Nov 29, 2016
Hello everyone,

So I have completed ROTC Orientation at my state college and am in the middle of my first week of school. However, I am also reapplying to USMA and have received a LOA already. In the event that I get in, I don't really know which path I want to take: USMA or continuing with ROTC, especially since with both ways I'd still become an Army officer and achieve what I'd like to achieve.

I initially planned to spend a year in college, do ROTC, and transfer to USMA (again, if everything goes well with the LOA and I actually get in), but I have come to love ROTC more than I thought I would and the decision is becoming hard for me. Both paths have great cultural immersion and summer training options which makes my decision even harder. I am going to try to feel out ROTC more through the next few weeks, but does anyone have advice that may help me make my decision?
You don't "transfer" to USMA. If you get an appointment you start fresh as a Plebe, and won't get credit for your prior college credits. That's not really a bad thing though, as the classes you took in regular college will certainly give you a boost academically, assuming you learned the material.

Congrats on the LOA. Fantastic thing. You will have to make a call on the West Point vs ROTC. No bad choice. Both are tremendous. I'm sure you will make the right decision, but honestly, you need to make it yourself, with only the help of those who know you best, if you need any help at all. Good luck brother.
It's early in your ROTC career and you have a lot of time until you need to make a decision. Pursue both paths for now and see how things go.
I would say the key to the decision is which environment do you think you'll thrive in? If it's military and discipline 24x7 then go to the academy. If you find you're thriving where you're at and just totally love it, then stay where you're at. Again, you've got time to see how things develop.
I have to disagree that a WP pedigree matters too. Even though I graduated from USMA, I can honestly say the best officer I served with was from ROTC. Neither is better, just different.
Don't forget the SA degree is a huge boost for your graduate school options. Most officers aren't promotable too far without a masters degree; your state school probably doesn't compare academically to the SAs in the eyes of upper echelon graduate programs. Just a pragmatic issue to consider; SAs open up a lot of doors outside the military no matter how long you serve.

But if staying in ROTC at your campus is the right thing for you it doesn't automatically cap your future potential either.
Your army career will progress based on your performance as an officer whether you are from USMA or ROTC.

Pedigree does matter in other aspects. Your initial post states that you are attending a state school. How does the academic reputation of that school and the department of your major compare to USMA? A significant difference in reputation may affect graduate school opportunities, if that is in your plans. Also when you leave the military, after a full career or a few years, your undergraduate institution may help some doors open more easily.

However, performance in school is more important than the school itself. Good grades from a top ranked school are better than good grades from a low ranked school, but excellent grades at almost any college will be competitive for admission to top graduate schools, while low grades at USMA will not.
You could always just settle this issue and decide based on which school has a better football season. What school are you attending right now? Army came a long way last year, and is expected to improve a bit, but still just a program hopefully on the rise, so your current ROTC school could prevail with this method of disposition. It seems to be a fair way to decide. Very objective, even if not logical. What do you think?
All four of the Captains we currently have here are working on their clarkson/ROTC, one WP, one OCS prior service E7, and one state school ROTC grad. I would say likelihood of grad school is not a something I'd factor into the decision.
Gen. George Marshall (as in the Marshall Plan) - VMI, but commissioning was not automatic.
Gen. John Shalikashvili (Chairman JCS) enlisted in the Army as a private two months after becoming a US citizen, OCS
My DS enrolled as a walk-on AROTC cadet back in 2015 after being turned down by USNA fairly late in the cycle (April).

A few weeks into the semester, I asked him if he wanted to reapply to the SA's again.

His reply to me was, "Why would I want to put myself another year behind schedule at achieving my goal of commissioning?"

Two months later he contracted with a 3 year campus based ROTC scholarship.
All four of the Captains we currently have here are working on their clarkson/ROTC, one WP, one OCS prior service E7, and one state school ROTC grad. I would say likelihood of grad school is not a something I'd factor into the decision.
Agree, likelihood of grad school is not a factor - military officers make excellent grad students. Could be a factor if you are competing for a slot at the most competitive schools - Ivy League, MIT, Stanford, Duke, Chicago, etc.
I had such a great time at west point. Miss my friends a lot. But go where you feel is right for you - west point is certainly prestigious but you will commission just the same through other programs.

I would have to agree with the notion that attending west point is best if you wish to pursue the highest ranks in the Army. If I'm not mistaken, the vast majority of past chiefs of staff have been USMA grads and isn't there like some kind of old boy system once you reach COL or BG? Unless I am mistaken.
Like it or not there is an extremely high probability that most 2nd LTs won't serve more than 15-20 years max - its 'up or out' when promotions to LtCol and above are considered and there are limited slots available. Unless you can earn stars you will likely be ~37-42 years old [that's young by the way :rolleyes:] and have another 20+ year career prospect ahead of you. SA degree plus top tier grad school on top of officer experience is a dynamite resume. Consider the long long term future regardless of your military ambitions.
We also don't know the caliber of state school the OP is at. He could be at UNC- CH, UVA, UMich or similar. If that level, then the grad school argument goes out the window as they are also top notch schools.