West Point Transfer

I’m a current member of the class of 2023 and contracted Army ROTC cadet at a top 10 academic institution in the US. My long term life goal is to serve in the Special Forces as a trauma surgeon. I joined Army ROTC because I wanted to attend medical school immediately after graduation. However, my time in ROTC has made me realize that I love the army and want to serve for 4 or 5 years after graduation, then attend medical school and continue to serve in the army as a doctor. It would be much easier for me to attend and graduate from Ranger School and the Q course if I commissioned into the army immediately after college (easier for infantry/combat arms to get ranger school slots // I’d be 7-9 years younger). Because of this, I am considering applying to USMA. I never really considered West Point when I was applying to colleges and now I am regretting it. I would love to attend West Point, but I’d be applying for admission into the class of 2025. Furthermore, my current school is incredible for pre-med students and I would be giving up all of those resources. I’m incredibly unsure of what to do and would appreciate any advice from anyone who enrolled in West Point or another military academy after participating in ROTC or attending a typical university.

@josephwest23: I’m not clear why you perceive West Point to be a better path to your goal than the path you’re currently on. You have a better chance of attending medical school from your current college (and more quickly) than from WP where the slots are extremely few and extremely competitive. Most Army doctors earned their medical degrees outside the military and later applied and commissioned to the service. Also, the needs of the Army will determine where your medical services are needed; you don’t just get to choose. And you don’t need to be a Ranger yourself to attend sick/wounded SF soldiers. Also, you can go to Ranger School and serve in the infantry from AROTC as well as WP if that’s your primary goal, so I’m not sure what you gain there, and you add two more years to your undergraduate schooling. Am I missing something?

While you’re waiting for more informed replies here, you also might want to post your question on serviceacademyforums.com to get input from current/retired military medical staff.

IMHO, if you graduated from West Point you will open many, many doors for the rest of your life. You will also be part of a stellar group of people. ROTC is fantastic too. You can’t go wrong either way.

Either path you take, thank you for your service. Your work in invaluable.

This student is already at a top ten academic institution that I’m sure has many stellar people, too. Door opening/prestige is not going to be an issue for him.

His current college will prepare him to attend medical school upon graduation, and AROTC will enable him to branch infantry and attend Ranger School if he desires. Because he can satisfy either of his stated goals from where he’s currently at, I’m unclear what benefit West Point will provide him, and it will take him longer to earn his undergraduate degree as he will have to start over as a Plebe if he pursues WP.

OP: Your situation is interesting. You want to become a Special Forces trauma surgeon in order to save lives.

If you serve as an active duty Army Ranger, there is the possibility of harm that could ruin your ability to be a surgeon.

The path to becoming a surgeon is much longer than 4 years of college & 4 years of medical school. Internships & residencies, etc. add several years to the requirements to become a surgeon.

What if you suffer a severe hand or eye injury or PTSD ?

Your courage & goals are admirable, but you need to assess the risk of going active duty as an Army Ranger.

Life is about choices.

Good luck in making your decision.

@Publisher makes a crucial point, @josephwest23. You need to decide which of these goals is primary because if being a surgeon is your ultimate goal, serving in Special Forces could very easily derail that dream. I’m sure your AROTC unit has made clear that the men and women selected for these elite groups are routinely subjected to hours/days/weeks of grueling physical and mental endurance exercises that show just how far the body can go under extreme duress. They go on to execute missions in the most dangerous and austere environments on earth where their own survival is not the primary objective. Though these units comprise amazing human specimens, the toll on the body cannot be overstated. When our son was attending SF information sessions at West Point, the Ranger explained that the drop rate in the SF schools is high not only due to mental exhaustion but also physical injury and that by the time many Rangers reach 40 their bodies are wrecked. Also, the type of soldier who thrives on the high adrenaline activity of SF missions may not be able to easily settle back into the book life of a medical student.

You need to do some serious research here and decide where your heart truly lies. You are considering two very different options.

I like the comments above, but I’ll play Devil’s advocate: Active duty is a young man’s game, and doubly so if you think you want SF. If you really feel a calling to serve then you’re more likely to do well now than if you take a decade to achieve your medical goals first.

But if you can commission from your current AROTC unit you’ll still have the degree that the medical schools love, the Army won’t care a great deal that you succeeded at a top ten school vs WP, and you’ll do it two years earlier.

Head over to the SAF.com forums that @ChoatieMom gave above to hear more from better qualified folks than here, but I can’t see an evidence-based reason for the change. Your heart may eventually speak louder than facts, but jumping back to a fresh start at USMA isn’t the logical choice as far as I can see.

https://www.westpoint.edu/admissions/frequently-asked-questions says:

I don’t think the OP is confused on this point, and it was mentioned more than once upthread that he would have to start over. I think he is asking in the sense of applying to West Point for some perceived benefit in attaining his goals.

@josephwest23: Are you still here?

Yes, I am, and I appreciate everyone’s advice! I plan on staying at my current school, and am looking into branching MSC after graduation so I can get a taste of army medicine and whether or not I would enjoy pursuing civilian medicine after my time in the army has passed. Additionally, I know that I want to go to ranger school as soon as possible. If I do go to medical school, I’d go through selection and the Q course after, but if not then I plan on pursuing SF as early as I can. Again, thank you everyone for your input!