25Grad

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2019
Messages
13
Hey yall,

I'm a current senior looking to major in psychology and commission into the Marines, and I have several questions on how to decide between the two. I've been browsing the forums, but most of the posts I've run into are for AROTC commissions which don't really help me that much.

As for the Marines specifically, I've heard that it doesn't matter which school you commission from in the long run, but I'm looking for which one would help me be more prepared for OCS or TBS, or possibly the fleet if that matters. Does either school realistically simulate life in the fleet? Which one gives students a better taste of officer life? Does either the Ratline or the Fourthclass System have any benefit over the other, besides bragging rights? And if it's possible to generalize, do grads from either school perform better in unfamiliar environments or have a "better" leadership style?

For the schools themselves, what are the psychology programs at each school like? What are the required classes, and what classes are highly recommended to the point where they're basically required? How many semester hours do you get, and realistically is there enough time to get your academics done? What are the various other activities on top of the academics, and how much time do you spend on them? What are the weekends like, is it mostly work or is there free time? And finally, does either school have an "adjustment period" or do they just throw you into the deep end during Matriculation?

Thank you in advance!
 

EEBTTF

Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
953
Hey yall,

I'm a current senior looking to major in psychology and commission into the Marines, and I have several questions on how to decide between the two. I've been browsing the forums, but most of the posts I've run into are for AROTC commissions which don't really help me that much.

As for the Marines specifically, I've heard that it doesn't matter which school you commission from in the long run, but I'm looking for which one would help me be more prepared for OCS or TBS, or possibly the fleet if that matters. Does either school realistically simulate life in the fleet? Which one gives students a better taste of officer life? Does either the Ratline or the Fourthclass System have any benefit over the other, besides bragging rights? And if it's possible to generalize, do grads from either school perform better in unfamiliar environments or have a "better" leadership style?

For the schools themselves, what are the psychology programs at each school like? What are the required classes, and what classes are highly recommended to the point where they're basically required? How many semester hours do you get, and realistically is there enough time to get your academics done? What are the various other activities on top of the academics, and how much time do you spend on them? What are the weekends like, is it mostly work or is there free time? And finally, does either school have an "adjustment period" or do they just throw you into the deep end during Matriculation?

Thank you in advance!
I will take a stab at this. Both VMI and The Citadel are great schools. They both have storied traditions of educating, training and commissioning Marines. There are numerous posts in the SAF discussing commissioning numbers and comparing the SMCs.

They are very similar and very different. The Ratline and Knob year are very challenging at both, hard to compare because there are very few if any that have done both (Funny story - I had a Rook buddy at Norwich that went through the Ratline and then transferred to Norwich to do it all over again - crazy dude!).

I suggest you research and visit both schools and do the overnight at both. After visiting, you will have a better feel for which one is right. My DS visited all of the SMCs and ended up at The Citadel. It was closer to home and in Charleston, which was recently ranked as the best college town in America. He is currently a NROTC-MO there and has been very happy with his choice.

In terms of adjustment period - Yes, you get the amount of time it takes to carry your stuff up to your room, mommy and daddy drive off and your Ratline/4th Class year starts. No break-in period, no safe spaces. Use the summer before to prepare yourself physically and mentally. Don't be the guy/gal that shows up out of shape and unprepared. My DS lost around 50+ knobs in the first few weeks. Make sure you go for the right reasons....your reasons.

No idea on the psychology departments.

End of the day. Choose the school that YOU want to go to that will give YOU the experience you want. They both will prepare you for the rigors of PLC/OCS time in the fleet. Good Luck!
 

VMI2017+3

D-35k Pilot
Joined
Jun 7, 2016
Messages
176
I’d echo the above post. I’d also add that experience as a “full-time Cadet” (SA/SMC student) typically is quite different than life as an officer. That doesn’t mean the experience doesn’t add value for the right type of person. I say this to mean “simulating life in the fleet” is likely both a futile goal and an unproductive metric for your college decision.

From what I’ve gathered, VMI is more “spartan” than the Citadel with less privileges and privacy for Rats and even upperclassmen. The Ratline at VMI is shorter in duration. This gives you a chance to turn your grades around towards the end of your first year, or let them tank when you get your phone and video games back... Smaller selection of majors. At VMI your class is the dominant organization. At El Cid, that may still be true, but your company/batallion plays a larger role in life than at VMI (similar to USMA).

We definitely have a great track record of commissioning people who want to be Marine Officers even if that means PLC (it often does). Our FTXs are good prep for Army/Marines in particular as they’re able to get more relevant training out of that time compared to AF/Navy. El Cid may be similar in this regard.

