Discussion in 'OTS/OCS/PLC' started by Brizmore, May 8, 2018.
Moving thread over to OCS.
I am a 19 year old International Relations student currently going to college in **LOCATION REMOVED**. Being lower-income, I fortunately received a fairly generous financial aid package for my four-year enrollment, so incurring massive debt should not be an issue. This past year I had a rocky start to college. I took 16 credits for two semesters while doing ROTC uncontracted. I am expecting a 3.2ish GPA and a PT Score of 247.
While I am certain other mileages may vary, I personally had a difficult time balancing class and ROTC, and had to forgo pursuing internships on the hill, clubs, and other extracurriculars to stay afloat. I also withdrew my plans to study abroad for a consecutive year due to ROTC obligations which was demoralizing as an IR major. Moreover, In order to get 100% GI Bill coverage, I discovered I need seven years as an ROTC graduate as opposed to three years If I do OCS (which can be a big deal if I decide to go to Law School). Lastly, ROTC can't guarantee me AD, which OCS can. That said, OCS is looking like the more appealing road for me.
Ultimately, I still want to commission Active Duty. I truly believe that if I got my act together, as well as built up my portfolio that I can still achieve all of this without having to forfeit becoming an officer. Worse case scenario, I know I could still just enlist and serve my country. With this in mind, I am well aware that the trend leans towards ROTC/SA, but given my circumstances is it really a bad idea for me to do OCS instead of ROTC given my goals?
Note: In case anyone was interested, my current braches are JAG, MI, INF, and Armor. I'm also aware of CULP and Project GO, but am more interested in a foreign immersion program for a year or more to help strengthen my language proficiency while studying abroad in possibly 1-2 nations.
Just a couple things to consider.
While you can get Active Duty in an OCS contract, there is no guarantee of getting accepted into OCS, the rate of acceptance is different every year.
The only way you are required to serve 7 years Active to get the GI Bill is if you had an AROTC Scholarship while doing ROTC. If you remain a non scholarship cadet and commission, you would only need the 3 years Active to be eligible for the GI Bill.
Almost all AROTC programs allow study abroad if it is part of your major which it should be an IR major. You are correct though, they would probably not allow you to spend more the one term abroad while doing ROTC.
OCS is there to fill the gaps left from the USMA and ROTC, not every branch is available for each OCS class and you won't know what's available until you are more then half way through. So while you may want one of the branches you listed above, they may not be available, MI and Armor are very popular branches in ROTC and the USMA, they very well could fill up and not be available to OCS when you go through.
Just make sure you talk to your Cadre before you make any decisions. Be careful if you talk to a plain recruiter, they will tell you it is best to enlist first then try for OCS, Ask your cadre who the best person is to talk to about OCS. Do a lot of research first.
OCS is there to "top off" the needs of the Army. If USMA and AROTC have delivered enough 2LT's there is NO assurance of ANY OCS slots being made available.
Bottom line: Talk to the ROO.
+1 to Jcleppe. He is absolutely spot on. I might add that the first year at any college is tough. Your expertise at time management will undoubtedly increase. Also, you're only a freshman. You have time to line up a semester abroad. Speak to your cadre about it.
While I do have a few contentions, I appreciate your detailed response.
OCS Contracting: I agree, OCS is competitive, and if we were still downsizing I'd probably not even consider this pathway. With that in mind, it looks like the military is expanding right now which seems like a good opportunity to pursue OCS, especially if I could snag some LORs from public officials while I'm in **LOCATION REMOVED**.
Branching: While I agree that competing with the SA and ROTC will makes things tougher, I'm confident I could bolster my GPA to increase the chance of getting a slot and my desired branches. I honestly see myself as more competitive if I concentrated on school first and then the military afterwards. I've read up on similar stories from OCS candidates who found they were better qualified for the Army after wrapping up college.
Recruiters: Spoke with both a Navy and Army recruiter in my hometown who said they would both be happy to make a packet for me. Didn't mention anything about enlisting, nor did they try to dissuade my commissioning goals.
Again, you probably disagree with some of my points, and that's cool. I just want to emphasize that I personally feel I would be a stronger officer candidate/cadet if I did school first, and the Army later. Having extra time to raise my GPA and PT score seems like it could really help me in the long.
