5-Year Member
Nov 22, 2017
I am very thankful for the guidance from those posting and answering questions on these SA Boards. These forums have been very helpful while my DS navigated the demanding Academy application process. Now that he has offers in hand, he has a difficult choice among great opportunities. He says he wants a long military career (I know, all plans are subject to change). We are very excited for him.

I do have a question about the different pathways to become an officer. In looking past the Academy/college it seems that entrance into an immediate postgraduate program (especially medicine) is more likely available out of NROTC. However, one comment that I’ve seen multiple times from very seasoned posters is that once you are commissioned as an URL officer, it makes little difference from which source you came. Or that no one cares whether you were commissioned out of the USNA, NROTC, or OCS. I recently watched and highly recommend USNA Superintendent VADM Carter’s talk at Johns Hopkins Physics Laboratory.
(The following info begins at the 29 minute mark of the video). In this talk, he cited 2014 statistics for Naval officer ascension. USNA grads supplied approximately 30% of all Naval URL officers, but accounted for ~40% of Captains, ~60% of 2 star select level, ~75% of 3 stars, and an eye-popping 80-90% of 4 star flag level officers. He acknowledges that this is not the only measure of success in the Navy but it sure is a tangible one.

I am not sure of the reason for this disparity. Could it be that those choosing to attend the Academy also more often choose longer military careers? Are they more efficient in rising through the ranks? Or is there another reason to account for this difference? These statistics also don’t seem to support the thought that all roads leading to a commission are equal. Of course, these are general stats and ultimate success is mostly up to each individual. Any thoughts on this subject are appreciated.
Also, all but one of the ~30 Chiefs of Naval Operations have been Academy grads. It certainly is interesting and is the reason I gave in nom and BGO interviews for my preference for the Academy over other routes. Perhaps immersion into the military lifestyle along with countless leadership opportunities and academic rigor leads to a better developed officer, at least in some cases. It's only a guess but it makes sense.
Not sure if I should even be responding to this but thought I would add another perspective. I tend to "lean" toward employees that have come from a similar background and yes, probably give them consideration over others in advancement areas. Not because they are more qualified but because they come into situations with both of us knowing my expectations, knowing what past performance was expected and what it takes to succeed. Not saying that others competing from "outside the pipeline" are at a disadvantage but they have to show aptitude rather than having the assumption that it already exists. That assumption's not fair but it does exist and has worked out to hold true in numerous situations. It doesn't mean belonging to the CLUB has any weight but does lend itself to that conclusion. If you are capable to assume my duties and responsibilities because of your desire to advance and succeed without my having to guide you to that end, then you become a more preferred employee and wind up receiving the treatment that goes along with it. Just human nature maybe?
I'm a current BGO on my 15th candidate cycle in Northern VA. Also parent of two relatively recent grads from '10 and '11, both of whom are still on active duty, and I have a Keydet at VMI who is not going to commission.

The first thing I'd like to tell you is the best thing about having the choice between USNA and NROTC is that USNA is free of charge. Paying for college stinks, as I have learned over the past three years. :( Unless USNA doesn't offer the major your DS wants (unlikely if he's on a 4-year scholarship), I would strongly recommend that path for a lot of reasons. NROTC doesn't pay for everything; USNA does.

You're correct in your observation that no one cares about commissioning source - it's about performance.

Grad school is available to qualified candidates, irrespective of commissioning source. Numbers change from year-to-year.