Ultimately, in the grand scheme of all colleges, there may be no two more similar schools than VMI and El Cid.
 

CatDog99

Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2018
Messages
143
Are you in state for either school? Did you apply for NROTC-MO scholarship? Try to visit both, overnight in barracks, if possible. Try to meet a class officer in the NROTC-MO unit and some Marine option cadets. One school will probably stand out for you. Lexington is very nice town, but it's not Charleston; you won't see much of either your 4th class year. The Institute and El Cid can both prepare you very well for Marine commissioning if you work hard. DS is Marine option at VMI. He visited both and VMI was right fit for him.
 

kinnem

Moderator
10-Year Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2010
Messages
14,330
You can find out about th psych programs by going through each schools course catalog online.

No school, except perhaps for USNA, is really going to prepare you for the curriculum at TBS. SMCs seem to do a fair job of preparing you for OCS. Nevertheless, thousands upon thousands of USMC officers from non-SMC colleges successfully prepare for and complete OCS.

Ultimately, all preparation comes from your own dedication to being prepared. It's something you accomplish yourself, not something they do to you. You get out of these programs only what you put into it.
 

25Grad

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2019
Messages
13
Unfortunately as much as I'd like to, I won't be able to do an overnight since I'm an out-of-state applicant from Cali. My apologies, I should have mentioned that in the original post. Would anyone happen to know if there's a virtual tour of either school anywhere?

@CatDog99 I have applied for the NROTC-MO scholarship already, and I'm just waiting for the results. Do you remember about when your DS received his scholarship?
 

CatDog99

Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2018
Messages
143
@25Grad My DS was not selected for 4 year scholarship. I suspect his PFT was a little low. He earned 3 year MO scholarship during the Rat Line. I'm not aware of a virtual tour for VMI but I will check some other sources. I think this video, although 8 years old, is very good at showing life at VMI.

 

EEBTTF

Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
953
Unfortunately as much as I'd like to, I won't be able to do an overnight since I'm an out-of-state applicant from Cali. My apologies, I should have mentioned that in the original post. Would anyone happen to know if there's a virtual tour of either school anywhere?

@CatDog99 I have applied for the NROTC-MO scholarship already, and I'm just waiting for the results. Do you remember about when your DS received his scholarship?
My DS received his NROTC-MO on the 2nd Board last year. We are District 6 and he was notified in early to mid March i think. Capt. John Moreno is the MOI at The Citadel. He is very responsive and helpful for MO questions. His contact info is on the website.
 

25Grad

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2019
Messages
13
@25Grad My DS was not selected for 4 year scholarship. I suspect his PFT was a little low. He earned 3 year MO scholarship during the Rat Line. I'm not aware of a virtual tour for VMI but I will check some other sources. I think this video, although 8 years old, is very good at showing life at VMI.

Thank you for the video! I'll be sure to watch it when I have time.
My DS received his NROTC-MO on the 2nd Board last year. We are District 6 and he was notified in early to mid March i think. Capt. John Moreno is the MOI at The Citadel. He is very responsive and helpful for MO questions. His contact info is on the website.
Thank you! I'm waiting on the edge of my seat now... I'll be sure to contact Capt. Moreno if I receive the scholarship!
 

glen

10-Year Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2010
Messages
466
Grad25 - all of the above advice is very helpful - but a lot will depend on your digging into the details of each college - both their academic as well as military programs. This is a big decision, so make your time count. The advantage of both schools is they are small and you will have access to individuals in the Admissions, Academic departments, and ROTC units. Do not hesitate to call Admissions or the NROTC recruiting officers at each school and ask questions. Answering your questions is what they are paid to do.

I am familiar only with The Citadel, and volunteer to speak to many high school students in the mid-atlantic region. I encourage them to pick up the phone and call Admissions with questions. Prior to COVID restrictions, accepted applicants could spend a weekend at the college with a member of Fourth Class. However, Admissions can help answer questions and reach out to academic departments. Admissions has produced webinars for each of the DOD ROTC detachments on campus (Air Force, Army and Navy). Ask the Office for the address to view the one on NROTC - which includes the Marine Option. There are literally dozens of videos on the College website that you can view and listen to cadets describe their experiences.
See: https://go.citadel.edu.
There are also Utube videos describing just about every aspect of the college from Fourth Class matriculation, to Recognition Day.

