So what is being an Air Force ROTC cadet like?
Being a member of Air Force ROTC will immediately connect you with great people who care about you, making this big university seem a little smaller. Here, you’ll be with other motivated students and staff who share your goals and who want to help you achieve them. Although ROTC only requires cadets to participate five hours per week, most students become much more involved in the many extracurricular activities and teams in ROTC.
There are many activities you can choose from to include aircraft orientation flights, color guards at home football games, Air Force Base visits, Honor Guard, Arnold Air Society a national community service organization, Civil Air Patrol aviation, Wild Blue Yonders, intramural sports teams, etc. During the summer, some of our cadets volunteer and are selected to ride in Air Force fighter jets, sky dive at the USAF Free-fall School, observe active duty operations, learn foreign languages abroad, participate in internships with three-letter agencies in Washington DC, and much, much more. We recognize that you are a college student first, and we encourage you to take advantage of the many opportunities to learn, grow and contribute while here at Penn State. Our students are also involved in campus and local area groups such as Blue Band, Orchestra, Navigators, Volunteer Firemen, various honor societies, and community service organizations.
Whether you complete the three or four year program, Penn State Air Force ROTC offers the same commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force as cadets who attend the military academies (West Point, Air Force/Naval Academy). We also offer the same career opportunities. A notable difference, however, is that Penn State Air Force ROTC cadets get the college experience. For example, our cadets attend football games in the #1 student section in all of college football, join university clubs, and enjoy many other opportunities that are unique to Penn State and Air Force ROTC.
Another notable difference is that ROTC is an elected college program incorporated into your normal college experience. Cadets are only required to participate a minimum of 5 or 6 hours per week. This includes one or two hours of class per week, two hours of military/leadership training, and two hours of physical fitness training. You will have the opportunity to compete for many exciting travel and training opportunities around the United States and overseas. Cadets will attend a three-week intensive Field Training at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL during the summer between your sophomore and junior year.
Upon graduation and successful completion of the program, you will be commissioned a second lieutenant and have a four-year active duty service commitment (longer for a few specialty career fields such as pilot, navigator, and air battle manager). Although some graduates choose to serve only four years, many go on to serve 20to 30+ year careers. These currently include generals, and dozens of colonels who are graduates from Penn State ROTC, now serving in key leadership positions around the world.
Academics are our first priority. Our students come from all over the United States and major in most offered disciplines including Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Science, Japanese, Russian, German, Nursing, Criminal Justice, Political Science, Information Sciences and Technology, Meteorology, Music Education, and many more. We offer tutoring committees in math, physics and chemistry. We have a high-speed computer lab, offer a quiet place to study, and hold weekly study sessions. Our cadets typically earn GPAs well above 3.0.
Physical fitness is also an important element of becoming an officer. Our fitness test consists of running 1.5 miles, push ups and sit ups. Our cadets lead twice weekly highly intense Physical Training (PT) sessions. We have many success stories of cadets who have come to us totally out of shape, and within 6 months can pass our PT test. Our best success story is of a cadet who lost 70 pounds and went on to score a perfect 100 points on our PT test! Of course, results vary according to your personal effort and how much you do on your own as well, but almost everyone gets in better shape and sets personal fitness records. Our standards are high, but don’t worry if you are not in shape, we will help you get there.
Our goal is to produce the best Air Force officers in the world. They will lead tomorrow’s young airmen in executing and supporting our country’s operations in air, space and cyberspace. To do so, our students learn to lead through hands-on experiences including small group exercises, deployment scenarios, tactical movements, airpower exercises, and much more.Air Force ROTC combines traditional undergraduate education with military instruction that will prepare you to tackle the leadership challenges awaiting the Air Force in the 21st century. Our emphasis is to produce proactive leaders who know how to achieve their mission while simultaneously taking care of their people.