Growing the Corps family
Recruitment staff uses programs and school visits to bring in new cadets
By Abigail Ochoa
Deciding to come to Texas A&M is a big decision for students, and joining the Corps of Cadets is no different. The Corps recruitment department helps students with this choice and the transition to college life through high school visits, new student conferences and former student referrals.
Assistant Commandant for Recruiting Col. Sam Hawes, Class of 1981, said the first stage of getting a student interested in the Corps begins even before the university accepts them. The department establishes contact with prospects during the application process, in which students can choose to receive more information about the Corps.
“There are a lot of ways we can find out about a kid being interested,” Hawes said. “Through the admissions process, our school visits, them contacting us through our website, contacting us through social media, [or] through former students and other people who contact us on behalf of students.”
Hawes said he then tries to get students on campus for a program called Spend the Night with the Corps. The program offers incoming students a chance to see what dorm living is like, meet members in the Corps and see what life would be like as a cadet. Hawes said a major selling point for the program is the ability to dismiss preconceived notions of the Corps and help incoming students realize “they are just like me.”
University studies junior Austin Sweeney of Squadron 18 said he was personally impacted by this program.
When applying to college, Sweeney turned in his transcripts late and had to take a year of classes at Blinn. By the time he came to A&M, he had already essentially decided to join the Corps. However, his experience with the Spend the Night with the Corps program, coupled with the long line of Aggies in his family, solidified his decision.
Once a cadet, Sweeney spent a semester in the Darling Recruiting Company to help organize Spend the Night with the Corps and said he saw first hand how potential cadets were influenced by this unique type of recruitment.
“I would see some prospects come in who weren’t sure if they wanted to join,” Sweeney said. “They were kind of nervous, and then they start hanging around the sophomores who watch them that night and they have a great time. They realize these people are pretty cool.”
The recruitment office works year-round, trying to recruit high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. The two things they emphasize to incoming students is the university itself and how the Corps might complement their college experience.
As for current students who want to join, Hawes said it’s a simple process. Those interested have to be a student at A&M and have a GPA higher than a 2.0.
“We get a lot of current students who sign up,” Hawes said. “Kids who didn’t know about the Corps or they got cold feet at the end and didn’t join.”
Hawes welcomes 800 to 1,000 recruits every year and said 90 percent of cadets receive Corps scholarships. For him, this is the best part of the job — getting to help students during and before they become Aggies.
“I have the best job in the world,” Hawes said. “My only job is to sell Texas A&M and the Corps. Look out my window; I can see Kyle Field … I get to interact with students every day.”
Hawes said once a student joins, the Corps becomes just as much a family as it is a training program.
“You get to know these kids,” Hawes said. “We don’t just recruit them and forget about them. We make an investment in these kids.”
Through the recruitment process, Hawes said he enjoys working with “legacies” — families that have had multiple cadets in the Corps — but he believes that students from any background can thrive in the Corps.
“I’m just looking for people who want to be Aggies, who want to develop themselves as leaders and want to develop character and are not afraid to work hard,” Hawes said.