USNA Engineering VS Georgia Tech NROTC

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Proudparent, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Proudparent

    Proudparent Member

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    I'd first like to thank everyone their input to these forums. I have read many of them over the last 6 months or so as my son had been going through the process of applying to USNA and to the NROTC at Georgia Tech.

    He has a congressional nomination and we believe he has a very good chance of getting an appointment to the academy. He has already been accepted to Georgia Tech and has been offered the NROTC scholarship. He is gifted in math and science and plans to get an engineering degree - he may even go for Nuke program. He is also quite an athlete and wants to try to become a SEAL. If there has ever been someone who got a "call to serve" it is him.

    This question is assuming that he will get the appointment and then have to make the final decision to USNA route or NROTC at GT. He has visited both numerous times (stayed for a candidate visit weekend at both as well). He can see himself at both places.

    We are very proud of his accomplishments and we know that either path will lead him to success but they are significantly different experiences and most of the blogs from people who made one choice or the other are glad they went the way they did.

    Both options lead him to be a naval officer for a minimum of 5 years (longer if he chooses Nuke or SEALS). Some of the Navy contacts, however, have said that only about 20% stay on to retire in the Navy so I think it makes sense to consider the civilian path possibility as well as he is making this decision.

    I am very impressed with everyone who has counseled him, both from Navy and from GT. He's been advised that his chances of making it into SEAL training are significantly better from the academy than from an ROTC program. The GT people, however, (some of which are ex-Navy ROTC who choose a civilian path) are telling him that the GT engineering degree will be much more valuable if he decides on a civilian path and they are advising him that the academy wont challenge him as much academically (he's at the top of the charts on test scores). I'm not sure how much to believe that.

    He is choosing the ROTC/academy path to become a naval officer - a leader of men (who happens to have an engineering degree and maybe an advanced degree) but many have suggested that the GT path would give him best of both worlds instead of total immersion into Navy path from the beginning.

    I'd love some other advice or opinions about the two paths or things to consider in the decision process.

    Again, my thanks.
     
  2. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Proudparent, here's hoping Proudson has the best kind of dilemma to resolve.

    I'm chiming in as someone who taught at GT for a few years. While I understand GT's pride in its engineering programs, and am aware of the national rankings for both GT and USNA, I'm dubious that one program is better than another. Both are accredited by ABET, which means that both also have heavily-prescribed programs (e.g. Statics and Dynamics must cover topics A, B, and C; Thermo must cover X, Y, and Z and so forth).

    Purely from a name-brand point of view, my gestalt is that they're about equal. One advantage your DS might have at USNA over GT is access to DoD projects and potential internships. If he manages to validate multiple courses at USNA (something he won't know for certain until plebe summer validation tests) he might also be eligible for the Trident Scholar program. I'm unsure of this program's status under budget cuts/sequestration, however.

    Long story short, I'm unaware of any distinct programmatic advantage of GT over USNA, other than name-brand recognition, which people will quibble about ad nauseum.
     
  3. Proudparent

    Proudparent Member

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    Thank you LongAgoPlebe. I agree about the name-brand quibble. I always thought of Academies as top-tier education in all academic areas.

    As far as validating classes - we'll see. Not sure if its best to make first year a review in some key subjects or begin the next-level classes right off the bat. At GT I think he can use 5's on AP exams to get credit for some classes. He aced both the AP Calc AB and AP English exams last year (5's) and expects to do the same with AP Calc BC and AP Physics this year but its the tests during plebe summer that matter at USNA, right?

    Having taught at GT, any thoughts on testing out vs. making first year a review at GT? At GT, they say that Freshman Calc is "harder" at GT than at other schools but I don't really know how that could be. He helped his roommates at USNA during candidate visit weekend in Calc and Chem so I think he is coming in well prepared in any event.
     
  4. USCGA_2018

    USCGA_2018 Member

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    "He is choosing the ROTC/academy path to become a naval officer - a leader of men "

    I'm sure your comment was a simple oversight, but your son needs to be aware of the make-up of today's Navy and more importantly tomorrow's to succeed as a Naval Officer.

    As of December 2013....

    There are 206 ships in the Navy that have women assigned. Of these, 135 ships have female enlisted onboard. An additional 71 ships have only female officers assigned. Note: Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships are not included in these statistics.

