Anyone interested in a four-year ROTC scholarship should begin the process in his or her junior year of high school. Take the SAT and/or the ACT exams in January. Once you get the results, you will have a better idea of your competitiveness.
Find a Scholarship
Start looking online at the website for the type of scholarship you want. Each year the application goes “live” on a given date. For example, this year the Air Force ROTC site begins accepting applications on 15 June. Some sites allow you to start filling out and submit the application earlier. Remember too that your high school must submit an official transcript of your grades. During the summer, there may be limited opportunities for you to have this done.
Don’t Limit Yourself
You don’t have to limit yourself to one service. There is no prohibition against applying for an Army, Navy, and Air Force scholarship. You also need to start thinking seriously about where you want to apply to college. Some schools do not offer ROTC. Some schools may not have ROTC at their school, but you can take the ROTC classes at a nearby college or university that does offer it. Some schools only offer Army, for example, while others may offer only Air Force.
Be Careful with College Selection
You need to be very careful with the colleges that you select for another reason too. You will be asked as part of the application process to list up to seven schools you are considering attending. If you are awarded a scholarship, it will be for one of those schools only! In other words, if you apply to Harvard, Yale and the University of Nebraska, and are accepted to all three, the Army might award you a scholarship to the University of Nebraska. You can ask to have the scholarship transferred to one of the other schools, but the Army may refuse. Conversely, if you are not accepted to a college on your ROTC list, you may have problems. The ROTC scholarship committee, based on your application, could award you a scholarship to a school which you won’t be able to use!
Don’t Forget about the Stipend
Remember that the scholarship money goes towards tuition and books. You will also receive a monthly stipend while school is in session that goes up each year ($500 a month by the time you are a senior). Housing is not paid for by ROTC. Some schools may provide housing for ROTC scholarship recipients though. Most students, especially at private colleges, will get some sort of scholarship grant based on academics or whatever. They generally will allow you to use that grant or scholarship for housing instead of tuition. In other words, do your homework! You can literally pay all your college bills, tuition, books, fees, and housing if you plan right.
Part of the application will require you to be interviewed by the Professor of Military Science at a college near your home. Start thinking about why you are interested in ROTC, why you want to serve in the military, why you are interested in active duty or perhaps national guard or reserve, etc. You should think about questions that you might want to ask. Make sure you dress appropriately for the interview! Be careful who you ask for a letter of recommendation. Make sure they not only believe you to be an outstanding student and person, but that the individual you choose writes well!
On the essay portion of the application, take your time. Proofread it well. Draft your essay in word. Run a spell and grammar check. Ask a parent or teacher to proofread it for you before you submit it. Try to give as much detail as possible for each of your accomplishments. Do not, for example, merely state you were on the varsity basketball team for three years. Include, for instance, things like starting forward, state championship team two years running, etc. Make sure too that you include all of your accomplishments. Club teams, outside interests, etc.
The complete application, including all letters of recommendations, school transcripts, etc. is due by December. Good luck!
Don’t forget to read the other parts of this series:
Next Week: ROTC BOLAC
Disclaimer: The content of this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical