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NROTC vs. OCS for a low GPA college senior?

NHJK

New Member
Currently heading into my 1/C year at the only State Maritime Academy that does not have an NROTC Battalion or cross-town option. Having opted out of the SSMP (Formerly "MMR") program due to their shortage of Active Component billets, I will graduate in June 2018 with a B.S. in Marine Transportation and Merchant Marine 3rd Mate, Unlimited Tonnage - Oceans Unlimited license.

Past internships include two months aboard USNS Henry J. Kaiser (including RIMPAC '16), another two aboard a civilian tanker, and now USAID's Kenya/East Africa office here in Nairobi. I'm an active member of the Naval War College Foundation as well, but here's the tricky part- My GPA currently sits at 2.7. I know this is far below what is considered a competitive GPA. I do wish I worked harder these past few years and will certainly spend this coming year striving to get it up.

Its my dream to serve as a SWO, so I currently see two potential paths for myself- 1) Score high on the OAR, apply for OCS, and work on a graduate degree until I get in, or 2) As I will graduate one year short of the max age for NROTC- start a 2nd bachelors degree at an NROTC school and seek admission to the College Program.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Am I incorrect in thinking that I can still do NROTC? I am flexible on which community I shoot for, so would I be better off with something else, like SNA?

Thanks in advance for the advice. I apologize if I've posted this in the wrong place.
 

RecruitingGuru

Making Recruiting Great Again
It's too late for NROTC. Reach out to your local officer recruiter to submit an OCS package. You can apply within a year out from graduating. Based off your GPA only program you can apply for is Pilot/NFO.
 

NHJK

New Member
It's too late for NROTC. Reach out to your local officer recruiter to submit an OCS package. You can apply within a year out from graduating. Based off your GPA only program you can apply for is Pilot/NFO.
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.
 

Uncle Fester

Robot Pimp
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Doesn't the Coast Guard have a program for commissioning state maritime college grads?
 

NHJK

New Member
Doesn't the Coast Guard have a program for commissioning state maritime college grads?
Yes Sir, they have the MARGRAD program and I had considered a career as a Cutterman, but after spending time on both a Cutter and a Navy Oiler I decided against a Coast Guard career. Although I know life as a Military Sealift Command CIVMAR is far different from that of an actual SWO, interacting with our embarked SWO's and touring the other Navy ships at RIMPAC really motivated me to strive for a career as a Navy SWO. Additionally as a Merchant Mariner I can't upgrade my license to 2nd Mate or above without sailing on ships of 1600 tons or more, and not many Cutters are large enough to satisfy that requirement.

I've also had the privilege of growing up with a career 1665 Strategic Sealift Officer as a father. He's always regretted not going SWO but has loved every minute of his 30+ years as a Naval Officer.

I am determined to do whatever it takes to earn a spot in the Surface community, but of course simply becoming a Naval Officer is the top priority.

Thanks for your reply Sir.
 

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
Currently heading into my 1/C year at the only State Maritime Academy that does not have an NROTC Battalion or cross-town option.
Life sucks at Buzzard's Bay. Oddly enough I knew enough a lot of Army shavetails in the guard who commissioned (as infantry officers) out of a maritime academy.

I am surprised to hear there are so few options out of the SSMP. You would be (wait for the pun) a "shoe" in for SWO with your experience thus far.
 

NHJK

New Member
Life sucks at Buzzard's Bay. Oddly enough I knew enough a lot of Army shavetails in the guard who commissioned (as infantry officers) out of a maritime academy.

I am surprised to hear there are so few options out of the SSMP. You would be (wait for the pun) a "shoe" in for SWO with your experience thus far.
Yes Sir, can't complain though. It's been a fantastic experience, I just wasn't a stellar student through my first couple of years. It is hilarious though that we have a fantastic Army ROTC program but no Navy. I think the SSMP program is a fantastic opportunity and a great asset to the Navy, but I was told by one of the staff during my 3/C year "If Active SWO is the only thing you want to do, stay away from this program." Each year we generally have 10-15 seniors apply for SWO billets with only 1-3 selected. The rest are sent to the IRR or SELRES. I do have a friend who managed to slip into the FTS SWO program after a year in the IRR though.

I sure hope the Merchant Marine/MSC experience helps! Thanks. If nothing else, getting involved at the War College and sailing with MSC definitely helped me decide that this is what I'd like to do with my life.
 

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
Good luck to you young man. I occasionally teach as an adjunct professor in higher ed (but never at your place) and can tell you that it is not impossible to shift a 2.7 GPA with two good semesters. I have no idea what you need grade wise for SWO, but I would imagine that at-sea experience would be valuable to the Navy. Did you go deck or snipe?
 

