No more Principal Nominations.

Discussion in 'Nominations' started by Maplerock, Mar 15, 2016.

  1. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    It is time to eliminate principal nominations from Members of Congress. The subjective nature of them is grossly unfair to other applicants. It doesn’t eliminate the possibility of them gaining admission, but it surely restricts their path.


    If you search principal nomination (PNoms) on this sit you’ll find evidence of people not in the top 10% of their class, kids with mid-range SAT’s, and others who were granted PNoms. They may meet the academy minimums for admissions, but may not be the best the Congressional district or state had to offer. So why would the MOC give them the PNom? Perhaps the kid was a great interviewee. Maybe there was a family hardship. Possibly the MOC knew the family. Who knows?


    What I do know is that there are stellar kids passed over year after year in favor of special “picks” by the Congressman. A stellar kid behind a principal nominee may find another way get in, but not always.

    So why is a PNom even an option for the MOC? Does the MOC know what the academy is looking for better than the academy itself? Some principal nominations have left me scratching my head. There are some ultra-competitive districts out there where principal nominees have been named. That just doesn’t seem fair to the other kids that are from different schools, with different backgrounds, and different resume’s. In my opinion it is time to take that power away from our MOC’s. Let the academies sort out their appointees without the interference of Congress.

    And while I’m speechifying, why don’t all MOC’s publish their nominees? In my state, one senator and our Congressman used to publish. Now none do. Their picks can’t be scrutinized if not published. Nominating is their job. We pay them to do it. Therefore, I believe that we have the right to see who is nominated. I believe we also should have the right to know if a principal nominee has been selected. The politicians cite confidentiality concerns. Horse hooey. The kids they appoint will be attending on tax-payer dollars. We have a right to see and know whom the MOC’s deem worthy. If their choices are visible to all, there will be a much smaller chance of nepotism and political paybacks (although I don’t believe that happens often.)

    Do academies benefit from principal nominations? I don’t think so. All this is my opinion, but shouldn’t principal nominations be abolished? Heck, maybe the Coast Guard Academy is right. Perhaps we should take the members of congress out of the nomination process altogether.
     
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  2. HopefulDad3210

    HopefulDad3210 Member

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    Your post assumes quite a lot about how MOCs go about identifying principal nominees. Isn't it possible that they are equalizing the process for things that may not be reflected in the numbers. The premise of your statement that a nominee may have had a good interview is that a good interview is not a valid basis for determining nomination status. Not sure all would agree. Quality and local reputation of high school and past experience and track record of kids from that high school may also be a factor. Is that not a valid basis for an MOC to make distinctions? I'm just ranting opinion too, but your post seems to assume your conclusion that principal nominations are inherently unfair, thereby rendering your argument somewhat question-begging.
     
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  3. Swabthedecks

    Swabthedecks Member

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    I have two kids in diff service academies and you are right that some MOCs dont get it. For USMA, USAFA and USNA they are large enough to have state and congressional representation from all districts. This is a legal requirement. If you are only person nomiated from you district and you meet the minimums as set by the academies, you are in. Some MOCs dont do a Prin Nom. Some congreesional districts dont even have any applicants. (Rangel district) I wouldnt be so quick to join the USCGA process as the standard. Last I look they have full discretion through the direct applicant pool. Note that they have twice the % of females. My son had a complete package with but one B in high school and was wait listed but no appointment. Really? The others were better? I dont think so. Really the best candidate prob/must have a competitive athletic resume. These academies gotta have there teams fully staffed.
     
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  4. Capri120

    Capri120 Member

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    I apologize up front, but I could not let this one go without a response.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and rants, however, do NOT belittle or lump all the appointees that receive principal nominations into the "not as good" category.

    My DD has worked her tail off the throughout her entire school life and especially over the last three years.

    I will put her achievements and scores up against anyone without a principal nomination that received an appointment.
    Not only is she THE top in her high school class by far, she will also be graduating with an AS in Chemistry with highest honors (90 college credit hours) at the SAME time she receives her diploma from high school. She is a stellar athlete and leader in her high school, in the classes at the college she attends, as well as the community.

    Being from a smaller, rural school can sometimes be a detriment, but having the opportunities to pursue more advanced classes via college (45 minutes away) is one aspect I commend the school and its staff for affording the students that have the initiative and work ethic my DD does.

    Possibly, Maplerock, you might consider the fact that the MOC sees something very special in a young person who is willing to "throw away" two - three years of college work - 90 college credit hours to be exact - and "start over" to attend four years at a service academy, so they can not only be challenged, but to serve their country and be part of a great team. DD is a very driven young woman who could easily complete her BS in Chemistry in less than two more years then go on to medical school, which is her goal, even after completing four years at the Academy.
    I will end my soap box speech for now.
     
  5. Freda'sMom

    Freda'sMom Parent

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    How about eliminating all nominations and letting the academy decide on the best candidates to fill their class?

