UW-Eau Claire’s ROTC program: the secret key to college success

How a little more work can make college a whole lot easier

More stories from Kelsey O'Connor


I’m a cadet in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program at UW-Eau Claire.

The conversation following this statement usually contains many of the same questions; “Don’t you have to take a bunch of orders from someone?” “Don’t you get sick of waking up so early?” “Don’t you miss family gatherings on the weekends?”

The answers are yes, yes and yes. All of those aspects of ROTC are tough, but the experience has given me a future that I may never have been able to get on my own.

It provided the funds to allow me to go to college. It taught me the value of discipline, integrity and hard work ethic. It has helped me develop communication and leadership skills. Not to mention, I’ve met a lot of cool people along the way.

 ROTC is the answer: the well kept secret of college success. Few students even know about the benefits of joining and therefore pass up the opportunity to take advantage of them. Fear not, this article will provide all the juicy details.

When it comes to paying for college, many students are on their own. ROTC pays for your schooling. Plus, it provides a stipend to help with books and living expenses.

It is a great way for students to support themselves. Instead of trying to find time between classes to work and make money, students can focus on schoolwork. So in a way, ROTC pays their cadets to get good grades. You can’t beat that deal.

Still, “Army” sounds intimidating. It really isn’t, I promise. It’s not just a strict program full of rules, made only for tough athletic guys. No, anyone can participate.

ROTC works out or conduct physical training (PT) three mornings a week. They’re fun, engaging workouts that anyone can do. The other cadets in the program are very helpful and encouraging; they don’t yell in your face like a drill instructor. ROTC provides a perfect opportunity for students who aren’t in the best shape and want to work out in a friendly and supportive environment

ROTC pays not only for the cadets to get good grades, but also to stay in shape? Yes — there aren’t very many jobs that will do that.

However, there is more to ROTC than working out. It consists of classroom instruction and labs as well. Cadets receive college credits for all of this time. In the classes, they develop their leadership skills. This is useful not only in the Army, but in the regular job force.

In a world where everyone is looking to make themselves stand out among their peers, there is no better way to do so than to have the leadership skillset of a US Army Officer.

The final benefit of being a cadet in the ROTC program is the comradery. For first-year or transfer students trying to find their way around campus, the ROTC program is a great way to gain 20 mentors all at once.

Every cadet learns, develops and struggles together, which fosters a certain sense of togetherness. Eventually, everyone begins to feel like your brothers and sisters. We sometimes get sick of waking up early or having to deal with the workload, but when we’re all in it together, it’s a lot more fun.

I personally challenge anyone who’s interested in joining to stop in and talk to the cadets. Come to the cadet lounge in Schneider 209 at any time; there is always someone there to answer any questions. PT sessions are Monday, Wednesday or Friday 6:30-7:30 a.m. Students are welcome to attend this as well.

Whether a student is looking to make some friends, develop confidence and leadership skills, get in shape, challenge themselves or just find a good way to pay for college, Eau Claire’s ROTC program is a great place to start. Don’t pass up the opportunity to make college a little bit easier.