Applicant Advice Appreciated

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by HMCoF2021, Apr 18, 2016.

  1. HMCoF2021

    HMCoF2021 Member

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    Greetings to all. First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my post. I really appreciate it.

    Currently, I am a junior at a high school affiliated with the Middle College Program. A Middle College Program is basically a collaboration between a high school and a community college that accepts a limited number of students. As a Middle College student, I take high school courses and college courses in order to graduate with a high school diploma and an Associate Degree. However, the tradeoff for this rigorous program is that my school offers virtually no extracurricular activities such as clubs and varsity sports. As a result, my extracurricular activities are largely outside of school. During my free time, I volunteer at church, play club sports, and perform music. Also, my current GPA is 4.27 and I am in the top 5% of my class. I have not taken the actual SAT or ACT but my PSAT score (October 2015) was 640 for Evidence-Based R&W and 640 for Math. After I graduate, my primary goal is to join the USNA Class of 2021. However, I live in a very competitive district in Maryland and I fear that my extracurricular activities, specifically the lack of varsity sports, are not enough to make me competitive as an applicant.

    In conclusion, I would very much like to attend the USNA as a member of Class of 2021, but I feel my application isn't very competitive. Any advice/information on how I can strengthen my application is truly helpful and appreciated.

    P.S. I will be attending Session 2 of NASS.
     
  2. goforspaatz

    goforspaatz USAFA c/o 2020

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    When your counselor submits a school profile to USNA, they will take into account the lack of ECAs/Sports as part of your application. In the meanwhile, continue to strengthen your application through all the ways you can. Begin looking at the nomination process for your senators, MOC, and Vice Prez. Begin working towards CFA and attempt to max out on as many sections as possible. In your ECAs, work on getting leadership positions - perhaps at your church? And sign up and take the ACT/SAT as soon as possible!!! I can't stress enough that taking both a few times will help you score better. You need to take it as many times as financially/time-constraints possible.
     
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  3. HMCoF2021

    HMCoF2021 Member

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    Thank you for the advice. Actually, I registered to take the ACT and SAT in May and June. Also, I will definitely look for leadership positions.
     
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  4. GoNavy2020

    GoNavy2020 Member

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    My DS is enrolled in a similar program. He started a sports-related club at his school to help compensate for the lack of team sports. Any chance you could do something similar? Also, a few suggestions: 1) You will be required to submit letters of recommendation from your English and math teachers. Ask them to please note the type of program in which you are enrolled. DS's teachers did this and noted that the high school students were expected to hold their own with the college students. 2) On your application, there will be a section for any additional information you wish the Admissions Board to know. My DS used this section to explain his program and why he chose it. 3) Make sure you tell your BGO about your program. DS's BGO was very impressed by the program and said he noted that information in his recommendation.

    Also would echo goforspaatz: Work on getting leadership positions in your ECAs. Best of luck!
     
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  5. HMCoF2021

    HMCoF2021 Member

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    Thank you for the suggestions. Unfortunately, my principal does not want us to start any clubs because she wants us to put all our focus on our college classes. Also, I will make sure to ask my Math and English teachers to include the school's information on the recommendation letters. If I may ask, do I contact my BGO through e-mail and should I contact him/her right now or should I wait until the portal opens?
     
  6. goforspaatz

    goforspaatz USAFA c/o 2020

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    I would wait...right now they may still have work to do with the Class of 2020 getting them started. Other than a brief note of introduction + resume, wait until mid-late summer to get the wider communication lines going (and you're portal will be open too!). Check out club sports in the area (not pay-to-play), or do individual events (road, bike races). Also, if you're going to a college, some club teams will let you practice with them, though there may be restrictions on actually playing. I know for a college I take classes at the Club Rugby team was open for anyone to practice with.
     
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  7. socalmomof3

    socalmomof3 Member

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    You might want to see if there are any Navy Sea Cadet programs in your area to gain leadership experience.
     
