Students often wonder when they are applying for college and plan to take ROTC in college if strongly mentioning ROTC in their essays or interviews will increase their chances of getting into the college or university of their choice.
It often depends!
Our answer is: it often depends on the college or university they are applying to and how important ROTC is to the school.
How you can determine if the school supports ROTC
You can get a very good idea of how vital ROTC is to a college in how they support ROTC students financially on campus. This is mainly shown through incentives that various colleges give to ROTC scholarship students who are on campus. This is primarily room and board grants. By providing free room and board to their scholarship winners, these colleges are putting their “money where their mouth is” in showing tangible support to their ROTC students. To get an idea of what incentives these colleges give, you look up various programs at this link.
Once you know the college strongly supports ROTC, by all means, make that a central part of your essays and interview. It will likely give you a boost in admission even if you don’t win an ROTC scholarship or come onto campus as a non-scholarship cadet simply participating in ROTC.
Use an ROTC scholarship as leverage
If you receive an ROTC scholarship off of a selection board BEFORE you receive admission to the college or university, this can be used as powerful leverage to gain admission, especially if the ROTC program is willing to advocate for you. Our founder was the Army ROTC Professor of Military Science at Claremont McKenna College. At CMC, he would work with the admissions office to work to get scholarship recipients into CMC. Given how difficult it is to get into that particular school, any sort of advocacy often meant the difference between acceptance and a waitlist or rejection.
Note that many schools do not give preference to ROTC scholarship applicants. The Ivy League Schools as well as schools such as Georgetown are examples. The only way you can know if the school will give preference to scholarship recipients is to talk to that ROTC program and ask.
So, does ROTC increase your chances of getting into college?
Bottom line: Saying you will participate or having an ROTC scholarship in hand will enhance your admission to schools that strongly support ROTC on their campuses. The only way to know this is to do your research and ask the specific ROTC program you are interested in attending.
Need help with the ROTC scholarship process? We help high school students win these scholarships and have over a 90% success rate.