USMA vs. VMI

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by armyhooah, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. armyhooah

    armyhooah New Member

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    I am currently a RAT (freshmen) at VMI, and am reapplying to USMA to be a part of the Class of 2018.

    I am on a four year army ROTC scholarship at VMI and am excelling at the school. However, my family is very persistent that I attend USMA as a plebe. Granted, I have not been offered an appointment to USMA yet, but the ROTC department at VMI says that they are confident that I am going to have to make a decision.

    I was wondering if someone with experience either at USMA or VMI can give me advice on the pros and cons of leaving or staying at VMI versus going to USMA. Being a rat, it is hard to try and and make a list seeing as I do not really know what VMI has in store for my future, since we just strain and do push-ups.

    I am in love with VMI, but attending USMA has always been a dream of mine, so I am very conflicted. My main goal however is to be an army officer, I just need to figure out what is best means for myself to achieve that goal.

    Thank you!
     
  2. FlyBoy1993

    FlyBoy1993 Member

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    Best be deciding whom you are wanting to please... and more importantly, who has to live with said decision.
     
  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    You are in a pretty good position in life . However, I think it really comes down to how much you are certain that you want to be an Army Officer? If that really is your life's ambition- then I would say that you should take an appointment if tendered -to USMA. I'm a retired Infantry Officer and VMI grad- so I don't say that lightly- but reality is that USMA is the premier source of professional officers in the US Army. IMHO you will be better trained to be a junior officer coming out of USMA than you will out of any ROTC program to include VMI.
    On top of that- there is no doubt that USMA has a pretty much unmatched national reputation for undergraduate colleges. VMI is a very good college with a very good reputation- and it is a very good source of Army officers as well. But if you kno wthat being an Army Officer is really what your ambition is- then I would counsel going to USMA. Additionally- even with the ROTC scholarship- this is a good move financially (no room and board to worry about).

    As far as repeating another year of abuse- though many folks on the USMA forum don't believe it- but Rat year is a lot tougher than Plebe year mentally and physically - USMA grads my age would find VMI much closer to what they experienced than the Plebe year of 2013- so you won't be pushing near the amount of dirt you are now and screams of "Rack it in tool" will not follow you throughout your plebe year, so you won't really be repeating another year of misery. (Though it won't be going like going to W&L either with frat parties and really good food in the cafe:rolleyes:). My son had a good friend in his Rat year who then went to USNA - My son went to visit him a couple times and physically and mentally he thought it was orders of magnitude less stressful. but he also wanted to be a Navy Officer- and he made a good call in my estimation by going there.

    On the other hand- if you aren't as certain as your parents that you want to be a soldier 4 years from now and might be happier with an option on going on Active duty- then you have a harder decision and if that is the case- then VMI would have a distinct edge.

    Saying goodbye to your BrotherRats is hard -you have already built some tight bonds and they will get tighter as you go on, but should you go to USMA- you will build new bonds with your classmates. I think you have to decide what you really see as your desired future and then - don't agonize until you are faced with the choice. And in the meantime don't burn any bridges at VMI- you still have a Rat year to finish off. Good luck!:wink:
     
  4. jaydee

    jaydee Member

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    This is advice coming from a plebe who did a year of ROTC, thrived, and while there slightly despised the program because I wished I was at USMA. I didn't apply straight out of high school, I really found out about WP late senior year when I was already set on going to a college, Not on ROTC scholarship either.

    Like I said, I in a way I despised the program because I thought West Point was ten times better and everyone told me it was as well. My day visit made it seem like it too.

    Now that I'm here, I look back and see how my program was actually incredibly solid compared to WP. Surely it did not have the resources WP pulls, but the interaction with cadre and the personal training was key. Admittedly, I had extremely high expectations of West Point, the best of the best, alruistic cadets, unparalleled training...I was dead wrong, not in all cases, but far too many. I'll be the first to tell you that certain people certainly don't deserve to be here, are here for the completey wrong reasons, and its scary to think they are representing USMA as much as you are. Because of my thoughts, this certainly hurt my opinion of West Point once I got here.

    Now I miss the people and the program of my old school, but I dont regret leaving. Even if you leave VMI and think you made the wrong decision, I doubt you'll regret it to the point of leaving because this place really does give its cadets fantastic oppurtunities unlike anywhere else and you will still become an officer like youre counterparts. Just please consider the end state. If you are thriving AND enjoing it, that might be telling you something. I know little to nothing about VMI, so I can't offer anything there but if you have any questions about West Point I can offer the 19-20 year old plebe perspective, PM me if you want.

    Definitely finsih you're application and do a day/overnight visit and ask the hard questions. Once you get in, I'd be willing to put money on it you'll get in, YOU can make the decision. Don't let not applying make it for you. Best of luck.
     