You're correct, the Army is not downsizing....right now...3 years can change things. AROTC commissions a set number of cadets to Active Duty each year while they send a percentage to the Reserves/National Guard. Over the last couple years AROTC has increased the numbers being sent to Active Duty, the numbers for OCS won't see the same increase that AROTC is having, they will still be there to fill the gap, thing is that gap is not getting bigger since AROTC is commissioning more to Active Duty. LOR's won't be that much help if the numbers aren't there.
You could have a 4.0 GPA and graduate #1 in your class and it won't mean anything if the Branch you want is not available to your OCS class. As I and others said, OCS fills the Gaps. MI and Armour (There is no JAG Branch right out of OCS unless you have graduated law school and passed the Bar) are two of the more sought after branches, ROTC and the USMA have no trouble filling those branches which means it could be very likely they won't be available to you in OCS. The other larger point is that your GPA, Class Standing, Major, and all the LOR's in the world will mean nothing once you start your first day of BCT and will mean even less if you make it to OCS. None of this will matter in how you are ranked on the OML at OCS which is the main factor in selecting your branch from what may be available. GPA will only be one part of your application and will just help you get accepted, once accepted you would start from square one. I'm not sure what you mean about being better qualified after "wrapping up" college since every military officer has wrapped up college, most also have lived within a military program through ROTC or an Academy.
Concentrating more on school may help you in your application, getting your GPA up will be the first thing to concentrate on, 3.2 ish won't put you high on the list. the next thing that may be tougher is your APFT, a 247 won't be near enough to be considered competitive, without the scheduled PT you now have with ROTC you will need to find the time to improve on your own, balancing internships and study abroad with the workouts you'll need to improve is something that can be easily done if you manage your time wisely.
There is always the option of going to OCS for the Reserves/National Guard, it can be a bit easier to get accepted and you may have a better chance of securing a branch you want, you would serve your obligation to the Army in the Reserve/National Guard.
That's good but wait until you have your degree and the application process begins, right now you're just talking to them about something that is 3 years down the road.
Not really sure why you asked for advice, it seems from your response that you have already made up your mind which is fine. Not everyone can or even desires to juggle both ROTC and College, it sounds like you have some great opportunities for internships and more study abroad, you should take advantage of that, just don't think that you have everything under your control when it comes to OCS down the road, 3 years is a long time in the military world and a lot can change. Best advice, be flexible but by all means go for it. Nothing good happens if you don't try.
Go to college and do Rotc. There is no disadvantage to doing Rotc and dont see any advantages doing OCS. If you pass Rotc you are guarantee to go into the ARmy, active or reserve. No guarantee you get into OCS at least for AF and Navy. Dont know about Army
All the services use OCS to "top off the tank" for the number of new Lts they need that year. So if they're 100 short, there will only be 100 slots for OCS that year. If they already have enough or too many, then it's zero OCS slots that year. Any available OCS slots is a competitive selection process... so you get to go through that and might not make the cut. ROTC is a much surer path to commission because you're at the head of the line.
You don't mention why you're thinking of making the switch and your reason might have bearing on my answer. If it's just a thought with no deeper reason, then definitely go ROTC.
This is the same OP that posted this question in the OCS/OTS Thread. I think he tried to move the discussion over to that thread.
I merged the two threads.
Since summer break kicked off for me not long ago, I've had the chance to really internalize what I want to do with my life, and why I chose International Relations as my major. While being an officer in the military does seem to have its perks, I've found that I value being a student, studying abroad, and having the additional time to pursue internships more than I do the ROTC life. During my first year, ROTC and going to class were my only two obligations. Despite being fairly responsible with my free time, I still found myself falling asleep during class and struggling to keep my GPA and PT at an appreciable level. At some point, I'd like to join Model UN and Mock trial, as well as land some internships; however, I can't see myself having a healthy lifestyle, being academically successful, and being physically fit by trying to bite off more than I can chew. As a prospective law student, I'll also have to start studying for the LSAT too, and that's going to be another time muncher for me as well.
As Jcleppe put it, I simply no longer desire to juggle both ROTC and College. Visiting some particular foreign countries has been a very personal goal of mine, and as a low-income student my only chance to guarantee going to certain places is through a study abroad program that my school will fund. That said, I'm willing to accept the possible outcome I won't become an officer or even get the job I want. Enlisting is still an option, and I could really use the GI bill for law school.
I do thank you for your concern though. It's nice to see distant care for life-changing choices out there.
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