Making Mistakes at Beast

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by Iwheel, Jul 15, 2010.

  1. Iwheel

    Iwheel Parent of

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    I need your help and feedback to understand the seriousness of a section of the letter I received yesterday from my new cadet at Beast:

    "There are a lot of rules. Recently I broke a few mess hall rules (not putting down utensils while chewing food) and some other mistakes. My squad leader told me all these mistakes will eventually affect my GPA. I am very worried, so I spoke to him a few times. He seems willing to help but the fact is he has little time..."

    How serious is this kind of mistakes? And how can these affect GPA (the official academic year hasn't started?) or he really meant affecting his class ranking not GPA?

    Any inputs are appreciated.
     
  2. djfrro

    djfrro Member

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    It is not going to affect his GPA, or his class ranking. relax beast is almost over then the hard part starts.
     
  3. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    Making mistakes affects how the cadre grade him. The cadre will assign him a military grade for beast. His class rank is a combination of GPA, military grade, and physical grade. GPA is the most heavily weighted. How he eats will not weigh as heavily as, for example, is he safe with his weapon?
     
  4. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I was a terrible New Cadet. Singled out for special attention after I lost my rifle card 5 minutes after getting it. Finished in the top 10% of my class. Not bragging, just saying. The road is long. Tell him not to sweat it. Just keep on keepin' on.
     
  5. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    :thumb:
     
  6. Iwheel

    Iwheel Parent of

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    Thank you both for the inputs. I am going to write him now with what you said.
     
  7. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    Early in my sons plebe year at Kings Point he was selected from his company to ring ‘eight bells’ just before morning colors. He hosed it up royally.. (don’t ask me how; his mother and I always thought he could at least count to ten). The reward for his mistake was 15 minutes of quality ‘one on one’ time with the Regimental Commander. As you might well imagine it was NOT a very pleasant experience for him. He survived it though (along with a few other bumps in the road) and ended up graduating. Although, unlike scoutpilot, he was never a threat to cracking the top 10% of his class..:redface:

    :thumb:+1
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2010
  8. Iwheel

    Iwheel Parent of

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    Being singled out at Beast must feel pretty awful, I could only imaging.

    Has there been cases where someone didn't pass Beast due to low military grades? Would they allow you to proceed and graduate from the Academy?
    Or will they just ask you to repeat the activities until you no longer make the mistakes?
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
  9. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    You pretty much either pass CBT or quit/separate. There's no recycling.
     
  10. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    My theory has always been that no one who hides under the radar and spends plebe summer/year unnoticed is ever going to break out on top. Some causes for attention, of course, are bad but some are not so bad and keeping the proper attitude and displaying the right amount of enthusiasm can actually make them a positive.
     
  11. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    That being said, hold on to your rifle card.
     
  12. Grannie

    Grannie Member

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    You know I have to ask. Did he or you think he would not make these types of mistakes; and if so, not have them pointed out? Like "Scout" says, don't make the mistakes big ones. I've not attended the Academy; but from what I've read, the NCs are supposed to be learning to follow and to perform every detail at a high level. Your NC is seeing first hand different leadership/management styles and what he is learning now will help in forming the styles he chooses to integrate into his personal leadership style. It's my understanding that they are learning the importance of attention to detail, which is something we civilians kinda gloss over sometimes. In the future the attention to detail he is learning right now can save lives.

    The type of kids that are chosen to attend West Point are typically the "good" ones as compared with most others in their age group. :shake: Neither us, as parents, nor them, as NCs, are accustomed to them receiving much criticism. Remember too, what once was your little one is now on their own. Thank goodness he cares if he is doing things "right"! Frankly, if his infractions are as small as described, he's doing really well.
     
  13. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Grannie is spot-on with her comments. If I may, I'll add to them a bit.

    I want to preface this with the caveat that I don't like enumerating things about myself. It smacks of the behavior of some others on this forum who take every opportunity to list every accolade their DS/DD/DH has ever received. But, I think there are some worried parents out there so bear with me.

    I was a great student in high school. Football and wrestling and academic challenge captain. NHS, AP classes, community awards, all that jazz. In short, I was like many of your children: a "great kid" according to our standard metrics for assessing young folks.

    On June 29, 2000 I said my 90-second goodbye to my folks and walked across the field at Michie Stadium. At that moment, I immediately became a failure. Yes, really!

    My roommate and I tried very hard to have the cleanest room, so we got up at 0300 to clean. At 0530, we were snatched from our room to take the APFT. I failed. Miserably. MISERABLY. Failed two out of three events.

    Two days later we were issued our rifle cards for our M-14s, the card that cadets keep for 4 years. Within five minutes of getting it, I dropped it on the ground in North Area. How did I get it back? My Tac Officer and CBT Company commander came to my room and chewed me up like cheap bubble gum. A major and a cadet captain. If MacArthur barracks had larger windows, I think I might have jumped, as it would have been preferable at the time.

    My squad leader thought I had a bad attitude (In his defense, well, I probably did). He sent the company XO over at every formation to rip into me. I still remember her...CDT LT Sayles. She was as vicious as the day is long (In her defense, I needed it, and in the end she turned out to be a really sweet and wonderful person).

