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  • ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

    Good afternoon, everyone. Iíve done my due diligence searching the forum, and I think Iím ready to ask for some specific advice about NG career pre-planning.

    I have a 4-year BS in Aerospace Engineering and I work full-time for a defense contractor in Connecticut. Iím interested in joining the Army National Guard and pursuing a Masterís in Mechanical Engineering, and eventually a MBA. Some relevant info about myself:

    - I have Federal Stafford loans from undergrad, so SLRP is a factor for me
    - My employer will pay in full for one Masterís degree (part time only) and is in general supportive of missing work due to military obligations. I want to keep my full-time job for the foreseeable future.
    - I want to commission as an officer, with a strong preference toward an aviation slot.
    - I have not yet spoken with a recruiter. The purpose of this post is to know what questions I should ask and what I should be aware of prior to being sold on anything.

    My understanding is that there are two relevant options:

    (1) I could join the National Guard with a 09S contract (ideally including SLRP), attend BCT and then attend OCS and BOLC over the next several years part-time. Once in the Guard, I would pursue graduate school on my own time while keeping my civilian job. After completing BOLC I-III, I would be eligible to use GI Bill/Federal Tuition assistance to help defray education costs. I could pursue a part-time degree with my employer's funding during the OCS process.

    (2) I also looked into the possibility of ROTC to work towards commissioning as an officer and obtaining my first graduate degree. I would need to receive a ROTC scholarship for this to make sense financially (while I am confident that I would be a competitive applicant, I am not sure that CT has any ROTC funding at present). Additionally, Iím not sure of is whether or not I have to be a full-time graduate student to qualify for ROTC funding. Masterís degrees in Engineering are typically 30 credits, which wouldnít be full time if itís spread over two years. Lastly, I am concerned that weekly ROTC time commitments (physical training, classes, etc.) could make it impossible to retain my full time job. I think the ROTC option would be a little crazier, but ultimately more rewarding.

    Greatly appreciate any input on what would be the best path for me. Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

    Before diving headlong into a long post, can I ask, how old are you?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

      I'm 23, a little more than a year out of undergrad. Thanks.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

        Quoting the AR "Students must be enrolled in and attending full time at a regular course of instruction at a school participating in
        the SROTC Program. Request for exceptions to the ’enrolled in and attending full-time’ requirements may be submitted by graduate
        students only. Requests will be sent to the CG, ROTCCC, for determination on a case-by-case basis. Recommendations
        at each command level and proper comments regarding justification for exception will be included."

        Funding and numbers of scholarship students is not tied to the state of CT. It is deliniated in US Code.

        Your issue is one of time managment. Unless you have an extremely flexable schedule I don't see how you could work full time, attend ROTC and go to graduate school simultaneously. MS Classes are held at various times during the school/work day, and PT is generally 3 -5 days a week in the early morning.

        09S would be your better bet, although depending on which schoolhouse you choose BOLC A (OCS) and BOLC B (I-III are antiquated terms as II no longer exsists) it is not a several year process. If you applied to Federal OCS at Benning than BCT and Officer Candidate School would likely run back to back. (5.25 months). BOLC would be within a year of graduation (for an additional 3.5 - 5 months unless it's aviation in which case expect 1.5 years for BOLC/Flight School).

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

          Originally posted by Mongoose772 View Post
          Quoting the AR "Students must be enrolled in and attending full time at a regular course of instruction at a school participating in
          the SROTC Program. Request for exceptions to the íenrolled in and attending full-timeí requirements may be submitted by graduate
          students only. Requests will be sent to the CG, ROTCCC, for determination on a case-by-case basis. Recommendations
          at each command level and proper comments regarding justification for exception will be included
          ."

          Your issue is one of time managment. Unless you have an extremely flexable schedule I don't see how you could work full time, attend ROTC and go to graduate school simultaneously. MS Classes are held at various times during the school/work day, and PT is generally 3 -5 days a week in the early morning.
          Thank you for your time in responding, Mongoose772.

