Another point of view

One of my “fishing holes”, where I go to help interested students and find possible recruits is the Service Academy Forums.  There is a sub-forum on the site just for ROTC, and there is a ton of information and interesting discussions about the process.  The other day one of the regular posters, Dckc88, posted on a thread about listing colleges on the application. I thought the post was dead on, and echoed a lot of the information I espouse. Thought I’d share that information with my readers on the blog.

 Have her start the application and it will answer a lot of your questions to read through it, it just opened up. There is no rush to finish it. The first board meets in October giving her plenty of time to investigate, work on it over time, and change her mind about things as many times as she needs to, to get it right.

The only thing she cannot change once she starts it is the “survey”. It is a type of personality test to see if she is a fit as an Army officer and tries to predict if she will be career service (I read the study prepared by the Army when they instituted the test). It is worth a lot of points, so she wants to not rush through that, take it when she is in a good state of mind and has time to start and finish it, because once you start, that is her one opportunity!

When she selects a major on the application, then the schools that allow that major will be visible in the drop down box. For example if she selects nursing (using that example because I have lived it), then when she selects a specific state, only the schools that allow a cadet to study nursing with an ROTC scholarship will show up in the drop down box (she should also verify with the ROO after she contacts them). My daughter actually started her application early too, saw what schools were eligible in the states she was interested in, contacted those ROO’s (Recruiting Operations Officers) and even visited schools before she submitted her application with her school choices. She listed 4 (7 are allowed). Have her go into the school selection part of her application, put in different majors and just see what schools are eligible. After she identifies a few, she can even look at the school’s websites and sometimes be able to tell if the school is a host school (where the battalion is located), a satellite school (affiliated with a host school but many times have their own PT and military science classes on campus), or an affiliate school (typically has to do MS classes and PT somewhere else). If that school is not a host school, then contacting the ROO at the host school is going to be the easiest way to get her questions answered. My daughter had zero response from non-host school staff, contacting the ROO at the host school is what I wish we knew about earlier! My daughter also chose all but one school that she absolutely knew she would get into and get academic money for without a national scholarship, so she could show up in the fall and start ROTC and then compete for a campus based as a plan B without a scholarship. Her only stretch school was the one required school to be located in our state. She was iffy as to whether she would get in (initially wait listed, then accepted later in the spring) After she received the national scholarship, she decided on attending her stretch school. It was also a stretch school for ROTC because she had been told that it was competitive for nursing ROTC, only 3 slots at that school and direct entry nursing as a freshman meant it is a popular choice. My point in telling this story is to illustrate what has been said before, getting a scholarship does not guarantee getting into a school. So picking realistic choices both for academics and to be competitive for a ROTC slot is crucial.

It is all very overwhelming, confusing, and a learn as you go process. There are many parents here, and students that have recently gone through the process. Keep posting, asking questions, and have your daughter check out the site too. Once you have 10 posts (respond to us on this thread to get your posts built up, they can be a word or two, they don’t need to be detailed), then you can send any of us a personal message. I have found every parent that I have reached out to with specific questions because they had specific experiences I was interested in all very helpful!

My general advice is (and I give it often)

1. Don’t be afraid to have her email Cadet Command for all things related to her application. Including but not limited to, you sent something in but it isn’t showing up in her portal or is not approved yet, showing disqualified, asking for something and you don’t know what it is, etc. Just email them, they are helpful and quick to respond.

2. Once she identifies a few schools and makes contacts with the ROO there, encourage her to ask them questions to. About her essay for example, or questions about what majors she can take, or can she switch, etc.?

3. If at all possible visit ROTC units, she (and you) will learn SO much at each visit. And she will gain some great contacts and a ROO or two as an ally in the process.

When in doubt, you can look here, but really need to ask the sources that are really in the process, the schools and Cadet Command are there to help, use them. Other than Clarksonarmy (Clarkson University ROO) and BAMA ROTC (Alabama ROO), and a few others, we are just parents and students!

The takeaways I got from the post are the things I have written about before:

The application is helpful, and starting it will answer a lot of your questions

Establish that dialogue with the ROO

Come see us. A campus visit is going to go a long way to helping you chose

Hope this helps…thanks to Dckc88 for the great post!

Are you a regular visitor to the Service Academy Forum?

 

Board dates 2016-2017 scholarship boards

Here they are, the dates for this fall/winter’s board dates. If you are applying for a four year high school Army ROTC scholarship that will start in the fall of 2017, that would be a high school senior in the fall of 2016, these are the dates you should pay attention to.