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  8. swrakow

    swrakow Member

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    As a BGO, I always appreciate it when I hear from a candidate early in the cycle - even before they become an official candidate. That is, if you know who the BGO is that's assigned to your school. BGOs are finished with 2020 and are now just waiting to present the appointments at the various awards nights (if they have any to present). I will also tell you that BGOs do not interview you until you've completed a certain percentage of your package - about 40%. You won't even be able to begin that process until your candidate information system portal opens up in June. Until then, do the following:
    1. Line up your math and English teachers who you want to recommend you and get the email where they can be reached during the summer months. Recommendations are done online now. Once you select your math and English teachers, you must put in their emails. Within 5 minutes of you doing this online, an email goes out to them with the online form. If they don't get it, there is a process you have to go through with candidate guidance to have it re-sent.
    2. Same process above with your school guidance counselor. Most of them seem to work through the summer, but make sure. Let your counselor know that you will have several emails coming their way via email that need to be completed online. The guidance counselor will be the one to really explain the program you're in and your transcript will reflect college level courses.
    3. Work on your essay on why you want to go to USNA, serve in the Navy or Marine Corps, and what you've done to prepare yourself morally, mentally, and physically. Have someone (not a family member) read your essay. Maybe your BGO will work with you on this, but not all will. Grammar and spelling count. Proper use of military terms counts. Make zero errors and make your essay stand out. Simply saying you want to serve and USNA's free education is the best way to get there isn't going to cut it. BTW - if you get in, you'll soon realize that there may not be tuition, but USNA's education isn't free.
    4. Make sure you're ready to take the CFA and do well. I suggest doing several practice runs following the timed sequence of events. I can't tell you how many times I've seen candidates get to the mile run at the end and do poorly because they were not prepared for the cumulative effects of the prior events. The basketball throw may be a silly event, but it tests your shoulder flexibility and the use of your hips to generate power. It might be a pass/fail, but know that your CFA score does count. Lock on your gym teacher to do this event as soon as you get back to school in the fall, or get another person qualified to administer the test to do it in the summer.
    5. Read as much as you can about the Navy and Marine Corps. Make sure you understand the role of the Navy and Marine Corps in national defense. Understand how DoD is organized and the impact the budget has on your choice of service. Understand how joint warfighting works. You don't have to be an expert, but you should be conversant during interviews. Likewise, know and appreciate what junior officers do. If you know some, talk to them.
    6. Make sure you're up to speed on current events - especially right before your interviews with your BGO and MOCs.
    7. Explore other commissioning sources for Navy and Marine Corps - NROTC, OCS, and of course - the US Merchant Marine Academy. And then also apply to NROTC and the USMMA in addition to USNA. This shows commitment and desire to serve and seek a commission through a challenging program. Stating that you're seeking other sources of commission on your essay and in your interviews goes a long way to affirming your commitment to serve. And who knows, you might find that these other sources of commissioning are more in line with who you are and perhaps might be the only ones who accept you while USNA may turn you down. Be prepared either way.

    I hope this has helped. Good luck.
     
  9. HMCoF2021

    HMCoF2021 Member

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    Wow. Thank you for the substantial advice. I will definitely keep those in mind as I go through the application process. I look forward to the long, exciting road of the application process.
     
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  10. GoNavy2020

    GoNavy2020 Member

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    OP -- Can't get any better advice than what swrakow just gave you.

    I'm not a BGO or a grad, just a parent of a plebe-to-be. But if I may add to those excellent recommendations:
    re #1. Try to get your math and English teachers to do your letters of recommendations NOW, as in May, before exams start and the school year ends. And make sure they know the recommendations need to be submitted online!! You want to get your application completed as early as possible over the summer, so that yours is one of the first the Admissions Board members will have on their desk come September when they start meeting. My DS didn't make the "submit online" part clear and got back the letters in signed, sealed envelopes. Had a tough time getting the one teacher to submit online over the summer.
    re #3. Great advice from my DS's outstanding BGO: Write a draft of your essay, then walk away and let it get cold. Come back to it with a fresh eye and give it a serious edit. Then ask a teacher, family friend, whomever, to edit it for you. Also note that pretty much every candidate is going to be a stellar student with excellent ECAs, tons of community service, etc., etc., who wants to serve his/her country. Your essay should speak to something that makes you unique and tells the Board members why stand out from among the other candidates.

