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USMA2016
14th March 2011, 12:36 AM
My MOC is having candidates write an essay for nominations.
The prompt for my essay was: "in a short essay (500-1000 words) explain why you want to attend the Academy". I posted what I wrote down below, I would appreciate any feedback! No need to PM. Thanks! :thumb:



Why I Want to Attend the Academy

As a child, it seemed as though adults, teachers, and parents always asked me the same question: “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Of course, I would always supply a canned answer like “I want to be a Doctor” or “I want to be a lawyer”. Through it all, I could tell that those professions, though excellent, were not for me.

I looked to my family for guidance and I have always been proud of my family’s military history, but it wasn’t until I was until then that I realized that I wanted to join that tradition. My father has been Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve Dental Corps with nearly 20 years of service. I always saw him walking around in his khakis and going off to work on weekends, but I never really took note of the service he was providing his country. I have heard many war stories from my grandfather who was an armored reconnaissance officer in the U.S. Army during World War II and retired with 24 years of service. My other grandfather graduated in the USMA class of 1954 and served as a pilot in the Air Force. While I am amazed by all of their stories of adventure, courage, and opportunity, what is most surprising to me is that both my father and grandparents can look back on what they have accomplished in the military with a sense of pride.

Once my grandfather told me “I’ve been an enlisted soldier and an officer. If you ever join the military, decide what you want to do―follow or lead”. His words have stirred me to pursue officership. That aspiration, my professional desire to earn an engineering degree, and my yearning to lead has led me to the doorsteps of the Service Academies. Even though my father loves the Navy, his professional training was at a civilian dental school, very different from a service academy. However, my grandfather (USMA ’54), with his tales of cadethood and the Academy, really inspires me. He tells stories not only of his difficult classes and rigid life, but also of the friendships he made and skills he gained during those four years. After hanging on every word of those stories, he even decided to lend me his copy of Bugle Notes from when he was a plebe. From there I read Absolutely American, The Long Grey Line, In a Time of War, The Unforgiving Minute, the 2007 edition of Bugle Notes, and I am still trying find more West Point literature. I visited West Point during the summer and I can remember seeing new cadets in Beast Barracks marching with rifles and rucks singing cadences and all I could think was “this is cool”. My exposure to USMA has me placing it as my first choice among service academies.

I realize that life at a service academy and in the military is not easy. I know that I will suffer, be challenged, and be pushed beyond my limits. Thousands have done it before and I am sure that they also knew of the suffering that lay ahead of them before they entered the Academy. However, I know that I can do it because I want to go to the Academy for the right reasons. I want to be an officer. I may not know the magnitude of the challenges that lay in my future, but I know that they will be there. I’m ready to step up.

jake s
14th March 2011, 02:39 AM
You're a little early on this one. Being proactive is the key to the admissions process, but don't submit your nomination packets before mid to late summer.

That being said, take your essay to someone qualified to proof it-- say, your English teacher.

Free advice here is always worth what you paid for it.

All you're going to get here is a bunch of high schoolers' suggestions; if you've ever gone through peer editing in an English class then you know how effective it is :shake:

futureAFA
14th March 2011, 04:58 AM
You're a little early on this one. Being proactive is the key to the admissions process, but don't submit your nomination packets before mid to late summer.

That being said, take your essay to someone qualified to proof it-- say, your English teacher.

Free advice here is always worth what you paid for it.

All you're going to get here is a bunch of high schoolers' suggestions; if you've ever gone through peer editing in an English class then you know how effective it is :shake:

Although I second the fact that when the people on here who may comment will be not exactly the best feedback possible it is worth something. I am horrible at english so take everything I say with a grain of salt.
I think that overall its a great idea and is really good.
and the think that stood out to me that I wish was different was the “this is cool”. I think that you should add emphasis to the “cool” or change the wording to make it sound stronger. Perhaps “this is cool”. Or say you were awestruck by what you saw.

and remember, I am just a high school student who struggles in writing.

grtkidmom
14th March 2011, 06:07 AM
Just my opinion

no disrespect to any suggestions or corrections, but USNA 2016 seek advice from parents, friends, BGO, teacher, or someone who knows you personally and understands your desire to attend USNA. They will be able to offer meaningful input with your personality traits in mind. This is your story detailing your personal and educational reasons for wanting to attend USNA. Keep it to your self, submitting for public view with 50 strangers corrections, structure revisions and writing style suggestions will likely dilute the "YOU in the story, and I am afraid it could become bland and generic. It's is your story and you don't want your work showing up in other places.