4-year High School Application Opens for SY 17-18 12-Jun-16
1st High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 7-Oct-16
1st High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 21-Oct-16
1st High School Selection Board 24-Oct-16
2nd High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 6-Jan-17
2nd High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 20-Jan-17
2nd High School Selection Board 23-Jan-17
4-Year High School Application Deadline for SY 16-17 10-Jan-17
Final (3rd) HS Selection Board Deadline for Docs — Missing Items 28-Feb-17
3rd High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 10-Mar-17
Final (3rd) High School Selection Board  13-Mar-17

So, what does all this mean.  Same advice as last year…You should complete your application before the board that makes you the most competitive.  I would recommend you try to get in on one of the first two boards.  Waiting till the deadline and being seen by just one board is never the best course of action.  If you have a strong file you should be shooting to have your file complete by 2 October and reviewed by the first board.

Look at SAT/ACT dates. If you don’t do so well the first time you take those tests your second shot is usually some time shortly after the October board, so you should be shooting for the second board and submitting improved scores if your file isn’t strong. Here’s where you can get some help with those tests, use it.

If you wait until the second or third board your chances are diminished because there will obviously be less allocations available after each board but don’t rush to be on the first board if you aren’t ready.  I would tell you that you shouldn’t wait to be able to do one or two more push ups on the PFT, but if your SAT/ACT is low retake and wait for the next board.

As you go through the process make sure you read about all the components (this blog is a good source of information, if I do say so myself) and stay in touch with at least one of the recruiting officers at one of the schools on your list. Notice I said recruiting Officer, and not recruiter…there is still a difference.

 

How and where to start

When I started this blog 6 years ago (holy crap! 6 years ago!) some of the first posts were about how to start the scholarship process and how to get started in Army ROTC.  Time to bump that info back to the top of the blog and freshen it up a little. The optimal target audience for this information is a high school junior finishing up their junior year.  That student is considering college and has a desire to serve in the military. If you aren’t a high school junior and are interested we should still talk, there are plenty of ways to become an Army Officer. Here’s what I think my optimal audience should do.

Step one – do your research

Visit www.goarmy.com/rotc …poke around on the site.  Understand that Army ROTC is a program that trains college students to serve as Army Officers when they graduate from college. Look at the requirements.  Don’t be afraid to contact an Army ROTC Battalion and talk to an Enrollment Officer if you have questions.

Along with researching ROTC opportunities you’ll also need to figure out where you want to attend college and what you want to study.  You won’t be majoring in Army ROTC.  The internet is a great source of material.  You can use a search engine to develop a list of schools that offer what you want.  Most University websites will give you a good idea what they offer.  You can also usually find information about Army ROTC battalions too.  In our case we have a wealth of information on the Clarkson University website, and on social media platforms like facebook and instagram.

Step two – apply for the scholarship

Watch this video first.

If you follow the link to http://www.goarmy.com/rotc/high-school-students you will find a link to the four-year High School Scholarships and on that page you can start your application.  It is first going to ask you to create a goarmy.com account.  It is very important that once you create this account you return to the ROTC page and log in here.  I publish the various dates for the scholarship process once they are released each year.  Typically the window to apply opens in June before a high school students senior year.  The first board meets in October and the deadline to start the process is in early January.  Watch this blog for the dates.

A WORD OF CAUTION…If you are on the goarmy.com site you will see an apply online button. That is not the button for applying to Army ROTC.  That button takes you to the Army Career Explorer (ACE) which is focused on enlisted options for the most part.

goarmy.com

goarmy.com

Step three – keep in touch/start a dialogue

As you go through the process make sure you are letting people know you are interested in their program.  Whether it is a school or an Army ROTC battalion, we want to hear from you, and we will keep track of our conversations.  In my case I contact interested applicants often and track all correspondences.  Clarkson also does the same and I can cross reference their system and mine to see if an applicant is showing interest. If I hear from you often then you will get my help.  If you don’t respond to my emails I’m guessing you plan to attend another school.

You have to make sure you are providing good contact information.  If you provide an email address make sure it’s one you check often.  With the advent of mobile devices it should take days to respond to an email.

I also suggest that scanning and emailing is the best way to respond to requests for forms or documents.  On the application website you can scan and upload documents.  There is no reason why someone would put something in an envelope and mail it or fax a document these days.  Scan and upload when possible.

I also recommend you plan some campus visits once you narrow your list.  If you visit a college ask about meeting with someone from the ROTC program.  In my case, I encourage visitors to schedule their visit through the Admissions office, and ask to meet with Army ROTC.  Admissions does the rest.

