That is NOT to say, however, that you can't do ROTC, play sports, AND do very well at a civilian college."

    Anyone have thoughts on this point? It could be determinative for my DS deciding between SA and ROTC.
     
  6. Boozebin

    Boozebin Member

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    Like Jacobbryan10 said its choice thing not a SA > ROTC thing… Now I’m just a parent that only server 6 years as an enlisted guy and didn’t do either but my son and I have done a ton of research on both and I just want to point out that IMHO one of our best military leaders that we had in recent history went to a small city college in New York and did ROTC…. General Colin Powell…

    Bottom line there are great leaders that come out of both ROTC and any of the SAs…. Pick the one you feel you’ll be most successful and happy. And if it walks like a duck… talks likes a duck… SALUTE it!
     
  7. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    It all goes to what you determine makes a program "better." Do you want to be able to choose your schedule? Yes?--go ROTC. Do you want to do freefall skydiving and combat survival training over the summer? Yes?--go USAFA.

    USAFA is focused on all things Air Force, as are most of the people there. If you want that, there is no better place. Very few ROTC cadets will have the opportunity to get incentive rides in high performance aircraft, get their jump wings, fly gliders or UAVs, etc. Most USAFA cadets will do at least one of the above. However, this comes at a cost. USAFA cadets are very busy and don't get to leave campus much during the week (until about firstie year). It is a high stress environment quite often. You will miss out on some of the things your friends back home get to do.

    ROTC has advantages as well. ROTC cadets get to experience a lot more freedom of choice and a wider variety of non-military things. I would say, they have more opportunities in general, but fewer Air Force related ones. Want to live in your own house/condo/apartment? Go for it. Want to drive around in your car freshman year? Go for it. Want to not have classes on Thursdays? You can probably work that out. Want to get that summer job at Disney World? You can do that.
     
  8. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Coming from a guy who went the ROTC route, and is the father of a young man currently going the ROTC route:

    If your ONLY criteria is "which route develops the better leader?", than I will unequivocally, hands-down say to go USAFA over ROTC. It IS much superior at developing the individuals who go this route versus going through ROTC. Not even close. Academy grad 2 Lts are much better prepared to be leaders right out of the gate than ROTC grads. It just comes with the 24/7 "living that mentality" level of commitment.

    But developing leadership skills does NOT stop the moment you "raise your right hand and repeat after me". It's only the beginning; the first step in many throughout every stage of your career that develops your leadership ability. Simply stated, a USAFA background simply means you have a head start over those who went ROTC in this experience. Quite frankly, if you are placed in a leadership position right after graduation, you'll learn double the amount on leading people than you did your ENTIRE SA or ROTC career. (But, if your dream is to go to UPT right after graduation, quite frankly your leadership opportunities are minimal for a few years, so the experience is moot).

    Again, a good discussion IF your ONLY criteria is which route better develops your leadership potential. After a year or so out of either AFA or ROTC? It's no longer which route you've taken to get the commission, but instead how much you've learned and developed in the real force.

    An analogy: some SEC universities are VERY good at developing outstanding football players, ready to make immediate impacts in the NFL after the draft. They enter thier first NFL training camp much better prepared than a young player coming from some small mid-western CC. But after the first few weeks of the rookie season, it all comes down to natural ability and dedication to playing at the NFL level. THAT is what decides who is the starting QB and who rides the pine come week 4.
     
  9. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Oh. And as to Raimius' post?

    "Twoop" :thumb:
     
  10. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Bullet, what about academics? Is ROTC at a civilian school basically like doing a varsity sport that your non-ROTC peers don't have to undertake? Does that place you at an academic disadvantage (relative to your peers) at an ROTC school in terms of time availability for academics, which you wouldn't experience at USAFA?

    The reason I am asking this is because the ivy league school ROTC is recruiting my DS with two basic selling points: (1) at ivy school, you get a traditional "college experience"; and (2) your teachers are Nobel Prize winners. My concern is that if my DS does go ivy league, then not only does he have to compete with top-notch students, but he has the "varsity sport" burden of military training on top of that. When he later applies to graduate school, his class rank and GPA will actually be lower (relative to his peers) at the ivy school because of this extra burden. However, at an SA, every cadet has this "varsity sport" burden of military training, so everyone has the same time availability disadvantage.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2011
  11. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    patentesq,

    Trust me. A student at the USAFA has waaaaaaay more extracurricular activities they deal with daily than a student at an Ivy who also is involved in ROTC. ROTC is basically what you put into it, though to be fair, if you wan to be successful at it, it should be your #1 extra-curricular activity while at school, and can take up over 10 hours a week of your time. To a cadet at the USAFA? 10 hours a week on extra-curricular activities is called a "slow week".

