What is ROTC and Why Should I Care?

If your child has any inclination to serve their country, consider two compelling paths that lead to graduating from college as a military officer (at little-to-no cost).

What are the options?

If your child wants to serve as a military officer in any of the branches, service academies and ROTC programs are two great places to start.

What do these programs have in common?

  • world-class education
  • unparalleled leadership training
  • international travel
  • high-prestige and reputation
  • engaged alumni network
  • emphasis on camaraderie and teamwork
  • guaranteed summer jobs
  • highly-transferable technical skills
  • guaranteed job for 5 years after college
  • paid a monthly stipend starting freshman year
  • free education

Yes, a free (or nearly free) education. With the rising cost of college, these programs are becoming more and more competitive.  And with options like attending Harvard and Princeton on an ROTC scholarship, people are paying attention.

What are service academies?

Military service academies are 4-year colleges rich in military tradition, culture, and training. Their goal is to educate, train and inspire the future leaders of the U.S. military.

There are five service academies:

To learn more about the specifics of applying to service academies, check out this blog post.

What is ROTC?

ROTC, on the other hand, stands for the Reserve Officer Training Corps. This program awards scholarships to students who want to become military officers, but do not necessarily want to attend one of the service academies. I talk to many parents and students who have never heard of ROTC before.

Instead of attending the Naval Academy or West Point, ROTC candidates can attend traditional colleges like Notre Dame, Northwestern, and Harvard - but with the same goal of serving as military officers upon graduation. A comprehensive list of colleges and universities that offer ROTC programs can be found here.   

I often refer to ROTC candidates as full-time college students and part-time aspiring military officers.  As such, ROTC candidates do have requirements that regular college students do not.

ROTC programs often attract students who prefer the ROTC college experience over the more intense "academy life" experience.

What to expect with ROTC programs:

  • multi-step application process: must receive an ROTC scholarship and get accepted/matched with a school on applicant's priority list (list of 5)
  • attend a traditional college like Boston College, Vanderbilt, Fordham, Ohio State, etc. (not a military campus) - see attached list
  • a less regimented campus experience
  • attend school with other ROTC candidates, but generally function as a regular college student on campus
  • wear uniforms around campus 1-2x per week (varies)
  • must enroll in a few "military" courses in addition to standard course load
  • some restrictions on college major choices
  • more free time
  • mandatory physical fitness program
  • monthly drills
  • summer cruises (multi-week commitments)
  • cost to attend: $0 or some portion of tuition
  • guaranteed job for 5 years post-graduation

ROTC or service academy?

I recommend that most of my PrepWellers apply to a service academy as well as several ROTC programs. It's so competitive, I prefer them to cover all their bases.
While the "campus experiences" between service academies and ROTC programs can be quite different, the end result is very similar.
Your child will have received a top-notch education, leadership training, and real-world experience at little-to-no financial cost to you. In both cases, there is a 5-year service commitment after graduation (aka "guaranteed job").
Interested?
My Specialty
Helping students (and families) navigate the admissions process for service academies and ROTC programs is my specialty. There are countless steps and nuances that can only be learned in the trenches.
To receive weekly online videos that walk your child through every step of the process, enroll in PrepWell Academy. Starting this education in 9th and 10th grade is even more important than in the traditional college admissions process.
Imagine the ROI of PrepWell Academy if it helps your child get admitted into a $400-500K college experience for free.

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Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.

PrepWell Academy is an online mentoring program that immerses teens in a variety of experiences and opportunities. In doing so, it helps them find and pursue their passions in a way that will not only make them extremely compelling college applicants, but also young adults who are well equipped to face life's future challenges. Black's specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League admissions, and student-athletes.

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