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How & What is ROTC Program?

livesinnewjerseylivesinnewjersey Registered User Posts: 623 Member
edited August 2009 in Parents Forum
I know so little about ROTC program. Is there a recruiting process? When do you typically apply? My S will be a freshman at a school that offers ROTC-- are we too late to enroll/apply?

How much of a weekly time commitment and then post graduation what is the commitment?

What is the financial aspects of program?

I guess each college's ROTC is different but typically when do the students decide which branch of the services they want?

Is it a difficult program to be accepted into? and difficult to graduate from?
Thanks!
Post edited by livesinnewjersey on

Replies to: How & What is ROTC Program?

  • goaliedadgoaliedad Registered User Posts: 2,199 Senior Member
    Complicated answer... I'm sure others will come by and add more and clarify.

    First we will separate the ROTC Programs (Army, Navy (including Marine Option), AF) from the financials.

    In many ways each service's ROTC programs are similar. You take a 3 unit Military Science course each term, participate in PT, and have various field exercises you attend during the year. Each service has a different summer requirement (Navy cruises, etc.) during the school year. The course and field exercise and summer requirement contents are service specific but all center around developing leadership skills.

    If you are not on scholarship, the first 2 years of participation in the program come without any strings attached. The Junior and Senior year participation require a commitment to serve in the military.

    If you are on scholarship, you get 1 year for free (no service commitment). The second year gets you a commitment. Scholarships come in 4, 3, and 2 year lengths. 4-year scholarships are typically applied for during the Senior year in HS. Yours is starting college in the fall and has missed that boat. If he is interested in getting a 3 or 2 year scholarship (depending upon how much time he has left to complete his degree), he should sign up for the program (without scholarship) this year (he should contact the Professor of Military Science now at his new school) to start the ball rolling. If he proves himself both in the program and academically, he can obtain a scholarship through his unit.

    As to the different services, each has different requirements for the scholarship. AF and Navy have partial and full scholarships and allocate the greater majority of the scholarships for technical majors. Army scholarships are all the same (full-tuition + monthly stipend) and have an almost unlimited major choice. Army, being the biggest service needing the most officers, has more available scholarships. Difficult to get is difficult to answer. The PMS at a school will be able to give you better counsel.

    It is a significant time commitment (a 3 unit class each term, 3 or so hours of PT per week, and a couple of weekends a year of field exercises), but there are ECs that are more demanding.

    I'll leave the details to other posters. If your son has an interest in serving his country, ROTC is a great entre to that vocation.
  • SueCSueC Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    S is a senior in Army ROTC at college. He accepted a 3 year scholarship (tuition, not room and board although some do get this paid). He is given a monthly stipend of around $500 a month... Although it took me a while to warm up I have to say it has been a good experience and something I am proud of him for. He has met a lot of great people and leaders and it has changed his outlook on life. He is looking forward to serving the next 4 years and using it to get experience and a good job after. I have to mention I see a level of maturity gained over the last couple of years also...a good thing.
  • molliegymmolliegym Registered User Posts: 748 Member
    I have a cousin doing Navy ROTC at college (CU Boulder). He really wanted to go to Annapolis (Naval Academy) but didn't get in (he applied twice, didn't get in either time). It definitely sounds like a lot of work, but if that's what your son wants to do, he should go for it. My cousin just spent a week "surviving" somewhere in Nevada... they had to butcher a goat.
  • PackMomPackMom Registered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    S just commissioned through NROTC. He had the four year scholarship.
    ROTC scholarships pay for tuition,fees,books and uniforms plus a monthly stipend that is paid directly to the student.

    One ROTC class is taken each semester in addition to reg. course requirements. PT= Physical Training. ROTC units have PT twice a week early in the morning (think 6a.m.) before classes...lots of running.

    Each summer they spend about a month training in various things depending on what service they are in. They get paid for the summer tour.

    For Army and Marines, they can major is pretty much anything.
    For Navy and Air Force most of the scholarships go to majors like engineering,physics and hard sciences. There are a smaller number available to other majors,

    Navy and Air Force are required to take 2 semesters of Calc. and 2 semesters of Physics regardless of their major. Army and Marines are not.
    Army is the least competitive scholarship to attain.

    S's ROTC advisors were very good and really helped him to get into the specialty that he wanted.

    Upon graduation, they are commissioned as active duty officers. They owe the military 4 years. The military obligation can be longer depending on what area they go into..for instance becoming a pilot requires a longer obligation.

    The first thing your S would need to do is decide which branch of the military he is interested in. Then he would need to immediately contact that ROTC office at his college to see what the possibilities are for getting started this year.
  • mom58mom58 Registered User Posts: 303 Member
    Caution-- what you read below may be outdated, though I suspect the structure is similar. It is based on my experience in Army ROTC 30 years ago.

    Scholarship v. non-scholarship: Non-scholarship gets the monthly stipend during junior and senior year, but not tuition or reimbursement for expenses. Scholarship students owe 4 years of active duty. Non-scholarship students can meet their service obligation in the reserve components (Reserves or National Guard). Non-scholarship students might be able to participate in the Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP). Cadets in the SMP serve in the National Guard while they are in school. It means for money, but also more time.

    Cadets who wait until after sophomore year to join go to a basic camp that summer. All go to advanced camp, typically 6 weeks between junior and senior year. They are paid. Additionally, they may have opportunities for special training like Airborne or even Ranger training. A few get to participate in Cadet Troop Leadership Training (at least I think that what "CTLT" stands for) where they spend a few weeks with a regular unit-- if they are extra luck it is in Europe (most of though slots go to academy cadets).

