As a Professor of Military Science at the University of Southern California, I had the opportunity to sit a scholarship board for Army ROTC at Fort Knox, Kentucky. I wanted to give you my observations about the board in order to understand from one member’s perspective what we are looking for.
What application areas considered for the Army ROTC Scholarship?
The Army ROTC board counts for 350 out of 1400 points or about 25% of the overall candidate score. Each board members looks at hundreds of files of candidates on a computer where we see the person’s SAT/ACT scores, interview score and narrative from the Professor of Military Science (or other officer/ROO who interviewed the candidate), GPA and high school transcripts, Civilian Background Experience Form (CBEF) score, physical fitness test scores, and personal essays.
We only have a couple of minutes to look at each candidate file so we didn’t have a lot of time to spend on each candidate. We were then asked to rank the candidates on a numerical scale.
How many officers rank Army ROTC scholarship packages
Here is what I keyed in on when I rated candidates (my observations here are generally in line with my fellow officers who sat these boards with some variation):
1. Prepare for your ROTC interview
The interview is the most important thing to do well on. Here is my advice on how to prepare for your ROTC interview.
ROTC interview narrative. This is the most important element in my opinion. If the interviewing officer gave a strong, well-written narrative that recommended a scholarship, I gave this a heavy weighting in my overall rating. I also gave more weight if I knew the interviewer was a PMS. I also looked at the overall interview score.
2. Take the SAT/ACT again if you should!
A good SAT/ACT score is a way to separate yourself from other candidates. Since the Army ROTC super scores your SAT/ACT, there is nothing to lose to retake the test if you think you can realistically raise the score. SAT and ACT scores (fortunately or unfortunately) were a quick way to separate candidates and rank them. Higher the score, the better. Mentally for me, if the candidate had a super score over 1300 it made an impression on me. Same if a candidate could push into the 30s on some ACT sections with a super score of 28 or higher. Obviously, 1400 SAT/30 ACT or higher composite made an even greater impression on me.
3. Strive for a high GPA but take relatively tough classes
The higher the unweighted GPA, the better and another way for me to rank candidates. I took a quick look at the rigor of the courses to make sure it was a “legitimate GPA.” I didn’t weight GPA as much as SAT/ACT because of the vast number of different high schools and their differing grading standards.
4. Take on leadership roles – athlete, leader activities matter
Work to make a significant leadership accomplishment in high school that would draw the board members’ attention away from the “static” of a laundry list of activities. Look to participate in activities like Civil Air Patrol which show a propensity for the military. Listen to my podcast on Civil Air Patrol.
Athlete, Leader Activities. Quick check of all activities. Tended to look for “vigorous” high school varsity sports that would indicate success in the athletic demands of Army ROTC and significant outstanding leadership accomplishments such as class president and Eagle Scout/Gold Award. I also paid attention if the person had done activities like JROTC, Civil Air Patrol, or Sea Cadets that indicated military propensity. I also noted if the candidate’s parents served in the military (again military propensity).
5. Participate in a “vigorous” varsity sport and do your best on the PT test.
CBEF and PT Score. Checked briefly to see if it was out of tolerance or there was anything out of the ordinary.
Candidate Essay. Briefly looked at it.
I wish you all the best of luck as you prepare for the 2020-2021 application year and future years.
Do you need help preparing your application for the ROTC board? ROTC Scholarship Consulting has an unparalleled record in helping candidates win ROTC Scholarships. Take a look at our services for more information.
Please also check out our books available on Amazon on the ROTC Scholarship as well as West Point!