As a member of the Naval ROTC program at UNC-Chapel Hill, you will experience things that some other college students only dream of doing. You will be training to become a leader of Sailors and Marines, a duty and responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. While your training and education are the primary focus of NROTC, remember that this is UNC-CH, not the Naval Academy; you will have a life beyond the U.S. Navy during your four years here.
Life as a midshipman is a great thing, full of exciting and new challenges. NROTC midshipmen are given the privilege of blending student and military life, often using one as an escape from the other. Your fellow midshipmen and active duty staff will support you in the transition from civilian to midshipman life every step of the way. When joining this program, you instantly are given a group of people that genuinely care about your life and your well being. Friendships forged here last a lifetime and you will have a stronger bond with those in the program than most college students have with others.
First, let’s cover the basic expectations of you as a midshipman:
All midshipmen are required to wear a uniform once a week. You are not required to pay for any of your initial uniform items; the U.S. Navy will supply them all to you. You will wear it from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Thursday, which is the same day as the mandatory NROTC Lab. This lab is where the majority of your military training will take place. Generally, this lab is Thursday from 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.
You will be taught how to properly iron and wear your uniform, shine your shoes, wear a cover and groom yourself. There are specific regulations that govern hair styles and what you can and cannot wear in uniform. This will most likely require incoming freshmen males to get a haircut, however U.S. Navy regulations allow for a variety of different hair styles.
Physical fitness is a requirement for every midshipman. As an future officer, you must set the example for your Sailors and Marines and it begins with maintaining a sound and fit body. Hour-long physical training sessions are held in the morning at 6 a.m. and led by fellow midshipmen. Workouts include calisthenics, running and swimming.
You will be tested three times a semester on your physical fitness, which consists of a push-up test (or pull-up test for Marine-option midshipmen), sit up test, and a 1.5 mile run (or a 3 mile run for Marine-option midshipmen). You will be required to workout with NROTC twice a week. Physical fitness standards vary depending on whether you are a Navy or Marine option.
It is a requirement for all Navy and Marine officers to have a four-year college degree before they can commission. As a midshipman, your primary goal is that of every other student on campus: to graduate. Majors in NROTC must fall within the 3-tier system, which can be found on the NROTC application website.
However, there are additional requirements placed on midshipmen. All midshipmen will take specific naval science courses, relevant history classes and technical classes. However, the exact courses required depends on the contract the midshipman is under. For example, Navy-option midshipmen on scholarship are required to take a year of calculus and a year of calculus-based physics in addition to their regular course of study.
Do not think that all these extra classes do not count for anything at UNC-CH. Many required non-naval science classes will complete your general education requirements while the naval science classes you must take count as electives. Many midshipmen are able to combine general education and NROTC requirements to reduce the number of classes they will have taken by graduation.
All midshipmen are expected to maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA each semester and overall. Academics are considered the number one priority for midshipmen and all are encouraged to take advantage of as many academic resources as possible, such as seeking out tutoring, visiting professors’ office hours, attending study hall, attending the various Learning Centers provided by the University, and developing excellent time-management skills.
When a student becomes a midshipman, they swear into the U.S. Navy Reserve and are no longer a civilian. While they are not considered to be on active duty, there are still several behavioral expectations of midshipmen. All federal, and state statutes and local ordinances will be observed and followed by midshipmen. This includes laws governing underage drinking. To be clear, UNC-CH NROTC does not tolerate underage drinking and will punish any midshipman breaking this law.
Furthermore, the U.S. Navy has a zero tolerance policy for the illegal use of controlled substances. UNC-CH NROTC conducts a program-wide urinalysis once a semester, as well as random urinalyses throughout the semester, and any midshipman found to be in violation of this policy will be promptly dis-enrolled from the program. This can leave a former midshipman with either mandatory enlisted service in the U.S. Navy or the financial burden of paying back all expenses the U.S. Navy has incurred.
Also, since UNC-CH NROTC is a professional organization, members are expected to behave in a way that reflects that. Professional greetings will be used to address fellow military personnel and military customs and courtesies will be given when appropriate. However, these are not things to worry about; each midshipman is taught how to properly conduct themselves once training begins.
Midshipmen are strongly encouraged, but not required, to become engaged in an extracurricular activity outside of NROTC. Many midshipmen join a fraternity or sorority, play a club sport or work with another on-campus organization. This allows midshipmen to gain friends beyond NROTC and participate in activities they enjoy. The U.S. Navy does not regulate what organizations a midshipman can join, but projection of a professional image is always expected.
As with any organization, there will be mandatory events that midshipmen are expected to attend. Such events include NROTC Lab, required physical training sessions, etc. place demands on a midshipman’s time. However, midshipmen have control over how involved (or not involved) they are with the program.
Most weeks, you will spend by far more of your time away from the ROTC Armory and military-related events if you so choose. However, time conflicts are bound to arise if a midshipman is active in other campus organizations. NROTC is flexible and willing to work with midshipmen to arrive at a compromise. However, since the U.S. Navy pays for tuition, there will be times NROTC will have to come first over another event, but these times are few in number.