I don't know what to do.

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by RevenantCommotion457, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. RevenantCommotion457

    RevenantCommotion457 New Member

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    Recently, I've been looking into West Point as my primary college goal. I can't exactly phrase why I want to attend so badly at this moment, but what I can tell you is that I can feel how much I want it. It's that feeling in your gut that makes you sick when you think about attaining something you've worked so hard for.
    So here is my predicament. Currently, I am a freshman in high school with very limited athletic experience but fairly good academics.

    Academics
    - Current GPA is 4.2
    - My current academic schedule includes: Honors Algebra II, Biology Honors, World History and Civilizations Honors, and Honors English 9.
    - Next year I will be taking the following as my academic classes: Honors Geometry, Chemistry Honors, Government Honors, Economics Honors, Music Theory and Composition, and Honors English 10.
    - I will be participating in all IB courses and hopefully graduating with the IB diploma.
    - 36th in a class of 336.

    Athletics
    - One season in Track in 7th grade
    - Currently participating in Tae Kwon Do, working towards my black belt
    - Starting back up for track my sophomore year, most likely will letter also.
    - Perhaps Tennis

    Im not sure if this will help any but also
    Band
    - In Pep Band, Jazz Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Marching Band.
    - Future Drum Major hopeful, could probably achieve it if I keep working at it as I am. Maybe i'll make it my senior aaand junior year?
    - Next year i'll be in the Musical Pit Band also.
    - Have already lettered and earned a chevron in my band class.
    - Also a future section leader hopeful, as we appoint leaders based on the best player in the section.

    I am also going to apply for Junior Miss my junior year. It is a sort of competition type thing that helps win scholarships but I thought it could help with the community part of West Point applications?

    As for the physical qualifications, I'm afraid I've drawn the short end of the straw. My fastest mile was 7:40 but it usually falls around 8-10 minutes. I can barely do one push-up but I'm working on that. After doing Phys Ed tests in the beginning of my freshman year, I achieved 38 sit-ups in one minute. Can't do a pull-up either.

    I was wondering if anyone had any advice for me at this point because I am feeling very discouraged and I don't want to give up on my dream. I've seen members on this forum make a great impact on future cadets and I'd be so thankful if I could be assisted as well.

    So perhaps advice on more leadership opportunities or athletics. Anything would be great.
    :welcome1:
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Actually, I think you're on the right track. Keep those grades high. Keep at track and consider adding cross country. Keep working on the pullups, situps, pushups, etc. You've lots of time to get in shape on those but keep at it now!

    I can't speak to Junior Miss but anything that helps develop self-confidence and social skills can't be bad (if Junior Miss does that). We semi-forced DS to participate in Cotillion when he was young and it made a world of difference in how he carries himself in all social situations. I don't think he realized the benefits he accrued from it until much later in high-school and college, although it was immediately evident to us.
     
  3. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    You obviously already recognize your weak area -- athletics/sports. While some folks are naturally more gifted than others in this area, everyone can achieve the level required to be appointed to, and succeed at, a SA.

    A few suggestions.

    If you can afford to hire a personal trainer, that would be a great option. A trainer can not only design an effective program to get in (better) shape but can also motivate you during workouts. If you can't afford it, you might find someone who could at least get you started with a plan.

    Talk to coaches/PE teachers at your school. Explain your goals and ask them to help you with a workout program. Try to find someone who can work out with you, to provide encouragement and motivation.

    Join a summer league that requires running -- soccer, lacrosse, etc. Almost every community has a variety of such programs (police, Catholic youth, city/county, etc.).

    Join a school team in the fall -- again, preferably one that requires running such as the cross-country you mentioned. It need not be varsity.

    As for band . . . most SAs consider it to be an ECA, not a true "sport." So, while it may be your passion, if USMA is also your passion, consider sacrificing some band time for athletic time.
     
  4. IcedZealot

    IcedZealot Member

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    Don't be discouraged! :smile: You are only a Freshman. You still have around 2.5 years left! Think of yourself as having a leg up on other candidates due to your early preparation. You seem to be on the right track, so if you keep your eyes on the ultimate goal of becoming admitted, you'll have a great chance of becoming a cadet

    Keep your grades up and keep taking those honors classes. Grades are important, but only if the classes you take are difficult. Get as high as possible in your class rank as well. Plus, ACT/SAT scores are an important piece of your WCS (West Points Candidate Score). This makes up 60% of your WCS

    Get as many leadership positions as you can in high school, community, church group, Boys Scouts, Boys State, etc. This makes up 30% of your WCS.