    Depends on what you call "traditional". Ivies are just as (if not more) competitive academically, so the typical student is struggling just as much as the AFA kid to pass calculus and chem. Granted, the Harvard guy can go downtown and blow off steam, but too much of this equals failing just as quickly as at C springs.


    If your lucky, once diuring you Ivy experience you may get a Nobel-prize winning professor who LECTURES you and 499 other students twice a week. The rest of the time, his TA / Grad student assistant (who would rather be anywhere else than have to run the lab with your son and the other undergrads) runs the working group.

    At the AFA, you may not have the same level of professors (but then again, some of the civilian instructors and profs who have been there for a while ARE world class), but your child will get smaller classes and instructors who actually CARE for his progress and will go out of their way if he needs help. At the Ivies, you're a number. At the USAFA, they take getting the next generation of America's military leaders ready VERY seriously.

    At the AFA, your son will compete with top-notch students as well. And they ALL will have the "varsity sport" level of extra curricular activities to deal with. He won't be at a disadvantage.

    Again, and this is just me talking, but I think the AFA experience is actually more time management challenging than an Ivy. Therefore, he stands the risk of a lower GPA at the AFA, and not an Ivy.

    Agreed.
     
  12. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Thanks, Bullet. This is helpful information. But what I was getting at was the following:

    Scenario A - Ivy League School (AFROTC)
    DS (with extra ROTC commitments and thus less time to study) versus Other civilian students (no ROTC commitments and thus MORE free time to study)

    Scenario B - USAFA
    DS (with usual USAFA time commitments) versus Other USAFA Cadets (with usual USAFA time commitments)

    It seems to me that under Scenario A (ivy), DS is at a disadvantage relative to his peers because he has the added burden of ROTC. However, under Scenario B (USAFA), he is actually on the same level as everyone else in terms of time commitments (and available study time). As such, it seems to me that it might be easier to have a higher class rank at USAFA than it would be to do ROTC at an ivy league school. No?
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2011
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    You'd be amazed that some of the AFROTC cadets are academically ahead of their peers when it comes to their gpa. Main reason why is they KNOW that their gpa does matter, be it for scholarship, SFT or AFSC. They don't see themselves competing against their school peers, but actually competing against the AFA cadets and every ROTC cadet in the nation.

    The system for SFT and AFSC are based from a national perspective, and how you rack and stack in your school will impact your chances.

    Also, they know if they want UPT that the AFA gets the majority of the slots, and the rest is dispersed across the ROTC and OTS system. That means their gpa counts.

    I can only speak for the people I know who are in the program, esp. our DS, but they all have one thing in common, their gpa is higher than their peers. The minute their feet hit the det., they know that gpa counts. Their school friends usually don't get with that program until after fall semester Soph yr. 3 semesters of higher gpa's is hard to make up when you are almost half way through. The reason the other kids don't start hitting the books until Soph yr., is IMPO based on the fact @ that time they start thinking about graduation, and their life afterwards. The ROTC cadet never took their eye off of life after graduation.

    I will throw in a different twist of why opt one over the other. College, including the AFA is more than academics, it is a way of life. They need to feel like this is their new home to be successful. Cadets (AFA or AFROTC) who do not have that feeling usually are the ones that have a hard time transitioning for their 1st yr. That 1st yr is the make or break yr for many if not the majority of kids. Look at the stats, statistically they lose them yr 1 and yr 2. By yr 3 and 4, it has drastically dropped to a dribble.
     
  14. Rage_14

    Rage_14 Member

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    Theyre GPA might also be higher because their classes are not as difficult as the classes given at USAFA. We were told that if we wanted a realistic idea of how we would be doing at a civilian school that we should add an entire point to our GPA.
     
  15. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I was speaking of peers at the same college, not against the AFA.

    Additionally, every college is different. For ex: some of the Ivies do not give grades for freshman, because the school knows for some this would be the 1st time they ever got a B:eek: and that could freak them out. Instead they use just a P/F system. Plus, a college like GMU is not on par with the AFA. That is why your comment of adding 1.0 to the gpa would make sense. GMU is an AFROTC school, it is a VA state U, but even as a VA resident, I would not compare their course rigor to UVA. UVA would be a closer fit to the AFA regarding course rigor for an engineering major. There are many AFROTC dets and the caliber of the schools vary wildly. Again, that is why when you avg out all of the ROTC dets across the nation, the comment of 1.0 is realistic from a statistical position, but not when it comes to an IVY vs the AFA IMPO.

