It may be Way Too Early to be asking these questions...

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Laurantwins, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. Laurantwins

    Laurantwins Member

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    Hi there!

    Here's the background:

    I have 14 year old twin boys who are incoming HS freshman. DH and I know nothing about service academies, but I am learning a lot through online research and the wealth of knowledge available on these forums. When DS#1 expressed interest in the service academies last year, we attended an information forum. He learned about STEM camp, applied, and attended last summer. Hence, DS#1 has set his sights on the USNA.

    As a family, we flew across the country to pick him up. DH, DS#2, and I were touring the USNA when DS#2 turned to me and said: "I'm going to do this, too." Now, both have applied for STEM camp and are waiting to hear. In the meantime, I have picked up a second job, just in case they're accepted and we need to buy plane tickets, quick!

    We live in a very small town, where students are encouraged to take only two Pre-AP classes at a time. If the parent advocates for all four Pre-AP classes, they will permit it - so I know that the boys will okay there.

    Here's where I need advice:
    I've read a lot about Chemistry and Calculus being very important classes in applying to and attending the USNA. On a typical graduation plan for our small school district, these classes aren't taken until Senior year. In looking a my boys' graduation plans, I've figured that they could take Chemistry and Calculus their Junior year, if they wanted to double up math Freshman year and science Sophomore year.

    Should I plan on advocating for this? This is a big step for our high school, which heavily promotes vocational programs.

    Extra info: Both boys are currently in honors classes, and are planning on Pre-AP and AP in high school. DH is a Physical Therapist, but was a high school Chemistry & Physics teacher. I am a high school English teacher. Most students in our small town go to junior colleges/vocational programs. Boys & DH are Native American (Cherokee Nation!). From where we are now, my boys are reaching for the stars, here.
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I personally think what you're saying makes sense. While I didn't grow up (or apply from) a small town, I think you understand that they're leaving that behind in the application process. They have to compete on the same level as kids at school that may be less focused on vocational programs. While it may stretch their school there, it's probably more in step with the folks they'll be competing with to go to the Naval Academy.

    It's also helpful to consider these things early. So much in high school is planned out. In my experience, many classes were "linked" and there was a natural path or course to take. I took Honors Chemistry before AP Chemistry. I took AP Calc AB before (or was it during) AP Physics B because the two were related.

    But I'd also say, make sure you don't base every decision on that end goal (USNA). Don't steer them in one direction because it will look good on an application. Let them have fun.

    Some people get a taste for an academy is will love it forever. Some like it for awhile until they realize there are other things in the world to do, and other colleges call their names.

    That said.... I think your approach to this is good and forward thinking! The long road awaits!!!
     
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  3. Mom529

    Mom529 Member

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    I'm not understanding what the problem is by taking calculus and chemistry in the senior year. Why would this be bad? When you fill out your application you list your senior year courses. Isn't calculus the normal senior year math?
     
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  4. MammaMia

    MammaMia Member

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    @Laurantwins, congratulations to your boys for their ambition and to you for thinking ahead. DS took Honors Chem as a sophomore, then AP Physics B and C. He did not take AP Calculus AB until his senior year, and received an appointment in December. Taking chem and calc before senior year is not strictly necessary, though having taken both at some point in high school is important. Remember, applications aren't due until senior year (though they can be submitted as early as the summer before) and they include a listing of senior-year courses. .

    How would taking two years of math as 9th graders work? Algebra + geometry? Are they both math-oriented, such that that's a reasonable load? (I'm not a math person, and it would kill me. But DS took honors Alg II/Trig in 9th grade, so it's obviously do-able for the more mathematically-inclined.)

    Best of luck to you.
     
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  5. hthp37

    hthp37 Member

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    If your kids are STEM oriented, I would advocate for as much as possible. We are from a very different sounding school district, but my plebe doubled up his junior year on Physics and AP Chem and then his senior year he did AP Physics and AP Biology. I'm not sure doubling up on math would work as well though. Many high school math curriculums are more limited in what they offer and often math courses require pre-requisites. I know at my sons high school, it topped out at APCalc AB/BC. But I have heard of kids who are more advanced or seeking more options, enrolling in college courses(with approval of school administration)to get ahead.
     
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  6. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Nothing wrong with taking those classes senior year. The Academy may or may not want to see their 7th semester transcripts prior to making a decision on their applications. Instead of doubling up, can they take summer school classes? Are there Community College classes they can take to step up math and science? Agree, that so many things are linked, but on the other hand, have some fun too! Going into high school is a big adjustment also, as they mature, classes step up a notch, athletics get more serious, etc. If summer school is an option that would prevent doubling up during that transition year.

