The interview 2017 edition

This is an update on information I wrote about here and here

The interview

At Clarkson we like to spend some time with our interviewees. We invite them to visit our lab or tour our campus while they are here

One of the 4 requirements to get your file board ready after you start your application for the 4 year Army ROTC Scholarship is to conduct an interview with a Professor of Military Science (PMS). It is usually one of the last tasks an applicant will accomplish, because it usually involves traveling to meet with a PMS or his/her representative to conduct a face to face interview. The interview is one of the most important steps in the process because not only is it worth 200 of the points in your whole person score it is also one of the most important pieces of information the board will use to score you, if it is done right.

Here is what Cadet Command has to say about the interview, right from the additional information tab on the applications website.  If you aren’t familiar with that tab, you should be:

PMS Scholarship Interviews


The purpose of the Interview is for the Professor of Military Science (PMS) to have a face-to-face evaluation of the applicant.  The interview is conducted by an active PMS who will ask you questions and will answer any questions you may have about Army ROTC and the pursuit of an Army commission.

You won’t be eligible to conduct your interview until you have provided qualifying SAT/ACT scores and a copy of your high school transcript. Once you have done that, you will receive a message through the application identifying the five closest ROTC host programs to your home address. You don’t have to use these five schools but the interview needs to be conducted face-to-face.

The interview can be telephonic as a last resort, depending on distances involved. This doesn’t mean you can do a telephonic interview if you live near Washington, D.C. but want to go to school in California. Where you want to go to school doesn’t matter to the PMS conducting the interview.

Any cost incurred for transportation, food and lodging for the interview are your responsibility.

Overseas applicants must contact a stateside Professor of Military Science to arrange a virtual meeting via Skype or other similar services to conduct the interview.


  1. Be prepared. This doesn’t mean practicing your scripted responses to standard questions; expect a good interviewer to maneuver around those types of questions. You should still be able to speak intelligibly about standard questions such as ‘tell us about yourself.’

Review your application packet again and bring along extra copies of your resume, as well. Be sure to write down a few questions for the interviewer or panel, too. The typical interview can last anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes.

  1. No flip-flops. While you may wear board shorts and a tank top to the beach or school, this is not the appropriate time to dress down. You need to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are a serious. No one expects you to go buy a business suit or fancy dress but you should take it serious. More appropriate attire includes items such as slacks and a buttoned-down collared shirt, or a knee-length skirt or a JROTC uniform. Hair should be neat and out of your face, and don’t forget to wear shoes that are in good condition.
  1. Be on time. Give yourself plenty of extra time to deal with unexpected situations, such as traffic or parking issues, to ensure you do not arrive late. You should also jot down the name of your interviewer and ask for him/her by name when you arrive. Nothing screams “unprepared” like showing up for a meeting and not remembering who you are supposed to meet. If you are running behind, please call ahead and let them know you will be late. This will give the interviewer the option of pushing back your interview or rescheduling it, if necessary. It’s never good to show up late, but it’s even worse to do so without giving fair warning.
  1. Listen, Think, Speak. It’s important to listen during your interview and not anticipate questions. Once a question has been asked, respond in a clear and concise manner. Stay on topic, don’t try to steer the question back to a practiced answer, and don’t ramble. Make eye contact and enunciate! Above all else, answer all questions honestly. Interviewers can tell when you are embellishing or making up answers to impress them.
  1. Be yourself. If selected for the scholarship, that’s what you’ll give every day anyway. Walk into your interview with confidence, smile, and be yourself. Most interviewers will keep a stoic face. Don’t let this influence your responses or behavior during the interview. Always conduct yourself professionally and as though you are the best applicant.

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 to get to one of the schools on your list 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, and you will probably spend some of that visit hearing about the school and program you are interviewing at. 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 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 of the form 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.  This is your opportunity to tell your story and make your case.

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.

Who and where

There is some debate among my peers whether the PMS or ROO (or someone else) should conduct the interview.  My belief is that it’s called a PMS interview for a reason, and every after action review of a scholarship board I have ever seen said that the board favors a PMS interview over interviews done by surrogates like ROOs or Executive Officers.  My advice is to be wary if you are told you will be interviewed by someone other than the PMS.  Also be aware that if you are interviewing at a popular school in a densely populated area you will probably get a little different result and attitude from your interviewer than if you travel to a small, remote school (like Clarkson University) and interview with a PMS who only does a handful of interviews each year.  I would also caution about doing an interview at an Senior Military College.  Even if you think you want to attend an SMC, interviewing at an SMC is going to put you into a different pool of applicants, and your interviewer may have a different perception of what is the best candidate for a scholarship.  I’m not saying don’t interview at a popular school or an SMC.  Just be aware that the results of your interview may be effected by those environments.

