I’ve got nothing to wear…the PT uniform explained

If you are a brand new Cadet in the Golden Knight Battalion we don’t expect much from you to start.  If you are showing up in the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform for Army ROTC training we are happy (at least to start).  Right place/right time are a function of your time management skills and your attention to detail. The right uniform requires a little steeper learning curve.

I had my Gold Bar recruiter, 2LT Yates spell out what the proper PT uniform is, so you will be looking good.  When in doubt check with your chain of command and you can always refer to the regulation AR 670-1 or CCR 670-1.

Hair Standard

Male haircuts will conform to certain standards. The hair on top of the head must be neatly groomed. The length and bulk of the hair may not be excessive or present a ragged, unkempt, or extreme appearance. The hair will not fall over the ears or eyebrows, or touch the collar, except for the closely cut hair at the back of the neck. Males will keep sideburns neatly trimmed. Sideburns may not be flared; the base of the sideburn will be a clean-shaven, horizontal line. Sideburns will not extend below the lowest part of the exterior ear opening. Males will keep their face clean-shaven when in uniform or in civilian clothes on duty. Mustaches are permitted. If mustaches are worn, they will be neatly trimmed, tapered, and tidy. Mustaches will not present a chopped off or bushy appearance, and no portion of the mustache will cover the upper lip line or extend sideways beyond a vertical line drawn upward from the corners of the mouth. Handlebar mustaches, goatees, and beards are not authorized.

Females will ensure their hair is neatly groomed, that the length and bulk of the hair are not excessive, and that the hair does not present a ragged, unkempt, or extreme appearance. Likewise, trendy styles that result in shaved portions of the scalp (other than the neckline) or designs cut into the hair are prohibited. Females can wear their hair up in a bun or down in a ponytail. Ponytails are allowed during PT sessions only.

pt run

Shirt Standard

The PT shirt must be completely tucked into your PT shorts, no exceptions.

Shorts Standard

The PT shorts must sit at your waist line. Black or gray spandex worn underneath the PT shorts must be plain, with no logos, patterns, or obtrusive markings.

Sock Standard

Plain black or white socks that are calf-length or ankle-length with no logos are permitted in the PT uniform. Ankle length socks must cover the entire ankle bone.

Shoe Standard

Running shoes are the only type of shoes authorized in the PT uniform. All colors of commercial running shoes are authorized.

NOTE: Taking care of your feet is a crucial part of being in the Army and physical training in general. Professionals recommend buying new running shoes every five to six months or 300 to 500 miles from the first wear. If the tires on your car are bald you replace them right away, therefore if you have smoothed out the tread on your running shoes it’s time to get a new pair. Listening to your body will also indicate when it’s time for new running shoes. If you have sore arches, knee pain, shin pain, or other small annoyances after running then it’s more than likely time to replace your running shoes.

pt uni

Additional Items

  • Watch: A watch is part of every Army uniform. Your PT watch should be a dark color and of an athletic type
  • PT Belt: The reflective PT Belt is to be worn tighten down above the waist line
  • Pen & Paper: For note taking
  • Water Source: Your green Army issued canteen, labeled with your last name on a piece of 100mph tape needs to be with you as well

These are the standards we adhere at Clarkson University.  Your program may differ, so make sure you understand the standards.

Right time…right place…right uniform!


Why didn’t my status change?

I’ve been getting a lot of comment posts, emails, and discussion board inquires about the board process and changes in scholarship application statuses (or lack thereof).   Here are some of the questions and the answers:

The board met today and my status hasn’t changed yet???

The board date is just the start date.  Each board takes about a week to review and score thousands of files. Think about the numbers…each year there are about 10K applicants that complete their file and are boarded.  That means each board is going to be looking at somewhere between 2 and 4 thousand files.  To the best of my knowledge a board is made up of 4-5 Lieutenant Colonels that go to Fort Knox and sit on the board.  They are locked in a room and review files all day.

The answer is…be patient.

My status changed to “boarded”, is an offer imminent???

The board has nothing to do with the offers.  The offer process is separate from the board process.  Once the board is released from that locked room the next step is to take all those file scores, add them to the scores from the previous boards that didn’t get offers and then start working down the list to make offers.  So, essentially someone takes the file with the highest score and looks at the list of schools.  If the first school on the list has allocations left then an offer is made.  If not then we look at the second school on the list and they work down the list of schools.  Some of those offers may be 4 year and some may be three year offers.

The answer is…No…be patient.

Will my status change once the process is over with if I don’t get an offer???

This one is a tough one, because I don’t have visibility of applicant end results.  To the best of my knowledge statuses probably won’t change.  I have seen applicants who didn’t get an offer receive an email in the past encouraging them to enroll in Army ROTC if they still want to become an Army Officer.  I usually send out a similar email to my applicants that don’t get offers, especially the ones I know are still coming to my school.  The bottom line is the scholarship processors at Cadet Command are probably shifting fire to the next project (prepping winners for the following fall, starting to look at next year’s early applicants, dealing with DODMERB issues) and they don’t have time to close the loop with the applicants that didn’t get an offer.

