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Thinking about Joining ARMY ROTC?

January 27, 2011 | First Lieutenant Matthew Flynn
Whenever I walk across campus in my ACU uniform, I am usually stopped by fellow students, Professors, or facility members who wish to inquire about the Golden Knight Battalion (Clarkson Army ROTC program). The most common question I receive is “do you have to wear your uniform every day,” or “Hey Matt, I’m interested in joining the Army ROTC program, can you tell me where to join and how the program works.”

Throughout this blog post, I hope to touch base on all the common questions and concerns that students who are interested in joining Army ROTC have. The program certainly is not for everyone--that being said--it offers valuable life skills that cannot be learned anywhere else, and everyone can benefit from taking the class and learning more about leadership and the armed services.

This post is not in any way, shape, or form meant to serve as a recruiting tool; moreover, it is simply to help those who are interested make the best decision. As a contracted cadet, who believes that joining ARMY ROTC was the best decision that I have ever made, I admit that I do posses a little biased. However, throughout this post I will do my best to stay to the facts about the program and let the students at Clarkson decide if it is right for them.

Before I attempt to answer what I anticipate to be the 5 most common questions a perspective cadet would ask. Here are a few links that go into further depth about topics I will touch base on:

Clarkson Golden Knight Battalion (Army ROTC) Website:
Information about Army ROTC Scholarships:
Additional FAQ From the GKB Website:
Major Toth’s Email---If you’re interested in Joining, Shoot him an Email!

Q1: Do you have to wear your uniform around campus every day?
A: Absolutely Not. Cadets, at most, have to wear their uniform 2 days a week. My uniform needs to be on for my 50 minute ROTC Class, and for the 2 Hour lab Thursdays 1500-1700 (3pm-5pm). On Mondays and Thursdays when I have class and lab, I generally wear my uniform all day. However, I only NEED to wear my uniform during class and lab.

Q2: How do I Join?
A: Joining is actually really easy; sign up for the class and lab in Peoplesoft. And that’s it, you joined! Make sure you still shoot Major Toth an email to let him know that you are enrolled (email listed above and below Q&A).

Q3: Does taking the class, mean that I could be sent to war anytime?
A: Again, ABSOLUTELY NOT. The Army trains cadets for 4 years, at which point, SOME of them become officers in the Army. There is no way that a MS1 cadet with one semester under his belt would ever be sent to combat; especially a non-contracted cadet who has no commitment whatsoever to the Army.

Q4: Explain the difference between contracted cadets and non-contracted cadets?
A: I am a contacted cadet; meaning that I receive a full ride scholarship from the army including a monthly stipend ,book allowance each semester,full tuition and room and board. When I receive my tuition bill, all I see at the bottom is zeros. After graduation I will owe a 4 year active duty, or 8 year reserve duty to the Army.

Non-contacted cadets do not receive any monetary contribution; however, they are also not required to attend PT and Labs (but it is strongly encouraged....see next question). Non-contracted cadets also have NO commitment to the Army. Many non-contracted cadets are interested in the Army, and eventually choose to become contracted cadets.

Q5: Is it required to attend PT and Labs?
A: For contracted cadets---Absolutely. No excuse is a good excuse for missing morning PT or Lab. Failure to attend PT will earn you an appointment with the Master Sergeant. My best advice to contracted cadets would be to attend all PT sessions and Labs.

Non-contacted cadets are not require to attend labs or PT, but are highly encouraged to do so. For non-contracted cadets wishing to become contracted----attending PT and labs is the best way to improve your chances of being awarded a scholarship. Remember, to be awarded a scholarship--you must first pass the PT test.

There it is in a nutshell, the 5 most common questions/concerns that students interested in Army ROTC have. I hope this blog post has been informative and helpful. Any students interested in joining the Golden Knight Battalion should contact Major Scott Toth by email at


