USNA vs ROTC

FL2021

New Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2017
Messages
3
I was hoping to get some opinions or advice on being in NROTC vs attending the Academy. I was turned down for the class of 2020 last year and am currently at a NROTC unit. I have really enjoyed life at a civilian college and the freedom it has but still believe that life at the Academy would challenge and develop me much more than NROTC would. I would really appreciate any general advice, recommendations or answers to some of the personal questions I have that I think are important for my decision.
  • Is spending an extra year at university worth it to change to USNA if it leads to the same result?
  • I have heard that NROTC students that go to USNA after a year typically are unhappy, is there any truth to this or is it simply a one sided story from the students I am surrounded by?
  • Are the sailors in the fleet from USNA usually better than those from ROTC?
  • I have been told that USNA graduates are more likely to become high-ranking officers, is this true?
  • Finally, after a career in the Navy, I am aware a USNA degree is highly sought after. However, If I am at a top engineering school and will ultimately still get the leadership experience that comes from being in the fleet as a sailor, does the USNA degree still hold significantly more prestige?
I am undoubtedly committed to becoming an officer in the Navy but the choice between my two options is something I have been going back and forth with for awhile and am struggling to reach a final choice and any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

Cerberi

Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2015
Messages
749
You can be quite successful regardless of your commissioning source.

All your questions are relative to what you want.

I would say 4 years at usna would provide more breadth of USN/USMC experiences than NROTC.

Once you are in the fleet - no one really cares how you got there just how you perform and work with others

Military officers especially with technical degrees are highly sought after by industry.

If you are happy at your school in your NROTC unit, not sure why you would delay commissioning a year
 

ktnatalk

Sailor. Shipmate. Parent.
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
1,299
I basically agree with Cerberi.

I do know many people that attending USNA is their goal in addition to becoming a naval officer. Ask yourself if it is yours as well.

If you have a year college under your belt, you probably can validate more than a few classes - you will still attend USNA for four years, but you may be able to go in depth into research in your major, or possibly double majors.

Here is a link to answer your other question:

https://www.serviceacademyforums.com/index.php?threads/usna-vs-ivy-league-school-nrotc.52900/#post519973

Best of luck!
 

usna1985

10-Year Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
6,280
Is spending an extra year at university worth it to change to USNA if it leads to the same result?

Not sure I understand the question. I think you're asking if it makes sense to add a year by attending USNA after a year at college. In that case, it depends on whether your desire to attend USNA still burns or whether you are happy/satisfied with your current life. There is no reason, IMHO, to "start over" at USNA for any reason other than it's something you really still want to do. O/w, even with some of the answers I'll give below, it could well be a miserable experience.

I have heard that NROTC students that go to USNA after a year typically are unhappy, is there any truth to this or is it simply a one sided story from the students I am surrounded by?

See above. It will be different at USNA after having the "freedoms" of a civilian school. Now, someone will tell you when to do things. You'll be limited in terms of what you can do and where you can go in your "free time." Your courses will be more limited. You'll wear a uniform all of the time. You're going from a civilian school with some military thrown in to a military school. As noted above, if that's what you want, then it will be ok. If not, you might be miserable.

Are the sailors in the fleet from USNA usually better than those from ROTC?

A minor point -- USNA and ROTC graduate "officers." The term "sailors" typically refers to enlisted personnel. And the answer is "no." As a USNA grad, you'll have a head start over your NROTC and OCS counterparts b/c you've been in the military full-time for four years. However, that advantage is soon displaced, and how good you are as an officer depends on you.

I have been told that USNA graduates are more likely to become high-ranking officers, is this true?

Yes, in the USN. No in the USMC. It is still the case the USNA grads tend to dominate the flag ranks in the USN. However, there are many examples of NROTC and OCS grads who make flag rank. In the USMC, ROTC grads are most likely to become generals, though USNA grads obviously make flag rank in that service.

Finally, after a career in the Navy, I am aware a USNA degree is highly sought after. However, If I am at a top engineering school and will ultimately still get the leadership experience that comes from being in the fleet as a sailor, does the USNA degree still hold significantly more prestige?

You're mixing two questions. The first is the value of your academic degree. Undergraduate degrees from top engineering schools (e.g., MIT, Caltech) are just as impressive to certain employers as degrees from SAs. The second is leadership. Part of that comes from your USNA degree but more comes from your time as an officer. However, how impressed an employer will be depends on the employer and the job you are seeking.

