NROTC Marine Option or AROTC?


New Member
Nov 23, 2016
First, some information about me: I am a high school Junior, Male, and an athelete (lacrosse). I am in good shape and I generally get good grades (mostly Bs and some As.) I havent taken my ACT yet, so I cant provide that. Current Cumulative GPA is 2.8 (yikes, I'm currently getting a 3.8 gpa this semester, so I'm planning on finishing HS with a 3.3-3.5 GPA). I currently rank 285/429 in my class.

I haven't been able to find an answer to this question on the forums yet (providing that there actually IS an answer). My dad fully supports me joining the military, as he was in the Army for 32 years, and retired as a 1SG. My original plan was to enlist into the Army, then it changed to enlisting in the Marines. When he heard this, he told me the biggest mistake he made in the military was dropping out of OCS. He told me that if I join the military, the only smart thing to do is get a commission. He wants me to go to an Academy, but obviously my grades don't support that as an option. So now I am considering an ROTC program, but I can't decide whether to do NROTC Marine Option, or do Army ROTC if i decide to become an officer. I would want to branch combat arms either way (preferably Infantry). So some questions that I would appreciate input on are:

1) What are the chances of me getting an Infantry Officer slot in NROTC Marine vs Army ROTC? I have heard AROTC is less competitve, and there is less room in NROTC, but lets say I am accepted to both, all other things being equal, what are my chances in each?

2) Playing off of my first question, what are the chances of me getting my 1-3 picks on my "wishlist" in either program, again all things being equal? Are the chances different in the different programs?

3) Which option would be better for getting a scholarship?
Your dad has offered you some great advice, you should definitely aim for commissioning as an officer rather than enlisting. Just Google military pay grades and imagine what pay scale you'd rather be at when you're 22-24 years old!

As for which branch your chances are better at? Marines is much more competitive, simply because Marines is a much smaller branch and so it commissions many less than Army each year. So in theory you're chances are "better" aiming for Army, simply because there are more slots available to commission. (That being said, I am biased towards Marines since my daughter is on a Marine ROTC scholarship [emoji4])

You can apply for both Army and can apply for both West Point and USNA, but your grades do leave you lacking. I say that in the kindest way, but I suspect you already know this. You did not mention ACT/SAT scores - good scores there may help.

Same with ROTC scholarship - apply for both Army and Marines. You can apply for both at the same time, and see if either branch offers you a scholarship. One sure thing is that if you don't apply you won't win anything.

You haven't mentioned any extra curricular activities other than lacrosse-if you have any leadership on your resume that could help you. Marines leans more towards the physical aspect, so a great PFT could set you apart from others there.

You do have another year to help you overcome your first high school years, and I wish you all the best and thank you for your desire to serve our great country.
Better chance to become an officer in the Army vs the Marine Corps because of numbers. Impossible to compare chances of getting combat arms in either once your an officer. In Army you know your billet before you graduate. The Marine Corps doesn't decided on your billet until after The Basic School. Of course much depends on the needs of the services and where you are on the OML at the time.

Apply to both. In hopes you get an offer from both, view the officer career paths available on the service's web site so you can decide between the two. They are similar in some ways but very different in others. Army doesn't normally spend 6 months aboard a ship... most Marines will at some point(s). If you want to live near the coast then Marines are the best choice. etc. etc.

My DS was in your shoes in terms of wanting to enlist. Mom insisted he go to college and become an officer first, and that's when he pursued NROTC. He's glad he did!
IMO if you're contemplating anything but the Marine Corps, don't go Marines, because even the guys who really want to be Marines question themselves at times. Those who dont 100% want to be there, tend to not make it.
That can be said for any service, not just Marines. There is a thread going on right now Army vs. USMC that folks have been commenting on, would be a good read. I can answer specific questions if you have them about the USMC. It really comes down to what is the right fit for you. Kinnem nailed it for the differences in branching/MOS selection. Statistics lend to the USA side of things. But that shouldn't stop you if you want to be a Marine. In the Army you could end up with something like Quartermaster or Signal and request detail of infantry. The USMC doesn't do that, but you would work with your monitor for unit placement. I had tons of friends who were logistics and supply that went to infantry units. I had a buddy who went to recon as a 2ndLt logistics officer. He went to dive and jump school and loved it. I have friends who were truck platoon commanders as logistics officers who ran move convoys in Iraq than I can count. So remember what the mission is of the unit you support. That will play a great deal into what your training would be focused on. None of us can tell you go X, because you will get infantry. Combat arms wise, the Army will win stats wise as there are just more combat arms spots than the USMC. We just have less tanks, artillery, etc. We also have less officers.
To clear things up about "not wanting to be a Marine bad enough": I would jump at the chance to be a Marine. I love the history, the culture, and the brotherhood that the Marines seem to have. Not to say that the Army doesn't, just that the Marines seem to be tighter knit. I have talked to Marine and Army recruiters and the Marine recruiters seem to offer me more of "being a Marine" vs the Army's "we can give you an enlistment bonus". Sure, money's fine and good to me, but eventually it will run out. I would love to be either, Im just asking which is more realistic.

I am a future ROTC cadet and I went through the same decision process that you're going through. I ultimately chose Army for a number of reasons specific to my case, but one that may be general is that I have heard a lot of Army officers can transfer to branches like logistics, finance, or intel later in their careers. As I am planning to make the military a career, I made this factor a consideration. I have heard most tasks such as those mentioned above are handled by the Navy in the case of the Marines. As I said, I'm just a cadet, not from a military family, and still figuring things out myself, but I thought I'd share that. Besides, if I'm wrong, there are so many knowledgable people on here, both you and I and others may end up learning.

Best of luck.
You are not correct about the Marines. All those functions you mentioned have Marines who perform them. The Navy may give you a ride some places, but that is by design and part of the USMC/USN team work for amphibious operations. It's what USN amphib ships exist for. Certain MOSs in the USMC combine MOSs into one at the field grade level. For instance supply and logistics move to a common MOS and so do all the Aviation Command and Control MOSs. As to the ability to move to other MOSs in the Army, I will defer to Army folks to address that. Be curious if that is accurate.

The large majority of applicants each year say they will make the military a career, it just doesn't happen though. At 18 the world is very different than 22, and then again at 27-28. Statics prove that most don't make it a career. Looking back now, no one could of guessed who would of made it to 20 when we were graduating. Pick the service that best suits your personality, goals, desires. If you are someone who is full on I want to drive tanks... I would tell someone to join the Army. The USMC just doesn't have a lot of tanks, therefore not a lot of tank officers, and then not a lot of tank leadership billets. Tanks are big and heavy, they don't fit on ships as part of the MAGTF well.