Where to begin?

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Motherof3, Jun 5, 2018.

  1. Motherof3

    Motherof3 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm the mom of three healthy boys and interesting in exploring service academy/ROTC scholarship opportunities for them, but don't really know where to begin. I have lurked on the forums and explored each military branch website, but am really unsure where to go from there. I understand that service academy/ROTC scholarships are very competitive so my general message to my boys has been the same as for any other path - work hard, keep your grades up, participate in extracurricular activities, volunteer, etc. My oldest will be a freshman next year and thinks he's ultimately interested in JAG. I think we've narrowed the branches down to air force or army for him, but do any of you have any advice for how to further narrow things down - e.g., service academy, ROTC, which service academy (I'm confused about the ones that are not West Point/Air Force Academy). Are there books you suggest? People to talk to? Websites? Any guidance would be much appreciated.
     
  2. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2018
    Messages:
    866
    Likes Received:
    896
    You’re wise to be thinking so far ahead, because your boys’ actions and decisions early in high school will impact their ability to land an ROTC scholarship or academy appointment. Some thoughts, having been down both paths:

    First, get your boys involved. This will need to be their decision, their desire to become a military officer, their intent to go ROTC or academy. The fact that you said “I’ve narrowed down for him...” is not a good sign. The more guiding you do m, and the more research and deciding they do, better off you’ll all be.

    Second, your boys should see this as a decision of whether to become a military officer. That should be the driving notion, because that’s what ROTC and the academy’s are all about. Only then should they start thinking about which college route.

    Third, don’t fixate on a particular military profession. It’s good to have aspirations, but they can’t get so single-minded because the military’s needs come first. Also, class ranking, health, academic performance, injuries and other factors that will affect whether they get their desired profession. (Aside: There’s not really a straight line between ROTC/academies and JAG.)

    Fourth, have your boys dig deep into websites for each branch, ROTC organization and academy (you’re missing the ones for Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine). As other ms have said on this forum, read every tab and pulldown and link on those sites. You’ll find 95% of the information you need.

    Good luck to your boys. And well done for helping them get ahead of their peers.
     
    SpchGrl, StPaulDad and Motherof3 like this.
  3. migs

    migs Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2017
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    69
    There are many on here who have gone through all those options. My son won a 3 years AROTC scholarship. Did not get in to West Point. Had his 3 year upgraded to a 3.5 year scholarship, made ROTC Ranger Challenge team at school, loves where he is and doing great. Only your kids will be able to decide what is the right fit for them. Some want the academies and the structure. Some want a little more freedom and go the ROTC route. Make no mistake though, to excel in ROTC takes a lot of hard work, discipline and commitment as well.

    As far as competitive, yes they are all competitive. But they certainly have no chance if they don’t try.

    If their goal is to be an officer, either route gets you to the same place. Good luck and search for as much info as possible. As a dad, I got a lot of advice on here from very knowledgeable people
     
    MidCakePa, Motherof3 and AROTC-dad like this.
  4. Motherof3

    Motherof3 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Appreciate the advice very much. Looking back, are there experiences your children had that made an impression and helped them choose their path? My oldest has expressed interest in serving for as long as I can remember, but it's very generalized since neither my husband nor I served. We have several people in our lives who have and my boys have had lots of opportunity to talk with them and ask questions, but it still feels a little overwhelming to make choices. Maybe that's a natural function of my kids still being young and not yet narrowing interests themselves. I guess I'm just out of my element and wanting to make sure I'm not missing something.
     
  5. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2018
    Messages:
    866
    Likes Received:
    896
    They're on the right path by talking with those who served. Ask those friends and family to introduce your boys to others who served, for differing perspectives. When going on college tours, they can visit the ROTC unit and talk with cadets/mids and their officers. As for the academies, each one offers a week-long summer experience for rising seniors. As well, USNA offers a week-long STEM camp for rising 9th, 10th and 11th graders. These are competitive, so don't be discouraged if they don't get in. My DD applied three times to USNA STEM before getting in. And not getting into the summer experiences doesn't necessarily knock your boys out of contention come appointment time (and vice-versa, attending doesn't mean you'll get an appointment).

    You're right, they're young. No need to narrow their interests too much, as we all know those interests change as they learn more about life and themselves. But they're smart to be talking to as many active and former military folks as they can. Cadet/Mid life is but a stepping stone to becoming an active-duty officer.
     
    migs and Motherof3 like this.
  6. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2014
    Messages:
    4,202
    Likes Received:
    3,879
    Agree with MidCake.....

    Don't over think this process. Each of your children will follow their own path of winnowing down the choices.

    Your best method of support is to guide them to the right primary sources of information. Visit each of the websites for the SA's and ROTC programs. Watch some of the great YouTube videos together and discuss the pros and cons of each service branch. Attend military events in your area, such as Air Shows or Fleet Week.
     
