Civilian college to academy

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by william2337, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. william2337

    william2337 Member

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    I've read the "What are my chances?" sticky and I realize that no one here can give me a definitive answer, but I would like to get peoples opinion on my situation. I'm 20 and about to start my senior year at the University of Colorado-Denver. I very much want to join the navy as an officer and have looked into both USNA and OCS. I don't want to start a "you should just go to OCS" discussion as I am set on the academy.

    My dilemma is that my SAT scores are very low (520 verbal and 670 math). The reason for my low scores is that by the time I took the SAT I had already taken over two years of college courses (at a university not AP), which allowed me to apply as a transfer student as opposed to a new freshmen. The only reason I took the SAT was because my school made me (I had already been accepted to my number one choice). My high school gpa was 4.33.

    I am a physics major (3.82 GPA), the only classes I have less than A's in are one physics class and three chem classes (all B's). I am the project leader for a research lab at my school, which I started and found funding for. I have hundreds of hours of volunteer work and several extra curricular's.

    My question isn't am I going to get accepted, but rather does my clear success in an actual university negate my low test scores from an admissions perspective? My understanding is that those tests are designed to predict success in college, so it would make since that the SAT really wouldn't matter since my college transcript is impressive. Agree or disagree?

    Note that on top of several years of math/physics/chem/biology, I have taken my fair share of humanities.

    I intend on retaking the SAT or ACT, the problem is that I might not be able to get my scores back by the deadlines for all of my potential nomination sources. That being said, I am more worried about the opinion of my Congressmen than the academy (right now at least).
     
  2. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    If you're a senior in college, USNA could care less about your SAT scores. Seriously. SATs are viewed by USNA as a predictor of college success. The better predictor is how well you actually do in college courses. Do not retake the SATs for USNA purposes.

    In terms of your MOCs, you might want to call the coordinators for each of them and ask what weight (if any) they give to SATs for a student with 3 full years of college under his belt. Hopefully, they will say that your college grades are enough -- but it is up to the discretion of each of the MOCs and USNA has no control over that.

    Sounds like you've done well academically. Have you taken calculus?

    Be prepared to discuss with your BGO and your MOC nomination panels why you want to "start over" as a plebe at USNA. I'm NOT saying that there's anything wrong with your plan -- quite the contrary. But people will ask and you should have your response ready -- and ensure it comes from the heart (which I'm sure it does).
     
  3. william2337

    william2337 Member

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    I'm a physics major... as far as math goes Ive taken (and gotten A's in): calc 1,2, and 3, linear algebra, differential equations, partial differential equations, stats/prob, and a physics class called "the mathematics of theoretical physics" (you probably don't want to know what that actually entails). I'm glad to hear that you don't think the academy will care. I'm just worried that since my SATs are so low my congressmen (MOCs???) wont even look at the rest of my application. Although only one of them has "qualifying SAT" scores. As far as starting over goes, I feel like it only enhances my application. That sacrifice is all the more motivation to do well.
     
  4. USNA'02

    USNA'02 Member

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    is this your second or third time applying? you certainly would have to state why you want to start over...you do understand that none of your credits will carry over...why the academy over OCS to earn your commission?

    it will be tough as the admissions board will note you are about to embark on your senior yr in college and they will really have a hard giving you an appointment knowing you'll be starting from square one...the biggest hurdle i think you'll have to overcome is convincing the USNA why they should give someone starting their senior year of college an appointment to the USNA.
     
  5. william2337

    william2337 Member

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    No, it is my first time applying. For a very long time I wanted to be a doctor in the military. So when it came time to apply to college I looked at the academies (as well as ROTC), but it seemed the best way to get a commission as a doctor was a direct commission. This was because I found that there are very limited spots for midshipmen/cadets to go to med school. So I decided that incurring student loan debt would be worth it (and I still think the experience was). When I got to college I was given the "research talk" by my adviser (who is now both my research partner and sponsored by the Department of Navy Research). Basically he told me, as all pre-med kids hear, that with how competitive med school is you don't have a chance if you haven't been involved in research, then he gave me a list of what research was going on in the school that I could jump in on. Long story short, I was interested in how aneurysms formed and none of the faculty was looking into that. So I started the research my self. The idea was to find a set of equations that when coupled with modern imaging techniques could predict aneurysm formation (*crossing fingers* I hope to published this by the end of the year). Anyways, obviously doing this exposed me to the world of modern medicine as well as bioengineering. I've really enjoyed the experience, but the most valuable thing it has taught me was that I don't want to be in the medical/bioengineering field for life. The desire to be a doctor went away...but the calling to be in the military didn't.