    The AFA has an incredibly rigorous course load for every cadet. I think sometimes candidates get caught up in the allure of the AFA and never investigate the academic curriculum that is mandated regardless of your major. Anyone who has taken the time can see very quickly that academically these kids are getting an A-1 engineering education even compared to MIT.

    I can't remember where in the bowels of the AFA website it exists, but it is there, and it is heavily laden with Math and Science.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  16. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    You folks raise points that we had not thought about. Thank you. Pima, the point about peer pressure (being surrounded by peers who are very focused on GPA) is a really good point and one that is not apparent on its surface.

    My DS and I discussed this issue again this morning (before reading your posts) and formed two additional conclusions:

    1. ROTC classes tend to be easier (in terms of getting a higher grade) than non-ROTC classes because of the "grade-inflation" issue in ROTC classes. In this respect, for the schools that accept ROTC for academic credit, ROTC grades can actually be a "GPA-booster" for the ROTC cadet as Rage_14 points out.

    2. It may not be a fair assumption that the non-ROTC students are busy studying while the ROTC cadet is off doing ROTC things. The non-ROTC students have other demands on their time that the ROTC cadets don't have, such as work-study, waiting tables on the weekend, and other things they have to do to pay for college. Plus, while our ROTC cadets are off doing their ROTC thing, the non-ROTC students are often going to parties and generally goofing off. On this second point, my view is a bit clouded from my experience from law school. When I was in law school, I was also serving out the Reserve component of my service obligation. I recall thinking that I was at a major disadvantage relative to my peers because I had to attend weekend Reserve drills, officer planning meetings, etc. while my civilian law-student peers didn't have these extra time-draining obligations (losing one weekend a month is a MAJOR time loss for a law student). While it may be the case that law students spend every nanosecond studying, this is NOT necessarily the case with undergraduate students.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  17. bugsy

    bugsy Member

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    - Ivy Legue school allows an extra semester or year to complete. Especially important if your younster changes major.
    - Civilian institution has more opportunity for exchange programs. SA has these as well but not nearly as many.

    Even tho one sided, my post wasnt meant to advocate against SA. I just didnt see these arguments considered.
     
  18. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Although Ivy's allow extra time, an ROTC scholarship cadet would need the approval from Maxwell to extend their time. They can't just decide to change majors without informing the AF, or move their graduation date back a semester or two.

    Also, although there are more options for exchange programs. It is rare to see cadets to take this option.

    The reason why as a C200 (soph) they will be eligible for SFT, and ROTC has an impact on the selection process.

    C300 (jr) will get their AFSC. Again, the det has a great impact on their ranking.

    In AFROTC, holding det jobs is a player in the equation.

    As a C300 if you want to go UPT, you will be required to take the TCBM (I think that is the acronym...maybe it is TBCM). It is held only at selected locations 1st semester Jr. yr of college.

    I will say for our DS, it was about 2 things.

    1. Lived the AF life as a dependent for 18 yrs. He knew he wanted to serve 20 yrs., but for once in his life he wanted to experience "the real world". In other words life that was not all about the AF.

    2. He did not want to major in the tech world...He got a 720 M (SAT), 34 M (ACT). He was no slouch in this arena. However, his love was/is history and politics. Academically it as not a good fit for him... on top of wanting to meeting people who were "normal".

    3. The school he attends, offered him a Scholars program, where there is a requirement to get that citation they must intern on the Hill in DC. To him that was the carrot.

    He saw 4 yrs of tech classes, vs 4 yrs of his intended major and getting to intern.

    Again, our DS wants to do 20 yrs. This was the time for him to fill that dream wish list of if I could have it all.

    It is a personal decision, and every candidate will have their own priority regarding desires.

    In the end, there will be some of you who get the BFE and some will get the TWE. Some will graduate the AFA and some will not.


    The importance is not which is better. The importance is which is better for that specific cadet. Nobody here should ever say one is better than the other as a blanket statement (I don't believe anyone has done that so don't :guns4::hammer: me).

    I am just saying, as a candidate you know your desires. As a parent you know your child, be honest to yourself.

    Best of luck, best wishes, best hopes, best thoughts....
    ...and thank you for stepping up to the plate to protect this country.
     

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