    All new surface ships are built from the keel up to accommodate women. Other ships receive the required habitability modifications in order to embark enlisted women. Habitability modifications for enlisted women require removing urinals and replacing them with toilets. There are no other modifications necessary except to ensure male and female berthing meet Navy privacy requirements.

    Both enlisted and officer women may be assigned to any type of squadron and embarked on any type of ship, providing availability of adequate berthing.

    Women comprise approximately 23% of the Navy's FY14 and FY15 enlisted recruiting goals.


    OFFICERS

    Women have commanded and are currently in command of major commands, combatant ships, aviation squadrons, CEC commands, Special Operations units and numerous shore commands. There are currently eleven women in command of combatants and nine in aviation command.
    There are currently 33 female flag officers.
    Female officers are not constrained by the modification requirements and may be permanently assigned to any ship. There are no restrictions on women in aviation. Accessions and pipeline selection are gender neutral.


    ENLISTED

    Currently two women serve as Fleet Master Chiefs (50%), two women serve as Force Master Chiefs (11%), 48 women serve as Command Master Chiefs (10%), and three women serve as Command Senior Chiefs (6%) in squadrons, onboard ships, and on shore duty.
    Four female Command Master Chiefs are currently serving in Major command at-sea positions; 12 female Master Chiefs are currently serving in normative level assignment tours, which make up 10% of MCPON's Leadership Mess.
     
  5. nuensis

    nuensis USNA 2016

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    Not sure how internships would work at GT, but there is plenty of opportunity for interesting internships over the summer, despite summer training requirements. Some internship programs only pull from a pool of Academy cadets/mids, so that is nice. Trident, VGEP, and IGEP are incredibly difficult to get (think maybe twenty or fewer people per program).

    As far as SEAL goes, USNA prepares SEAL candidates very well. Many opportunities are provided to help you on that path as well.

    Ultimately, I suggest that he look past the rankings or reputation or whatnot, but rather base his decision on his own desires. The difference in lifestyle is drastic, and this decision will be a fork in the road.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  6. Proudparent

    Proudparent Member

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    USCGA 2018 - Yes, it was an oversight of mine. My sincerest apologies.
    During our first visit to the academy, it was just days after I-day and tour guide told us it was the first formation and march for them (into lunch). I wont get the terminology correct, but there were two large "groups" in the courtyard and both were lead by women.

    I should have said:

    "He is choosing the ROTC/academy path to become a naval officer - a leader - not just an engineer"
     
  7. Non Ducor Duco

    Non Ducor Duco I am not led, I lead

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    As a student at Tech, I can tell you that almost all of the Freshmen, and many Sophomore classes are meant to be weed out courses. They try to make everything harder than it needs to be. But honestly, Calc I isn't that much of a beast, it's Calc II and Phys II that really kills most people's gpa's. I'm sure the academies have great programs all around, but Tech specializes in engineering. I'm assuming your DS is considering Nuclear Engineering(NRE), last time I checked we're #2 for NRE with only .1 difference in ranking between us and MIT. Being in ROTC you have to keep a higher gpa than at an Academy (there they have the standard college minimum gpa of 2.0), with ROTC you need a 2.5 minimum and with that you'll be lucky to commission. Not sure exactly how it is for NROTC, but for AFROTC the real gpa you need if you want to make sure you continue in the program is a 3.0. With anything below a 2.7 you are leaving it entirely up to fate, which is pretty cruel in this climate.

    GT is a big name in Engineering, and it certainly lives up to it's reputation. Really, the easy part is getting in, the hard part is staying in. The curriculum for our engineering programs are really strict, and Tech can be unforgiving at times. ~30% graduate in 4 years. Lol, it's something of an honor to meet someone who's actually graduating. But at the same time, you'll be hard pressed to find a soon-to-be graduate without a job already lined up. GT has an incredible network and so many co-op and internship opportunities. If your DS is lucky enough to have enough time for one, an internship is not hard to find.

    Not all engineering programs are created equal, but from what I've heard USNA vs GT is pretty close. It's a tough decision, both are great choices. Your DS may initially have more support at the USNA since there, everyone's going through it together while here there are only about 300 students dealing with the rigor of GT classes AND ROTC. Contrary to popular belief here, ROTC is not just 2-3 days a week. Your many obligations and responsibilities extend past that. Last semester, ROTC for me was 5-7 days a week. It is a struggle, but we are a tight knit group. So far I've gotten a lot of support from my fellow cadets from getting books really cheap to full on tutoring from cadets who happen to be TA's for certain classes. ROTC adds a whole other kind of stress to your plate, but so far it has played a major part in me keeping my sanity.