Write, re-write and write again. Each revision will help to essay to come alive and will eventually become the perfect document to describe your desire to attend USNA. You have plenty of time to write and seek advice for those close to you.

mom3boys
14th March 2011, 11:34 AM
First, I am an English teacher. However, my opinion is about as valuable as the others. That said, my opinion is that this essay is all about your relatives and books you've read. Take that all out and make it about you. You can briefly mention the examples of service in your family, but you have way too much info on that. You don't need to list all the USMA books you've read, either. This is a fine first draft...and I'm glad to see you working on it so early. Revise, revise, revise. Good luck!

HiMyNameisNick
14th March 2011, 10:08 PM
If I were you I would delete this post. Not everyone is made of the best moral character and could end up taking parts of your essay. When writing my USNA essay I took it to two of my english teachers and my school counselor for revisions as well as my friends and family. I spent so much time on it and I feel like it truly gets the point accross and I would never post it on the internet for others to take from, they all need to do their own work as well.

I encourage you to take this off and review it with your teachers.

My two cents: Seems a bit lengthy, and doesn't quite convince me USMA is what you want. Too much facts about your family's military history not enough about YOU! Youre the one they want to know more about.

Good luck!:biggrin:

Pima
15th March 2011, 01:06 AM
I am with Mom.

No disrespect, but you never grabbed me. Imagine being someone who has to read 2000 essays. You need to grab their attention immediately. Your opening paragraph is not attention grabbing, it is what I would call expected.

I also have to agree with others; it is good to be proactive, but in the case of the SA's the hare rarely beats the tortoise.

Noms are not rolling. You can submit May 1st or Oct 1st, and both of you will be reviewed at the exact same time. You do not get points for being the 1st application. You get points for being the best.

Also, I have to say, too many kids now a days believe these sites are totally anonymous, posting an essay for the world to view is not wise. Post a thread that you want a review and to pm you if they want to review it, but don't post the essay with the amount of personal info you just gave out about your family and life.

BillSL
15th March 2011, 02:00 AM
“this is cool”.

A car is school. Skateboarding is cool. Skiing is cool.

Many things are cool. You'll see my point in a bit.

This is a honest feedback. But keep in mind the other posters' posts - I am a candidate, not a teacher or anyone who lives and breaths English for a job.

But, I don't know. I would not put something as cheesy as that in an essay (read the rest of this paragraph). Seeing "shiny people" with "guns" sure is cool. But... This might be just me, but I am not attending West Point because it is "cool". Of course it is fine to say something like that, compliment the campus and whatnot. But be serious... You have visited the campus. You saw what you want to be in the future... I also visited the campus and loved it. I always found pretty seeing people marching in camo'ed uniforms. You see, I love the WP atmosphere. But I am not going to WP solely based on the atmosphere of it. Why not ROTC or OCS?

See what I mean?



I myself am attending it because I want to be an Officer in the U.S. Army.

Followed by reasons to attend WP and be an Officer, and the relation...



I just edited a big chunk of irrelevant information.


OFF-TOPIC: I honestly don't get people who plagiate in personal-essays... Makes no sense to me. If you wish to plagiate, then you shouldn't be applying for any SA. In fact, you shouldn't even be a leader. I will not go down further stating that, if you plagiate, you have serious issues, just to keep this short.

BeatArmy16
15th March 2011, 02:30 AM
I myself am attending it because I want to be an Officer in the U.S. Army.

Followed by reasons to attend WP and be an Officer.


Bingo. As a prior-enlisted sailor, when I put in my packet to Annapolis I figured the personal statement would be a breeze. I knew what the Navy wanted in an Officer, I knew what 'Officer Material' was. Unfortunately for me, this was not the case - the personal statement was in no way easy or simple. In fact, it was easily the most difficult part of the packet.

There will be plenty of times to highlight your motivation in attending West Point (which is solely what I drew from your two paragraphs of family military history). There will be plenty of times to highlight academic achievements, athletics, et cetera.

This is, however, one of few opportunities you'll have to offer yourself to the board as a professional, humble, future officer of the United States Army. Write this essay with the big picture in mind - it isn't JUST about West Point. It's about the commission you'll be striving for over the next four years, and subsequently the lives that will be placed in your hands when you don that officer's cover.

And I second the post above mine - you're not going to win the hearts and minds of your review board by calling them 'Cool'. You may win the hearts of a community college, but not a prestigious military academy.