    I doubled up in high school in sciences, but not in math. I think that might be challenging.
     
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  7. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    Laurantwins: Its great that your sons are thinking/ planning so far ahead. You have focused on academics which make sense as you plot out the course of study. But your boys will also want to focus on athletics, extracurricular activities, leadership positions, work experience and volunteer hours. A lot can happen in the next few years - having a goal helps keep focus. But as others have said, high school is also a time to have some fun and mature as a person. Ultimately, they may choose not to go down this path, but the hard work and efforts of studying hard, education and personal development will pay off for a lifetime.

    There are, of course, multiple service academies. Not sure if your twins on exclusively focused on the USNA or would be open to the other academies. I was a product of the ROTC system as is my DS. I recommend you consider this an option also.
     
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  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Just to clarify on what I mean by "connected" or a "path."

    Here's an example (and it may be dated).

    AP Physics B is "trig based" while AP Physics C is "Calc based". If you want to maximize your APs, it could make sense to take AP Physics B after taking trig and AP Physics C after taking at least AP Calc AB. If you end up taking AP Physics C at the same time you're taking Calculus, that can be very difficult. I could guess some school programs try to keep the two in step, but some don't. Learning something new can be difficult, but if that basis of that new thing is something else you haven't learned.... that will make things even harder.

    And some classes are in a natural progression. AP Calc AB is easier than AP Calc BC, so you'd take AP Calc AB first to get your calculus feet wet before tackling the harder AP Calc BC.

    And some aren't really connected at all. You could double up on AP Biology and AP Chemistry fairly easily. Both are different kinds of "fun."

    Hope that makes more sense.
     
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  9. Laurantwins

    Laurantwins Member

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    Thank you all so much for responding! We are reading every response & making notes!

    Our small school district doesn't have an ROTC program. We actually went to visit Texas A&M yesterday - because I do want my sons to look at lots of options for becoming a military officer while earning a degree - but I don't know if they would even be able to apply for an ROTC scholarship w/o access to an ROTC program in high school. Does anyone know if this can be done?

    Right now, the high school course guide shows "Calculus" as one class - we have a meeting scheduled with the HS counselor - so I'll ask about Calculus AB and BC. It looks like they don't have multiple options for Physics - I think it is only offered as a Dual Credit class (so it wouldn't be AP).

    Our district doesn't offer summer school classes for students who want to accelerate - only remedial classes for students who fail the state standardized tests.

    I am going to research different options for summer school- maybe driving to a bigger district? Or online classes? The problem will be getting our district to accept the classes and allow them to be part of DS & DS's GPA & class rank.

    Both boys work all summer baling hay! (Summertime in the country!). Both are in athletics and will start working towards varsity letters next year.

    They both are realizing that the USNA (and all service academies) as a goal will have to be something that they REALLY, REALLY want to do - working towards this means giving up a lot of downtime and staying focused.

    I'll be proud of them no matter where they ultimately end up - I'm just trying to figure out if USNA is even an attainable goal for 2 boys from a small, rural district. Parenthood has suddenly become complicated. :/
     
  10. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    I should have been clearer. I meant ROTC at the university level. Yes, you can absolutely apply for and join ROTC at a college without having done so at the high school level.

    There a 2,3, and 4 year scholarships (depends upon the service ie: Army, Navy, Air Force) and you can also join without a scholarship.
     
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  11. DrJ

    DrJ Member

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    DS received a NROTC scholarship and he did not participate in an ROTC program in high school--not even sure that is an option where we live--so based on DS's experience I don't think that should be an impediment for your boys.

    DS didn't even consider USNA until summer after his junior year--can't say I recommend that, as it was a scramble for him to get everything done in time. But it did mean he took classes and did ECA's that interested him without an eye to "what will USNA think of this?" and I think that was really good for him. The candidate selection process seems very mysterious to me--more so over time and not less!--but I wonder if part of his appeal to USNA is that he had a lot of diversity in his coursework and ECA's. Best of all, he has had a great time in high school and, no matter where he ends up, that matters.

    I wish DS could have done other USNA opportunities, like STEM camp and summer seminar, but we only had a chance to do a CVW given our timeline. It was our first exposure to USNA and we were all very impressed--well worth the expense entailed.

    The only other thing we did was attend Academy Day some distance from our home, and that was helpful, too. Professionals as well as students from all of the academies were there, gave formal talks as well as answered questions 1:1; staff from the MOC offices were there to answer questions, too. If that is an option where you live, I would definitely attend a couple of those over the course of the next few years.
     
