This story has been updated to reflect the fact that TCU is not the only Army ROTC host program in Tarrant County.
With many schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area lacking an Air Force or Army ROTC host program, TCU’s program is open to students from neighboring schools.
Texas Wesleyan University, Tarrant County College, Texas A&M Law School and the University of Texas at Arlington are among schools that have agreements with TCU allowing their students to receive credit for ROTC work done here.
“It’s a simple process,” Lt. Col. Eddie Smith, scholarship and enrollment officer for TCU Army ROTC, said. “The cadets enroll at those schools, just like they were going to attend those schools.”
“The only difference is that you don’t actually take your ROTC there,” Smith said. “You actually travel here for your ROTC class, but you do all your other classes at your regular school.”
Staff limitations prevent ROTC host programs from being established at every school in the nation, Smith said.
He added that there are about 270 host programs throughout the U.S.
The percentage of commuter cadets varies between each branch. For example, at TCU there are more commuter cadets in Air Force ROTC than Army ROTC.
Smith said between 5 to 10 percent of the Army ROTC cadet corp are commuter cadets.
Air Force ROTC estimates that about half of its cadets are from other universities.
“We have about 50 to 60 cadets total,” Air Force ROTC recruitment officer David Schulwitz said. “A good majority of them, about 20 to 30 of them are from UT-Arlington, so it makes up a good chunk of our cadet corp.”
For some commuter cadets, traveling to and from TCU can be time consuming.
Air Force ROTC cadet Sannely Vega, a sophomore at UT-Arlington, comes to TCU from her home in Midlothian.
“It’s pretty difficult because I actually live 40 minutes away from TCU,” Vega said.
Schulwitz said the program is considerate of the commute time.
“We try to set up their classes so that they don’t have to commute too much,” Schulwitz said. “Usually it’s twice a week.”
Despite the commute, cadets said they enjoy their time at TCU. Army ROTC cadet Tim Ross, who attends Texas A&M Law School in downtown Fort Worth, said he has good relations with other cadets.
“We get along great,” Ross said. “I feel like I am the big brother of the battalion. I’m 28, so I have a bit more life experience than the rest of them.”
Ross said he enjoys the unique experience of attending classes on different campuses.
“I graduated from University of Texas, but I’m getting my law degree through A&M, and then I’m getting my conditioning through TCU,” Ross said. “My loyalties are all over the place.”
Having ROTC classes at TCU especially benefits the cadets enrolled at community colleges such as Tarrant County College, as many of those cadets look to transfer to a four-year university.
“[TCC students] get a view or look of TCU and say ‘hey, that’s the school I want to go to,’ and they get a feel for it all the while still attending TCC,” Smith said. “Then when they complete their requirements at TCC, they apply to TCU and hopefully get in. It’s a win-win for both.”
Benefits aside, cadets said the military experience is why they enjoy ROTC.
“I’ve enjoyed it a lot mostly because of the fact that I enjoy the military lifestyle,” Ross said. “I learn the habits while still being in an academic environment.”