How It Worked
During World War I, the United States War Department created the Student Army Training Corps. The goal was to encourage young men to receive both a college education and train for the military simultaneously. Members in the S.A.T.C. who performed exceptionally well were recommended for officer training. The S.A.T.C. was intended to fill a substantial void of trained soldiers.
The S.A.T.C. officially began on October 1, 1918. It was established at 525 universities and colleges across the nation, and inducted 200,000 total students on the first day. Unlike the Selective Service Draft, enrollment in the S.A.T.C. was completely voluntary, but joining did not do away with the possibility of being drafted. Enlistment in the S.A.T.C. gave each man the rank of private in the United States army. Although attending the S.A.T.C. allowed young men to stay on the home front, the ultimate goal of the program was creating a force of trained soldiers for the military.
Young men who were eighteen or older and joined the S.A.T.C. became enlisted in the U.S. Army. Young men who were not yet eighteen could enroll in S.A.T.C. classes and receive military training, but would not be considered enlisted in the Army until they reached eighteen. The men were issued military uniforms, and expected to wear them at all times. They were issued Russian rifles. All S.A.T.C. men were placed in Class Five of the Selective Service Draft. Once drafted, their S.A.T.C. training put them in higher standing and gave their Army career a head start, possibly putting them on the path to become officers. If a drafted S.A.T.C. man expressed interest in continuing his education, and had shown high achievement, he could do so upon recommendation of the Chancellor and his commanding officer, and by applying for a military commission upon graduation.
"While the S.A.T.C. is being established primarily to prevent the country from being robbed of its educated young men and to prevent the wrecking of the institution of learning by the calls to the Army, it is essential that the men bear in mind that they are being schooled because they are of more use to the government educated." Major Bruno T. Schér, Lawrence Daily Journal-World, August 15, 1918