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NROTC vs. OCS for a low GPA college senior?

NHJK

Member
I know nothing about the MARGRAD program, except that there is such an animal; one of my HS classmates went that route after King's Point and a couple of years working in the commercial maritime world (and hating it). However, if your goal is to be a seagoing officer, I would not discount it, even if it's not your first choice. To be honest, I've seen a lot more Navy officers trying to get into the CG, than the other way 'round. You're better off getting into uniform and trying for an IST down the road (if your chosen service doesn't ring your chimes), than banging your head against the Navy OCS wall while you inch closer to aging out of any commissioning program. Just my $0.02.
You are definitely right Sir. I'd rather be an Officer of some kind than not at all. A good friend of mine who went through MARGRAD last year is now on his way to USS O'KANE on an inter-service exchange program. As a Mariner I could always sail with the Sealift Command as well. Doing RIMPAC with them was a blast.
 

Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
Thanks Sir, I will definitely give it a shot. I'm a Deckie, had trouble with the basic calc/physics my first couple years but once I pulled it together I managed to swing A's and B's in classes that took my friends more than one try to just pass. Of course now it's a bit late, but as I said I'm prepared to do whatever it takes!

A common problem for the Merchant Marine and Navy SSO community is that folks just don't know that we spend four years studying and training to run a ship. A 3/M is OOD qualified the day they walk onto the job, same for a 3/AE in the engine room. Luckily things do seem to be looking up as there are more and more underway TDY/ADT opportunities for SSO's coming out each year.
Per the USN you're not OOD qualled the minute you walk onboard. You'd still be expected to do the USN's OOD syllabus.
 

NHJK

Member
Per the USN you're not OOD qualled the minute you walk onboard. You'd still be expected to do the USN's OOD syllabus.

Sorry, I didn't specify. I meant that after we pass license exams and have our degrees in hand, we are the Merchant Marine equivalent of OOD qualified. We call it OICNW- OIC of a Navigation Watch. The day you walk onto a merchant ship (MSC included), you're expected to be fully prepared to run bow/stern mooring ops or stand a bridge watch on your own. Every class that we take is part of a rigorous USCG administered curriculum and qual process that prepares us for that.

Of course if any of us choose to go Navy we follow the same OOD qual process as anyone else, but we start off pretty well prepared.
 

RecruitingGuru

Making Recruiting Great Again
Definitely makes sense Sir. Is Pilot/NFO a community that doesn't consider your package if that isn't your first choice? And are lat transfers from SNA/Pilot to SWO unheard of?
1. See previous remarks about talking to an Officer Recruiter.

2. For the SNA/Pilot lateral transfer, I've only seen one redesignate from Pilot to SWO and that was due to a medical circumstance. Otherwise, the soonest you will be able to lateral transfer is when you've completed your service obligation (8 years pilot, 6 NFO) and at that point it's too late to lateral transfer as a SWO.
 

NHJK

Member
1. See previous remarks about talking to an Officer Recruiter.

2. For the SNA/Pilot lateral transfer, I've only seen one redesignate from Pilot to SWO and that was due to a medical circumstance. Otherwise, the soonest you will be able to lateral transfer is when you've completed your service obligation (8 years pilot, 6 NFO) and at that point it's too late to lateral transfer as a SWO.
Understood Sir. Well I'll apply in January when fall grades come out and see how it goes. Close friend of mine and fellow Deck Cadet got selected for SWO last month with a 2.9 GPA, 55 OAR and zero extracurriculars or leadership experience. Obviously not the norm, but makes me pretty confident that I'll have a good shot if I can get my GPA in the same range.

Thanks for your help.
 

HAL Pilot

Well-Known Member
None
Contributor
1. See previous remarks about talking to an Officer Recruiter.

2. For the SNA/Pilot lateral transfer, I've only seen one redesignate from Pilot to SWO and that was due to a medical circumstance. Otherwise, the soonest you will be able to lateral transfer is when you've completed your service obligation (8 years pilot, 6 NFO) and at that point it's too late to lateral transfer as a SWO.
Or as soon as he DORs from flight school.

I know....
 

Cgunner91

Supply Corps
Roger, thank you.

Would maintaining a competitive GPA in a masters program help outweigh the poor undergrad grades? Although Pilot/NFO wouldn't be the end of the world, I'd be happy to spend a year or more in grad school in order to make the cut for SWO. I know the American Merchant Marine is a pretty small and unknown community, but there's no chance that being a licensed Deck Officer would help on a SWO package?

Again I appreciate the advice.
I have still have not received a FINSEL, but I was pro-recced "Y" with a 2.51 GPA as an NFO for OCS. I feel that extra-curricular activities and voluntary leadership experience can help you stand out at the board, as Uncle Fester mentioned earlier. Also, as my recruiter mentioned, studying hard for the ASTB and getting decent scores can counter-balance a good GPA. Explaining WHY your GPA was low in your applicant statement can probably go a long way. I'm sure I wrote 2 pages worth of material in there. Having a high GPA at your last semester in college can help. I took 21 credit hours of classes this last semester before I graduated and ended up with a 3.2 for that semester. If you have gradually or significantly improved over time that would be good to show. I do not know about the differences between SWO and the aviation side in terms of GPA, but this is just my two cents.
 
