failure

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by jlwilkes101, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. jlwilkes101

    jlwilkes101 Member

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    For the first time in my life, I feel as though everything I've always worked for is crashing down around my ears. Before this year (junior year), I had always taken the most challenging classes, been elected class president, lettered in sports (track, xc), etc. I got great grades. So at the beginning of this year, I decided to push myself until I collapsed, and I took on multiple leadership roles in mulitple organizations, got involved in more extracurricular activities, and got more serious about running. The one thing I didnt realize is that sleep time is not the same as free time, and cannot simply be filled up with other activites. So my year began with me spending most of my sleeping hours doing homework (since I got home late every night). This worked out great for a while, but eventually I got so exhausted that it took me forever to do work, meaning less sleep, meaning more exhaustion, and so on. Eventually I decided to move sleep as a priority over any homework that i physically couldnt do late at night, and i prioritized my homework so that the important stuff would get done first, and busy work if possible. Unfortunately, my school's grading system gives busy work a lot of weight, and i couldnt accept my grades dropping, so i went back to my old system, only this time id fallen behind, as well. And then i got sick (lack of sleep probably led to that), and i fell further behind, and as i tried to get that done, i fell behind on the new stuff. And as i watched my grades drop, I tried harder and harder to get everything i could done, but that just led to problems with tests, as i couldnt concentrate in school after a week of no sleep. Everything fell apart one day when I pulled a virtual all nighter (45 minutes of sleep), went to school, had literally literally 5 tests, 3 of which I couldnt keep my eyes open for. And so i watched the grades i had tried so hard to keep up collapse because i had exhausted myself trying to keep them up. I was accepted into NHS today, but was too depressed to care because report cards came out at the same time. And although ive tried to explain to my teachers what is going on, im terrified that they mistake my exhaustion for a lack of interest in their classes. All my past teachers have told me they would love to write me recommendations, but im afraid my teachers this year dont see me the way they did. And let me tell you, its depressing.
    But I have gotten a lot out of this year. I've learned the importance of time management, planning, and organization (i just learned it too late). I've leanred the importance of prioritizing. And I've learned a lot about the importance of integrity; many of my classmates have also found difficulty with this year, but have basically cheated their way through it. I made the decision early on that it doesn't matter if I make it into West Point if I do so dishonestly, because if one day I'm stationed in a desert somewhere in Afghanistan, I wont have my 11th grade transcript with me; ill have my integrity or nothing at all.
    But basically, does West Point view those lessons as a valuable part of who I am? Because I honestly do not believe that I would be as strong of a candidate had I not experienced what I have this year. I know that Plebe year is supposed to feel like this, and if I hadn't had this struggle, I wouldn't be aware of what I need to know to get through it.
    Sorry if this is long or rambling, which im pretty sure it is. Or confusing. As ive said, i havent really slept much in a while.......
     
  2. NamD

    NamD Candidate

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    hey!
    my dad always said.."control, control and control".
    it seems to me like you have a lot of potential but you overused them. I recommend doing your "minimum" amount of extracurriculars, leadership and etc because even if you do the "minimum", it sounds like you have a ton of leadership and work experience anyway :)
    another thing, it also sounds like you're down and depressed. dont do that to yourself. in the end, you're the one who is putting yourself down by being frustrated and stressed. I understand you are stressed and frustrated, but its easier to admit your mistake, cut down on some stuff and try again. you still have plenty of time. A good leader (again from my dad), knows how to make decisions based on his personal agenda. you cant be a superman :)
    good luck! and dont worry! cut down on some stuff and focus on your grades again. you have an enormous amount of potential :)
     
  3. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    Sounds to me like you have some good examples for your essay! Perhaps you need to pass some of the leadership to the VP so you can free up some sleep time!
     
  4. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    I would make an appointment with your guidance counselor. They are very helpful with things like this.
     
  5. billyb

    billyb Member

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    Sounds like you went thru plebe year in HS! When things spin out of control, reorganize, recalibrate and push forward. Getting your grades back up to all As should be first priority and you will have a heck of a story to tell!
     
