Freshman Qualms

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by FutureCadet12, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. FutureCadet12

    FutureCadet12 Member

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    So lately I've been having lots of qualms about my goal of attending USMA right now - after reading the syllabi for my classes this year (all honors except PE), I have realized how difficult this is going to be to balance along with my EC's. I'm starting to worry that I might not even make varsity swim. Coupled with the normal anxieties one has as a freshman, things are starting to become really challenging to handle. I will keep working hard - but I'm starting to think my efforts are futile. I would really appreciate any advice/encouragement any of you might have.
     
  2. Ponchco235

    Ponchco235 Member

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    As a recent high school graduate (class of 2016 woo!) who did many honors courses, took IB courses and got my IB Diploma, and completed multiple AP courses (Calc BC, Physics, Chemistry), I have some advice. You WILL be busy. That's not a lie or an understatement. If your schedule is anything similar to mine, you will have school until 3, sports or clubs until 5/6, and homework for the rest of the day. Your weekends will be full and will be a great time to catch up on sleep. Things will be a challenge at first BUT believe me, you CAN achieve this. You will feel overwhelmed at times but time management is everything here. If you have a weekly plan and know what you need to be doing when you need to be doing, you will survive and learn so much along the way. As a freshman, I definitely hit the ground running like you plan on and I am so happy I did. I was passionate about what I was studying and the clubs I was in, which gave me the dedication and drive to succeed in what I was doing. Be honest with who you are and follow your interests in sports, clubs, and school because this can make or break you. Also, look to your friends, your teachers, and your family for support because they can get you through tough times and encourage you when you need it.

    I will tell you this: trying does no harm. Try your best in these honor courses, get involved in clubs and sports, and push through the stressful parts. You might not get as much free time as your friends but it will be so gratifying to succeed in all these areas. While this might sound contradictory, keep time for yourself and for fun stuff. Yes, you don't want to get in the habit of putting off homework/ responsibilities but doing things on the weekends with friends will give you the sanity you need for the next week and the week after that and so on.

    If your dream is USMA or one of the academies, you're way ahead of the game here (which is great!). They want to see people who can do well in challenging courses at school, while excelling in a sport and gaining leadership experience. This sounds like a lot and it is. Don't let your anxiety get in the fear of your dream. Do your best these next four years and the rest will come with time if you put your mind to it. Best of luck!
     
  3. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    @FutureCadet12, this is completely normal. It's even normal for adults who have more experience adulting! I'm not mocking you. Here's the thing, though. You are looking at the whole mountain from way down there in the valley. "How can I ever climb that?!?" your little voice says. You don't have to run up that mountain. You don't have to have the best time ever. You get to stop every once in a while and take a breather. And as long as you pick one leg up and set it down in front of you, and repeat that, no matter what, you will get to the top.

    Make a plan. Make a plan, then be ready to adjust it. Learn not to blow off stuff. Learn to motivate yourself from the inside. One week you're going to find that you've got 2 exams, extra coach's practices in swimming, your boss wants you to pick up an extra shift at work, and if you don't get some extra help from your algebra teacher you're going to tank the exam in that class the next week. Adjust. When you have easy weeks, get ahead. Make sure to ask for help when you need it, especially from your parents.

    I will bet folding money that you'll fall on your face. In fact I'm not a sadist but I hope you do. Those are the times that are the richest opportunities for learning. You can learn not to blame, but to ask, what did not work and what do I need to do differently next time? Those are the times that prepare you for USMA, where the entire experience gets you to fall flat on your face on purpose.

    But whatever you do, no matter how tired you are, keep lifting one foot up and putting it down in front of you. Heck, anyone can do that, right? Have some fun with it! Make it a game. And when you get to the top of that mountain, make sure to turn around and take in the view. Wasn't it worth it? What can you see up there? When scientists study people who do really amazing things, these are things that they all do.
     
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  4. brovol

    brovol Member

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    I wouldn't over think the academy thing, or college in general. If you are a high school freshman you really have a couple years to contemplate. Do things that work for you, be that classes, extra curriculars , sports, or whatever else.

    Honestly , I think many of the kids on this board, and parents too, do way too much planing and effort focused on getting an academy spot. At some point you need to build your college and academy résumé, but it shouldn't consume your world ever, and certainly you can lighten up a lot during your freshman year.

    I think if you just take things in stride and see how things go your first couple years in HS, then reassess your goals. Maybe they will include USMA, maybe they won't. If you are still interested, then build the application resume. If you are forcing yourself to do things in order to make yourself a good candidate, you probably won't like it when you get there. Obviously you need to be a hard working and conscientious student, but I wouldn't worry as much about what classes you are taking this year. Others may disagree, but as a father that would be my advice.

