ROTC or Service Academy?
I'm in 8th grade and once I get older I would like to become an officer in either the Navy or USAF. One thing I'm wondering is which route is better, ROTC or the service academies? Right now I have all A's, and I'm taking Bridges classes (They're basically advanced classes to prep you for high school). I'm also a boy scout on track for Eagle. One thing I'm looking forward to is going to Philmont in July of 2010. I also run track and cross country both of which I plan to do in high school. Once I get to high school I'll also get involved in a bit more clubs.
Basically what I'm asking is which path is better for me.
- TomLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
It depends on several factors which you have not stated.
1) Career in the Air Force or Navy or serve 4-5 years and return to civilian life. For a career in the Air Force or Navy, having a significant percentage of officers 15-20%, more in certain areas like Air Force Pilots, who have a similar shared experience means something in terms of promotions and even later in civilian life academy grads form a sort of old boys network just as the alumni of any university can. Outside the service it might be more helpful to be an alumni of Harvard or MIT than the Naval Academy or Air Force Academy, but there aren't a lot of schools that will trump a service academy degree in terms of opening doors.
2) Graduate/Professional School plans. At certain graduate and professional schools, recommendations from professors who have ties to a certain graduate program can be a very important part of winning admission. There is less chance of making such connections at a service academy where about half the faculty does not hold a Ph.D and few are academic stars that one can take classes from and get recommendations from at a world class university that also hosts an Afrotc detachment or Nrotc Battalion such as Berkeley or MIT or their cross town schools Stanford and Harvard. Of the schools mentioned there is probably less chance at Harvard since the academic stars don't tend to teach undergraduates. Also in certain fields, the level of advancement is so rapid that a five year hiatus from study or work in that area could mean practically starting over in graduate school.
3) Idea of a college experience.
An Rotc cadet/mid leads a fairly regular college student life with the exception of PT certain mornings but this also depends on the detachment/battalion. For instance, at some, if a student is on an athletic team, even a club team that competes in intercollegiate competition, he is excused from PT. So then the extra time required is minimal, just another class for which one usually receives credit and a leadership lab. College student summer experiences for both will be different than for a regular college student, unless a student is not on scholarship his first summer. If a student does not want Rotc or Service Academy summer programs to interfere with summer plans Ocs/Ots may be a better choice.
4) Physically qualified for and desire for a flight school slot in the Air Force. The Academy offers PRK to Academy Cadets wanting flight school slots. At the academy, most years any Cadet who wants a flight school slot gets one. It is much more competitive in Afrotc. This is because each year the Air Force allocates 500 flight school slots to the less than 900 Lt's commissioning at the Academy and 500 to the 2200 Lt's commissioning through Afrotc. The 800 Lt's commissioning through Ots get whatever extra is needed for Air Force needs that year. In recent years that has been around 100.
5) Choice of Major/Financial Aid: High school scholarships for Afrotc and Nrotc(navy option) are overwhelmingly awarded in Engineering, Math, and Certain Sciences. Nrotc scholarships pay full tuition. Afrotc are capped at 18,000 or less except in a few majors including computer engineering, electrical engineering, environmental engineering. This is not a consideration for Nrotc Mo scholarships or for an appointment to one of the Service Academies though the choice of majors is far more limited than at most universities. West Point has a much wider selection of majors than the Air Force Academy or Naval Academy. If financing an education is not a consideration, almost any major is possible in Afrotc or Nrotc. In the College program, scholarships are awarded in a much wider range of majors. Family income is also a factor becsause Rotc scholarships and Service Academy appointments do not consider financial need but only merit. Most "scholarships" currently consider need and disregard merit, treating all students admitted to a university as equal in terms of merit. For instance at Yale:
[Scroll to table at the bottom of the page. Yale has far more aid to distribute than most universities but the principle is the same.]
If you are interested in a service academy read the advice offered on the Usafa admissions website:
[Be sure to open all the links to the left of the dialog box. Full CFA instructions at end of physical prep link.]
