Overnight Visit

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by snhach, Mar 30, 2016.

  1. snhach

    snhach New Member

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    DS has a 2nd Class brother at USNA. Got a TWE last year and reapplied to both USNA and USMA this past year. Received an appointment to USMA and had an overnight visit last week. He was excited, thought that WP was probably where he fit better since he is wanting to go infantry/Marines/special forces. However, he came away from the visit very disappointed. Plebes he was assigned to did not give a favorable impression at all. Plebe and roommates were all flunking Calculus, said that despite the briefing saying that they get 4 hours a night to study they only get maybe 1. Told DS that most weekends they just sit in their rooms because there is nothing to do outside the gates. Other plebes "bumped" into him in doorways and were rude (I get plebe life, I know they are bottom of the totem pole, but during a visit?) Obviously the "campuses" are completely different, both in scenery and in location and since he has seen USNA and DTA he knows there are things to do and places to go to get away from the tedium, even if it is a few hours. Do you think he just got paired with a "bad" set of plebes? Are there things to do in Highland Falls when they have walking privileges? It seemed like other than McDonald's or a sponsor family any escape was pretty limited. These concerns seem trivial compared to the educational opportunities and the fact that he wants to serve his country, but he has also lived USNA with us as a family and knows that you have to embrace the suck but we also know that academy life is hard enough if you can enjoy any time - even if it is a day on the weekend. Thoughts about cadet life and his visit? So worried that his impression will influence him to decline and then regret it for the rest of his life.
     
  2. hamleton

    hamleton Member

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    I went to USMA on an overnight last week (USMA 2020), and I didn't experience any of this. Sure, spirits were low (came the Monday after break), but I was paired with a great set of plebes. Your DS was paired with a bad set of plebes. I obviously do not know all of the plebes, but 95% of those I met were great people, who were very helpful and considerate. As for just sitting around on the weekends, that's exactly why getting involved in a club team is so highly recommended. It allows cadets to "escape" such a structured environment, even if just for a few hours, and to make friends outside of your company. It might just be that the environment at USMA is not a good fit for your DS, but knowing that DS had the drive to reapply makes this doubtful. USMA is filled with like-minded individuals who are self-motivated and look forward to a career in the US Army. I would suggest your DS thinking more about it. Best of luck to you and your DS in the coming weeks!
     
  3. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    Sounds like he hit things at a bad time and maybe didn't get the greatest hosts. My grad didn't experience this and had a very helpful, informative plebe. His visit confirmed for him that West Point was the place for him and his goal of being an officer in the US Army.

    I hope your son isn't going to throw away an opportunity to go to West Point because he was stuck with grumpy plebes and West Point doesn't have Annapolis outside the gates. His plebes were probably trying to get caught up after spring break or were at the end of a brutal Thayer Week. No ocean, but the most amazing river in the country. Plenty of green lawns, historic buildings, and rich Revolutionary War history everywhere. However, from your other posts it kind of sounds like as far as your family is concerned, West Point pales in comparison in all aspects to USNA.

    My plebe skied in the winter (West Point has its own ski slope), golfed and fished with buddies, watched Netflix and played video games, walked into Highland Falls for great Mexican food and pizza, and found a way to relax with his friends. He got to go to the Canadian military academy and a nice ski resort. He studied late at night and on the weekends and did well. West Point will be what your son makes of it and unfortunately, if he goes in already disappointed and feeling deprived, I doubt things will ever improve. JMHO, of course.
     
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  4. snhach

    snhach New Member

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    I didn't think it paled - I loved it. Felt that it was a complete fit for DS. When he told me how disappointed he was, I was shocked. You're right, Highland Falls isn't downtown Annapolis, but in my opinion the individual, hands-on, action of USMA is much more a fit for him. That's why I'm trying to get a feel for cadet life so we can reassure him and get him past a bad first impression.
     
  5. tug_boat

    tug_boat Member

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    Ford or Chevy, you pick kid and be happy with your choice.

    Your DS can not base, at a minimum 9 years, career choice off a few struggling Plebes. He needs to have a global view of his life and the path he wants to take. Its a decision he must make and live with. However, parents can counsel them with the questions he may not know to ask. The last thing a parent wants is their little snowflake not launching into the wind. There will be challenges won and failed. I personally feel the "fails" offer the bigger lessons. Yes, West Point is a pressure cooker! Yes, West Point challenges all Cadets! Yes, West Point will buckle their knees and cause a young person to rethink their commitment before affirmation! Yes, those granite walls close in on every Cadet there! However, it takes a ton of carbon under pressure to form my wife's small diamond ring that still sparkles as bright as the day I gave it to her.

