Nrotc Essay


Each year students who were not awarded a National NROTC Scholarship are provided the opportunity to apply for the NROTC College Program. A College Program Midshipman does not receive scholarship benefits or attend summer training, but is otherwise treated and held to the same standards of conduct and participation of a scholarship student. The goal of the College Program is to help qualified Midshipmen earn a 4, 3, or 2-year scholarship, or Advanced Standing.

Application Instructions

What are the requirements to apply for the College Program at NROTC Iowa State?

All applicants must meet the basic requirements for the program. These requirements are summarized below:

  • Applicant must be admitted to or be a current student at Iowa State university. There are no exceptions to this policy.
  • Applicant must be an American citizen or be in process of becoming a naturalized American citizen.
  • Applicant must not be older than 27 years old by December 31st of year in which graduation and commissioning is anticipated.
  • Applicants already in college must be in their Freshman or Sophomore year.
  • Applicant must meet the Navy height and weight standards and must be able to be physically qualified for admittance into the armed forces.
  • Must pass the Navy Physical Fitness Test.

If I meet all the basic requirements am I guaranteed acceptance into the College Program?

No. Acceptance into the College Program is a competitive process. The NROTC staff at Iowa State carefully review each application in order to evaluate whether the candidate is likely to complete the program and be selected for a 4, 3, or 2-year scholarship, or Advanced Standing. Competition for the College Program is keen.

What credentials do I need in order to make myself a competitive candidate for the NROTC College Program at Iowa State?

We evaluate our applicants using the same criteria as the 4-year National Scholarship Board. In general, successful applicants at Iowa State (Note that these are NOT minimum required scores):

  • Participated in one or more varsity sports in high school and demonstrate exceptional physical fitness
  • Have a high school GPA of 3.5 or greater on 4.0 scale
  • Achieved SAT scores of 1200 or above (math and verbal sections only) or a composite ACT score of 26 or above
  • Have a track record of leadership and participation in extracurricular activities
  • Are knowledgeable and motivated about a career in the Navy or Marine Corps
  • Are pursuing or will be pursuing an engineering or technical major (i.e. Tier 1 or Tier 2) or a critical language (Russian, Arabic, Chinese, ect.) major. This does not rule out students pursuing a non-technical major with strong math and science skills. There is no major restriction for Marine College Program applicants.

What is the process for applying for the College Program at Iowa State?

The application period opens in May and closes in July. College Program applications submitted outside this time period will be considered on a case by case basis.

A complete application will consist of the following:

  • Completed College Program Application
  • Completed Report of Medical History DD2807-1
  • Completed Applicant Fitness Assessment Score Sheet (Refer to the Fitness Assessment Instructions.)
  • High school or college transcript (students who have completed one year at the host institution need not submit HS transcripts)
  • Full body-length photo (Polo shirt, khaki pants, and closed toed shoes.)
  • Two essays (each essay, maximum one page, single spaced) that answer the following questions:
    • Why are you considering Iowa State University and the NROTC Program?
      • Navy Option Applicants:
        • What Unrestricted Line (URL) community do you wish to commission into and why?
      • Marine Corps Option Applicants:
        • Why do you want to be a Marine Corps Officer?
  • A copy of SAT or ACT results
  • Candidate “resume” or list of accomplishments (one page maximum)
  • Minimum of one Letter of Recommendation, maximum three letters.

Application Submission

Completed applications can be sent to the address below or scanned via email to

Freshmen Advisor – College Program
NROTC Unit Iowa State University
3 Armory
Ames, IA 50011-3035

After reviewing the candidate’s application, our staff will then either select the candidate for an interview or not. An Interview will be conducted by an active duty member of the NROTC staff to evaluate the candidate’s maturity, confidence, knowledge of the military, and career goals.

Once all interviews are completed candidates are then evaluated against each other and invitations are sent to the selected candidates. Candidates not selected will also be notified.

If a candidate is accepted, he or she will be required to provide a sports physical clearing the student for physical activity prior to the first day of New Student Orientation. During orientation, students will be required to perform a Navy or Marine physical fitness test. This test is intended to familiarize the student with the physical standards required. An unsatisfactory result on this initial test will NOT result in disenrollment from the program.

When do College Program midshipmen become eligible to apply for scholarships?

During their freshman year, College Program Midshipmen may apply for a 4-year national scholarship. At the end of each academic year, College Program Midshipmen apply for a 3 or 2-year scholarship. If awarded, a 3 or 2-year scholarship provides the same benefits as the 4-year National Scholarship for the specified period of time. Candidates for these scholarships are evaluated based on the same criteria as the 4-year scholarship students with college GPA and aptitude as primary factors.

