Smart College Choices: Scholarships, Leadership and Service Through the ROTC

As parents, we look for ways to teach our children how to prosper and achieve increased fulfillment in their lives. Selecting and financing a college education is often at the top of that list. If your adolescent has expressed interest in serving our country, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program will aid in his maturation, pay for his education, lead to a career, and grant him entry into an incredible network.

Along with financial literacy and emotional intelligence, discuss with your teen the acquisition of leadership skills and how to develop them throughout his college experience. Many students enter college unprepared for living on their own, with newfound freedom and the necessity to make unfamiliar decisions. Involvement in ROTC will help your student learn accountability and make better decisions.


ROTC scholarships cover college expenses

The military offers the largest non-need based source of money for college.1 ROTC offers scholarships based on the specific program chosen, and are often based on academic performance rather than financial need.2 The most common provides four years of college tuition and may include room and board and a stipend. The selection process is competitive, with roughly 4,000 selected from about 25,000 applicants.1

Some colleges do not offer the ROTC curriculum. Check the military branches’ websites to locate the program that interests your teen. Patriotism and commitment to protecting our freedoms should be key factors in considering an ROTC program. As a participant in the program, your child can become an officer in the Navy, Air Force, or Army. If your student is interested in the Marine Corps, she can participate in Naval ROTC.1 Service requirements following graduation vary across branches:

  • Navy – 4-5 years active duty
  • Air Force – 4-6 years active duty (10 years for pilots)
  • Army – 8 years (combined active duty and reserves) 3


Benefits of leadership training

The vital individuation process is a deepening and maturing of one’s individuality and sense of authenticity. It typically starts in the teens and is affected by events and paths chosen. The ROTC leadership training and experience will help your student develop resilience and endurance with which to cope effectively with life’s vicissitudes.

ROTC is a proven structure in which your student can continue to develop key life skills that will benefit him forever. About four hours per week of military training is required. Instruction includes military science classes and drill sessions, with focus on developing leadership qualities through field exercises, physical fitness routines, and military formations.2


How to improve the odds of receiving military financial aid

  • Exceed 600 in both the SAT critical reading and math sections, or an ACT composite score of 28
  • Participate in varsity sports
  • Volunteer within your community and school
  • Hold a student government office
  • Maintain at least a B+ average and rank in the top 15 percent of your class
  • Take honors-level courses, English, math, a foreign language, history and laboratory science2

Families may question whether the ROTC program is suitable for their children. If your teen is a U.S. citizen and shows up as a physically fit, ambitious and valued member of your community, it’s worth considering the lifelong benefits regardless of your income level.

ROTC scholarships provide exceptional benefits in exchange for active duty service after graduation. Two Penn professors studied the death rate of Iraq-based military personnel for the three years ending March 2006. They found that the death rate was 2.8 times higher than that of young American male civilians and less than one-fifth of the rate experienced by members of the service during the Vietnam War. Death rates vary by branch of service. Members of the Air Force and Navy had much lower death rates than those in the Marines and Army, and were even lower than the rate for civilian males aged twenty to thirty-four.4

Explore ROTC with your teen. He may decide that the opportunity to serve his country and the many benefits outweigh the risks involved.





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