    So, after the doors slam shut behind your young son, on the other side is man who is being formed to be an Officer in The United States Military. A decision he made and must follow through with. He will learn academics, academics, academics will be his foe and this thing called "athos" will soon be in hand and it will be the relief valve for the pressure cooker.

    It is the same at USNA or USMA. There is no "easier" path. The Army has boats like the Navy. The Army has SF like the Navy. The Army has pilots like the Navy. The only real difference, you'll feel ocean spray on your face compared to sand sprayed on your face.

    At the end of the day, your DS will represent United States of America and you'll be proud of him and so will I!

    Push Hard, Press Forward

    Navy does have a better football winning streak, but will come to an end this year.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016
  6. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    Does your family know any West Point cadets? Maybe he could email or videochat with him/her and ask questions about cadet life. At this point, it would probably be better if he talked with an upperclassmen--possibly your local West Point Parents club could put him in touch with a cadet.
     
  7. tug_boat

    tug_boat Member

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    If you didn't know, 80% of West Point teachers are currently in the Army. West Point grads are invited to teach there if they graduated with a 3.5 or higher GPA. West Point instructors are some of the finest people I have ever met. USNA 80% are civilian.

    Push Hard, Press Forward
     
  8. bookreader

    bookreader Member

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    That's an interesting point @tug_boat . I didn't know that.
     
  9. dkdino

    dkdino Member

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    Today, I returned from USMA back home to MD. First visit; previously only heard about West Point and the visit was what I mostly expected, down to earth. Looking back (still have yet to reflect), I was not at all disappointed. In fact the visit surpassed my expectations of West Point. My plebe host did not sugarcoat anything. He was great and helped to show what reality at USMA was really like no matter how shocking it was. I was actually amazed how competitive intramural sports were especially grappling! (of course most if not all cadets are stellar athletes) From what I heard from the cadets, they say life is harder in USMA v USNA. Having gone to CVW and comparing both visits, I can agree somewhat even though its biased. It seemed like cadets were subjugated to a greater degree of restrictions/rules compared to midshipmen. Surely this may affect how the prospective applicants view cadets when they see or react to different behaviors. It may also turn down and disappoint some applicants, but in actuality whether this is true or not what I took away from this experience was that the challenges plebes and cadets face are everywhere at the academy. I definitely look forward to these challenges and that's why I want to attend a SA. My visit strengthened my interest in attending West Point.
     
  10. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    I have always wondered why the service academies pair a visitor with Plebes. Of all the people who who would have a miserable view of the place, a Plebe would have it....in fact, he's SUPPOSED to have it. It's called Plebe Year and it exists in all the SAs. Having an outsider a Plebe can whine to about how tough it is, and how much they are suffering is SO gratifying and feels so good. Yet, if you ask these same in-the-know bellyachers if they don't like it, why don't they quit? you get a lot of silence. If you would push it and say "Come on, dude, you can quit anytime. Just turn in your chit. Civilian U is waiting for you----girls, booze, parties, sleeping in, no intermurals, no uniforms, its all waiting. Why don't you just quit?" everybody will start looking at the ceiling, studying their fingernails, and opening books. They are not going anywhere but to graduation and they know it.

    I'm sorry your son got paired with such Negative Nancys but he just had bum luck in his draw of escorts as you can tell by the above posts.
     
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  11. jagger19

    jagger19 Member

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    Returned from my Overnight yesterday - I experienced next to none of this. My Plebe said that as long as you are diligent, you will get your work done. He finished his homework while I read a book, and we had time for a nap because he was so on to of his work! His roommate was similar, though he stayed up until 11 working on a paper. What it seems to come down to is how hard they're willing to work; when I asked my Plebe what the reason biggest reason for people being separated was, he said it was for being stupid. He clarified this to mean honor violations (cheating, stealing, etc.) and not doing work when it's assigned to you. He told me that as long as you just do what you're told when you're told to do it (or earlier, as it turns out the syllabus for each class is sent out before the school year, with lots of the homework already included!), you'll do just fine. He also had enough time to hit the gym before corps squad practice.
     
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  12. Craig

    Craig Member

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    Interesting. My son is a plebe at WP and absolutely loves it as do many of his buddies (fellow plebes). Back in October when I visited him, I specifically asked him if he was he happy with his choice. His reply was "God I love it here". Outside the gate is definitely different than DTA but both have advantages. Train ride to NYC is easy to catch. My son stays so busy with academics and sports, he hasn't worried about outside the gate.
     
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  13. Fishpart

    Fishpart Member

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    My DS echos the same. He does his homework in the small blocks of time available throughout the day and has time to be a Peer Tutor. Learn to manage your time now and you will be very productive throughout your entire life. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in activities that will take you far beyond the gates and if you are in trouble help is there for the asking.
     
