Full Ride with Air Force ROTC (Rice/NU/VT/USC)

<p>I've been reading these boards for a while, and appreciate the valuable advice you guys give.
I'm basically hoping to be a neurosurgeon, but plan to study some form of engineering (perhaps electrical or biomedical) as a undergraduate because I love the way engineers are able to look at and solve problems, it seems like a very valuable skill. I'm really in love with the sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics.</p>

<p>But here's the dilemma:
I have been talking to Air Force ROTC programs at Rice and USC (Something both NU and VT have as well), and they offer to cover full tuition as well as books, a stipend and some board. This would basically be full cost at all these schools. They also said they would pay for medical school, in exchange for 1 class a semester, as well as weekend training and 4 years of service after all my school. This is a two-fold issue because I don't know if the cost is worth the difference, or if this is a valuable opportunity otherwise. I have always wanted to be a pilot, and I believe that the training the good anyway, but I don't seriously consider the Air Force as a career.</p>

<p>My choices:</p>

<p>Rice University- Small school in Houston ~4,000 undergrads. I went to visit and the campus is beautiful. I sat in on an electrical engineering class and it seemed like their projects were really cool. Students told me the EE and BME engineering programs are good. The downsides are the size (students don't have much choice in teachers), location (traveled through town and Houston seemed a bit unfriendly) and cost. They offered me about $10,000, and expect about $30,000.</p>

<p>Northwestern University- Large school in Evanston near Chicago. I'm visiting later this week, but I hear they have a strong engineering program. I have some family in nearby Chicago, but not a deciding factor. I was admitted to the Integrated Science Program (ISP), as well as the McCormick School of Engineering and was offered to be part of a Dean's advisory committee. They offered me about 15,000, and expect about $30,000.</p>

<p>Virginia Tech- Large University in Blacksburg, Virginia. The campus is much more rural, and far from city life. It's a much more commuter centered campus. I was offered the Alumni Presidential with $12,000/year as part of their University Honors program, which seems really amazing and has students who turned down Berkley, Rice, Harvard, and a full ride at William and Mary (Irrelevant for me, but gives you an idea of students). The community is very close-nit and includes about 200 student. After a first year scholarship of $5,000 and other outside sources, I still have to pay about $18,000 out-of-state.</p>

<p>USC- Downtown LA. I haven't visited USC, but after talking to family friends and alumni, I have moved it down because of quality of the area it is in (Here for possible reconsideration). I have been offered the National Merit Presidential Scholarship, the Engineering Honors Program, and I hear good things about the Viterbi School of Engineering. After the $20,000 in scholarships, I still have to pay about $30,000</p>

<p>My parents are unsure about the "value" of these different schools and seem to be relying on college rankings. Cost is an issue, and I would basically have to take out loans for any unmet costs. I have about $38,000 in college savings that could be put to use at any of these schools.</p>

<p>I would suggest that you sort out whether or not you want to do ROTC. Then you will better know which school is right for you, as it may come down to which one you can afford without ROTC.</p>

<p>One of my cousins did Army ROTC at Penn State years ago. He didn't get into med school right away, but after several years of active duty, did go to med school with the Army paying for it. He is now a Major, and is very happy with his career, and is currently working off the years he owes for the medical degree. </p>

<p>This choice is not for everyone. We are a nation at war, and what the ROTC recruiters offer you now, and what you may ultimately be expected to do can be very different things. I wish you all the best as you make these decisions.</p>

<p>If you do decide to do ROTC and are choosing between schools, you need to do some research on the ROTC units at each school. they each have a different personality (and at some schools, the actual ROTC college unit is located at another college across town). You involvement with ROTC will be more than one class a semester -- you will be required to do PT, summer officer programs, etc. It can be a fantastic program for the right person.</p>

<p>I will also caution you that you commitment is more than 4 years if you are looking at both undergraduate and med school.</p>

<p>When people are considering joining the armed forces, I always suggest that you talk to several people about your decision -- a few people currently serving as officers in the branch you are interested in and a few people that are recently retired. They can give you some good information. Don't rely on what your recruiter says -- their entire job is to sign you up. Get yours facts from other sources and get the details in writing.</p>

<p>I know many, many, many people who did ROTC and are very, very happy with their decision -- but all would agree it is not the right choice for everyone.</p>

<p>I agree with the responses above. My brother did the medical school in exchange for time served program, and it worked well for him. The housing benefits, etc. are very nice at that age (mid-20's), and was the perfect place for him and his wife to raise young children on a budget. He was actually sorry to leave the air force ultimately - loved the idea of eventually rising to Colonel - but decided to pursue other career options instead. Of course, it was a peaceful time, and no one knows what will be up in 8 years when it's time for you to serve.</p>

<p>Btw, he is not a physical powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination, he's really the anti-jock - in fact, had dislocated his knee twice by the age of 17, but never felt the demands placed on him in training were more than he could handle.</p>

<p>I'd go to VTech if finance is an issue. Otherwise, it's between NU and Rice.</p>

<p>On the subject of Rice's Air Force ROTC...</p>

<p>I'm pretty sure (but not 100%) that Rice and the U of Houston share the program on the UH campus. I know somebody who went to UH and did his NROTC at Rice, and, unless things have changed since then, Rice hosts the Navy program while UH hosts the Army and Air Force ones. </p>

<p>Hope that helps.</p>