There are many benefits of joining JROTC in high school. The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program will make you smarter and more physically fit, help you build good character, and could lead to college scholarships and other leadership opportunities.

In this article, we will address what JROTC is all about, 10 benefits of JROTC, and some information about finding high school JROTC programs near you.

What is JROTC?

According to the U.S. Department of Defense: “The Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program prepares high school students for leadership roles while making them aware of their rights, responsibilities and privileges as American citizens…JROTC teaches young men and women the kind of self-discipline, self-confidence, and leadership skills that can help them successfully meet the challenges of adulthood.“

Is JROTC worth it?

The program helps teenagers gain character attributes, leadership, and life skills they can apply in their education, career, and life. Cadets often report that JROTC helped them gain the “grit,” determination, and tenacity to hit their goals.

What is the JROTC mission?

To motivate young people to be better citizens.” – U.S. Army JROTC

10 Benefits of Joining JROTC

Now, let’s turn to the 10 benefits of JROTC so you can understand why thousands of students take JROTC Leadership Education Training (LET) classes in high school. According to the Rand Corporation, a research organization – “The Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) is the largest youth training and development program in the United States, with more than 500,000 participating students. All five service branches maintain JROTC programs, operated through cooperative agreements between the services and high schools.”

After graduating from high school, whether you’re planning to go to a public or private college or university, enlist in the military, or apply to one of the five service academies, you may find some compelling reasons to participate in JROTC programs and/or JROTC clubs in high school.

Additionally, it is essential to note that being in JROTC does not obligate you in any way to enlist in the military. The junior-level program for high school students is about creating good citizens, whereas ROTC at the university level does have specific military service requirements.

  • Improve your physical fitness JROTC in high school involves physically demanding challenges. For instance, The JROTC National Raider Challenge is the ultimate adventure sport and includes a 5K run, one-rope-bridge, obstacle courses, and much more. If you attend a military school, you will also do physical challenges as part of the leadership selection process and play sports during each season.
  • Elevate your grades and GPA – According to the Army JROTC – “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.”
  • Give back through service learning – Whether you want to be of service to your school, local community, or your nation, JROTC will involve you in various service learning projects. It should come as no surprise that cadets involved in JROTC have been shown to have greater engagement in community service. Projects may include Red Cross and food bank drives, recycling and environmental projects, and programs for the elderly or children.
  • Enjoy adventure and challenge – Hiking, cycling, fishing, camping, and even horseback riding can be part of the adventures through JROTC, especially at military boarding schools. In addition, some military schools offer activities and classes tied to STEM and STEAM subjects, and some military academies for grades 7-12 even have maker spaces, student enrichment centers, and aviation/drone programs.
  • Receive leadership training – JROTC provides stellar leadership training and other real-world skills often modeled after West Point, Annapolis, and the other service academies. To accelerate your leadership skills, you can try out for top roles such as Battalion Commander, Battalion Executive Officer, and Battalion Command Sergeant Major.
  • Gain admission to top universities  – Being in JROTC gives you a competitive advantage when you apply to top universities, as well as to the highly selective military service academies: 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).
  • Receive university scholarships – If you participate in a JROTC program, you become eligible for full-ride ROTC scholarships and paid positions at the five military service academies. If you are seeking college scholarships, this is a great way to pay for your college education. However, unlike the JROTC program, ROTC universities (e.g., Cornell, Norwich, VMI, NMMI, Texas A&M, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University) and the military service academies do have a service requirement.
  • Develop good character As noted by the U.S. News – “Leadership, character, and community service are the core tenets of high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs, or JROTC.” Army JROTC values include loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
  • Set goals and aim high – In JROTC, you’re involved in doing things to acquire self-knowledge so you can set goals for school, college, career, and life. Abraham Lincoln Senior High School in Los Angeles emphasizes setting JROTC SMART Goals; goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.”
  • Time management and prioritization – Cadets in JROTC are trained and quickly learn how to manage their time effectively, coordinate complex projects, and establish daily priorities. These are life skills that will serve you for a lifetime.

High School JROTC Programs

1. Public Schools – “Many U.S. high schools offer JROTC programs run by various military branches. These programs last 2-4 years. You may be eligible to enroll in your school’s JROTC program starting in 9th grade.”-

Some public schools and school districts offer JROTC in their respective counties. Search under “public schools with JROTC.” For instance, in Fairfax County, a suburb of Washington D.C., there are eight public schools with JROTC programs.

On the west coast in California, depending on your location, if you search for “JROTC schools near me,” you might see some of the following: San Francisco JROTC, John C. Fremont High School (Los Angeles), Orange High School (Orange), Fallbrook Union High School, Oceanside High School, and John F. Kennedy High School (Sacramento). You can also search for NJROTC or JROTC middle schools (some schools do offer the program to middle schoolers).

2. Charter Schools – If you are enrolled at a charter school or intend to apply, make sure they offer a JROTC program.

For instance, in California, you will find a fairly short list if you search “charter schools with JROTC in California.” Here are some schools on the list: California Pacific Charter Schools (Costa Mesa), and Charter University Prep (El Dorado). Forest Ranch Charter School (Forest Ranch), University Preparation Charter School (Camarillo), Richmond Charter Academy (Richmond), and Learning for Life Charter School (Marina).

3. Military Schools – Military schools in the U.S. integrate the JROTC program into all aspects of campus life and offer LET (Leadership Education Training) classes as part of the required curriculum.

Top military schools listed on Boarding School Review include, but are not limited to, the following: Army and Navy Academy (CA), Marine Military Academy (TX), Riverside Academy (GA), New York Military Academy (NY), St. John’s Northwestern Academies (VA), Camden (SC) and Robert Land Academy (Canada).

How to Apply for JROTC

1 Military Schools – If you attend a military school, you will automatically be enrolled in classes. In most cases, JROTC is a curriculum requirement at military boarding schools, and some even offer Junior ROTC (JROTC) beginning in middle school.

2. Public or Charter Schools – “To join JROTC, look for it as an elective in your school’s class offerings. High schools without their own JROTC program often have reciprocity agreements with nearby schools that do offer JROTC, so students at a school without a program will be allowed to participate in a nearby school’s program.” – Accredited Schools Online

JROTC can open doors to a whole new world and future for you. So make sure you understand what JROTC is all about, how to maximize the benefits of JROTC, find the best high school programs that match your interests, and know how to apply for JROTC.

Regardless of your post-graduation plans, JROTC will prepare you well for life beyond high school. 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.

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