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What is the Junior ROTC?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2018
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The Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (Junior ROTC or JROTC) is a program in the United States allowing high school students to participate in an elective offering leadership education and other benefits. It is federally funded and each branch of the military maintains Junior ROTC programs. Not all schools offer this elective and in some districts, this program has been specifically banned in response to parental concerns.

While not explicitly designed to push people into military service, Junior ROTC participation certainly prepares students for service. People who complete two to four years of the program are eligible for higher ranks if they choose to enlist, an incentive some students take advantage of, and Junior ROTC students are considered as candidates for service academies and college ROTC programs. Participation in Junior ROTC does not come with a service commitment or obligation, and around 30 to 50% of attendees choose to go on to military service.

Students in Junior ROTC programs must have good academic records, with no history of suspension or behavior problems. In their elective classes, they will learn about opportunities in the military, participate in leadership and team-building exercises, and explore topics like military policy. There is usually a community service element and students also have an opportunity to attend conferences and workshops. Larger programs tend to offer more opportunities, especially in schools near military installations where students can meet active duty members of the military and tour public areas.

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Each Junior ROTC program is organized like a military unit. Participants are issued uniforms and must adhere to a code of honor and behavioral standards. People can be expelled from the program for failing to comply with the requirements. Students may have an opportunity to learn various skills relevant to military service, including how to care for and use weapons, how to sail, in the case of Navy Junior ROTC participants, and so forth.

After graduating, participants in a JROTC program can choose to pursue military service by enlisting, applying to a service academy, or applying for admission into a college ROTC program. In college ROTC, students take classes to prepare them for service as officers while earning undergraduate degrees. Participants can also opt not to pursue a career with the military. Participation in this elective can be a valuable inclusion on a college application, as students in the program are generally deemed to be good citizens with strong moral and ethical codes, and this may be appealing to admissions committees.

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