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Duc'-guy25

Well-Known Member
pilot
Here's what you need to do dude.

Work your butt off senior year, get your GPA up as much as you can. Apply in the fall for the Third Mate gig at MSC because you can always back out of it. If you want, submit a SWO package as well senior year if you can get your GPA up to the 2.8. It is highly plausible to go from 2.7 to 2.8 your senior year, Shiphandling 2 is really the only class that could trip you up on that. Just make sure you STUDY for the test at the beginning of each class. People tend to get focused on the mission planning and forget to look over the COLREGS (lights and sounds!), the 10 million "rules of thumb" for ship driving, and some generic basic seamanship stuff. People overlook Sea Term but rock that out, it can actually boost your GPA significantly (it did mine every year). Get A's in everything in the spring, there isn't a single hard class that semester since you're studying for your license. Load up on those PONY's for ship, meteorology, and cargo/containerization.

Then go do a tour with MSC, its a good point on the application for when you apply for OCS. The Boston OR is pretty familiar with your experiences and will work with you. While your at sea, study for the ASTB so you can get and outstanding OAR score. Every time you get off that 08-1200 junior third mate watch, go to the O-6 deck lounge and study for an hour. Everyday. Thats what I did and when I ended up taking the ASTB I walked out with a 72 on the OAR. Find some nerdy engineer to help you out with the more complex math and physics stuff in there because that's where you'll make your money for grades.

When you come home see if you still want to be a SWO, and go take the ASTB. I will caution you to make sure you really know what you're getting into in the SWO community. After sailing on your license, the way the surface community does stuff will have you in your space on a cruiser bashing your head against a bulkhead asking yourself "why, just why." (thats from experience). However (comma) if you really hate it, its a pretty minimal commitment and I will vouch three years goes by pretty quick. If you don't know anyone that has gone SWO from Mass Maritime as a deckie, shoot me a PM and I'll get someone in touch with you.

Finally, just apply for SNA. Flying beats the shit out of SWO or deck officer. If you decide you want to fly for the Marines, come talk to me.
 

Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
Sorry, I didn't specify. I meant that after we pass license exams and have our degrees in hand, we are the Merchant Marine equivalent of OOD qualified. We call it OICNW- OIC of a Navigation Watch. The day you walk onto a merchant ship (MSC included), you're expected to be fully prepared to run bow/stern mooring ops or stand a bridge watch on your own. Every class that we take is part of a rigorous USCG administered curriculum and qual process that prepares us for that.

Of course if any of us choose to go Navy we follow the same OOD qual process as anyone else, but we start off pretty well prepared.
You'd obviously start off as a better ship handler but the USN way of doing things may be frustrating to someone like yourself as @Duc'-guy25 has mentioned. Second @Duc'-guy25 's recommendation to get in touch with merchies who have gone SWO to get their impressions. Bottom line is that the way USN runs a ship is very different from how merchies do it.
 

NavyOffRec

Well-Known Member
I have still have not received a FINSEL, but I was pro-recced "Y" with a 2.51 GPA as an NFO for OCS. I feel that extra-curricular activities and voluntary leadership experience can help you stand out at the board, as Uncle Fester mentioned earlier. Also, as my recruiter mentioned, studying hard for the ASTB and getting decent scores can counter-balance a good GPA. Explaining WHY your GPA was low in your applicant statement can probably go a long way. I'm sure I wrote 2 pages worth of material in there. Having a high GPA at your last semester in college can help. I took 21 credit hours of classes this last semester before I graduated and ended up with a 3.2 for that semester. If you have gradually or significantly improved over time that would be good to show. I do not know about the differences between SWO and the aviation side in terms of GPA, but this is just my two cents.
They review all applications in one day (8 hours) and that is hundreds of applications, they spend maybe a minute or two on each application, not much time to do more than review the basics.
 
Just out of curiosity, why don't you want to sail on your license? I couldn't imagine having to pay to go through all the training and testing for the license only to not use it. Our graduating class had 19 commission active duty, mostly SWO and I don't think anyone had that stellar of a GPA. Honestly your GPA doesn't sound terrible, especially considering you had a nonconventional degree and its a BS. It would be one thing if you were graduating from Penn State with a degree in psychology, but you've had a pretty intense course load to get a degree in maritime transportation. I say study really hard for the ASTB and use that to get into OCS. Don't give up or get discouraged. I didn't think I would get a pilot spot with my GPA but here I am.

Also agree to be careful if/when you get out into the fleet as a SWO with a license. You will be a lot better prepared, but there is still a ton to learn. I sailed as a cadet on a Coast Guard ship and one of the new ensigns struggled with qualifying for OOD because he was just so dead set on what he learned in school. Don't be that guy

Good luck!
 
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