Weighing My Options: ROTC vs. SMC vs. AFA

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by cgsdawgs, Apr 26, 2016.

  1. cgsdawgs

    cgsdawgs Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am planning to study meteorology in college and would like to become a weather officer in the Air Force. My 5 top schools right now (I am a Junior) are Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Penn State, Oklahoma, and the Air Force Academy. First two are SMC's, Next two would be ROTC-only, and AFA is of course a service academy.

    I think I can be competitive for an ROTC scholarship or to get into the AFA
    Pros for AFA:
    No cost.
    Guaranteed commission
    Likely best preparation for a successful military career as an officer
    Cons for AFA:
    Most difficult academically
    Very strict schedule and uniform requirements
    I did not think I wanted to go to the academy so I did not apply for summer seminar
    Very far from home (I live near DC)
    Pros for SMC:
    Better preparation for military career/leadership
    VT is the only place I can get in-state tuition
    Cons for SMC:
    Strict schedule and uniform requirements
    No guarantee of commission
    Cons for AFA and SMC:
    I am curious about the level of freedom I will have. I am not sure if a regimented schedule fits me as a student. I have developed a great work ethic over the years, as shown by my grades and course load, and I do not think I NEED a strict schedule to help me be successful in school. I don't really party so that is not an issue, but I may want a more traditional college experience.
    Pros for ROTC only:
    More freedom, more traditional college experience
    No strict schedule or uniform requirements
    Cons for ROTC only:
    Not as many leadership opportunities
    No schools where I can get in-state tuition
    No guarantee of commission

    A Few Questions:
    What is the biggest difference between the AFA and a SMC such as Virginia Tech?
    Does a SMC offer any better chance of a commission than only doing ROTC?
    For those who went to an SMC or Academy, what did you like most and least about the strict schedule?
    I hear a lot of people saying if I can get into the AFA, I should go. Would you agree or disagree with this statement?
    What is the chance of receiving a commission from ROTC, and if I do not, are there any options after college which can lead me to becoming an officer?

    Also please let me know if I am misled about any of the information in this post. Thanks!
     
  2. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2014
    Messages:
    1,408
    Likes Received:
    1,047
    Have you visited any of these schools yet?
     
  3. cgsdawgs

    cgsdawgs Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Visited VT, going to an info session for PSU in a couple weeks and planning to visit in the next month or so, Visiting Texas A&M in 3 weeks, Went to the Air Force Academy to visit my cousin about 7-8 years ago
     
  4. frenzymando

    frenzymando Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2015
    Messages:
    750
    Likes Received:
    136
    For a SMC you are guaranteed an active duty slot. You can also choose to go into the reserves, but if you want an active duty slot you will get one.

    Do you care what you major in? For Texas A&M you aren't gaurenteed the major that you want. At USAFA you are. For example, if you want to be a mechanical engineer, it is highly likely that if you go to Texas A&M you will get rejected if you apply to become a mechanical engineer, about 75% of people do. That being said, Texas A&M is one of the best schools in the country for many engineering majors as well as other majors.

    If you go to USAFA and decide you decide you don't like it within the first month you can just leave and go to another school, no harm, no foul (though that is probably not the best mindset to be heading into USAFA with). If I were you I would at least try it and see what happens.
     
  5. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2014
    Messages:
    1,408
    Likes Received:
    1,047
    If finances are an issue, TAMU offers an arrangement for nearly in-state tuition if you are entering the Corps of Cadets. And like VTech, it is a larger college where you will receive the "combo" military/normal environment.

    Just reading your post seems to indicate to me that AFA may not be a good fit. My DS was accepted to The Citadel but had a similar desire for a regular college. He is doing well where he is at. Whether or not he finishes and commissions is entirely up to his effort. None of your choices are a guaranteed commission - it has to be earned...even at USAFA.
     
  6. cgsdawgs

    cgsdawgs Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    I want to major in meteorology, which I do not think is extremely popular
     
  7. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,809
    Likes Received:
    956
    ALL AFROTC grads will be guaranteed AD upon commissioning, You can request reserve, but it must be cleared and it is not guarantee like it is with AROTC. Basically you have to be asked to be RELEASED from ADAF.

    Does not matter if you commission from an SMC or ROTC that is the AFROTC way, just like NROTC.
     
    frenzymando and AROTC-dad like this.
  8. cgsdawgs

    cgsdawgs Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Finances are not an issue, my parents do have plenty of money set aside for me to go to college. If I get some sort of scholarship or go to a less expensive school, they said they would give me some of that money to invest how I want, so I am taking that into consideration.

    So essentially your chances of commission from ROTC or SMC completely depend on how well you do in school and as a leader? Is this correct? This is great news. The desire to compete for an ROTC scholarship has greatly increased my work ethic in high school, and I have no problem working harder if it gets me to where I want to be in life
     
  9. cgsdawgs

    cgsdawgs Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is what I originally thought, but I have read a couple things which seem to me say that not all ROTC cadets will commission upon completion. Is this wrong? What are some reasons why somebody may not receive a commission after ROTC?
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,809
    Likes Received:
    956
    cgsdawgs,

    IMPO this is all moot right now. Have you investigated the appointment process? You are from VA and VA is insanely competitive for MOC nominations, and a big part of that is going to be reliant upon your PAR (Prior Academic Record) + your ECs. Getting 1 nom is normal for candidates. Thus until we know a little more about your background you might be like a dog just chasing your tail.

