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Here we go. I've been interested in flight/planes/etc for a very long time. If it can be flown, I dig it. Well, I'm a freshman at Virginia Tech. I came hoping to earn a degree in Aerospace Engineering. The degree requires 136 credit hours, generally with a 5th year. My dad is a Lt. Col in the Marine Corps, so I have always been fascinated with that, and the thought of me flying choppers for the Marines. With that in mind I entered Louisiana as a member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets as well as a Marine Option NROTC member. Being in ROTC and VTCC tacks on classes to your schedule - i.e. my total credits would be 177. Herein lies the problem. With the heavy course loads I don't think I'll be able to manage between ROTC/VTCC and Academics. The lifestyle of being a Cadet is miserable, and it hinders my learning through lack of sleep and predetermined daily routines. We cant really study when we want to, about 4-5 hours of sleep a night. I went and planned out my 5 years with my advisor and it looks like it might take 5 and a semester...yeah. At this point, the combination of that and the misery makes me want to drop out of ROTC so help things out a little bit. At this point I have 3 options: 1. Leave it the way it is, live life miserably and hope the Marines let me fly. Attend summer cruises - effectively wasting my summers. 2. Drop out of ROTC, stay in VTCC for the rest. Earn the degree in 4 years with summer classes, pay for college with student loans, small scholarships, Dad's GI bill, work over the summer. 3. Drop out of ROTC now, Drop VTCC after freshman year, graduate in 4 years, summer classes, likely to have better grades, become a civilian and life the good life, maybe join the military sometime after graduation, or fly as a civilian. Pay for college the same way as option 2. My dad thinks I should definitely drop ROTC. A few things to consider: I'm not in to the whole PT routine. I'm in shape, but I like doing it with sports. Getting a civilian pilots license will require time+money. I'm not the person who would go out and party as a civilian. I hate shaving every morning. Making my bed isn't my thing. I have knee problems, making PT difficult. I'm COMPLETELY open to opinions, suggestions, questions, anything. This is a "life decision" according to the MOI here.
I'm former enlisted, college student taking ROTC, and officer (USNR). Hopefully I can offer you some insignts based on my own experiences - this is free advice, so take it for what it's worth. ;-) # As a former enlisted man, ROTC student and officer - definitely drop ROTC classes like a hot rock unless they are paying for your college completely. Drop them hard. Go to OCS after finishing school. Absolutely no reason to go through the ROTC courses if you aren't being paid for them (no scholarship)... they are not necessary to receiving a commission. # As a pilot working on his commercial license - find out FIRST whether you meet the physical requirements for a first-class medical license (civilian); and whether you meet the (more stringent) requirements for Navy/Marines/Air Force active flight-status. Having known many commercial pilots who are former military - if you plan to fly for an airline then the heavy (type rating required) bomber and cargo ships are the way to go... that experience more directly transfers to larger jets than helicopter flying does. # If you hate regimentation - realize that the Marines are by far the most regimented of all services, the Air Force the least. If you hate shaving, regimentation, PT, room inspections, etc - you may not be happy in any branch of the service. If you don't like ROTC classes, and you think that very limited and comparatively lax regimen is too demanding, then you will probably hate military life with a passion. # If you wish to fly helicopters exclusively - you could get your AA or Louisiana (two-year), then check out the Army's helo program? It's been almost 20 years since I was in the service, but the Army used to rank helicopter pilots as warrant officers. That's actually a fairly good life - though without the pay, prestige, opportunities for advancement that comes with an "regular" commissioned officer status. However, if you fail the training (washout rates are very high), you are obligated to several years of enlisted service - which would really really really suck. Overall, finishing college first is a much better idea. # I liked being an officer, much better than enlisted, although I only stayed in four years due to the family separation and isolated duty involved in shipboard life --- in comparison, I cannot possibly begin to use enough adjectives to describe how the life of an enlisted man (especially a junior enlisted man) compares to life as an officer... it's just an enormous black hole of suck. Talk about making your bed in the morning, sheesh. Don't even think about going enlisted, in any service except possibly the Air Force IF you get a cushy specialty in writing, that's not isolated duty, in advance of raising your right hand. I would strongly urge you not to sign up enlisted if you have a four-year college degree. An educated person probably wouldn't enjoy enlisted life at all. # If you were the type of person who didn't mind regimentation, I'd suggest the USAF enlisted as a (possibly with the right specialty guaranteed in writing in advance) a cheap way to get your college degree and initial (civilian-level private pilot) flight training. Completing college on your own is by far the preferable route if you can swing it... many people of little monetary means have completed college in this way. Avoid enlisting in any other service like you'd avoid a dose of the clap. (An old Navy saying). # Sounds like you really are determined to complete college. Again I can't make a decision for you - but IMHO that is by far the best plan. I went enlisted for six years before going back to college, that was a mistake.. should have gone straight on through college. Finishing college really is the best way to go even if you decide later not to join the service. # There are ways to save money on getting a civilian pilot's license. If you are still young enough, the CAP (civil air patrol, sort of like an Air Force Boy Scouts for young people - search & rescue and volunteer organization for senior members) provides the first couple of lessons free; glider training free; and reduced-cost lesson thereafter in some places. Stay away from any of the nationally-advertised schools, go with the Mom & Pop local FBO's, much cheaper. Also, if you know of any pilots through your Dad, some may be CFI's who will help out... most pilots love to take people along to fly with them, so experiences gained that way could help out on the costs tremendously. The written test isn't too hard, but it is fairly comprehensive - you can save a few bucks buying one of the home-study courses and learning the written material on your own. The King and Sporty's courses are both very good, the King course is more popular. # If you decide to go for flight training, try to get some civilian training beforehand. Very tough to complete the flight training at the military's pace unless you have prior experience, especially when attempting it simultan
1. Drop ROTC and VTCC, concentrate on getting your degree. 2. Work on getting your pilot licence while in school. 3. Apply for Marine OCS after graduation.