IVY vs. West Point Advice - Please

A little late, but I'm currently in the exact same situation your brother was in. I was pretty set on USMA before this week, but I just received acceptance letters from Princeton and Yale 2 days ago and I'm torn. My parents and my guidance counselor are also pushing for the Ivies.

Please tell us what your brother ultimately chose and share a little about his experiences at wherever he attended!
Sooo last year my son was accepted to every college he applied including many top universities and Ivy's, he ultimately chose Purdue due to their aerospace engineering program (turned down a full ride to University of Notre Dame, Cornell, University of Penn, and so many numerous other crazy good offers and schools). He loves Purdue, is in the SF-AFROTC, a pledge master in a fraternity, is in the engineering major of his choice, in sports and clubs, and has so many amazing opportunities as he finishes his first year there. But, on March 14th this year, he recieved his appointment to the USAFA and on March 25 he accepted it. He said he has established roots at Purdue and loves where he is. While he would not change this past year, he knows there is much more in store for him and he knows that the USAFA is where he belongs.

So, I ask you.. in your heart what do you want, where do you belong, what will help you achieve your dreams and goals, not those dreams or goals of others.. While some people will never understand his choices to go to Purdue or his most recent choice to accept his appointment to the USAFA, it is what he wants and where he knows he belongs. And while many people will try to push you to a decision, look inward and decide where you want to be and don't let anyone influence that! It is your life, your future, your passions and dreams, all of them are just along for the ride and I'm sure that whatever you decide it will be right for you!!

I can tell you, I was initially shocked at many of the schools my boy gave up to go to Purdue not on a full ride and I definetly would have preferred one of the others but it had to be his decision, so i supported him. Then a few weeks ago as he asked me if he should choose USAFA or Purdue, I told him it can't be mommas choice it has to be his and i will support whatever he wants... just ecstatic his choice, is what a momma heart would have preferred 😉
 
My son struggled with the same situation 4 years ago. He didn't realize he picked the best decision for him, Ivy ROTC, until he spent a few weeks at West Point training with their cadets and comparing experiences.

Ivy ROTC units are typically small. At my son's university, Army, Air Force, and Navy ROTC cadets interact with each other on a daily basis.

I highly suggest reaching out to both ROTC units. Ask to speak with their cadets.

Everyone is going to tell you, you can't make a wrong decision. While this is true, you may be able to make a decision that's a better fit for your goals.

PM if would like to speak to my son.
 
A little late, but I'm currently in the exact same situation your brother was in. I was pretty set on USMA before this week, but I just received acceptance letters from Princeton and Yale 2 days ago and I'm torn. My parents and my guidance counselor are also pushing for the Ivies.

Please tell us what your brother ultimately chose and share a little about his experiences at wherever he attended!
First, congrats - those are outstanding choices.

Is there a ROTC scholarship or full ride you are getting to the ivies mentioned? I assume you also have a path to serve through those institutions? Is there parity - zero cost or would you have to pay room and board at these schools? Does that matter to you and your family? If you can avoid debt then do so.

Would you like 1 or 2 years in military training before you have to commit and be on the hook for recoupment/ repayment? You get until prior to day 1 of your 2nd year in ROTC (first year free if it' s not for you), double that at USMA (after your second year before summer starts, you have the option of walking away without any penalty and you can transfer your college credits to another college of equal.)

How silly/whimsical are you? When you think of college, and looking back in HS, how much did or would you enjoy unstructured time for harmless shenanigans, day trips, dinners out with friends off campus, or just chillaxing outside of your sports, community, academic, work, religious commitments? I ask because my son went ROTC and has enjoyed four years of bonfires at the beach, country line dancing (hey don't judge), lots of time at amusement parks, and being a pilot a lot of silly flights to other states with friends for takeout meals, concerts, etc. He has mastered time management, but at core he would have had a very different experience at USMA or another SA. He also missed out on that bonding you get through a SA and the challenge and IMO an amazing education - but he had to do what's right for him (not what I would have done- his decision, and it's your decision). Simply, what is right for you?

How much of a community/ band of "brothers/sisters/and all other identities/pronouns" do you want to be a part of. You'll have a smaller group of ROTC students at Princeton and crosstowns. Or you could be at a place where all of you are sharing that challenge at an SA. Which appeals to you?

the earlier thread recommended attending accepted student day - can you do that still? Last year Princeton's activities were on April 12 and April 19 for the Class of 2026. Bulldog days are 4/24 -4/26. Maybe that would help.

I'll add this - Princeton has huge reunions and a couple of years ago my buddy's reunions (*and their 4 years eons ago) included Jeff Bezos and his ex-wife, Sen Ted Cruz, and some pretty amazing people. Although I do remember him telling me how pestering/ annoying TC was when we were all college age as the guy always wanted to debate him and they were in the same college/ major... The same "among greatness" could be said of distinguished alumni from each SA or ivy. In this regard, you will be among some amazing people at any choice.

