There a number of great reasons not to compete on the October Army ROTC Board. For an average candidate, by waiting until January, you will likely increase your chances of receiving a scholarship. It is important to know you are only boarded once and receive a candidate score on that board. Even if your application is rolled over to the January board, you carry the October board score with you. Getting a good score is crucial as it is 25% of your total points.
This advice assumes you do not have a 3.9-4.0 unweighted GPA with 1400 SAT scores with excellent athlete and leader credentials. If this is you, by all means compete on the October board. Almost all October boarded winners receive four-year scholarships and 30% of the total four-year scholarship allocation is awarded off the October board.
I sat a scholarship board a few years back and you can read about my observations on a previous blog post.
Reasons to wait:
#1 October Board pool is very competitive. The October Board often has very good files from those students with high SAT/ACTs and excellent athlete/leader credentials. If you have a solid but not outstanding file, you will look weaker in relation to these files and your overall board score will be lower than if you competed with less competitive files in January.
#2 October Board traditionally has a low award rate. The October Board selects about 15% of the overall scholarships. Most of the scholarships are awarded off the January and March board. If your file is average, it is highly unlikely you will be selected anyway. See my past blog post on this subject.
#3 Improve your SAT or ACT Score. The Board scores are a very important factor in the application. Army ROTC superscores your Board scores. If you can significantly improve your scores between October and December, you should hold off competing in October. See my previous blog post on this.
#4 Improve your Unweighted GPA. If your high school will increase your GPA after the fall term, especially if it gets you above a 3.0, then you should hold off. (I have never seen a candidate below a 3.0 unweighted GPA receive a scholarship).
#5 Improve your Fitness Test Score. The Army ROTC fitness test is 1 minute of push-ups, 1 minute of sit ups and a 1-mile run. If you can improve your test score with more time , strongly consider waiting until January. Please listen to my podcast with Navy SEAL Stew Smith on fitness tests and how to improve your scores.
#6 Time to Visit ROTC programs. You can take time in the fall to visit ROTC programs. If you find a good fit, you can even decide to do your ROTC interview there on a future visit.
#7 More time to practice the interview. You can take the fall to practice your interview so you can ace it. The interview is the most important part of the ROTC application. Please see my previous post on how to ace the interview. Also, listen to my podcast with Colonel Lee Reynolds on interview tips and techniques.
Overall, holding off to January gives you more breathing space and more time to put together a strong application file for the January board. Strongly consider it.
ROTC Scholarship Consulting has an unparalleled record in helping candidates win Army ROTC Scholarships. You can view our services here.
Please also check out our books available on Amazon on the ROTC Scholarship as well as West Point!