    Why the academy and not OCS? I've heard a lot of people debating what commissioning source produces the best officers: academy vs ROTC vs OCS. The consensus is that in the end what matters is the person not the source. I whole heartily agree with that in general, but I know my self... I will be a better officer for having spent 4 at USNA. As a doctor, 4 years experience is better than 4 years of extra schooling. However now I'm going for unrestricted officer positions, so being the best trained I can be before I'm in charge of the lives of enlisted men and women is important to me. Even if it slows down my career by 3 years (Ill only be 3 years older than most plebes, not 4).
     
  6. william2337

    william2337 Member

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    Oh, and yes I do realize none of my credits will transfer. I will probably be able to validate a lot, but I know it is a four year program no matter what and you have to take full time courses each semester. I look forward to getting to have a new major, it will make me more well rounded. Matter of fact, I prefer to study something completely new to me. Arabic or Poly Sci. Something along those lines.
     
  7. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    I'll take the contrarian view on this, suggesting from USNA POV ... and the institution's responsibility to its funders, i.e. the taxpayers.

    This is nuts. Why in the world would USNA choose to educate someone who's already educated? Why in the world would USNA choose to give a precious slot to one who might be a fine candidate for admission, simply because he wants the experience? That is precisely what ROTC programs and after-the-fact, OCS programs are for.

    There is plenty wrong with this approach, and asking the taxpayer to take on an unnecessary $500K burden for your whim is imo, irresponsible. Furthermore, it's selfish to prevent another worthy candidate from doing precisely what you perhaps might have done. Grow up and go to OCS. Great you want to be an officer in USN. Get on with it and quit playing around.

    And imo, BGO's should be discouraging such wasteful, selfish considerations. These placements at USNA and other SAs are not more entitlement chits waiting to be handed out.

    And while it makes no difference ... did you or did you not apply previously? No gobblety gook about research, blah blah. Did you or did you not receive offer of appointment? Were I a BGO and heard that, my assessment would be clear.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2011
  8. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    With all due respect, I disagree. There are more than a few stories of college graduates attending USNA.

    I worked with a student several years ago who entered USNA with two full years of college. Like the OP, it was the first application and this person didn't even consider attending a SA until the second year of college -- it just wasn't on the horizon. Some of that person's courses were duplicative of USNA but many were not. And, quite honestly, I figured it would either be a great success or a total disaster. It turned out to be the former; that individual did extremely well at USNA and was commissioned a year ago.

    BGOs should discuss thoroughly with college students the advantages and disadvantages of attending USNA vs. OCS. However, the decision on whether to offer the individual an appointment rests with USNA. If they believe it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to admit someone with substantial time in college, they need not offer the appointment. The same is true of MOCs -- if they believe the person shouldn't be at USNA, they need not offer a nom.

    As a BGO, it's my job to be honest and realistic and provide the relevant facts. If the candidate still has the desire to apply, he/she should do so and see what happens.
     
  9. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    Well, with all due respect, let me offer a few more thoughts on this situation.

    1. The OP will have completed, presumably taking sufficient course work to graduate, covering 4 years, not 1 or 2.

    2. While not a significant issue, he proclaims to have previously applied, altho there is no indication or evidence of that or its outcome

    3. He talks of being a doctor. We all know the monumental complexities and challenges of that relative to a USNA experience.

    4. The notion that it's been done is lame, especially in light of 2 very dramatic shifts in today's picture:
    A. VASTLY increased recruitment of diversity students resulting in 60% increase in candidacies all of which means there are fewer spots available for meritorious students, unless in one of those diversity categories.
    B. Our nation is in dire financial distress. Resources, including precious spots for training and equipping officers for the USN and USMC, are extremely costly. They should be awarded judiciously, and not merely or even marginally to already educated students who simply want to attend USNA rather than go to OCS.
    5. BGOs are not merely to be advocates of wannabe students. They are first and foremost to be advocates of the USN and more specifically USNA. Imo, it is grossly irresponsible to encourage situations like this, realizing if he succeeds, you have prevented another, totally unnecessarily, from having the opportunity to not merely experience USNA ... a great, nice thing for sure ... but more important becoming an officer in the USN or USMC.

    It's important to remember the end-game in this, and while the task might be on USNA admissions process, the objective is to attract, educate, and commission the best possible candidates for these assignments. I'll stick by my original assessment ... encouraging this individual and others in this situation is naive, perhaps irresponsible, and unacceptable to the taxpayers and the other candidates seeking that one precious appointment that would be nice and appropriate were he not already a potentially perfect candidate for OCS. In the word of a famous military officer ... NUTS!