    I'm probably just as biased in this next opinion as the USNA grads/students that have commented, but for me I can't imagine being anywhere but GT. If you want to be a hell of an engineer, GT is definitely the place for it. It'll test your limits, and your sanity, and make you want to quit several times over (break-downs are fairly common, everyone has at least one before they graduate lol), but there is something immensely satisfying about conquering a class you thought would be the death of you and then realizing you've learned to actually engineering something in the process.

    For a little more of an idea of what GT is all about, have your DS take a look at this video (It's not a long one), one of the best college speeches I've heard. Really makes me proud to be here:thumb:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98nNpzE6gIs&feature=youtu.be&feature=inp-pd-rx1
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  8. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Different perspective from an instructor: contrary to urban myth, there are no weedout courses. No, there really aren't. There are courses that represent a required leap in thinking: literary criticism for English majors, where you undertake a systematic and evidence-driven analysis of texts; multivariate calculus for math/EGR/physics majors, where you begin to consider systems; fluids for physicists, etc. The fact that they are hard to many (but not all), does not translate into some external purpose of weeding people out. (There may even be instructor dinosaurs who still think this way, but these people do not represent any systematic attempts to weed out students who have demonstrated they belong in that college, and they are thankfully becoming rarer with every passing year.) The other factor, obviously, is that most colleges generally, and these two engineering programs specifically, require profoundly different studying and learning skills than many to most incoming freshmen have. Fortunately both GT and USNA do a good-to-excellent job orienting their freshmen/plebes to what's required for effective learning and studying. Here is where USNA (I believe) has a clear and significant advantage: every instructor is available for EI, extra instruction, and it is an expected part of USNA's faculty. GT also has a small number of large-enrollment courses (USNA doesn't), and by large I mean several hundred, and it is very easy for beginning students to get lost or buried.

    There is also a perceived benefit to taking freshman courses over again, even if one has validated (say) calc AB/BC, physics AB/BC and so on. But if you have passed the coursework and learned the concepts well enough to score a 5 on the AP, you're doing yourself a tremendous disservice by not moving on and expanding your thinking and learning practices in new courses and new concepts. That "cruise year" can also backfire if the student thinks s/he can just sit back, go to frat parties, and play Xbox, and WHOOPS! Whaddya mean I still have to turn in an original research project in two days??! If Proudson, or anyone else, earns a 5 on an AP, that person has mastered the concepts needed to move on in college courses, even very demanding courses like multivariate calc. I had a not-insignificant number of (mostly) freshmen who took my large intro course after earning a 4 or 5 on the AP, and who subsequently crashed and burned because they didn't come to class, blew off homework and exams and the project, then expected me to do something about it. Every year on these forums and many others, there's a "debate" about whether someone who has validated courses should retake those courses, or move on. I have "debate" in quotes because it's not really a debate; it's a ridiculous thought experiment based on a completely stupid premise - that someone bright enough to kick it on an AP should even consider coasting. What a sellout.

    Anyway, I have some pretty strong opinions, but they're not personal in any way, and I actually do have access to quite a lot of data about which college freshmen succeed and why (two words: math preparation). I attended USNA for a while, I taught at GT for a while. Proudson should be so lucky to choose between them.
     
  9. COmom

    COmom Member

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    Highly recommend you reread the above postings--believe they have given you excellent advice. SEAL--USNA without a doubt as the 20 or so selected each year have a much higher success rate than those coming from other sources. Engineer--then decide what life style is desired in college as the 2 institutions are vastly different while being excellent engineering schools. Test out of as many classes as possible; there will be many more options open if the mid/GT student is ahead in his matrix/requirements. After Navy--both institutions have good reputations, although the service academy grads will have a different reputation because of the additional requirements put on mids throughout the 4 years. Perhaps do some investigation of hiring trends and associated salary of grads of both institutes 6 or 7 years after graduation.
     
  10. nuensis

    nuensis USNA 2016

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    If he's interested in nuclear engineering, USNA also has good resources.

    "But wait, there's no nuclear engineering major..."

    It's hidden away as a track in MechE. Who knows why, I don't make the decisions here. There's actually a ton of "tracks" in many majors; it might help to look past the initial list of "23 academic majors." And there are a great number of submarine officers and Nuke SWOs around the yard that he could talk with about a nuclear career.

