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Should I go to college with the ROTC or just go straight to the military?

I don't fully understand the ROTC but my uncle has said some things about his experience and I'm unsure about what to do. #military #college #career

Thank you comment icon Hello Ethan, my advice is not based on my own experience but from friends and family members that are or have been in the military. If you want to have a higher pay and ranking, I suggest to pursue your college degree and then go in to the military as an officer. ROTC programs in college are very good and instill order, discipline, and values that are so important for any career you choose, whether or not you join the military. Good luck! Gaby P.

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Subject: Career question for you

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Shiri’s Answer

Hello Ethan,

I know from my family that if you obtain a college degree first, you go into the military as an officer. So the answer to your question depends on what ranking and pay you want to reach within the service, and how quickly.
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Jackson’s Answer

Figure out exactly what you want to do in regards to the military.
Going to college and ROTC would allow you to commission rather than enlist, meaning more money, authority, and responsibility. Enlisting is the faster route if you simply want to experience the military, plus they will pay for your college with the GI Bill once you get out. ROTC is definitely a great route, and if you're doing well in college I'd recommend sticking it out and getting a commission. You definitely get treated a lot better as an officer.

Jackson recommends the following next steps:

Talk to a recruiter about the differences between enlisting and commissioning
Figure out if college is for you, or if you want to join ASAP
Look into the ROTC program, what it is and what it is about
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Taylor’s Answer

Great question Ethan!

I've worked alongside two ROTC programs and have worked as a civilian in the military, so let me give you my thoughts and perspective.

ROTC at a university (not a West Point) brings structure to your day to day college life. There are early morning expectations for PT and drills, weekends given to the same and a stricter set of expectations and rules than the general college student. The plus side includes a community of future officers pushing each other to grow in leadership and physicality, as well as numerous financial incentives for grades and performance. You'll have the opportunity to receive an education virtually free of charge (minus the blood, sweat and tears) with a minimum 3 year commitment in the service. Receiving a degree first sets you up for a future outside the military, if that's the path you choose. You'll serve as a leader immediately upon commission instead of being a cog in the machine.

The obvious difference includes the huge pay gap between enlisting and becoming an officer. You'd have to work your way up to an E-6 on the enlisted side in order to make the same monthly pay as an O1 (your rank out of ROTC). Additionally, unless you're married or of certain rank, you'd be required to live on based and eat dining hall food (not a bad gig, if you like having less responsibility).

As with the answer above, talking to a recruiter and finding people in your life who have served will help you make a more informed decision.
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Jason’s Answer

Hey Ethan,
I know your question was related to ROTC which is a great program. I got out of the Marine Corps as a Captain a few years ago. I was commisioned through Marine Corps Officer Candidates School. It is very similar to ROTC but with some differences. With ROTC you have drill and classes you must attend while attending school. Furthermore, ROTC has scholarship opportunities.
With Marine Corps OCS, I went to training two consecutive summers for 6 weeks a piece(platoon leadership class). They also have a class where you can get it all done in one shot for 10 weeks. With these programs you will get a monthly stipend as well as you are paid for your time while at OCS(kind of like a summer job). Other than staying in shape during the school year and keeping your grades up there is nothing else you have to do. The Marine Corps will pay off all of your student loans once you are commissioned. I believe there is a cap now I am not sure on this I know it has changed through the years.
Long story short, you may get all the benefits of ROTC with going to OCS and the outcome will be the same, you will be commissioned a 2nd LT upon graduation of your bachelor's degree.
marineofficer.com
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Eleanor’s Answer

Hi Ethan!

Pursuing a career in the military is fantastic! The main difference between ROTC or "joining" straightaway is that ROTC is Reserve Officers' Training Corps. So you are doing ROTC at a college/university and graduate. You are then a commissioned officer and on the "O" pay scales. Joining straightaway means enlisting. So you go to Basic Training (learn how to be a service member) and then AIT (learn how to do your job/MOS) and then ship off to you duty station. You are on the "E" pay scales.

Both are valuable. Both are challenging. Spend some time on the resources I provided below (these are more Army specific, but each branch has similar resources). Talk to a recruiter. Good luck!

Eleanor recommends the following next steps:

Check out the Army's ROTC here https://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/find-your-path/army-officers/rotc.html
Compare Officer vs. Enlisted here https://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/find-your-path.html
Learn about the different pay scales here https://www.dfas.mil/Portals/98/Documents/militarymembers/militarymembers/pay-tables/2022%20Military%20Pay%20Tables.pdf
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Vernie’s Answer

Hello!

There are a few things to consider here, but it all boils down what your career goals are.

If you want to get your college paid for, in exchange for you service right after you graduate - then go for ROTC. However, if you do not want to go to college right away, you can always enlist straight to the military, and then get free college once you're done with your contract.

Like I said, it all depends on what your goals are. Goodluck!
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Sikawayi’s Answer

First of all, great question Ethan. I am speaking as someone who has already served and now retired. ROTC is designed to prepare you for the military environment without actually being in the military. Should you join the ROTC while in school, you'll learn most of the military customs, language (orders, commands, etc.). My son went through Army ROTC while he was in high school, and while he was in college, and he still went in the ARMY as an enlisted army recruit. I should add that ROTC isn't for everyone, it really is based on what your goals are. I would suggest that you sit down and talk with a recruiter of the branch of your choice. But make sure what you are clear on what your goals are before you talk a recruiter or anyone else.
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