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  12. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Don't worry if your school does not offer JROTC, there really aren't that many that do if you look purely at numbers. Just have your boys take the hardest classes they can at the school. The SAs will know that they did by looking at their school profile. SAs and colleges know that all schools are not created equal and most students cannot control this. Not every family has the ability to spend thousands a year for a private school or have other STEM schools or magnet schools to pick from. I was also from a small town and our local high school was our only option unless we wanted to attend a third rate Christian School that had no accreditation. I did pretty well and had solid, but not crazy ACT scores. I think this is where standardized tests really become important to show how they compare to the rest of the country. Knocking those out of the park really can help them out along with good grades and recommendations. Don't worry about the things you can't control, focus on what they can. They sound like great boys and will naturally push one another and also help one another along this path. Oh yeah, lots of twins at the SAs, so when it comes to Noms, don't worry about them competing against one another. Its out of your control, just apply for all Noms they can.
     
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  13. SDMom2019

    SDMom2019 Member

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    I agree with NavyHoops. Your boys will be fine as long as they take, and excel in, the honors courses and the most challenging math and science classes offered at their high school. It will not be held against them that their school doesn't offer the same opportunities as other schools might.

    We also live in a small town with a small school district. There are no AP classes offered at my son's high school. (You read that right -- none.) He has taken all of the honors courses available to him, that's all he could do. Being in a small school has its advantages. There are lots of opportunities to play team sports and become leaders in those programs. If your school is similar to ours, they allow anyone who can handle the practices to be on the teams. They don't even have to try-out, like they would at a larger school. Similarly, there are numerous opportunities to take on leadership roles in other areas, like student council, church groups, etc...

    I'm kind of glad my son didn't realize he wanted to attend a Service Academy until the beginning of his Senior Year. He made his choices for what classes to take and what activities to participate in based on what interested him. He had zero interest in being on Student Council and planning school dances. So, he didn't do that. But, he did take leadership roles in activities he enjoyed, like his church group and sports teams.

    I honestly don't think it's held against you if you don't attend STEM trainings/summer sessions, etc... at the academies. I think it carries just as much weight to have held jobs in the summer. My son has never attended any of these camps. He has been a life guard at the city pool over the last couple of summers and taught swim lessons to the little kids. He did take time off from work to attend basketball/football camps and go on his church group's service trips. I think that an argument could be made that reasonable folks would look just as favorably upon having a job and doing service work in inner cities in the summer as they would on attending summer sessions.

    If the SAs only chose kids who went to the best schools and attended summer sessions, there would not be very much economic diversity at the academies. In my opinion, that wouldn't be an ideal situation. (Speaking of diversity, it can't hurt that your twins are part Cherokee. ;) )

    The one activity I would recommend that does seem to carry some weight is attending Boys State. My son attended our Boys State last year, though he didn't realize at the time it would be so important. Maybe they figure the students chosen are ones who have shown leadership potential as judged by their schools. I don't know. All I know is, if I were you, I would have them pursue that if possible. It's a great experience.

    Excelling on the standardized tests (ACT/SAT) would be important. Most libraries offer access to the "Learning Express Library" which is an electronic resource that has tutorials, e-books, and numerous practice tests for each standardized test. You can access it from your home computer. It's free and convenient, all it takes is a bit of time to use it.

    Good luck to your kids. I hope they enjoy their high school years, and you enjoy your time with them. Before you know it, they will be Seniors. You will be wishing time would slow down, but it doesn't.
     
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  14. Laurantwins

    Laurantwins Member

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    Maybe it's not bad? I read that they would apply after their junior year, so I thought maybe they would need those classes to already be on their transcripts. Since posting this question, I've seen that service academies will ask for their senior year schedule - so we may have a little breathing room and not need to double up.

    In many ways, their starting high school and choosing a plan for the next four years is a little overwhelming to me. I'm worried that we're going to make some sort of mistake that will limit their options. :(
     
  15. Laurantwins

    Laurantwins Member

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    You are absolutely right about small towns having great opportunities for sports & leadership. I learned about Boys State while reading this forum, and put it on the calendar to look into when they reach their junior year. I think I'm going to take a deep breath, calm down, and just encourage them both to do the best that they can, where they are, with what they've got.
     
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  16. alaska66

    alaska66 CGA Admissions Partner

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    Laurantwins,

    Just a couple of thoughts since you are very early in the process:

    Plan out classes so that math, english and science are taken all four years of high school, and take the most advanced classes your school has. AP Calculus (either AB or BC, whatever your school offers) and AP Chemistry are actually advantageous to take during the senior year. Both Calc and Chem are very difficult classes the first year at any academy, so minimizing the time between taking those classes in high school and again at an academy are to your advantage. As others have stated, the academies will request your school's information and will know the curriculum they offer.