    As an example, and perspective, my son never contemplated an academy until the end of his junior year, so nothing was done with an academy application in mind. He just did what he liked. As it happened though, he had an interest in most of the things the academies look at, and was a good student. He loved team sports, and was pretty good at them. He wanted money in his pockets, so he kept a job. He was already on NHS, and was involved with some activities, but I will admit that the one thing I thing he did do, right when he decided to apply to West Point, was run for NHS President, and he won. The other thing he did was motivate himself to study and take the ACT several times, which paid huge dividends. But that was in the summer after junior year, and during senior year. Point being, you don't need to stress at all this early. See how you feel in a couple years.
     
  5. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    One of my favorite phrases often seen on SAF: "Eat the elephant one bite at a time."

    Building your time management skills will be critical with an ambitious schedule, and will serve you in good stead all your life. Apply this rule when tempted to spend time on social media or gaming, when other things are pending: First things first. And, ask yourself, do I HAVE to do X, or do I WANT to do X?
     
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  6. FutureCadet12

    FutureCadet12 Member

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    Thank you to all for the helpful advice!
     
  7. FutureCadet12

    FutureCadet12 Member

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    So the pressing question on my mind right now is this: How do people manage such demanding schedules and not get burned out? I am able to pursue an ambitious schedule, but only for a short period of time before I burn out - so in the end, this is counterproductive.
     
  8. brovol

    brovol Member

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    You would probably hate West Point then.
     
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  9. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    Since you are just starting 9th grade, it sounds like you could do with the assistance of your new guidance counselor at your high school. Get to know him/her and ask for help with time management and study skills. High school is different from middle school.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2016
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  10. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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    Maybe, maybe not! Believe it or not you just get used to it.

    Future Cadet12. Don't assume that everybody goes away to Academy "Totally Squared Away" My Son struggled for instance to write a 2 page paper due once a week his Senior year in high school. By the end of his Plebe year he "could write that one in the bathroom in the morning" (Wording changed to protect the innocent) and was able to write a 12 page paper in a day or two. He was a 9-10 hours of sleep at night kinda guy. before he left. Who eventually would call me at 2130hrs on a Sunday night cause he had time to kill before his 2200hrs week ahead briefing on the sidewalk. You dive into a tough schedule and just do it don't think about it so much, you will amaze yourself at what you can accomplish and how many hours you can actually work.

    I' m like you, I tend to phyc myself out over thinking "All that needs to be done". Try to let up on the overthinking and "Just do it".
     
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  11. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Good post forumjunkie. I would add that planning is a good way to help overcome the stress. Never attended any service Academy but I have held some extremely stressful jobs. One way to deal with it is plan it out and then compare where you are with respect to the schedule you planned out. On schedule? No problemo. Behind schedule, re-jigger the plan.
     
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  12. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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    I have a theory that it may in Fact be easier for the Academy Kids....Everyone is doing the same thing, a lot of structure, help and group motivation.

    I have to wonder if the real hero's in the achievement arena aren't the ROTC who have to plan and manage their own time, or the college age guardsman who have to do school then often drive half way across the State to drill.

    My husband did a college Coop in Redwing MN then drove to the eastern side of Ohio to drill and get in flight time. Got stopped twice by the police, I guess for erratic driving, He was probably falling asleep at the wheel, one time they hauled him in to the station, and the desk officer said "Hey, I remember you I stopped you last month". My husband swears he doesn't even remember being stopped. They made him take a nap before they sent him on his way." Those were the good ole days, Wouldn't recommend anyone try that one now.
     
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  13. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 WPAFB

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    For me it was all about organizing things so that I was able to alternate the hard/less pleasant stuff with the activities that I loved. In high school this meant working hard in school (and using every spare minute during the school day to get schoolwork done). After school I would head to the tennis courts for some much needed exercise and completely forget about school for 3 hours. This effectively reset my brain. Then I'd go home, eat, work on homework for a couple hours (or more for pressing deadlines) then as a way to switch my brain off school Id put in some practice time on my saxophone before bed. This way the different parts of my brain got a break and I never got sick of one activity.

    Also, I almost completely cut out tv/YouTube/technology limiting myself to ONE SHOW on Sunday night. Any free time I had I usually spent sleeping. At first it was tough but like others have said, you get used to it.

    This worked for me, but you need to find what works for you. It may be totally different but the good news is you are a FRESHMAN so you have time.
     
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