    The classes are a little leadership, some drill and ceremony (marching), skills like map and compass, and military history. And fun stuff too, like rappelling.

    I think things like PT vary from place to place. Also how much you wear your uniform.
  • PackMomPackMom Registered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    All branches have units at S's college. There and every other school S looked into required wearing uniforms all day once a week.

    To give you an example, these are the NROTC classes all midshipman are required to take:
    Intro. to Naval Science...Leadership and Management...Naval Navigation...Naval Engineering...Naval Weapons Systems...Naval Operations...Naval Leadership and Management II...Amphibious Warfare.

    The labs they have to take (for zero credit) are where they do the marching,drilling etc. They often had guest speakers during the lab hours, always military related.

    Each year as they go through the program the midshipman take on more reponsibility in the running of the unit.

    At S's school there was no such thing as a non-scholarship jr or sr. By that time they had either earned a scholarship or weren't in the program anymore. Maybe it's different at other schools..not sure.

    You can get lots of info from the AROTC,NROTC and AFROTC websites.
  • livesinnewjerseylivesinnewjersey Registered User Posts: 623 Member
    Thanks all for your input! The Mystery has been somewhat revealed.
    FYI --20+ years ago I ran over to my ROTC office on Campus just before school was starting and said to the big muscular officer basically: "Hey I hear you've got a good deal going on here. I could use help paying for school and I think I can do it. Besides I would be thrilled to have a job out of college."

    He looked me up & down and said; "naw, you should think of another way to pay for school" I guess I didn't have the right stuff... :) He was probably right!
  • kgrmomkgrmom Registered User Posts: 81 Junior Member
    My daughter just finished her first year of Navy ROTC. She started the year with no scholarship which is called a "college programmer". The college programmers are treated the very same except they are getting zero money :) They participate in all the same stuff throughout the year and the goal for most of them is to hopefully qualify for a 2 or 3 year scholarship by the end of the year. My D's unit had 4 or 5 college programmer freshman participating out of about 21 kids in the incoming freshman. 3 of them joined during the first few weeks of school.

    The best thing to do would be to contact the Unit Captain or Commander and talk with them directly. Have your son/daughter ask if they can visit them during the first week of school. Ask for information about their "college program". How successful are their college programmers at getting future scholarships. After all, it is a lot of work to put in if the chances of getting a scholarship are fairly low. At the same time- if all you are looking for is a scholarship, ROTC is definitely not the right program to look into. Your child needs to want to serve. I think that is one thing that some underestimate a bit and why they end up dropping after the first year.

    Feel free to send me a message if I can answer any specific questions. Good luck-
    kgrmom
  • timelytimely Registered User Posts: 1,613 Senior Member
    I guess each college's ROTC is different but typically when do the students decide which branch of the services they want?

    Your son would decide upon joining whether to join Army, Air Force, or Navy ROTC. If he is not majoring in a technical field, his best scholarship chance would be to go with Army. If he is more interested in AF or Navy/Marines, he should talk to their ROTC staff at the college and ask what his chances would be for receiving a 3 year scholarship with his major. Perhaps they are more lenient about having to be in a technical major with the 2 and 3 year scholarships.

    A couple of people said the Army will let you major in "pretty much" anything. I think I'd scratch the "pretty much". My S is majoring in film production and he got one. :)

    I'd suggest googling Army ROTC, Navy ROTC, and Air Force ROTC to find out details. Also, go to your son's college website and do a search for ROTC to find out about their specific program and who he'd need to contact there about joining.

    For Army, the obligation is either 4 years active duty + 4 years inactive reserve (you could be called up, but you do not go to drill once a month and in the summer) or 6 years National Guard or Reserves + 2 years inactive reserve.
  • DejaDeja Registered User Posts: 551 Member
    Nephew just graduated college with Army ROTC scholarship. He owes the Army 8 years as a Reservist (although of course that could become fulltime, depending on the Army's needs...).
  • momoney77momoney77 Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    Livesinnewjersey:
    My d is going to be a senior this year and is currently on a 4-year Army scholarship. As other posters had said, the first thing your S should do is decide what branch of military he is interested in. For my D, it was easy....the Army lets you major in anything - her major is neuroscience. She applied for her scholarship the summer before she entered her freshman year. In fact, she had no idea she was even going to go the ROTC route until June or July of entering her freshman year. The weekly time commitment varies, depending upon the branch. Army is the most. PT is every morning! She runs anywhere from 2-4 miles Monday-Friday. Sometimes 3 or 4 X per week. Usually nothing less. Navy and Air Force have less PT requirements according to her. The weekly time commitment is minimal your freshman year and gets heavier from there. In fact, military science is only 1 unit freshman year, 2 units sophmore, and 3 units junior and senior. The commitment starts to hit pretty heavy your junior year. By senior year, the students are in leadership mode, givien job titles, and start running the program. The financial aspects are minimal. Everything is paid for. The only thing we are responsible for are her living arrangements, and even then, she is given a $2K stipend in the fall and again in the spring. She will be requesting her first, second, and third branch choices in her senior year...so sometime in the next few months is my guess. I don't know how difficult a program it is to be accepted into; however, like anything these days, it is getting tougher and the competition is getting heavier. It's a great way to go if you are committed. As for whether or not it's difficult to graduate from, that all depends on your S. If he sticks with it and there are little distractions, he should do just fine.
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