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Collaborating with ROTC Cadets on Your Campus

May 22, 2023

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a program run by the United States military that trains college students to become military officers upon graduation. Each military branch has a corresponding corps:

Cadets (Army and Air Force) and Midshipmen (Navy) are college students who can major in whatever they wish – ROTC is considered either a minor or an elective course depending on the school. These courses include everything from basic military history to leadership labs, with most field training occurring in the summer. They are not on active duty and ineligible for deployment. However, they are paid a monthly stipend and most participating students receive full tuition scholarships. When they graduate, they receive commissions in the branch they chose with the rank of Ensign for NROTC graduates and Second Lieutenant for all others.

All three branches have programs at various locations across the state. Most units have a central location at a larger campus, while smaller schools near that campus have agreements in place to send any interested cadets to that location. The major locations are:

  • Army ROTC
    • Bucknell University
    • Clarion University of Pennsylvania
    • Dickinson College
    • Drexel University
    • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
    • Gannon University
    • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
    • Lehigh University
    • Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania
    • Moravian College
    • Penn State University Park
    • Shippensburg University
    • Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
    • Temple University
    • University of Pittsburgh
    • University of Scranton
    • Valley Forge Military College
    • Widener University
    • Carnegie Mellon University
    • Penn State University Park
    • University of Pennsylvania
    • Villanova University
    • Penn State University Park
    • St. Joseph’s University
    • University of Pittsburgh
    • Wilkes University

As a librarian at Penn State University Park, I happen to be at the only location in the state that hosts all three branches. This has given me the unique opportunity to collaborate with cadets to create guides and programs that meet their specific needs.

For example, every fall, AFROTC conducts its Professional Officer Course Leadership Laboratory (POC LLAB) for cadets in their third year of study. Senior students who took the course the previous year act as teaching assistants and guides, which gives them some mentoring experience before they graduate and earn their commissions. In 2021, a few of the seniors who happened to be engineering majors and knew I was a librarian asked if I could create an online course guide to help cadets find the information they would need to complete the required research assignments. I worked with them as I would have done if they were faculty instructors, determining the intended outcomes of the course and assignments so that we could decide which information sources would be the best to include. The guide was completed in time for the cadets to begin their final project, which they presented at the end of the semester to the rest of the AFROTC unit. The guide remains in use and can be found at I have even been invited to the presentations for the Fall 2021 and 2022 semesters.

This project led me to ask the cadets if a general ROTC LibGuide would be of use to them. Their overwhelming positive responses became the major factor in creating such a guide during the Spring 2022 semester. I worked directly with both upper-class cadets and midshipmen to determine what information to include. The officers in charge of the units were kept in the loop as much as possible and had ideas to add as well. The result is a guide that is useful for all Penn State cadets, including those who are students at Commonwealth Campus locations — The guide is broken down into five main sections:

  • General information on Penn State ROTC
  • Information relevant to all services
  • AFROTC-specific information
  • Army ROTC-specific information
  • NROTC-specific information

We included everything from uniform standards and physical fitness guides to data on major bases and official writing guides. Like the other LibGuides I control, I edit it every summer to ensure that all the information and links are current.

Although you may not know it, it is probable that you have a few cadets on your campus. Like members of any other organization on campus, they are students first with the same informational needs that all your other patrons have. However, as cadets, they also require access to special information that you may not normally deal with. You don’t need a military background to help them out. All you need is to know where to find what they need, and hopefully the guides I created can help you with that – and even inspire you to work with your cadets and midshipmen to create your own.

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