ROTC: Arming You for a Career in Today’s Military

In high school, you may have seen U.S. military recruiters stationed in the cafeteria or hallways, handing out brochures and fliers to interested students. Whether or not you are interested in serving the country after high school is a decision that can greatly affect your college years. If you are looking to join the military after graduation but would also like to attend a four-year university, the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) program may be for you.

What is ROTC?

Some students decide to enlist in the military directly after high school graduation. The purpose of the ROTC program is to train you for service in the military, while concurrently allowing you to attend college. The program was founded in 1926, and produces commissioned officers for the U.S. armed forces. ROTC is viewed as a leadership program that “is part of your college curriculum,” according to As a member of ROTC, you are enrolled as a full-time student in a university (the program is usually a part of a school’s Military Science Department). While in ROTC, you will still attend classes within a declared major, live on campus with non-ROTC students, and can become involved in university extracurricular activities, such as Greek Life or registered student organizations.  Many universities also offer ROTC elective courses for those students who decide to enroll in ROTC after they enter college. The officers who graduate from the ROTC program make up the largest commissioning source for the U.S. army, and students interested in any branch of the military (Air Force, Navy, Army, Marines, Coast Guard) can participate.

Jason Ofodile, a junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has just completed his first year in Army ROTC.  If a student is interested in joining ROTC, Ofodile advises that he or she should be prepared to work hard.

“If you don’t want to be physically or mentally challenged, then ROTC is not for you,” Ofodile said.

Ofodile says  his favorite part of participating in ROTC is the opportunity to lead his peers, as he likes to be the “go-to guy.”

“We have leadership rotations that can put a person in charge of as few as two other people or as many as thirty,” he said.

This past spring, Ofodile signed a contract with the Army Reserves. He plans to attend Baylor University in Waco, TX, to participate in the army physical therapy program after graduation from Illinois. He hopes to become an army physical therapist for the Medical Specialist Corps.

If you or someone you know are interested in becoming a member of an ROTC program:

  • Learn answers to frequently asked questions about the program on websites like and
  • Speak with your guidance counselor about universities that carry the program (the ROTC program is currently housed at over 1,000 universities). A list of universities that offer ROTC programs can also be found at
  • See if you are eligible for merit-based scholarships. You can apply for these scholarships while still in high school or while you are in college. Links to scholarship applications can be found at Each scholarship has different requirements, but upon acceptance of a scholarship, you commit to a certain number of years of military service after graduation.
  • Have a discussion with your parents or guardians before signing up for the program. Deciding to train and serve in the U.S. military is a decision not to be taken lightly.
Some informational videos about the ROTC program can be viewed by clicking on the following links:

*Facts about the ROTC program were found on and

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Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in News-Editorial Journalism with an interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Studies. Emma enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and snuggling up on the couch with her cat, “Louie.” She also spends her time volunteering and hanging out with family and friends.
Emma Weissmann

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