    We also have a subcritical nuclear reactor in Rickover. I'm not an engineer, so I'll probably never touch it, but it's there, and I assume midshipmen use it in some capacity.

    Academic support is ridiculous at USNA. MGSP for almost every class, hired private tutors in the Academic Center (both by appointment and walk-in), extra help classes, the awesome professors that will drive here at 9PM at night to hold a study session, etc. The help is there in great quantity.

    If he puts in the effort, he will succeed and USNA will reward him with awesome opportunities.

    And by far the most valuable, in my opinion, is the opportunity to interact with so many officers, junior and senior, from every community in the Navy (and a decent sampling of the Marine Corps too) on a daily basis. That is not something the average NROTC unit run by five officers and a GySgt can offer.

    At the same time, NROTC mids have a totally different perspective, i.e. over summer cruise I noticed they lacked that "youngster cynicism" that comes with dealing with the Academy for an extended period of time. They were so motivated, it was touching. I've also talked with a few prior NROTC mids, and they seemed to be disappointed that USNA was not the magical Camelot they envisioned: They thought USNA would be (in a word) "better" and quickly realized that it really wasn't. Just different.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  11. ca2midwestmom

    ca2midwestmom Member

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  12. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    I say go to Naval Academy - from one year ROTC and West Point grad.

    Your DS wants to pursue a Navy career, short or long.

    If short, what will matter more is your DS Navy experience, not where he got his BS from.
     
  13. Proudparent

    Proudparent Member

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    Thanks to everyone - these are great insights and very helpful to my son and to us.
    He just got a letter from Navy Admissions approving his medical waiver (minor family history item) with no restrictions. So he is fully 3Q'd now. Now just waiting on a possible appointment.
     
  14. Casbus08

    Casbus08 Member

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    Once you found out he was initially DQ'd due to the (minor family history item) how did you find out that he was being considered for a waiver? We got the DQ letter Saturday for systemic allergy and praying for a waiver.

    Congrats to your DS for getting the waiver and getting 3Q'd
     
  15. Proudparent

    Proudparent Member

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    CASBUS08

    In our case, DODMERB requested remedial information and some tests after his initial medical exam. (We have a family history of slight blood in urine which is benign, but is a red flag for DODMERB). We supplied the extra medical history and tests requested in late December and got the DQ letter soon after that. DODMERB had no choice but to DQ for the medical history, but the remedial info was reviewed and the waiver was approved in a couple weeks.

    We read threads from candidates who were DQ'd who got successful waivers and ones who didn't and didn't understand why - it was a rough couple of weeks. My son has been accepted to his second choice so he was beginning to think that would be his path. Now we get to wait again to hear about an appointment (the "rollercoaster ride" they call it).

    The way I understand it, the decision to pursue a waiver is up to the academy alone - we never were told one way or another whether they were submitting a waiver or not until his status changed online to waiver approved. I believe it will be different for every medical condition, congressional district (for number of openings), and strength of candidate so no two DQs are alike. In our case it took about 3 weeks between DQ and waiver approval. I have read that waivers can take weeks or even months.

    There are other threads about allergy-specific DQs that I read in these forums during that 3 week period that should help you more specifically (some took specific allergy tests and submitted them, etc) but, again, every case is different.

    I counseled my son that it will work out how it is meant to work out.

    Best of luck.
     
  16. Casbus08

    Casbus08 Member

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    Thanks for the great advice. I sent you an IM
     
  17. 1964BGO

    1964BGO Member

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    A couple of other insights you might want to consider in your decision-making process. As noted earlier your son is interested in going SEAL; NAVY has a strong link with the East Coast SEALS, and they visit the Yard frequently to meet with prospective SEALS and to provide the mids some first person interaction opportunities and to do some training and evaluation of the mids. Usually the largest contingent of new officer prospects are USNA grads, and they have a very high rate of completing the program successfully.

    Another aspect you might want to consider is the fact that the academies all are undergraduate schools, that means that all the facilities are accessible to the mids/cadets. In many of the state and private universities many of the latest and more desirable facilities are primarily for the graduate programs with limited undergrad access. (This was an observation from a USMA grad colleague who had sons grad from USMA and Harvard. He also noted that there was a large variance in prof familiarity with those sons - in favor of the WP cadet.)

