USMA or Notre Dame ROTC?

For a while now, I have been bouncing back and forth between whether I should go to USMA or Notre Dame for ROTC. I really like both schools, and I would probably study Political Science either way. I just really don't know which one to choose. I won an ROTC scholarship to Notre Dame, so money isn't really a factor at this point... I really like the Catholic atmosphere at Notre Dame, and that community service is a big thing there. But I also feel like a West Point degree is more impressive, and that if I pass up West Point for Notre Dame, it could hurt me in the future for jobs and whatnot. I'm not sure exactly what branch of the Army I want to join, or how long I want to be in the Army, but I just want to make sure for life beyond the Army that my college choice was a good one. What is the better choice for me to make, West Point or Notre Dame?
 

shock-n-awe

Member
Congratulations on your ROTC scholarship!
Have you received an offer of appointment to USMA? If not, you don’t need to choose at this time.
If you have, you should do some soul searching as to why you want to serve your country in the first place, not which degree will serve you better. Both are great options and will offer you many opportunities in the future. Both paths will commission you into the ARMY. Also understand that the lifestyle of the two options you contemplate are very different. Have you visited West Point? Attended SLE or CVW? An Academy lifestyle of 24/7 military is not for everyone!
You don’t need to commit to a lifetime of service at this point, but definitely be in the right mindset to serve your minimum commitment with dedication to the oath you will take.
 
Congratulations on your ROTC scholarship!
Have you received an offer of appointment to USMA? If not, you don’t need to choose at this time.
If you have, you should do some soul searching as to why you want to serve your country in the first place, not which degree will serve you better. Both are great options and will offer you many opportunities in the future. Both paths will commission you into the ARMY. Also understand that the lifestyle of the two options you contemplate are very different. Have you visited West Point? Attended SLE or CVW? An Academy lifestyle of 24/7 military is not for everyone!
You don’t need to commit to a lifetime of service at this point, but definitely be in the right mindset to serve your minimum commitment with dedication to the oath you will take.
I went to SLE and I loved it. I also visited Notre Dame and loved it. I’m kind of a service guy, which is why I want to join the army, but also why I like Notre Dame so much.
 

jl123

Member
For a while now, I have been bouncing back and forth between whether I should go to USMA or Notre Dame for ROTC. I really like both schools, and I would probably study Political Science either way. I just really don't know which one to choose. I won an ROTC scholarship to Notre Dame, so money isn't really a factor at this point... I really like the Catholic atmosphere at Notre Dame, and that community service is a big thing there. But I also feel like a West Point degree is more impressive, and that if I pass up West Point for Notre Dame, it could hurt me in the future for jobs and whatnot. I'm not sure exactly what branch of the Army I want to join, or how long I want to be in the Army, but I just want to make sure for life beyond the Army that my college choice was a good one. What is the better choice for me to make, West Point or Notre Dame?
You can't go wrong with either choice - both great options. A couple of considerations:

  1. If you choose USMA, you have two years to change your mind. You can transfer to Notre Dame or another college and receive credit for your courses.
  2. If you choose Notre Dame, you can try again for USMA if you want. But you have to go through the whole application process again and will start over as a plebe.
  3. Someone correct me if I'm wrong about ROTC commissions. This has changed a few times over the years - Graduate from USMA and you get a Regular Army commission. Graduate from ROTC and you get a Reserve Commission.
 
For a while now, I have been bouncing back and forth between whether I should go to USMA or Notre Dame for ROTC. I really like both schools, and I would probably study Political Science either way. I just really don't know which one to choose. I won an ROTC scholarship to Notre Dame, so money isn't really a factor at this point... I really like the Catholic atmosphere at Notre Dame, and that community service is a big thing there. But I also feel like a West Point degree is more impressive, and that if I pass up West Point for Notre Dame, it could hurt me in the future for jobs and whatnot. I'm not sure exactly what branch of the Army I want to join, or how long I want to be in the Army, but I just want to make sure for life beyond the Army that my college choice was a good one. What is the better choice for me to make, West Point or Notre Dame?
You can't go wrong with either choice - both great options. A couple of considerations:

  1. If you choose USMA, you have two years to change your mind. You can transfer to Notre Dame or another college and receive credit for your courses.
  2. If you choose Notre Dame, you can try again for USMA if you want. But you have to go through the whole application process again and will start over as a plebe.
  3. Someone correct me if I'm wrong about ROTC commissions. This has changed a few times over the years - Graduate from USMA and you get a Regular Army commission. Graduate from ROTC and you get a Reserve Commission.
WP is for RA commissions, while ROTC you are guaranteed Reserve/Guard with a OML opportunity for AD.
 