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 updated take on the interview. Hope it helps. Make sure you drop us a comment and let us know how it goes.


CULP trip – 2017 – Tanzania – Cadet Temme

Time for me to start cleaning out my inbox of all the Summer training reports.  This year we had a bunch of Cadets on CULP trips, Army internships, and other summer training.  I always love sharing these each year because it highlights the incredible things our Cadets do, and it highlights what we emphasize here at Clarkson University and the Golden Knight Battalion.

We’ll start out this year’s reports with the newly married Cadet Battalion Commander Kerri Temme, formerly known as Cadet Boyer.  Her trip demonstrates that you should always expect changes in the Army and you should never let a change get you down, because it often leads to an unexpected win.

In December 2016, I was notified that I was awarded the opportunity to embark on a Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) mission to Cambodia. I have never been to Asia before but had read a lot about the region and was ecstatic for the mission. When our mission was changed in February to Tanzania, I was not as thrilled for I had just been to Africa the summer before and thought I knew all I needed to know about their culture. However, when I started the homework and began researching Tanzania more and more, I realized that the culture and structure of Tanzania was completely different from my prior experience. For instances, instead of the nation being broken into tribes, the government combined all the tribes in Tanzania and united them under one flag and enforced one language, Swahili. I expected to work solely with their military and learn only about their military and the structure of their government. My reality was different.

temme3            Upon arriving to CULP, we learned that our mission was to teach English at a local private school, Jetegemee, for young children whose parents either served in the military or were government officials. We began to plan fun games and English lessons that would suite this age group. When we arrived, we realized that we were extremely under prepared and all of our prior assumptions had been wrong. We walked into a class of 19-20 year olds learning advanced chemistry and courses of the same difficulty who spoke proper English. We quickly had to adjust our lessons and began to compare our two cultures. Talking to students around the same age as us and comparing the United States to Tanzania was the most beneficial part of our mission to understand their culture. We compared politics, gender roles, government structures, military structures, foreign trade partners, imported good and exported goods, music, food, sports, the list goes on. We sat in on some of their classes and realized that some of their high school equivalent courses were the same as our college courses and they were taught in Swahili and English. At that point, realizing that we may not have anything we can teach them to maintain the professor’s lesson plan, we divided into groups consisting of cadets with similar majors and sat in on classes that resembled our majors to assist the professors. Toward the end of our mission, the United States Charge d’Affaires, Inmi Patterson, came to visit the school. We saw her interact with the head of education at Jetegemee and the professors and learned about her role as a representative of the United States. Jetegemee greeted her with a song and a dance, representing their culture and how they welcome others.

temme2            Outside of the classroom, we experienced the Tanzanian culture through markets, museums, food, a safari, visiting a deserted island, visiting Dar Es Salaam University, and had presentations on Ramadhan and the Massai Tribe. This is where I learned the most. We met locals and experienced their everyday life from working at their markets where they made everything inside, to learning about the library and the pride behind it at the university. We observed how people would wake up early and start selling their goods on the side of the street as traffic accumulated or how fisherman would leave on their boats at dawn and return only once they have caught enough fish for the day. We’d observe locals that have great pride in their nation and sweep the streets to keep it clean and they would describe success as a collective effort, not an individual effort.

As a leader in a time of war, we will be deploying. Experiencing a nation that is not as well off as the United States is a major culture shock and can be very difficult to adjust to. Being able to have those experiences prior to those deployments are extremely beneficial to not only the mission but to the soldiers we will lead as well. A leader in culture shock will is unable to perform his or her job to the best of their ability and will be struggling to adjust; a leader who knows and understands different cultures will easily be able to adapt to lead their troops in a diverse situation. Leaders need to be able to have empathy and the interpersonal tact to connect with leaders from foreign nations while being able to influence them. We need to be able to walk into a room full of people that may not speak the same language as us and still have a command presence; CULP gave us that opportunity to practice and experience to adapt to it. Tanzania CULP mission 2017           The Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency is by far one of the most rewarding and humbling opportunities ROTC has to offer. Being able to confidently walk into a room with fifty to sixty people of a different culture and start up a conversation is not something that I was comfortable with doing at all prior to the Tanzania mission. Toward the last week of the mission, I was extremely comfortable in doing so while greeitng them in a different language (Swahili). My first days walking around the markets or driving down the streets I was nervous and a little uneasy, but toward the end I was comfortable and it felt normal to drive to school and walk around. Having someone hold my hand after a hand shake or put their arm around me was not something I liked during the first week, but at the end I was holding hands and putting my arm around someone I was talking to. Once I understood the differences between their norms, values and culture, it was easy to embrace the Tanzanian culture and find things in common to talk about. Having not gone on a CULP mission, I would find it very hard to embrace and understand other cultures especially if I was deploying. Now that I understand how different cultures can be and how to find the common ground between two cultures, I can confidently lead my future troops into an unknown area with the experience and knowledge I collected on my CULP mission to Tanzania.