Cdt. Flynn


  • gage
    6/10/2013 12:17 AM
    i am goin to be a freshman in high school next year and wanted to know how old you have to be to join R.O.T.C
  • CDT Flynn
    6/10/2013 8:03 AM
    Gage - I believe the age required to contract as a cadet is either 17 or 18. Nevertheless, at any age, a student may consider and look into the program. If you have any more questions, feel free to send me an email.
  • ratherbeplayingsoccer
    6/24/2013 4:55 PM
    hey so I too am going to be a freshman next year and just wanted to let you know there is a program called jrotc wich they offer in some highschools.
  • Kristal
    6/25/2013 7:02 PM
    What's the difference between 4 years active duty and 8 years reserve duty?
  • gage parsons
    8/4/2013 4:02 AM
    when i was 13 i was caught ding dong ditching and now i have a juenile record , will this affect my chances in joing the army
  • Mr. Toth
    8/5/2013 11:54 AM
    Gage...You have to make sure you are honest when asked about prior convictions, but something like this shouldn't prohibit you from serving or participating in Army ROTC. This isn't the kind of thing we like to see on someone's resume, but everyone makes mistakes, and as long as this is an isolated incident, and you have some achievements which show this was out of character for you, you should be fine.
  • Allison
    8/8/2013 3:27 PM
    I heard that the army rotc scholarship is highly competitive due to budget cuts. I'm really depending on this scholarship and a career in the army so my question is how competitive are the four year rotc scholarship? Also is there anything I can do (as a high school senior) to better my chances?
  • Austin
    9/25/2013 4:32 PM
    hey i was wondering if you are not a contracted cadet and you join the military after your four years are you still an officer? and i went to military school (grizzly youth academy) one year ago and i am still a california cadet would that affect me joining ROTC?
  • CDT Flynn
    9/25/2013 9:00 PM
    Austin --- to answer your question, after receiving a bachelors degree -- an individual may enlist or attend OCS. Enlistment brings you into the army as an enlisted soldier; OCS is the path to officership outside of attending a Military Academy or ROTC program.
  • Cody Jacob
    3/12/2014 1:05 PM
    really enjoyed your website and this story specifically. Would love to share my website for you to take a look at and get some feedback!
  • Braidan
    4/28/2014 10:38 PM
    Hey i was wondering, If you want to get into the army is the ROTC program a requirement to enlist. If it isn't required what will it help with in my army career?
  • chela cruz
    5/5/2014 11:48 AM
    If i took four years of rotc in high school and go to college and take another four years do i start off as a private. Also what would my rank be when i finish college and go to the army
  • Mr. Toth
    5/5/2014 1:49 PM
    Let's start with saying that if you do ROTC in college you will be a "Cadet", an officer candidate. You will wear a Cadet rank, but your Cadet rank will have very little effect on where you end up in the Army. When you finish college and Army ROTC you will be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in either the active force or the Army Reserves/National Guard. Your time in JROTC has little effect on your future in the Army. It is a good thing to do, but it is not a requirement. It will give you a bump in pay grade if you enlist, and it can give you credit for some of the Army ROTC training, but if you come to my campus and enroll as a freshman I am going to want you in the Freshman ROTC class whether you had JROTC or not. Hope that makes sense.
  • JN
    6/10/2014 7:00 PM
    I'm interested in joining ROTC and would ideally like to do it for all 4 years, but I have no intention of receiving a scholarship and also am uninterested in any enlisted combat or service. Is this possible?
  • Damen
    6/17/2014 11:23 PM
    I am doing rotc in college this coming August and I am really wanting this because as soon as I get my bachelors I am joining any tips cause I would like to be able to get a scholarship for this cause it is what I really want
  • Mr.Toth
    6/24/2014 12:07 PM
    JN and Damen,

    Take the class, do the best you can and whether you compete for a scholarship or decide you don't need one if you complete the training and meet all the requirements you can be an Army Officer when you graduate from College. Discussion boards are great places to start asking questions, but you need to contact the ROTC department where you plan to attend college and start asking your questions of them, since each Battalion does business a little differently.

    Good luck to both of you.
  • Victoria
    7/23/2014 1:31 PM
    Hey, I need some advice! I'm in JROTC right now, and plan on being in the military and doing ROTC! I'm a Junior in high school, when do you suggest I talk to a recruiter? Some of the other cadets have gone during their Junior Year's summer, should I do the same? Also, I have a serious boyfriend, who doesn't think I should be in the military, because he doesn't want to me to be in danger. Any advice?
  • 2LT Flynn
    7/23/2014 1:48 PM

    1) I would recommend talking to an ROTC enrollment officer instead of a recruiter. These individuals who work for an ROTC program will be able to answer all your questions about the path to becoming an officer. In short form: to join ROTC all you need to do is sign up for the class and participate once you arrive on campus.

    2) I am far from being a relationship expert; arguably, no one is. As a 23 year old single male who has been in serious relationships I would advise you not to allow a relationship to change/modify your career. On a more realistic note, I'd recommend looking into the various branches of the Army and the amount of kinetic 'action' each branch gets before making assumptions.
  • Mr. Toth
    7/23/2014 3:04 PM

    I agree with LT Flynn. You should be contacting a recruiting officer, starting your college search and maybe even visiting a campus or two before the end of the summer. Make sure you meet with the ROTC battalion when you visit the campus. A recruiter is going to try to get you signed up to go to Basic and enlist. If you want to be an Army Officer you don't need to go to Basic, and you should be focused on attending and graduating from college.

