Yale ROTC competes with academies

Current Yale ROTC cadets participate in a weekly meeting at Stone Ranch Military Reservation.
Current Yale ROTC cadets participate in a weekly meeting at Stone Ranch Military Reservation. Photo by Scott Stern.

Now that Yale has offered admission to students who applied to the University’s new Reserve Officers’ Training Corps units, ROTC administrators are competing with well-established ROTC programs and U.S. service academies to attract admitted cadets and midshipmen.

Lt. Molly Crabbe and Lt. Col. Theodore Weibel, naval science instructor and Air Force ROTC detachment commander respectively, said their programs are in contact with many students who have been accepted to Yale and awarded an ROTC scholarship, but the final size of the units remains in question. Weibel said he thinks admitted midshipmen and cadets will be attracted to Yale because of its strong academics and diverse social sciences, even though service academies offer more rigorous military training and resources.

“Most of the kids who have been admitted to Yale also competed for service academies, other Ivy Leagues and Ivy Plus schools,” Weibel said. “At this point in time, it’s about presenting them with the facts, helping guide them to the best decision possible, whether it’s Yale or not.”

Before students can become cadets or midshipmen at Yale, they will have to matriculate to the University and then accept the scholarship packages from the Air Force or Navy.

Crabbe said six students have accepted their Naval ROTC scholarships and matriculated to Yale, and 10 admitted students have received scholarship offers from the Navy but have yet to accept their packages. Still, she added that it is too early to estimate the eventual size of the ROTC units, since some potential midshipmen have not yet been offered scholarships.

Weibel declined to comment on how many admitted students have received scholarship offers from the Air Force. Still, he added that he expects the Air Force unit to “easily” reach its goal of 30 cadets, including those who enroll in the unit from colleges outside Yale.

“What the Air Force Academy teaches you to do, versus what ROTC teaches you to do, is fundamentally the same thing: We grow leaders,” Weibel said. “How the academies go about that and how we go about that is different.”

He added that academy and ROTC graduates will enter the service with the same ranking.

Matt Smith ’16 said he received acceptance letters to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis — as well as Duke and Notre Dame, both of which have a larger, well-established Naval ROTC units — but ultimately chose Yale and its new ROTC unit for the University’s academic and social culture.

“I think I would do better in a more traditional college setting and have the Navy part of it be one thing among many that I encounter — whereas at the Naval Academy you’re wearing a uniform every day until you go to bed at night,” Smith said.

Smith added he thought Yale was making more of a commitment to ROTC than other elite schools that have recently instituted military programs after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Mary Farner ’16, who is still waiting for her Naval ROTC scholarship to be approved, said she stopped considering other schools once she was accepted into Yale, but she is still deciding whether or not to enroll in ROTC.

“The biggest thing holding me back from doing ROTC is that five-year commitment [to the Navy upon graduation],” Farner said. “I definitely am the type of person who will want to graduate college and start down the path to my career.”

ROTC will also have programs at Cornell, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton by the fall of 2012.

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