Remember that in the end your achievements (while long and great) do not matter when you're in battle, the lives of your men are at stake, and they're looking to you for guidance. Personify the characteristics and traditions of a US Army Officer and you'll gain an acceptance to West Point long before anyone else.

Pima
15th March 2011, 02:46 AM
I can't speak for the Army, but I can tell you with the AF you must get through the PCQ first. That is also why to me this is moot.

Write the essay and submit it tomorrow, but if the SA doesn't deem you as an applicant you spent hours wasting time. You will never meet a board.

Back to my point, when our DS became an applicant he was assigned an ALO. That ALO met with him every other week for the entire summer working on his MOC nom essays. As Mom3boys stated it is a write, revise, revise, revise and revise again issue.

You have yet to go through the college application process where you will be writing essays every weekend from August to November. You will get it, trust me, you will.

You just need to change it to grab the readers attention and want to read the next sentence, and the next and the next.

Your essay as it stands to me right now is the typical, Dad served, family served, thus I want to serve.

How about turning it into when I was 6, Christmas dinner my grandfather told me this story about what he lived through during WWII. I recall it clearly as if I was wearing his uniform; I felt the mud on my feet, I could smell the fire to keep him warm, I was in that trench with him. That was the day I realized I wanted to wear a uniform. It wasn't for glory, it wasn't for prestige. It was for honor and duty to my country.

I am not an English major, but can you now see how that is grabbing people from an emotional level compared to "I have heard many war stories from my grandfather who was an armored reconnaissance officer in the U.S. Army during World War II and retired with 24 years of service."

One tells me about the person and what motivated them. The other tell me his grandfather served and nothing more.

OBTW if I was reading that essay of you being 6 around the dinner table, I would be glued to the essay to find out how your grandfathers journey ended. I would want to know. I really don't care about Dad and walking around in Khaki shorts.

FYI, cut out the Dad story "My father has been Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve Dental Corps with nearly 20 years of service. I always saw him walking around in his khakis and going off to work on weekends, but I never really took note of the service he was providing his country."

You just implied Dad in a negative light.

mom3boys
15th March 2011, 03:04 AM
Pima, you should be an English teacher: you just taught the OP about crafting a "hook." In 8th grade LA, we call that one a "you are there" hook. I am pretty sure there are numerous websites dedicated to teaching the fine art of the admissions essay. Hopefully our young friend realizes time is on his side and will investigate his resources as he begins the revision process.

NorthernCalMother
15th March 2011, 04:23 AM
USMA2016, you are getting terrific advice here.

But don't be discouraged! The "write, revise, revise, revise" mantra is a truism. You've started very early. A++ for that! I've edited several Academy and OCS app's for son's friends, and they've started off way behind yours. Most first drafts consisted of 10 variations on "I love America." A great emotion, but not a way to distinguish one's self from other applicants.

You've got stories. Listen to Pima. Join him/her @ the campfire. But again, don't be discouraged. You're on the right path.

Jacobryan10
15th March 2011, 07:04 AM
I am applying as well, and I will be the fourth continuous generation to have served in the military be it officer or enlisted. So I can understand where you are coming from. I think it's okay to mention the merits of your dad and grandfather, but you have to remember that this is a personal statement about yourself, so focus more on you. This is one of the few things you can control in the admissions process, and it affects how the admissions panel views you as a person, so take advantage of it! I don't think you are doing yourself any favors when you spend half your essay talking about other people instead of yourself, they want to know about YOU! So go ahead and tell them. Otherwise you are just giving them reasons why they should offer a spot to your grandfather or dad instead of you

As for wanting to serve, it's great to want to follow in your family's footsteps. I'm very proud of my family for their service and honored to be able to carry it on. Try to find more reasons besides that though. The academy is designed to make weak people quit, so make sure you give the Academy many more reasons to convince them that you are here to stay. You have to understand that many people that are applying have the same story. You have to make yourself stick out by giving them more reasons to show you are serious and know what you are getting into. Your last paragraph I thought was pretty good however because it shows a little bit of that and about yourself. Maybe you should build off of that and emphasize that area.

Anyways, that's my advice, I'm a freshman on an AFROTC scholarship at college, so I don't have much qualifications haha. I can't guarantee anything from my advice, but I think it's worth considering. I wish you the best with your application process and hope all goes well

MemberLG
15th March 2011, 02:53 PM
I am on a Congressional nomination panel, so I have read 100+ "why a service academy" essays.

Some Congressman's don't do interviews. If so, your "why a service academy" letter will be very important.