  6. TheDukeOfEarl

    TheDukeOfEarl Member

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    First allow me to hijack the thread for a paragrpah of venting, and then I'll add my two cents back on the driect topic.... Embedded within your tale is the ludicrous fact that you had a test in every single one of your subjects on the same day. Our son seems to run into these same kinds of cycles, and I have not been able to understand how the teaching model at our high schools can be so broken as to allow these bottlenecks that seem to occur more and more often as the school year nears its end. It is as if the folks teaching the classes don't realize that it is the same cluster of kids attending all of the classes, especially once you are the level of AP and honors classes we're talking about where the same group of 10 or 20 or 30 kids are all taking the classes, and it is as if the teachers aren't even aware of the existence of each others' classes. Sure, I can see why a teacher wants to get a major exam in right before the week-long spring vacation, so they have time to grade them over that week or so the students don't lose their retention of the info, but it does seem that the amount of quizzes and tests is high and uncoordinated amongst the staff. And don't even get me started on the value of the busy work, of having a Junior-year honor student spend half his weekend making a poster with glitter and artwork about some theme in the 'Great Gatsby', and which will be graded not on content but primarily on important criteria such as "coloring within the lines" and "ooo, I like shiny things". No wonder students like you are walking zombies when it all converges at these choke points.

    Hang in there! You need to dial back on everything except academics. The advice above is spot on. Make your VP, treasurer, secretary, student council reps, etc step up and tell them you are simply off line for the next two weeks and you'll be happy to handle a fair share but not more. Skip the club meetings -- find another junior or a sophomore who is interested in getting experience running a meeting or two.

    Above all, you have abused your body and mind, and those are the only instruments you have for keeping yourself in the game track. I'd also recommend you set up a 15 minute meeting with each teacher to (1) explain your situation and (2) make a plan with each of them for how you can climb out of the hole you have inadvertently dug for yourself. Set them as your allies and you will succeed.

    I hope you don't mind, but I plan to show your post to our son so he knows he is not alone... and you should take comfort in knowing that you are, as well, not alone. Your situation is a common one.

    Good luck.
     
  7. jasondavid92

    jasondavid92 USMA Cadet

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    This is exactly how my high school is. The teachers will tell us they realize we have other classes but frankly, they don't care. They expect all of us to do well in theirs and don't really care how well you do in another. In my county, there is a policy where a student doesn't have to take more than 3 tests in one day but the teacher's only true option is to give the test in the morning before school or in the afternoon after school because they don't want to push the test to another day or use class time to let the student take it. The majority of students don't want to come in early or stay late to take a test so they just push through and end up taking the four or five tests that day with an added project on top of it. Yes, it seems as if taking more than two or three AP classes is a ridiculous amount of work just to get into college, or the college you want. And I don't really care for West Point's recognition of AP credit as you must take a validation test in almost all the subjects even if the student achieves a 5! Only 10-15% of students who take the AP Exam in a given course achieve a 5 and now I have to take another test just to prove that I already mastered the course? Just a thought, but I am still stoked to be accepted and going to West Point lol
     
  8. synapse

    synapse USMA Appointee 2015

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    There's nothing wrong with failure as long as you show that when you get knocked down, you can get back up and fight twice as hard.

    On all my applications, I marked 2 years of lacrosse (since it's a spring sport, I'm just now in my final season), and every so often in an interview I would get asked "why is this only two years rather than three years?" To which I respond by telling the story of how I learned to play in freshman year, got cut from JV AND the freshman team in sophomore year, worked my butt off in the off-season, and ended up lettering during junior year.

    I don't think they necessarily want to see a perfect scholar-athlete-leader, because the people that have everything go their way are the ones least capable of dealing when things go wrong. Show them that failure doesn't faze you, but that it steels you to do better instead.

    Keep hanging in there
     
  9. jlwilkes101

    jlwilkes101 Member

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    you have no idea how much i appreciate all of this. thanks to all of you for your advice and support :smile:
    and i think im going to go talk to my guidance counselor tomorrow, and then hopefully my teachers as soon as possible.
     
  10. tiki

    tiki USMA 2015 Appointee

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    Ahh I completely understand this! A perfect example from the first few days of my AP Chem class comes to mind:
    "I understand most if not all of you in here just came from AP Calculus, and especially after an hour long test in there it's hard to come in here and sit down to take another hour long test! So I'll try my best to coordinate my test schedule with the calculus teacher's test schedule so you won't take them on the same days."

    This worked for about one test, then AP Chem teacher was over having to move her tests...so then we just had to deal.

    Ah well, yeah it was hard, but I just look at it is a little bit of prep for WP life...even though I realize WP academic life will be 100 times that hard!

    Your scenario seems crazy though! Definitely talk to your teachers and get focused on where you want to go; you can do it!
     

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