SMP Vs. Regular ROTC?


5-Year Member
Oct 29, 2016
Hi again, long time no see!

I'm happy to announce that I'm underway in my third week of freshman college and have been loving the ROTC experience. Recently, the possibility of joining SMP has crossed my mind and has made me wonder what the advantages/disadvantages of joining would be as a Student. Since exact details on SMP are a little hazy, I figured it'd be best to ask some more knowledgeable users here.

If one were to become an SMP, would I have to miss out on a semester of college to attend BCT and AIT? I've heard training can take up to 14 weeks, and I wouldn't mind spending two summers to avoid missing out on school. Also, what experience would there be to gain besides going to boot camp and drill? I am aware that there is shadowing involved with PL/COs, but are there any other major perks besides money? While drilling and money would certainly be complimentary, I would not be willing to sign up for this program if it would overwhelm my college life on top of ROTC. Lastly, how would one go about commissioning active duty if they decide to commission as an SMP?

My daughter was approached with this as well, and she thought it sounded really cool. She was approached by a recruiter, and their job is to recruit. She is now a sophomore in ROTC and did not go SMP and has not mentioned it since. I would recommend talking to your ROO. In my DD's case, she realized with a few conversations that the cost (her time and commitment) out weighed the benefit she would be getting since she is also on scholarship like you, her school is covered, she has some spending money, and she is working towards her goal of being an officer. She also is getting a lot of opportunities for extra training and experiences, which was why she was interested in the first place. She is also doing Ranger Challenge and volunteering outside of ROTC, which she would not have time to do either if she was SMP. Good luck, and definitely don't sign anything until talking to your ROTC adviser and your ROO.
If you're on scholarship I don't really see any advantage to doing SMP. You should definitely talk to the ROO who should have all the details and can best advise you.
Agree with Kinnem. Ask the ROO.

In fact, I am not sure you can join SMP while on an AROTC scholarship, without a payback.
If you are on scholarship the only way you can do SMP is if you opt out of having Active Duty as an option when you graduate (convert to GRFD).

Unless you can't afford to stay at school any other way, I would recommend you not do SMP. Some would argue (especially recruiters and current/former enlisted folks) that you will have more experience, and be a better leader if you have seen "the other side" and have experienced Basic Training. I wholeheartedly disagree, and would argue that in some cases it will make you a worse leader. SMP is not a bad program, and it is definitely the right fit for my non scholarship Cadets at my low cost state schools, especially the ones who aren't interested in Active Duty when they graduate.

Work hard in your classes, get involved on your campus and in your ROTC program, and take advantages of opportunities like CULP, CTLT, and Army internships and you will have all the tools you need to be a solid 2LT when you commission.
I am a non scholarship and non-contracted cadet. Furthermore, my goal is to shoot for active duty which I've now heard from other SMPs that it is possible to do so. My honest and main goal is getting as much experience as possible, and like you said above, I was recommended by a current enlisted that the extra experience one can gain from doing SMP can be significant.

Should have clarified that, my apologies.
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You can get active duty as an SMP cadet, however you will have to be a non-scholarship SMP cadet. You will not be able to contract as an SMP cadet until your sophomore year.

My advice is to wait until the end of sophomore year before making a decision. That way you have a chance to earn a line scholarship. Should you not earn one, then you can enlist and become an SMP cadet. You can enlist as a potential SMP at that point and not go to Basic Training/AIT.

There really is no added value to going to Basic Training. Cadets and enlisted recruiters like to hype it up, but the reality of the situation is that attending basic training is the minimum requirement to be in the military. Just like a HS degree is the minimum requirement to be a college student. Basic Training is not a big deal. I know, because I attended OSUT in 1995, and was enlisted for a few years prior to commissioning. Attendance to basic training did not make me a better officer. My time as an NCO helped, but not anything I did as a private.

The advantages to being an SMP cadet is the extra drill pay, and that your time in service starts for pay purposes, so when you commission you will be at a higher pay step. You will get additional experience, however the amount of experience is minimal due to only having a few dozen drills under your belt by the time you commission.