    What is the value-added for that $500,000 and more that you'd be recommending be devoted to this candidate? Wow, this one is so clear, imo. But apparently not. I'm finding it difficult to be persuaded that taxpayers should spend half a million bucks and more to assuage this young man's "want." I want a new BMW. So what.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011
  10. william2337

    william2337 Member

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    Whistle pig, did you actually read my posts?

    1) "While not a significant issue, he proclaims to have previously applied, altho there is no indication or evidence of that or its outcome "
    WRONG!
    "No, it is my first time applying."

    2) "He talks of being a doctor. We all know the monumental complexities and challenges of that relative to a USNA experience."
    WRONG!
    "The desire to be a doctor went away...but the calling to be in the military didn't."... this was the whole point of me bringing up my research, I wasn't trying to be boastful.

    3)This is the really important one. "I don't want to start a "you should just go to OCS" discussion as I am set on the academy. "


    On an added note, you say that you think it would be a waste of the taxpayers money. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Sure it is a waste of my money in that I will still have student loans, but not the taxpayers. The return on investment from the taxpayers perspective is the same regardless. You make it sound as if I would be cheating some one out of an appointment. If I get an appointment it will be because I've worked harder than the people I am competing with. I can't imagine that additional education HURTS any one's application.

    If anything I think the academy and eventually the fleet will nothing if not benefit from my additional education.

    Don't get me wrong, my highest priority is serving as an officer...not going to the academy. I've looking into all the commissioning sources (including grad school ROTC) and know what they all entail. I have my heart set on the academy and am very surprised that anyone on a website named "serviceacademyforums" wouldnt understand that. It isnt out of a sense of entitlement, rather a feeling of responsibility. I know my self, and while I'm sure I will make a fine officer regardless of how I get in, I feel like it is my responsibility to get the best training I can before I am in charge of the lives of sailors. For me, and every one is different, that is the academy.

    All this aside, my question wasn't "what do you think about my situation" rather a very particular question regarding the SAT.

    edit: also does no one here find it a little offensive to compare the USNA to a BMW?
     
  11. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Call admisssions in re your SAT score question. My understanding is that any score below 600, no matter the eductional background, will result in a negative influence on the WPM score. Additionally, it will cause an extra scrutiny by the Board in order to ascertain scholatic qualification. IOW, I have been told on several occassions by admissions just to ensure that all college applicants make every attempt possible to score 600. However, your question seems to be more about MOC reaction and all MOCs are different. No generalizations can be made.

    In response to the other debate, each and every candidate brings varied values to the Brigade.
     
  12. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    I read your posts. Please clarify ... did you apply? What was the outcome? What is your status re: wanting to be an MD?

    And with all due respect, I'll stick by my responses. Investing in anyone at your stage, is a monumental waste of the applicants time IF his #1 objective is to become an officer in the USN. And certainly as good use of the taxpayers' money is a total abuse of either. IF the objective is to become an officer in the USN.

    btw, I fully understand you did not ask a question to which you could not afford the answer. Like asking, "is Santa Claus good or bad?" in lieu of "is there a Santa?" When I find myself in that position, I'm reminded of Colonel Jessup's profound response, "Whistle Pig, you can't handle the truth."

    Furthermore, isn't your indignation and sense of righteousness a bit misplaced. Don't you think it would be better directed in sensing the right thing to do would be to get on with your pursuit and allow the placement you desire to go to one who has yet to receive ANY education or opportunity for commissioning?

    btw, your point on ADDITIONAL education, in fact, graduates of USN, with rare exceptions are expected to provide service BEFORE getting that benefit. I'd recommend go serve, then ask for the taxpayer to fund your desires.

    You need not take this personally. It's not. Anyone in your position needs to get on with it and lead the way into the fleet. btw, IF you would not qualify for OCS? Then surely you'd not do so for USNA. Thus it has to be open to you. All or nothing.

    Sorry you see it offensive that you'd like the taxpayer to fund a 2nd 4 year undergraduate education for you. I confess to already having a vehicle, but I'd really like a BMW. It's not even close to costing what a USNA 2nd bachelors degree would cost the taxpayers, and I could start driving it immediately.

    I'm confident you'll do what you will without regard to any of these ideas about yours. And like all young men and women seeking to serve our nation, I trust and hope you'll seek and take the high road. Best wishes in your pursuit of becoming an officer.

    btw, Mongo ... those candidates can only bring value to the Brigade if they are offered and accept an appointment. Thus there are a great many who do not. And it is personally tragic for those who merit appointment but fail to receive one because of another who received that appointment. This is the ultimate zero-sum game, and were it your child or mine who failed to be appointed because of a scenario like this one? You and I'd likely be singing from the same hymnal.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011
  13. william2337

    william2337 Member

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    No, I have not applied before. That's why I said "this is my first time applying."