          I saw the underlined portion you quoted in a different post and thought that there had to be some exception, as there are no Engineering Master's degrees that I know of which take two years of full-time study. As for PT, that sort of weekly time commitment to ROTC is something I would be interested in hearing more about. At my undergraduate school, the AROTC was based out of a school 30 miles away and I don't think they were there more than once or twice a week. Everything I can find via the search tool indicates that ROTC commitments vary greatly between schools. I live 20 minutes away from a ROTC school, but I would be attending a different institution for classes. Even taking classes part time, I have no delusions about how time intensive this would be.

          Overall, I posted this to see if ROTC would be possible for me (because judging by posts by LTC Ritchie in the FAQ and others on the forum, it seems like an excellent path) but I understand that I would first need to be sure I could handle the schedule without shortchanging any of my commitments.

          For 09S, I was under the impression that getting into Federal/Accelerated OCS would require additional state funding, which I am not under the impression Connecticut has. I may be mistaken on that detail.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

            Originally posted by Mongoose772 View Post
            Quoting the AR "Students must be enrolled in and attending full time at a regular course of instruction at a school participating in
            the SROTC Program. Request for exceptions to the ’enrolled in and attending full-time’ requirements may be submitted by graduate
            students only. Requests will be sent to the CG, ROTCCC, for determination on a case-by-case basis. Recommendations
            at each command level and proper comments regarding justification for exception will be included."

            Funding and numbers of scholarship students is not tied to the state of CT. It is deliniated in US Code.

            Your issue is one of time managment. Unless you have an extremely flexable schedule I don't see how you could work full time, attend ROTC and go to graduate school simultaneously. MS Classes are held at various times during the school/work day, and PT is generally 3 -5 days a week in the early morning.

            09S would be your better bet, although depending on which schoolhouse you choose BOLC A (OCS) and BOLC B (I-III are antiquated terms as II no longer exsists) it is not a several year process. If you applied to Federal OCS at Benning than BCT and Officer Candidate School would likely run back to back. (5.25 months). BOLC would be within a year of graduation (for an additional 3.5 - 5 months unless it's aviation in which case expect 1.5 years for BOLC/Flight School).
            +1

            I assume you want to fly; otherwise I think there are better branches for Officers. If that's the case, consider what you'd have to do to become a warrant officer. In the long run, you'll have more opportunities to fly than you will as an officer. I couldn't imagine trying to go to school right while working full time and being in command; it would be awful. Of course if I was single I might have the time to do all that.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

              Greetings, Pirate. I also have a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering and am currently pursuing my MS in the same discipline.

              I agree with Mongoose that OCS is your best bet. However, there are two details you should look into (or perhaps another member can provide an explanation, since I am unsure):

              1) Eligibility for education benefits. You may need to be MOS qualified in order to receive state education benefits; if so, you might not be eligible for them until you've completed BOLC. In this case, it might actually be best for you to enlist into a regular MOS and then apply to OCS (the chances of being denied OCS are virtually nonexistent for qualified individuals, in my experience). You would then satisfy the eligibility requirements during OCS (if you choose the "traditional" program -- see below) and could use state education benefits as soon as you returned from AIT or OSUT.

              2) Choice of program. For NG officers, there are three varieties of OCS: traditional, accelerated, and federal. Regardless of the program you choose, your OCS experience would begin with phase 0 drills at your state's OCS unit. If you ask for it, cadre may send you to either the accelerated (8 week) or federal (12 week) OCS courses. I chose accelerated and I'm glad I did.

              You're very ambitious but it can be done. I attended accelerated OCS between my junior and senior years of college and I'm currently working full time while pursuing a graduate degree and serving as the executive officer in an infantry company, so it's totally doable. Good luck, and let me know if you have any other questions (and hopefully I'll have answers!).

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

                Originally posted by PirateFace View Post
                Thank you for your time in responding, Mongoose772.

                I saw the underlined portion you quoted in a different post and thought that there had to be some exception, as there are no Engineering Master's degrees that I know of which take two years of full-time study. As for PT, that sort of weekly time commitment to ROTC is something I would be interested in hearing more about. At my undergraduate school, the AROTC was based out of a school 30 miles away and I don't think they were there more than once or twice a week. Everything I can find via the search tool indicates that ROTC commitments vary greatly between schools. I live 20 minutes away from a ROTC school, but I would be attending a different institution for classes. Even taking classes part time, I have no delusions about how time intensive this would be.

