A Case For Joining NROTC. It’s Truly A Great Decision.

There are quite a few commissioning options for those who are looking to join the ranks of Marine Officers. I would like to provide a 100% completely biased opinion about the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program. My disclaimer is that I commissioned through the 4 year NROTC program as a Marine Option Midshipman; therefore, I do not have the experiences of a Naval Academy, PLC, or OCC graduate (contact me if you have other experiences to share).

The Money

Might as well start with the good stuff, right? If you don’t already know, NROTC affords you the opportunity to have your tuition completely paid for. Not every Marine Option midshipman has the NROTC Scholarship, but the vast majority do. Those who join as a “College Program” (no scholarship)  midshipman will be given the chance to compete nationwide for available scholarships. In addition, you will receive a monthly tax-free stipend that may be used as you please. Don’t forget you also get some extra cash to pay for books, and if you don’t end up using it all it can get pocketed! Believe me when I say that the monthly/book stipends are a huge help when it comes to getting through college financially. I will admit that sometimes the stipend money ends up getting used for NROTC related expenses (transportation, lost uniform items, etc.), but usually it’s going to end up helping you pay rent.

The Friendships Built Through NROTC

When I got married who do you think was on my “must invite” list? For one, my entire commissioning class. Secondly, there were several people from other graduating classes that I really wanted to be there. I made a conscious decision to invite friends from NROTC in lieu of parts of my (and my wifes) family. The relationships you make are unbelievable. There is a deep level of trust that you will develop with your classmates and I believe it is the first step to understanding the cohesiveness of the military itself. Naval Academy midshipman will likely experience this as well, but with NROTC there is a lot more freedom to do things unrelated to the military with your classmates. I went snowboarding with them, camping, blackjack at the casino, drinks every Thursday night, and so much more. It really is significant to be a part of such an exciting new community.

The True College Life

PLC and OCC Marines will actually get this a little bit more than midshipman. Simply because they do not have the same responsibilities while in college. With Platoon Leaders Class and Officer Candidates Courses you will essentially do college like a regular student. Midshipman are going to have to wear uniforms on occasion, attend specific classes, show up in the morning for physical training, etc. This part is mainly directed towards the Naval Academy. With NROTC, you are able to develop yourself as an officer while being afforded the chance to engage in college like everyone else. If you want to join the anime club you can do it. If you want to skip a class once in a while there won’t be anyone stopping you. The Naval Academy is it’s own community and going there will inevitably teach you in ways that NROTC never could. I just prefer to be able to live college life normally for the majority of my time.

The Experiences Unique to NROTC Midshipman

I will simply say that there are more than a few great experiences NROTC gave me. I am from California. I went to school in California. I never did much traveling. In my 4 years of NROTC here are some of my highlighted experiences:

NROTC leadership conference at the University of Notre Dame

  1. Weekend trip to the University of Notre Dame for a leadership conference
  2. Trips to Memphis, Tennessee for a drill competition
  3. A SECOND trip to Memphis, Tennessee for another drill competition

I’m sure the Naval Academy does a bunch of cool stuff also, but I think I’ve had my fair share of good times.

 

 

 6 Week OCS!

If you have read or heard anything about Marine OCS you know that it is not a place you want to be at for very long. Those who do PLC go through two 6-week sessions of Officer Candidates School. Could you imagine finishing such an endeavor as OCS and then having to go back a year later? I would prefer not to have to think about it. With NROTC, the idea is that the material that PLC Juniors learn is taught to you throughout your first 3 years in NROTC which is why Marine Options only do a single 6-week session. OCC does a single 10-week session which if you think about it is the exact same as PLC minus the additional first week of in-processing and last week of out-procession. The Naval Academy does not attend OCS. I won’t comment on that, but I would enjoy hearing how some of you Naval Academy graduates out there feel about this.

If you made it through my list reasons why I would recommend NROTC over other programs, you probably can see that I am biased. However, I will reiterate my desire to have those with different experiences write for this site!


USMC Officer

As a Marine Corps Officer, my goal is to help and educate those who have obtained, or are aspiring to earn, the title of Marine Officer.

14 COMMENTS
  • Freddy Chang
    Reply

    Hi Marine Officer,

    I’m a junior in high school in the state of Washington. There’s a program here that I’m in, where you can go to community college instead of high school for your junior and senior years (3 classes/quarter = 90 credits by the time you graduate), so when I graduate I’ll have my associates of science and my high school diploma. I was wondering if you had any knowledge on if I could do NROTC for 2-3 years instead of the usual 4? Also, to be awarded the scholarship, what tips could you give me? My GPA from highschool was terrible in freshman year, and in sophmore year I really stepped it up (2.9 in freshman to a steady 3.8~4.0 in sophmore) and my GPA in college so far is at a 3.86. I only have a couple volunteer hours and events, and I do not participate in school sports. Any and all advice/tips would be appreciated!.

    Thanks,
    Freddy Chang

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Freddy,

      Here are the 2-3 year scholarship requirements from the official navy website: http://www.nrotc.navy.mil/scholarships.aspx

      Same basic requirements as the Four-Year scholarship with the following additional requirements;

      Must have at least 30 semester hours (45 quarter hours) but no more than 90 semester hours (135 quarter hours).
      Must have a minimum college GPA of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale).
      Must be admitted to or in process of gaining admittance to school affiliated with the NROTC Unit from which they are being nominated.
      Students may apply for only one of two programs options; Navy or Nurse (not open to Marine Option applicants).

