"Best" major for Army ROTC

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by gojack, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. gojack

    gojack .... 5-Year Member

    Jul 1, 2010
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    DS is heading off to college/Army ROTC in the fall, he is thinking seriously about what to major in. Did well, but not exceptional at everything he has studied, never has had to study very hard to get a 3.5 GPA, so far nothing "is all that exciting"... (Much more excited about Army then college)

    -ROTC is telling him GPA is all that counts... DS takes that to mean - take something really easy.

    -He is planning on a military career, but recognizes that it may not work out that way.

    -If he stays in, or gets out, he will probably need/want to go to grad school.

    -Degrees involving current technology; computer science etc, would be quite stale after a 4+ year lapse.

    -The majors that score the best on the GMAT, LSAT, MCAT and GRE are Physics, Math, Engineering and Economics. Which according to the WSJ coincidentally also seem to pay well.

    -Of those he chose Economics, through the college of Art and Sciences, so all economics and math, not a 'business' program.

    -Works out that every semester would be either 16 or 17 total credits (w/a second major in Russian Language)

    Is this a wise course? Any thoughts or suggestions?
  2. Bullet

    Bullet 5-Year Member

    Jan 9, 2008
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    Not every student becomes Valedictorian of his / her HS. Some just "pass the time with the least amount of effort", some are "late bloomers". What will make or break him is how well motivated he becomes in College and how much he enjoys the experience. Also, some (in fact, I guessing most) 17 - 18 year olds DON'T truly know what they want to do in life or study in college. In fact 4 out of 5 switch majors during their college careers. Asking to have his life plan mapped out now is tough -- expecting him to have that answer today is just as tough.

    They're right: grades are the most important thing in his college career as he works towards getting a commission. I take it as: take something you want and be excited to be a part of, which means you'll put in the effort to keep good grades. Also, take something that matches what the Army wants you to take, if you plan to use that degree as part of your Army career. Tough to be an engineer with an English degree. Even tougher to be an Army officer if fail out because you hate your classes. Bottom Line: take what HE wants, but if the Army wants him to get a specific degree for a specific career field, he needs to ask himself again if this is the best fit for HIM.

    Again, 18 years old. I don't expect him to have all the answers on his life's path. And even more realistically, life has a way of throwing curve-balls at you: no one can predict that far into the future as to where he will be 5 years from now, less 10 or 15.

    Yep. A must if he wants to make the Military a career and achieve higher ranks. Nearly as much of a must if he wants to get out and rise in the civilian sector. The good news? If he decides to stay in the military for a while, they can help foot the bill, as long as you agree to extend your service commitment. But if he intends to stay in anyway....

    Maybe. Or maybe his Army career will have him at the cutting edge of those new technologies, applying them in a practical manner (and thus being more valuable to any company wanting to hire him after his Army stint). More importantly, the best companies search out and recruit young men leaving the service, and place them at higher salaries. Why? Well, they can hire ANY kid coming out of college with a fresh new technical degree; they're a dime a dozen. But his LEADERSHIP experience (and again, practical experience) would make him an instant ASSET for ANY company. He would be hired to LEAD those freshly minted engineers, and not just become a part of the new pool of guys writing code...

    Very nice. What if just isn't suited for these majors? What are HIS strengths, and not the selling points of these majors? Again, if he hates his classes and gets bad grades, he most likely won't get those salaries these career fields boast about.

    If he's worried about making himself "marketable" after his career, I would recommend a minor in business instead of Russian. If he's worried about making himself "marketable" to the Army, then minor in Russian. (Better yet, minor in Chinese or Farsi).

    Just the $0.02 of some anonymous internet poster.
  3. dunninla

    dunninla 5-Year Member

    Jan 26, 2010
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    Then he should take freshman year to get a better sense of what actually interests him.

    Not necessarily. Sometimes a very "difficult sounding" major, IF it is of interest to the student, will yield better grades than an "easy sounding" major that the student truly could care less about.

    Either way, GPA is important in OML, and in Grad School applications/Job Interview.

    Maybe. It is not uncommon for a Jr. Officer to go work for Microsoft, or Wallmart, or General Electric, etc. as a middle manager at $100k+ salary and not need any kind of graduate degree.

    Sort of true, but then again, those majors are easily refreshed after only 4-5 years, and the main point of those majors is to teach a person how to work logically and persistently through a problem... to not give up, and to use resources. Those skills stay forever, in Law, Business, Public Service, or as a Stay at home parent.

    You are confusing correlation with causation. It is not the major that makes the student score well on standardized tests, it is in fact the high scorers on standardized tests that are admitted out of high school into those majors in college.

    No problem there.

    That's about normal.

