Will declaring a Mandarin Chinese major help or hurt chances of an AFROTC scholarship

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by tiffw, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. tiffw

    tiffw New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    I was talking to an AFROTC recruiter from a particular college today, and we had a short discussion about major selection. My son was planning on declaring an Electrical Engineering major in hopes of getting an AFROTC scholarship. But the recruiter mentioned that certain foreign languages are highly sought-after, one of them being Mandarin Chinese.

    My son has been very interested in learning Mandarin for a long time, and it's got us thinking about the possibility of pursuing Mandarin rather than Electrical Engineering in college. However, he really wants to try and get an AFROTC scholarship.

    So my question is this -- will his chances of getting an AFROTC scholarship be better or worse if he were to declare a Mandarin Chinese major rather than an Electrical Engineering major? Thanks!
     
  2. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,796
    Likes Received:
    930
    The 1st question you should be asking is what career path he wants. AFROTC commissioned, be it scholarship or not he will OWE 4 yrs.

    The 2nd question you should be asking is if Chinese is considered a critically manned field or would it be considered just another non-tech?
    ~~~ Big deal, in more ways than 1.

    AFROTC requires foreign language, if I recall correctly it is 12 credits. If he declares it with the school, it maybe a perk.
    Finally, as most know this is my pet peeve.

    I get the college payment thing, but the fact is a large majority, more than 50% never commission. If you can't afford the last 2 yrs at the dream college walk away now, or accept tons of loans.

    If you accept an AFROTC scholarship, be prepared if you want to change the major they can revoke the scholarship.

    The Devil is in the details
     
  3. Packer

    Packer Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    1,877
    Likes Received:
    5
    Forget about the scholarship for a bit. What does your son want to do? Assuming he completes AFROTC and commissions (it is not a given) what does he want to do in the AF? When he gets out of the AF, in perhaps as few as 4 years, what does he want to do? If selecting the major only to try and get the scholarship it may be a long and difficult road.
     
  4. dunninla

    dunninla Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Messages:
    1,866
    Likes Received:
    5
    Indeed, but it does need to be taken into consideration for non-scholarship reasons. For example, what if OP's DS wants to be a pilot? Engineering might just remove him from UPT consideration, as I believe PIMA wrote was the case this past year. If Engineering = NO UPT = No pilot, then that is a significant factor in choice of major.
     
  5. Packer

    Packer Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    1,877
    Likes Received:
    5
    Agreed. What if he wants to be a pilot but does not get selected? What else does he want to do? If one can not stand the thought of working in the electrical engineering field, or whatever one does with a degree in Mandarin Chinese (there are many things) then he probably should not major in those things.
    I fully understand the scholarship considerations but getting the scholarship could prove easier than keeping the scholarship and thus the commission.
     
  6. tiffw

    tiffw New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Those are great thoughts, thanks everyone.

    Bottom line, he was really thinking of declaring Electrical Engineering because it was on the high priority scholarship list. And honestly, he has no interest there, so I think the decision has been made.

    His first priority is trying to become a pilot, so the engineering thing may (or may not) be nothing more than a challenge in getting to what his real end goal is. If he didn't pursue a career in Air Force, he probably would try to get into the FBI or something in intelligence, so it seems more and more that a foreign language major might be the best choice for him.

    Worst case scenario, we can deal with paying tuition if necessary, as he is completely committed to pursuing a career in the Air Force. But the scholarship would be a great bonus in helping us get him through school! So we hope the Mandarin Chinese major won't be a downside in applying for the scholarship, vs the original plan of engineering.
     
  7. Moosestache

    Moosestache Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2012
    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    0
    This may sound like a really dumb statement, but I'm not sure you could pick two more completely different possible major choices. Whichever choice he makes, he will have to excel in that course of study. I don't know any of his background, but it certainly sounds like he is throwing poop against the wall to see what sticks, ie, trying to find a major to get into the USAF, rather than find a major he likes and will excel at.

    Sort of sounds like a recipe for disaster to me, but I really don't know any of the details.
     