Prestige seems important now and certainly a higher percentage of leaders come from what are typically considered "prestigious" schools, such as the Ivies. That said, there are many, many examples of people achieving success who attended schools that aren't exactly considered "prestigious." See, for example, Ronald Reagan (Eureka College). Or Abraham Lincoln (never attended college).
 

NavyHoops

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6,613
1985 nailed it and I concur with everything they stated. You have to want to do this. If you decide to move forward and attend USNA, if you are constantly looking back at what you had or what could of been you will be miserable. A few things I think USNA has over ROTC:

1. Exposure - This includes exposure to officers, enlisted, training, career tracks. No matter how big your ROTC detachment is, USNA has more USN and USMC officers and enlisted on staff. Your exposure to them daily leads to many lessons learned and knowledge transfer. Your exposure to retired officers and enlisted through character development programs, lectures, dinners, and a plethora of other events are also rather large. Heck even meeting alumni at a football tailgater gets a chance to ask questions and learn from them. A couple examples of where I think this can really help. Service selection... if you are torn between two communities, the amount of officers to go ask questions and explore this topic is huge. Same goes for asking about different ships. The SWO officers come out in droves to assist Mids in what ship is best for them? What base is best? Pros and cons.

2. Alumni network - It is large and national. The mentoring programs, alumni network events, job fairs are all tremendous assets. Your current school probably has this too, but much more local or regional than national. This also goes for while on active duty. You will know someone at every base you go to. That can always be comforting when moving thousands of miles. It can also really help to get information ahead of time from a personal and professional perspective.

3. Career - I am a believer that you are solely responsible for your success regardless of program you go through. I have seen those who attend USNA never do a dang thing except what we required at USNA and others from ROTC thrive because they took it into their hands. USNA does have a larger flag representation on the Navy side than other commissioning sources. Remember career field also does play into this. For example, flag representation in the IP world is limited. There just isn't as large for them as the SWO admirals. This also goes for USMC.

4. If you think USMC might be something you want to explore, USNA does not require a commitment to USN or USMC until your senior year. At this point you might say, no USMC for me, not an issue. But for some they like having either option open.

5. If SEALs is on your list then USNA is the place. They get more SEAL slots than ROTC. They also have a much higher success rate at BUDS than ROTC. If this is a path you want you have tons of guys to train with on a daily basis to prep for the summer training and screeners. This carries over when selected and training for BUDS. You now have 30+ guys and SEAL officer and enlisted there to help train, motivate and ensure you are ready. At ROTC you might a 1 man show in this regards.

6. Summer training - There are lots of the same opportunities between the two, but USNA also has some unique ones. If flying is something you want to do, powered flight is an option for summer training. Its one of the harder training programs, but it is great prep for flight school.

With all this being said it ultimately comes down to you. Do you want a 24/7 military environment? What do you think you will gain from USNA? Also, money could be an issue or not in your current situation. You might have a room & board cost you and your family are dealing with, maybe not. Good luck.
 
Last edited:

ktnatalk

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Messages
1,299
A minor point -- USNA and ROTC graduate "officers." The term "sailors" typically refers to enlisted personnel.

Agree with everything above from @usna1985 except this point. I recall ADM Mullen ('68), as CNO, was in a training video reciting the Sailor's Creed. All officers and enlisted in the Navy are Sailors. Yes, I am aware it says "Officers and crew of USS ..." on the plague on any submarine as well.

From Wiki:

The current version of the Sailor's Creed was a product of many Blue Ribbon Recruit Training Panels in 1993 at the direction of Admiral Frank B. Kelso II, Chief of Naval Operations. It has been revised twice; once in 1994 under the direction of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jeremy Boorda, and again in 1997. These changes were made to make the creed inclusively descriptive of all hands. The creed is taught and recited in boot camp and officer accession programs.

Current Sailor's Creed:

I am a United States Sailor.
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.
I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
I proudly serve my country's Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.
I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.
 

Brawny77

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
370
My two cents worth:

Either path can get you where you want to go.
What do you want? That's the question.
 

Dad2020

5-Year Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2015
Messages
165
If what you are concerned about is employment after your service in the Navy, my opinion is, it doesn't matter.

