ROTC tips

How to make ROTC work for you

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs exist at hundreds of colleges and universities. Students who participate in ROTC learn the history and purpose of the military and may compete for opportunities to commission into the armed services upon graduation.

Some students seek ROTC scholarships before they attend college, which helps cover all or most of tuition and fees (each service branch covers different expenses). Prospective students are encouraged to apply to all branches. Those who wish to serve their country should try every possible path!

Tips and techniques

The links and information below are not comprehensive and do not guarantee a scholarship. They are tips. Each year, the services may change what they want from prospective students.

Your job is to ask questions, gather information and put your name out there. If you’re not chosen straight out of high school, don’t stop trying! There are plenty of chances to compete for scholarships and commissioning opportunities once college has started.

Service branches

High school timeline

Junior year

January/February
  • Take SAT/ACT exam
March/April
  • Take SAT/ACT exam for the second time
  • Begin checking service branch websites for information on applying (scholarship applications become “live” at this time)
  • Start looking at colleges and universities that offer ROTC
April/May
  • Meet with your high school guidance counselor to select the best courses for senior year
  • Ask your guidance counselor to provide you with official copies of your transcript
Summer
  • Visit colleges offering ROTC; meet with ROTC representatives
  • Narrow college list

Senior year

September/October
  • Apply to colleges; submit all required documents
  • Take SAT/ACT again (if needed)
November
  • Complete all necessary steps (mail transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, etc. to ROTC). Applications are due in December
December/January
  • Complete college applications

Things to keep in mind

Transcript
This needs to reflect well on your high school career. It should demonstrate that you challenged yourself, took substantive courses and did your best. Work hard!
SAT/ACT scores
Be sure to prepare and take tests as many times as necessary to earn the best possible score.
Letters of recommendation
Make sure you select a reference who knows you well as a student, employee or volunteer. Will the writer have something positive to say? For example, you may select a teacher who taught a class you found difficult, but he or she should be able to attest you put a lot of work into the course, stayed for help and sought extra credit.
Résumé
List activities, sports, jobs and hobbies, and describe what each one meant. Write more than “Football, 9–12.” Describe the positions you played, varsity letters earned and whether the team made it to any championships.
Interview
Prepare for the interview by thinking about questions you may be asked (For example, “Why do you want to serve in the military?”). Dress appropriately and bring copies of your transcript, test scores and resume.

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