    Pay special attention to the instructors for math and english during junior year. It is important for these teachers to be ones who will be willing, and able, to write the required recommendations for the application process. You can find several threads regarding applicants who have had issues with instructors either being unwilling, or unorganized, and thus delayed the application process.

    Take standardized tests early. I would suggest starting sophomore year to get a feel for which test, SAT or ACT, works best for your sons.

    As others have stated, sports, clubs, and volunteer positions are also very important. There are many threads with ideas on those topics.

    Stay healthy! Since you are very early in the process, now is the time to objectively review your sons' medical history. I have known of several candidates who have had their dream crushed due to the medical process. Study up on the DoDMERB requirements. Here's the link to the form that all candidates for the academies or ROTC fill out. https://dodmerb.tricare.osd.mil/Docs/dd2492.pdf

    Good luck!
     
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  17. Blondie1

    Blondie1 Member

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    We live in a relatively small town as well. DS took calculus his senior year he tested out of calc 1 at USNA and is currently doing great in calc 3. So I don't see anything wrong with calc senior year.
     
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  18. Laurantwins

    Laurantwins Member

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    @alaska66 Thank you!! I had thought that the boys would be wanting Calculus & Chemistry teachers to write recommendations - I did not know that the recommendations would come from math (if they don't double up, it will be Pre-Calculus) and English III.

    I am going to re-look at their 4 year plans. They were both asked to be in a class called PALS (peer assisted leadership) where they would tutor elementary school students. They were going to drop that and take Geometry & Algebra II at the same time - but it sounds like leadership has an important role in this process, too!
     
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  19. 1964BGO

    1964BGO Member

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    Your sons' early decision is very important to their preparation for pursuing offers of appointment to any service academy, and it is important that they start laying the foundation. You have received an abundance of excellent information in the posts, and you should carefully consider it. A couple of things to consider along the way: the service academies are looking for young people who have made the commitment to service to country - this is central to the existence of the academies. But more than that, commitment is vital to the process of pursuing an appointment as well as to contending with the regimen of the four year program. The academies also are looking for evidence of leadership attributes and experiences that can be built upon by the academies. ECA's such as student government, class officer, Eagle Scout, Gold Award, Boys/Girls State/Nation, Hugh Obrien Youth, Civil Air Patrol, Sea Cadets, Junior ROTC, Young Marines, etc, all offer excellent leadership programs. Church-based programs also can be excellent opportunities for youths to experience service to communities.

    As often mentioned above, the math and science honors and AP courses are important to get laid out early so the student doesn't discover the needed course is not available when it should be. It is important that you also ensure your twins will get some rigorous grammar and composition courses at the honors or AP level. The recommendation to start taking the SAT/ACT exams as early as sophomore year, I feel, is right on point. Further I recommend taking each exam at least once as the exams are different and one may be more favorable to a given candidate. Also, the academies will take scores from both exams and give the candidate the benefit of his best scores regardless of exam. NAVY only requires the math and verbal exams, and does not consider scores from other sections. The candidate should retake the exams until he is comfortable that he has achieved his best score - but aim high.

    Also, it is not too early for you to check the websites of your Members of Congress (MOC) - Representative and Senators - for information regarding their nomnating processes as each MOC makes his/her own rules. Many of them have service academy events which will feature representatives of the five service academies who will welcome the opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns a candidate or prospect may have. The MOC's I have worked with always have welcomed high schoolers at any grade level at these events.

    The serious prospect/candidate should start his application process in the spring of junior year and aim to complete the application packet by the end of the summer or early September.

    You might check Amazon or the Naval Academy Visitor's Gift Store (www.navyonline.com) for the Naval Academy Candidate's Guide. It will provide your family with a wealth of information about the Naval Academy, the admissions process, plebe summer and academic year, and more related topics. My sincere best wishes to your twins, and all prospects and candidates. This is a very rigorous endeavor, and my best advice to them is to strive to do their absolute best. For support, I strongly recommend reading some of the discussions on this site relating to waiting for an offer of appointment.
     
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  20. COmom

    COmom Member

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    Lots and lots of good advice above, especially not rushing through the sequence of the math curriculum and seeking leadership roles, so I won't expand on it. Working during the summer (grew up on a farm and baled hay all summer too--builds good upper body strength for those push ups and pull ups :)) and/or school year carries more weight than doing nothing or focusing only on a sport. When I see a kid with zero work experience, I also know he/she is missing the important experiences of working for someone as well as showing responsibility for holding down a job. Well-rounded kids (strong academics, leadership, sports, community involvement, volunteering, job) are sought after by all of the selective schools including SAs.
     
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