                Overall, I posted this to see if ROTC would be possible for me (because judging by posts by LTC Ritchie in the FAQ and others on the forum, it seems like an excellent path) but I understand that I would first need to be sure I could handle the schedule without shortchanging any of my commitments.

                For 09S, I was under the impression that getting into Federal/Accelerated OCS would require additional funding from the state, which I am not under the impression Connecticut has. I may be mistaken on that detail.
                Sheesh, that took a long time to get approved and posted. Does anyone that has experience with completing an Engineering (or just a graduate) degree in ROTC mind chiming in?

                Originally posted by collk22 View Post
                +1

                I assume you want to fly; otherwise I think there are better branches for Officers. If that's the case, consider what you'd have to do to become a warrant officer. In the long run, you'll have more opportunities to fly than you will as an officer. I couldn't imagine trying to go to school right while working full time and being in command; it would be awful. Of course if I was single I might have the time to do all that.
                I don't medically qualify to fly right now - it's my hope to get this fixed surgically, but I am not counting on that. My inclination for aviation is because that's where my expertise already is, I work with helicopters. Leadership experience is one of my strongest drivers for considering the National Guard, so I think that a commission is the way to go for me. Which branches might you recommed?

                Originally posted by jwarren View Post
                Greetings, Pirate. I also have a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering and am currently pursuing my MS in the same discipline.

                I agree with Mongoose that OCS is your best bet. However, there are two details you should look into (or perhaps another member can provide an explanation, since I am unsure):

                1) Eligibility for education benefits. You may need to be MOS qualified in order to receive state education benefits; if so, you might not be eligible for them until you've completed BOLC. In this case, it might actually be best for you to enlist into a regular MOS and then apply to OCS (the chances of being denied OCS are virtually nonexistent for qualified individuals, in my experience). You would then satisfy the eligibility requirements during OCS (if you choose the "traditional" program -- see below) and could use state education benefits as soon as you returned from AIT or OSUT.

                2) Choice of program. For NG officers, there are three varieties of OCS: traditional, accelerated, and federal. Regardless of the program you choose, your OCS experience would begin with phase 0 drills at your state's OCS unit. If you ask for it, cadre may send you to either the accelerated (8 week) or federal (12 week) OCS courses. I chose accelerated and I'm glad I did.

                You're very ambitious but it can be done. I attended accelerated OCS between my junior and senior years of college and I'm currently working full time while pursuing a graduate degree and serving as the executive officer in an infantry company, so it's totally doable. Good luck, and let me know if you have any other questions (and hopefully I'll have answers!).
                Jwarren, thanks for the reply.

                1) Based on what I've seen, going to BCT and AIT before applying for OCS would have some benefits. My only concern would be checking with whomever is in charge that I would not be rejected from OCS application when the time came. AIT would mean time away from work, but I do not think this would be a huge problem.

                2) One of the faster options for OCS would be of interest to me if ROTC is not a good option, but once again I'm not sure how this works in my state. I've been contacted by an OCS recruiter (his words) and perhaps he's the one to talk to.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

                  Originally posted by PirateFace View Post
                  Sheesh, that took a long time to get approved and posted.

                  This thread is being attacked by the deadly "Moderated" virus. Be patient or if the discussion is moving extremely quickly, post the same thing 3-4 times and it should slip by. We will deleted the "moderated" posts.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

                    Originally posted by PirateFace View Post
                    1) Based on what I've seen, going to BCT and AIT before applying for OCS would have some benefits. My only concern would be checking with whomever is in charge that I would not be rejected from OCS application when the time came. AIT would mean time away from work, but I do not think this would be a huge problem.
                    Depending on your MOS, AIT may only be 6 weeks or so (if you choose Infantry as your enlisted MOS, BCT and AIT are combined into OSUT ("one station unit training") and will last about 15 weeks total).