Step four – Don’t give up

If you go through the high school process and don’t get an offer you can still attend college, enroll in Army ROTC class, and become an Army Officer.  You may have the opportunity to earn a campus based scholarship or take advantage of another program like the Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP).  Not every Cadet is on scholarship.

 

 

What can a ROO see?

As an applicant, sometimes this process must seem hard to understand.  Some applicants receive a ton of coaching and feedback and others seem to be in the dark, always wondering where they stand and what the next step is.  So to shine a light on the subject…All ROOs aren’t the same. Some are more tech savy and some less. Some are capable of doing querys and extracting lists from our system, and some aren’t. Some are willing to help and some are at schools where they can sit back and let the prospects come to them (I’m looking at you SMCs).

The one thing we do all have in common is our main tool. The system we use is called the Cadet Command Information Management Module

CCIMM

Here is what we can see and what we might do with it:

We have access to a screen called the high school applicant contact list. It gives us a name, mailing address, phone number, and status. There are 5 statuses an applicant can be in Disqualified, Ineligible, Interviewee, Offer, and Alt Offer. What a ROO could do with this list is extract all the applicants into a spreadsheet and do a mail merge. Unless they wanted to spam the whole list they could filter out the disqualified or maybe the ones who already have offers. I’m hoping there aren’t any ROOs who would try to poach someone who already has an offer.  If the school is a regional draw they might want to use the contact information for a certain state or group of states.  I personally take this list and filter it for New York.  I’ll then look at that list and see if I see local applicants, or applicants from the Fort Drum region.  Then I might look up their information and offer my help.

We also have a screen called the high school applicant list. This screen shows us everyone who has applied, has one of our schools, and is in at least interviewee status. To be in interviewee status you have to at least submit transcripts and SAT/ACT test grades. This is the list I rely on. Each name is linked to their application, so if I need to see more I just click on their name. I use this information to determine where Clarkson ranks, how competitive they will be, and the screen allows me to give some feedback on things like the essay or an applicants list of extra curricular activities.  I’ll also print this off for my PMS when he does an interview with an applicant.

I can also get my Brigade to run a query of all applicants with one of my schools on their list, but I had to know to ask for it. About a month ago I asked Cadet Command for access to the applicant records in the data base, so I could run my own querys.  They told me I couldn’t have access to to those records, but my Brigade could provide the list. This list allows me see the applicants still in ineligible or qualified status. This allows me to reach out to them and let them know what they are still missing or what they need to do to be competitive. This list and the applicant list can be what sets a helpful ROO apart from the ROO that just sits back and hopes for the best. It also sets the helpful ROO apart from the ROO who just spams 1200 applicants.

I wanted to share this information, so you all know that if ROOs are creative they can see alot. Just because you got an email from ECU or Wentworth or any other school doesn’t mean your chances just went up or down. You are still on the list, you still may be competitive, and still need to have a backup plan.

 

Reader mail – Where’s the white space

Nothing like being tossed a softball for a lazy blogger.

Got an email today from someone who has been visiting the blog.  Here’s what it said:

I wanted to clarify something because I think the application has changed since your post in 2012. “use all the white space”
Did it in fact change, or am I missing it on the application. I’m only seeing a personal statement. Is there any place to explain achievements like on the college common app?
In fact the application does change from year to year and unfortunately I don’t always go back and update my old blog posts. If you are reading some of my posts pay attention to when they were written. That being said, things don’t change that much, and most of the old advice is still valid.
So, here is what I wrote back.
Questions like these are why I apply for the scholarship every year….If you click on the Selection Status tab in the online application website and scroll all the way down you will see the “white space”.  It’s now called “Additional Remarks”, but it’s essentially the old “Additional SAL Achievements” field.

In the system we use to see an application (CCIMM) that “Additional Remarks” field is displayed as “Additional SAL Achievements”.  I’m seeing plenty of applicants who have found this box and have followed my advice.
I certainly appreciate the question and it gave me a reason to go back into the application and poke around a little bit.  I knew the “white space” was in there, just had to figure out where.  What I have found is that a lot of applicants don’t go all the way through the application and click on all the tabs and links.  There is a ton of information on the application website.  Based on many of the questions I see out there some folks aren’t looking at all of it, and it is not always easy to find. A perfect example is the “Additional Remarks” hidden all the way at the bottom of the last tab.

The Offer Letter…what’s it say, and what’s it mean

So, you have an offer, and you’re dying to know exactly what it entails.  I’m here to help you out. Here is a link to a copy of an offer letter from the first round 2015-16.

