Senior Military College or Regular ROTC

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by BryceBryceBaby, Sep 1, 2017.

  1. BryceBryceBaby

    BryceBryceBaby USMA 2022

    Oct 21, 2016
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    I am applying for both service academies and ROTC scholarships, but if I were to go the ROTC route, I am unsure of whether or not to attend a Senior Military College. Ultimately, my goal is to serve active duty in the military, but at the same time, I want to go to a college that has superb academics and the majors I want. Ideally, I would want to go to a SA to get the military lifestyle AND top-of-the-line academics, but as far as ROTC goes, I am trying to decide which aspect is more important to me. Right now, my top picks for SMCs are VMI and the Citadel and my top regular ROTC schools are UNC Chapel Hill and the College of William and Mary. Lately, I have been leaning more towards the academic side, but what do you all think? Thanks.
    charlestonmom5 likes this.
  2. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Moderator 5-Year Member

    Mar 14, 2014
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    Visit all the campuses. No one here knows your personality and career goals.

    My DS struggled with the choice between an SMC and a university and now as a an MS-III is glad he chose the "normal college" experience. He teaches snowboarding during the winter and can drive home on weekends.

    But his needs are different from yours.

  3. Day-Tripper

    Day-Tripper 5-Year Member

    May 16, 2014
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    Figure out what you want to do & do it.

    As far as the "military lifestyle" at an SMC, it ain't nothing compared to active duty & I doubt it better prepares you than ROTC. But you might think it to be more fun.

    I've served under officers who spent 4 years at Jerkwater State College & then did OCS who were far superior to honor grads at Annapolis. It comes down to the individual.

    Assuming you get commissioned, your Marines/soldiers/sailors/airmen are not to going to care at all where you went to college & what your experiences were.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017
  4. bruno

    bruno 10-Year Member Retired Staff Member

    Feb 2, 2008
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    The reality of being 18 and planning on being a career Soldier is that plans and dreams change a lot. I can't tell you how many guys I have known over the years who were all gung-ho to be a lifer at 18 , and by 22 had decided that they had other things that interested them more, or else discovered early in their time in the service that it wasn't what they thought and wanted to get out as quickly as possible. So the fact that you can get a commission from "Jerkwater State" is not really the issue. So don't make your decision based on where you will become the "best Army Officer". George Marshall graduated from VMI for sure, but Audie Murphy didn't go to college at all, Chesty Puller dropped out of VMI, and Lucian K Truscott IV graduated from USMA. The school doesn't guarantee the quality of the Officer- the individual does that. But the school can certainly help shape the character of the individual and put them on the path to success in or out of the military.

    The strengths of the experience at VMI (or The Citadel) are that you are in a pressure cooker a lot more than any other place you will go to school. You will learn to function under a lot of time and physical stress and get a crash course in group dynamics that you won't get at other places. Loyalty and support to your fellow cadets becomes paramount and the relationships you make among them are stronger than virtually any you will make anywhere or anytime else ( I challenge anyone to find a more tight knit and devoted Alumni organization than VMI's which is a testament to the bonds formed there). And above all - the Honor Code demands that you live by a code of personal integrity that few places teach or value anymore. Academically- VMI is a small college which is great if you want personal interaction with your professors - when your biggest class is maybe 20 other Cadets- you are a heck of a lot more than just a number on a class roster.
    I believe that if you had describe life at VMI - purposeful and spartan would some it up. Conversely- the disadvantages of the life at VMI is that - you are always in uniform 24-7 ( where else is getting your bathrobe issues a privilege? At VMI it is a big deal for a Rat because then you can go to the latrine without first getting fully dressed!). Your hours are never completely yours and you always have expectations put on you and your conduct which gets to be wearing. Free time is a far different concept there ten it is at Chapel Hill or W&L. And while a teacher ratio of 11-1 is great for not getting lost in the academic sea- sometimes you might just want to get lost. Good luck with that.

    You need to go visit and spend some time at each place. VMI has overnight visitation in barracks for prospective cadets ( I'm sure the Citadel does too) - I would strongly urge you to sign up and visit soon. VMI or The Citadel are unique colleges- and they are definitely not for everyone. Commissioning is but one aspect of your decision to go to a college and if that is the only reason you would have to go to VMI then I think you would not be happy. You either going for , and prepared for,the whole experience or you will have a short lived and unhappy experience as a Cadet. On the other hand- if the life I described above is appealing- then make a visit.
  5. turtlerunnernc

    turtlerunnernc Member

    Dec 17, 2014
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    Like the others have said what is good for you will be different for what is good for others. My son applied to WP, VMI, Citadel, Norwich, NC State & Campbell University. He honestly didn't have much interest in a non- military school but applied because we told him he needed plans b,c,d......

    After visiting VMI it became his #1 choice even over WP and I think he was relieved when he did not get an appointment ( was 3Q with 2 nominations). Because the no cost vs out of state tuition would have made it hard to turn down.

    He is currently a 2nd ( junior) at VMI on an Army scholarship and could not be happier. That means it's a good fit for him, doesn't mean it ( or another SMC ) is right for you.

    Apply to all you are interested in and visit as many as possible. If they offer overnight do it.

    Good luck
    BryceBryceBaby and Falcon A like this.
  6. glen

    glen 5-Year Member

    Feb 27, 2010
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    Let me add to the voices of caution re being 18 and limiting your colleges choices. Acceptance at a federal service academy is a prestigious reward for a student's academic and other achievements. But so is an Ivy League or "public" Ivy college our university and many other quality institutions. You will get the absolute best military training at a federal academy, but you will also live in a regimented life style for four years that is unlike the actual military today. And - this does not mean you will become a quality commissioned officer. Whether you go to a federal service academy or a local open admission college, how successful you will be as a junior officer in charge of 32 young lives, depends on who you are not where you went to school. General Colin Powell, former Chief of Staff and Secretary of State, graduated from the City University of NY.

    As for SMCs, they vary from large state research universities like Texas A&M and Virginia Tech with mix of big time college, hundreds of academic majors to choose from, and a military Corps of Cadets, to small college experiences like The Citadel and VMI, with a smaller basic offering of liberal arts, Engineering and STEM majors, combined with an intense and unique traditions. These traditions are based on a very structured experience that is unlike any military training you will go through in a military service. You need to decide what 4 year experience you think will best achieve your academic goals - your intended career - and will be fun. The latter is important because - those 4 years will be the best ones in most folks lives - you don't want to waste them. Visit and talk to students and cadets at these schools and read all you can about them.

    For me - at the age of 18, I was convinced I wanted to be an Army Officer and enrolled in Army ROTC at The Citadel. By the end of my Junior year in college I was convinced I wanted to be an attorney and was applying to law schools. By my Senior year I was desperately seeking deferments from starting law school so I could first complete my Army active duty obligation as an ROTC contracted cadet. The obligation I committed to my Junior year to serve on active duty was one I felt honor bound to do, but could easily have cost me attendance at law schools of my choice. Best advice - ask questions, visit, read up on the history and traditions and culture of colleges you are interested in attending - and never ever limit your choices until you must.