Repurposing – The Interview

Here is one of my favorites with some good information and links related to the interview that is required as part of the process.

This was originally posted here.

A prospect today asked about the interview process, and I realized I hadn’t written a blog post about it yet, so here we go. One of the 4 requirements to get your file board ready after you submit your application for the 4 year Army ROTC Scholarship is to conduct an interview with a Professor of Military Science (PMS). Here is what your letter of instructions will probably look like regarding the interview:

You must complete a face to face interview with the Professor of Military
Science (PMS) at a university of your choice or from one of the five universities
listed on the last page of this correspondence. These listed schools are in your
geographical area; not necessarily schools in which you are interested in
attending. Travel to and from the interview is your responsibility. You must
contact one of the individuals on the PMS’s staff to make an appointment for your
interview. If you do not appear for the interview, you may be eliminated from
further competition.

Here is my advice

Where should I interview?

Conduct your interview at a school you are interested in, and preferably one that is listed on your application. If it is just not feasible do it at one of the schools close to your home, but be aware that the interviewer has less invested in you if you don’t plan to attend their school. If you interview at a school that is likely to be your destination that interviewer will go the extra mile to make sure you have a successful interview. Additionally if you don’t receive a scholarship offer you will still be on that PMS’s radar, and may be considered for any campus based scholarships that may become available.

What will they be looking for?

Here is the checklist that the PMS will use when she/he conducts the interview. The PMS is looking at your Scholar/Athlete/Leader attributes and is awarding points based on what you tell them. Obviously you won’t be lying to pad your points, but make sure you account for all your accomplishments, and make sure you get credit. If you are short in one of the SAL areas, make sure on the back the PMS can give you extra points for something else. For example, you’ve never played team sports because you have had to have a part time job throughout high school to help the family make ends meet. You won’t get points for athlete, but on the back the PMS can annotate your circumstances and give you full points for personal qualities and potential.

What should I wear to the interview?

Use your common sense. Suit and tie is not normally required. Collared shirt, Khakis, and nice shoes will work. It might be good to ask the person that arranges the interview what to wear. We have conducted interviews in the field before, so a suit and tie would have been inappropriate. We have also had JROTC cadets wear their uniform to the interview (nice touch, but not necessary). Just don’t show up in ripped jeans and a grubby tshirt, and you’ll be fine.

Should you bring a resume?

Again, a nice touch but not necessary. You should have submitted all the information that we need prior to the interview. I have had applicants bring resumes, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and scrap books complete with gym club card and handgun licence. Don’t need all that stuff. Again, ask because some schools might want to see a resume.

What type of questions will be asked?

Depends on the PMS. Some PMS’s may be more formal than others. Some may want to have a discussion and answer your questions. Some may want to hear what is motivating you. Some may get off on a tangent and talk about something you both have in common. You should have a short concise answer prepared to the question “tell me a bit about yourself” and you should be able to explain why you want to be an Army Officer. Take a look at this post for some ideas regarding themes you can talk about such as Army Values or Soldiers Creed. Remember that no matter how informal the conversation appears to be, you are still being watched and evaluated. If you call him dude, and spent 20 minutes discussing the best band at this year’s Warped Tour you may think you hit it out of the park, and the PMS may be checking the “no scholarship for this guy” block.

Remember your manners

Yes sir, No sir or Yes Ma’am, No Ma’am will definitely score some points. Yeah, bro, and dude will loose you some points. It is also a good idea to drop the PMS a note or email after the interview thanking them for their time.

That’s my take on the interview. Hope it helps. Make sure you let me know how it goes.

Repurposing – Information about submitting test scores

This is a short one, but an important one.  Making sure that Cadet Command has your SAT/ACT scores is important, but can get overlooked if you aren’t on top of things.  It’s too easy to send in a screen shot just to be sure they have it.

This was originally posted here.

Do you think Cadet Command has your SAT scores? Might want to double check

Here is a heads up regarding SAT/ACT scores and the scholarship application. Here is what was communicated to the Army ROTC recruiting community recently

Because of a system incompatibility scores sent from College Board will not be “available for upload into the applicants files”.

What that means for you is that if you are thinking that because you listed Cadet Command to receive your score that they have or will be posted to your file, your scores are probably not in your file. The best ways to check are to access your file status online, or contact the ROO at one of your schools and ask what you are still missing. If you have one of my schools listed I will probably be contacting you to let you know what you are missing, but all ROOs aren’t the same.
I also suggest you take a screen shot of your score from the SAT or ACT website, paste that into a document, and email it to your processor, and cc that email to train2lead@usacc.army.mil. I also suggest you check your file online often, at least until you are designated board ready.

Repurposing – More info about the application

Yesterday I reposted my blog about applying for the scholarship online.  Here is an old post that talked about some of the fields on the application and how to maximize your chances by providing the most relevant information.

This article was originally posted here.