    USNA does offer validation opportunities to the new class, and a 5 on an AP exam generally earns validation. For what it's worth, Plebe Chemistry generally is considered as one of the most rigorous freshman chemistry courses in the country.

    Your son is facing a very tough decision in the next few monthsl; it would seem to me his basic decision should be what he really wants to do in life.

    Best wishes to him.
     
  18. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I'm sure 1964BGO is correct about USNA having the largest contingent of prospective Navy SEAL officers which implies there are other prospective officers who attended other colleges. While he may have a better shot at SEALs by attending USNA, it's not the only path. I know NROTC midshipmen from other colleges attend the SEAL screeners at USNA in their junior year for a shot at it and I know some who have made it past the screener. It's probably harder to do in NROTC as many schools do not have a support system set up for it, but some do.

    One thing I haven't heard mentioned is which lifestyle your son wants to have in college and which do you think will lead him to success. They are certainly and obviously very different and should be a factor in the decision. My son started a USNA application but didn't finish it because he wanted a "normal" college experience, or as normal as it can be while doing NROTC as a college programmer. I think he picked the right path for him and I actually believe he thrived better there than he would have at USNA, but then he didn't have your son's math and science skills either. Anyway, just something to think about while wrestling with this. I guess it's obvious but since no one mentioned it so far (unless I missed it) I thought I would do so.
     
  19. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    Since his chosen occupation is that of a naval officer, it's difficult to imagine how attending the Navy's premiere officer training program could be a lesser choice than just about anything else.

    Your thinking is getting too far ahead of itself. Before he can even consider the "civilian path" he must first serve his time in the military. His engineering degree will mean very little in that capacity, whether he attended USNA or GT. His success as an officer will have much more to do with his leadership skills, maturity, compassion, intelligence, organization, professional competence, common sense and overall people skills.

    If there should come a time that he wishes to transition from the military to the civilian world, having graduated from the Naval Academy and served as an officer will carry tremendous weight in the job market - certainly no less than if he attended Georgia Tech. Naval Academy grads have an excellent record of success in the civilian world. Ask Ross Perot ... and countless others. :)

    Do not mistake my comments as a plug for the Naval Academy. I do not know your son and it really makes no difference to me what he chooses. I am not going to win a toaster oven if I can convince 10 quality candidates to choose the Naval Academy over an NROTC scholarship.

    All I'm really saying is that academy grads, historically, do just fine in the civilian world. It is misguided to suggest that either choice sets your son up better for the "civilian world" in his post-military career. Your son will be successful because of who he is as a person, not where he went to college.

    Besides, if he intends to pursue engineering, he will make no great achievements in that field with an under-graduate degree in engineering.

    I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering. If I had to say how it has helped me the most, I would have to say that whenever any of my children asked for help with their math or physics, I could always say, "Sure, I can help you. Sit down, let's take a look at it."

    Right now, I think your son should be focused much more in the "now" and not so far off in the theoretical future. For all you know, he may decide to make the Navy a career and there is not really going to be a "civilian world". Who knows?
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  20. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Agree with everything stated here. First and foremost what kind of college environment does your son want? As someone stated earlier, NROTC is more than just 2 days a week, but USNA is 24/7. It is constant, especially Plebe year. This should probably be his major decision point. Both schools have great engineering programs. I am a USNA grad who was a humanities major and now have a MS in Systems Engineering. My best friend is a Mech E grad from GT. We used to work on the same project, I wouldn't say one of us had better engineering knowledge than the other. I can tell you that I had better communication skills and people skills (she will even admit that & she never served in the military).

    If he really wants to be a SEAL then USNA is probably a better path. There is more access to SEAL mentors, training programs and opportunities. Also if he is selected, you are preparing with 20+ people with great oversight from those who have been through the program. In an ROTC unit they are probably just 1 and that can be a lonely place. Also, another aspect is at USNA you do not have to designate USN or USMC until senior year. What if he decides, heck I want to be a Marine! Well if he is NROTC, he has to apply to change to MO. Its just another door that is automatically open at USNA. I think the other aspect USNA has over ROTC is the access to so many officers, senior enlisted and other mentors. It is constant and can be a great wealth of information for future officers.

    GT is a great school and NROTC is a great program. The most important thing is what is best for your DS. SA are not for everyone. Pick the environment he feels most comfortable in and at home the most, that will the place he thrives at and will succeed at regardless of commissioning source.
     

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