The answer is…probably not.

Here’s the last piece of advice.  Keep in mind that the scholarship processors are a small group of people who do a Herculean task each year.  They just don’t have time to give individual, full service to each and every applicant.  Don’t get frustrated if you status doesn’t change frequently or if your email goes unanswered for a day or two.  I’m a small school ROO who pays close attention to the 100 +/- applicants who list my school each year.  It’s a lot easier for me to answer questions and check statuses then for the folks at CC.  Hopefully the ROO at your school of choice is helpful.



Medical: Not Received

Time to try to quell the panicked phone calls and emails…

If you are a scholarship applicant once you finish your online application you should receive instructions from Cadet Command to submit 4 things to complete your file and be ready for the next board.  The four things you need to submit are:

SAT/ACT test scores

Presidential Fitness Test (PFT) scores

High school transcripts

Conduct an interview at an ROTC Battalion

Once you start sending those things in you should be checking online to make sure those pieces of information are received.  Here is what it is going to look like when you check (although I hope your’s looks better than this one).


One thing you may see there that will cause panic is the medical.  DON”T PANIC.  You do not need to start your DODMERB physical to be board ready, and you will probably not be instructed to start your medical until you receive an offer.

If you have questions regarding your status you have a couple of options.  One is to contact the processor who was identified in the letter you received from Cadet Command.  Keep in mind that person is one of 5 people who process approximately 10000 applications a year.  If you don’t get a prompt response it may be because they are busy.  I suggest you contact the enrollment officer at one of the schools on your list of schools.  If you are one of my applicants I can quickly look up your status online and tell you exactly what has been received, and what is missing from your file, and I’m happy to do that for you.  If you aren’t on my list (don’t have one of my schools on your list) I can still see your status if you give me your social security number.

So, the bottom line is it’s up to you whether your file gets completed or not.  You have the ability to check on your status.  I’ve given you some options for double checking.  Be proactive and  be persistent to give yourself the best chance possible to receive a scholarship offer.

PFT or PRT, that is the question!

Cadet Command asks all Army ROTC scholarship applicants to take a Presidential Fitness test (PFT). Bottom line, end of statement, no more follows. In the past I had a different outlook on this requirement, and a couple years ago I was giving different advice with regards to this requirement. I have come to realize that taking the PFT is the way to go. My advice is counter to what many other school are advocating. Here is what I recommend and why. Take the PFT, not the Army Phsical Fitness Test (APFT), and don’t submit your Cadet Fitness Assessment (CFA) score in leau of the PFT.
This is what the letter Cadet Command will send you says:

1. You must complete a Presidential Physical Fitness Test. Please go to the website http://www.goarmy.com/ROTC for information on how this test is conducted and to retrieve the score card. A Physical Education Teacher, any athletic coach,
or any JROTC instructor may administer this test. We only request the student be tested in the events for curl-ups, push-ups, and the 1 mile run. You can get a printable scorecard at http://www.rotc.usaac.army.mil/. Under the ROTC Scholarship section, click on “ROTC Physical Assessment Scorecard”.

One of the 10K races at Bagram in 2003

Many schools will ask you to take the APFT for them when you conduct your interview. Eventually you will have to take the APFT to validate your scholarship.In the past I recommended that you take the APFT instead of the PFT, but I have come to realize that wasn’t the best advice. A couple things to think about regarding the PFT vs. the APFT:

The PFT is easier and your scores will be higher.
An APFT score may be confused with your PFT score by the board members. They may be wondering why it took you 14 minutes to run 1 mile, when you actually ran two miles.
Cadet Command asks you to take a PFT.

If you choose to send in a CFA score, again the CFA involves more events and may be slightly harder. The other thing sending in a CFA does is indicate that Army ROTC is your backup plan. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but if I have two applicants and I have do decide which one gets the scholarship, and all things are equal except one wants to come to my school, and one really wants to be at West Point who do you think I’m going to offer the scholarship to?

Cadets take an APFT multiple times each semester. You’ll get your chance to take the APFT

Yesterday I had an applicant call to ask me about the test he took at a different school. They had him take a full APFT, but they only sent in the scores for the first minute of each event. Let’s think about that for a second. First off the sit up is different from the curl up, which is the required exercise for the PFT. Second of all, If I told you that I was going to score your ability to perform push ups and sit ups for one minute and then run one mile, but I was also going to have you do an additioal minute of each exercise before you did the next one would that make it a little harder and reduce your scores? You bet it would.

Why am I telling you this. I am suggesting to you that you follow the instructions and get a gym teacher or coach to give you a PFT. If you want an ROTC program to give you the test ask them to give you the PFT. IF they tell you they want you to take an APFT I would tell them you’d be happy to, but you’ll get your gym teacher or coach to submit your PFT scores as required. And feel free to refer the ROO to this post if she/he has questions. I’m not the expert, but I think this one is a no brainer.

