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Frequently Asked Questions

Is taking ROTC the same as “joining up” for the military?

Not at all. ROTC is a series of elective college courses, which you can begin as a freshman with no military obligation. It is similar to taking any other class on campus.

Do I have to go to Basic Training to do ROTC?

No, absolutely not. No prior military training or experience is required. Basic training is not part of the ROTC program. If you desire to go to Basic Training, contact your local National Guard or Reserve Recruiter.

What do ROTC students do?

Mainly they are just like any other college student. They earn an academic degree and learn to think and reason at the college level. Along the way they learn leadership skills and have experiences that will set them apart from their peers. These skills and experiences will qualify them to become officers in the US Army. Upon graduation, they are placed in job positions as Second Lieutenants, either on Active duty or in the Reserves or National Guard.

How much time does ROTC take?

Not a great deal for freshman and sophomores, but a little more later on for juniors and seniors. For freshmen, ROTC meets for one hour a week for class, and for sophomores ROTC meets two hours a week for class. For juniors and seniors, class is three hours a week with physical training (PT) three days a week and lab two additional hours a week.

When does my participation in ROTC begin to incur a military service obligation?

For most students, it’s the start of your junior year of college. This is when you decide whether you want to pursue a commission in the Army. At this time you would sign a contract with the US Army. This applies to two-year scholarship students and all non-scholarship students in the program. A three-year or four-year scholarship winner becomes obligated at the start of their sophomore year.

Will ROTC conflict with my other classes?

No. Military Science classes are scheduled just like any other class. We have a planned curriculum to accommodate the ROTC students at USC Upstate, Converse, Limestone, and SMC. It’s not to say that it won’t happen, but you will find us flexible with regard to working through conflicts. View USC Upstate's fall 2008 course schedule here.

Can I “Major” in ROTC?

No. ROTC is taken for elective credit. ROTC students choose a major in any other course of study they are interested in and qualify for. You can, however, get a credit for taking the combatives course SPED 125.

Can I participate in other activities while taking ROTC?

Yes! In fact, we highly encourage students to participate in other activities. We subscribe to the total person concept and want well-rounded individuals to lead the Army and the nation in the Twenty First Century. Participating in other activities is one of the criteria favorably looked upon when a student applies for an ROTC scholarship. Clubs, athletics, and volunteer activities are all helpful endeavors in developing your leadership skills.

How many women are in ROTC?

In 2001, the majority of the cadets commissioned in the Southern Guards Battalion were female. Approximately 14 percent of the officers in the Army today are women. ROTC is an equal opportunity program. We encourage participation without regard to gender, race, origin, or religious affiliation. Any USC Upstate, Wofford, Converse, Limestone, or SMC student is free to try ROTC as an elective course offering. NOTE: Certain eligibility requirements, including citizenship, age restrictions, medical qualifications, etc. must be met in order to earn a commission.

Do I have to wear a military uniform while taking ROTC?

No. You may wear civilian attire to class. However, during lab time uniforms are required. You will be issued the uniforms and equipment you need free of charge.

Does a huge drill sergeant really shave my head when I join ROTC?

Here is the deal with regard to hair. We do not cut anyone’s hair! You must, however, meet the Army appearance standards. That may mean for males shorter hair than you currently have, but we do not shave your hair. Females must wear their hair up off the collar of the uniform they are wearing.

What do ROTC students do?

Mainly, they are just like any other college student. They earn an academic degree and learn to think and reason at the college level. Along the way they will learn leadership skills and have experiences that will set them apart from their peers. These skills and experiences will qualify them to become officers in the Us Army. Upon graduation, they are placed in job positions as Second Lieutenants, either on Active duty or in the Army Reserve or National Guard.

Do ROTC students really have to run every morning at 0500? (That’s 5:00 a.m. for most of you!)

No. Our juniors and seniors along with all scholarship students are required to partake in Physical Training (PT) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. For the rest, it is considered an optional activity. We strongly encourage a healthy lifestyle that incorporates a regular fitness program. Incidentally, we do more than run. We play sports, lift weights, do obstacle courses, and many other activities that are fun and get us into good physical condition.

I heard that ROTC students are always running around in the woods. Is that true?

Not entirely. We do a good portion of our training outdoors. However, we do enjoy adventure activities such as rappelling, orienteering, and paintball. If these types of events appeal to you, then register for a class. You have nothing to lose!

Do we take field trips in ROTC?

Yes, once a semester usually. These trips are called Field Training Exercises or FTXs for short. These trips are designed for ROTC students in order for them to enhance their leadership skills in a field environment. These trips include training on real Army bases, rides on helicopters, visits to historic battlefields, etc.

Do I have any summer training requirements in ROTC?

Yes, during the summer between your junior and senior years of college (normally), all ROTC students will attend the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC). This 5-week leadership experience is the culmination of your training thus far, and goes a long way in determining your future as an officer. There are many other summer training opportunities that are entirely optional, such as the Army Airborne or Air Assault schools, the Northern Warfare training camp, or Cadet Troop Leadership Training (CTLT). Some of these training opportunities may also be scheduled during interim.

What is the time I owe the Army if I complete ROTC and become an officer?

Eight years, but before you leave skid marks running away, let’s break it down so it does not appear quite so daunting! These eight years can be fulfilled in a number of ways: three or four years (depending on scholarship status) on active duty and then the remainder in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). Essentially the IRR is a non-active status with no drill requirements. The other option is six years in a drill unit of the Reserves or National Guard, meeting one weekend monthly and two weeks each summer, followed by two years in the IRR. This obligation is federally mandated and is the same obligation across all services.