Former Army ROTC PMS Observations regarding ROTC Application Essays

AROTCPMS

Former Army ROTC PMS for Claremont McKenna and USC
5-Year Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
118
Hi Everyone.

Having sat an Army ROTC scholarship board, conducted hundreds of applicant reviews in my role as a PMS and in discussing applicant essay content with my officer colleagues, I wanted to give you my observations about what makes the best impression on these essays.

What I am referring to the following essays prompts for the Army and Navy ROTC. I believe these are the most important essays for both applications and is why they are the first essay for both Services:

Army ROTC:

Consider carefully, and then state below in the space provided why you wish to enroll in the Army ROTC Program. Indicate in your statement how you believe your own objectives in life are related to the education and training offered by Army ROTC and what a career obligation means to you.

Navy ROTC:

Discuss your reasons for wanting to become a Naval/Marine Officer. Specifically comment on leadership positions you've held, the challenges you have faced and the lessons you have learned.

I firmly believe that what this essay SHOULD NOT be is a laundry list or rundown of what the applicant achieved in high school or why the applicant believes he/she is an outstanding leader. The attitude that board members get out of essays such as these are: “Hey, I’m a talented wonderful person and you have to select me because of my past accomplishments.”

But—how can the applicant really say this if they have no idea of what life will be like as a cadet/midshipman and future officer?


What should you do instead?


Do your research about the service you are interested in, visit your local ROTC unit and talk to cadre and cadets/midshipmen, visit your local national guard or reserve unit and “shadow” an officer for a few hours, and speak to serving or former officers. Learn all you can about what the challenges are in ROTC and what life will be like as a future officer.


Then, when you write your essay, talk about those experiences in your essay. Be humble. Tell the board members you did your due diligence to understand the challenges ahead of you. Tell them you have prepared yourself as best you can (here you can speak to your past leadership experiences) and feel confident that based on your past leadership and these visits/talks you are up to the task of being an officer candidate and a future military officer.


If you write this type of essay, you will be in the 5% category of those who have gone out of their way to actually validate the statement that they are ready to be an officer candidate.


Good luck everyone as you work on your applications.

LTC (Retired) Rob Kirkland

“The Insider’s Guide to the Army (and Air Force) ROTC Scholarship for High School Students and their Parents” (Amazon)
 

txfwindian

Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2019
Messages
385
Hi Everyone.

Having sat an Army ROTC scholarship board, conducted hundreds of applicant reviews in my role as a PMS and in discussing applicant essay content with my officer colleagues, I wanted to give you my observations about what makes the best impression on these essays.

What I am referring to the following essays prompts for the Army and Navy ROTC. I believe these are the most important essays for both applications and is why they are the first essay for both Services:

Army ROTC:

Consider carefully, and then state below in the space provided why you wish to enroll in the Army ROTC Program. Indicate in your statement how you believe your own objectives in life are related to the education and training offered by Army ROTC and what a career obligation means to you.

Navy ROTC:

Discuss your reasons for wanting to become a Naval/Marine Officer. Specifically comment on leadership positions you've held, the challenges you have faced and the lessons you have learned.

I firmly believe that what this essay SHOULD NOT be is a laundry list or rundown of what the applicant achieved in high school or why the applicant believes he/she is an outstanding leader. The attitude that board members get out of essays such as these are: “Hey, I’m a talented wonderful person and you have to select me because of my past accomplishments.”

But—how can the applicant really say this if they have no idea of what life will be like as a cadet/midshipman and future officer?


What should you do instead?


Do your research about the service you are interested in, visit your local ROTC unit and talk to cadre and cadets/midshipmen, visit your local national guard or reserve unit and “shadow” an officer for a few hours, and speak to serving or former officers. Learn all you can about what the challenges are in ROTC and what life will be like as a future officer.


Then, when you write your essay, talk about those experiences in your essay. Be humble. Tell the board members you did your due diligence to understand the challenges ahead of you. Tell them you have prepared yourself as best you can (here you can speak to your past leadership experiences) and feel confident that based on your past leadership and these visits/talks you are up to the task of being an officer candidate and a future military officer.


