Why We Choose the Major that We Did

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by Thompson, May 30, 2014.

  1. Thompson

    Thompson Member

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    Originally I was going to post this as part of another thread, but I felt like this deemed it's own separate thread.

    A lot of kids come into college, particularly ROTC, with the mindset of what should I major in that will give me the greatest chance at job X in Service Y?

    Instead, I think you should base your major on what you want to do. Picture a life AFTER the Service, or (and heaven forbid) if ROTC doesn't work out (medical DQ, not liking it, etc etc). What would want to do outside the Military?

    Too many kids come into college saying I want to major in X, or Y. Which is great that they have an idea. But that's just it, it's an idea. They don't have an end goal in sight, they "think" they want to do something because it sounds good, or it makes a lot of money. It's more of a shallow/superficial reason, than a concrete/deep one.

    Which of course, there's nothing wrong with that. But the trend I'm starting to see, especially in the STEM world (notorious in the engineering side of the house) is that kids drop their majors 1st semester of college. And I've thought about why this happens; trust me, I've had many a long nights to ponder this.

    Personally, I think it comes down to lack of an end goal and motivation.

    Prime example: engineering.

    X: So, why do you want to become an engineer?
    Y: Oh, because. I'm good at math and science.
    X: Cool. Any idea what you want to do once you graduate?
    Y: No.

    Now, there's nothing wrong with both responses by person Y, let's get that straight. Plenty of kids come in with that mindset, and graduate as an engineer. But lets talk about the mast majority.

    You see, a lot of kids don't realize that big differences between high school and college. Courses will become much harder, and a lot more effort is required to do well in them, where there's a lot more to juggle and time management becomes key to success. And again, that's sort of hard to comprehend until you've gotten there and done it.

    Then you combine that with a lack of an end goal in sight and motivation, it can be real easy to say, "You know what, screw it I'm done. I'm going to switch to something easy." Believe me, there were a lot of nights that I felt that way ...

    A lot of kids on my ROTC dorm floor started out engineering and quickly switched out as the weeks progressed, because of that formerly mentioned statement. Only a few of us remain today.

    Personally, I think it comes from the mind and heart. It comes from the drive and passion that no one can give you, but yourself.

    Believe me, it will get harder as you progress (especially engineering), and it wont get any easier out in the real world either. But, if you have that passion, the drive and dedication to see it through no matter how tough the going gets, you can do it.

    As Travis Haley (well known & respected individual in the firearms community) put it, "The more you care about something, the deeper the fight will come from within." The more you care about the major that you choose, the more determination you will have to see it through all 4 years.

    Personal example: I'm studying engineering because it's something I want to do after Army. After Army, I want to work in the firearms industry to develop and test firearms; to build exceptionally reliable products for the next generation of Warfighters, Law Enforcement Officers, and the responsibly armed Citizen. I'm all for the 2nd Amendment and guns; my passion resides with firearms. I've had a lot of looooonnnng nights, but for me this is my passion. And it was my passion that got me through. This is want I want to do.

    Fortunately for me, I have some amazing relatives and some of the old timers here to help me come to grasp with reality.

    And I hope this does for you too.

    One last thing to keep in mind, this is just my own opinion based on my experiences and the things I've seen. I'm sure a lot of folks will agree and disagree with this. But I figured this was worth putting out there.

    If anyone has anything to add, feel free.

    Best of luck.
     
  2. mbitr

    mbitr Member

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    I think that's great advice for the majority of Cadets who simply lack the experience to make an informed, long term career decision. Unless you've been in the Army for a few years already, you really aren't going to know how well it suits you regardless of how drawn to it you are. For those whose only goal is to be a soldier in a particular branch or component, you need to educate ourself on the nuts and bolts of how the accessions process works. If college is just a check the box on the way to your goal, then choose the path that will best take you there.
     
  3. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    It is great advice, and I agree with Mbit, but I will t(make it one step pass that post.

    Many times it is the parental input during the college application process

    Parent:: Johnny/Janie what major are you going to check
    J/J: I don't know, there are so many to chose from
    Parent: Well, you have never received anything less than a B in your Math and Science classes, you got a 700M/34 ACT M, you should go Engineering. This way you can work for Companies like Lockheed Grumman when you leave
    J/J: Yeah, that makes sense.

    Never, unless they are a child of an engineer did they realize how hard STEM is even for the kid that took all APs.
    ~~~ I tell this story all the time. VT sets up registrar tables outside of only one building during finals. The engineering building because so many drop it makes easier on the school to send people from the office than having their office clogged with engineering students.

    Only one of my kids started and ended with their intended major. Our AFROTC child. Not because of the scholarship, but because he loved his major in HS (GOVT). Our 2nd entered with a Psych major, graduated English and is now a fellow in grad school for a Master in Education. Our 3rd entered as Govt., fell in love with mandated Chemistry and is now a STEM, Chem major.

    JMPO, but sometimes, we as parents with great intentions maybe part of the reason too why they walked down the path.

    OBTW colleges are to blame too. Many will give merit scholarships for a specific major, especially STEM. Nobody thinks about why they do it, they just see the $$$$ signs. It is the same reason ROTC scholarships exist....RECRUITMENT tool. If the applicant has to choose between two schools, and with the cost of college education, many will choose the one that costs less money out of their pocket. This in turn increases the caliber of their students, and their NAME.

