1805, 2019

The Importance of Mock Interview Preparation

Hi Everyone.

I posted a past thread regarding helpful tips from my perspective on how to prepare for either the ROTC scholarship or Service Academy interview. My post included typical questions you may be asked at these interviews. You can find that thread here:…rmy-rotc-professor-of-military-science.67205/

I have had the pleasure of working with several ROTC scholarship candidates since I retired. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of practicing the candidate interview with a real person–whether it be a parent, relative, or neighbor. If you have an acquaintance who is currently serving or a retired officer in the service component you are applying for and can practice with that person– even better.

Don’t overlook using inexpensive videoconferencing technologies such as skype or zoom in order to connect and practice your interview with the best qualified person.

I’ve found that candidates need about 2-3 one-hour sessions to be ready for their interview. I am always amazed with the improvement I see. Candidates who were hesitant or unsure of themselves at the start were, by the end, confident and eagerly anticipating their actual interview.

The interview counts for too much to leave it to chance. Make sure you do your due diligence and conduct several mock interview sessions. You won’t regret it.

Good luck to everyone as you prepare for the upcoming scholarship year.

2004, 2019

Importance of College Board Scores to the ROTC Scholarship Selection Process

Hi Everyone,

After having observed the ROTC scholarship selection process over a six-year period as the PMS of two separate Army ROTC programs, combined with my research on the ROTC selection process for both the Air Force and the Navy, I can’t help remarking about the importance of the SAT/ACT in the overall selection process.

I base this on the following reasons:

Both the Army and the Air Force give separate and distinct points for SAT/ACT scores. The Army—17% and the Air Force a little over-30%. The Navy does not have a formal point system (from talking with people familiar with the process) but puts great weight in their selection boards on SAT/ACT scores.

All three services conduct a selection board. Having sat an Army ROTC Scholarship Board, (unfortunately or fortunately)- the SAT/ACT is a shortcut used by Army ROTC board members to “rack and stack” candidates. The board counts for 25% for Army ROTC. I go into more detail on my experience sitting such a board in this thread:

The Navy has no numeric system for their board but ranks SAT/ACT highly.

The Air Force is an exception as their board looks mainly at leadership, “motivation towards the Air Force,” the fitness test, and height/weight. The board score counts for 40% of the overall process. Nevertheless, board members do have access to ACT/SAT scores and from what I understand take them into account.

The Takeaway:

Board scores have an outsized influence on scholarship selection. Given that the Services have a superscore or best sitting policy for the SAT/ACT, it is to your advantage to take the test again if you can realistically improve your score. It is also advantageous to take both tests (SAT and ACT) because the highest score or scores from either testing service is used in the final evaluation.

Good luck as we start into the 2019-2020 Application year

604, 2019

Observations of an Army ROTC Board Member

Hi Everyone,

As a Professor of Military Science at the University of Southern California, I had the opportunity a few years back 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

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 great deal of time to spend on each candidate. We were then asked to rank the candidates on a numerical scale.

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):

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.

SAT/ACT. Was (fortunately or unfortunately) 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.

Unweighted GPA. Higher the better and another way for me to rank candidates. I took a quick look at the rigor 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.

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).

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.

Takeaways for you:

The interview is the most important thing to do well on. Prepare for the interview and see my previous advice (andothers on this forum) on what to do to get ready for it:

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.

Try to get as high a GPA as you can while ensuring sufficient (but not necessarily extreme) rigor.

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.

Athletics. Participate in a “vigorous” varsity sport and do your best on the PT test.

I wish you all the best of luck as you prepare for the 2019-2020 application year and future years.

3003, 2019

ROTC Interview Observations

Hi All,

After spending six years as a PMS at two separate Army ROTC programs (Claremont McKenna College and the University of Southern California), I conducted well over 200 PMS interviews. In advising people who come to me now for advice, they ask me what the number one thing to do is in order to be successful in the interview. [note that this question also is applicable to Academy interviews].

I tell them the most surprising thing for me is how little interviewees know about the ROTC, the Service, and what life will be like as a lieutenant (or ensign). Simple questions I posed such as: Do you know what life will be like as an ROTC cadet? (or) What branch or specialty do you want to serve in? –-was often met with silence, a blank stare, or an answer which showed their lack of knowledge.

So how do you prevent this from happening to you in your future interview?

Some tips:

–Visit your local ROTC program well before you interview. Talk to cadre and students who are in the ROTC program. (this helps you answer the interview question about how much you know about ROTC)

–Do your due diligence and research what lieutenants or ensigns do in the Service and what the various officer specialties are. The Services websites are great for this and often have videos which you can view on the subject.

–Visit a local National Guard or Reserve unit. “Shadow” a junior officer for a few hours on a drill weekend. Ask questions about what life is like as an officer and what officers do.

–Talk to a serving junior officer in the Service you are interested in.

If you become educated and knowledge and do your due diligence, it tells the interviewer that you are serious about becoming an officer. Tell your interviewer what you did to become educated. It will impress him or her. You then become the 5% of interview candidates who have adequately prepared in this regard.

There are many more tips that come to mind for me but this one is probably at the top of the list….

Good luck on your future ROTC (and Academy) interviews.

3003, 2019

Private Colleges vs. Public Colleges for ROTC

Hi Everyone,

As a former Army ROTC Professor of Military Science for two “high cost” schools (Claremont McKenna College and the University of Southern California) I am often asked if it is better to take ROTC at a public or private school? In cases where you have an Army, Navy, or certain Air Force ROTC scholarships which pay full tuition, my answer is almost always “a private school.”


Private Schools vs. Public schools often:

1. Give you incentives which pay for room and board and/or tuition for the first year of a 3 year scholarship. The “Gold Standard” for ROTC incentives IMHO is the University of Toledo. Maximizing these incentive benefits can amount to over $100,000 in savings over a four year period.

2. Help you gain admission to the school if you have a scholarship “in hand.” Have seen many examples of scholarship recipients getting admission to “reach schools” where otherwise they would not have gained admission without the help of ROTC

3. Have lower student-faculty ratios—students get more individual attention and often times a better educational experience.

4. Allow you to graduate on time so your scholarship benefits don’t run out. Public schools in a number of states are “impacted”—meaning classes are not available which extends the time to graduation

5. Often have nicer facilities for ROTC and greater support from the college administration

Overall, the decision on where to do ROTC is a personal choice and there are sometimes good reasons to select a state supported college or university over a private school. However, in most cases, the better choice is a private school.