GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- - Colorado Mesa University hosted the West Slope Service Academy and ROTC Information Day on Saturday April 1. The event was designed to inform high school students about their different options to become an officer in the military.
Presenters at the event informed the students about their Service Academy or ROTC program options for college. "I know in the group today there's a lot of sophomores and juniors that are trying to explore their options and find out what's out there so they can make informed decisions at the start of senior year," says Donald Caughey, the Recruiting Operations Manager for the Army ROTC in Southern Colorado.
High school students in attendance seemed eager to learn about how they can become an officer in the military over the course of their college career. "I've been interested ever since I was a little kid, for the U.S. Naval Academy. I'm working towards to get into that Academy," says Jacob Andersen, a freshman at Grand Valley High School.
The main difference between the Service Academy and ROTC paths is what a student wants their college career to be like. "The 4 year Service Academy track to become an officer in the military is pretty limited and competitive. It's as competitive as any Ivy League School. The acceptance or appointment rate is about 7% at the Naval Academy currently," says John Cossick, the Blue and Gold Officer for the Navy Academy in Indianapolis.
ROTC programs can be pursued at any college that offers them, but there are only five Service Academies in the country. "The service academies are going to be very regimented and very military a majority of the time. In an ROTC program, typically we only see students for 7 or 8 hours a week - so they're able to pursue a normal college experience and still complete the same training that their counterparts will at the academy," says Caughey. In the case of the army, about 25% of the officers go through the Service Academy and 70% attend ROTC programs according to Caughey.
Many presenters believe attending a Service Academy or ROTC program is rewarding. "When you are a part of a team that is working to preserve this nation's freedoms, you make quality friendships for life," says Cossick.
Students need a congressional nomination to be appointed to a Service Academy, along with meeting physical, mental, character, and academic qualifications.