How to Get an ROTC Scholarship

Getting an ROTC scholarship is both the easiest and hardest thing you can ever do. The process is nearly automatic, but qualifying requires commitment and effort.


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    Do the right things in high school. Do not do drugs or alcohol. Study hard, stay away from distractions and substances, get into sports. Good grades are important, but good study habits are critical. also, you should stay healthy, stay fit, and train hard. Stay in good physical shape, do community service projects, develop excellent study skills, and maintain hobbies. Even though military service is about teamwork, your goal from day one is to differentiate yourself above your peers.
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    Choose your preferred branch, and get acquainted with a recruiter. If your guidance counselor's office doesn't have contact information, check your white pages under US Government, Department of Defense. Any recruiter will be thrilled to make sure you have all the forms, materials, and support you need to apply for an ROTC scholarship. They ask you to take a couple of tests. The better you do, the more they will want you.
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    Don't tread new ground. Talk to Military Officers who may be friends of the family for advice; students who are currently in ROTC; college councilors of schools who offer ROTC programs; or Regional Directors of ROTC programs for your target branch. Contact information for these people can be found on the internet. Organize your thoughts, pick up the phone and talk to them.
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    Do as well as possible on your college entrance exams. This is the single most important criteria used to select high school candidates. Get a good night's sleep before the test, and have breakfast, no matter how nervous you may be. If your blood sugar gets too low, your brain will run on empty. Eat a sugary snack right before the SAT or ACT exam.
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    If your high school has a Junior ROTC unit, join it. This will give you a little advantage in college, although many many people have never worn a military uniform or walked together in a synchronized manner (they call it "marching") before entering a college ROTC program.
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    Keep up the physical fitness training! A physical fitness exam is not something you can cram for at the last minute! You should be able to run a good mile and a half in less than 15 minutes, do a dozen pull ups, and crank out 50 sit ups at least, or you will be doing a lot of remedial physical training.
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    Sign the acceptance letter when an ROTC unit chooses you, or pick which one you want if you get several offers. You pick two or three at the time of the college entrance exams, as well as the ROTC program you prefer. Your military branch makes your scores available to all university ROTC programs for that branch. So, even if your first choices pass on you, another university ROTC may step up to offer you a scholarship. Or...
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    Don't let it get you down if you don't get a scholarship offer. Go to a good university with an ROTC program, and enter as a no-contract candidate. It's HARD going to college AND meeting obligations as an ROTC member. MANY students end up giving up their scholarships during the first year. ROTC units look at no-contract ROTC students first. Get good grades in college, stay in shape, stay out of trouble (don't even speed!) and you have a great shot at getting that scholarship.
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    Understand that these organizations are absolutely no joke. If you don't have the stuff, admit it and go home. Serving your country and the good people in the military services will be one of the greatest privileges of your life.


  • Use these secret words when the recruiter asks you why you applied for the ROTC scholarship during your interview: "I have a strong, deep-rooted desire to have a long-standing career in the United States (fill in branch of service here)."
  • Stay in shape! Students are released from ROTC programs all the time because they can't manage the physical fitness requirements. If you can meet the physical fitness requirements before you get to the university level ROTC, you benefit in a lot of other ways. If you can't, you suffer and strain to catch up. And hopefully you can.
  • Stay out of trouble. If you fail a urine test, no branch will want you. Officers are in charge of service members' lives! Sometimes an officer will be given responsibility for millions of dollars worth of equipment. YOU will take a good million dollars of investment to turn into an officer. You will represent your branch, the military as a whole, the federal government, and the people of this country. But if you have THC or opiates in your blood, your file will be tossed in the trash.
  • Study. Get all easy A's in high school? Great! Only, in higher education, A's require effort. Many students go from a high 3 or 4.0 GPA in high school to a low 2 in college. That will get your scholarship yanked after two semesters. If your high school courses don't challenge you, talk to somebody about college level courses over the Internet.
  • Talk with a recruiter. If the one you talk to isn't enthusiastic about you becoming an officer in his branch, find another. Most recruiters will be ecstatic to talk to you if you have stayed out of trouble, done well in high school, scored high on college entrance exams, and are in good shape. Having high school ROTC is icing on the cake.


  • Stay in shape! Get out and run 3 or more times a week. Train yourself until you can do 50 sit-ups and 12 pull-ups. Your branch may demand even more from you!
  • The question about drug use is, "have you ever tried or experimented with drugs?" Therefore, it is best to never do any drugs. Also, if you decide to go into another federal job (FBI, CIA or Border Patrol), a polygraph is standard in the job application process.
  • Stay out of trouble!! Even moving violations will count against you. No drinking or drug use in high school! They have you make a sworn statement about drug use. Some drug use will bar you from the military. Don't risk it!

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Categories: Applying for Tertiary Education