Offer letter

Here’s what it means:

The first thing to note is the word “conditional” in the first paragraph. Understand that this offer is still not locked in. You may see your selection status says pending medical qualification and administratively qualified.  What that means is that you still need to pass your DODMERB physical (become medically qualified) and that all other administrative requirements, like being enrolled full time, passing your APFT, and obtaining any waivers are complete before you will receive your benefits.

You may have completed a DODMERB for another branch or service academy. 9 times out of 10 that DODMERB will be reviewed by Army and will will also be good to go for this offer.  It still has to be reviewed, so make sure you let someone know. In my case I like to know that you had a DODMERB done already so that I can prompt DODMERB to expedite the review. If you haven’t started the DODMERB you want to get that started as soon as possible.  No need to panic, but sooner is better.

The scholarship tuition line says “FULL TUITION”.  This was not always the case.  Eleven years ago there was a cap on the tuition benefits. Some other branches (Air Force) have caps or limits on the benefit. With Army ROTC scholarships we pay full tuition and fees. You also have the option of using your scholarship to pay for Room and Board if you would prefer. We don’t pay for both. You may have received an offer to a school that provides Room and Board for Army ROTC scholarship winners, but we are only going to pay for one of those things and the other is between you and the school.

You will see a list of schools and whether you are offered a 4 or 3 year scholarship.  There may be more than one school. The instructions tell you that you need to select one school.  You need to make sure you select one school. That does not mean you can’t ask to change in the future, but for now you need to take your best guess and lock up that scholarship. Along with this letter you will also receive a set of instructions that will outline what you have to do if you want to request a change.  You can’t request a change if you haven’t accepted one of the offers.

The final thing I want to highlight is on page two.  The instructions say you need to accept one offer, sign the letter, and return the form.  You have three options for returning the form.  I can’t say it enough…Scan and email the form!!! I don’t know why anyone relies on the postal service or an old technology like a FAX to communicate important information any more.  The quickest, surest way to let Cadet Command know what you’ve decided is to email them. I would also suggest that you contact your school of choice and let them know what you’ve decided.

 

 

SAT or ACT scores

As the first board finishes it’s work this year I wanted to publish some thoughts on Test Scores, which are a critical part of the application.

What tests and scores are looked at?

if you submit SAT scores Cadet Command will look at your Math and Critical Reading scores. Your writing score will be posted, but it won’t factor into the points generated directly from the score (more on that later). If you take the SAT multiple times Cadet Command will use the highest score you get on each part for your total.   If you take the ACT your composite score is converted into an equivalent SAT score, which then generates points. So an ACT score of 19 correlates to a 920 SAT score and a 29 ACT score correlates to a 1300 SAT score.  You can find the full conversion table in Cadet Command Pamphlet 145-1 if you are really curious

Where do I get points for my application?

The first thing to understand is that your file is given a score by the scholarship process and this score is used to rank order all the applicants. That Order of Merit list is used to make scholarship offers. You SAT or ACT score effects your score in a couple different places. You get a score specifically for your SAT/ACT scores. You will also receive a score for your PMS interview. At least 20 points on that interview can be directly impacted by your test scores. Your test scores will also factor into you SAL score. Finally the board that looks at your file will consider your test scores when they score your file.  Test scores and PFT scores are probably the most quantifiable and least subjective parts of your application and are seen and considered more than any other piece of data.

How should I submit my scores?

You have a couple options. In my experience the least reliable way is to designate Army ROTC to receive your scores when you take them, or request the testing agency to submit send your scores to Cadet Command.  Sometimes they get sent, received, processed, and posted by the testing agency and Cadet Command and sometimes they don’t. In my mind the less hands anything you are trying to submit go though the better.  You can fax the test scores in. Once again, relying on a fax machine, and a person to post that to your application is risky. You can scan and email.  That’s getting better, you are probably only relying on the person that opens that email to post it. My recommendation is you upload your scores to your application right on the application website. You can scan or take a screen shot of your test scores and upload the file. Once you upload the file you will be able to see that it is there, and you won’t have to wonder where your scores are at.

And one last bit of wisdom

SAT and ACT scores are important.  I recommend you prep for them and do your best. The Army offers a free resource at March2success.com that you can use to prepare for the tests. You also need to make sure you are tracking when the tests are given and how that correlates with the deadlines for the scholarship process.  Typically if you wait until your senior year to take your SAT for the first time you won’t have your scores back in time to be seen by the first board.  If you don’t do well and need to retake the test then you may miss the second board too. I recommend taking SAT during your junior year to give yourself time to fix problems if you don’t do well the first time.

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