    One of them is already doing that and it seems to be working out quite well.....
     
  6. Capri120

    Capri120 Member

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    Eliminating nominations would definitely reduce the paperwork load on the candidates. Between duplicate info wanted as well as a multitude of letters of recommendations required, these kids have enough to do just completing the academy application requirements.
     
  7. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    I never said that there weren't suberbly qualified principal nominees. If your daughter is so supremely qualified, she most surely would have earned an appointment regardless, right? I'm sure that's what swabthedecks thought too.

    I didn't belittle anyone, except the MOC's that keep their nominees in the shadows. All the kids that get in are worthy, and some that did not get in are just as worthy. Congrats to your daughter.
     
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  8. Capri120

    Capri120 Member

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    MapleRock, this part of your comments struck a nerve. I apologize for my rant, but know how hard both of my DDs have worked for everything they have wanted. Older DD did not receive an appointment in 2008. However, her path and life are, I believe, the best for her and she is doing well in her chosen profession.

    As my DH always says, "There's a purpose for everything that happens even if we don't understand it at the time."

    I know there are hundreds of young men and women out there that are just as deserving; unfortunately, with only about 1200 slots available and nearly 10,000 applicants, even the "best" may not get in.
     
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  9. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    I agree that discussion about eliminating Principal noms may be worth while but I wholeheartedly disagree with the elimination of ALL nominations.

    Yes, it is important that the best and brightest of our country be leading our military personnel. They do deserve the best. But it is also important that the military leadership represent all parts of our nation. The congressional nomination process ensures representation from every congressional district in our country.

    Historically other countries have broken into civil wars because the military was controlled only by one region or demographic segment. Our system of nominating service academy cadets/midshipmen ensures all geographic districts are represented.
     
  10. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I can only speak for my experience as a board member for my MOC (8 years) and Senator (1 year). This was the same guy.

    As a MOC, he used the Principal/9 ranked alternates method. He had his boards do all the screening, interviews, and we made the call as to who the principal was and we ranked the alternates. We then gave the list to the staff member in charge and that was what was submitted to the academies. When I asked him why he used this method he said he didn't want to go strictly by "numbers" on tests and forms, but who was the best choice to represent the district and to be a good officer! And I will tell you openly, more than once the principal was NOT the person most would have picked: they didn't have the highest SAT/ACT scores, the highest GPA's, etc...etc...but during their interviews, they came across as THE CHOICE we wanted!

    I can say that each one I was part of (USAFA) has gone on to a superb cadet career and those that are now serving officers are making us proud!!

    FYI...when my MOC became a senator, he moved to the "qualified nominee, academy ranks/selects" method. He said that the principal method, in his opinion, was too restricting now that he represented the entire state and not a small district. I respect his choice in this.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  11. ktnatalk

    ktnatalk Sailor. Shipmate. Parent.

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    Great to know your junior senator uses the board process effectively, Steve.

    As for publishing the names, I prefer they seriously consider it before doing so. It is already easy enough to find them on social media. We don't need to publish the lists to the world, including those who have ill intentions, with names, high schools, hometowns, etc, all in a PR document, do we?
     
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  12. 16maybt

    16maybt Member

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    In my case, the selection for my Representative was done very well. He used principal noms but for each academy that you wanted a nomination to, you had to be interviewed by a panel of academy grads. There were at least 3 members on each panel and for West Point there were around 10! Being interviewed by alumni made the whole process a lot more fulfilling and built my confidence because if you got a nom, you knew that THEY thought you had what it takes. The panel members would rank the candidates and then send the lists through the proper channels. As a result of this well developed system, when I found out that I had a principal nom for USMA it was very encouraging because I knew that there were members of the Long Gray Line who took the time to get to know me and put their faith in me.

    As for my Senators, who were receiving applications from the whole state, the process was much less personal. We just Just sent in the required documents and waited to hear back. I have no idea how they selected from there because apparently for my state you can only have one nom in an effort to get more people in. Part of this could be attributed to the fact that one Senator is the Majority Leader of the Senate, and the other was running for President at the time.

    Anyways, this being said, from my brief experience, I could definitely see the pros and cons of a principal system based on how involved the Congressman is.
     
  13. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I have sat on a MOC board and we provided a ranked list. The we was a mix of alumni and staffer or two. Like flieger stated, we also did not pick the kid with highest GPA/SATs. It was a kid with great scores, well above average for the SAs, but the one we felt most confident embodied the character and drive it would take to be a great officer. IMPO, a board should never select a candidate who does not have the stats to make it thru. And remember per Us Code, USNA does not have to appoint a Principal Nom. Best stats does not equal best candidate. The interviews help capture intangibles that can't be seen with test scores in Calc. Heck one year the kid with the highest stats academically we did not even give a Nom. The kid was a whiz, but I would never trust them walk my dog. It's hard to evaluate 17-19 year olds on who has the 'it' factor when it comes to leading. Some are natural born leaders and others show solid traits that a SA will help develop and refine.
     
