A Father’s Pride

I believe that I have mentioned my college-aged son is attending school within a couple of hours of me after having lived several states away during high school.  He is starting his sophomore year next week, and he is excited at the thought of the new year.

Last year as a freshman, he signed up with the Naval ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) at a college within the same city as his school.  He had to do it this way because his school did not offer it and he wants to join the Marine Corps following his college graduation.  This was the best way to achieve that goal provided he earned a scholarship before the end of his sophomore year.

He ended his freshman year both exhilarated and frustrated with his first-year experience.  He kicked ass academically and earned a 3.91 grade point average as well as an invitation to join the Honors College following his first semester.  His father could only dream about such heights when he wasn’t nursing a hangover during freshman year.  His experience with ROTC was positive as well, and he made great strides in his physical conditioning.  The frustration came from the fact that he still wasn’t quite up to the fitness levels he needed to reach to be eligible for a scholarship.

So, he went home for the summer determined to do that, and he made significant progress in that area, specifically with his pull-ups.  Coming back up here, he was ready to get to work and show his gains to his unit.  He was also given the honor of being a squad leader and oversees six other Midshipmen.

I received a phone call from him about an hour ago wanting some advice.  He said he was strongly considering transferring to the Army ROTC program that has a detachment at his own school.  It is still tied to the same crosstown institution as the NROTC program, but he would only be going over there once or twice a week as opposed to nearly every day.

He said that just three days into the new school year (his school and the other school are on slightly different academic calendars), he is very concerned that his physical fitness efforts have not paid off.  He is still near the back of the pack when it comes to the pull-ups, and worries that it will be this way throughout any military career he might have.

He admitted that he chose the Marine route because of the reputation of that branch of the service.  As the tagline goes, “The Few, The Proud, The Marines.”  It has a particular pull for him.  He’s chased after it with a determination I had never seen from him before, and it pains me a little bit to see him struggling with this.

But, his pragmatic side over this has really impressed me.  He knows that while the Army is no cake walk from the physical fitness side, it is a little bit easier than the Marines and he may stand a better chance of earning a scholarship this way.  The career opportunities in the Army are more plentiful than the Marines, too.  The Marines are the smallest branch of the Armed Forces and are very combat focused.  The Army (I think) is the largest.  And while they are combat focused, too, there are other options.  He has a real interest in the PsyOps area of things.

So, he is taking a serious look into possibly changing.  Now would be the time to do it, though.  If he waits much longer, he will be locked in, and that chance would not be available.  When he hung up the phone with me, he was going to go to the ROTC office on his campus to pick up some information and talk to someone if they were available.  He also has a meeting with the Marine Captain at his unit tomorrow, and he will ask some questions of him.

I’m proud of him for taking this seriously and really thinking things through.  I have had a bit of anxiety wondering what might happen if he got through this school year with no scholarship offer.  His ROTC days would be over, and he would need to figure something else out.  The anxiety still exists even if he goes the Army route because nothing is guaranteed, but he would likely stand a better chance there.

The kid he was in high school would have said “fuck it” a long time ago, and we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.  He has come a long way since then, and I am incredibly proud of him.  College can be such a time of adjustment.  Some don’t handle it all that well (I’m looking in the mirror at that statement), while others adapt and overcome.  I’m so pleased that he is among the latter category.  I know that no matter what he does, he will do it well.

That’s it for me today.  I was sitting here wondering what to write and had given up on the idea of writing anything today when his call came in.  I’m glad it did because it inspired me to write.  Anyway, I’ll be back later.  Thanks for stopping by.

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