Go sit on a quiet mountaintop, by yourself, and bring a mirror and have a good chat with yourself - 1 simple question - what do you want? Your guidance counselor and parents are to be heard/ respected, but this decision affects you more than them.

Good luck to you.
 
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My son struggled with the same situation 4 years ago. He didn't realize he picked the best decision for him, Ivy ROTC, until he spent a few weeks at West Point training with their cadets and comparing experiences.

Ivy ROTC units are typically small. At my son's university, Army, Air Force, and Navy ROTC cadets interact with each other on a daily basis.

I highly suggest reaching out to both ROTC units. Ask to speak with their cadets.

Everyone is going to tell you, you can't make a wrong decision. While this is true, you may be able to make a decision that's a better fit for your goals.

PM if would like to speak to my son.
Can you say more specifically why that was the best decision for him? My son is not struggling with the decision - SA bound - but his parents are!
 
Can you say more specifically why that was the best decision for him? My son is not struggling with the decision - SA bound - but his parents are!
LOL——-and this will never end for those parents. The worry starts when the child starts the application then it continues without stop for 4 or 5 long stressful parental years.

Then finally the relief of graduation :)

Then come the deployments

The biggest thing both of mine say they missed by attending a SA—— a normal happy regular college experience.

Made lots and lots worse now because of social media. They are well aware of how happy their civilian friends are at school and they see their pictures enjoying life.
 
This really just boils down to the age old question of ROTC vs. SA. It doesn't matter where you attend college. You need to decide how important a regular college experience is. Is more military worth giving up that experience? For some it is, for others it isn't.
 
You get until prior to day 1 of your 2nd year in ROTC (first year free if it' s not for you), double that at USMA (after your second year before summer starts,
SA commitment is actually AFTER the end of summer training, before you go to your first class of the third academic year.
 
And just to add about the draw of a SA education and that military experience .

My oldest was told this by his first CO

”My best officers come from the academy My worst officers come from the academy”
 
the debt post ivy graduation in any of the above calculations. A KP grad, living well but wisely, can have $150,000-$200,00 in liquid equity after 5 years. More if the spouse is working. Nice apartment and a Subaru. But the extended discussion of finances is bothering. It has been written many times on SAF that a parent's definition of free changes when DD/DS signs next of kin papers. Please turn to Kings Point Spotlight on SAF, Captain Robert Johnson. West Point grad, Infantry officer by choice. The vignette is 1
We are not a career family type but we are a long standing ad military type of family.

On our second at a SA. So proud. Truly.

If the next one came to me and said pops I have a “full ride “ to Yale and can decide after graduation if I still want to serve or I can go to a SA.
Ah but you don't get merit scholarships at Ivies... I mean everyone would deserve one. You only get need-based scholarships.
 
A key factor in deciding between an SA and an Ivy/ROTC option is flexibility. If you are at an SA and decide a military career is not for you you can opt out after two years. However, you then have to find another college and start anew as a transfer, and at least at USMA, out-processing is a long and bureaucratic process.

If you are in ROTC at an IVY and decide against a military career, you merely resign from ROTC and continue your education at the same prestigious school.

It is wise to be strongly in favor of serving in the military when choosing the SA option. The ROTC option provides a smoother transition out of the military track, if so desired. In either case finances can be a factor, but the flexibility advantage remains with Ivy/ROTC.
 
A key factor in deciding between an SA and an Ivy/ROTC option is flexibility. If you are at an SA and decide a military career is not for you you can opt out after two years. However, you then have to find another college and start anew as a transfer, and at least at USMA, out-processing is a long and bureaucratic process.

If you are in ROTC at an IVY and decide against a military career, you merely resign from ROTC and continue your education at the same prestigious school.

It is wise to be strongly in favor of serving in the military when choosing the SA option. The ROTC option provides a smoother transition out of the military track, if so desired. In either case finances can be a factor, but the flexibility advantage remains with Ivy/ROTC.
but opting out will require you to pay back for the tuition you've received for either SA or ROTC, correct?
 
but opting out will require you to pay back for the tuition you've received for either SA or ROTC, correct?
You can attend a service academy for 4 semesters, essentially the first 2 years, and not incur a service or financial payback obligation. The line in the sand is the start of junior year academic classes in the fall.

I think ROTC cadets get 1 year to walk away.
 
You can attend a service academy for 4 semesters, essentially the first 2 years, and not incur a service or financial payback obligation. The line in the sand is the start of junior year academic classes in the fall.

I think ROTC cadets get 1 year to walk away.
Thank you so much for providing clarification, Capt MJ. One more question: DS received a 3-year AROTC scholarship, does that mean he can walk away after his Sophomore year (since ROTC does not start until Sophomore year)? Do they have any course or training during their Freshman year at all?
 