    I would also look strongly and deeply into the career field of meterology especially from a scholarship perspective. 1 college may declare as a STEM, but AFROTC looking at the curriculum could say it is really non-tech., and that will make it harder from a scholarship perspective since 80-85% go to STEM.
     
  11. cgsdawgs

    cgsdawgs Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    I was planning to post a chance me thread with all info about my academic record and ECs. Would that be good to write up and post now?

    I have already looked into it, and Meteorology/Atm. Science IS considered technical for scholarships. Also weather is listed as a 1.0 on a scale of stressed jobs for officers on a list, but my cousin is currently in the Air Force, and when he found out I was interested in meteorology, he was the one who convinced me to go Air Force, because he said from what he has seen, they need more weather officers.
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,809
    Likes Received:
    956
    A couple of years they did release cadets, especially non-rated because they had too many officers coming down the pipeline. There have been cadets that requested to go Reserve/Guard and have been granted that opt out, but it is more of a rare bird than the norm.

    The true con, be it at an SMC or a typical college is you MUST be selected for SFT/EAD as a sophomore (AS200). Boards will not take into any consideration if you are on scholarship from a selection perspective. If not selected they may and most likely disenroll you from AFROTC...no commissioning.

    Again, this is all moot until you start taking the real steps. Have you done the PCQ for USAFA? If not you need to get it done. Have you taken your SAT/ACTs already? If so, are you hitting 30+ best sitting? Have you started on the nomination portion...many MoCs will require essays. How about contacting the PE/coach/ALO for the CFA and PFA? Medical records in order?

    Am I scaring you? Good...sorry, but good. I get you want guidance, however, right now if I was your parent, I would say to you this is a year long roller coaster ride filled with pulling you every which way. Notice CFA and PFA...that means you have to do both. 1 for AFROTC and 1 for USAFA, Essays...get ready to be writing your little fingers away...USAFA, MOC and colleges will all be required. Interviews...ALO, MOC, AFROTC CoC. DoDMERB physicals, and G forbid you have any prescriptions (long term) you could be thrown into the world of remedial and waivers.

    My point is it is great to ask these questions, but even if the appointment or scholarship comes down next fall, you have a full year before you have to commit (apptmt). Don't be jumping over the nickels (getting the appointment/scholarship) to pick up the pennies (pros and cons)

    FWIW. My DS chose the AFROTC scholarship over the apptmt. He is an O2 now.
     
    onesooz likes this.
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,809
    Likes Received:
    956
    I do not know what your cousins AFSC (career field) is, but you are talking about 5+ years before you will go ADAF and things change. IE years ago they were in need of nurses, but now they are contracting them out. Bullet retired in 2008 and the majority of the F15E sim instructors were ADAF, now they are almost all government contractors. Heck, they now even have contractors that mission plan.

    I do know for a while they were giving scholarships to AFROTC cadets that stated they would go into meteorology, just don't know if they still are doing that. I would also strongly suggest to enter either AFROTC or USAFA with an open mind when it comes to career fields. Use the beginning years as a cadet with ears and eyes wide open. You might take that degree and decide to go jump ALO or Intel or ABM. What you want now as a 17 yo may totally different than what you enjoy at 19 or 20.

    Good luck, and Above All Aim High!
     
  14. cgsdawgs

    cgsdawgs Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have not taken the SAT or ACT but I am taking the SAT on May 7. I will almost definitely get a 1340+ (Equivalent of 30+ on the ACT)

    I will complete the PCQ now that I know I have interest in the AFA.

    I have done some fitness testing in JROTC (Mile, Shuttle, 1 min push-ups, 1 min curl-ups). I will contact the ALO soon. I am unsure about medical records, but I have no long term prescriptions or issues, so I should be fine with that.
     
  15. cgsdawgs

    cgsdawgs Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have a strong math background, so I am also interested in a few different types of engineering, but meteorology has been my main interest for a very long time
     
  16. goforspaatz

    goforspaatz USAFA c/o 2020

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2015
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    209
    Great that you've decided to pursue these options!! Word of advice about the physical fitness testing - I did the same testing things as you for CAP, it is nothing like the CFA for Service Academies. That is a separate beast you will have to conquer for USAFA...look it up online and start working on the various portions. Also, for AFROTC, the run is 1.5 miles, which again will be different than what you're used to. Look these up and start training for them - it will help you down the road!
     
  17. Dckc88

    Dckc88 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2015
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    320
    If you decide on going the traditional college route, then an ROTC scholarship can make the out of state or private tuition a non issue. AROTC covers full tuition, fees and books and you can have any major. Others will be more knowledgable about the other branches.
     
    AROTC-dad likes this.
  18. onesooz

    onesooz Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    41

    Meteorology is considered a technical major for AF ROTC at VT. My DS is a scholarship recipient and that's his major.
     

Share This Page