  8. dunninla

    dunninla Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Messages:
    1,866
    Likes Received:
    5
    ^ well, I don't think we know enough about OP's son to know. I agree that picking a major based upon exogenous factors (which is better for securing a scholarship) is a recipe for probable failure. One can technically force oneself to do well in a major in which one has no prior interest (it is always possible to warm up to a major), but it's an uphill battle for four years. There truly aren't many students who have that high a capability for self-denial, at least not for that long a period.
     
  9. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,054
    Likes Received:
    377
    Ditto dunn.

    Mandarin is tough. My DS spent 9 mos. in Taiwan going to a no English School, living with a no English Family.

    Assuming you have a degree in Mandarin, your marketability as anything other than a teacher of English to native Chinese speakers will be defined by the balance of your skill/academic set. Just look at the huge numbers of Chinese STEM grad and undergrad students.

    Would suggest sticking to STEM and take Mandarin classes. If the military values the Mandarin, they will catch you up with where you need to be. This past summer DS was in Ukraine studying Russian with Project GO. One of his best pals was an AROTC cadet, minoring in Russian because he really liked it.
     
  10. SoleTrain

    SoleTrain Must be the Kicks

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Mandarin Chinese is really, really hard. I don't know if it's a language the Air Force is really going gaga over like Russian or not but it's definitely one of the most difficult languages to major in. Nothing's impossible, just know it isn't a cakewalk.

    Building off what Pima said, your son would likely lose his scholarship if he changed majors (unless he changed to a tech major the AF wants or something). If he goes up for an EA and fails than he'll be on the hook to either pay back his scholarship or enlist. That's a pretty massive commitment.

    I'm only saying this because over the 3 semesters I've been in AfROTC I've seen this happen so much. Cadets major in Aero or Elec engineering, russian, etc. just to nab a scholarship and end up biting off way more than they chew. Then their GPAs tank, and if they fail to get EAs. That sucks.

    If your son is just ready to dedicate his life to learning Mandarin (where the classes are what, 5 or 6 credits each?) and drop everything else, then go for it. But I wouldn't do it just to get a scholarship.

    Not trying to scare ya, just inform ya :redface:

    If he's doing ROTC with the true desire to commission as an officer rather than get the bill paid, he just major in what he enjoys.
     
  11. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,054
    Likes Received:
    377
    Correction

    Should have read "AFROTC" cadet, not "AROTC". Apologies.
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,796
    Likes Received:
    930
    tiffw,

    Reality check time right now.

    Currently EE is classified as a critically manned field.
    ~~From a scholarship and SFT selection point he has better chances.
    ~~ From a rated selection perspective he WILL NOT go to UPT or UNT. Reason why is they need EE's, and the AF gave him that scholarship not to be a pilot, but for his college degree as an EE.

    It may change 5 yrs. from now, but beware if he was to commission this yr he would not get a rated slot. These are kids that applied/received scholarship 5-6 yrs ago when EE grads did get rated, only to find out manpower shut them out 3-4 yrs in, where they still owe at least 4 yrs.

    Let's leave the chances of winging out of the equation, but to be brief, basically he has to clear the SFT hurdle, the AFSC board, IFS, and UPT. On a very good day, you are looking at maybe a 50-50 chance. The only 100% thing he will have after SFT is he will owe 4 yrs ADAF.

    Now, let's assume he gets UPT and wings. Does he realize he will be @36 yo when he will get the 1st chance to leave? 5 yrs for engineering in college. Typically there is a 1 yr lag time for UPT. He is now 24. 1 yr at UPT. Once winged, you owe 11 yrs., now he is 36.

    That is basically 20 yrs from now. Kids see things differently when you say you will be 36...it is now OMG, I am old, my life is almost over! :shake:

    As I always say the devil is in the details, and those are the details he needs to understand. FYI, I would really sit down with him if he wants to be 22 or 35 pilot. Basically, in the AF for those that wing every yr, it is a 5% chance to get any fighter, and for those airframes, it is @1%. Yet, the 11 yr commitment is the same for all of them.

    Why do candidates also go tech, besides a higher chance for a scholarship?
    ~ If they want to become a Test Pilot or go to NASA, you must have an engineering degree. It is a flat fact. Thus, the long term goal regarding flying is tied to that career path.