    Sure, as good a choice as any. If during freshman year he decides he would prefer Russian as a major, or Psychology, or English, just switch then.
  4. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent 5-Year Member

    Apr 7, 2009
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    He should study something that he is truly interested in as an undergraduate to optimize his GPA (attitude = 99%). The major tests for admission to grad schools can all be studied for when that time comes. Having the ability to reason and calculate (college calculus will be more than enough) and have a good vocabulary will be all that is necessary coming out of his undergraduate years to be ready to take the tests.

    I agree with staying away from degrees that go stale quickly like CS unless that is his genuine hobby interest (you can keep current outside of the office).

    Business degrees like accounting work fine for many graduate degrees and can be quite valuable in the military.

    Seeing though that he is rather undecided, he needs to design a schedule of courses that allows him to explore possible candidates early on so in the event of a change of heart (very likely) he can change to something more desireable using the other credits to satisfy General Ed requirements.

    Let's say he is not totally turned off by these 3 areas:
    Life Sciences
    Political Science

    For Life Sciences and Business Majors, Calculus will be required, more with Life Sciences, some with Business, and perhaps a single "quantitative reasoning" class in the gen ed requirement for the liberal arts. Calculus is a prerequisite for many Life Science types courses, so it should be taken 1st term.

    Economics will definitely be required for Business and probably for Poli Sci and all Science Majors will need some social science credits in the general ed department. It may be required for other business courses (many require more econ for upper division work depending upon the emphasis).

    A basic Poli Sci class will probably not be required for Business or Life Sciences, so you might not put as high of a priority on it. Plus most liberal arts type degrees don't have long chains of pre-requisites, so if you get a late start on it, it won't pose a threat to graduating in 4 years.

    The point of this discussion here is that your son should evaluate ALL reasonably likely majors and start out with classes oriented towards those with the longest chain of pre-reqs in his first term and fall back to other majors with shorter chains later.

    So for those 3 interests above, a 1st term schedule might look like:

    Calculus for math/science majors (will satisfy all major requirements)
    Biology for Life Science Majors (not the one for liberal arts majors)
    Economics (Generally this is a one size fits all)
    Chemistry (for science majors)
    Poli Sci (the core class for the major)

    In the first term, this student should figure out:
    1) Does s/he have the chops for math/science at this level (many don't)?
    2) Can s/he write well about theoretical ideas such as political theories (some figure out that writing papers isn't their thing)?
    3) Do the theories of money and related issues of finance strike a level of interest?

    I put both bio and chem in the first term because they tend to have long pre-req chains. The calc is probably required for both of them as well. Note that English composition is missing. Hopefully, his/her writing skills will be sharp enough without it to survive an intro social science class.

    With this schedule, the student should be able to eliminate at least one of the 3 areas of exploration, perhaps 2.

    Second semester could be done as follows if s/he cannot decide between 2 areas:

    Life Sciences/Business
    Calc 2
    Bio 2
    Chem 2
    English Composition

    Life Science Poli Sci
    Calc 2
    Bio 2
    Chem 2
    English Comp
    Other Poli Sci Core class (Sociology?)

    Business/Poli Sci
    Calc 2 (if required)
    Accounting Core Class
    English Composition
    Statisitics (if required for Poli Sci - always required for business)
    Core Social Science (like Sociology) for Poli Sci majors

    The concept here is that as you eliminate areas, keep taking core classes in the major area and secondary classes that are required for both areas still under consideration.

    Bottom line is for the undecided major who has to gradutate in 4 years to explore majors based upon keeping the most options open the longest. It may not be optimal for the GPA as weaknesses may be exposed, but this minimizes any possibility of second guessing later on.

    Oh and he should get used to filling out 104R's on a regular basis ;)
  5. gojack

    gojack .... 5-Year Member

    Jul 1, 2010
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    Thanks for all the advice,

    After watching him grow up, I am not expecting any light bulb to go off for him. He is pretty good (never stellar) at everything he try's, math, writing, drafting, art...you name it, and thinks he would be happy doing most jobs. He's very social and seems to be happy doing about anything as long as he is leading the pack so to speak.
  6. singaporemom

    singaporemom 5-Year Member

    Jun 19, 2009
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    Math/Econ combined major is a very marketable path. DS was looking into a Math major for ROTC and spoke with Department Chair at university. His recommendation was Math/Econ. Said that many businesses are now looking for that combination.
  7. jdalv2

    jdalv2 5-Year Member

    Aug 13, 2010
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    I'm starting NROTC this fall and I'm majoring in "Quantitative Economics" or as my school calls it, "Economics & Mathematics."

    I eventually want to end up in business, possibly pursuing an MBA (either during or after my military service) and I've been told that econ/math would be a good degree to lead me on that track.

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