The online scholarship application allows you two areas to provide narrative on your Army ROTC scholarship application. I have already written an article regarding the personal statement, but the other block of white space for you to fill needs some exploring. First off, you need to understand that I have never personally filled out an Army Scholarship application online, so some of my suggestions are based on a little bit of speculation on my part. I do have visibility over the final product though, so my speculation is based on some pretty good information. The field I’m going to talk about shows up as “Applicants Additional SAL Achievements” in the Cadet Command Information Management System.

First off…

Don’t leave this or the personal statement blank!!!

I see it all the time, and Cadet Command will usually tell you that your personal statement is missing. Your applications is your argument for why Cadet Command should pay for your education and make you an Army Officer. So use all the space to make your case. Remember that we are looking for Scholar/Athlete/Leaders, so tell us about your scholar/athlete/leader attributes/accomplishments.

The best way I’ve seen to fill this block is to use your resume, and bulletize your accomplishments. I would suggest either a chronological organization, or organize the achievements by SAL criteria. For example:

2009
-Competed in a triathalon in Hawaii
-Selected to attend the national young leaders forun on national security
-Captain of the varsity chess team
-Voluteered 3 hours a week at the pet shelter
2010
-Boys State participant
-National honors society all 4 years of high school
-Secretary of senior class
-Clarkson University high school leadership award – given to a junior in top 15 percent of class who has outstanding leadership qualities and academic promise

…you get the idea.

This is your opportunity to add anything that you couldn’t add elsewhere, and your chance to expound on something you added elsewhere, but weren’t able to explain fully. Remember that if you were selected to be captain of the football team it might be to your advantage to explain that you led conditioning for 70 players, instead of just checking the block and leaving the board members to wonder what the captain of the football team does at your school.

some other Do’s and Don’ts –

  • Do proofread and have someone else proofread before posting
  • Don’t post the same information in both additional achievements and personal statement (I’ve seen it done)
  • Don’t make stuff up or fabricate your achievements
  • Do tell your story…this is your chance to toot your horn
  • Don’t toot too loud

Some phrases to avoid (again, I’ve seen these)

  • I deserve this scholarship because
  • I can’t afford to go to college without this scholarship
  • This scholarship will allow me to earn a degree and make lots of money some day


Hope this helps as some of you put the finishing touches on your scholarship, and helps some of you future applicants be more competitive.

Repurposing good information

I’m on the road this week, and my week of college fairs corresponds with the deadline for the first board this year.  What I thought I would do is repurpose some old blog posts and revisit some old advice that is still relevant for scholarship applicants.  so here we go.

This post is not that old, and was first posted here.  I’m still getting monthly letters telling me what I’m still missing in my application.

I did something a couple of weeks back I’ve been meaning to do for many years now. At the last Brigade Conference we were told that it is OK for us to get on the website and work through the application, so I did. In the past it was always a little frustrating to have to ask applicants what they saw, because until you’ve logged on and filled out the application there is no way of knowing what is involved.

So here is what I learned. It’s not that bad. The application is pretty straight forward. You need to be prepared to put your personal statement in, but it is simple to cut and paste into the fields. There is also an extensive inventory of extra curricular activities, so be prepared to work through that part and document all your accomplishments and activities. Also be prepared to add anything not covered in the inventory in the additional SAL achievement field. It appears that it is fairly easy to get back in and change things. My assumption is once you have been boarded changing things won’t help any, so the lesson learned is to make sure you have all the information you want to be seen in the system well before the board.

My recommendation is to get into the application early, fill it out as best you can, and then tighten it up in the late Summer or early Fall to make sure you get seen by the first board.   you will have to make sure your list of schools is set by then, otherwise you may be getting an offer to a school you don’t intend to apply to or attend.

The other thing I was interested in seeing, and I was able to work through was the Civilian Background Experience Form (CBEF).

Here is what was sent to us about a month ago.

The CBEF was introduced this year into the online high school scholarship application. We have received queries from schools seeking more information about the CBEF.

  • Civilian Background Experience Form – a 92 question form designed to determine a high school applicant’s aptitude to complete ROTC and commission as an officer.
  • The CBEF is located at the end of the online 4-year high school scholarship application.
  • The applicant completes the CBEF once. If the applicant logs out of the application without taking the CBEF or without completing it, when the applicant logs back into their application, the link for the CBEF is still available. However, upon completion of the CBEF, the link will be gone the next time the applicant logs into their application.
  • Board Whole Person Score – 1400 total points possible. The CBEF counts for 250 points or 17.8% of the WPS.
  • The CBEF is not required for an applicant to go before the board. If an applicant does not take the CBEF or does not complete it, the applicant receives zero points out of a possible 250.

More to follow on this part of the application and the Whole Person Score. Being the conspiracy theorist that I am, I have to wonder how this is scored, and who decided this would be part of how we chose our Officer Candidates. The CBEF requires your sworn secrecy. There is a statement you read at the beginning that tells you not to reveal the contents to anyone, so I won’t violate that oath. I will just say that it is a typical behavioral survey. If you are an applicant who goes in and takes this survey, your comments would definitely be appreciated.