      You can’t really do anything with your GPA or extracurricular activities at this point. I would suggest trying to get some good recommendations and work on your physical fitness so that you will have a high score on your PRT/PFT for the application.

  • Joshua Siler
    Reply

    Marine Officer,
    I want to thank you for writing this article. I have been unable to find many online resources to help me in regards to NROTC. I have been blessed enough to have been accepted into the College Program at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) for this next Fall and I am ecstatic. I am going into my first year as a sophomore (I took a large number of college courses in high school) however I still plan on attending the university for 4 years to hopefully attain 2 bachelor’s degrees (I am majoring in Biological Sciences in addition to Chemistry to pursue Medical School down the road). I am extremely excited to embark on this journey, and I have been working extremely hard to be the very best I can. Academically, I have a 4.0 cumulative GPA in my college courses so far and I believe that once I acclimate to the sheer amount of studying required, I believe (and pray) that I will be able to continue my success. Physically I am in pretty great shape so far, as I just finished my Track season and running is pretty natural to me. I have been working out every week at my local Marine Corps Recruiting station Tuesday’s, Thursday’s, and at Poolee functions on some Saturday’s.
    The reason I wrote this extremely long comment, was because I was wondering if you have any pieces of advice on how to succeed in the program, how to prepare myself for the rigor of my academics, how to balance a healthy social life, or any other possible suggestions you may have to offer. I want to thank you for your time, and for any knowledge or wisdom you could spare.
    Thank you again.
    -Joshua Siler

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Joshua,

      You already seem to have your priorities in order, and college/NROTC is all about managing priorities.

      How to succeed in the program?
      ROTC programs vary throughout the country. You may be PTing once a week, or 5 days a week. The same goes for drill, social events, etc. Adjust to the schedule as best as you can. As a new midshipman, your likely to be given a lot of annoying/frustrating/meaningless responsibilities. Don’t let that get to you, just be glad you didn’t go to the Naval Academy. I recently learned freshmen at the Naval Academy are required to run between classes, can’t have any civilian clothes, and have a say “Go Navy, Sir” when turning corners. Not my idea of a good time. Treat the program as a part-time job. They are giving you a monthly stipend and paying for your tuition, so there’s not much to complain about.

      Academics
      Forget the haters that will say a double major in a difficult field isn’t worth the effort. I was told an engineering major would be impossible. I got my degree barely breaking a sweat. Not because I was a genius, rather I loved the stuff I was learning. Stick to what you love learning.

      Social Life
      There’s time for it. It’s not easy, but you can join a club/intramural sports team and make it work. Plenty of people are able to balance in Greek life with academics/NROTC. My one regret is that I didn’t embrace all of the opportunities available to me while I was in college.

      One great thing about NROTC is that you will make lots of friends and mentors very quickly. Utilize that support group and help out your peers. The NROTC staff are there to help you balance family, academics, physical fitness, and military life. Use them if your struggling. They have the power to give you time off from the program, or even pay for tutors.

  • Crystal Fisher
    Reply

    Sir,

    Thank you for your time with this blog. It is a treasure trove of information for those preparing to head to OCS and TBS, and those who are still deciding whether or not to be Marine Officers.

    I am the latter case, and am thinking of applying to the Marines as a Judge Advocate (I know the Marines aren’t accepting JA’s right now, but I’m not even in law school yet). If I’m remembering correctly, law candidates go through a 10 week PLC course, but can law candidates take the NROTC option and still get the 4402 MOS? Thank you again sir!

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      I’ve never heard of anyone getting a law contract through NROTC. Usually, they go through OCC and have a law contract already in place. After they commission they go to law school and after law school they go to TBS. That’s why you will see some 1stLts and Captains that are in your TBS class.

  • NROTC MIDN
    Reply

    Good Morning Sir,

    Does college gpa matter for MOS selection at TBS?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Not at all. They won’t even know what your GPA was.

  • Colt
    Reply

    Sir,
    I’m currently a sophomore in high school and have always been looking at the Marine Corps for a career. My dad was a Marine so I’m sure that is where part of my interest in the Corps came from. I’d just like to thank you for your time in the Corps and for this blog. I’ve been looking for information about just a Marine Corps career in general and this site is by far the most helpful overall. If you have any suggestions for me as far as NROTC preparation goes that would be greatly appreciated. And I definitely don’t want any kind of desk job so if you have any suggestions as far as MOS’s go that would be awesome also. Thanks again.

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Hi Colt,

      The best advice I can give you is to focus on one step at a time. MOS selection is about 6-7 years away from where you’re at now. By then so much will have changed that it’s not worth thinking about now.

      Focus on what’s going to matter for an NROTC application.
      -A great GPA. Take advanced courses and do well in school
      -Running, pull-ups, and crunches
      -Get involved in the community and have some other activities to add (sports, clubs, etc.)

      Good luck.

      1. Colt
        Reply

        Thanks for the information. I’ll make sure to use the advice.

  • Diana Tran
    Reply

    Greetings,

    How would life be like as an Intelligence Officer and what does it take to become one? Is there a specific degree plan or a recommended degree plan to follow?

    Very Respectfully,
    Tran

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Hi Diana,

      No degree plan. Doing well at The Basic School and ranking high among your peers is key to getting an Intel MOS. They are low density, high demand jobs.

      Most intelligence officers spend their time researching enemy capabilities and preparing briefs. At least that’s been my experience working with them.

      1. Diana Tran
        Reply

        Greetings and Thank you!

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