For students who are short on cash and have an interest in the armed forces, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program provides a way to get involved and pay for college. If doing push-ups, talking strategy, and sporting camo sound good to you, do your research before calling yourself cadet. Joining the ROTC is more than just playing soldier. The ROTC is broken down into three branches, Army, Navy (including Marines), and Air Force. What all branches have in common is that eligible members receive a full merit-based scholarship that covers college tuition, textbooks, fees, uniforms, and a monthly living allowance in exchange for in-college training and post-grad active duty.
Students are required to enroll in military science courses while in school, wear uniforms at least once a week and during military activities, and participate in outside military drills and summer training programs. Classes count as electives and focus on leadership, problem-solving, and tactical operations. Upon graduation, ROTC members enter the armed forces as commissioned officers and are prepared for a career with the U.S. military.
Getting involved with an ROTC program isn’t the same thing as directly joining the military. ROTC members are students who choose a military track of study. ROTC classes count as elective courses but are not enough to constitute a major or minor.
Though cadets do undergo physical and field training, cadets have no military obligation during their first one to two years. During the last two to three years, ROTC members engage in active military service one weekend per month—two full weeks per year during the school year. After graduation, cadets typically serve four years of active duty and eight of reserve (the length depends on scholarship status), but they are not required to go through boot camp.