Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) is a program offered during college for those aspiring to join the military after completing their bachelor’s degree. ROTC is a great way to attend the college of your choice while beginning the journey to pursue a career in the military. Anyone who is enrolled at a college with an ROTC program (or crosstown agreement), is in good physical shape and has good moral character 14 years or older. Those committed to attend both the ROTC class and leadership laboratory are welcome to join. Air Force ROTC also offers scholarships, which have several different requirements and are competitive. Students on scholarship are required to serve in the military upon graduation for four years and must maintain a 2.5 cumulative grade point average to maintain their scholarship. So if you are interested in joining, here is what you can expect.
The ROTC program is designed to correlate with a bachelor’s degree program. Every fall and spring semester, you will have some commitment to the ROTC program. Freshman and sophomore years, you will be enrolled in the general military course (GMC). This requires a 1 credit hour class and a 1 to 2 hour leadership laboratory (lead lab) per week. The 1 hour class mainly discusses topics like military history and military basics. Lead lab is the opportunity to learn military uniform standards and marching. It is also a great time to meet others in the program. You will be required to wear a military uniform on these days. Most units also have an established physical fitness program, which may occur outside of lead lab or the classroom. Generally, students on scholarship are required to attend and those not on scholarship are highly encouraged to attend. Keep in mind you can still obtain a scholarship through ROTC even if you are not on scholarship your first year. After completing sophomore year, you would be required to attend a 13 day field training at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
To continue to the Professional Officer Course (POC), you must complete the 13 day training and be a US citizen, be of legal age to join the military, be in good academic standing, pass the Air Force Physical Fitness Test, be able to pass a military physical exam, and meet all age requirements. Once you are in the POC program, you will be required to enroll in a 3 credit hour class and attend all leadership labs every semester. While in POC, you will act as the cadet leadership for your detachment and mentor the GMC cadets. Being a POC is a great opportunity to learn about leadership skills and mentorship. Your POC classes will focus more on doctrine and leadership and prepare you to commission as an officer into the Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant. If you are interested in being a Pilot, Combat System Officer or Air Battle Manager, you will compete for that training while you are a POC.
Air Force ROTC (or any ROTC program) is a great way to determine if you want to pursue a career in the military after college. It also allows you to still select the college you would like to attend and have a fairly typical college experience. If you are currently looking to attend college and are interested in ROTC, definitely make visiting the ROTC detachment at your college of choice part of your campus tour. The staff at your local detachment can give you more specifics on what a typical week is like at their detachment. They can further assist with questions about commitment, scholarship opportunities, and general questions. Some colleges also offer anyone on ROTC scholarships to receive additional scholarships to help offset any additional expenses. Asking about these during a campus tour is a great opportunity to learn more. Each ROTC detachment offers a variety of extracurricular activities, which allow you to get involved and further your interest and experience. While there is no commitment to ROTC during the summer, ROTC also offers summer programs. ROTC offers a variety of ways to get involved and prepare for a future career as an Air Force officer. It is an excellent way to decide if a career in the military is for you and will prepare you for that future.
Dave Blankenstein served in the US Air Force for 12 years as a C-17 pilot. He was stationed at MacDill AFB, FL, Vance AFB, OK, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, Joint Base Charleston, SC and Altus AFB, OK. Dave attended undergraduate pilot training at Vance, then went to C-17 initial training and ultimately spent the reminder of his time in the military as a C-17 pilot. His military career culminated as a C-17 evaluator at the only C-17 formal training unit in the world. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering and a master’s degree in Aeronautical Science with a concentration in Aviation Safety Science.
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