    Lastly, your athletics. Train as hard as you can for, in your case, Track. And consider competing in Cross Country because it will help you in Track. If you work and stay in shape for 2 years, while practicing all 6 events of your CFA, you will, no doubt, become at least proficient in all of them.

    As Tug Boat says - Press on, Press Forward!

    Hope this helps :D
     
  5. GoArmyBeatNavy

    GoArmyBeatNavy Member

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    If you get black belt, it may count the same as a varsity letter. If you can do it and track your athletic leadership score would be good.
     
  6. USAFA83GradWife

    USAFA83GradWife Member

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    You mentioned that you are in Tae Kwon Do. If you are with the ATA, get into their leadership program and start teaching classes (you can do this as a colorbelt.) If it's not ATA, ask your instructor how you can become involved and maybe help teach. Start competing as well. This will boost confidence, give you leadership experience, and it never hurts to have martial experience when applying to an SA (especially if you're female.) :thumb:
     
  7. AcademyFriend1

    AcademyFriend1 Member

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    Great idea to participate in track again. It can be daunting to work on running when you've never really done it before, but if you are smart, slow, and steady about this, you can build up your stamina and speed.

    Try googling for information about "Jeff Galloway" programs for training by the run-walk-run method. Basically, this helps you build stamina by "interval training" -- getting your heart rate up by running -- let's say for two minutes at the outset, then bringing it down to a comfortable resting rate by walking for 60 seconds -- then running for two minutes again. As you get better and better and have a faster "recovery rate" (the time it takes for your pulse to go from a heightened exercise-driven pulse rate down to the walking rate), you'll see that you can run for longer periods (three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, six minutes) between your 60 second walk breaks. Eventually when you run a mile or two miles after a few months of this, you will be able to push yourself and get a much better time than when you started. It is a great way to go from sedentary to in shape with a fairly low risk of injury (one common mistake people have is to try to run too much too soon and irritate things like their IT band).

    You can also google things like "couch to 5k" programs which will often work the same way. I venture to say if you are disciplined about training this summer you will feel much better about your potential as a runner and athlete, and feel like you can take more advantage of running track. Also, would cross-country be an option in the fall?

    Good luck!
     
  8. RevenantCommotion457

    RevenantCommotion457 New Member

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    Thank you all so much! I'll definitely look into all the advice you guys gave. I'm searching around for opportunities and things within my community and whatnot.

    Unfortunately, I don't believe my Tae Kwon Do school is part of the ATA because you can help teach only if you have your own black belt. At my facility it takes about 3 or so years (one girl is a high red belt and has been training for 3.5 years) to reach the final colored belt.

    As for Cross Country, I was inquiring about doing that in highschool, but because of the Marching Band schedule, I cannot be in any fall school sports. The Marching Band is just one thing I won't give up. In fact, I was going to attend Ohio State because of their band before I discovered West Point.

    I was thinking about signing up for spring Lacrosse, but I'm just afraid that I'll show up and be horrible next to the more seasoned players. I can be a little..shy.

    Once again, thank you all for being so supportive! I am definitely feeling more secure about my standings. :w00t:
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
  9. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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  10. oldcorpsdad

    oldcorpsdad Member

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    Let me be the defender of marching band. If that's what you love, stick with it and be the best you can be. Be the drum major, section leader what ever leadership you can take on. Coordinating all the facets of the Marching Band is often way more complex and a challenge than many sports. That being said, you will need to try and do a sport like track in the off season. Some sport is better than no sport. You will also probably need superior SAT/ACT scores. Think 700's to be listed as a scholar. Get into practice sessions and drill the SAT. Then you will need to do real well on the CFA. You may need a trainer. There can be no doubt in their mind about your physical abilities. With practice and a focused program, you can do well in all of the areas but it will take lots of work. I had a daughter who once couldnt do the flex hang for very long but can now do multiple pull ups. It took lots of work. My DS is there now and he did Marching Band and did one season of winter track with no letter. He got in fine but had SATs over 700. He did real well on everything except the BB throw which they made him redo. As it has been said before, it is easier to make a smart kid strong than a strong kid smart. Either way it will be lots of work for you but it is possible. You wont be the cookie cutter candidate. You will have extra work cut out for you but if you want it, do it.
     
  11. AcademyFriend1

    AcademyFriend1 Member

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    You will get lots of advice -- all of it makes sense (there are smart and thoughtful people on this forum), but you'll need to do what makes sense for you and both your day to day life and your long term goals.

