T Nation

ROTC


#1

Does anyone have any experience with the ROTC? I'm going into my senior year of high school so I've been thinking more about paying for college. If I were to get an ROTC scholarship I could potentially get $17,000 a year towards tuition.

Initially my main concern was what could I do in the army that would translate to something in real life. It seems like you gain leadership abilities as a trade off for the experience you could gain working in your field for 4 years.

I was also wondering if they generally allow you to continue studying after you get an undergraduate degree. I think the website said that students were sometimes allowed to do this. If I was a reserve officer would I only have to do the 2 weekends a month, 2 weeks a year thing, and have time to study full time?

Also if anyone has thought on private vs. public colleges. I've been looking at the University at Buffalo and SUNY Geneseo as two public school choices. My "safty schools" will probably be UB and Canisius College. Then "reach" schools would be Geneseo, and some private colleges along the lines of Clarkson and Fordham. My "praying for a miracle" school would probably Cornell. My cousin went there and liked it a lot, plus it has more prestige than the other schools I'm looking at.

I'm questioning whether or not the extra money for a private school is worth it if I'm not entirely sure what I want to do. I'm interested in biology and kinesiology but the strength coach/PT career outlook seems a little shakey to me. I could always just take some courses as electives or minor in one of those fields to satisfy my curiosity. A lot of kids from my school go into business and my aunt did very well in that field but I don't totally understand what the field entails. Hind sight being 20/20 I should have done and internship at my aunts bank this summer. Any suggestions or thoughts on your college/post-college career would be appreciated.


#2

I have a lot of experience here. I survived ROTC. It was not the best decision I ever made. I can't personally recommend it. More to the point the more I read about what you want to do the more I think it may not work for you. First, you are committed to ROTC for the duration. This means early morning PT and monthly training on campus. During PT they will not let you do what you want to do even if it is a truly inspired weight training program. Nope, push ups, situps, and two mile run time are all that count. You can still lift later in the day if you want but that is on your own time. Don't think for a second that PT won't interfere with you training goals. You also have to meet their height and weight standards. Even if you pass a "tape test", the comparing of yur neck measurement to waist measurment they will hassle you to lose weight. Failure to do any of this leaves you to deal withyour contractual obligations and pay off whatever money they have given you.
You may also have some trouble with your major. When I was in I had a major that translated directly but that is not your case. You sound to me like you will be an infantry officer. I seriously doubt you could actually find a job that relates to a kinesiology degree in the army. The closest I ever met was a drill sergeant. So you would have to luxury of being a bullet sponge in iraq. It is very hard to get a reserve contract and cnsidering the current climate that still puts you in Iraq.
Last, don't forget that you still have advance camp and Officer training to attend the summers after your junior and senior years. You don't get to stay home and work or have a cool internship, you will be government property.

Please remember I hated the whole experience, so my persepective is very skewed. I though they were the most backward group of retards I ever met. Hopefuly someone else here can give you a different perspective.


#3

Andy,
Well I can't give you a whole lot of information of R.O.T.C. but I can tell you alot about the regular army on the enlisted side. You will get the most information from a recruiter but dont be a sucker and join because he fills you with all sorts of goodie info. On the enlisted side you can have many of mos's that are appealing to the civilian side. In the medical area you can be a P.A., E.M.T. X-ray tech, ... the list goes on and on. So keep looking and find more info out. Also the standard G.I. bill will pay off current loans when you join and you can pay $100 for 12 months and you will get up to $30,000 for college. But there is alot of fine print and each contract is different so dont sign until you fully understand everything and have EXACTLY what you want in writing in front of you. Hope this little bit of advice helps. Good Luck
Dastang


#4

Look into the officers program for the medical side, i know they have alot of physical therapy and rehab M.O.S.'s!
And when you put past military experience on a job resume later on in life or even a college resume it usually helps you out alot!
Dastang


#5

ROTC is great if you do not want to make the Army a career. If you want to use it to pay for college and get some broad life experience it is terrific.

West Pointers generally fill the career slots. You used to be able to do a mix of active and reserve duty to fill your obligation. I don't know if that's still the case.

I wouldn't worry about finding a career that is an exact fit. Business is looking for leaders. Command a platoon or one day a company and you'll learn a lot about managing people under pressure and meeting deadlines.

The military helped me to get into a top B school, helped me get a great job when I was younger and the experience helped me a lot advancing up the ladder. Today I own my own company and I have a preference for veterans thoughout the organization. So do a lot of civil service jobs.

Too me it was a good life lesson. make no mistake you are signing up for the military. Expect to serve and too fight. That's what they do. Every other rate exists to support that. Despite what the POG's or recruiters tell you.


#6

ROTC is a good deal. My father was an officer, my wife went through it, and two of my best friends paid for college with ROTC. None of them have been a bullet sponge in Iraq. They all enjoy the hell out of military service. Some made it a career others didn't, but none of them regret doing it.

