CTLT vs. CULP Decision


Feb 16, 2016
I am currently an MSIII cadet who has good standing on my BN OML, and am interested in both CTLT and CULP, but not sure which to choose from. I am more interested in CTLT.

The application for CULP is before the CTLT slots are offered, so if I apply for CULP and receive it, then that's the boat I will be stuck in. I am fairly confident that I will receive CULP as I am an intermediate-mid level Arabic speaker with good OML standing.

As I said previously, I am more interested in CTLT, as I believe it would be more educational and better prepare myself to become a 2LT. The problem is, if I take the risk and try for CTLT and don't get a slot, I am out of luck for CST besides AC.

My question is, is it worth playing it safe and applying for CULP? or should I hold out and see if I receive a CTLT slot? Thanks for any answers in advance.
Well, my son did both and he thoroughly enjoyed his CULP assignment in Guyana but I can tell you he will say he "got more out of" CTLT. He was lucky enough to be assigned to a Ranger unit which was his first choice....though a completely random assignment as far as I know.
+1 K2.
Talk to your Military advisor. My DS, (also doing well on the OML) is also an MS-III and was considering both CULP and CTLT but was advised that CTLT would be of more value.

You shadow a real Army officer in a real platoon.
For my information, Is there time between your junior and senior year to do more than advanced camp? How do you fit CULP or CTLT in with advanced camp.
My son was fortunate enough to do both. He would say that CTLT probably made him a better officer, but his CULP mission to Liberia made him a better person.
I would recommend choosing CULP over CTLT. CULP is a once in a lifetime experience that you will not get again. While CTLT is more job related and educational, it will not put you ahead of any of your peers when it comes to commissioning or being an officer, and you will get a better experience once you are actually a platoon leader. If your ROTC programs allows it, you should apply for both.
Here is a video one of the cadets did on my son's CULP mission to Guyana. Shows some of the great stuff they were able to do. This was a "military" mission vs a "humanitarian" so they couldn't video during the military portions. The other great thing about CULP is your son will meet cadets from across the country and make lifelong friends.

I've been on both sides of this fence. When I was a cadet, I did both, though my CULP experience was a unique one that is no longer offered. And I've also had a cadet shadow me as a Lieutenant.

I found both programs very beneficial, but for different reasons. My experience with CTLT was very good as the company I was with was understrength on officers and the commander brought me in and treated me as every other platoon leader, pushed me to run ranges, lead the platoon, and other tasks that come with bring a brand new Second Lieutenant. It was a free trial to what I would experience again once I commissioned and I felt it was very beneficial. However, with the cadet that shadowed me, he caught my unit at a bad time for him as we were conducting training that he couldn't lead or participate fully in, and the time on either end of that was summer opportunity leave or recovery that was necessary for an upcoming NTC rotation and deployment. I definitely feel CTLT can be hit or miss, I loved my experience, but I feel bad that the cadet who shadowed me did not get the most fulfilling experience due to the units training cycle.

On the other hand, CULP was a trip to a part of the world I had never been or knew many people that had either. Working with a foreign military for a few months and experiencing foreign culture (though I had been out of the US multiple times before) was very beneficial as a young adult as well.

In the short term, I always felt that CTLT was more beneficial as I had a real, though short, experience of what was expected of me as an Officer. However, now that it's been a few years, I'm a more senior LT, and I find myself out of the United States once again, I think I find CULP to be more beneficial. I'm on a different continent than where I did CULP, but the basic principles of operating in a foreign land with varying cultures, customs, languages, and traditions stands the same. I've watched my peers and my young Soldiers that haven't been outside the US before, struggle to roll with the punches that come with working in austere environments with foreign armies. I credit my CULP experience with my ability to remain flexible and comfortable in those situations.

In short, CULP is very structured and setup to be run exactly as it is planned. On the other hand, CTLT cadets are at the mercy of the unit they're assigned to and though the program has structure, the unit these cadets are assigned to have no say on when or where they show up. So if you catch a unit at the right time, it leads to a beneficial experience. Catch them at the wrong time, and it's more difficult to get them the same experience due to certain requirements that can't be met in 3 weeks.
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