For students interested in becoming an officer in a branch of the armed forces, there are several different paths. One is being admitted to and graduating from one of the four Federal service academies (Military, Naval, Air Force and Coast Guard) that all provide a four-year bachelor of science degree. Entrance to these academies is highly selective, and all applicants must first be nominated by an “authorized source,” which is usually a member of Congress.
Another is through Officer Candidate School or Officer Training School, which offers college graduates the chance to earn a commission in the a branch of the military after successfully completing a weeks-long, rigorous program of academic, leadership and physical training.
The ROTC program offered at many colleges and universities and explained below is another option.
Participants in Army, Navy and Marine Corps or Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs combine their regular college classes with three to five hours of military instruction each week. In addition to providing a monthly allowance in the participants’ junior and senior years, ROTC programs also offer two-, three- and four-year full-tuition scholarships, with some covering textbooks and other supplies as well. These scholarships are based on merit, not need, and scholarship recipients receive a monthly living expense allowance beginning in their first year. Regardless of scholarship status, every ROTC member serves as an officer on active duty for a specific period after graduation, while select members can choose to serve in the Reserves or National Guard.
For more information, visit www.todaysmilitary.com/ROTC or talk to your teen’s guidance counselor.