Having done a lot of HR work and hiring, the first thing I see is the resume. If it is neat and professionally done and has the relevant education and experience, it goes on. If not, it gets tossed.

Next we look at experience in the field. Have you done an internship? Prior employment? Why did you leave your last job? Do you want to do this kind of work or is it just a resume you dumped out there. What I mean is, do you have a passion for the work and is it obvious.

Then we go through references and call them all.

Then we search social media and review you.

And then if it's a tie between two candidates, we look at where you went to school and look at our track record with that school's graduates. So it's a minor consideration. I've never heard anyone ask in an interview what a candidates grades were, and if you put it on your resume, or that you graduated with honors, we just say "that's nice" or "impressive" but it has almost no weight in deciding who we hire.

Go to the school that you will be happiest at and where you can get practical experience in the field you want to pursue. By practical experience, again, I mean internships, hobbies, volunteer work that reflect your desire to have a job in that field.

I hope that helps even if it's not directly on point.
 

Old Navy BGO

5-Year Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2012
Messages
2,748
My view, for what its worth (and this is what I tell my Candidates )- I think USNA gives you a head start when you hit the fleet. What I saw (30 years ago) was that USNA grads were better prepared when they got to the squadron. However, in the long run (ie. upon completion of first squadron tour), there was little to distinguish officers from the various commissioning sources.
 

Skegs

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2015
Messages
30
You're getting some great advice. Also see the thread USNA Its not college, which gives you an idea of the differences in student life.
 

Skegs

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2015
Messages
30
1985 nailed it and I concur with everything they stated. You have to want to do this. If you decide to move forward and attend USNA, if you are constantly looking back at what you had or what could of been you will be miserable. A few things I think USNA has over ROTC:

1. Exposure - This includes exposure to officers, enlisted, training, career tracks. No matter how big your ROTC detachment is, USNA has more USN and USMC officers and enlisted on staff. Your exposure to them daily leads to many lessons learned and knowledge transfer. Your exposure to retired officers and enlisted through character development programs, lectures, dinners, and a plethora of other events are also rather large. Heck even meeting alumni at a football tailgater gets a chance to ask questions and learn from them. A couple examples of where I think this can really help. Service selection... if you are torn between two communities, the amount of officers to go ask questions and explore this topic is huge. Same goes for asking about different ships. The SWO officers come out in droves to assist Mids in what ship is best for them? What base is best? Pros and cons.

2. Alumni network - It is large and national. The mentoring programs, alumni network events, job fairs are all tremendous assets. Your current school probably has this too, but much more local or regional than national. This also goes for while on active duty. You will know someone at every base you go to. That can always be comforting when moving thousands of miles. It can also really help to get information ahead of time from a personal and professional perspective.

3. Career - I am a believer that you are solely responsible for your success regardless of program you go through. I have seen those who attend USNA never do a dang thing except what we required at USNA and others from ROTC thrive because they took it into their hands. USNA does have a larger flag representation on the Navy side than other commissioning sources. Remember career field also does play into this. For example, flag representation in the IP world is limited. There just isn't as large for them as the SWO admirals. This also goes for USMC.

4. If you think USMC might be something you want to explore, USNA does not require a commitment to USN or USMC until your senior year. At this point you might say, no USMC for me, not an issue. But for some they like having either option open.

5. If SEALs is on your list then USNA is the place. They get more SEAL slots than ROTC. They also have a much higher success rate at BUDS than ROTC. If this is a path you want you have tons of guys to train with on a daily basis to prep for the summer training and screeners. This carries over when selected and training for BUDS. You now have 30+ guys and SEAL officer and enlisted there to help train, motivate and ensure you are ready. At ROTC you might a 1 man show in this regards.

6. Summer training - There are lots of the same opportunities between the two, but USNA also has some unique ones. If flying is something you want to do, powered flight is an option for summer training. Its one of the harder training programs, but it is great prep for flight school.

With all this being said it ultimately comes down to you. Do you want a 24/7 military environment? What do you think you will gain from USNA? Also, money could be an issue or not in your current situation. You might have a room & board cost you and your family are dealing with, maybe not. Good luck.

Your exposure comment is very correct, my plebe son went to Catholic Mass on the Navy's birthday this past October and shared it with the CNO, who got up to speak. See USNA Chaplains fB page. The exposure is there in ways you don't even imagine.
 
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