By Sgt. 1st Class McQuail Price, Bourbonnais Center and Capt. Michael Schifferli, Homewood Company, USARECFebruary 11, 2014
CHICAGO, (Feb 11, 2014) -- The Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) allows a student to attend Army ROTC and serve in the U.S. Army Reserve or Army National Guard at the same time. It gives a student an opportunity for additional training and experience. Cadets serve as officer trainees in the Reserve or National Guard while completing college. You can earn Reserve/Guard pay and benefits in addition to your Army ROTC allowances.
How we sell it to high school seniors: During the 1st quarter of the fiscal year, while conducting high school presentations, we find high school seniors with ACT scores greater than 19 and grade point averages (GPAs) higher than 2.5. During these presentations, we identify ourselves as career counselors who can provide advice on college admissions, financial aid and acquiring scholarships even if a student isn?'t interested in joining the Army.
In order to be able to make this claim, it is important that the recruiter is knowledgeable about and able to assist anyone who comes into the recruiting center regarding Pell Grants, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and scholarship applications.
When students come into the recruiting center for college assistance, we provide the services previously referenced, and we encourage students to bring their parents. We help the families fill out college scholarship and college applications. However, we also encourage them to fill out ROTC applications with us that day in the office as well. This usually sparks positive questions about ROTC and how it can help pay for college.
We outline the benefits of ROTC with the family, talk about secondary schools with ROTC programs, and coordinate school visits to the ROTC programs on the family's behalf. The focus is not on using ROTC or the Army Reserves to pay for school, it is merely mentioned.
The college visit is the most important day in the sequence because the student and his or her family will get a tour of the campus and meet with admissions. Because the student would have already previously filled out an application at our office, an admissions representative will let the student know then whether or not he or she has been accepted. If the student has been accepted he or she will meet with the financial aid officer who will provide them with a student aid report (SAR) that will tell the student what his or her expected family contribution will be. This is when we highlight that Army Reserves and ROTC benefits could help close the financial gap.
In order to accomplish all of this in one day, the relationship the recruiting team has developed with all of these departments must be strong.
On the same day as the campus tour, or at a later date, if the family wants to mull over the SMP option, we schedule an interview with the professor of military science (PMS) of the ROTC program.
We currently experience a 60-70 percent success rate at this step and those accepted receive a memorandum of acceptance from the PMS, who indicates that the student will arrive to campus as a participating freshman cadet who can then contract their sophomore year in the program. If accepted by the PMS, the senior will have to meet with the Army Reserve unit for a 09R (cadet) interview and will receive a "paragraph and line memo," putting them into an E-5 slot.
Lastly, a letter of enrollment from the college is required to complete the SMP packet. Once complete, the student attends BCT in the summer following their senior year and begins college in the fall.
In addition to targeting potential prospects through high school classroom presentations, we are also targeting our JROTC programs. We take the students and their instructors to a local four-year school with an ROTC program and allow the school to preach the benefits of the SMP.
This demographic is already composed of young people who want to attend West Point, the Citadel, the Virginia Military Institute or other commissioning sources. Depending on the desires and capabilities the student, selling the SMP in this format makes the program more accessible and helps us directly connect the student to the potential program they could join.