MidCakePa

Member
@ElevatingCondor, the perception of prestige of either institution should be the last thing on your mind. There are far bigger factors that should play into your decision. You know what they are: full-time vs. part-time military, highly prescribed schedule vs. freedom to move about, a recently rejuvenated football team vs. an all-time great football program, and so on. Those are hugely important factors and they impact the here-and-now of college.

As for relative prestige: The soonest this will matter is five years after graduation, at which point your work record will be a far bigger factor than your alma mater when seeking a job. If it’s network you’re concerned about, Notre Dame’s is second to none (just ask the alumni, they’ll tell you). And Notre Dame is very comparable to West Point in general reputation. So frankly, you have no bad choice here. Don’t overthink it.
 
@ElevatingCondor, the perception of prestige of either institution should be the last thing on your mind. There are far bigger factors that should play into your decision. You know what they are: full-time vs. part-time military, highly prescribed schedule vs. freedom to move about, a recently rejuvenated football team vs. an all-time great football program, and so on. Those are hugely important factors and they impact the here-and-now of college.

As for relative prestige: The soonest this will matter is five years after graduation, at which point your work record will be a far bigger factor than your alma mater when seeking a job. If it’s network you’re concerned about, Notre Dame’s is second to none (just ask the alumni, they’ll tell you). And Notre Dame is very comparable to West Point in general reputation. So frankly, you have no bad choice here. Don’t overthink it.
Thanks. To clarify, prestige actually is the last thing on my mind. I’m genuinely fine either way with everything else, including what you mentioned... that’s why I turned to the forums for help. Your response helped me feel better about the whole thing though.
 
Also, have you been accepted to Notre Dame yet? You need to factor that into your thinking.
Right. My whole thinking here is if I get into both. I know I still have a lot of time to think about it, I guess it’s just that I tend to over-think things like this.
 

MidCakePa

Member
Considering you haven’t been accepted to either WP or ND, then yes, you’re overthinking things a bit. Though some would call it “planning ahead,” which isn’t a bad thing. So if you’re doing the latter, think about what you’d do if you were accepted to neither. Is Plan C, D, E...in place?
 
Considering you haven’t been accepted to either WP or ND, then yes, you’re overthinking things a bit. Though some would call it “planning ahead,” which isn’t a bad thing. So if you’re doing the latter, think about what you’d do if you were accepted to neither. Is Plan C, D, E...in place?
I would request to transfer the ROTC scholarship to UChicago or Vanderbilt... if I don’t get into either of those either I’d go to either UNC or Marist if I am allowed to transfer the scholarship to them... if I can’t I’d go to the one that gives me the best money, and do ROTC without the scholarship... if I don’t get enough money to any school I’d likely enlist. Does that sound like a good backup-backup-backup-backup-backup plan?
 

Overwhelmed

Member
My DS also received the four-year scholarship in the first round. ROTC at a prestigious/Ivy league university sometimes can be Plan "A" instead of Plan "B." He recently spoke to a first year SA student who had to grapple with a similar choice last spring. He doesn't regret choosing the SA but he did tell my son to seriously consider ROTC.
 

USMCGrunt

5-Year Member
@ElevatingCondor : no one can make that decision for you. Assuming you are accepted at both schools: you have to decide on the type of "atmosphere" you prefer. Significant freedoms or a more structured life. Government issued clothing or civilian attire. A hierarchical student body or not. A low/no cost Academy or the cost of Room & Board at ND. A secular institution with high ideals versus a Catholic institution with its own ideals. The list goes on and on.

