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Written by Cadet Yenah Joe

We all know that college is a stressful time in life. It can be difficult to balance schoolwork, extracurriculars, internships, and a social life. It is especially challenging at an institution such as UNC Chapel Hill. You may be wondering how you could fit ROTC into that equation. However, ROTC can be a fulfilling part of your college experience with significant benefits. I’ve laid out everything you need to know on being a cadet and student here at Carolina.


What is AROTC?

AFROTC stands for Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. It is a four-year training program intended to train students as commissioned officers for the US Air Force. Upon commissioning, you would be an officer in the Air Force and have a leadership position over enlisted airmen. The general service commitment after AFROTC is 4-6 years. There are scholarship opportunities for ROTC cadets, but you don’t have to have a scholarship to enroll in the program. You can find more information on AFROTC at


1. Our detachment has won numerous awards for our program here.

  • #1 small detachment in the Air Force for 2012-2013
  • #1 small detachment for the southeast region for 2012-2013, 2013-2014, and 2016-2017


2. UNC-Chapel Hill is consistently rated one of our nation’s top public universities. With this merit, you will be more likely to stand out when receiving a job of your choice in the Air Force. Furthermore, the education and skills you gain at UNC will translate well into active duty.


3. You’ll gain important qualities including leadership skills, discipline, physical fitness, and maturity. These are all valuable traits future employers (even after your service in the Air Force) will look for.


4. We have a small detachment, so you have more chances to be involved. For example, a freshman last year received a wing position in the detachment (a leadership role typically run by sophomores, juniors, and seniors) because of the small number of cadets in our wing. It was a great time for her to practice her leadership skills as a brand new cadet in the program. Furthermore, you can get involved in things such as Color Guard, Arnold Air Society, and trips across the US! You can’t find those opportunities anywhere else.


5. We have an extensive number of distinguished alumni with a span of different jobs in the Air Force. To name a few, you could get connected with pilots, civil engineers, nurses, and security forces.


Can I do outside activities besides AFROTC?

The short answer is: yes!

Everyone in the program has a life outside of ROTC. For example, one of our cadets is on the women’s rugby team, one is in the marching band, and one is a resident advisor for UNC Housing. We want to encourage students to take every opportunity that they can and have the best time during these four years. Pictured below is our very own intramural soccer team!


Is it hard?

To be frank, it’s not going to be easy. Many cadets, including myself, have a strenuous schedule already. And ROTC is a very demanding program. There have been nights where we find ourselves in the Undergraduate Library (UL) until 5 AM and walk over to Hooker Fields for physical training (PT) at 6 AM. (I don’t recommend all-nighters, but the reality is that it can happen). Sometimes it can be draining to juggle everything while being a full-time student. But with hard work comes great reward.


So what makes it worth it?

Everyone has their different motives for joining AFROTC. Here are a couple of reasons why I’ve stayed.

1. The people make it absolutely worth it. You have the chance to gain 40+ lifelong friends. These are the people you’ll be in battles with. These are the peoples you see at 6 AM even when you have bags under your eyes. These are the people who want to see you succeed. These are the people you’ll call wingmen.


2. Everyday I am reminded that I will one day be part of the world’s greatest Air Force. After growing up in a military family, I feel a sense of purpose for joining such an honorable profession.


3. No one can grow if they stay in their comfort zone. AFROTC really humbled me as I stumbled through my first semester. I flew through high school pretty easily. However after coming to college and joing ROTC, all of a sudden I was put into uncomfortable situations where I didn’t know what to do. I’ve missed deadlines, forgot the commands when marching a flight, etc… However, it feels so good to finally get it right. That feeling of success after practicing over and over is unmatchable.


Want this unique college experience?

Stop by our office

221 S. Columbia Street
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7480

or email for more information on how to join.


We hope to see you soon Tar Heel!

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