If you write this type of essay, you will be in the 5% category of those who have gone out of their way to actually validate the statement that they are ready to be an officer candidate.


Good luck everyone as you work on your applications.

LTC (Retired) Rob Kirkland

“The Insider’s Guide to the Army (and Air Force) ROTC Scholarship for High School Students and their Parents” (Amazon)
Thank you so much LTC (Retired) Kirkland. Would this be a true statement for SA ( USAFA, USMA) essays as well?
 

NovaMere

Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2019
Messages
23
LTC Kirkland,
Thanks for the insights. We have your book as well and found it a great resource while going through the AROTC scholarship application process.

This darn essay gave us a heck of a challenge. My daughter answered the question freely, without regards to how long it was. We were happy with her essay, then we went to paste it into the portal and found out it was waaaay too long. You are only allowed 2000 characters (including spaces). Her original essay was well over 4500 characters. We cut it in half, and took out what we felt were supporting details to her points, and we finally got it down to 2000 characters. Just as a reference, that's 386 words, and the Common App College essay can be up to 650 words. So I would encourage applicants to be concise with their essay and try to pack in as much as they can in a few words.
 

JJ2372k

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2019
Messages
17
Hi Everyone.

Having sat an Army ROTC scholarship board, conducted hundreds of applicant reviews in my role as a PMS and in discussing applicant essay content with my officer colleagues, I wanted to give you my observations about what makes the best impression on these essays.

What I am referring to the following essays prompts for the Army and Navy ROTC. I believe these are the most important essays for both applications and is why they are the first essay for both Services:

Army ROTC:

Consider carefully, and then state below in the space provided why you wish to enroll in the Army ROTC Program. Indicate in your statement how you believe your own objectives in life are related to the education and training offered by Army ROTC and what a career obligation means to you.

Navy ROTC:

Discuss your reasons for wanting to become a Naval/Marine Officer. Specifically comment on leadership positions you've held, the challenges you have faced and the lessons you have learned.

I firmly believe that what this essay SHOULD NOT be is a laundry list or rundown of what the applicant achieved in high school or why the applicant believes he/she is an outstanding leader. The attitude that board members get out of essays such as these are: “Hey, I’m a talented wonderful person and you have to select me because of my past accomplishments.”

But—how can the applicant really say this if they have no idea of what life will be like as a cadet/midshipman and future officer?


What should you do instead?


Do your research about the service you are interested in, visit your local ROTC unit and talk to cadre and cadets/midshipmen, visit your local national guard or reserve unit and “shadow” an officer for a few hours, and speak to serving or former officers. Learn all you can about what the challenges are in ROTC and what life will be like as a future officer.


Then, when you write your essay, talk about those experiences in your essay. Be humble. Tell the board members you did your due diligence to understand the challenges ahead of you. Tell them you have prepared yourself as best you can (here you can speak to your past leadership experiences) and feel confident that based on your past leadership and these visits/talks you are up to the task of being an officer candidate and a future military officer.


If you write this type of essay, you will be in the 5% category of those who have gone out of their way to actually validate the statement that they are ready to be an officer candidate.


Good luck everyone as you work on your applications.

LTC (Retired) Rob Kirkland

“The Insider’s Guide to the Army (and Air Force) ROTC Scholarship for High School Students and their Parents” (Amazon)
Thank you very much, this post was very helpful
 

Realtor10

New Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
9
Hi Everyone.

Having sat an Army ROTC scholarship board, conducted hundreds of applicant reviews in my role as a PMS and in discussing applicant essay content with my officer colleagues, I wanted to give you my observations about what makes the best impression on these essays.

What I am referring to the following essays prompts for the Army and Navy ROTC. I believe these are the most important essays for both applications and is why they are the first essay for both Services:

Army ROTC:

Consider carefully, and then state below in the space provided why you wish to enroll in the Army ROTC Program. Indicate in your statement how you believe your own objectives in life are related to the education and training offered by Army ROTC and what a career obligation means to you.

Navy ROTC:

Discuss your reasons for wanting to become a Naval/Marine Officer. Specifically comment on leadership positions you've held, the challenges you have faced and the lessons you have learned.