There are a lot of options PM if you want and I will try to hook you up with someone who went through it to help you out.

Good luck!


#7

Well it looks like we're amazingly similar... I went to Lake Shore HS (south of the city), looked at UB, Canisius, Brockport...ended up getting a degree in Bio from Bowling Green.

Like any choice there are positives and negatives...I'll run a few of them off the top of my head...

  • school is free, plus they pay for books and give you $400 a month for living expenses (supplement money)
  • guaranteed respectable, well-paying job out of college...let's you get on your feet and not have to move back home (this was the biggest sell for me, especially as my friends graduated and started job hunting)
  • great resume builder
  • it WILL be fun at times

  • don't get a guarantee on your career field of choice, so you might end up doing something you're not crazy about

  • will find yourself in Iraq or Afghanistan once or twice
  • will have more commitments than your friends at school (morning exercise sessions three times a week, an ROTC class once a week)
  • it WILL be a pain in the ass at times

Remember to "shop around" as each school's program is different...like everywhere in life it depends on the people at the top. Visit some of the schools (don't forget some of the schools in Ohio and PA) and talk to the instructors and students. Find a group you like.

Remember you can check it out for a year for free before you sign a contract.

Me? Graduated 3 years ago, working on my Masters, and checking out job offers from the outside. Life is pretty good.

You can PM me if you want more info.


#8

If it wasn't for ROTC and the military I wouldn't have two college degrees and the professional career that I have.

It seems like you're talking only about Army ROTC, but have you considered the Air Force? The AF was VERY good to me. I was offered a Navy ROTC scholarship and an AF ROTC scholarship way back when (I'm 43). I took the AF scholarship because the AF tends to put people in assignments related to their education. I was an engineering major, as were many of my fellow cadets. Upon graduation we all received engineering-related assignements - some guys were even assigned to research labs. My understanding is that the Army considers your assignment to Infantry, Armor, etc. your primary skill and your education/specialty as secondary so you could end up doing something totally unrelated to what you studied.

I got out of the AF after serving 9 years - they needed to downsize and were offering incentives to leave early. I had just completed an assignment to get my Masters degree and was commited for another 4 years to pay back for the degree, but they were willing to waive the commitment AND pay me to leave. I couldn't pass it up - like I said, the AF was VERY good to me.

Oh, and I got my degrees at public universities - Big 10 schools. I wouldn't focus on public vs private so much as the actual program you want to take - which school has an approach/focus that matches your interests?

Best of luck.


#9

I learned to fly helicopters in the Army and am now a commercial helicopter pilot. The Army pays good money to be a helicopter pilot right now.

Plus, flying helicopters sure beats working for a living...


#10

You should seriously reconsider your options. You have the complete wrong idea of what you would be getting into. I apologize because this is rude, but look into other forms of financial aid until you realize how naive your post was.


#11

Damn dude, that's why he's asking...if you want to say he has the wrong idea, explain yourself.


#12

Thanks for all the advice. I got a variety of responses but they've all been helpful.

Starkmann- Thanks for the details on what your day to day routine is like; they're pretty vague on their websites. I could see being proficient in the 2 mile clashing with my training goals, same with the height weight requirements.

Dastang- there's a recruiter nearby so I'll definately stop in and talk to them.

Hedo- It sounds like you've done something close to what'd I'd be trying to accomplish and you got what I expect I'll get out of it.

Flop Hat- I'll take you up on your offer once I have some good questions figured out

Jeff- I'll check out some of the colleges in Ohio and PA. I taken notice of the 1 year deal, my mom's worried that you'll have to pay back the tuition they gave you for that year, but they say with no obligation so that doesn't seem to be the case. Are they paying for your master's or are you? If they are, does that incur any extra years of service?

Midwest Man- I had looked at the AF and Navy programs but I didn't look hard enough. After checking them out thoroughly, they seem to offer a lot more options, especially ones that are science degree friendly. If I apply I'll look at those two branches. I have the same question for you that I had for Jeff, did you incur extra years of service by going for higher degrees? You make it seem like you were going to be in the AF longer because of the degree you earned through them. I see what you're saying about public vs. private schools. I know Clarkson has good science programs, but thinking along your lines I probably won't apply to Fordham. I'm not really sure what public universitys I'm looking have reputations for so I'll need to look into that. The best way to find out what school is good at what would probably be to visit them so I'll try to do that.

dahun- I'm not especially interested in being a pilot but maybe I'll find some new interests if I sign up.