    Our DS was AFROTC scholarship, non-tech and got a UPT slot, so if it is the fear that non-techs can't get one, that is a fallacy.

    Reality is as a non-tech he will have to carry a higher cgpa, and do well on the TBAS for his AFSC OML as a C300 (jr yr).

    AFROTC scholarships require 4 semesters of foreign language, he could minor in Mandarin and that will allow him to have the both of best worlds regarding marketability.

    However, remember if he commissions, it will be no sooner than 4 1/2 yrs before he could enter the market place, and what his big asset will be regarding many companies, is not only his military experience, but his security clearance. Clearances cost tens of thousands of dollars, last for 5 yrs. He might only have a minor in Mandarin, but that minor will fill that square, and the clearance will fill another, while his military experience fills a third compared to Joe Shmoo regarding the FBI that only has corporate experience.

    I would suggest he majors in a major he loves. As stated before by SoleTrain, the fastest way to not commission is being in a major you dislike. Kids cut classes in college IMPHO for 1 of 2 reasons:
    1. Hate the major, thus dread the class
    2. Academically it wasn't a match, and their ability to master it never was there in the first place.

    Many kids go engineering because they are mathematically/science inclined, so the folks/GCs lean them that way. Afterall, Govt/Poli-Sci majors are a dime a dozen, what kind of job can they get?

    His degree choice may mean no scholarship, but it means personal happiness. His goal is to join the AF and be a pilot, if that is his fate, than as I said, he will be 36 at the earliest he can bolt. By that time everything he learned in college will be outdated, he will have a Masters, and his military experience will be the asset for employers.

    It is time to talk to him honestly. Ask him if money was no object what would he major in? Kids are aware of the cost. Our DS was the strange duck. He had 4 noms to the AFA, AFROTC scholarship. Feb 1st he got his 1st choice traditional college with merit. Bullet and I never felt the AFA was a good fit for him. We sat him down and asked if money wasn't an issue, and you could get a UPT slot anyway where would you go? He said the college, but AFA is his choice because it wouldn't cost a penny (between his AFROTC and merit) we were still out some pennies. That was a Sat. night, Monday a.m. Bullet and him were in the car for a 5 hr car ride. That afternoon, deposits were made with the bursar. ALO was contacted, and he removed his AFA packet.

    The point is our DS was willing to go somewhere he never wanted to go to, major in something he didn't want to, because he was conscious of the cost and the impact on our family. Our children care as much about us, as we care about them.

    Your DS may be like ours. He may think majoring in something is the best rational option for your family regarding scholarship/financial chances.

    JMPO. Sorry if I stepped on toes.
     
  13. tiffw

    tiffw New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Pima,

    You are awesome. Thanks so much for taking the time to provide such a thorough reply with that much thought and insight. And I sincerely appreciate all the responses you all have given. They're given us much to think about.

    Sure enough, the more we've thought about it, we've realized that it's just not worth chasing the AFROTC scholarship if it means a lifetime of being in a major he doesn't enjoy, or even necessarily have a real aptitude for. So, at this point, we've eliminated the idea of ANY type of engineering degree, and if that costs him a scholarship, then so be it.

    He honestly DOES have a significant interest in learning Chinese, and he will likely put that one down as an option in his applications (probably as a minor). But his true passion lies in flying (he is actually completing his private pilot's license this very week!), and as a result, he'll probably look at an Aeronautics degree of some sort (NOT the engineering side!). His grades are good, he has some great leadership and other background, so we'll hope and pray for a college merit based scholarship to get us through. He's still going to apply for the AFROTC scholarship, but we realize his chances will be lower as a result of his decision.

    But as you mentioned, Pima, and has been brought to our attention by several others, he would probably minimize his chances to really be a pilot if he went the engineering route anyway, considering how badly they are needing the engineering majors to really end up as engineers.

    Bottom line here is that we've really realized as we've hashed through this from every angle, it's more important to set yourself up to be successful in what you truly WANT to do. Life is long, and it would really stink to be stuck as an engineer (or whatever occupation) just because it saved you a few thousand bucks to start with if you hated it for the rest of your life. We'll follow his passion and will live with whatever it brings!
     