    No, I don't want to be a doctor. That's why I said "The desire to be a doctor went away...but the calling to be in the military didn't."

    "graduates of USN, with rare exceptions are expected to provide service BEFORE getting that benefit"

    I assume you mean USNA... but that is because the Navy is paying for both of their educations, I have paid for one of mine.

    If the USN was in dire need of officers right now, I would, with out hesitation, sign up for OCS. Likewise if the US Army or Marine infantry was demolished in a battle and desperately needed more infantrymen, I would enlist in a heart beat. However, OCS fills all of its slots. In the end, with how many applications there are, there will still be the same number of officers.

    The average cost of private four year college is $27k a year... so $108k for all four years. You say the academy spends $500k. What does that extra $392k do? Its the reason the academy is more than just a university. Sure, the $108k is spent on a second bachelors as opposed to the first. Maybe in that aspect its less useful to me than the average applicant. That is not to say that it is, by any means, useless to me and to the fleet. However, I promise you that with my added maturity, life experience, sense of responsibility, and dedication, that $392k gets you a hell of lot more with me than with some one fresh out of high school.

    The tax payers and the Navy don't lose if I am appointed to the academy. Matter of fact they gain some one with more qualifications than they would other wise have. I lose my time and money, and some one else loses their appointment. But if I get appointed they lose it ONLY because I am more qualified than they are. I do not see how that is selfish.

    I realize you are just giving me your opinion and that it is isn't personal, but I see no logic in your argument... unless of course you are either an OCS recruiter or a Colorado candidate for the 2016 class (or their parent).


    "And it is personally tragic for those who merit appointment but fail to receive one because of another who received that appointment."
    If admission was solely based on merit, I would most certainly be appointed.
     
  14. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    William, while I strongly disagree with Whistle Pig's posts in this thread, they are excellent illustrations of the kind of reservations you might encounter in your application process. You can make yourself, your application package, that much stronger if you anticipate the reservations you're going to get from a BGO and MoC, for instance. The trick is to develop a narrative that acknowledges (does not dismiss) those concerns and makes the strongest possible case for you to go USNA as your commissioning source. (Also, I assume but want you to make sure you will be able to meet the age requirement, because that is not waiverable.)

    Chime to Mongo's advice to call Admissions. As usna1985 pointed out, there have been a few instances of several years of college under the belt before applying to USNA. Does anyone remember the details of a recent grad who had enough credits to graduate from [Berkeley UCLA, similar excellent college, I believe it was in CA], and the young man was accepted at USNA? Perhaps William is our next Rhodes or Truman scholar.
     
  15. william2337

    william2337 Member

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    Yes, I know the age requirements. I am 20 right now, and will be 21 on I-day. I started college at 16, so I'm pretty young for the position I am in. If I get appointed, I would not be surprised if there are prior enlisted even older than me.

    I have already met with my BGO and he seemed impressed by my academic history. He did not question my motivation any more than what I would assume are the regular questions. I will make sure to acknowledged that potential concern to my MoCs in my personal statements. I appreciate every ones input.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011
  16. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    No one here is questioning your motivation, william. Very glad to hear you've already been in touch with your BGO. If you haven't already, get DoDMERB going and start thinking about which of your professors can write good letters for you. I'm a college prof, and the easiest letters for me to write go, rather obviously, to students I know well and when I have at least two weeks before the deadline. I especially like getting a resume/CV from my requesters, along with a "brag sheet" - those accomplishments about which they are most proud and want me to make sure I mention in my letter. Perhaps you've thought of this already; I posted in case any other applicants want to do themselves a favor.
     
  17. william2337

    william2337 Member

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    I don't think any of you are questioning my motivation. My BGO just didn't seem to think of it as "starting over." Its not like I un-earn my first degree if/when I become a plebe. From what I've seen, via validation it could actually enable me to do a lot of cool stuff (research, extra electives, study abroad, vgep, ect). I have gotten several recommendations and have finished DODMERB, all I have left is the CFA and the nomination. Again, this has been a helpful post and I appreciate every ones opinions.
     
  18. USNA'02

    USNA'02 Member

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    Whitsle Pig, I will have to disagree with your comments on this post. It's probably a good thing you aren't a BGO if you will so quickly dismiss what could be a very great candidate for the USNA.

