ROTC Explored and Explained

Mar 10, 2011

The Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) is a college-based program designed to prepare the next generation of military leaders. Learn more about the objectives of the ROTC and how students can benefit from enrolling in the program.

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By Douglas Fehlen

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A Legacy of Service

The history of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps is intricately intertwined with the development of American higher ed institutions. Since 1819, military training has taken place on civilian college campuses, but the Morrill Act of 1862 mandated that land-grant universities provide military training to students, solidifying the role of the armed forces at U.S. colleges. These campus activities were eventually grouped under the ROTC name when President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the National Defense Act of 1916.

Today, the ROTC remains a fixture at colleges and universities throughout the United States. The programs are designed to help train students to become commissioned officers in the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. These campus initiatives represent a vital source of talent for the U.S. Armed Forces - about 40 percent of all active duty officers are veterans of the program (excluding the Coast Guard).

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Academics and Honor

ROTC programs are designed to develop leadership and problem solving skills in young adults interested in entering the military. Students who join the ROTC are also taught to demonstrate the lofty ethics expected of U.S. military officers. At the same time that students are training to become service personnel, they also complete academic programs offered at their respective higher ed institutions.

Students interested in ROTC can pursue a wide range of degrees, including technical and nontechnical offerings. The common denominator among these programs is demonstrated support of aptitude requirements within military divisions. Two- and four-year programs are available at military colleges, civilian colleges and military junior colleges throughout the U.S.

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Benefits of ROTC

Individuals who enroll in ROTC programs can reap considerable benefits for their participation. Students, for example, may earn full-tuition scholarships that also cover books and provide a monthly stipend. These merit-based financial awards are offered by the U.S. Armed Forces to people who commit to a period of active service, which can vary by military branch. For example, Air Force cadets are obligated to fulfill a four-year duty commitment upon graduation.

Graduates of ROTC programs typically go on to become officers in the U.S. military. They can pursue management-level positions in dozens of officer career paths. In addition to setting up individuals for a successful military career, ROTC involvement can also give officers an advantage in securing employment with civilian companies if they leave the military. The training is ideal for preparing effective managers and team leaders.

Learn about a growing trend among many college graduates to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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