  5. Not too sharp

    Not too sharp New Member

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    +1 BUMP to both Bruno & Jaydee.
    Congrats ARMYHOOAH on possibly having a great "conflict". USMA & VMI are both incredible (I attended neither btw, but had many friends at both).



    If you're on a 4 yr scholarship and excelling during the dreaded rat year, then kudos, but perhaps you are also now feeling "safe" there, versus the many new challenges, and unfamiliar surroundings you'd face at USMA (but remember, in the beginning VMI was pretty intimidating also).

    What is the basis for your family's urge for USMA? Family legacy? Financial? How much influence did your family have on who you are today?

    VMI & USMA both turnout excellent soldiers. Obviously USMA is a bigger entity, world renown, and could likely match everything VMI has to offer, except the unique VMI culture (of course USMA has it's own storied history). Not everyone at VMI plans to commission, and many don't stay 4 years, thus everyone is not always on the same page. At USMA you'll be surrounded by cadets who also intend to commission as an Army officer in 4 years.

    The 2 big issues for your future:

    What do you have at VMI that you don't think you'll have at USMA?

    What would the benefits be of graduating USMA instead of VMI?

    Not many turn down a SA appointment, tough decision indeed. It will be YOUR decision ultimately and I suggest, when you decide, commit 100% to your decision, keep calm, and carry on. For now, stay focused on your academics (tough, but don't let this distract you).
     
  6. emwvmi01

    emwvmi01 Member

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    Armyhooah, Here is my perspective as a currently serving Army Field Grade Officer who teaches Captains and has taught at BOLC, rated/commanded 20+ Infantry and Artillery lieutenants while in garrison and deployed and is a VMI grad. I realized very quickly that commissioning source means marginally little to the success of an officer upon arrival at BOLC or first duty station and it means even less by the time they decide to commit to longer service going to the Captains Career Course. I have seen excellent officers in garrison, Iraq, Afghanistan and BOLC (top of their battalion or class as the case may be) from ROTC, SMCs, USMA and OCS it is all contingent upon individuals and their efforts. The old-timers who say you won't be a battalion commander/Brigade Commander or Division Commander unless you go to USMA or are in some mafia are not serving in today's Army. There are a disproportionate number of USMA graduates at the higher echelons (General Officer level) but that probably has more to do with the personalities drawn to USMA (want the Army) versus ROTC where you get a larger percentage of I'll try it or I need to pay for tuition. OCS tends to be underrepresented at higher levels probably because the officers age out (reach retirement age as a CPT/MAJ) why play play the game to be less than 1% of my year group going to be a General Officer. That is changing more every year it seems with BCT/BN Command select boards and I know for the last three to five years my chain of command of Battalion Command, Brigade Command and General Officers has included typically 2-4 ROTC grads and 1-2 USMA grads so take that for what it is worth. So here are some considerations. 1. If you really want the USMA experience go to USMA. 2. You don't say your major but if you're a liberal arts guy or maybe a science guy recommend staying at VMI unless you want to take some good engineering courses. 3. If you are an Engineer it is kind of a toss up. 4. If you want to be an Army officer in 2017 stay at VMI, if you don't mind waiting until 2018 go to USMA. I don't think you can make a right/wrong decision here it is really about what do you want and when. If it was me whether at VMI or Nameit State U and i had a scholarship to commission a year earlier I would take that guarantee and move out but figure it out.
     
  7. IcedZealot

    IcedZealot Member

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    No doubt, West Point is thought of as the most prestigious military academy in the nation. But in the end you need to decide with what you'll be happy with. If your real dream is to be a West Point Cadet, it'll be harder to get in, but the sacrifices will be well worth it.
     
  8. Rodes

    Rodes New Member

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    armyhooah,
    West Point is a fine school and cannot be praised too highly. There is little doubt that it would open a few more opportunities for you and may even prepare you better for your chosen profession. Having said this, my sense is that you are where you belong and should stay there. You will always be glad that you did. It may take a while, but your family will as well.
    Consider this: There are five times as many West Pointers as VMI graduates yet who has heard your plea for counsel? You may add my brother, my son and me to this list. There is no college in this country like VMI and its unique benefits are beyond measure. The fellowship that alumni have for one another is unequaled. I did not enjoy 95% of my cadetship, did not do well and barely graduated. Now I would not take a million dollars for having gone to VMI.
    In 2067 you will return to Lexington for your 50th reunion having lived a fine life of service to your family and country. I will be long gone but still with you. You will give an old yell for the class of 2017 and thank me.
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    If you want to be an Army officer, USMA has always been a dream, you're OK starting over and you get in, I would choose USMA over VMI.

    I've had friends at both, but West Point is the better option, and that takes nothing away from VMI. West Point carries more weight on the outside too.
     

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