  14. gettingmoregrayhair

    gettingmoregrayhair Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have not contributed to this thread earlier because the original post specified AFROTC. Now that the decision seems to be made to pursue the Chinese major, I would ask if son/daughter has considered Navy ROTC and their LREC program? LREC is language, regional expertise and culture. In NROTC this falls within their Tier III majors, only 15% of scholarships are awarded to Tier III majors, so this is very competitive. However it allows the student to major in a program they enjoy, with a desired language as either a major or a minor.

    My daughter received a NROTC LREC scholarship and is majoring in anthropology with a language/culture focus in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies.

    The Navy has pilots too!
     
  15. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Messages:
    7,539
    Likes Received:
    1,002
    As I read through tiffw's latest post I was going to mention NROTC, flying and LREC but gettingmoregrayhair beat me to it. It certainly can't hurt to apply NROTC. If your DS isn't crazy about ships and is in good shape physically, there is always Marine Option, but you have to choose up front. An Aeronautical major (whatever that is as opposed to Aeronautical Engineering which they list separately) is a Tier I major.

    BTW my DS current plan is to complete 18 hours in Arabic prior to graduation (I'll believe it when I see it, but so far he's carrying an A in the first semester of his plan). He's in it for the extra pay. I always have fun asking him "How do you say 'hummus' in Arabic?". :biggrin:

    Good luck to your DS. If the scholarship doesn't come through he should consider entering as a college programmer. NROTC lets you apply for a side load scholarship each semester after you complete the first semester... so second semester of freshman year is when he can first apply. The competition for a scholarship isn't necessarily over if he doesn't get one prior to entry. :thumb:
     
  16. dunninla

    dunninla Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Messages:
    1,866
    Likes Received:
    5
    If I recall correctly from the last time I looked at the NROTC Scholarship mission breakout, LREC is a separate category that might not fall within the 15% limit for non-STEM.

    ** edit ** It appears I am mistaken. Per this Circular from about a year ago: http://www1.netc.navy.mil/nstc/nstc...on Management Strategy Yr 12-13 (20Apr12).pdf 3.a.(1), all Navy Option scholarship types combined need to maintain an 85% (Tier I + Tier II), aka STEM, proportion. That means LREC, which takes up 4% (64/1610) of the scholarship target, takes away from the 15%, meaning that leaves only 11% for non-STEM (Tier III) on Navy Option scholarships.

    Thus, the breakout would be, for NROTC Navy Option Offers (Nurse Option doesn't count)

    64 LREC
    178 Tier III non-LREC
    1,368 Tier I + Tier II

    It appears really difficult indeed to earn a Tier III Navy Option scholarship.

    I just realized how different Navy ROTC is from Army ROTC in importance as a commissioning source, where over 5x as many AROTC commissions are granted vs. those from USMA. In NROTC Navy Option + NROTC Marine Option, the numbers of commissions are about equal to those earned at USNA.

    In the Department of the Army, ROTC produces an overwhelming majority of officers (2012: 5,800 ROTC, 1,050 USMA, +? OCS). Not so in Navy/Marines.

    How is the balance in commission source for Air Force? Is it more like Navy/Marines, where USNA commissions about the same number as NROTC, or is it more like Army, where AROTC dominates the numbers?
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
  17. Packer

    Packer Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    1,877
    Likes Received:
    5
    I had to look it up - funny.:biggrin:
     
  18. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,054
    Likes Received:
    377
    Did DS ever look at Project GO?
     
  19. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Messages:
    7,539
    Likes Received:
    1,002
    Project GO

    Yes, he gave it some consideration, especially since it's available just down the road from us at NC State. However, he prefers working over the summer so he has some jingle jangle in his pocket during the academic year. (His Dad funds tuition, books, fees, room and board. DS funds fun stuff as well as gas for the Jeep Dad is still paying for. :biggrin: ) I'm sure that a summer break from academics was also something that held him back from pursuing it.
     
  20. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,054
    Likes Received:
    377
    He might get sent to an Arabic speaking country to learn. I would think the overseas experience would be valuable to him and to the Marine Corps.

    P.S. still crossing fingers for scholarship.
     

Share This Page