    I'm a high school teacher and hear often from college reps and guidance counselors that colleges like to see students who pursue a passion. It sounds like marching band is something you are passionate about, so put me in the ranks of the advice givers who say absolutely, stick with it! In terms of your longer term goal of seeking admission to West Point, fortunately marching band does not stop you from doing all varsity sports, so you don't have to make a truly tough choice of band OR school sports. Since it sounds like you can do both marching band in the fall and then a school sport in the spring, great.

    Regarding the choice of sport, personally, as someone who played and coached lacrosse, although this may surprise you I would recommend against going out for lacrosse if you are a relative beginner compared to others. (If everyone is a total beginner that's different.) It is a skill sport and while some people pick up the stick skills very quickly it takes others much longer. You might find it frustrating to try to be part of a sport if you lack the skill set (cradling, catching, dodging, ground balls) of others. Track, on the other hand, allows you to participate at 100% of what you are capable of doing and to expand your capabilities the harder you work. The daily workouts will help your overall fitness/running ability in a more direct way than a field sport like lacrosse (which is a running sport, of course, but practices will not be as running focused as track).

    Again, good luck to you!
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2014
  12. RevenantCommotion457

    RevenantCommotion457 New Member

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    Thanks. Marching Band is just something that I don't want to give up. Besides the fact that I love playing music and adore the feeling of preforming on the field, Marching Band was the first thing that I've ever felt important to. It's somewhere where I know that I belong, and I know that my fellow band-mates agree with me.
    It's relieving to know that I can still participate and make it in.

    Does anyone know how difficult it is to score in the 700's on the SAT's? That's what I'm aiming for, to try and improve my file amongst the others.

    oldcorpsdad, Did your son do well based on raw intelligence, or did he practice? Is there anything you can suggest to help me score that high also?

    AcademyFriend1, thanks for your imput. It's nice to know that colleges look well upon someone who pursues their passions. As for lacrosse, I figured as much. Today was the girls team's first year, and I don't suspect that I could measure up against them next season.

    And MemberLG, I understand completely what you're saying. Life has a lot of tough choices, and I figure that if i add another sport or two and do well on my SAT and ACT, then it might make up for be being in the band.


    Thanks for all the help guys!
     
  13. oldcorpsdad

    oldcorpsdad Member

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    I was going to send you a PM and then decided that this is probably germane to any who read posts here. My DS totally screwed up his PSATs JR year. They were so low that he attributes that as the reason he didnt get int SLE. However, that slap in the face woke him up. He set the computer start page to the SAT question of the day, he took practice test after practice test. He signed up for an SAT improvement course (we split the cost with him). He then drilled for about a year before took a record test which he did 3 times. He coupled that with working out with a focused program on the CFA events. He ran sprints, lifted, did a ton of push ups and sit ups (should have spent more time on BB throw). He applied for and went to Boys State. He did band, scouts, studied and worked out. I dont think he had a social life his Jr year. For him that was a good combination. The more things on the candidate profile that you can have, the better. Its all about trades and priorities. 5 letters and 2 team captaincies aren't going to get you in if your academics are horrible. Every year over 500 cadets on average go to summer school. They really want candidates who dont have to go that route.
     
  14. RevenantCommotion457

    RevenantCommotion457 New Member

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    Ah! I apologize for taking so long to reply. I've been so busy lately.

    And thanks for all that information! Sorry, but I have to admit, it was sort of a relief to hear that he had to work so hard. It helps give me the motivation to keep on pushing on! I'll definitely study hard and practice.

    I only have a couple more questions. One is concerning scholar awards. Does USMA ask for previous awards and if they do, does it help with the application? I was just recently notified that I won 'Social Studies Outstanding Freshman Award' which means that out of all the freshman in my school, I had the best grades and attitude for the history classes. Does this help at all?

    Secondly, do USMA graduates get to choose what type of active duty they participate in during their required 5 years? Or is it just a regular deployed soldier type of thing? I've tried to research this but it has yielded no results thus far.
     
  15. 845something

    845something Member

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    Awards can contribute to your application, but remember, the context of the award matters. Something on the school level isn't as highly prized as something on the national level.

    Recommend that you search the threads for information on branching - it will cover the aspect of your service after leaving West Point. There is no "regular deployed soldier type of thing".
     
  16. Sparrow

    Sparrow Candidate Appointee

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    The good news is that your academic info looks great, be sure to keep it up! I think that the fact that you are passionate about band is cool too, it gives you something a little different that's your own.