    Reorgy Week I didn't eat a single meal because my tablemates and I were so bad at duties, the firsties wouldn't give us permission to eat. That's after 7 weeks of doing those duties! Talk about three kids who could screw up a one-car parade. Thank god my team leader smuggled me food.

    Let's fast-forward to the academic year. My first World History paper? Failed. 30%. Wrong documentation format. I had to re-do the paper, but not for any more points. DDS pop quizzes? I failed those suckers like it was going out of style. The IOCT...well, I think it only took me 8 or 9 tries to pass it. Again, the barracks windows must be made so small for a reason...

    Over the years, things ebbed and flowed. Highs and lows. I got picked for some pretty prestigious stuff. I also did just shy of 100 hours on the area in my time. I had a Tac NCO who loved me. I also had a Tac NCO who hated my guts. I had some great personal victories. I also had some really fantastic down-in-flames defeats.

    By the end, I could bench press 325 pounds and run a 13:24 2-mile. Not bad for a kid who tubed his first APFT.

    I was selected three times for SCUSA, twice for FAEP, and once for an Olmsted Foundation summer fellowship. I've been an honor graduate of my OBC course, my Career Course, and Pathfinder school. I was the distinguished honor graduate of Air Assault school and the Joint Firepower Controller course. I had regular sit-downs with two division commanders (MG Caslen and then MG Cucolo) and their one-star sidekicks to brief them on our activities at the Special Operations Task Force. Not bad for a kid who couldn't even document a paper about the "Sea People" in the right format.

    Years ago, I made pilot-in-command before any other LT in my first squadron. Not bad for a kid who couldn't handle a DDS pop quiz.

    What's the moral of this? If you're failing, you're "on-path, on-glideslope" (Mongo will get that). Hard to believe, I know. Read Colin Powell's leadership lessons, and you'll find a great story about how, as a LT, he lost his .45 pistol on a mission in West Germany. I'd say things turned out alright for Colin Powell. CJCS ADM Mike Mullen graduated 611th out of 836th in his class. He's done alright in the ensuing years, too.

    Like Grannie pointed out, most of the mistakes you make aren't big or even really consequential in the long run. But when you've been a big fish in a little pond for years, it's hard to find yourself suddenly in the ocean. Achievers don't like to fail. If he was failing and didn't give a rat's ***, then you'd have a problem. The fact that little mistakes eat him up is a good thing.

    My name's ScoutPilot and I'm living proof that you can @#*! up by the numbers and still have a pretty darn good time and a really exciting and rewarding career.

    The road is long. Very long. The failures are what will make him succeed later on.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
  14. sprog

    sprog Member

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    Totally not related to the theme of the thread, but I went to this as a rep. from VMI during my senior year.
     
  15. Iwheel

    Iwheel Parent of

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    Thank You!

    To ScoutPilot:
    I lost my words after reading your post. My salute to you.
    Not only are you stories touchy, you summarize them, weave they into a post that inspires me, and soon my NC, in a way that is far and few in between. I hope the forum can keep it as a sticky.
    I am going back to read your post more times. First needed to say: Thank you, before I do so.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
  16. another13mom

    another13mom Member

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    Thanks, scout pilot, for reminding us that our kids can be human, make mistakes, and pick themselves up again. My son has finished plebe year, likely smack in the middle of his class -- we are so proud of him -- yes, he likely could have studied a bit more and watched a little less hockey, but he likely needed the mindless break watching a hockey game or fifty could give him. In the long run, being in the middle may affect his career trajectory, but given your prior post about your good friend Paul, I don't really give a %*!@.

    As someone much younger than I would say, thanks for keeping it real!
     
  17. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    Advice I posted for New Cadets in another thread [see the full text here: http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/showpost.php?p=114787&postcount=3] is along the lines of what has been written here. It can be very difficult for "high achievers" to accept failure. That is why it is so important that they go to a SA understanding that they will encounter failure--repeatedly--while a cadet. The program is designed that way...for good reasons! Among other things, cadets learn to persevere and not accept defeat.

    Without getting overly preachy, when I failed at some trivial task as a New Cadet, like table duties, and an upperclassman ranted that my lack of attention to detail could get someone killed one day, I thought, "this guy is nuts." I continued to think that as a cadet and young officer...until I actually saw leaders' lack of attention to detail get soldiers killed. There are important lessons to be learned from seemingly trivial tasks and growth opportunities in every failure. OK, getting off the soap box.
     
  18. adoloris

    adoloris Member

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    thanks

    I really appreciate Scout Pilots posts--I think it should be a sticky. My kid is halfway through Beast too. I guess I'm a little different--if my kid had been talking about GPA and the like I would've told him he's thinking too far ahead and to focus on the now--day to day, meal to meal, pillow to pillow. Do your best in every way on a day to day basis.
     
  19. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Thanks all. It's my pleasure to give you all a glimpse into the life of a regular everyday normal guy.:thumb:
     
  20. USMA2014Dad

    USMA2014Dad New Member

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    Hey, ScoutPilot:

    I know that NC's can elect to separate if they don't feel they fit in. How many or for what percentage of NC's is the decision involuntary?

    Thanks.
     

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