    As a BGO who's in the Denver Metro area I'm very interested and want to ensure William is prepared and will have a solid package assembled to give him the best opportunity to succeed in earning an appointment to the USNA. Also, as an interview panel member for one of the MOCs from CO last year I do have some insight into what at least one of them is looking for in their nomination process.

    As a BGO I would NEVER discourage anyone from applying. I'm honest with my candidates and tell them that their test scores are average or grades are boarder line, but i wouldn't tell them just b/c of those factors there's no chance they'll get an appointment and they might as well not complete the application process. That is not my decision that's for the admissions board to decide. there are other factors that I may not be aware of that are available to the board that make someone a standout candidate.

    Yes, I'm an advocate not only for the USNA but as well as the Navy. When I interview my candidates I'm not looking for someone who's just got the brains, more importantly I'm looking for someone who's got leadership potential. It doesn't matter if they are just out of HS, prior enlisted, or have several yrs of college under their belt. Theses candidates could possible be my DIVO (division officer) in my wardroom someday. I am much more favorable of a candidate who might struggle academically but has great leadership potential then someone whose an academic genius but little to no leadership potential (based on the interview and any additional information the candidate decides to provide me with). Being a grad and someone who went to NAPS I know that the USNA will ensure you graduate if you are struggling w/ the academic workload as long as you are willing to put in the extra time and effort.

    First: I'm not sure where you are getting your statistics of 60% increase is solely b/c of the recruitment of diversity students, but you're totally off the mark.

    Second: I'm going to assume that you take the term "diversity" to mean minorities. Prior to my recent briefing from USNA regarding this very subject that was my understanding of this "diversity" push by USNA. However, that is not the case. When they talk diversity they are talking about the several districts across the USA that are under represented by either low number of applicants, low number of nominations or in some cases MOCs not nominating ANYONE. An example of one of those under represented areas is North Dakota. I use that as an example b/c the current Superintendent is from ND and seeing he's an USNA grad he knows that USNA is missing out on some very good candidates that more than likely have never heard of the USNA and the opportunities it provides to it's students.

    there are candidates EVERY YEAR that don't get an appointment that are highly qualified and would make a great officer, they don't get offered NAPS or Foundation b/c they are overqualified (academically). Yet those who got NAPS/Foundation didn't meet the qualification yet they will enter the following class year provided they earn a nomination, graduate, and meet the medical qualifications. do you think they are taking a spot from someone who is more qualified? another factor you have to think about is what type of nomination did they receive. some MOCs will nominate a primary and alternate and then rank the respective 8 slots - of those USNA might want the candidate whose NOT the primary BUT cannot offer them an appointment as the MOC tied their hands and told them who their selection is going to be - USNA will have to follow that and if that candidate isn't medically qualified then it falls to the alternate and if they aren't medically qualified then it goes down the list of RANKED names.
     
  19. Sunk @ the Docks

    Sunk @ the Docks Member

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    William:

    After reading some of your posts, you come off as sounding very pompus and self-promoting. You go into needless detail and over-explain everything. If your question was about if your SAT scores mattered because you did well in college, I dont see why you need to go on and explain what grades you got for every class when you could just say what your gpa is (which you do). Also, your explaination about how you wanted to become a doctor, but then decided against it because of x, y and z was also very drawn out. I can see why Whistle Pig got confused as to if you want to be a doctor or not. I noticed this, in part because I tend to over explain things as well. You have to sell yourself when it comes to these kinds of things, just try not to oversell yourself, it does not reflect positively on you, in my opinion.

    You sound like you are very qualified, and the only real blemish you have is your SAT scores. However, as others stated, this is not really an issue. I did 1 year of college at a liberal arts school before going to Kings Point and I deff agree with you that going to a civilian college gives you something that other, highschool kids just dont have. You know what you are giving up to go to a Service Academy.

    I think the point that Whistle Pig is trying to make is that you are almost done with college and by going back and doing another 4 years is a bit of a waste for many different reasons. In my opinion, I dont see why you would not be accepted into Navy OCS. You could have your commision in hand with in a year and have been out in the fleet for 3 years before the USNA-You would have graduated. That way, you can give the Navy the benefit of your greatness that much sooner. Of course, you will do what you want, and I am sure you will excel at it.
     
  20. Sunk @ the Docks

    Sunk @ the Docks Member

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    Also, while you may be right about the average college costing 27k a year, the Service Academies are not "average." My school quotes our education at $250k. While I feel that 500k might be a little too high, I wouldnt be suprised if the costs were over 300k. Dont forget, this is the govt, needless spending and over budgeting is expected.
     

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