Class of 2017 recap

commissioning class 2017.jpg

As we finish up with this year’s commissioning season I thought it might be valuable to recap what we produced with the MS 17 cohort.  Our mission for this class was 15.  We met our mission…no more, no less.  We were helped in this year group by three Cadets who migrated, or didn’t graduate on time.  All three of them were SMP Cadet, serving in the National Guard or Army Reserves, and all three of them continued to serve in the Guard/Reserves.  Of the 12 Cadets who did graduate on time this Spring –

  • 11 earned their degree at Clarkson and one at St Lawrence
  • 6 will serve on Active Duty, and 6 will serve in the Guard or Reserves
  • The Active Duty Cadets were branched into Ordnance (2), Infantry, Field Artillery, Corps of Engineers, and Aviation.
  • 4 of the 12 Graduates were varsity athletes at some point in their college career.
  • 9 of the 12 graduates were in STEM majors, 7 of them earning Engineering degree

Approximately 40 students were enrolled in this year group at one time or another.  Some tried it for a semester or two and decided it wasn’t for them. Some were asked to leave the program for one reason or another.

What are  the takeaways from this roll up? Each graduating class is different. At Clarkson we are known for producing lots of STEM Cadets.  We also work well with the athletic department. Most years we have a good male to female ratio. Most of our Cadets get their component of choice and most get one of their top choices for branch.  About half our Cadets chose to serve part time when they graduated this year.

As is the case every year…the graduates of the Golden Knight Battalion are well trained, well educated, well prepared and ready to do great things.  Good luck to all of them!



Lessons learned from last year’s process

This blog post should have been published back in June, but it’s not too late to share the info.  I like to think I’m pretty helpful with the scholarship process.  We are just through the first round of offers for this year, and I’m hoping I can replicate my stats from last year.

The Army ROTC high school scholarship process is a over for the class of 2020.  It was another good year for me and I’m happy with the way it went for my applicants.  Because my high school campaign is my priority, and it is where I can set the Battalion up for success, I look closely at the statistics to see how we did.  So what did I see this year?

  • 80 applicants started an application and listed one or more of my schools (Clarkson, St Lawrence, SUNY Potsdam, or SUNY Canton)
  • 60 of those applicants provided enough information to be seen on the PMS list in our system and visible to us without having to hunt for them.  That means they were in an interviewee status and were eligible to interview with a PMS
  • 35 of those applicants got an offer.
  • 20 of those offers were to the Golden Knight Battalion
  • 9 accepted their offer to the GKB
  • I was able to offer one additional 3AD offer, which was accepted.

What else did I learn?

It looks like the uploading of offers happened quicker and the release of results was almost instantaneous this year.  For the last round, by the time I could see offers being posted the status in the applicants website was changing.  We (programs) were still instructed not to contact winners until offer letters were mailed, but we got the go ahead quicker.

I also spent some time poking around the application website and realized that if an applicant would spend a little time reading all the information on the website many of the answers to frequently asked questions are right there (go figure). This process is not something that can be explained in a paragraph or two, so careful reading of provided information is always a good practice.



CULP trip 2014 – Romania – Cadet Mooney

It’s that time of the Summer when I start to get the trip reports from the CULP missions.  First to submit her report was Cadet Sally Mooney.  She will be entering her Junior year in the GKB and is studying at SUNY Potsdam and playing hockey there.  Here is her report from Romania.

I was a part of TM 10 Romania for CULP 2014. We had twelve cadets staying in Bucharest, Romania where we worked with the Jandarmeria. This is the special military police force that specializes in riot control and anti-terrorism. Our mission was to help them better understand english, in exchange for Jandarm training.

Mooney 1

During the week, we spent the day at their base. In the mornings we would do training, and in the afternoon we gave presentations on American culture and language. Some training events include: riot formations, breaching a building, combatives, rappelling, and rock climbing. One day, we went to the range and shot the MP5 and Sig Sauer P226. That was the team’s favorite day because none of us had shot these weapons before.

