One of my first pieces of advice is alway to tell those interested in college and ROTC to look harder at the school than at the ROTC program. It is more important that you are academically successful, than if you can major in Ranger Challenge. 40% of your Order of Merit (OML) ranking is your GPA in ROTC. This OML determines whether you choose what branch you get, or the Army chooses one for you. That being said, here are some questions to ask when you visit a school and talk to their ROTC program, that will differentiate one Battalion from another. I will also include how I answer those questions here in the GKB at Clarkson University.
How big is your battalion? The GKB is around 100 cadets. I feel this is a pretty good size. Not too large that the underclassmen have to be separated out and trained separately, but not too small that all cadet get evaluated by various upperclassmen during the LDP process and the group of seniors is large enough to balance the load of senior year.
What training opportunities/facilities do you have on campus/close by? The GKB is one hour away from Fort Drum. We train there, and visit units there. We are also able to be tied into the Fort Drum Chapter of AUSA, and get their support. But we also have opportunities close by. We have woods on campus that allow us to conduct paintball/Situational Training Exercises (STX), land navigation, and Field Leadership Reaction Course (FLRC) right on campus. We also have a rappel tower on campus. We are able to shoot on a local 25 meter range, and we have two areas that allow us to do land navigation and STX within 20 minutes of campus.
What summer training opportunities do cadets at your battalion usually get. The GKB sent 3 to Airborne school, 2 to air assault school, and 4 on cultural immersion trips. We also had 3 CTLT slots where cadet got to spend 3 weeks shadowing lieutenants at places like Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, and Fort Hood, Texas.
- How is ROTC perceived on campus, how does the university support ROTC. At Clarkson the Army and Air Force flags fly on campus. ROTC scholarship winners receive room and board from the school. Clarkson provides hockey tickets to Fort Drum every year to allow soldiers to see a big time college hockey game. The University participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, which doesn’t really support ROTC, but shows a commitment to supporting the military. Two of our history professors visited the Army’s Military History Instructors Course (MHIC), and started a military history minor in the history department. If you interview with a professor on campus and ask them their opinion, you will undoubtedly hear praise for the cadets and the program.
These are just a few suggestions for questions to ask. It was also my shameless opportunity to sing the praises of the ROTC program at Clarkson, and the great support we get. I hope you hear similar stories from the program you visit.