Notable ROTC Alumni

[sources: U.S. Army: Legacy, U.S. AFROTC: Graduates]

  • Samuel Alito, Supreme Court justice
  • Frank Gifford, sportscaster
  • Lou Holtz, college football coach
  • Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State
  • Lenny Wilkens, NBA Hall of Fame player and coach

The Pros and Cons of ROTC Scholarships

All kinds of students choose to participate in ROTC, and the reasons why they do so are as varied as the cadets themselves. Some see it as the most logical means to pay for college without the burden of paying back student loans. Others are driven by a sense of duty or service. And still more are simply interested in pursuing extracurricular activities on campus.

Whatever the motivation, the benefits can reach much further than footing the bill for school. For one, ROTC students are guaranteed steady employment after graduation. Service in the armed forces is not influenced by the same economic and industrial fluctuations that impact other fields, so while their classmates might enter an ultra-competitive workforce with little real-world experience, ROTC grads have been trained to enter a specific job when their classroom commitments are complete.

As you learned on previous pages, ROTC graduates are commissioned as officers when they enter active duty. This opens the door to opportunities for specialized training once they take their positions and accelerates their development as soldiers and professionals. Officers are also given more postgraduate educational opportunities and advanced leadership training, which makes them ready for management and other influential positions.

But there are also sacrifices that come with service that must be considered when weighing an ROTC scholarship. First and foremost, the active duty commitment is a serious one. Dedicating up to eight years to the military is a significant investment that will impact every decision a student makes from the time he accepts the scholarship until the day he is discharged.

There are on-campus ramifications as well. While an ROTC student's lifestyle is not dramatically different from that of any other student, there are certain commitments such as physical training, team drills and special events involved that most college students do not have to juggle. Waking up hours before the first class of the day to participate in a training exercise might not be the image most students have of campus life, but for ROTC students, it's part of the commitment.

ROTC can be a great way to jump-start a career in the military while working toward a degree in a student's chosen profession, but there are many things to consider when deciding whether pursuing an ROTC scholarship is the right move. Read on to find lots more information about ROTC programs, the military and paying for college.