Advice for Candidates

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by smithneck, Mar 8, 2010.

  1. smithneck

    smithneck Member

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    As an observer of the process now for 3 cycles (and 2 appointments) I am convinced that in the end each student interested in becoming a midshipman at USNA focus entirely, and without distraction, to developing oneself as a future leader, learner, and physically fit individual. It may be controversial to say, but in my opinion, much of the advice offered on these forums from supposed "experts" is bunk.

    You know a qualified candidate when you "see it" and my sense now over several years is that the admissions staff has figured it out. It isn't a specific GPA, or even an SAT score. When they advise to build a full person portfolio, or "package" it is just that. Develop as a rounded individual with a passion to lead, perform and commit. When you become a midshipman know that your peers will look for this, expect it, even demand it.

    Keep in mind that when you graduate from USNA you will take responsibilities, serious as life and death itself. Children of parents like me will depend upon you to safeguard the well-being of the nation, but also, the lives of their sons and daughters.

    Don't game the admissions process or try to 'figure it out' for something other than what it is--to select those that all of us will, entrust so much. Develop yourself as a thoughtful, committed individual. Ignore the gamesmanship and shallow application maneuvers. I suspect that the admissions staff has an appreciation for what is at stake, and selects accordingly.

    The best advice--take a few moments, and look at yourself in the mirror--look at the person there. Is he or she willing, ready and able to put it all on the line for others, a country, other people? If that's you, and you can demonstrate it, count on an admission.
     
  2. www

    www Member

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    I think I understand your frustration, smithneck. It just so happens that not every job in this world is filled by the best fitting or even adequately fitting individual. Sometimes we just have to work with what we happen to have. Maybe they will improve in the process and meet the needs; maybe they can't improve, and then we'll be able to replace them. Change what you can; work with what you have. It just so happens, and frustration can't change things.

    After all, about 300 midshipmen from each class won't become officers (if I heard it right). These eliminations will certainly filter the USNA grads. It still won't be a perfect world, but USNA will change what it can.
     
  3. CTI3NW

    CTI3NW Member

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    I wouldn't say that I disagree with you smithneck but I think your approaching it from the wrong way. As a candidate and someone who has been enlisted for two years, I understand that the best sailors and marines have innate qualities that make them the truly effective service members that they are, however, this is not the forum for deconstructive criticism. Many people on this are already under the pressure of not knowing whether they made the cut. People making assumptions about their character does not help this process. Maybe try some constructive criticism. This is not an attack, please do not feel offended.

    CTI3
     
  4. 1964BGO

    1964BGO Member

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    smithneck does have some good points in his letter however. Rather than expend tons of energy and resources on gaming the system, use the same energy and resources on developing yourself into the best candidate you can be. Don't worry about someone else is doing or not doing, just keep grinding away; eg, don't worry if your SAT/ACT scores are high enough that you can quit taking the exams - take the exams until you are comfortable in your own mind that you have done your best. The same with courses and grades... go for the best grades you can earn in the courses prescribed by the SAs. Get your paperwork completed and submitted early and take that advantage. I know that the overwhelming majority of applicants and candidates are excellent young people, but don't get too wrapped up in your own accomplishments that you get complacent - there may be someone out there who is functioning on the same level but more determined to get the appointment. Satchel Paige once noted "Don't waste time looking over your shoulder, someone may catch up to you." There are tons of legitimate concerns appearing in the forums, but there are some that are time wasters. Keep your focus on your objective and do your best to make it happen. Every year there are many fine young people who do not make the cut, and it is unfortunate, but the ones who truly are committed will be back next year and working harder to make it happen. The BGOs here truly are doing their best to give you good direction based upon their experiences, training, and observations. We do this because we really do want to see NAVY get the best qualified candidates through the gate on I-Day, and see them stick.
     
  5. HiMyNameisNick

    HiMyNameisNick Member

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    I completely agree with your point of view. I am a junior in high school only however. I definately feel like I have what it takes and I truly believe I can be a great leader.

    HOWEVER, I find it difficult to focus on my own character and leadership abilities because I have become so "obsessed" with doing well. I feel like if I dont do well enough in school, and the ACT and other activities.....then I will never get an appointment to the Academy, and therefore I will never even get the chance to show who I really am.

    I feel like the application process focuses too much on grades and such.
     
  6. smithneck

    smithneck Member

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    Many of us parents, and then, because of our own anxiety, the candidates themselves, feel so much pressure from the advice promulgated here. There is a great deal of information that can be helpful. However, I must say that we have come to bristle when we read speculative information from those not in a position to accurately purvey it. We would like to see advice offered with context...such as...I am the parent of a candidate that reads this forum 8 times a day for a year and now perpetuate items I read as fact...

    There are some, I suspect, that don't meet the expectations of peers or officers once admitted, and then, the many that aren't offered appointments with exemplary achievements and true ability. This thread will be lost, and buried amongst the folks that know a little and spew a lot. For us, relying upon the advice of BGO, midshipman, and members of Congress, and of course, the admissions office makes the most sense. I recommend visiting the Academy and admissions office, go directly to the source of information and listen carefully to what is said. There is no formula or 'secret recipe', but I think, the "real thing". You know it when you see it.
     
  7. osdad

    osdad Member

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    I don't have the answer - who does?

    I can relay this:

    A mentor once told me: "Focus on what you have direct control over."

    In this case its taking the toughest courses, grades, test scores, participation in athletics. Leadership is a very difficult thing to measure. There can be only so many captains on the football team. If it turns into a popularity contest or the coach insists on the QB, that's something you can't control. Don't worry too much. Lead by example - then talk with your BGO about it. As was mentioned: do your best. It will be noticed.
     
  8. 2012Cadet

    2012Cadet Member

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    This is too true...I have been having trouble attaining leadership positions for these very reasons, so all I can do is act like one and hopefully show my leadership through other means.
     
  9. HiMyNameisNick

    HiMyNameisNick Member

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    I couldnt agree more
     
  10. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    I disagree. I think, by far, a candidate is successful by putting together an impressive application package. I'm talking about grades, GPA, ACT/SAT scores, activities, and some good recommendations from teachers.

    I wish what you said was true but the FACT of the matter is that the individuals on the admissions board never actually interview or interact with the candidate in any way. About the closest thing to that is the required Blue & Gold interview. And that will be the impression of a single individual.

    The admissions process is very good - but it's not infallible. Today, as in the past, there are still candidates who go to a service academy for the wrong reason.

    I'm not sure how a bunch of individuals, sitting around a table, perusing the application file of a candidate can fully know the intangible characteristics of which of you speak without actually confronting the candidate one-on-one. All they can do is do their best to ascertain such things. For better or worse, that will mostly be done by looking at the PAPERS before them.

    Tell me how the admissions board can confidently say that a candidate has a "passion to lead"?
     

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