Freshmen in college (provided they have achieved less than 30 college credit hours) are eligible to re-apply for the National 4-year Scholarship even if they were previously denied! It is HIGHLY recommended that each Midshipman apply if he or she has less than the 30 college credit hours.

What happens if a College Program Midshipman is never awarded a scholarship?

All College Program students must either be on scholarship or be accepted into the “Advanced Standing” by the start of their Junior year in school. If not, that student is required to be disenrolled from the NROTC program. Students selected for Advanced Standing do not receive tuition benefits but do receive a monthly stipend and participate in one summer of training before graduation. Advanced Standing students commission in the Navy as Ensigns and have the same active duty obligation as scholarship students.

Applying for ROTC Scholarships

For incoming college freshmen who want to join ROTC right away, the scholarship application process occurs during the senior year of high school. As with other college application tasks, if you’re interested in applying for an ROTC scholarship, it pays to get started early. You’ll need to choose which military branch to apply to, and make sure ROTC meshes with your other plans for college.


Even if you are offered an ROTC scholarship and choose to accept that offer, keeping your scholarship through all four years of college is not a given. Each branch of the Armed Forces has slightly different standards that you’ll have to meet in order to remain enrolled in ROTC and continue receiving scholarship funds.


As with many other scholarships, if you receive an ROTC scholarship, you’ll be required to maintain a certain level of academic performance, and to continue making appropriate progress toward your bachelor’s degree. In most cases, ROTC programs require that you finish your degree within four years.


Where ROTC scholarships differ from other scholarships is that you’ll also have to meet requirements that are specific to your suitability for military service. In order to continue receiving your scholarship, you’ll have to adhere to military standards of physical fitness and maintain a certain level of performance in your ROTC training.


Students who join ROTC are also expected to follow certain rules regarding their behavior, even when they’re not actively engaged in training. Dishonesty, cheating, failing a drug test, or otherwise getting into trouble can lead to disciplinary action and jeopardize your ROTC scholarship. (You’ll also need to be careful about what pictures of you end up on social media.)


If you don’t continue to meet these standards, you risk receiving disciplinary action, being placed on probation, or even being “disenrolled,” or removed from the ROTC program. As we’ll discuss in the next section, whether you leave ROTC by choice or are disenrolled, the consequences of ending your participation in ROTC are quite significant.


Making a Commitment to ROTC

As we’ve mentioned, participating in ROTC requires that you sign a contract agreeing to serve in the U.S. military in a particular role, for a particular period of time. Depending on your service branch and other factors, this commitment may last up to twelve years and may include a varying amount of active-duty service.


Since contracts are signed when you enter ROTC or accept an ROTC scholarship, rather than after you’ve received your training, it’s important that you plan carefully when deciding whether to sign an ROTC contract. That contract will determine your lifestyle and career options for the foreseeable future.


Signing an ROTC contract represents an extremely serious — and legally binding — commitment to serving in the armed forces, and it’s quite difficult to get out of this commitment. In certain cases — for example, if you encounter an unexpected physical health issue — you may be able to drop out of ROTC without significant repercussions, but this is not guaranteed.


If you fail to meet the program’s requirements and are disenrolled, or if you leave the program by choice, you can expect to face major consequences. Leaving ROTC, willingly or not, is a complicated legal process which can involve a formal investigation and a hearing in front of officials from your military branch. You may even need to hire a lawyer to help you prepare your case.


Typically, through this process, you’ll be asked to pay back any scholarship funds you’ve received, which can add up to a substantial amount of money. You might also be asked to repay your debt in military service, but without the officer status conferred upon those who successfully complete the ROTC program. Some students are given a choice; others have that choice made for them.


Clearly, joining ROTC is definitely something that you should not do just for financial assistance with college, especially with the intention of dropping out of the program later. Getting out of ROTC is not easy, and on the other hand, going ahead with military service when you aren’t really committed to being there does a disservice to your fellow military members.


So should you join ROTC? That’s a question you’ll have to ponder deeply before you sign any contracts. Military life is obviously not for everyone, and its demands are high. However, some people certainly find that they flourish in the structured military environment and take great pride in serving their country in this way.


If you’re considering joining ROTC, gather information and seek out advice wherever you can in order to make an informed decision. Talk to your parents about whether they think you would succeed in a military setting. Talk to current members of the military and to veterans about their experiences. In the end, however, it’s you who has to decide if enrolling in ROTC is the best path for you.


The bottom line is that you shouldn’t join ROTC or accept an ROTC scholarship unless you are sure you want to pursue a military career, with or without that scholarship. If you’re informed about and prepared for the commitment, however, enrolling in ROTC and seeking out ROTC scholarships can significantly help with your college costs while also giving you a head start in your chosen career.


Here are some resources for learning more:


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