I am a graduate of Notre Dame. We have a pretty extensive alumni network and the willingness to help out other graduates. That said, I have always been impressed with the service academy network and feel it is that much stronger. Not sure I would make my decision based on your perceived need for a network in the future.

You will get an impressive education at either school and I am sure not going to say one is better than the other. Graduates from both schools have gone on to do great things and have been widely successful in the civilian world.

I will close with this. There was a time that being a veteran was not viewed as a positive and could actually hurt a job prospect's chances (post Vietnam). Today, veterans are generally treated with respect. On the other hand, I run into people all the time that are either pro- or anti- Notre Dame and not afraid to vocalize it. I don't mean to equate this sentiment to the post-war view of veterans and I can't imagine it would keep anyone from getting a job but it is out there. There again, I wouldn't select a place to study based on that fact either.

Good luck!
 
@ElevatingCondor : no one can make that decision for you. Assuming you are accepted at both schools: you have to decide on the type of "atmosphere" you prefer. Significant freedoms or a more structured life. Government issued clothing or civilian attire. A hierarchical student body or not. A low/no cost Academy or the cost of Room & Board at ND. A secular institution with high ideals versus a Catholic institution with its own ideals. The list goes on and on.

I am a graduate of Notre Dame. We have a pretty extensive alumni network and the willingness to help out other graduates. That said, I have always been impressed with the service academy network and feel it is that much stronger. Not sure I would make my decision based on your perceived need for a network in the future.

You will get an impressive education at either school and I am sure not going to say one is better than the other. Graduates from both schools have gone on to do great things and have been widely successful in the civilian world.

I will close with this. There was a time that being a veteran was not viewed as a positive and could actually hurt a job prospect's chances (post Vietnam). Today, veterans are generally treated with respect. On the other hand, I run into people all the time that are either pro- or anti- Notre Dame and not afraid to vocalize it. I don't mean to equate this sentiment to the post-war view of veterans and I can't imagine it would keep anyone from getting a job but it is out there. There again, I wouldn't select a place to study based on that fact either.

Good luck!
Thanks. How was your experience at ND?
 

USMCGrunt

5-Year Member
My experience is hardly relevant as it was so long ago. They had just admitted women a few years before so that was a positive.;) National Champs in Football, Final 4 in Basketball, and a whole lot of sports success. The student body lived on campus all four years and typically stayed in the same dorm (so these became the group you identified with). Chapel in every dorm - I attended daily Mass. Got a great education. Lifelong friends. Successful career after my Marine Corps service ended.

My experience was mine. Yours will be different - no matter which school you choose.
 

jebdad

5-Year Member
If you haven't been admitted to either, you are definitely getting ahead of yourself. But I can see that these are the things people do to occupy their minds as they wait for decisions. :)

Another consideration: USMA has begun a shift to branch more and more if its grads to combat arms. There is a desire by those who make these type of decisions to continue to increase the percentage of USMA grads branching combat arms. So, if that is the case, and you desire to branch outside of combat arms, you may be better off doing ROTC.

Those who know more about the branching process through ROTC can chime in but that is how it is headed at USMA.
 

skippers

Member
ElevatingCondor - be happy to share our experiences with you if you PM me....I am a USMA grad, have a daughter who is a ND grad, and my youngest son is at USNA now - he had the same kind of decision - USMA, USNA or ND ROTC, and after a good deal of thought, chose USNA...to extent his experience can be helpful to you, happy to share thoughts.
 

USMAROTCFamily

5-Year Member
Our DD Graduated from ND last year and was on a NROTC scholarship. We have a son who is a Firstie at USMA this year. All I can say is that we love both institutions and both of our children had zero regret in the decision they each made. If you are admitted to both, you'll have to discern which route is more "you."
 

jl123

Member
Another consideration: USMA has begun a shift to branch more and more if its grads to combat arms. There is a desire by those who make these type of decisions to continue to increase the percentage of USMA grads branching combat arms. So, if that is the case, and you desire to branch outside of combat arms, you may be better off doing ROTC.
Really good point. Including Branch Detail, 81% of the USMA class is branching combat arms.
 
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