                    I don't want to say you "definitely" won't be rejected from OCS, but I think it is extraordinarily unlikely. Depending on your state's SOP, you may have to go before a board and take a record APFT or something. Or not. Maybe some other members can cite any cases they're aware of involving enlisted soldiers whose OCS packets were rejected, because I don't know of any.

                    Originally posted by PirateFace View Post
                    2) One of the faster options for OCS would be of interest to me if ROTC is not a good option, but once again I'm not sure how this works in my state. I've been contacted by an OCS recruiter (his words) and perhaps he's the one to talk to.
                    I have a personal prejudice against ROTC because I have found that the program varies greatly from one school to another.

                    One thing to be aware of is the procedure for sending soldiers to OCS. Normally, if you are accepted as an officer candidate, you will be assigned to your state's OCS company. The default OCS option is the traditional state OCS program which consists of 2 AT (annual training) periods with 12 months of drills between them. If you wish to attend either the state accelerated or federal OCS, you would have to make that request through your state OCS chain of command. They will decide whether or not to send you.

                    Let me just make you aware of something. In an ideal world, only the very best junior officers would become TAC officers at OCS, and they would fairly and impartially judge all of the candidates on their merit. Sadly, this is not the world we live in. You may run into resistance (in the form of totally irrational and biased OCS cadre) trying to get to accelerated or federal OCS, so be prepared to do the traditional program. This isn't meant to scare you or to demonize TAC officers, but you shouldn't necessarily count on going to accelerated OCS just because you meet the requirements.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

                      Originally posted by Mr_Loki View Post
                      This thread is being attacked by the deadly "Moderated" virus. Be patient or if the discussion is moving extremely quickly, post the same thing 3-4 times and it should slip by. We will deleted the "moderated" posts.
                      A moderator approving of spamming. Tsk tsk. *chuckles*

                      Originally posted by jwarren View Post
                      Depending on your MOS, AIT may only be 6 weeks or so (if you choose Infantry as your enlisted MOS, BCT and AIT are combined into OSUT ("one station unit training") and will last about 15 weeks total).

                      I don't want to say you "definitely" won't be rejected from OCS, but I think it is extraordinarily unlikely. Depending on your state's SOP, you may have to go before a board and take a record APFT or something. Or not. Maybe some other members can cite any cases they're aware of involving enlisted soldiers whose OCS packets were rejected, because I don't know of any.



                      I have a personal prejudice against ROTC because I have found that the program varies greatly from one school to another.

                      One thing to be aware of is the procedure for sending soldiers to OCS. Normally, if you are accepted as an officer candidate, you will be assigned to your state's OCS company. The default OCS option is the traditional state OCS program which consists of 2 AT (annual training) periods with 12 months of drills between them. If you wish to attend either the state accelerated or federal OCS, you would have to make that request through your state OCS chain of command. They will decide whether or not to send you.

                      Let me just make you aware of something. In an ideal world, only the very best junior officers would become TAC officers at OCS, and they would fairly and impartially judge all of the candidates on their merit. Sadly, this is not the world we live in. You may run into resistance (in the form of totally irrational and biased OCS cadre) trying to get to accelerated or federal OCS, so be prepared to do the traditional program. This isn't meant to scare you or to demonize TAC officers, but you shouldn't necessarily count on going to accelerated OCS just because you meet the requirements.
                      ...you do not say?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

                        Originally posted by Polo08816 View Post
                        ...you do not say?
                        I thought that was a nice and civil way of putting it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

                          Originally posted by PirateFace View Post
                          I don't medically qualify to fly right now - it's my hope to get this fixed surgically, but I am not counting on that. My inclination for aviation is because that's where my expertise already is, I work with helicopters. Leadership experience is one of my strongest drivers for considering the National Guard, so I think that a commission is the way to go for me. Which branches might you recommed?
                          My apologies for assuming you want to fly. We get TONS of threads from people wanting to be aviation officers so they can fly without really understanding that WOs will do the bulk of that work and is probably a better option for many people given what they want to do.

