Military junior college early commissioning program : factors that impact the second lieutenant’s success or failure at their follow-on institution.


In 1968, the Early Commissioning Program (ECP) was founded at Marion Military Institute in Marion, AL, and was sewn into the fabric used to develop Army officers. The ECP has played a critical role in affording young men and women the opportunity to earn a commission as an Army second lieutenant (2LT) in just two years. However, the program has changed and added various restrictions over the years. Among these various restrictions is that the ECP 2LT must complete their baccalaureate degree following their military junior college (MJC) graduation within 24 to 36 months. Failure to complete their degree within the allotted time frame results in the loss of their commission. The ECP changes are not the primary issue. The primary issue is the lack of knowledge and communication among the ECP and key stakeholders that potentially impacts a 2LT’s self-efficacy, grit, resilience, and motivation during their time at and after leaving the MJC. The ECP currently has a 27% failure rate amongst ECP 2LTs while they are trying to complete their bachelor’s degree at their follow-on four-year institution. To further understand this 27% failure rate, this qualitative multi-case study researched and presented an understanding of what impacts the success or failure of the ECP 2LT at their follow-on institution. I interviewed three ECP 2LTs post-degree completion through semi-structured interviews utilizing Likert scale open-ended questions and one-on-one interviews. I described the results through the lens of self-efficacy theory, a theoretical framework used to interpret an individual’s confidence and belief in their ability to be successful and attain their goals (Bandura, 1986). Furthermore, this study enhances the understanding of the ECP. It offers opportunities for knowledge, discussion, and collaboration to assist in the retention of ECP participants at the MJC while providing various methods and paths that conclude with the successful completion of the ECP. Additionally, this study informs future stakeholders on various factors that impact the success or failure of ECP 2LTs while offering recommendations that can assist in mitigating factors that impact the failure of the ECP.