January 08, 2015

A day in the life of an ROTC student

One of the major reasons I found my freshman year to be exciting and exhausting was my involvement in George Mason’s AROTC program. This rigorous program prepares college students for a future career as an officer in the United States Army. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in our military science lectures and our field labs, but I was also able to further determine my career goals because of this program. 

A day in the life

The AROTC program required cadets to wear their Army combat uniform twice a week to class and lab, and the Army physical fitness uniforms three times a week to physical training, or PT. As a scholarship cadet, I was required to go to every PT session, and I enjoyed it. My daily schedule usually consisted of staying up late, reading class material/studying and then waking up at 0515 (5:15 a.m.) to get ready for my chilly walk to the gym or track for PT. 

After PT, I felt energized. That energy carried me about halfway through my first lecture of the day, environmental science. The late nights and early mornings took a toll. I was battling fatigue through that lecture consistently in the beginning of the year. I knew that if I didn’t change my sleep/study routine my grades could suffer, so I simply allotted more study time throughout the day, and set an alarm on my phone at night that reminded me to catch up on my sleep. I felt happier and healthier with the minor adjustments of my time management. 

My year in review of AROTC

This program was almost everything I had expected, but not completely. I figured I would have an advantage over some cadets, coming from a military family, but I didn’t realize how different the teachings and cultures were of the Army. 

For example, the Marine Corps puts a huge emphasis on Drill and Ceremony (marching and formations) to instill discipline in Marines. From what I observed, the Army taught the basics of marching, and then moved right into other subjects. I personally like “drilling,” and the discipline that comes along with it, but that’s probably because I was raised around that culture. Upon other differences, I finally determined that AROTC actually wasn’t the path I wanted to take to achieving my goals. Yes, it was an easier path, but it wasn’t what I was truly happy with (even though it was a great experience).

Looking to the future

I was recently connected to a Marine Corps Officer Recruiting Officer (OSO) who has an office directly across the street from George Mason, and he was one of the driving forces in my decision to pursue becoming a Marine Officer. 

I hope to be accepted into the USMC Platoon Leaders Class (PLC program), where I will attend college with no duties during the school year, and attend Officers Candidate School (OCS) at Quantico during my sophomore and junior summers. This new plan makes me feel much more relieved time-management wise, and simply happier!  

To learn more about James and other scholars in the Earl Woods Scholarship Program, visit our program website