What’s in it for me?

Not every one in ROTC is going to school for free. There, I said it. Many people think that all Cadets are going to school for free, and that is not the case.  As budgets tighten more and more cadets will be enrolled, and may not be contracted until their Junior year.  So, why in the world would someone participate in ROTC in college and contract without a full ride scholarship?

Here are some of the motivations and benefits that go beyond the free college education some cadets receive.

Cadet Command did a smart thing a couple years ago. Since West Point graduates and ROTC graduates are at the exact same place when they graduate (brand new Second Lieutenants with a college degree) they decided to offer the same deal to ROTC scholarship winners that West Pointers get.  Unlike some of the other service’s ROTC’s, all of our scholarship pay all tuition and fees (or room and board if it’s more).  No tier 2 or partial scholarships for non technical majors.  Just like in the old days when they decided that enlisted soldiers didn’t fall out of the sky any faster or slower and they deserved the same amount of jump pay.  Back when I was a Cadet, Officers actually got paid more to be on jump status.

Can you pick out the scholarship winners...didn't think so.

But I digress.  For all the applicants who don’t get scholarships, and the students who come to school next fall without a good understanding of what ROTC has to offer, and what being an Army Officer is all about, I would welcome you to consider the other benefits and think about giving it a try.

The Deadlines approach for 2010-2011

If you are planning to apply for a High School Army ROTC scholarship this year time is running out. First off, if you haven't applied yet you need to get on the Army ROTC website and apply ASAP. Once you apply you still need to do the following four things:

  • Send in transcripts
  • Send in test scores (ACT/SAT)
  • Conduct an interview at an ROTC Battalion
  • Take a Presidential Fitness Test
  • There are two boards left and one of them meets in a little over 2 weeks. The deadline to have everything in for the second board is

    27 December

    The deadline to start your applications for last board is

    10 January

    And the deadline to have everything in for the third board is

    28 February

    You will receive a list of the 5 closest ROTC Battalions to your house, and you can do your interview at any of them, or at a school you want to attend. Keep in mind that many cadre members go on vacation between semesters and over the holidays, so plan ahead.

    If you need to send in test grades you can take a screen shot of your SAT scores from the website and email that to train2lead@us.army.mil.

    Think that’s it for now….Time is running out…Get on it, and Good luck

    The Contract

    Cadets taking the oath of office at the formal dining out

    We are a little less than two weeks out from contracting this years crop of incoming Army ROTC scholarship winners, and other cadets that are qualified and ready to contract.  Many of the most frequently asked questions pertain to what the commitment is, what the obligations are, and what the benefits are.  All of this is spelled out in the contract and I’m going to share it with you today, so you can read it, and take it to your lawyer if you want.  Many people who consider the military hear the advice “get everything in writing”.  There aren’t a lot of “moving parts” in the Army ROTC contract.  It’s pretty simple and straight forward.



    I’m going to briefly break it down, and I’ll talk about the Scholarship agreement, but the non scholarship agreement is essentially the same, minus the “all tuition and fees” part and the change in obligation.

    The contract is an agreement between the student/cadet and the Army, through the Professor of Military Science.  The Army agrees to do a couple things

    • Pay all tuition and fees, stipend, and book money (you’ll notice that this is the only thing that is typed into the contract, because these values may change and have had caps in the past)
    • Provide you training to be an officer, to include Summer Camp (Warrior Forge)
    • Commission you into the Army (active force, National Guard, or Reserves) when you graduate

    Notice that there is no promise of a specific job, or any variation in the length of service.  Unlike an enlisted contract you aren’t joining for a specific job, enlistment length, or bonus.  Pretty straight forward.

    The student/cadet is agreeing to the following

    • Enroll in ROTC
    • Maintain academic, physical, and medical standards
    • Accept a commission into the Army upon graduation
    • Keep the PMS informed if anything changes

    Again, pretty straight forward.  There are clauses that talk about how the tuition and fees may be paid, what happens if a unit isn’t available for a graduate who has been assigned to the Guard or Reserves, and the opportunity to go on a leave of absence if difficulties are encountered during school.   It also outlines what happens if the student doesn’t fulfill the contract (pay back the scholarship or serve).

    Thousands of people sign this contract each year.  The only people  who run into difficulty are the ones who try to out think a very simple agreement.  If you are looking for hidden tricks or think the Army is out to bamboozle you all you have to do is read the contract.  We don’t want to have a leader of America’s sons and daughters who has been tricked into assuming so much responsibility.

    If you are considering this path, and are lucky enough to have a scholarship offer make sure you understand what are agreeing too, and what has or has not been promised to you.  If you’ve got problems with serving as an Officer consider another path.

    Hope this helps some people understand the mechanics of the path to Officership that is Army ROTC.  It’s a great opportunity for the right person.

    GKB Scholarship winner signs his contract