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  14. dkdino

    dkdino Member

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    ^Very true.
     
  15. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    My plebe is one of many assigned to host visitors (they apply for the opportunity to get to do this). I can guarantee he didn't host your son--and I'm sorry that he didn't. It would have been a very different view. My DS (and his roommates) are all passing calculus (not a surprise as mine is a re-applicant and he had calc in HS and college). He and his roommates have a great time together--but also know when to buckle down and study. While Highland Falls offers little to do, West Point is a military post so the entertainment is on post. There are shows at Ike Hall, bowling, movies, etc. I went to college in a "nothing" town and we had fun hanging out w/ friends--which is what happier cadets do. (Impromptu games of ultimate, flag football in the snow, etc). There are so many clubs and teams to join. They have events/trips/competitions all the time. Sure, Annapolis is a way better town to hang out in...but it's 4 years. Will West Point help your son meet his academic and service goals? West Point is what you make of it and I think your son found some negative plebes right after spring break. They by no means represent the majority.
     
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  16. 2020HD

    2020HD Member

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    Interesting posts. Is there a best day to request an Overnight stay (assuming there is a way to request versus they tell you what nights)? Just wondering if some days of the week are unusually heavy homework nights on the plebes- I assume they just offer weekdays so the candidate can get the classroom experience?
     
  17. jagger19

    jagger19 Member

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    I recall them discussing a Thayer Week soon (maybe next week?) They'll most likely be more over-worked than normal. However, if you get a good Plebe (which you probably will), there should be no issue. Essentially what you do is follow them around for the day - you have ample time to ask your guide questions, and the teachers are even open to calling on you in class to answer questions. You do certainly get to experience the average day in the life of a Cadet. However, to answer your question more specifically, I don't know if there is a particularly bad day to go. Maybe going during a hard day would be more beneficial for a candidate, so they know what USMA is like at difficult times? I say go whenever you can, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
     
  18. mom4boys

    mom4boys Member

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    DS2 also had an overnight visit last week, and his plebe host was his brother, my DS1, with whom he is close. Admissions was not a fan of this plan, and I had to be a bit insistent. Anyway, DS2 did NOT have a good visit either, and said "no one was having any fun" at any of the events - spirit dinner, Sandhurst practice, etc. I was VERY concerned, and discussed it with DS1. We got together the following day, and DS1 apologized to DS2 that his visit fell during basically "the worst week" DS1 has had at WP so far. It was a Thayer week (many tests and papers), one of the roommates (both great guys) stayed up until 0200 working on a paper, when they all had PT at 0500, and it was generally a very stressful time, and they didn't have time to do much with DS2. DS1 had one year of college before WP, and he told DS2 that "all nighters" and stressful times will happen in college, too, but your roommates may not be so understanding - they may have a GF sleep over or have a party in your suite while you try to sleep. DS1 explained to DS2 that DS2 had just seen the "worst" part of WP life, and if DS2 could hack that, the rest of WP life would be much better. Additionally, as someone who dropped calculus in college because, just, no . . . the center for enhanced performance at WP is free, and has lots of resources. If those plebes are failing calculus, they are not asking for help. Help is plentiful and sometimes mandatory. DS1 highly recommends the speed reading class. Also, my Plebe DS1 is not at WP/Highland Falls every weekend, or even every other weekend, from what I can tell. If they go to an Army/Navy game (i.e. football or basketball) at their own expense, rather than the spirit bus, they get a "free" spirit pass for the whole weekend - it doesn't count against their semester passes. DS1 did this to spend the weekend with his GF in Philly for football and with roommates and friends in NYC for the then-cancelled basketball game. There are also many "trip sections," which take them to NYC or DC - Tunnel to Towers Run, visiting Holocaust Museum (a whole weekend, with lots of time off), going to conferences, a religious retreat, etc. Additionally, DS1 is fortunate enough to have a GREAT sponsor who invites him over about once a month, just to relax and get away from the barracks. I understand that the time between New Year's and Spring Break is the "gloom," but between Spring Break and TEEs (finals), it is very stressful with studying. Also, if you watch the Yik Yak, the cadets are having some morale struggles right now. I would say your DS hit WP at a bad time, and hopefully you can convince him of that. DS1 had very low expectations of the freedom and fun allowed at WP, and has been pleasantly surprised at how wrong he was. That said, my DS2 still hasn't accepted his appointment! Ugh. Good luck snhach!
     
  19. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    This sounds like a typical visit. I would avoid WP.
     
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  20. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    You cynical, curmudgeony Old Grad! Glad to see you back on the page--it's been a while.:coo2l:
     

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