                          Allow me to recant my statement about "better branch options for officers." The best branch for you is the one you're most interested in. I lucked out and was assigned the Engineer branch in a state heavy with engineers. My year group was relatively small compared to year groups around me so I haven't had promotion issues, nor do I anticipate them in the future. Consider the officer strength for the branch you want to go in and think about how that may impact you in the future. My state is overstrength in some branches and guys are having to switch branches in order to continue to promote.

                          Also, don't feel obligated to pursue an Army career based on your civilian background (ie., being a cop won't automatically make you a good MP). Alternately, I've seen a number of great/successful Engineer officers in my state that are not engineers by degree. Anecdotal, I know, but I'm sure others would agree and/or provide other examples.

                          Good luck to you.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

                            Originally posted by jwarren View Post
                            Depending on your MOS, AIT may only be 6 weeks or so (if you choose Infantry as your enlisted MOS, BCT and AIT are combined into OSUT ("one station unit training") and will last about 15 weeks total).

                            I don't want to say you "definitely" won't be rejected from OCS, but I think it is extraordinarily unlikely. Depending on your state's SOP, you may have to go before a board and take a record APFT or something. Or not. Maybe some other members can cite any cases they're aware of involving enlisted soldiers whose OCS packets were rejected, because I don't know of any.



                            I have a personal prejudice against ROTC because I have found that the program varies greatly from one school to another.

                            One thing to be aware of is the procedure for sending soldiers to OCS. Normally, if you are accepted as an officer candidate, you will be assigned to your state's OCS company. The default OCS option is the traditional state OCS program which consists of 2 AT (annual training) periods with 12 months of drills between them. If you wish to attend either the state accelerated or federal OCS, you would have to make that request through your state OCS chain of command. They will decide whether or not to send you.

                            Let me just make you aware of something. In an ideal world, only the very best junior officers would become TAC officers at OCS, and they would fairly and impartially judge all of the candidates on their merit. Sadly, this is not the world we live in. You may run into resistance (in the form of totally irrational and biased OCS cadre) trying to get to accelerated or federal OCS, so be prepared to do the traditional program. This isn't meant to scare you or to demonize TAC officers, but you shouldn't necessarily count on going to accelerated OCS just because you meet the requirements.
                            The bolded line is the part that's bothering me - it seems like it would either be completely impossible for me to do ROTC at some schools and very possible at others, and I'm not sure how to tell which is which.

                            I appreciate the candor of your post. Two questions: (1) Would choosing infantry (or anything else) as an enlisted MOS have great weight on my eventual officer assignment? (2) Who would be the best person to speak to honestly about whether or not Accelerated/Federal OCS would be available in my state?

                            Originally posted by collk22 View Post
                            My apologies for assuming you want to fly. We get TONS of threads from people wanting to be aviation officers so they can fly without really understanding that WOs will do the bulk of that work and is probably a better option for many people given what they want to do.

                            Allow me to recant my statement about "better branch options for officers." The best branch for you is the one you're most interested in. I lucked out and was assigned the Engineer branch in a state heavy with engineers. My year group was relatively small compared to year groups around me so I haven't had promotion issues, nor do I anticipate them in the future. Consider the officer strength for the branch you want to go in and think about how that may impact you in the future. My state is overstrength in some branches and guys are having to switch branches in order to continue to promote.

                            Also, don't feel obligated to pursue an Army career based on your civilian background (ie., being a cop won't automatically make you a good MP). Alternately, I've seen a number of great/successful Engineer officers in my state that are not engineers by degree. Anecdotal, I know, but I'm sure others would agree and/or provide other examples.

                            Good luck to you.
                            Well to be fair, you weren't wrong - I just happen to know that I can't pass a flight physical, I've had eye issues since I was a kid and I'm not sure they could be waivered even if I had surgery. Officer strength is something I hadn't thought of. Would it be out of line to contact the OSM for Connecticut and ask where people are needed before I am officially applying/joining?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: ROTC/SMP vs. OCS for future graduate student

                              I don't really know what to tell you about contacting your state OSM; there are other posters that can probably give you a better answer. In theory, your recruiter should be willing/able to help you get that type of information, so maybe you should start there.

                              Comment

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