USNA vs. NROTC: Some Heartfelt Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by CherokeePilot38F, Feb 27, 2016.

  1. CherokeePilot38F

    CherokeePilot38F New Member

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    Right now, I'm going through a true dilemma regarding my next four years and future career as a naval officer, and I would love to get some advice from the experienced members of this forum.

    Some background on me: I've wanted to be a naval officer and aviator my entire life, which naturally led me to apply to NROTC and USNA over the summer of my junior year. In October, I was awarded a 4-year ROTC scholarship to Penn State University.

    However, this was quickly followed by a DoDMERB medical denial due to some mild OCD symptoms that I had from age 8-11. This greatly upset me, but instead of feeling sorry for myself, I threw myself headlong into the waiver process. I gathered everything I could think of that might help my case, from doctor's notes to the medical information from my FAA Private Pilot's License physical.

    Thankfully, the Naval Academy granted me a medical waiver within three days of my DoDMERB denial, but NROTC's medical review board left me waiting for over three unbearably anxious months without any word until yesterday, when I received a letter from their chief of surgery.

    The letter basically said that they cannot make a waiver decision at this time due to lack of information (not sure how; I sent in every scrap of medical info that I had) and that they want me to go to PSU and participate in ROTC without my scholarship for the first semester. At that point my CO, fellow mids, college psychologists, and I would have to put together a package saying that I am not in fact affected by these extremely mild OCD symptoms that stopped almost a decade ago. The waiver authority would then have to make a new decision regarding my ability to participate in ROTC.

    Although I truly appreciate the waiver authority's willingness to give me a chance to earn a waiver, going to college and doing NROTC without a concrete guarantee of the scholarship that I worked so hard to earn seems like an extremely risky proposition to me. I've always been slightly leaning towards ROTC over USNA, but now I'm looking at the Naval Academy a whole lot harder, especially since they were generous enough to offer me a waiver so quickly and have been nothing but cordial throughout the admissions process.

    I keep thinking, what if I spent $17K+ to spend a semester at PSU just to be told once again that I'm not qualified to serve and politely ushered towards the door? This is unthinkable for me; I want nothing more than to serve my country as a naval officer, and I don't want to lose the opportunity to do so.

    I've always slightly favored ROTC over USNA (due partially to familial pressure to have somewhat of a "real" college experience, along with fear and apprehension stemming from some USNA midshipmen's horror stories), but my beliefs have been somewhat shaken by the struggle that I've had with my ROTC scholarship over the past six months.

    I'm just not sure what to do at this point, and I truly welcome any and all advice from the knowledgeable members of this forum.

    V/R,

    Noah
     
  2. nodiva

    nodiva Member

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    Do you have an appointment to USNA?
     
  3. murfthesurf

    murfthesurf DS - USNA 2020

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    What nodiva said is the first and most important information to start with.

    Do you have an Appointment to the USNA?

    If yes, its a no brainer, go USNA vs. Penn State, IMHO ;>

    If no, your NROTC thing appears to be a 'right hand not knowing what left hand is doing' and is fixable, IMHO.
     
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  4. HassamaMama

    HassamaMama Member

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    What do you mean when you say you were pressured to have a "real" college experience? Also, is that what you want? And when you say horror stories, are you worried about that or more focused on becoming an officer? When it comes to horror stories, I believe your experience will be what you make of it.
     
  5. goforspaatz

    goforspaatz USAFA c/o 2020

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    Have you had a chance to visit USNA? If not, I would recommend looking into it. If you're close to PSU, maybe visit the NROTC there to do PT, sit in a class, do Leadership Lab? You won't know how either one is unless you try it.

    Also, consider connecting with a local parents club and see if you can talk to some current mids about USNA. Your BGO could also do that for you - mine did.
     
  6. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Provided you have an appointment in hand to attend USNA, then I think you have answered your own question.
    Until you have an appointment in hand, then you do nto need to decide until May 1 when you will need to commit to a college.
    If attending PSU as a college programmer was your plan C, then it's still available. If attending as a college programmer elsewhere was plan D then that option is open as well.

    I would strongly suggest communicating with the cadre at PSU (or wherever you plan to attend) so they are aware of your situation. It might even be a good idea to email them with a copy of the letter you received in hand. I suggest this as there is no time like the present to begin to work on getting them in your camp... regardless of what happens with USNA.
     
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  7. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Agree if offered an appointment to USNA it is the sure thing. Like you said there are risks going the ROTC route, not to mention financial impact. What if they say no? It's not only no scholarship, it's a no to a commissioning path. If your goal is to be an officer, take the guarantee (well as much as there is). Remember you can walk from USNA the first 2 years and go to PSU if USNA isn't a good fit. Agree to visiting both options, really seeing yourself living that life and making a decision.
     
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  8. murfthesurf

    murfthesurf DS - USNA 2020

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    "financial impact" = You PAY for all your Room and Board at PSU !
     
  9. FalconsRock

    FalconsRock Parent

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    When one door closes, another opens. If you have an appt to USNA, like everyone said, take it. And, any decision should be your decision, regardless of pressure from your family. Good luck to you.
     
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  10. CherokeePilot38F

    CherokeePilot38F New Member

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    No sir, I do not have a definite appointment yet. Applicants usually hear back either way in March or April, so I'm just trying to stay ahead of the curve on any possible scenario. Thankfully, I do have the nomination, physical quals, and of course the medical approval. I've seen on these forums that getting a waiver from an academy is a positive sign, but of course you can never assume anything until you have that letter in hand.
    I completely agree. The stories I referred to came from some disgruntled mids that served as my guides during a freshman year bus trip to USNA (it was the middle of the "Dark Ages" winter time, so their comments should probably be taken with a grain of salt) ;). Personally, I attended Summer Seminar, gave it my best effort, and totally loved it.

    As for a college experience, a large portion of my family went to PSU, so that pressure is there. However, I honestly don't require a civvie experience to be happy. I have no interest in drinking and things like that; I just want to serve my country to the best of my abilities.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016
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  11. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    Look at it this way, if you don't get an appointment, you will go to PSU and if you get an ROTC scholarship you will spend $17k. If you don't get an ROTC scholarship, you will still spend $17K. So what can you change? Nothing. You don't really have a problem, you have a crappy situation with an unknown result. There are no choices to make. You are like a bull rider at the rodeo with no control over the next 15 seconds except to hang on, cowboy, hang on.
     
  12. mb1395

    mb1395 Member

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    See what happens with the appointment. Go with what your gut tells you. Ask questions about academy life that you're unsure about. Visit the ROTC program. It's four years of your life, make the right decision for you.
     
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  13. TheSavage44

    TheSavage44 Member

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    At the end of the day, an Ensign's an Ensign, whether you went through USNA, ROTC, or OCS. For USNA, you have to want the experience and be willing to accept all the pros and cons that come with an unorthodox college experience
     

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