If you’ve been interested in JROTC or if you’ve been involved in it during your high school years, you may wonder about your options as you graduate. Of course, you could join the military, but that may not be the choice you want to make. So, what are your other options to build on what you’ve done in JROTC?
The next option is for college students, and it’s the ROTC. Now, you don’t necessarily need to be a part of the JROTC in high school in order to start with the ROTC in college. In fact, there are different requirements between the two programs. And one of those is just what your goals are related to the military.
What is ROTC?
ROTC is the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, which is actually all about preparing for the military. So where JROTC does not require you to commit to any branch of the armed forces, and in fact, most participants do not join the military, the ROTC does require a commitment because they offer more than just a program. They’re actually providing assistance with college.
The ROTC lets students study in college while also taking a number of military science courses and preparing to enlist as an officer. These students will then make a commitment to the military branch that they choose to participate in, either the Army, Navy, or Air Force. There is also a program for the Coast Guard that’s separate from ROTC, called the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative.
It’s important to note that students are allowed to participate in ROTC for up to three semesters without making a formal commitment to the military. Therefore, these students are not eligible for a scholarship to assist with the program like those who make a commitment. However, they can get some of the other benefits and education from the program.
What is the Main Purpose of ROTC?
The primary purpose of ROTC is to help prepare students for the officer program in the U.S. military branch of their choice. While not all students will enlist in the program, the general idea is to make sure that students are educated and prepared for the eight-year commitment that they make upon acceptance of an ROTC scholarship.
On the other hand, students will learn a great deal about the military itself and will be able to engage in different activities throughout their time. This program is all about preparing students to become officers, either directly or indirectly. So students who do not choose to enlist will still reap a number of benefits related to these leadership skills and more.
Why Join ROTC in College?
There are a number of different reasons that you may want to look at joining the ROTC program in college. If you have already participated in JROTC in high school, this program is an excellent continuation of the things that you have done and learned through that program. It will allow you to continue building on those same areas physically and academically.
If you haven’t participated in JROTC in high school, you can still join ROTC either with a commitment to become an officer or without. The program will teach you a number of skills and will help you grow both physically and academically no matter which direction you choose to take your commitment.
Another benefit for students who do wish to go into the military is that this program will prepare you to become an officer rather than a general enlisted member of the branch that you choose. You can start out a little further ahead than you would otherwise and will be able to reap the benefits that go along with that.
Those students who make a commitment to the officer program also have the opportunity to qualify for scholarships which can include tuition and fees, room and board, and even a living stipend. All of these things can help you get through your education more efficiently, and you’ll already have a position lined up for when you are finished.
How to Qualify for ROTC in College?
Not just everyone is able to join the ROTC program. In fact, there are some stringent requirements that you will need to pay attention to in order to be accepted. This is because the program itself requires specific academic and physical capabilities. It also requires excellence for anyone who will become an officer in any branch of the military.
Anyone who wishes to qualify for ROTC in college must be a U.S. citizen and must be between the ages of 17 and 26. This means that students who return to college somewhat later in life or those who have been in college for longer periods of time are still eligible, as are students who have just graduated from high school.
Students must have a high school diploma or a high school equivalency program certificate. They must also have a cumulative high school GPA of 2.50 or higher. From there, students must receive a 920 on the SAT (or higher) or a 19 on the ACT (or higher) and must be able to pass the physical fitness test.
Students must attend military training as well as following the required college curriculum for the program. This is generally a month-long training and will focus on things like leadership and the other learning that is done throughout the rest of the student’s time in school. It’s generally held during the summer to make sure it does not coincide with the rest of the students’ course load.
For students who are unable to maintain their educational commitments and their ROTC commitments, they can be dropped from the program. This is especially true for students who are not committed to the military after the program (those in only the preliminary portion). However, students who cannot meet the requirements can be dropped from the officer program as well.
It is essential to work with your ROTC instructor to make sure that you are always following along with the requirements and that you are on track to complete the program in the way you are intended. They can often connect students with resources or assistance if there are problems along the way rather than allowing students to fall too far behind.
What are the Benefits of ROTC in College?
