How to be Successful and Stand out in AROTC

FØB Zero

Enthusiastically American
Jul 30, 2019
Post YOUR input/opinions/advice! What can I do as a freshman and then in the next 3 years to standout and get a good rank? Anything from character/Integrity to academics… what should be prioritized etc. And what kind of cadets are most successful?

Capt MJ

Formerly Known As Attila The Hunnette
10-Year Member
Sep 27, 2008
Learn how to optimize over all graded areas by practicing good time management and task prioritization. If you have any bad habits such as procrastination, deal with them now. Practice self-discipline. It’s perfectly fine to play a video game or jump on social media for an hour, AFTER you have gotten your must-do higher priority tasks done.

When you feel you are struggling, do not delay asking for help.

Take advantage of any college resources for study skills classes, writing improvement, etc.

Work hard at your physical fitness. Officers should set the example in this area. Don’t be one of those who skates just above minimums.

Learn how to be a good teammate first. Help others who are struggling. Volunteer for the tasks no one else wants to do. Servant leadership is rooted in this.

Avoid hubris.



Dec 8, 2018
GPA and PT are most directly in your control, then build out from there. Notice what I bolded. That doesn't mean that a great GPA means you'll be a great cadet (or officer) or a middling GPA means you'll be a poor one, but you asked about getting a "good rank." I believe it's the single most important factor in the OML.


5-Year Member
Nov 27, 2017
Great guidance from posters above.

Below I’ll pass on the guidance a wise AROTC ROO shared with my son when he asked the ROO how cadets can exceed his expectations in the 1st year. Like Private Gump, the ROO basically said that’s the “best g*d d*mn question anyone’s ever asked him in 15 years” – it was a fun moment.

Show up on day 1 ready mentally and physically ready. Run this summer – and then run more. Excel in your first year in academics. Within your unit stand out primarily for your outstanding performance, flexibility/ care for others, focus, and where needed for all-over-it ownership for shoring up any gaps. Don’t pick the ridiculously hardest courses your first year no matter how well you did in Aps/ honors courses in HS – for some living away from home is a large adjustment. Keep your mouth shut unless needed, and don’t wear a bad attitude in non-verbal communication – it’s surprising how many people derail their own career with wearing “what a stupid decision” faces when their leaders make judgment calls. Better to get a 4.0 - go get it. Don’t overextend with ROTC, NCAA athletics, rushing a fraternity, and working 15 hours a week at a part time job – excel at fewer goals your first year, even if in HS like many of you were an eagle/ girl scout gold scout, class officer, NHS, boys/girls state, 3 sport athlete, officer in several clubs etc. And most importantly, survive in the ROTC first year in the program and thrive in academics. Be present/ focused/ on time and learn. Don’t get too proud when you get praise—he stated repeatedly he sees people sophomorically start acting like a general after winning midshipmen/ airman/ cadet of the month- simply, don’t do that.

Good luck to you and all those starting their ROTC journeys this year.


USMA 2015
10-Year Member
Nov 8, 2010
Be a team player. Help where you can, volunteer to do the tasks no one wants to do, don’t try to do everything by yourself or be the leader all the time, and know when to ask for help.
Be in shape. Hard to be able to focus on helping others when you’re too tired to only focus on yourself.
Don’t quit. Stuff can be hard. That’s fine. Don’t quit.
Moral character should never be in question.


5-Year Member
Mar 15, 2017
Would echo the thoughts above about being a team player... my other advice for ROTC is this:

1. Do NOT make ROTC your entire life; your unit wants to see you be well balanced with extra circulars, etc. The unit dynamic can be very suffocating at times if you do not find other outlets/friends outside your your ROTC unit. Your mental health is important! Give yourself a break.

2. With that said, know what to prioritize. While your mind doesn't need to be (and shouldn't be) on ROTC 24/7, ROTC should come first before less important stuff!

3. Work hard physically. Put in the work in the gym, and try your best at PT. Doesn't mean you need to be the best PT stud in the world, but try your best effort and try to improve year over year.

4. Accept that things aren't always going to be perfect. You're human and should forgive yourself!

5. You're gonna do great! Best of luck!


Jul 11, 2019
Yeah man.. PT really does stand out. Being a trustworthy, reliable, intelligent, and sociable cadet will make you stand out IMO. Get involved with what you love and absolutely crush it. Be confident, always.