If your Congressman does interviews, "why a service academy" is complementary to the interview. For me, I focus on the essay and come up with questions to ask. It goes something along the line, "I hope you remember what you wrote on your essay. According to your essay, XYZ"

As for you eassy, the question I would ask you is what do you know about being an Army officer and why do you want to become an Army officer. My reading of your essay is mostly aboue how you love West Point and very little about serving the country and being an Army officer. So, how you answer my questions will determine my overall assessment of you. I have high expectations of service academy applicants, but at the same time I do understand that most of applicants are still kids.

Pima
15th March 2011, 03:00 PM
The issue to remember is why you are submitting an essay. Not every MOC does interviews. Some give noms based purely on what you look like on paper. Your job is to sell yourself.

Remember to be looking at the form for 2016. Some MOC's have not opened their 2016 files yet, and some will change the essay yr to yr. Nothing would be worse than to answer the 2015 essay.

In the end you need to sell them you as jacobryan10 stated. You need to create a "hook" as mom3boys stated.

You also need to realize that some who read it, may be like me. I am a stickler for following the golden rule. Opening statement, defense, closing statement.

In your prelim essay you broke some of the rules.

Opening statement: Answer why I want to go to an SA. You never stated I want to go to an SA because.... you need to pretend that they don't know the question. You jumped into a story and nobody knew the premise.

Defense: you had the defense

Closing: There was no closing statement. Closing is suppose to reiterate the opening and tell me what I am going to be reading in the next few paragraphs.

Body of essay should be defense. You had that, yet it was not about you and it was incoherent...again, the paragraph of Dad should be scrapped totally. It was unflattering to the military, and you are asking to be in the military.

Closing paragraph should mirror your opening paragraph. Opening statement, defense and closing.

You did have a closing, but the one thing that went through my mind was "ok you want to be an officer, so go ROTC or OTS". You didn't answer why the SA. You said you had the right reasons, yet never told me what the right reasons were.

When you edit, you have to constantly ask yourself did I answer their question? If a stranger like me picked up your essay would they walk away with the thought, "well, that was 2 minutes of killing time." You do not want that.

You want them to say, I want to meet this kid and know more about him. You want them to be able to put a name to your essay due to the impact of that essay. You don't want the review board to say, remind me again who this kid is? You are coming from CA and that is an incredibly competitive state. they will be reading hundreds of essays. You need to make sure they don't ask who is this kid again.

Xposted with Member

vamom
15th March 2011, 03:09 PM
I personally don't feel that ANYONE should ask for edits on essays on this forum. Your essay is supposed to be a direct reflection of YOUR thoughts and introspections AND a display of your writing prowess. If you are not able to communicate effectively in writing, I seriously wonder how well you would fare as an officer. I would submit to the moderators of this forum that any attempt to have others comment on/modify/rewrite a candidates essay be removed from the forum. If candidates want to seek outside assistance on their written documents, they should take the initiative to meet with their English teacher or other qualified individual with whom they have a personal relationship. IMO, this type of request bumps up agains the question of "is this your work?". NOT A FAN. And, no offense at all to OP! My commentary goes beyond this one individual request. Even though I am new member of this forum, this REALLY stands out to me as a practice that should be eliminated.

Pima
15th March 2011, 03:19 PM
Actually on collegeconfidential.com they have a rule, if you want your essay edited you post the request, but it is sent via PMs. It is not posted on an open forum. This is for the posters protection. You can have a great essay and someone can lift it, especially if you say you are from CA and they are from IA...no chance the boards would ever meet.

I have to say, I do understand your opinion because now that the door is open these threads could become inundated with "read my essay" posts. Similiar to chance me on the SA threads.

vamom
15th March 2011, 03:33 PM
I feel as if I were just promoted.....PIMA agrees with me! LOL

I think the collegeconfidential rule makes a lot of sense....and even with THAT practice there are still folks who are taking an active role in modifying an essay for someone else. My gut says "not the spirit in which essays are intended for use". IMO, this is a few steps away (maybe only ONE step away) from just sending your essay topic and resume to a "professional writer" and getting back a polished and compelling essay that was not written by YOU! But in the spirit of true confessions here, I am a Journalism major (back in the dark ages) so I probably have a more strict sense of journalistic integrity than most. My kids have suffered for this!

In the end, my advice would be to write an essay from your heart, have your English teacher review for any grammar corrections etc. and then submit. When the content/spirit of your essay is changed by others, it is truly no longer your essay.