    As for athletics, you still have a long time so that's in your favor. But, be sure to be using that time to work hard, and avoid thinking, "Well, I still have a few years left" and then put it off day after day.

    I agree with other posters that it might be good for you to rejoin track if you have time, it would show participation in a team sport and effort in athletics even if you never end up lettering. As for running, start small. Try to get your mile time consistently around 8:00 to start with, and then try and chip off time from there. You will find that if you start to expand your milage and work hard, then time will start to come off as a byproduct of better conditioning. Once you feel comfortable with the APFT 2 mile, I would say you should start doing sprints. 30 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest would be a good place to start.

    I'll be honest, the best way to improve push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups is to keep practicing them. When ever you go into your room, drop down and do like 10 and 10 of each focusing on form. I know you said you could barely do 1 push-up, so modify for now. Keep your knees on the ground, but be sure to be going all the way down to a 90 degree bend in your arms. And pull-ups are hard first starting out. I'm a girl as well and I'd get so jealous of the guys in the gym who'd just crank out a quick 20 as a warm-up and go on with their workout. Start by doing negatives (have a friend or chair or something get you above the bar and then slowly lower yourself down). Then try assisted pull-ups, there are machines or have a friend hold your legs, try to go til you can't anymore with these. You should get to your first pull-up from here Yay! Then continue to do assisted but make sure you're doing as many unassisted as you can even if it's only 1 per set. Chin-ups are good to strengthen the back muscles and get them stronger initially, but try to switch over to real pull-ups eventually since this will be the standard that you will be tested at. I can get about 5 now but that was with a few months of work, so don't get discouraged, it was hard for me to keep positive at first too but it'll come.

    So that's just a little advice that I hope helps! Good luck the next few years, and don't let anything get in the way of your goals if they make you happy :smile:
     
  17. RevenantCommotion457

    RevenantCommotion457 New Member

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    Hi guys! I know it has been a while. I really tried to focus on school this past year so I wasn't really online much. I just wanted to update you all on my recent achievements :)

    1. Throughout this past school year (sophomore) I maintained between a 3.9-4.2 GPA.
    2. Completed one college credit course with a 97% (A Speech) and signed up for 3 this coming year.
    3. I did end up joining the track team, I didn't letter this year but I have definitely seen improvements in my athletic preformance. I dabbled a bit in sprinting but my main focus has been pole vault.
    4. I've signed up for a fitness and weight lifting class this coming school year, which I will attend 4 days a week.
    5. And my most exciting news, I received the position of Drum Major in our marching band. We are a huge band school in my state and it's a huge honor for me to earn this leadership position. It is usually a two year thing if you receive it your junior year so I will probably be DM next year as well.
    6. I will be attending a week long leadership clinic at ISU July 12-17 which I am very excited for.

    I have fallen behind on practing my push ups and sit ups, but I have been running. I am resuming my physical practice today and will continue with it.

    I feel I have really matured this past year. I used to be unsure whether or not West Point was for me because of the 5 year commitment afterwards, but now there are no doubts. I want to be a leader in the Army and I want to service my nation. Military careers have been prominent in my family, and now I understand why they have all felt the call to duty. This is what I want in life.

    Overall, thank you guys so much for all your help! You've been really supportive and all have given great advice. I am glad there is a place like these forums where I can seek guidance on this very important goal of mine.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
  18. RevenantCommotion457

    RevenantCommotion457 New Member

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    Also here is a list of my classes I will be taking this upcoming school year (junior):

    Physics 1 Hon.
    Fitness for Athletes
    Language A1 HE 11 IB
    Advance Social Sciences (US Hist) CC
    Pre-Calculus
    Intro to 3D Art (talking to my councilor about changing this to something else)
    German 3 Hon.
    Symphonic Band
    Marching Band

    I also reclaimed my 1st chair in band. I was 1st chair trombone in 6th and 8th grade, 2nd chair in 7th grade, 8th chair as freshman, and 1st chair as sophomore. There are about 20 trombones in my high school band. I am hoping that this shows dedication when I go to apply.

    I'll also probably lead this year's Pep Band since I am Drum Major. I was approached by the teacher who organizes it and he asked me to lead.

    I've lettered twice in band already, and will get two more for my final two years. Hopefully I letter in pole vault this and next year. I was really improving last season, but then I pulled something in my leg and did really bad the rest of the season. I know that sounds like an excuse, but if I tried to run as fast as I usually did it would be excruciatingly painful. It's fine now but I'm just disappointed that I wasn't able to letter.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015

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