    Motherof3 and migs like this.
  7. Dadof2

    Dadof2 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2016
    Messages:
    262
    Likes Received:
    421
    Agree with previous responses. These are big decisions for teenagers, but they need to do their own research and own the process of applying if they are still truly interested after doing their research. Taking the lead will be good for them in many ways and will help them figure out what they really want. IMO the best roles a parent can take in the process is being a sounding board (sometimes needing to play devil's advocate), proof read for them if they want that, drive them to interviews, etc. - basically supporting roles. Resist the urge to take the lead.

    ^also this. Winnowing down choices may mean deciding they don't want a military life. Sometimes, once things get rolling, the child and/or parents can get so enamored with the idea of attending a SA or earning a ROTC scholarship it can feel to the child like they are on a ride they can't get off.

    One good thing is that if your children do things in HS that would help them be competitive for a SA, they will be making a lot of good decisions that will serve them well on many other paths if they decide military is not for them. Taking tough classes and doing well in them, seeking leadership opportunities and participating in varsity athletics will help them no matter what they do. Also, remind them how stupid mistakes can take away opportunities, so make good decisions.

    Best of luck to your boys in whatever path they choose.
     
  8. New@This

    New@This Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2016
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    122
    [/QUOTE]
    Winnowing down choices may mean deciding they don't want a military life. Sometimes, once things get rolling, the child and/or parents can get so enamored with the idea of attending a SA or earning a ROTC scholarship it can feel to the child like they are on a ride they can't get off.
    [/QUOTE]

    This is great advice. It is an 18 month application cycle if your student applies for the summer session at SA the summer before senior year. They will be able to open an application sometime around Thanksgiving/Christmas of their junior year. This will begin their formal application to the academy.

    My DS had always been interested in the military and an army recruiter at the very start of his sophomore year suggested with his grades he should look at West Point. And, the journey began for us. He applied to all four summer sessions and was able to attend both USNA and USCGA. He actually chose USNA over Boys State because he just wanted to make sure this was the right direction for him. He completed most of his MOC nomination paperwork in the summer, began the academy application process when it opened and also applied for both NROTC and ROTC scholarships. He applied to USNA, USCGA, USMMA and USAFA. He started his application process with USMA but didn't finish it when he learned he didn't have a nomination there.

    All this to say, it is such a long process that kids can and do frequently change their minds and priorities. We told DS from the very beginning that we would help him but he had to do the work. And, if at any time, he wanted to change his mind that would be okay with us. We especially told him that prior to the summer sessions - if he felt like it wasn't for him after attending than it was fine with us if he chose not to continue the process. He continued and rec'd a ROTC scholarship, a USMMA prep school appt, USNA waitlist and is still on the waitlist for the CGAS (Coast Guard prep school). Very proud of his accomplishments thus far but, had he chosen another path that would have been equally acceptable to us.

    My advice, make sure you kid knows he can get off the ride if he doesn't think he wants the military lifestyle at the end of the roller coaster.
     
    Motherof3 and AROTC-dad like this.
  9. SpchGrl

    SpchGrl New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2018
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    4
    Career path, no. But which SA, yes. DS attended summer seminar and it's supposed to be a recruiting tool. Well, it worked. DS is not much of a talker and a pretty straight-forward kid. When I picked him up at the end of NASS, he was talking a mile a minute, and most of it was about what he'd learned about the heroism of this person or that. He was dragging me around to all these places, saying the equivalent of "this is where this great person did this awesome thing." He'd apparently "had a moment" standing in the Hall of (? sorry, I don't even know the name of the building but it's apparently a place that honors former classes and people who have passed on). DS is totally not a "have a moment" kind of person, so as he talked nonstop from Annapolis back to NC, I kept wondering "who is this kid and what have you done with my DS?" :)

    I agree with what everyone said above re: it needs to be your kids' journey and not yours. However, as a naturally hands-off mom, I can say there are downsides to that as well. My DS could have used a little more guidance from me, but I had a huge blind spot when it came to the military. My dad graduated from USAFA, and I was born in the (now closed I believe) Carswell AF base hospital, but Dad left the service when I was really small. My parents and both sets of grandparents met at military functions, and one grandpa was career Air Force. All this to say ... I did not personally grow up with a military lifestyle but the military's influence in my family was just close enough for me to not have considered it for my own children. I always figured DS would end up in some kind of law enforcement. He loves structure, is totally no-nonsense, loves to be outdoors, loves to be active. But he's also crazy-smart and constantly challenging himself (mostly in the realm of physical activities, but also grades). When he first came to me talking about wanting to be in the military, my first thought was "Oh, no!" but my second thought was the realization he'd likely thrive there.

    If he'd had a mom (I'm a single parent) who had come to this conclusion on her own and earlier, there are certainly steps I could have encouraged him to take that would have increased his chances and made the path a little more straightforward. Nothing to do about it now for us, but you're in a good spot right now. It does have to be "them," calling the shots for sure, but don't underestimate the power of a guiding parental hand. Good luck to you; your children are lucky to have you.
     
    landlock and MidCakePa like this.