    If I may also add: If you haven't already, open lines of communication NOW with your senators and congressman and find out how their nomination processes work. All are different. Many senators and congressmen have a Service Academy POC, who can be an excellent resource. Many will also offer a Service Academy Day in spring or fall, at which you can meet current Mids, SA reps and BGOs, and sometimes the nomination board members. ALSO NOTE that most senators and congressmen have EARLY deadlines -- many in early September -- for your nomination application. Good luck!
     
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  11. HMCoF2021

    HMCoF2021 Member

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    Thank you again for the recommendations. Also, congratulations to your DS! I'm sure he is extremely excited, counting down the days to I-Day. Regarding the essay, is there only one choice for the subject of the essay or are there different subjects to choose from?
     
  12. farmgirl1776

    farmgirl1776 Member

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    HMCoF2021,

    I noticed you have great grammar. It's the first thing I notice with Hopeful Plebes in their "how do I rate" posts. I bet admissions does, too!
     
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  13. GoNavy2020

    GoNavy2020 Member

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    Thank you! DS certainly is excited. Like many other candidates, he had worked toward this goal for quite a few years.

    Re the essay: There was only one prompt, but it was pretty straightforward. The challenge was the very minimal length. Start practicing now how to write with brevity and make every word count.

    Also, meant to add earlier that you should try to get in contact with your BGO as soon as possible. Note that all BGOs are volunteers, and some may have more time to devote than others. But, a really good BGO is worth his/her weight in gold. These folks see the bigger picture and usually have GREAT advice.
     
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  14. HMCoF2021

    HMCoF2021 Member

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    Thank you again. I'll start writing a draft for my essay and get in contact with my BGO.
     
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  15. Just Dad

    Just Dad Member

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    I don't really know what I'm talking about, but I have a 2020 plebe-to-be. As an interested observer of the process, I have wondered about the USNA's emphasis on athletics in the admissions process. I suppose you could argue that the USNA likes to keep the Navy out in front with the American people via NCAA Div. 1 sports programs. That could explain football and mens basketball athletes being coveted by the USNA, but the USNA's preference for applicants with a background in athletic competition seems to go way past football and basketball.

    So what are they looking for? A demonstration of physical prowess? Meh,----- I don't think so; you can build that, and kids change a lot between 17 and 21. I think its demonstration of resilience, determination, adaptation, peer leadership, Etc.. If I were applying for 2021 and had little by way of athletics in my background, I would give some thought to what athletic success demonstrates in an applicant. There are other places where people work as a team, (maybe you've been on one of those--maybe members of that team acknowledged your leadership). Is there a time when you were getting your *** kicked (physically, socially, economically,.....) and you refused to quit? Is there an example (outside of education) where you invested time/energy into building a skill set?, .....and so on. I'd have that pitch ready for interviews and work that theme into my writing samples.

    My daughter has a strong sports background, but she maintains that in her interviews, sports participation itself didn't seem to matter much. What she said mattered to both USNA and USAFA nomination boards , was her journey from a freshman "Phenom" on a team of tallish girls to the only tall girl on a short team as a sophomore. She had trouble adjusting to this very different kind of team. She lost her spot on the varsity and the travel squad. She was demoted to 3rd string varsity then to JV. It was a full year of set-backs and really hurt her, but she didn't quit, or accept her 3rd string status. She worked hard on conditioning and on adjusting her technique to meet the needs of this much shorter team. She returned to Varsity her Jr. season, and they voted her team captain for this season. She claims that this "dealing with adversity" answer always drew smiles, nods, and scribbling pencils from interviewers. Resilience, determination, adaptation, selflessness, earning the respect of peers: find these stories (outside of acedmeics) in your life experience.

    For what its worth, you and I have a lack of high school sports participation in common. As a high school Jr. I was about 5'7" 150lbs. I had good balance, but I was no speedster and I had/have lousy eye-hand;....... no HS sports teams for me. I grew 6 inches and gained 30 lbs during my Jr and Sr. years, and I wanted to play a team sport in college. I found rugby; it wasn't being played much on the West Coast in the 70s-80s, so everyone on the team was on the same learning curve as I was. I had a ball with it for 6 years. I know that rugby is much more popular now, but there are all kinds of opportunities to participate in sports outside the Std. football/baseball/basketball/track/soccer loop: fencing, crew, cross country skiing, water polo, downhill skiing, Etc.. These won't get you a date with a cheerleader, but you might be able to jump into a less popular sport and be competitive as a rookie while "checking the box" for athletics on your application.