The application and selection process is nearly identical at Usafa, Usma, Usna. It is helpful to read the chapter on admissions of the Usafa catalog. The pie chart on the top of page 7 details the weighting of the whole candidate score by which selection decisions are made, at least for an LOA(letter of assurance) and for competition within nominating sources for the 70% of MOC(rep and senators) who do not choose a Principal Nomination or rank alternates, also for competition for declined offers of appointment:
Helpful to look at the class of 2013 profiles to see the academic and extracurricular accomplishments of candidates who successfully competed for an appointment:
If you have any questions about the above, let me know.
- ⌡Machine Head⌠Lv 71 decade ago
If you wish to serve as an officer and can get a Service Academy appointment by all means go to the Service Academy. Students at Service Academies get freetuition, room and board and a salary, 1/2 of what an O-2 makes. Even after paying for books, uniforms, and other necesaries Service Academy graduates have money in the bank. ROTC provides tuition, loaner books, and loaner uniforms and a modest monthly stipend; Rooom and board must be provided by the student. ROTC grads start out with large student loans to pay off.
Track and cross country will look good in your application package but be advised that the selection boards are really pulling for team sports.
- MVRLv 51 decade ago
I may be biased, but I think the Service Academies are a better option if you can get in and are looking to be immersed in military life. In ROTC at a civilian college, the military is a part-time thing... wear your uniform a few days a week, PT in the mornings, drill some weekends. At USNA, USAFA, USMA, etc, you are in that military setting almost constantly. That said, if you are looking for that "real college experience", don't go to a Service Academy. I absolutely loved my Academy experience and wouldn't trade it for the world.Source(s): USNA '08
- 1 decade ago
I did ROTC at a major university, and thought it was great. But in my opinion, if you can get into a service academy that is the better route, as much for networking purposes as anything else. You really can't go wrong with either if you continue the good grades and strong work ethic.
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- ?Lv 41 decade ago
If your true interest is military then a service academy is really the best course. If you are looking to be a pilot make sure you do well in math and science courses.
When you go to college you should go for an engineering degree. The harder the degree and the better you do the better chance you have of getting in the type of aircraft you prefer.
I would prefer the navy myself as you get to go to many different countries while underway with the aircraft carrier.
Carrier flight is a bit more difficult also than what you will experience in the Air Force.
The deck you have to land on is small and is pitching in the ocean whereas the Air Force is landing on land based runways.
Good luck and keep the grades up.
If you are healthy and have great grades then you should be in Annapolis in a few short years
- ?Lv 61 decade ago
here's my no bullsh!t answer
I'm in NROTC. All of my friends at Academies are miserable going through all the sh!t they have to deal with. It isn't fun, and doesn't create better leaders. Its basically a waste of four years. Plus, enlisted people don't like Academy grads as much because they tend to be stuck up snobs. That, and after commissioning, it does not matter where you came from, so going to an Academy won't give you much of an advantage.
But of course, people think the Academy is the "better" option before going there, and get sucked in that way. Don't fall into the trap.
- MarianneLv 44 years ago
No science or math AP equals no academy opportunity. 3.5 is low for academy. You appear to be a Freshman or maybe a beginning Sophomore. Focus on academics especially science and math. If you get it together, you will have a chance if you bring your GPA closer to 4.0. For NROTC - you don't need the higher GPA, but math and science are important, so don't skip out on them. What is a Captain of Quiz Bowl? In charge of some type of ceral? Editor of newspaper is good. How about shooting for class President? Honor Society (a must for academy)? Cs are not good for Academy - only As work. Algebra is not difficult but it does require study and lots of practice. Lieutenant Colonel, U S Marine Corps-Retired
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Buddy, I got all A's in middle school, just as many extracurriculars, and a lot more sports. Once you get to high school you cant slack off at the start or else it puts you in a downward spiral. I did that and now its halfway through freshman year and i'm working SO hard to pull my GPA back up to around 3.5. Im looking to bring that up to about 4.1+ weighted by like junior year, but I need to work harder than anything i've ever done. so just some advice WORK AS HARD AS YOU CAN IN SCHOOL. It actually matters in high school.
The service academy's are probably better for you since you will get more opportunities to get into schools after college.
- 1 decade ago
I heard it said that only service academy grads have a realistic shot at making general, but assuming that isn't a huge concern for you, it depends I suppose on A) what civilian college you can get into and B) How much "civilian" life you want to experience while in college. In the service academies it's all-military all the time.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
No one knows which path is better for anyone, generally the Service Academy would be the preferred choice