    College is a business. If it wasn't those glossy brochures and websites wouldn't exist. If it wasn't the multi million/billion dollar endowments would not exist, and the avg kid graduating wouldn't be 30k in student loan debt.

    Thompson, I am not picking on you, but I recall when you were in HS. You applied AFROTC, PSU and UMDCP. Why did you go AROTC PSU? Was it not in part that AROTC put their money where their mouth was and AFROTC didn't match that financial number? Just saying parents may indirectly point kids into a degree or school, without realizing the impact their child will endure for the next X amount of years.

    Intentions were good, but in the end most of the time it does come down to money, and that starts at college, not necessarily earnings after college.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2014
  4. sheriff3

    sheriff3 Member

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    DS's friend in AROTC just finished his freshmen year in the engineering program and did not do to well. He was accepted to WP for the upcomming school year and changed his major to econ. He is a sharp young man and had all the high test scores to prove it. Engineering will rock most kids world if they are not totally dedicated to it. Study what interests you and you will do fine.:thumb:
     
  5. Thompson

    Thompson Member

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    Pima - towards the end of my senior year I realized what I wanted to do after the Military - firearms engineer. That more so aligns with Army than AF, job-wise in the Service. That and combined with the fact that I did get my AROTC scholarship to PSU, and simply that I've always loved the Army since I was a kid - pushed me to that decision.

    UMP-CP was never an option since I got rejected. Drexel is located in a city (and it costs 60k per year), not a big fan of city life, so Drexel was out of the option.

    This left PSU and ERAU - Daytona Beach. Since at that point I had decided on Army, PSU was the winner hands down, since it has a stronger program. And well since, if I wanted to go home a weekend/family wants to come up, that could happen from PSU ... not so much ERAU.
     
  6. Vista123

    Vista123 Member

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    +1
     
  7. cajuncarrier

    cajuncarrier Member

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    Also too, many high school students just don't know what all of the options are out there. Guidance counselors, no matter how good they are at their jobs, just don't know everything for every profession. And, new fields are popping up everyday. That is why it is a great idea for students to shadow students, go to job fairs, attend informational days at colleges, etc.

    DD is a senior in high school and just shadowed a biological engineer for a day during her spring break. What she saw she liked. She got a little more understanding of the various directions a biological engineer can take. However, she has always wanted to be a vet. So she will probably begin as a biological engineering student and will see where that will take her, since you can't apply for vet school until you are a junior in college anyway.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, that most high school students don't truly know until they get there. It is a great idea to have some goal in mind but remember that there is nothing wrong with changing majors if it isn't right for you. I'm an educator. So my kids know about the importance of doing something you love. Because, believe me, I don't make the big $$$$. but at least they know I love my job and am happy. Great advice from all!!
     
  8. Ilikeplanes

    Ilikeplanes New Member

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    I came in to college with a Critical Language major that I didn't really see myself doing anything with after graduation. I was somewhat interested in it, but I could never see myself being a translator or diplomat for the rest of my life. My real passion is flying, but they don't have a major at my school for flying so I do that on the side at local airports. I only picked the language major to look more competitive for the boards for FT and Pilot. I got a pilot slot (hours help a lot) and as a rising senior, I don't mind doing the school work for a major I'll never use. Its a means to an end the way I see it.
     
  9. Sigma4

    Sigma4 New Member

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    Hi! (First post. WOOH!)

    So, I'm about to begin the application process for NROTC, and I'm facing many of the same issues brought up in earlier posts. I'm really torn between selecting engineering, a field which I have doubts about studying, and political science/government, which I'm far more passionate about.

    Anyways, I've got a few questions:
    How much easier is it to earn a NROTC scholarship if you check the engineering box? I know the whole "85%" line, but how many kids actually stay in engineering?

    Is it better to choose engineering, then switch to a tier 3 later on (though it may harm college gpa)?

    Also, how related is major selection to the school? For instance, if I study foreign policy at an in-state public school (in this case VA) are my odds better than choosing the same major at an out-of-state private school?
     
  10. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    You already know the answer to your first question. As you point out 85% will be Tier I or II majors. The 85% says it all.

    To change majors after winning a scholarship from a Tier I or II to a Tier III requires permission. If, unlike most people in the Navy, you can actually walk on water you might get that permission, otherwise it is highly unlikely. Not impossible but very unlikely. Most people I know of in that situation attempt to switch their major and also switch to Marine Option but that still requires approval which may not be given. I wouldn't plan on changing majors after entry into the program. However, if you're in serious academic trouble it might serve as a last gasp measure to remain in the program.

    I'm assuming your last question regarding the major is with respect to winning the scholarship and not acceptance by the school. My understanding of the process for NROTC is that the scholarship is awarded first and then the school assignment is made after. So school selection for any major has no impact on the scholarship award. The major of course does impact the scholarship award.

    My advice is to follow your passion. If you're stuck in a major your not interested in, it will be a long four years and you will probably not perform well academically or in NROTC. Unfortunately it's something you have to sort out.

    Of course if you're going Marine Option, they don't really care what your major is so, again, go with your passion because it makes absolutely no difference.

    Hope this is helpful.
     
  11. Sigma4

    Sigma4 New Member

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    Hmm, I still feel caught between a rock and a hard place. I plan on going Navy Option, which seems to be making things more difficult, as far as applying goes. As of the current moment, I may end up choosing a Tier 3 and risk not getting a scholarship than going Tier 1 and not liking it at all.
     

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