Thank you for apologizing, because when I read your first post I was about to get pretty huffy. I was about to debate the rigors of USNA compared to an SMC, but I will leave that one alone. My DD is in her second year at VMI. She is on a Marine scholarship, and I would absolutely debate the Marines DO pick THE best and the brightest......instead of the best out of ten (or less in some areas), on a slate. USNA has it’s hands tied. USNA cannot just stack all the applications in the nation and pick the 1,100 best.....while NROTC and the other branches can. And they do.
So please, do not think your kid is any more elite than a ROTC student. My NROTC-MO won her scholarship competing against thousands across the nation. Your kid beat the nine other kids in your district. And yep - they will hold the exact same rank.
As opposed to ROTC competing with kids applying at the same school? It is pretty much the same thing.
Plus NROTC is also trying to achieve geographic and demographic diversity, so they can't "just take the best" either.