Thank you so much for providing clarification, Capt MJ. One more question: DS received a 3-year AROTC scholarship, does that mean he can walk away after his Sophomore year (since ROTC does not start until Sophomore year)? Do they have any course or training during their Freshman year at all?
I am weakest in my knowledge of ROTC, so I point people toward primary resources, like calling the unit they are reporting to or a unit they are interested in, and ask questions of the designated recruiting officer in the unit, to get the most current and accurate answers specific to their situation.
 
One factor of an SA often overlooked are the additional training opportunities that may be more difficult to come by at a civilian college and ROTC. DS is in his second year at USMA. Last summer he participated in RobinSage—the last portion of Green Beret training. This summer he has a 3 week internship with the FBI. This is in addition to his summer cadet training.
 
Thank you all so much for the advice! I do have a 4 year Army ROTC scholarship, so I'm not worried about the cost. I am planning to attend the accepted student days at both Princeton and Yale.
To me, a normal college life isn't important. Some of my main motivations for wanting to attend a SA are to immerse myself in an environment with like-minded peers and embrace the challenges and opportunities for growth.
 
My son struggled with the same situation 4 years ago. He didn't realize he picked the best decision for him, Ivy ROTC, until he spent a few weeks at West Point training with their cadets and comparing experiences.

Ivy ROTC units are typically small. At my son's university, Army, Air Force, and Navy ROTC cadets interact with each other on a daily basis.

I highly suggest reaching out to both ROTC units. Ask to speak with their cadets.

Everyone is going to tell you, you can't make a wrong decision. While this is true, you may be able to make a decision that's a better fit for your goals.

PM if would like to speak to my son.
I would love to speak to him (I'm new to the forum, so I don't know what PM means). Thank you!
 
Thank you all so much for the advice! I do have a 4 year Army ROTC scholarship, so I'm not worried about the cost. I am planning to attend the accepted student days at both Princeton and Yale.
To me, a normal college life isn't important. Some of my main motivations for wanting to attend a SA are to immerse myself in an environment with like-minded peers and embrace the challenges and opportunities for growth.
If that is your main motivator, then I think an SA is right for you. While nobody has the same exact experience at an SA, you wear the same uniforms, serve in the same service, face the same challenges, etc. There are many challenges to face, adapt, and overcome. You have to have drive to get through an SA. Not saying you don't at an Ivy, but the Army has a finite amount of time (4 years with very few exceptions) to take you from a civilian to an officer capable of leading America's sons and daughters into harm's way. Even though people will have different majors and will enter different branches (Army branches), you will have the same title: Army Officer. At an Ivy, one person will go to Goldman Sachs, another will eventually end up at a white-shoe law firm, another will be a politician, etc. Everyone will be on their own program more or less. Your friends might want to go out and get hammered on a Tuesday evening. They might not understand/care you can't do the same since you've got PT the next morning or anything dumb you do when your drunk could put your scholarship and military career in jeopardy.

TLDR: Everyone at West Point is there to become an officer in the Army. Only a small few come to an Ivy with the intention of becoming a military officer.

You can always attend an Ivy for graduate studies. You can only attend an SA once.
 
Thank you all so much for the advice! I do have a 4 year Army ROTC scholarship, so I'm not worried about the cost. I am planning to attend the accepted student days at both Princeton and Yale.
To me, a normal college life isn't important. Some of my main motivations for wanting to attend a SA are to immerse myself in an environment with like-minded peers and embrace the challenges and opportunities for growth.
Nice! Definitely reach out to the Army ROTC units at Princeton and University of New Haven (Yale is a cross-town) before attending the admitted student days. They'll have activities to do with the cadets. You'll even be able to stay with a Princeton Cadet I think. Idk about Yale Army Cadets because there aren't that many of them... Enjoy Bulldog Days and Tiger Tuesday (I think that's what Princeton called it back when I went to them)! They're a lot of fun for everyone and a great opportunity to meet people. Try out some of the New Haven pizza too while you're at it. :)
 
Thank you all so much for the advice! I do have a 4 year Army ROTC scholarship, so I'm not worried about the cost. I am planning to attend the accepted student days at both Princeton and Yale.
To me, a normal college life isn't important. Some of my main motivations for wanting to attend a SA are to immerse myself in an environment with like-minded peers and embrace the challenges and opportunities for growth.
College is about meeting new people with different ideas and backgrounds. Keep in mind that being around non-like minded peers will help you grow and broaden your horizons more so than being with like-minded people. And within AROTC, you will be with people who have the same goal of serving in the Army (though they will have different political beliefs most likely). It's good that you're attending the accepted student days, these will help you make a fully informed decision. And get ready to see the coolest campus and housing set up at Yale. Good luck!
 
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