High school JROTC students after the Veteran’s Day parade


There are many benefits of joining JROTC in high school. Learn how joining could help you in your education and later in life.

No doubt about it, the program will make you smarter, stronger, and a better person, so let’s uncover some of the many benefits of JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps).








Benefits of JROTC in High School 

Perhaps, you are asking why someone would join JROTC if they are not planning to serve in the military, attend an ROTC university, or apply to one of the five military service academies?

On the other hand, maybe you really want to get into a military service academy like United States Military Academy (West Point) or United States Naval Academy (Annapolis) or an ROTC university like Embry-Riddle or Norwich, but wonder why JROTC in high school would be a benefit?

Well, let’s explore some general reasons why students should consider JROTC, regardless of their future plans following high school graduation. According to a number of reports, including a Rand report, there are both academic and non-academic reasons to consider it. There is actually a positive correlation between GPA and JROTC participation, typically better school attendance, and greater engagement in community service. Students who participate also have an opportunity to enhance college applications and benefit from scholarships.

Well, you might say none of this really applies to you; you are a great student, rarely miss school, plan to attend college, and your GPA is excellent. Perhaps, you already have a number of highlights for college applications and a financial plan in place.

But let’s say, for instance, you want to do more than just be a strong student. Your radar right now is focused on how to prepare and gain real-world life skills before you go to college, trade school, or enlist in the military. JROTC is ideal to do just that. Leadership training and character development are cornerstones of JROTC. The program helps teenagers gain character attributes, as well as leadership and life skills they can apply in their education, career, and life ahead. Cadets often report that JROTC helped them gain the  “grit”, determination, and the tenacity to hit their goals.

In fact, the Officer Candidate Course at military boarding schools is probably one of the coolest, most challenging experiences you could ever have in life. One military boarding school in California actually takes cadets to Camp Pendleton – “a profound experience for all, combining leadership with team building and adventure-type training.”

But beyond the physical rigors of OCC, candidates are evaluated on a number of objectives, including: leadership, discipline, written and oral exams, personal appearance, ability to lead drill, and responsibility.

So you can imagine that at military boarding schools, it is both an honor and a privilege to be selected for a top leadership position. It perhaps goes without saying that these top leaders have a number of advantages when they apply to prestigious colleges and universities, as well as the highly selective military service academies as listed below:

  • U.S. Military Academy (USMA), West Point.
  • U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), Annapolis
  • U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA)
  • U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
  • U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA)

As a school Head from Thacher once said when visiting the Army and Navy Academy for their WASC accreditation, “being a leader here is like running a corporation.” With most military boarding schools being in the 200-400 student body range, this is a formidable undertaking for a teenager to lead the Corps of Cadets.

This is why the lessons in leadership education training (LET) encompass all aspects of leadership, including: life habits, time management, strong values, and character development.

How Does JROTC Benefit You

Now, let’s take a more personal look at how JROTC can benefit you directly, how it inspires and shapes individuals, and the mentorship you will receive. By taking a personal inventory, perhaps you will gain a greater appreciation of 10 core benefits.

Do you want to accomplish any of the following?

  1. Learn how to lead and inspire others?
  2. Become more responsible and accountable for your actions?
  3. Develop self-discipline and perseverance to hit your goals?
  4. Improve communication and teamwork skills?
  5. Be more effective at decision-making and problem-solving?
  6. Learn time-management and how to structure and balance your day?
  7. Become a responsible citizen and serve others?
  8. Learn college financial planning skills?

If you responded yes to any of these questions, then JROTC could be a great option to consider. So now, your next question might be, how do I find a program?

What Kinds of Schools Offer the JROTC Program? 

Do your internet search for programs at your current school or consider one of the programs offered at military boarding schools. From the west coast on a beachfront campus at Army and Navy Academy (all boys) to the east coast at Admiral Farragut Academy (coeducational), you will find schools that integrate the program into campus life and LET (Leadership Education Training) classes directly into the curriculum.

You may be thinking boarding school is not for you; however, be truthful about the preparation you need to succeed after you graduate. Leaving home in high school can lead to greater independence, resilience, and responsibility. If you still feel this is not practical in your case, look at private day schools, as well as public schools and charter schools in your area. Contact them about the JROTC programs available or check out each branch of the military for more information. Also, keep in mind that many military schools offer both boarding and day options.

If you are concerned about the tuition at military boarding/day schools, remember that most private schools do offer financial aid. In fact, many families report the college planning services and scholarships that occur as a result of JROTC help offset or even pay for college tuition.

Keep in mind, military schools truly want to enroll mission-appropriate students. This could mean they are looking for students just like you. Maybe you’re not a stellar student, but you have been active in high school athletics, leadership roles, community service, or you have an interest in computer science, aviation or other programs offered at some military academies.

These are all advantages when applying to military academies for middle and high school. These schools, often referred to as academies, are selective, but they are primarily looking for students who have the potential to grow and develop into future leaders in business, the government, law, medicine, the arts, the military, government, and other fields.

In admissions, they will look at all aspects of who you are, not just academics. Military academies want to enroll well-rounded students with a high commitment to attend and a determination to improve their lives. If you do gain acceptance and enroll, you can expect your habits and grades to improve, high participation in fitness and sports, and development of your character and leadership skills. Most students attending military academies matriculate to public and private universities, ROTC universities, and the top military service academies.

Another question you might be asking is if military schools just serve families with a history of military service. This is a common misunderstanding, but there are typically only a small percentage of military families in the mix. Military schools are non-discriminatory and accept students from various backgrounds, experiences, races, cultures, and religions. They accept college-bound, as well as military minded students.

Another real plus is the diversity. Most U.S. boarding schools enroll both domestic and international students (between 10-35%). Military boarding schools are no exception. Students hail from states all over the U.S.A., but they also come from various places around the globe.

So look at all of your options before you enroll in a JROTC program. Allow yourself to think about what you want to accomplish in high school beyond just good grades and talk to your parents after you do your research.

JROTC, according to the DOD (Department of Defense), can open doors and a whole new world for you while you are in high school, so make sure you understand and maximize all of the benefits of JROTC. It will prepare you well for a very bright future.