RecruitingGuru

Making Recruiting Great Again
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.
Boards don't care what other certs/stuff you have. GPA/OAR score are about 75-80% of what's considered. With a 2.7 GPA, the more time you have in school the harder it is to improve it significantly. Even if you get a 4.0 your final semester you will probably finish with a 2.8-ish. Add in 30 semester credit hours with a Masters and you might be just under the 3.0 mark. While a 3.0 Masters degree will help, it still doesn't when you have folks with 3.3+ GPAs and higher.
 

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
Boards don't care what other certs/stuff you have. GPA/OAR score are about 75-80% of what's considered. With a 2.7 GPA, the more time you have in school the harder it is to improve it significantly. Even if you get a 4.0 your final semester you will probably finish with a 2.8-ish. Add in 30 semester credit hours with a Masters and you might be just under the 3.0 mark. While a 3.0 Masters degree will help, it still doesn't when you have folks with 3.3+ GPAs and higher.
First of all, @RUFiO181 is the pro and I am not, so listen to him over me. Moreover, I signed up a number of years ago when GPAs were, well, thought of differently. Things have changed.

Nevertheless, I find it hard to believe that a board of naval officers would be unimpressed with a candidate that has over year of sea time and qualifications that would take a SWO JO about 18 months to earn - especially since some of that time is on gray boats. Perhaps he Navy is doing fine right now and has no need for SWOs - I don't know, but your qualifications aren't just goofy undergraduate "stuff," it is serious training. I say apply, put your best self out there and see what happens.
 

RecruitingGuru

Making Recruiting Great Again
First of all, @RUFiO181 is the pro and I am not, so listen to him over me. Moreover, I signed up a number of years ago when GPAs were, well, thought of differently. Things have changed.

Nevertheless, I find it hard to believe that a board of naval officers would be unimpressed with a candidate that has over year of sea time and qualifications that would take a SWO JO about 18 months to earn - especially since some of that time is on gray boats. Perhaps he Navy is doing fine right now and has no need for SWOs - I don't know, but your qualifications aren't just goofy undergraduate "stuff," it is serious training. I say apply, put your best self out there and see what happens.
My justification and experience is the fact SWO and Pilot/NFO boards spend a day (0800-1600) reviewing roughly 150-300 applications. Doing the math, that gives the board no more than a minute or two to review the application. I have submitted applicants with high GPAs/test scores with minimal extracurricular activities listed. I also submitted those with low GPAs/test scores but stockpiled the application with extracurricular items. A majority of the time the boards selected the former over the latter.

Just my two cents.
 

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
My justification and experience is the fact SWO and Pilot/NFO boards spend a day (0800-1600) reviewing roughly 150-300 applications. Doing the math, that gives the board no more than a minute or two to review the application. I have submitted applicants with high GPAs/test scores with minimal extracurricular activities listed. I also submitted those with low GPAs/test scores but stockpiled the application with extracurricular items. A majority of the time the boards selected the former over the latter.

Just my two cents.
Worth more than two cents. As I noted, this is your work and the best I can offer is nearly antique advice.
 

Uncle Fester

Robot Pimp
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
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.
 

NHJK

New Member
Good luck to you young man. I occasionally teach as an adjunct professor in higher ed (but never at your place) and can tell you that it is not impossible to shift a 2.7 GPA with two good semesters. I have no idea what you need grade wise for SWO, but I would imagine that at-sea experience would be valuable to the Navy. Did you go deck or snipe?
First of all, @RUFiO181 is the pro and I am not, so listen to him over me. Moreover, I signed up a number of years ago when GPAs were, well, thought of differently. Things have changed.

Nevertheless, I find it hard to believe that a board of naval officers would be unimpressed with a candidate that has over year of sea time and qualifications that would take a SWO JO about 18 months to earn - especially since some of that time is on gray boats. Perhaps he Navy is doing fine right now and has no need for SWOs - I don't know, but your qualifications aren't just goofy undergraduate "stuff," it is serious training. I say apply, put your best self out there and see what happens.
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.
 

NHJK

New Member
My justification and experience is the fact SWO and Pilot/NFO boards spend a day (0800-1600) reviewing roughly 150-300 applications. Doing the math, that gives the board no more than a minute or two to review the application. I have submitted applicants with high GPAs/test scores with minimal extracurricular activities listed. I also submitted those with low GPAs/test scores but stockpiled the application with extracurricular items. A majority of the time the boards selected the former over the latter.
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?
 
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