There are plenty of different benefits that go along with the ROTC program in college, and students who are interested in joining the military upon completion of their college program are the ones who will receive the most benefits overall. These students will be eligible for even more of the perks that go along with ROTC and will be able to reap the benefit of a position within the military upon completion.
- Living Stipend – one of the first things that you’ll see as a benefit with the ROTC is the living stipend, which offers a set amount of money toward things like food and lodging and other living expenses for students who enroll in the entire program and agree to serve as officers upon completion.
- School Scholarship – students who sign on for the complete program are also eligible for scholarships toward their tuition and fees. Some may even be eligible for full payment for their program, which means completing your program with no debt.
- Internships & Training – students will have more opportunities to get involved with different programs and even try out different work experiences and volunteer experiences through the ROTC program.
- Job Opportunities – Completing this program doesn’t mean that you are locked into a specific area either. While you will be part of the officer program for your chosen branch of the military, there are plenty of different career options to go into from within that category.
- Better Fitness Level – Getting in shape is essential, and with the ROTC program, you won’t have any problem doing precisely that. You’ll be likely in the best shape of your life through completion of the program and continuing on into your chosen branch of the military.
- Develop Leadership Skills – The ROTC program is all about developing leaders and officers so students will learn a number of leadership skills that they can use within the program as well as through the rest of their lives and in their career once they complete the program and join the military branch fully.
- Support a Cause – Students who join ROTC are part of the military in many ways and will be able to be a part of that cause with the opportunity to change the world as well. Serving this cause can be an excellent benefit for many students who are looking to make a difference.
- Develop Friendships – Students will meet a wide variety of different people while in their program, including those already engaged in their chosen career field. This allows students to grow and advance in many ways before joining the military and also will enable them to meet new people and make lasting friendships.
- Enjoy Yourself – Many students join ROTC not just for their future career goals but just because they’re interested in the program. Students can have a lot of fun throughout the program, whether they join the preliminary program without a commitment or choose to make a total commitment to a branch of the military.
- Job Waiting – You won’t have to worry about trying to find a job once you complete your degree when you join ROTC. That’s because if you join the complete program and you sign on for the officer program, you know that you have a job waiting at the end. Not only that, but you know that it’s going to be a good-paying job that gets you where you want to be.
- Learn About the Military – For those who aren’t interested in the officer program and want to join the preliminary portion of the ROTC program or even those who do enter the whole program, you’ll learn a great deal about the military itself, including the history of the branch that you choose to participate with.
Do You Get Paid While in ROTC?
When it comes to joining ROTC, there are a lot of questions that you likely have, and one of them might be about money. After all, if you’re going to be committing yourself to a program, you want to know about the benefits and drawbacks that will be part of that program for you. Well, when it comes to costs, there are some benefits to ROTC.
First, you won’t exactly get paid for your service, but you do get a sort of monthly stipend if you choose to make a total commitment to the officer program upon completion of your program. This monthly stipend could vary depending on the specific ROTC program that you join; however, it’s generally around $420 per month.
The stipend is designed to help you with your living expenses but does not count towards things like tuition and fees. In fact, you could be eligible for a separate scholarship that will help you with paying for your tuition and even things like room and board. This money is an added bonus for being a part of the program.
For some branches of the ROTC, you may even get additional support and funding to help with the cost of your textbooks, which is generally over and above the amount paid for your tuition. This means that you may not come out ahead financially by joining the program, but you definitely can get benefits toward your financial situation.
Getting paid for the program isn’t quite the way it works, but between the help with tuition, books, living expenses, and more, it can definitely feel like you’re getting a regular paycheck and all of the benefits that go along with it.
Wrapping Things Up: What is ROTC in College?
When it comes to the ROTC program, you’ll find a number of great benefits for college students, no matter what your future goals are. Whether you’re looking to join the military or not, you’ll be able to reap some great benefits from this program, but those who do want to join upon completion of their degree are definitely going to get the most out of ROTC.
The best thing you can do is talk with your guidance counselor at your college of choice about the program and see what the options are for you. From a guaranteed job after college to the living stipend and scholarships during school, you could have a great opportunity ahead of you.