    With regard to your "serious boyfriend" need to decide what your goals and aspirations are. If you let someone else dictate how you are going to pursue your future, you might have some regrets down the road.
  • Tori
    8/5/2014 7:12 PM
    In rotc do you have to do like physical training stuff?
  • HJM
    9/22/2014 11:34 PM
    I am interested in joining ROTC, but if I was to join the airforce as a officer, I would go through 4 years of ROTC, then basic training a year of flight school, and finally active duty or reserves, right? Also, if I was a contracted cadet, after I graduate, would I have the choice of which branch of the military I wanted to join, I know that I must serve 4 years active or 8 years reserve, but can I choose where I serve that time? Thanks
  • Mr. Toth
    9/23/2014 3:03 PM
    HJM...first off, you are on the ARMY strong stories site and you are asking about becoming an Air Force Officer??? If you go through Army ROTC you will be commissioned into the Army. If you enroll in Air Force ROTC you will be commissioned into the Air Force. You should also know that typically Officers don't go to Basic Training. You will attend an Officer Basic Course associated with your career field (Branch) when you graduate from school.
    If you are interested in being an Air Force pilot you don't want to be enrolled
  • Kaleb
    4/20/2015 12:20 PM
    So my question is that I am currently and 18 year old in Army Reserves and I have gone through basic training, does this mean I still have to complete all four years of ROTC. I've been told I am able to commission early. Is this true or what is still needed.
  • corey
    7/9/2015 5:31 AM
    I've always known that I wanted to be in the military and serve my country since I was in high school. I have no JROTC experience, because my high school did not offer it. My question is will it be a big adjustment for me since I have no ROTC experience under my belt? Second question is once I enrolled in school and the ROTC program, when do they issue your uniforms and what does ROTC come with (uniform wise)
  • Yazmine
    10/13/2015 5:43 PM
    Hi my name is Yazmine and i am a sophmore in college and i was thinking of joing the ROTC in my univ. I recently changed my carrer choice from a regular Physical Therapits to a PT in the army. I am clueless about ranks, training,and anything to do with the army. What should i expect ? Should i join ROTC if im thinking of joing the medical part of it ? Is it too late for me to join ROTC ? Please and thank you
  • Mr. Toth
    10/15/2015 3:10 PM
    Yazmine...You should really stop in and talk to the enrollment officer at your school's Army ROTC Battalion.The longer you wait the fewer options will be available. They are going to be able to tell you whether they have room in their Battalion and whether they are willing to work with you to meet the requirements. They will also probably offer you the opportunity to enroll in the class and give it a test drive before you incur any obligation. To earn your commission you will have to complete four years or Army ROTC training. One possibilityis to spread that over two years of undergrad and two years of graduate studies, but I would say that's a heavy load. You do have two other options...earn your PT that then check back with the Army and see if you can get a direct commission, or earn your PT and then see what opportunities there are to work as a civilian in a military setting. Not sure how or why you came to the conclusion that PT in the Army is the right path for you, but those are some options that may get you there.

    Good luck
  • Ms. Jones
    11/14/2015 2:58 PM
    Hi, I am writing for information for my upcoming college freshman. He has indicated that he is interested in ROTC (contracted). When you are contracted after graduation if you do not immediately go active do you have that option at any time? Please correct me, but I believe that he will be a 2LT??? The college we are looking at actually does not offer ROTC, but it has all the pre-health courses he is seeking. Can he take the ROTC portion at a nearby college? This really concerns me because I would hate for him to miss this opportunity or take it and have less of an education. Any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Also, please advise if I should go to a local school and talk to someone. He is the product of two Army parents and I am extremely proud that he has chosen on his own to consider serving his country.
  • Mr. Toth
    11/15/2015 12:26 PM
    Ms. Jones.

    Your question is very confusing and I'm not sure what you are asking. If you son is planning to start college and enroll in Army ROTC he will have to enroll at a school that offers Army ROTC. To find out whether a school does or doesn't you can visit their website and enter Army ROTC in the search engine every college website has. You can also contact the admission office at that school. If you find the school offers ROTC then the next step is to contact the ROTC Battalion and ask for more information about enrolling. Your son should also visit and research whether he wants to apply for a scholarship. The deadline is approaching, so he needs to get on it soon.

    Understand that not everyone has a scholarship, and not everyone will eventually get contracted. Good grades, physical fitness, and active participation will make him more likely to have the opportunity to get commissioned when he graduates.

