USNA vs. NROTC

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Evan711, Mar 27, 2014.

  1. Evan711

    Evan711 Member

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    Hey everyone,

    I've recently been thinking a lot about NROTC (or possibly ROTC) after visiting a few colleges and seeing the programs they had to offer. I went on these visits with a pretty closed mind, thinking that USNA would probably be a better choice for me, but was surprised to find that many aspects of civilian universities really appealed to me. I had never really thought too much about ROTC, but the more I hear about it, the more it interests me. One of my primary concerns about attending Annapolis is that I don't feel I would have much free time and I wouldn't be able to allot time to studying, eating, exercising etc. the way I would like to and would be able to on my own at a regular college. I am a very independent person, and while I can take orders, I would prefer to mandate my own schedule. I'm also not sure if I would like to be in "military-mode" 100% of the time, as I would at USNA.

    In short, I'm hesitant to attend USNA only because I don't want to regret missing out on a traditional college experience.

    Does ROTC sound like a better option for me? Can any USNA students/alums speak to the amount of free time they had/socializing they did while at the academy? Did you get to make many of your own choices? What are some of the benefits of attending a service academy over ROTC? I would also appreciate the same input from anyone who has done or is currently in ROTC.

    Thank you so much for your time.
    Evan
     
  2. Craig

    Craig Member

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    When my DD visited UNC a few years she spoke to a LT that was a USNA grad. Her advice was to focus on the end goal (butter bars). Both advantages and disadvantages. You have to determine the experience which is best for you. I went NROTC years ago. Most my friends that stayed in made O-6 or higher. It comes down to performance once you hit the fleet. USNA grads are part of a brotherhood that is unique. USNA opens many doors when you get out, but so can a good University.


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  3. kdog15g

    kdog15g Member

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    Hey if you want to be successful you have to be so engaged that you forget to eat and sleep.


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  4. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Can't speak to USNA. I can tell you my DS felt like you and did not finish his USNA application. He enrolled in NROTC without a scholarship and was awarded a Marine Option scholarship during his sophomore year. He has free time although as he progresses it becomes less and less as his responsibilities in the Battalion increases. He loves it though. His academic major is History but if truth be told it's really NROTC because that's his passion. I think he made the right decision because I don't think he had the math skills necessary to make it through the Academy. He's smart but was never a math person.
     
  5. Evan711

    Evan711 Member

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    Thank you all for your responses. Hopefully, after visiting USNA, my best path toward becoming an officer will become clearer to me.
     
  6. nuensis

    nuensis USNA 2016

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    Academically, I'd say USNA stands ahead of many universities. Maybe not in rankings or reputation, but I daresay I'm having a better academic experience here than what I would have had back at UC Berkeley or UCLA.

    Why? My largest class is some 20 people. A general chemistry class at a UC has what, hundreds of students? Most of my classes have less than twenty, some of them have less than ten. That means some serious quality time with a professor. No TAs either. Academic help is everywhere, and present at some pretty crazy hours of the night. The academics are tough, but you are absolutely not left to dry.

    Curious about a service community? Every Navy community and almost all Marine Corps communities are represented here. Officer and enlisted. Senior and junior. Decided after Leatherneck that you would rather be a member of the (sub)Marine Corps? You're not locked in.

    USNA prepares Special Operations and Special Warfare candidates extremely well.

    USNA is high profile. Opportunities to interact with some very important people are frequent.

    Yes, there are a multitude of things that are annoying and don't make sense. But ultimately, they are insignificant. In return for a little bit of misery, we are afforded an outstanding academic program and professional development opportunities that are second to none.

    Sure, all officers are Ensigns when they graduate, and the individual will determine his own success or failure, but the USNA does quite a bit to set you up for success. Some midshipmen take full advantage of the program and some midshipmen skate by and waste their four years, but the opportunities are there. If you think you'll really be the same level of officer as everyone else by skating by and meeting the bare minimums in ROTC, you'll be wrong there too.

    A more direct answer to your question:

    Free time: I'm typing a long response on an internet forum, so I must have some free time.

    Choices: Not sure what this one is supposed to mean. I get to use my favorite brand of toothpaste. There's mandatory events frequently, but it's not like I have better things to do (other than sleep).

    Socializing: Depends on your definition. No frat parties here. Civilian universities in the area if you're looking for a party. Otherwise, plenty of chances to rub elbows with movers and shakers, civilian and military, from all fields and disciplines.

    You might regret not experiencing a traditional college lifestyle and missing out on all those college parties. But what if you regret not experiencing the service academy experience and missing out on all of the opportunities afforded to USNA midshipmen?

    Congratulations, you are at a fork in the road. Maybe your first really big one. Think hard.
     
  7. LTSackett

    LTSackett Member

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    After college...

    You should consider the end game, just not college vs. Academy, but what comes after. If you don't like having your schedule mandated and like having free time, then you're probably not going to enjoy 5+ years in the Navy or Marine Corps. You will definitely be in military-mode 100% of the time, for months or years at a stretch, with few or no opportunities to set your own schedule. Being stationed stateside, you may have evenings and weekends off from time to time, but while deployed, either on a ship or overseas on the ground, you might find yourself on duty for four hours, off for four hours, then back on for anther four, repeating for weeks, if on a sub, or doing patrols in the desert in 130 degree heat for 10 days at a stretch with maybe two hours of sleep a day, and one five minute shower once in two weeks. Not to mention getting shot at, etc.

