T Nation

ROTC Questions


I will be a high school senior next year and I'm seriously considering taking the ROTC route (probably Air Force) to hopefully become a pilot. I just started working on getting my private pilot's license and I've always felt like the military is the place for me.

HS GPA = ~4.2
SAT Math = 690
SAT Reading = 700
SAT Writing = 660

football, wrestling, track, former volunteer firefighter

I'd like to know exactly what one does in ROTC. Their site doesn't go in to much detail on that matter. What can I do to improve my chances of getting a pilot spot? And do you think I could get a scholarship in the first place?

Thanks in advance!


I got an e-mail from the officer of admissions at West Virginia University. Copy+Pasted Below

What should I make of this?


What state do you live in? If you're in Texas, or anywhere nearby, I would honestly suggest Texas A&M. I'm in the Marine Corps ROTC there, and it's a good program. You have good grades, so entry wouldn't be a problem I think. If you're out of state the school charges higher for out of state tuition, BUT if you're in the ROTC unit (called the Corps of Cadets) you get charged in-state tuition.

The Air Force outfits do things differently, but your life would pretty much consist of waking up, going for a run (probably a mile or two for an Air Force outfit?), going to class for however long, a couple hours of free time where you can study or take a nap, some physical training in the evening, then mandatory study time for another three hours in the late evening. Then you go to bed.


I'd recommend setting up appointments with the ROTC representative of the schools your interested in. They would give the best information for you.


It all depends on where you go to college. At Texas A&M, for example, they have a corps of cadets, which is a lot more serious and entails daily activities. On the flip side, I went through the Army ROTC at Syracuse, which also has an AFROTC.

We had a weekly drill for about 90 minutes, one or two 1 hour classes per week and about one field training exercise a month and a 7 week camp during the summer between Jr and Sr years (used to be at Ft Bragg).

The PT schedule depended on what year you were in and how well you performed on the PT test. 3rd year cadets had to go to PT 3x a week. 4th year, you could get excused from one session if you scored >270. My AFROTC buddies had about the same schedule.

From what I know, pilot slots are the most sought after and most competitive to get. First, you need to get into the program. They will tell you exactly what you need to do, which is basically kick ass in everything you do - military course GPA, overall course GPA, get a top score at summer camp and have glowing recommendations on all of your assessments.

You should be in the top 5% of your graduating cadet class. If you want to fly F22s, you better be the best of the best of the best.



I did AFROTC at USC, and it was about like DB said, a few hours per week. Find out what the current PT test is (they change it every few years) and get VERY good at it. Volunteer for all the extra-curriculars you can (ROTC-related and otherwise). Strive to be top of your class at every stage. This will increase your chances of a pilot slot. But also recognize that NOTHING you do will guarantee you that slot. There may be limited numbers in your cycle and you could get sent to any job. Always keep that in mind. If you wouldn't be willing to do ANY job in the AF, don't bother. Also, get the scholarship app and start working on it right away. There are some very nice scholarship opportunities.


Some random thoughts/recommendations:

  • Apply to all the services for a scholarship. Each has varying requirements. For example, AF tends to be very engineering heavy and looks for candidates that want to major in that type of discipline. Plus, there are Navy pilots and Army pilots (mostly helicopter, of course), too. And while rare, it is possible to cross-commission. Plus if you happen to get several scholorships, YOU get to decide always a good thing. You may opt for a Navy scholarship b/c you can go to a better University. And I recommend going to the best University you can - it's Uncle Sam's dime and you'll pay it off through your work later.

  • Strive to maintain the highest GPA possible. If you have to cut an extra-curricular or two or three do so. Pick a few extras that you like and RUN them. A person is not interesting if they are simply a member of every club imaginable. Now if they run a club/team/whatever, that shows drive and leadership both qualities each service looks for in potential officers.

  • Get your private pilots license, it shows you want to be a pilot.

  • Pilot slots are extrememly competitive and the number that are available depends on the needs of the Air Force (if you go the AF route - get used to that phrase). Make sure your cadre knows what you want to do and enlist their help and advice. You'll need to do well during your field training (between your Sophomore and Junior years). You'll find out if you're selected as a pilot your Junior year and will attend FSP the summer before your Senior year - if they haven't changed all that entirely - I'm pretty old now :^)

  • If you can go to a University that offers all the ROTCs, that's a pretty good idea. I recommend the University of Notre Dame, but then I'm biased since I'm an alumna.

  • Now for the price of that scholarship:
    Nonpilots 4 years active duty and 4 years reserve status (you won't have to drill, but they can call you if they need you)
    Pilots 8 years active duty (I think might be a little more)


Going into my 3rd year as an Army cadet at Ithaca College here, can't add much that hasn't already been said.

Your #1 thing is going to be time management especially if your battalion does PT in the morning.


Just set it up.


Thanks. That reminds me... Is it possible to play a sport at the varsity level if you're enrolled in ROTC? I'm probably going to PSU and my family and neighbors are fanatical football fans so I promised I'd walk on.


Yes, knew a Senior when I was a Freshman in AFROTC - walk on for ND. Worked with another guy (FSU) walked on there as a wide reciever.



I'm either going for an aeronautic engineering or physics major. I'm going to visit Penn State's facilities in a few weeks.

I read on their site that they look for work experience in applicants. How important is that? I play three sports and I'm taking flight lesson so there's not much time for a job.

BTW I heard a group of guys on my football team talking about who they were going to vote for to be captain and I was the player they agreed on. I think that should help a lot if it happens.


I didn't have a job in HS and I got an AFROTC scholarship for 80% of my tuition.


Work experience is a good thing, but hardly a dealbreaker. I didn't have work experience unless you stretched the definition and counted the little bit of tutoring I did on the side for money.

Yes, being captain of any of your sports is a big plus in combination with your current GPA. a few volunteer projects doesn't hurt either - think a day or two at the local soup kitchen or organizing a canned food drive which has the added benefit of showcasing your leadership skills while not being recurring and overtaxing to your current commitments.

I've never been to Penn State, but I think you'll be impressed. I've certainly been impressed with the alums I've come across.

Good luck and keep us posted!


Setting up an appt with the ROTC program is a great idea. They're not busy at all during summer so they will take the time to explain everything. I went the ROTC route and got a slot, at UPT now. Definitely do-able.


I was a volunteer firefighter last year but when I had surgery for my pilonidal cyst I couldn't go for several months and they revoked my membership. I wasn't sure if that applied since it was only for a short time and I basically got kicked out.


If you did it for any length of time - that counts. To beef that up, you may think about doing something this summer.


Volunteering will indirectly help you get a slot. The largest portion of your Pilot Candidate Selection Method (PCSM) score will come from your commander's ranking, like 50%. So if he knows that you volunteer, he MIGHT think a little more highly of you and rank you better. Your focus should be on your college GPA and attitude when in the ROTC environment. Those 2 things will carry you further than "beefing" up your resume. If you want tons of info on how to become a pilot, go to www.wantscheck.com


PT at 7:00
Go to class (usually have a military class in there somewhere)
Do drill if you're in it
Meeting is scheduled.
It's not over whelming or anything.


Thanks that site was helpful!


do you want a scholarship? the Air Force doesn't require you to have a scholarship to commission with them. also I was under the impression they were actually kinda hard, whereas the Navy and AROTC programs seem to throw em to everyone(no offense meant by that to anyone) I go to Virginia Tech, which has a Corps of Cadets like A&M(I wish freshmen would put my boots on for me...) Seeing as how you don't want to go to a Corps of Cadets, and I'm going Marines, I can't offer much more.