The Jandarms showing me a formation

The Jandarms showing me a formation

Many of the Jandarms were experts in MMA, and one was even the national champion for boxing. They taught us a lot of combatives and it was very beneficial and fulfilling for us. We also visited an orphanage while we were there. We went to the grocery store and bought a ton of food and toys to donate to the children of the orphanage. When we got there, the children were very excited and did not hesitate to dive into the toys we got them.

On the weekends, we traveled to do some sightseeing, and expand our cultural perspectives. The first weekend we went to Brasov where we saw Castle Peles, Castle Bran (Dracula’s Castle), a fortress, and a medieval city.


Tm 10 cadets outside of Castle Bran (Dracula’s Castle)

Tm 10 cadets outside of Castle Bran (Dracula’s Castle)

One of the Jandarms lived near there and we had the chance to see where he grew up. This was the most culturally shocking moment for me, because the Jandarm’s home was a very simple houses made of mud and set in a village. It was a self sufficient home. It was something that you see pictures of, but never actually witness. It was important for the team to get the chance to see that not every house is modernized and it was amazing to see. The next weekend we went to Mamaia on the Black Sea. We spent our time playing volleyball and relaxing on the beach. The weekends were a lot of fun because they offered a chance to fully see the country, as well as help us build relationships with our Romanian counterparts.

My Romanian counterpart (Cioby) and me wearing the riot control equipment

My Romanian counterpart (Cioby) and me wearing the riot control equipment

During my time there, I made friends with Romanians and fellow cadets. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I am very happy that I was able to go on this trip. I learned a lot about their culture and saw firsthand how much it is different from the lifestyle I have been fortunate to have.

As usual, the trip was life changing and opened the Cadet’s eyes to how other cultures live.  Thanks for bringing back a good story and lots of pictures Cadet Mooney.



Board dates 2014-2015 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 2015 these are the dates you should pay attention to. If you are a high school student finishing up your junior year and going into senior year in the fall, these are your dates.

1st High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 3-Oct-14
1st High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 17-Oct-14
1st High School Selection Board 20-Oct-14
2nd High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 24-Dec-14
2nd High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 2-Jan-15
2nd High School Selection Board 5-Jan-15
4-Year High School Application Deadline for SY 15-16 10-Jan-15
Final (3rd) HS Selection Board Deadline for Docs — Missing Items 28-Feb-15
3rd High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 6-Mar-15
Final (3rd) High School Selection Board  9-Mar-15

So, what does all this mean. If you have a strong file you should be shooting to have your file complete by 3 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.

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 a difference.


CULP trip 2013 – Vietnam – Cadet Locci

Joe Locci reports on his trip to Vietnam.  This is one of my favorite stories from this year’s crop.  I’ve known Joe for a few years now.  He comes from a pretty simple, down to earth background.  I know he has never traveled extensively.  I also know he has Veterans in his family.  When he got selected to go to Vietnam I knew it would be a special opportunity for him.  Here is how he described his trip.

CULP 2013 deployed me to Hanoi, Vietnam from 28 June through 20 July. The team`s mission was to foster healthy relations between the U.S. and Vietnam by working with Vietnamese officers through the instruction and communication of the English language. My team of 11 cadets were divided between four separate classes for the first two weeks of our three week deployment. We discussed aspects of our cultures to include things like currency, weather, food, and family with our students and eventually developed impenetrable friendships with our students.

locci vietnam1During weekends and the final week of our deployment to Vietnam my team took the opportunity to culturally immerse ourselves and experience the lifestyle of Vietnamese people. Such immersions included a trip to the sublime area of Ha Long Bay and the luxurious beach of Da Nang.

locci vietnam4

We also toured the DMZ and other historic cites of the Vietnam War such as Khe Sahn Combat Base.

locci vietnam2 We also visited ancient areas such as the Citadel and Imperial City located in Hue, and ruins of My Son.

locci vietnam3We toured various museums and establishments such as the U.S. Embassy and the “Hanoi Hilton”; the POW camp where former Presidential nominee John McCain was imprisoned.

locci vietnam5

Most memorable events would include the whole trip. As I have never traveled outside the U.S. before it was all a first time experience for me that I will never forget. I did enjoy the times spent at Vietnamese restaurants with my fellow cadets eating cuisines that included bizarre foods such as fresh snake or locust. Overall the trip was a success that completely transformed my whole outlook on life. Set ideas and beliefs that I had were totally transformed and reassessed. Too many Americans have no idea how blessed they are just for the fact of being born in the U.S…

Another report from a memorable trip.  It’s almost time for the next batch of Cadets to apply for next Summer’s trips.  Looking forward to their stories.