     
  8. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    People are motivated by either results or comfort.

    Based on your thinking ("I don't want to regret missing out on a traditional college experience"), it's a no-brainer: NROTC it is. USNA is for somebody else.
     
  9. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    From what you have described... ROTC. Bur realize that even in ROTC your schedule will be heavily driven by it. PT, labs, drill, etc will drive most of your schedule. Both are good choices... Pick what will set you up for the most success. Also realize beyond plebe year the schedule at USNA is what you make of it. There is always time for things you find most important. Time management is the key to success anywhere, I think USNA is like the crash course honors edition.
     
  10. Evan711

    Evan711 Member

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    Thanks again for the lengthy responses :smile: Nuensis, what I mean by choices is the freedom to use my own time how I want to use it, as someone attending a regular college would. I'm not sure how much I would enjoy being told when I have to study, when I have to eat, when I have to attend a sporting event, and other general things that would mandate my schedule. LTSackett brings up a good point, however: I will have to put up with all of those things anyway after commissioning. I believe I would be alright with that for a few years, I just am thinking right now that I would rather experience the many freedoms that a civilian university has to offer beforehand instead of already having them restricted for 4 years.

    How exactly do nights off at the academy work? USNA is very vague about how many weekends off an upperclassmen gets each semester.
     
  11. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    They are mostly how you use them. Dinners are optional most of the time. Usually a 1.5-2 hour block you can eat when you want. There are a few places to eat pizza and sandwiches if you want. Once classes are done there is a sports or drill period. Sometimes you have a sport or drill... Others you don't. So some days you are free after your class to do whatever it is you want, work out, sleep, clubs, watch tv in the wardroom, video games. As a senior you could even have town liberty. Liberty and weekends increase each year you are there. Senior year you probably have liberty 4-5 nights a week. Weekends probably close to every one of them you don't have watch. Junior year is probably half of that. Sophomore year is Saturday and Sunday liberty (sometimes Friday) and 1-2 (can earn more) weekends a year. There is an allotted study period, but no one is going to hold your hand and tell you to study. There are sometimes lectures at night that are mandatory, but those occur about 1/month. Especially after plebe year there is free time, but it's what you do with it and put as priorities. Also, don't believe you will be alright for a few years. You need to know or you will hate active duty life. Being at sea for 6 months is more regimented than USNA and less time to yourself.
     
  12. Evan711

    Evan711 Member

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    NavyHoops, thank you, that was very helpful. It doesn't seem quite as restricted as I imagined before.
     
  13. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Have you done a CVW? If you get the chance make sure to talk to upperclassman as well as plebes. That is critical to understanding USNA not just plebe year only. It's good you are asking yourself if this is right for me and end up at the right place for yourself.
     
  14. COmom

    COmom Member

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    Lot's of good advice so far and especially NavyHoops' last line. Daughter did NROTC, son is at USNA, other son wants nothing to do with the military. :smile:
     
  15. Evan711

    Evan711 Member

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    I'm going to the CVW in April this year!:smile:
     
  16. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Well, there you go! So after the CVW should have enough information, or at least probabaly all you're going to get, to make an informed decision. Good luck with it and be sure to let us know how it all turned out. I don't want to miss the end of the movie! :thumb:
     
  17. shellyswimwvu

    shellyswimwvu New Member

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    Nrotc vs usna

    My son has received his appointment to the USNA and has also received a full scholarship to MIT NROTC. He is struggling with the decision. Is there anyone out there who has a child attending MIT through NROTC that could speak to the experience? We have several friends in the NA and so we have an excellent idea of what to expect there, still a little in the dark about life at MIT as a NROTC student.
     
  18. colinmcd

    colinmcd Member

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    Wow, congrats to your son. Seems like you have a very intelligent son, be proud of him because many would love to be in his shoes. MIT and USNA, tough decision but both great schools. Let us know what he eventually decides.
     
  19. Seawings18

    Seawings18 Member

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    I had to make the infamous decision between which route to take (SA vs ROTC) and I chose to go the latter route. I didn't apply for the Academy but didn't consider ROTC my main choice until the end of my junior year. From my perspective, if you make a career in the military or leave early to pursue civilian endeavors, your choice of college may not make any difference. For example, two Naval Aviators leave the service to work for the airlines. The airlines would hire the pilots based off of their aviation related credentials (hours, types of aircraft flown, commands held, etc) not where they went to college. So if one were an Academy grad and the other were from ROTC/ OCS, their commissioning source wouldn't have an influence on their chances of being hired, their proficiency at their skill would. This is similar to two career officers leaving the service after twenty years, regardless of service selection(SWO, sub, etc). In most cases, alma mater wont matter; performance will. Throughout one's entire Naval career it is performance which will help you progress, not which school you went to, and this will also be the case for those transferring out of the military with a directly transferable skill (like aviation) after decades of service. Now, if one "fives and dives" it may fall in ones favor to have gone to the SA, on account of the high reputation over most other universities. There are many ways to compare the two and not everything I have said will hold true at all times; it is solely my perspective. The most appealing factor to me about NROTC was the traditional American college experience, which is the case with most in my situation. Wishing you the best of luck in your decision.
     
  20. shellyswimwvu

    shellyswimwvu New Member

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    Thank you for your information. He does really need to decide how he wants to live the next 4 years. Encouraging him to go on a CVW.
     

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