I firmly believe that what this essay SHOULD NOT be is a laundry list or rundown of what the applicant achieved in high school or why the applicant believes he/she is an outstanding leader. The attitude that board members get out of essays such as these are: “Hey, I’m a talented wonderful person and you have to select me because of my past accomplishments.”

But—how can the applicant really say this if they have no idea of what life will be like as a cadet/midshipman and future officer?


What should you do instead?


Do your research about the service you are interested in, visit your local ROTC unit and talk to cadre and cadets/midshipmen, visit your local national guard or reserve unit and “shadow” an officer for a few hours, and speak to serving or former officers. Learn all you can about what the challenges are in ROTC and what life will be like as a future officer.


Then, when you write your essay, talk about those experiences in your essay. Be humble. Tell the board members you did your due diligence to understand the challenges ahead of you. Tell them you have prepared yourself as best you can (here you can speak to your past leadership experiences) and feel confident that based on your past leadership and these visits/talks you are up to the task of being an officer candidate and a future military officer.


If you write this type of essay, you will be in the 5% category of those who have gone out of their way to actually validate the statement that they are ready to be an officer candidate.


Good luck everyone as you work on your applications.

LTC (Retired) Rob Kirkland

“The Insider’s Guide to the Army (and Air Force) ROTC Scholarship for High School Students and their Parents” (Amazon)
LTC Kirkland. Thanks again for all your great advice to this forum. It is much appreciated!!!
 

Realtor10

New Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
9
A question: do you think that the applicant should make these essays shorter or fill up the whole space?
 

FMHS-79

Parent
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Messages
944
A question: do you think that the applicant should make these essays shorter or fill up the whole space?
JMPO, take as much needed to adequately answer the question -- don't add 200 characters of fluff just to fill the space. That said, if your answer is not filling at least 2/3 of the space, you may want to re-think your answer.
 

thibaud

Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2017
Messages
231
How to write concisely:

1: BLUF. State your point first, as clearly and directly as possible and preferably with a simple, short declarative sentence. Then illustrate your point with relevant, specific evidence or examples.

2. Per the great masters Strunk & White's Rule #13 in The Elements of Style, "Omit needless words." Here's their full explanation, with examples of needless words shown below on the left and the concise, improved version on the right:

Omit needless words.
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.
Many expressions in common use violate this principle:
the question as to whetherwhether (the question whether)
there is no doubt but thatno doubt (doubtless)
used for fuel purposesused for fuel
he is a man whohe
in a hasty mannerhastily
this is a subject whichthis subject
His story is a strange one.His story is strange.
In especial the expression the fact that should be revised out of every sentence in which it occurs.
owing to the fact thatsince (because)
in spite of the fact thatthough (although)
call your attention to the fact thatremind you (notify you)
I was unaware of the fact thatI was unaware that (did not know)
the fact that he had not succeededhis failure
the fact that I had arrivedmy arrival
See also under case, character, nature, system in Chapter V.
Who is, which was, and the like are often superfluous.
His brother, who is a member of the same firmHis brother, a member of the same firm
Trafalgar, which was Nelson's last battleTrafalgar, Nelson's last battle
As positive statement is more concise than negative, and the active voice more concise than the passive, many of the examples given under Rules 11 and 12 illustrate this rule as well.
A common violation of conciseness is the presentation of a single complex idea, step by step, in a series of sentences which might to advantage be combined into one.
Macbeth was very ambitious. This led him to wish to become king of Scotland. The witches told him that this wish of his would come true. The king of Scotland at this time was Duncan. Encouraged by his wife, Macbeth murdered Duncan. He was thus enabled to succeed Duncan as king. (55 words.)Encouraged by his wife, Macbeth achieved his ambition and realized the prediction of the witches by murdering Duncan and becoming king of Scotland in his place. (26 words.)
 

AROTCPMS

Former Army ROTC PMS for Claremont McKenna and USC
5-Year Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
118
A question: do you think that the applicant should make these essays shorter or fill up the whole space?
I believe that Essay #1 of the Army ROTC essay is by far the most important question. You should make sure you answer that carefully as per my guidance above.
 
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