  14. good_dad

    good_dad Member

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    Why is there an admissions board, BGO interviews, letters of recommendation? Because the academies are selecting future leaders, not chasing "stats". The reality is the best potential future leaders will all have good stats, but not necessarily the highest stats (thus the foundation program). After all, if was all about "stats" the selection process would be data entry and a computer printout.
    I have hired plenty of employees over the years. I get 100 resumes and schedule 10-15 interviews. In most cases, there are 2-3 candidate resumes that really seem impressive and stand out. Then the interviews. No confidence, poor communication, no common sense, too much attitude. Candidate 6 enters the room and 15 minutes later...bingo, just what I was looking for. Not the best resume I've seen, but the definitely pushes the "got what it takes" button.
    If a MOC nom committee sees someone special, who might not be the "best on paper", then the principle nom option makes sense to me.
    Not sure why the Service Academies are being scrutinized any different that other colleges? Our DS applied to an top tier college and was denied. The school publishes the median SAT/ACT ranges. His scores are above the average.
     
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  15. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    We elect these men and women as our representatives to make decisions. They are far from perfect, but I would agree with @good_dad and allow them to do their job using whatever slate method available.
     
  16. Capri120

    Capri120 Member

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    of the two senators and one congress person for DD, only the congress person held an interview. the panel consisted of former academy grads - normally one AF, one WP, and one Naval. I truly believe, they too, not only looked at the resume, numbers and stats, but based their decision on answers to questions and how well the candidate held up under questions and even, in this case, a not-so-happy panel member, due to no-shows for interviews "wasting his time".
     
  17. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    Here's another story of why Congressmen should not give up the Principal nom card. We had one of our Senators who traditionally submitted an unranked slate and let the Academy pick. A couple of times an un-named service academy offered an appointment to one of the slate members but the candidate turned it down for whatever reason. Common sense would say that the un-named service academy would go back to the now slate of 9 nominees and pick another BUT they legally don't have to and did not. When our Senator found out that un-named service academy did not like any of his 3Q'ed nominees (and constituents) nor did the un-named service academy seem to respect the time and effort his staff put into developing and interviewing these candidates over the past year, the Senator was well and mightily pissed. A few very spirited phone calls were made to that Service Secretary and from that point on, he has used the Principal and numbered alternate method and has taken away the un-named service academy option to choose. You just can't cure stupid.
     
  18. Freda'sMom

    Freda'sMom Parent

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    There are years where some Congressman make no nominations at all, resulting in no cadets representing that district.

    And yet one military academy seems to succeed in representing the country geographically and demographically, without using a nomination process, and no civil wars have broken out because of it.

    Why do you have such little faith in USNA, USMA, and USAFA to make the right admissions choices for their needs?
     
  19. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    The districts that fail to nominate a candidate are the exception, not the rule.

    You truly make a leap in assuming I lack faith in the admissions process. My statement is on how the US law evolved to ensure national representation in our officer s at the SA's. I simply support those traditions that help make our country a democracy. Of course, the possibility of cIvil war is highly remote here. My remark was to simply give context of the origin of our policies in our laws.

    True, USCGA does not follow this nomination process. It is also much smaller than the othe academies and would not be able to enroll someone fron every district.

    I agree with you that the congressional nom process adds an additional level of hassle to the app process but I don't think the process was ever meant to be easy.

    It isn't perfect, but it is the current law. You are perfectly entitled to lobby to change change or amend the law. I believe you would be in the minority, but I do respect your right to disagree with me and am glad that my DS will be defending your right to do so.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
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  20. SDMom2019

    SDMom2019 Member

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    I'm not addressing the primary vs. unranked slates, just the idea of eliminating the nomination process. I think the additional steps and additional interviews are good for those seeking appointments. My son seemed to become more confident with each interview he had. Between interviews for AFROTC and NROTC slots, interviews with BGOs and ALOs, and interviews with the three committees for the MOC nominees, that was a lot of good interview experience. As previously stated, interviews reveal a lot about a person. I really don't feel that there are a lot of political shenanigans occurring with these nominations. Maybe there is some, but it doesn't seem prevalent.

    I realize a lot of qualified candidates don't get appointed. My heart breaks for many of them. But I've seen more than a few posters on this forum with good stats, but cocky attitudes. Maybe those attitudes come across in these nomination interviews or the BGO/ALO interviews. I sure hope so. I don't like to think that know-it-all candidates who would rather prove they are right than show respect for other posters...posters with way more experience...are going to be the leaders of our military. Of course, if those candidates do get appointed, I just have to trust that the process at the academies, provides a little attitude adjustment.
     

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