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I came across a blog post on armystrongstories.com on ROTC and the meaning of the program’s name. The author brings up great points how the actual term Reserve Officer Training Corps is misleading on what the program actually is—a program on leadership. The leadership aspect tends to get lost with other key messaging points; however, it is the most important one. The blog post says it so well that no commentary is needed. While this particular post talks about Army, NROTC (Navy and Marines) and AFRTOC (Air Force) are equally as compelling when it comes to teaching leadership.
OK, so here is the deal. Do you want to learn to LEAD a Nation, or lead an Army, or lead in Corporate America, or lead in Technology? There is only one college course that teaches you hands-on, continuously evaluated, professionally instructed, time-proven LEADERSHIP, and that college class is Army ROTC. When you pull out your college course book and choose your classes for next semester; choose Army ROTC, Leadership 101.
You don’t have to sign any contract or belong to the Army: you just take an Army leadership class on your favorite college campus and say hello to a professor who shows up to teach you….who happens to be a senior Army sergeant, or an Army officer, in uniform. So you take the class and decide you love being around all this Army leadership-introduction-thing, and you want to look deeper at learning leadership on your college campus (we are on 270+ major university campuses and over 1000 satellite surrounding campuses; so you can find Army ROTC everywhere if you google it!)
So you take an Army Leadership class each semester until you decide to go all-out and become an Army officer the day you graduate with whatever degree you are pursuing (absolutely any 4-year bachelor’s degree), and join the National Guard, Army Reserve, or go onto Active Duty for 3-4 years or beyond.
As soon as you decide you want to become an officer in one of these three categories, then you sign a contract with the American Taxpayer via the US Army, and we pay you a monthly living stipend ($300 a month for freshmen, $350 for sophomores, $450 for juniors and $500 for seniors) and line you up for tuition, books and fees paid for by scholarship if you want it! Then you are set to have college paid for and money in your pocket for pizza, and more time to focus on making good grades in school and graduating on time and at the top of your class.
If you are a graduate student, like I was when I finally peeled back that misleading “ROTC” poorly-branded facade and joined Army ROTC at the University of Texas in Austin, you can work a 2-year program where your 1st year of grad school is like being a junior in the standard program listed earlier. In two years of grad school, you have your masters and your commission as an Army Leader/Officer.
And you will have changed your whole life forever. For then you will forever be a leader of men and women, no longer just a spectator or casual follower. Leadership to better an organization or improve concepts and ideas, will now be in your soul. For when you complete ROTC, you will know you were born to LEAD, for we will have found that spark within you and helped you discover and maximize it.