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Help! Princeton vs USNA

C1njC1nj Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
My son was accepted during SCEA. He also received a 4 year Army ROTC scholarship. He plans to study chemistry, physics, or perhaps chemical engineering.
He just learned he also received an appointment to USNA. I realize hard work pays off but we never thought he would have two incredible choices.
Princeton will cost more but their will be less of a military commitment. Any thoughts?

Replies to: Help! Princeton vs USNA

  • carinaeccarinaec Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    It depends on what your son prioritizes and will do later in life. I would personally go with Pton, where having that option of doing service and still attending a very prestigious university, would be the ideal scenario. Hope this helps! Regards
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 73,616 Senior Member
    How committed is he to being a military officer?

    If his goal is to be a military officer, Army or Navy/Marines?
  • moooopmoooop Registered User Posts: 2,035 Senior Member
    Military service goes a LOT better if you really want to be doing it. There are some amazing rewards, but also some brutal sacrifices. If you aren't convinced it's the place you should be, it will become a burden very quickly. The most successful military people are those who can't really imagine themselves in a different lifestyle. It sounds like your son will be going into the military one way or another, so the question is whether he wants to start now or start in 4 years.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,713 Senior Member
    Attending the USNA might not necessarily restrict him to Navy/Marines. Every year a small number of each academy's graduates choose to be commissioned in one of the other service branches.
  • C1njC1nj Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Thanks for the advice. He will be attending two admissions events at Princeton in the coming months. Hopefully, he will be able decide what's best for him. Both options involve a military commitment. One is full immersion. It's just an odd situation. He had his heart set on attending a service academy until this equally impressive option presented itself.
  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,628 Senior Member
    One relevant question is, would your family be able to afford Princeton (after any need-based aid that you'd qualify for) without the ROTC scholarship?

    Apart from the obviously-very-different experiences at the two schools, a major difference is that if he should have a change of heart about the military within the first two years, he could change his mind about that without having to transfer, at Princeton (if your family could afford your EFC), whereas USNA is all-or-nothing.

    Both are terrific opportunities - congrats to him on having this tough decision to make!
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 2,324 Senior Member
    edited February 11
    OP and @aquapt it doesnt quite work like that. If you have received the 4 year national scholarship you sign a contract. It’s binding.

    If so, unless you withdraw from the program after freshman year and (not one day into sophomore year) you are obligated to pay back all funds in full or accept an enlistment.

    Also these scholarships do not cover room and board. Which is about 16k per year at Princeton. You will also receive 300 per month spending money. Full tuition is paid. It’s an incredible offer. So cost of Princeton is 64k over 4 years. Certainly worth it for Princeton but not free like usna.

    However, if you are really interested in the military, it makes more sense to go to Navy. You will receive a regular commmision versus reserve. It doesn’t mean that much, but does carry some weight the higher you climb in your career. Also the Navy has great programs for officers to attend prestigious grad schools including hpys on the government. It’s very common for elite officers. Anapolis itself is a special environment and everyone on campus is rowing in the same direction. Not sure how well the cadets at Princeton feel like the greater whole. Certainly not like an academy.

    And it’s not like the Navy grad has to look at their shoes when asked about their college. It’s elite in many areas.

    Hard choice. Princeton is Princeton. But in this case I would suggest being a midshipman. In the Navy or any branch of service is one of the few places in life that going ug to Princeton isn’t an advantage. Even right out of school.

    Also didn’t he attend the summer program already at anapolis to be considered. If he wasn’t sold on that I am not sure what else would.

    Best of luck. Sounds like a wonderful kid.
  • C1njC1nj Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    He attended the summer program at West Point and attended a Candidate Visit Weekend at USNA. He loved West Point but was medically disqualified. That's another thing to consider. If your seriously injured at a service academy you may be discharged and have to transfer to a new college. I appreciate everyone's input. Hopefully, the best choice for him will become apparent after his Princeton visit.
  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,628 Senior Member
    Sorry, I didn't realize the proverbial "point of no return" was after one year. I seem to remember my ROTC friends saying it was two years back in the day, but then again I am... not young. Thanks for the correction @privatebanker
  • C1njC1nj Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    As far as finances are concerned, if he chose to drop out of ROTC we could afford Princeton.
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 2,324 Senior Member
    edited February 11
    @aquapt its probably different for regular rotc versus the national 4 year scholarship. We probably are both correct. It’s all good.

    Op. Not saying you couldn’t afford it. It’s a value proposition. That’s all.

    If it’s just one college versus another with the normal aspirations. Sure Princeton is top of the charts. I personally think Navy is pretty darn close. And in the business world just as impressive. Maybe moreso. It’s says a lot about character and grit on top of the smarts required.

  • cupugucupugu Registered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    I had to make a similar choice 30+ years ago.... I chose Princeton Army ROTC scholarship over USMA. Unless your son is sure he wants to go active duty and is interested in making the the military a career then I would go with ROTC. My fellow Tiger Battalion cadets all went on to wonderful careers in law, medicine, business, and a few are still on active duty as Colonels and Generals.
  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom Registered User Posts: 5,012 Senior Member
    edited February 12
    If your seriously injured at a service academy you may be discharged and have to transfer to a new college.

    Depends on when the injury or illness occurs and of what type/severity it is. Each year, the academies allow a few DQ'd cadets or mids to complete their education without commissioning. Those who are medically separated who are in good academic standing usually have pretty good transfer options.

    We felt our son had better college options than USM/NA (he was appointed to both), but he never wavered. It takes a certain kind of kid to make that commitment, we just didn't think ours was one of them. I felt better when I learned that he could walk away from either academy with no financial or service obligation right up to the minute he took that final oath the day before classes started junior year. At that point, we felt he would be making an adult decision informed by two years of experience, but I must admit, I was still kinda hoping... But, he's where he belongs and he's still happy with his decision. He commissions this May.

    In his gut, your son probably knows which option is for him. No one else can make this decision for him. It's his and his alone to make.
  • HamurtleHamurtle Registered User Posts: 1,710 Senior Member
    The current Chief of Staff of the Army is a Princeton grad and got his commission via ROTC. And has been nominated as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


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