    But then, what do I know?

    Good luck
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016
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  16. HMCoF2021

    HMCoF2021 Member

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    That was very interesting. I admire your daughter's tenacity. Truly inspirational. Congratulations on her acceptance! I am amazed and envious at how you grew 6 inches in two years :). I have been 5'8" since I was 14. In regards to sports, I would like to clarify that while I am not in any varsity team, I do participate in various athletic activities. I run for 4 miles at least four times a week. I also play in a competitive badminton club once a week. Lastly, I play basketball a couple of times a week at my local community center. While I spend most of my free time studying or playing guitar, I strive to allot time for daily physical exercise.
     
  17. GoNavy2020

    GoNavy2020 Member

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    Are there any running clubs near you that you could join? Or could you start one with your local recreation center or Y? Just Dad is absolutely correct that the USNA is very big on sports. (All midshipmen are required to play some kind of sport at the academy, from varsity down to club sports.) Starting your own club/group could be YOUR story/journey to tell the nomination boards and your BGO. You wanted a cross country-type group with whom to run and didn't have that opportunity at school, so you created your own club/group by doing X, Y, and Z. It was challenging because of A, B, and C factors. Definitely would be an added plus if your group is one that continues on after you've headed off to a SA/college.
     
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  18. HMCoF2021

    HMCoF2021 Member

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    I have never thought of that. I will look for running clubs to join. I'm sure there are some around here.
     
  19. MilVetSpouseMom

    MilVetSpouseMom Member

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    As the Mom of a Plebe-to-be, & one who has learned a lot by visiting this site on a regular basis (started when our DD attended an Academy Day & said ‘these are the types of people I want to be around!’), I wanted to share some knowledge gained:

    1. Talk with your folks & ask for their support in helping you stay on track & meeting milestones along the way. Our DD planned for all USNA items to start when NASS opened in Jan, & to be finished before starting senior year in Aug, and she met that goal. She then had time to work plans B & C by applying to 14 other colleges by Oct. Since her BGO was at Academy Day she was able to reach out to him for guidance along her 17+ month journey. BGO’s remain dedicated to their efforts.

    2. Since you are accepted to NASS you will complete the CFA while there. Our DD built up endurance by taking the timed test once a week to get used to the events (about 3 months before going to NASS). She printed out all events (to know proper form), kept a training log & I timed her. Helped seeing the numbers! After NASS you can request your CFA numbers from your AC. NASS re-iterated this was what she wanted to do & would put in the work to try & get there.

    3. To improve test scores she took a SAT boot camp during spring break week of junior year. Check with local community colleges for great rates and options. Take tests as often as possible.

    4. She requested all letters of recommendation before school ended junior year. Some teachers she had to remind during summer to complete online. Be sure to thank folks for their help!

    5. Completed physical & eye exams within week of request from DODMERB (during summer). Get items completed sooner rather than later to get off your plate.

    6. Apply for every Nomination you qualify for. Even though she received Presidential early on, she still applied to all others (VP/Senators/Reps). They were part of her Aug deadline & she had more time to complete their packets in the summer than if attempted during school year.

    7. Maintain a challenging course load in various subjects, to include senior year. DD was asked what type of math she was taking during senior year, which was AP Cal (also part of science research team, visual arts track, etc).
    When DD received her Appointment she cried tears of joy and was immediately humbled stating there are so many smart & talented people out there trying for a slot. That night we made it a family event, recording her accepting her Appointment on the portal. Soon after accepting she thanked her BGO, her Congressman for his Nomination & teachers/counselors/principal for their support. Being the first student from her HS to go to USNA was a challenge while she was getting her packet together, but it was also a great lesson in patience, staying the course & remaining grateful along the way.

    Use this forum as a way to educate yourself & keep your family informed on how they can help. Eyes on the prize!
     
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  20. HMCoF2021

    HMCoF2021 Member

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    Thank you for the response and advice. That was extremely inspirational. It is really encouraging reading about the hardworking and determined applicants who committed to the substantial effort and time needed to get accepted to the USNA. Congratulations to you and your DD!
     
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