The commission path can matter, but as with most things in life it’s what you do with the opportunities presented that matters. You can go to a top tier university and take advantage of that opportunity, or you can “... go through life fat, drunk, and stupid.” You can go to West Point and take advantage of the opportunities, or become cynical and spend your time on Yodel complaining about everything and everyone.
West Point does give you more leadership opportunities. I think they probably spend more money on field training your Beast summer than is spent on an ROTC Cadet over four years.
In ROTC you may occasionally get a leadership opportunity, but they are fewer. I will be especially interested to see how it pans out for graduating ROTC seniors this year who did not have advanced camp, their one real leadership opportunity, this past summer. It’s not just that they didn’t get the leadership opportunity, but that means of evaluating and filtering out ROTC Cadets did not exist this year.
At West Point there is more control over the “student body”. That can be a good thing, teaching you discipline and giving you left and right “guide rails”. Or it can be a bad thing sending you out in the world at the age of 21ish with your first taste of “freedom”. Depends on who you are.
West Point gives you the opportunity to attend military schools that are not available to ROTC Cadet, or at least much rarer. Things such as SCUBA school, Chilean Mountain school, Air Assault school... the list goes on of schools and training opportunities, some that I never heard of even on active duty.
On the flip side civilian schools give you education opportunities that may not be available to a West Point Cadet or at least much more competitive. My nephew, a NROTC Cadet, spent time in China becoming fluent in Chinese over a couple summers and after graduation. I don’t know that he would have gotten permission at a SA to do that. I spent a semester abroad studying German at a civilian university in spite of less than stellar grades. I was going through life fat, drunk and stupid at that point and wouldn’t have gotten a spot with my grades at a SA.
This is by no means a complete comparison between the differences. Just some that have struck me seeing both sides.
So which path produces the best officers? It depends on who you are and what you accomplish with the tools you’re given.