You asked about being prepared for OCS and TBS. One unique aspect of The Citadel is the MECEP platoon - typically about 17 active duty NCOs attending The Citadel to receive their undergraduate degrees and commission in the Marine Corps. They are not part of the Corps of Cadets, but they attend the NROTC classes and participate in all NROTC training, PT and off campus FTX exercises. They are great mentors and teachers - helping cadets prepare for Quantico, as well as giving cadets the benefit of working closely in the NROTC Marine Battalion with these experienced Marine NCOs. See: https://www.citadel.edu/root/marines-mecep
 

MNRC2018

Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2019
Messages
94
I will take a stab at this. Both VMI and The Citadel are great schools. They both have storied traditions of educating, training and commissioning Marines. There are numerous posts in the SAF discussing commissioning numbers and comparing the SMCs.

They are very similar and very different. The Ratline and Knob year are very challenging at both, hard to compare because there are very few if any that have done both (Funny story - I had a Rook buddy at Norwich that went through the Ratline and then transferred to Norwich to do it all over again - crazy dude!).

I suggest you research and visit both schools and do the overnight at both. After visiting, you will have a better feel for which one is right. My DS visited all of the SMCs and ended up at The Citadel. It was closer to home and in Charleston, which was recently ranked as the best college town in America. He is currently a NROTC-MO there and has been very happy with his choice.

In terms of adjustment period - Yes, you get the amount of time it takes to carry your stuff up to your room, mommy and daddy drive off and your Ratline/4th Class year starts. No break-in period, no safe spaces. Use the summer before to prepare yourself physically and mentally. Don't be the guy/gal that shows up out of shape and unprepared. My DS lost around 50+ knobs in the first few weeks. Make sure you go for the right reasons....your reasons.

No idea on the psychology departments.

End of the day. Choose the school that YOU want to go to that will give YOU the experience you want. They both will prepare you for the rigors of PLC/OCS time in the fleet. Good Luck!
The suggestion of an overnight is great and my son did this, however with COVID I know VMI is not allowing this. The open houses are still occurring but scaled back and no going into barracks. I am pretty sure most colleges are like this right now.
 

Landy91

Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2017
Messages
181
In terms of size, VMI has a total of about 1,700 cadets and the Citadel has a combination of about 3,800 cadets and civilian students. Acceptance rate at The Citadel is 75% and about 30% of the corps of cadets commission into the military on graduating. Acceptance rate at VMI is 59% and about 55% of each class commission into the military on graduating. Both Charleston and Lexington are beautiful towns (Charleston is more of a city).
While both VMI and the Corps of Cadets at the Citadel are similar in many regards, it could be argued that the two most similar SMCs in terms of size, corps, resident and distance learning programs, etc. are Norwich and the Citadel. If you’re strongly considering the Citadel, definitely visit Norwich.
VMI is a uniquely austere/Spartan environment and is most definitely not for everyone! Visit all schools before you choose!
 

milmomsomeday

Member
Joined
May 8, 2016
Messages
116
@25Grad
Can I ask why psychology? I tell my students (high school counselor) that they always need a back-up plan. For military service, your major is kind of your backup plan, if something happens along the way that keeps you from commissioning. Psychology is one of those majors that you can't do much with. Even if you want to get a Master's degree and practice in the field, you can certainly get a bachelor's degree that can land you a job, and still, go to grad school for Psychology. Psychology degrees are a dime a dozen and leave many paying back the debt for a degree that will net you nothing. Definitely something to think about in the current economic climate.
 

25Grad

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2019
Messages
13
Thank you to everyone for your responses! I'm still deciding, but yall have helped me out a bunch!
 

25Grad

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2019
Messages
13
@25Grad
Can I ask why psychology? I tell my students (high school counselor) that they always need a back-up plan. For military service, your major is kind of your backup plan, if something happens along the way that keeps you from commissioning. Psychology is one of those majors that you can't do much with. Even if you want to get a Master's degree and practice in the field, you can certainly get a bachelor's degree that can land you a job, and still, go to grad school for Psychology. Psychology degrees are a dime a dozen and leave many paying back the debt for a degree that will net you nothing. Definitely something to think about in the current economic climate.
I figured that instead of going into a Psychology career, it would be more like a general degree that would be useful no matter where I went, since in almost every job you have to deal with people. I know that attempting a STEM degree would have definitely been better in the long run but math does not click with me at all and I don't think I could have done four years of college-level math.
 

milmomsomeday

Member
Joined
May 8, 2016
Messages
116
I figured that instead of going into a Psychology career, it would be more like a general degree that would be useful no matter where I went, since in almost every job you have to deal with people. I know that attempting a STEM degree would have definitely been better in the long run but math does not click with me at all and I don't think I could have done four years of college-level math.
Gotcha. Just from my viewpoint, if you are looking for more general, but also more useful, and Math isn't your thing. Business might be the better route. Business knowledge is truly useful in EVERY field of work. Either way, best of luck to you!
 
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