    Hope that helps.
  • Doko
    12/9/2015 5:27 AM
    I enlisted in army reserve and i had been graduated from basic training since jullet 24/2015 my rang is pfc and i would like to go to the rotc so what can I do?
  • Mr. Toth
    12/9/2015 6:38 AM
    Enroll full time at a 4 year college that offers Army ROTC classes, and enroll in the class. It's that easy to start. You would want to contact the Army ROTC Battalion at that school to let them know you'd like to join. Eventually you'll want to compete for a contract or maybe a scholarship.
  • Tia Edwards
    1/1/2016 2:02 PM
    Hi, I was wondering if you do enroll in the Army ROTC Basic Course for the first 2 years with no military obligations, do you have a choice whether or not you enroll in the Army ROTC Advanced Course or its required to take the Army ROTC Advanced Course after the 2 years of the Army ROTC Basic Course
  • Paula
    2/23/2016 10:40 AM
    My daughter is considering an ROTC program at a university. She was told by a few people that they are told how to eat and have to take a certain number of bites before they swallow. Also she was told that higher rank students would beat them up on their Birthday. How concerned should I be about these stories? I know the Military is a rule driven program but this sounds a bit far fetched.
  • Mr. Toth
    2/23/2016 11:08 AM
    I would say this is not the norm, and if there is a program out there where this happens it is a program that should be avoided. There is no value in teaching a Cadet "how they should eat" and there is no value in physical abuse. There are 270+ Army ROTC programs offered at over 1000 schools. Each program is different, but the goal of each is to produce Army Officers, leaders in our organization, who are physically fit, able to think critically, and able to lead and make decisions. In most programs Cadets are normal students 90% of their time. They only put a uniform on 2-3 times a week and aren't subject to constant supervision and "harassment". There are schools and programs out there that are more structured (Google "senior military colleges") where student/Cadets have a little less "freedom". You and your daughter should visit the campuses where she would like to attend college and talk to the instructors and Cadets at those schools. I think you will find that the stories you are hearing are just that, stories. And if you find that is not the case, I would recommend finding another program.
  • Matt
    3/13/2016 12:42 AM
    Hello I am currently in high school on track to graduate in May and I've been accepted to a college with a ROTC program I'm enlisted in the guard right now and I completed basic this past summer and will do AIT this summer, how do I go about this ROTC path and how will bring enlisted already affect it
  • Nicole
    3/13/2016 10:03 AM
    I am currently a rising junior (will be a junior at the end of this semester) and I am interested in joining ROTC. I am awaiting the military science department recruiter to schedule a meeting with me at the moment so I have very limited information about how competitive it will be for me to get involved so late in the game. In terms of my degree, I am kind of behind (I changed my major) so I need more like 2.5-3.0 years until I graduate at my current pace (full time). I have a high GPA (3.75) and am physically fit. I've been told by two different people different viewpoints--one person said it would be hard for me to go active duty after the program and the other said I would be a great candidate for the program and could have my choice of active duty or reserves. I would rather the active duty... Do you have any input on my chances?
  • Brian
    3/29/2016 10:53 AM
    I will being attending college this Fall on a 4 Army ROTC scholarship. Is it a requirement to pass the PT test during week 1 before I can be contracted or receive any scholarship benefits? Or are cadets given time to pass the PT test?
  • Mr. Toth
    3/29/2016 11:16 AM
    First off, not every program is going to do things the same way, so the best answer is going to come from the ROTC program you will be joining in the fall. I would also tell you that it will be to your advantage to show up ready to pass the test. You don't want to be the Cadet that failed his first PT test. The other thing to keep in mind is your scholarship and stipend won't start until you pass. Technically you will have until the last day of the semester to pass and still receive your scholarship. You won't receive any stipend retroactively.
    Here at Clarkson what I do is offer the test over the summer, pass and you contract on day one. Don't pass and you have another chance to pass the morning of day one. Don't pass then and you will keep testing during the semester until you pass. This past year I had two Cadets who weren't ready on day one.
    I'll say don't want to start off on the wrong foot, so today is the day you should start doing multiple sets of pushups and situps every day, and you want to be running at least 2 miles 3-4 days a week.
  • Victoria H
    7/31/2016 11:04 PM
    Hi, I have been very interested in joining Army ROTC and wanted to join next year during my sophomore year in college so I would be able to work out balancing my classes and athletic schedule this year. I accepted a nearly full ride scholarship to run cross country and track which I love competing in so my only concern is how ROTC and xc/track could possibly interfere with each other, or if they would at all. I would really like to be able to do both.
  • Mr. Toth
    8/11/2016 11:52 AM
    First off, I would encourage you to enroll freshman year in ROTC...don't wait until sophomore year. Each program is different, but here at Clarkson we have around 10 varsity athletes in our program and many of them have demanding majors. Freshman ROTC shouldn't take up a lot of your time, so you can focus on your studies and your sport. If you wait until sophomore year you will be behind your peers and you will be coming in without prior experience.

    Suggest you talk to the track coach and someone at the ROTC program to see whether they are on the same page. I routinely talk to all the coaches at all 4 of my schools.

    Also suggest you google "marshall Plumlee rotc" and see what comes up.

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