Annual Junior ROTC National Essay Contest
The JROTC Essay Contest is an annual competition designed to give Cadets an opportunity to assimilate lessons learned from JROTC curriculum and communicate their knowledge in writing. Participating in the essay contest exposes Cadets to a key component of 21st Century Education: writing.
2017-18 Theme: "Emotional Intelligence"
FY 2016-17 - 1st Place
Cadet Tiffany Bryant
William H. Lanier High School
Click here to read the winning essay.
Cadet Rachel Martin
Jackson Area Career Center
Cadet Pedro Acosta
Cumberland Valley High School
Brigades' Other Nominees
Cadet Nykayla Sampson
Jennings High School
Cadet Devin Gay
Jesse C Carson/South Rowan High School
China Grove, NC
Cadet Olivia DeJesus
Lincoln Middle High School
Cadet Tyler Steinruck
Powhatan High School
Applying for ROTC Scholarships
For incoming college freshmen who want to join ROTC right away, the scholarship application process occurs during the senior year of high school. As with other college application tasks, if you’re interested in applying for an ROTC scholarship, it pays to get started early. You’ll need to choose which military branch to apply to, and make sure ROTC meshes with your other plans for college.
Even if you are offered an ROTC scholarship and choose to accept that offer, keeping your scholarship through all four years of college is not a given. Each branch of the Armed Forces has slightly different standards that you’ll have to meet in order to remain enrolled in ROTC and continue receiving scholarship funds.
As with many other scholarships, if you receive an ROTC scholarship, you’ll be required to maintain a certain level of academic performance, and to continue making appropriate progress toward your bachelor’s degree. In most cases, ROTC programs require that you finish your degree within four years.
Where ROTC scholarships differ from other scholarships is that you’ll also have to meet requirements that are specific to your suitability for military service. In order to continue receiving your scholarship, you’ll have to adhere to military standards of physical fitness and maintain a certain level of performance in your ROTC training.
Students who join ROTC are also expected to follow certain rules regarding their behavior, even when they’re not actively engaged in training. Dishonesty, cheating, failing a drug test, or otherwise getting into trouble can lead to disciplinary action and jeopardize your ROTC scholarship. (You’ll also need to be careful about what pictures of you end up on social media.)
If you don’t continue to meet these standards, you risk receiving disciplinary action, being placed on probation, or even being “disenrolled,” or removed from the ROTC program. As we’ll discuss in the next section, whether you leave ROTC by choice or are disenrolled, the consequences of ending your participation in ROTC are quite significant.
Making a Commitment to ROTC
As we’ve mentioned, participating in ROTC requires that you sign a contract agreeing to serve in the U.S. military in a particular role, for a particular period of time. Depending on your service branch and other factors, this commitment may last up to twelve years and may include a varying amount of active-duty service.
Since contracts are signed when you enter ROTC or accept an ROTC scholarship, rather than after you’ve received your training, it’s important that you plan carefully when deciding whether to sign an ROTC contract. That contract will determine your lifestyle and career options for the foreseeable future.
Signing an ROTC contract represents an extremely serious — and legally binding — commitment to serving in the armed forces, and it’s quite difficult to get out of this commitment. In certain cases — for example, if you encounter an unexpected physical health issue — you may be able to drop out of ROTC without significant repercussions, but this is not guaranteed.
If you fail to meet the program’s requirements and are disenrolled, or if you leave the program by choice, you can expect to face major consequences. Leaving ROTC, willingly or not, is a complicated legal process which can involve a formal investigation and a hearing in front of officials from your military branch. You may even need to hire a lawyer to help you prepare your case.
Typically, through this process, you’ll be asked to pay back any scholarship funds you’ve received, which can add up to a substantial amount of money. You might also be asked to repay your debt in military service, but without the officer status conferred upon those who successfully complete the ROTC program. Some students are given a choice; others have that choice made for them.
Clearly, joining ROTC is definitely something that you should not do just for financial assistance with college, especially with the intention of dropping out of the program later. Getting out of ROTC is not easy, and on the other hand, going ahead with military service when you aren’t really committed to being there does a disservice to your fellow military members.
So should you join ROTC? That’s a question you’ll have to ponder deeply before you sign any contracts. Military life is obviously not for everyone, and its demands are high. However, some people certainly find that they flourish in the structured military environment and take great pride in serving their country in this way.
If you’re considering joining ROTC, gather information and seek out advice wherever you can in order to make an informed decision. Talk to your parents about whether they think you would succeed in a military setting. Talk to current members of the military and to veterans about their experiences. In the end, however, it’s you who has to decide if enrolling in ROTC is the best path for you.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t join ROTC or accept an ROTC scholarship unless you are sure you want to pursue a military career, with or without that scholarship. If you’re informed about and prepared for the commitment, however, enrolling in ROTC and seeking out ROTC scholarships can significantly help with your college costs while also giving you a head start in your chosen career.
Here are some resources for learning more: