How and where to start 2017 edition

When I started this blog 7 years ago now (holy crap! 7 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 not 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.

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?

 

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.

 

 

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.

Why didn’t my status change?

I’ve been getting a lot of comment posts, emails, and discussion board inquires about the board process and changes in scholarship application statuses (or lack thereof).   Here are some of the questions and the answers:

The board met today and my status hasn’t changed yet???

The board date is just the start date.  Each board takes about a week to review and score thousands of files. Think about the numbers…each year there are about 10K applicants that complete their file and are boarded.  That means each board is going to be looking at somewhere between 2 and 4 thousand files.  To the best of my knowledge a board is made up of 4-5 Lieutenant Colonels that go to Fort Knox and sit on the board.  They are locked in a room and review files all day.

The answer is…be patient.

My status changed to “boarded”, is an offer imminent???

The board has nothing to do with the offers.  The offer process is separate from the board process.  Once the board is released from that locked room the next step is to take all those file scores, add them to the scores from the previous boards that didn’t get offers and then start working down the list to make offers.  So, essentially someone takes the file with the highest score and looks at the list of schools.  If the first school on the list has allocations left then an offer is made.  If not then we look at the second school on the list and they work down the list of schools.  Some of those offers may be 4 year and some may be three year offers.

The answer is…No…be patient.

Will my status change once the process is over with if I don’t get an offer???

This one is a tough one, because I don’t have visibility of applicant end results.  To the best of my knowledge statuses probably won’t change.  I have seen applicants who didn’t get an offer receive an email in the past encouraging them to enroll in Army ROTC if they still want to become an Army Officer.  I usually send out a similar email to my applicants that don’t get offers, especially the ones I know are still coming to my school.  The bottom line is the scholarship processors at Cadet Command are probably shifting fire to the next project (prepping winners for the following fall, starting to look at next year’s early applicants, dealing with DODMERB issues) and they don’t have time to close the loop with the applicants that didn’t get an offer.

The answer is…probably not.

Here’s the last piece of advice.  Keep in mind that the scholarship processors are a small group of people who do a Herculean task each year.  They just don’t have time to give individual, full service to each and every applicant.  Don’t get frustrated if you status doesn’t change frequently or if your email goes unanswered for a day or two.  I’m a small school ROO who pays close attention to the 100 +/- applicants who list my school each year.  It’s a lot easier for me to answer questions and check statuses then for the folks at CC.  Hopefully the ROO at your school of choice is helpful.

 

 

And the Oscar goes to…

This one is hot off the press…Cadet Command just posted an incredibly useful video on Youtube that explains how to apply for an Army ROTC scholarship.  Captain Howard does a great job of explaining how to navigate the website and touches on all the important features, especially that additional information tab.

I wish I had produced this video.  It is just about how I would have conveyed this information.  Kudos to Cadet Command!

New Tattoo policy – Don’t do anything you will regret

Thinking about getting a tattoo??  For all of you that are considering enlisting or pursuing a commission you need to understand the tattoo policy before you do.    The other day the Cadre of the Golden Knight Battalion reviewed the new Army standards to make sure we knew who might have issues with the new policy.  The document that covers appearance is Army Regulation 670-1  Here is what we took away from our review.

Above the neck or below the wrist

If you have ink above the neck or below the wrist you are not eligible to join.  I’m pretty sure this one isn’t a big change.  So, that celtic knot on the back of the neck or the flower behind the ear is/was a bad idea.  And definitely don’t get a Mike Tyson, if you want to serve.

Below the elbow/knee

No more than 4 visible tattoos total on the arms or legs below the elbow/knee.  Each tattoo can be no larger than the soldier’s hand.  So, that snake all the way down your calf, from knee to ankle, will not fly.

Sleeve tattoos

Sleeve tattoos below the elbow or knee are not authorized.  You are allowed one visible (below the elbow/knee) band tattoo.  The Army defines this as a tattoo that is no more than two inches in width.  That counts as one of the four authorized visible tattoos.

Extremist, Sexist, Racist tattoos are prohibited.  Soldiers are also prohibited from “willful mutilation of the body or any body parts in any manner”.  They are talking about you with the 1 inch guages in your ears, or the split tongue.  You are also not allowed to wear bandages or jewelry to cover up unauthorized tattoos.

What are the takeaways

After seeing the new changes I had two big takeaway pertaining to myself and future Army ROTC Cadets.  The first is that I will need to add the question of tattoos to my list of qualifying conditions when talking to a prospect.  The second is that I will advise anyone who asks to think long and hard about getting ink.  Over the next couple years the Army will be changing as we transition back into a “peacetime” Army.  As the force gets smaller there will be less incentive to wave the rules and standards.  This is not an organization you join to flaunt your first amendment rights.  So, get that tiny heart with your girlfriend’s initials on your butt cheek, but the full body Samoan masterpiece you’ve been saving up for may have to wait until you retire.