Making ROTC to Work for You!
The truth is recruiters and ROTC cadre both have something to offer one another, and when that’s understood both parties benefit and the ultimate winner is our Army.
Even those stations without a host or partnership ROTC program can benefit from ROTC by promoting the Army Reserve Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) to promising AR prospects and providing these referrals to the nearest ROTC host program.
ROTC is a college elective course; as such nearly 90% of all freshmen cadets who enroll in ROTC do not commission.
These are prospects, in effect, that ROTC recruits for us each year—high school grads who have already worn an Army uniform!
Cadets who leave the ROTC program are usually still viable prospects. Nearly half of all students—cadets included—simply don’t finish college. Many others who do stay in college drop ROTC because at the time they felt it was simply too much of a commitment: taking time away from other activities, required early morning wake-ups, lengthy commute to the host campus, or ROTC conflicted with working (which many students have to do to stay in college).
How then do you gain access to these students/former cadets? Here are some TTPs:
• Get to know the ROTC cadre at the host college or university. As a recruiter, your first point of contact in the ROTC department should be the Recruiting Operations Officer (called the “ROO”). Normally a captain, some ROTC programs refer to this position as the ROTC “admissions officer”, or ROTC “enrollment officer.” Whatever the formal title, the ROO’s job is to recruit cadets and establish programs that help retain them until commissioning.
• If the ROO also teaches, he/she usually teaches the freshman/MSI class that he’s recruited, so he knows personally those cadets who drop or are likely to drop the program.
• Since the ROO is responsible for bringing cadets into the program—and keeping them in—one way you can be an asset is by providing referrals to him. In particular, you should be promoting the SMP to your USAR applicants and providing these referrals to the ROO. In many cases you can go one step further by ensuring you connect your AR enlistees to the college/university and ROTC program through ConAP.
• Ask the ROO for a list of the ROTC department’s feeder high schools. When you visit these high schools or conduct special events invite him along on and allow him to talk about the ROTC scholarship program and application process. If he declines or can’t make it, then offer to take along some ROTC RPI/PPI to hand out or leave in the guidance office when you visit. You can also offer to promote the ROTC program at partnership colleges, since the ROO usually doesn’t have the time to visit these campuses on a regular basis. This can be as easy as keeping his info racks full (or uncovering for him what the Guard covered up) or offering to place brochures out during a table setup.
• There are also many ways you can assist the ROO and ROTC Department with their retention efforts, such as offering to provide a TAIR Team, or battalion/USAREC assets to the campus in conjunction with major ROTC or campus activities and events. Obviously, this takes some lead time, but you can do that by coordinating and sharing calendars with the ROO.
• In addition to the ROO, you should also “network” with the ROTC operations NCO—usually an E6 or E7 and/or the SMI (Senior Military Instructor), who is typically an E8, and/or the Operations Officer, a captain. You can help these folks by offering to do PT with the handful of cadets they may have enrolled from a partnership campus in your recruiting area so the cadets don’t have to travel to the host campus; offer to conduct leadership labs or military science classes in the afternoons or evenings on the partnership campuses; offer to assist during FTX’s (there are never enough cadre), leadership labs, Ranger Challenge training, Color Guard training, or optional D&C sessions for cadets.
By getting to know your ROTC cadre and offering to help them with their mission recruiters can gain additional access to these campuses and students. For more information on the battalion’s ROTC host and partnership programs or working with ROTC cadre contact the Battalion ESS.