Horatio- I know there are other forms of aid, but ROTC seems like my best shot at substancial merit based aid. I'm not going to earn anything from sports and my grades aren't high enough for a pure academic scholarship, and I don't think I'll get any big need based scholarships. I know I could probably pick up $500-$1000 here or there but it doesn't really compare to $17k. I'd like to hear what you have to say though. I'm not sure if you're suggest that I just go to a public school or if you're suggesting that there's another form of aid I'm totally missing (besides loans, I'm trying to avoid owing a ton of money).

slimjim- right on

I looked around some more and decided I have a few options. The simplest is going to a public school and there are a few good ones near by. But, if I get into a nice private school, I'll probably turn to ROTC to help pay for it.

The Airforce offers 3 levels of scholarships, the highest level would pay for my entire tuition but is only offered to ~5% of applicants. The 2nd level is similar to the Army's program and gives you about $15k for tuition.

The navy will pay full tuition if you apply to 3 schools with NROTC and get into one of them, and have an SAT over 1100-1200, however you have to serve for 8 years. Only 3 years have to be active duty, so I could study for an additional degree or maybe get some experience in other fields while I'm in the reserve.

Anyway, I think I might apply to 3 expensive/hard to get into schools that have the program to give me that option if I want. I'll probably aim for a public school and if I'm really unhappy with it can always transfer later.


#13

Yes, I think the general rule is a 4-to-1 payback with a 4-year cap. So every time that the AF sent me to an educational assignment, I incurred a duty commitment - even for a one-week course. However, these commitments are concurrent, not sequential. Since the Master degree program was 18 months long I incurred a 4-year commitment (hit the cap), which started from when I graduated. Two months later I went to a one-week course and incurred a 4-week commitment, starting from the day after the course was completed. But since the commitments were concurrent, I still had the same "end date" - it didn't move out another 4 weeks. I think you'll find that there are many concurrent commitments going on through a military career (e.g., when your move from one assignment to another, called a "Permanent Change of Station" or PCS, there's a 3-6 month commitment) - it's the military's way of ensuring it gets some payback for the expenditure of money to train or move you (or somehing else). Pilots incur long commitments (I think they have a 6-year cap) because of the millions of dollars spent training them to fly military aircraft. After a while you ignore the little commitments and only pay attention to the big ones that extend your end date.

In my case I had about 3 years and 9 months of commitment that the AF waived as part of the separation incentive.

I wasn't sure if I was going to stay in the AF beyond my initial 4-year commitment to pay back for the ROTC scholarship, but they kept offering me great opportunities.


#14

Joining the Army just for the money is not a good idea. Andy, go to ogrish.com to check out some of the things you might be asked to do/see - and as an added bonus as an officer, you're in charge of it! You seem like a smart guy, so I'm sure you understand my point. It may seem to you that you could work the system to get the training you want, but the Army isn't known for keeping promises, especially as it is so overextended right now. Chances are, you will be a platoon leader in Iraq, or who knows what the next four years will hold - maybe Iran or North Korea.

To be harsh, with talk of master's degrees, training goals, specific college department reputations and money, it doesn't seem like you have a grasp of what an Army officer's life would really be like. Make no mistake, the Army exists to win wars (kill our enemies), not to give out full rides. Again, you seem smart, so I am probably underestimating you here. I am just trying to save you from a huge shock and a possible mistake that you can't fix. Good luck with your schooling.


#15

The military is a great way to go to college - as long as you are prepared for the service commitment afterwards. Look into the service academies as well. Right now West Point has a five year commitment upon graduation. If you are willing to stay in the Army (as an officer) then it is pretty easy to get a masters degree. If you are dead set on kinestheology (spelling?) I wouldn't recommend the Army. But if you are open to different majors / career fields then it is a great experience. It allows you to gain some valuable and very marketable leadership experience while figuring out exactly what you want to do. And I wouldn't rule out the Army as a potential career either - you can retire after 20 years of active service and start collecting half pay immediately - By far one of the best retirement programs anywhere.

If you are even interested in the Army you should at least do some research into ROTC / service academies. Be cautious about talking to recruiters, they do not always know about these programs. Regardless of what they might tell you, enlisting is NOT the best way to have the military pay for your education.


#16

horatio- I see what you're saying now. I'll be putting a lot of though into this before I commit, and I'll talk to who I can. My neighbor has been over to Iraq twice now so I'll definately talk to him, and a kid graduated that graduated from my school two years ago got an AF ROTC scholarship, so I'll see if he's still with it or if not, why. I'll certainly be putting a lot of thought into this because it's a 8-12 year commitment, which is a lot time whether you're 17 or not.

usma- I'm not deadset on kinesiology, but I find it pretty interesting. Generally people will tell you find something you like to do, so that's my line of thought behind that. I'm interested in sciences in general so I'll probably look at a more common major and take a few kinesiology classes to satisfy my interest in it (I just got super training so that may not be necessary for a few years). It also seems like the Navy and Air Force provide more opportunities for people which science degrees, although it's possible that the Army's website doesn't make it very evident.