Each year between October through March is the ROTC National Scholarship season where high school seniors apply for ROTC scholarships through the GoArmy website. The Eastern Washington University Army ROTC office helps dozens of applicants each year navigate the ROTC scholarship process. Based on this experience we have some tips we recommend to all ROTC National Scholarship applicants to maximize their opportunity to be awarded an ROTC scholarship.
1. Submit Your Application Early: The first scholarship board usually meets in October, the second board in January, and the third board in March. Getting your application completed before the first board will increase your chances of receiving a scholarship because the application will be seen three times. Additionally the first board is where a lot of four year scholarships are awarded from as well. If you really want a four year scholarship get your application complete prior to the first board. Key things that need to be done to have the scholarship ready for the first board is to upload your high school transcripts, upload your SAT or ACT scores, complete the physical fitness test, and conduct an interview. Here at Eastern we can complete both the fitness test and interview for you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule.
2. List 5 or More Schools on Your Application: Applicants need to be realistic when putting down universities on their application. Putting down only Harvard and MIT on the ROTC application, but only having an 1150 on the SAT means you are probably not getting a scholarship for those universities. However, if you list Harvard & MIT plus three or more other schools you could likely get admitted to with an 1150 SAT score will increase your chance of receiving a scholarship to a school other than Harvard or MIT. A scholarship to your third of fourth school is better than no scholarship at all. Each university’s ROTC office has a Recruiting Officer called a “ROO” that can assist with learning what the admissions requirements are for each university.
3. Find Out What Type of ROTC Program You Are Applying to: Something to keep in mind is that not all ROTC programs are created equal. If you are planning to attend a university that has a host ROTC program you are likely going to have more military cadre and resources to better prepare you for the challenges ahead in ROTC. Other universities have ROTC programs that are extension or satellite campuses. Extension programs may require their students to drive to the host program to take courses. If going to an extension program find out how far you have to drive to do physical training and ROTC classes. The amount of driving to do ROTC may influence your decision to attend that school. Satellite campuses may have very limited cadre, as little as two full time ROTC instructors. If going to a satellite campus find out how many instructors they have assigned. At EWU Army ROTC we are a fully staffed host program with a proven track record of getting Cadets ready to succeed in both ROTC and the Army.
4. Visit Multiple ROTC Programs: The best way to figure out if an ROTC program is right for you is to visit it. If possible try to visit multiple ROTC programs to compare and contrast them. This will also help you determine if you are attending a host, extension, or satellite program. If attending a host program make an appointment with the ROO and ask to meet with the Professor of Military Science (PMS) who is usually a Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the ROTC battalion. Ask about how well the program scores at Advanced Camp? How many first branch choices did the MS-IV class receive? Ask about where they train at? How many Cadets are on scholarship? How does the program perform at Ranger Challenge competitions? This should give you an idea of how well the ROTC program is performing. Also bring your parents to the ROTC program to meet the ROO and PMS. At EWU Army ROTC, our ROO and PMS always makes time to visit with parents. We want you and your parents to be as comfortable as possible with your decision to dedicate four years of your life being part of our ROTC program.
5. Ask What Other Scholarships Are Available: Even if you do not receive an ROTC National Scholarship talk to the ROTC program you are interested in about other scholarship options. They should be able to inform you about ROTC campus based scholarships, Minuteman Scholarships, and Guaranteed Reserve Forces Duty (GRFD) Scholarships. Some schools also have various academic and alumni scholarships that Cadets can apply for as well. For example at EWU we have four Cadets on a fraternity sponsored Randy Van Turner ROTC Scholarship and another on the Chertok Memorial Scholarship which is an academic scholarship awarded through the College of Social Sciences.
6. Train to Take Your Fitness Test: Applicants that are not in the best of shape should spend a month training to improve their fitness prior to taking the fitness test. ROTC scholarships are highly competitive and running a seven minute mile could be the difference between receiving a 4 year or 3 year scholarship. If possible try and take the scholarship fitness test while visiting the ROTC program you are most interested in. Fitness is a very important attribute of being an Army officer and preparing for the test and doing well on it will make a good first impression with the ROTC Cadre.
7. Prepare for Your Interview: The interview for the ROTC National Scholarship is very important since it is worth 200 points. Additionally the interviewer who is usually a Professor of Military Science, will write an assessment of you that will be read by the scholarship board. Making a good first impression is critical, show up on time and come dressed for success. Don’t wear torn up jeans and t-shirts to an ROTC interview. Business dress for both males and females is very appropriate for a scholarship interview. Don’t be taking calls or answering texts on your phone during the interview. Yes I have seen this happen! Be prepared to answer simple questions like, “Tell me a little about yourself”. Remember you are selling yourself to the PMS to write the best assessment possible of you to the scholarship board. Be well prepared to answer questions and think on your feet.
8. Spend Time Writing a Quality Essay: On the ROTC application you will have the opportunity to write a little bit about yourself. Make sure to spend the time to write a quality essay, personal statement, and achievements. You especially should highlight why you want to be an Army officer. Make sure you use proper grammar and don’t have misspellings. Writing is an important skill for Army officers to have, so show the board you can write a quality narrative. In the narrative make sure to highlight aspects about you that will make you stand out from the crowd. Mentions things like if you ranked nationally in some event, how many hours you were per week at your job, any awards you have received, volunteer service, etc.
9. Play a Sport: Points are awarded on the ROTC scholarship application for sports played. Remember that Cadets in ROTC are scholar athletes, just like members of the university’s sports teams. The Army wants its officers to be athletic. If you know you plan to apply in the future for an ROTC Scholarship than find a sport to play in high school, preferably two of them. Having all-conference and all-state sports honors on an ROTC application will really help the application stand apart from the crowd.
10. Get Involved in Organizations: On the scholarship interview there are points that can be awarded for being involved in school and community activities. For example being elected to student government and being a member of the National Honor Society are worth points. Being involved in Scouting or Civil Air Patrol are examples on community organizations that points can be awarded for. Volunteering for local organizations are other great things to include on the application and mention during interviews.
Following these tips will help you be competitive for an ROTC scholarship. However, these tips cannot overcome poor performance in the classroom. Keeping a high GPA and scoring well on the SAT or ACT are very important for being competitive for an ROTC scholarship. The Army is looking for Scholar, Athlete, Leaders so try to work towards meeting all three of these criteria in your application. Good luck to everyone pursuing an ROTC scholarship and feel free to leave a comment or email us at email@example.com with any questions.