Perspectives

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by SamAca10, Nov 5, 2011.

  1. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    I found this website while surfing the internet and would be particularly interested in what alumni of USMA have to say about it.

    Bear in mind that the person who wrote the website graduated during the Vietnam War, a totally different situation.

    http://www.johntreed.com/gotousma.html
     
  2. titan2010

    titan2010 Member

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    I'm a yuk. I think about that article a lot. That article should give you pause, and that's about it. You can tell that his intent is to sell books... ("My Succeeding book has a chapter that warns readers not to fall into “The Tenure Trap.” It’s called “Tenure and other deals ‘too good to leave’."”) What kind of stuck-up person writes like that?

    On the other hand, it does provide you with the "other side". You will get here and find many many many cadets agree with much of what he is saying, though none have ever written it down the way he has.

    Personally, I'm going to stay. But that doesn't mean I don't contemplate leaving. I truly think you're a lunatic if you never question this place or its worth. Some people here love everything about this place and trust that it will make you a better person than ROTC hooah and never question anything that's handed to them. That sounds insane to me.

    Read it, discuss it with other cadets, but know that guy is in it for the money.
     
  3. gsfikaris

    gsfikaris Member

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    Very depressing link. My son really interested in USMA but we are also visiting Penn/Dartmouth/ and U of Chicago over the next month. A USMA grad really down on the academy. Is this widespread amongst corp and grads? I love the place but now nervous.
     
  4. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    You have to remember that that was during the Vietnam war, and people weren't excited about the military back then.

    Don't let this article discourage you're son or what you think about USMA; this article was merely linked so I could see what OTHER USMA alumni had to say about the topic.

    A central thing about the article was money...it's true that military members make less than their civilian counterparts (i.e. engineers, doctors), but not many civilian professions have the level of job satisfaction that those in the military have.

    As an aviator told me when I was visiting an air station. "None of us have gone through a midlife crisis because we've done it all - and that's true for everyone in the military".

    Again, don't be discouraged. Just make sure your son is interested for the right reasons (not just a free education) and everything should be fine. :thumb:
     
  5. billyb

    billyb Member

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    I am a grad and a business person so I have a little bit of perspective. I read most of that article and I don't have the same view at all. One of the points the author makes is that USMA doesn't prepare you for the business world and you are much better off at an Ivy or LAC, but I don't agree.

    Here is what you learn at USMA (and in the army especially as a LT) that is very hard to learn elsewhere: how to be a true leader. You learn quickly how to subordinate yourself for the greater good and better outcome of your team; how to lead from the front through respect and not fear. You learn how to get people at all levels to work WITH you, not FOR you. It doesn't matter if the team is a marketing group at IBM or an infantry company.

    I don't know much about the author of that article. It sounds like he is a really smart guy, but it also sounds like he got into a bit of trouble in the Army as a junior officer. His is just one viewpoint among thousands of viewpoints. I am sure if you had a chance to talk with Patton or Eisenhower you would have any entirely different viewpoint.
     
  6. gsfikaris

    gsfikaris Member

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    Im really happy to hear from grads/students. As a parent it makes my wonder about having my son go there. That article only intensified our efforts to redirect away from West Point. A WP grad at my church only has very good things to say about the academy. We r feeling better about the academies now.
    I wonder is an academy grad at a disadvantage in the job market after finishing his/her commitment? He is in the application process at WP and Annapolis. He is being actively recruited for football at the IVYs but he is really interested in WP/Navy. Thoughts?
     
  7. FBItomboy007

    FBItomboy007 Member

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    gsfikaris, I sent you a PM.
     
  8. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    Apologies in advance for the long post. But since we were in similar position a year ago, I'll comment.

    Please don't take this wrong, I don't mean to sound harsh.

    But your comments sound it a bit like you are shopping schools. And that's the wrong way to view it. With the service academies you are really shopping careers. Or at least initial job.

    Likewise, if you truly feel your son would be better positioned careerwise playing football for an Ivy than USMA or USNA, then the academies are likely not for them. And vice versa.

    And there is a pretty big difference between the Army/Navy/Marine careers. Not in perqs, etc. But ultimately, can your son see himself in the Army, Navy, or Marine mission? Most when pinned down will admit preferences for one or the other.

    Based on my son's short experience at USMA, I can tell you he feels he's exactly where he needs to be. With people he respects, from the Comm down to his squadmates. There are exceptions, but they are rare. (Blue Falcon's is the nickname for them). But his Yuk team leader, his first Sargent, his Platoon leader, his CO, his professors, with very rare exceptions, has nothing but good to say.

    This is not an academic, or lifestyle preference. It's that he feels the USMA *method* is how he wants to prepare to be the best officer he can. And that his peers are the people he wants to serve with.

    Are there differences between USMA & USNA? Sure. Some fairly large. But not anything that "perspective" article is current on. But both are almost identical when compared to civvy schools. That difference is huge.

    DS had preferences after SLS & NASS. But was open to either, somewhat undecided. As parents we were leaning USNA. But it was his career, his choice. But overnights at both really cemented his decision. And as our parallel visits as parents completed, we saw differences ourselves and changed our views.

    I still think if you want to do a 5 & dive to enter a technical career, USNA probably offers the strongest combination of academics and job experience. But if you plan to go career, or are looking for leadership, USMA cannot be beat. (My opionion only, of course)

    It's the USMA method, largely referred to as the '98 changes which made upperclassman vested and responsible in the development of their subordinates. Kept and retooled traditions that made cadets better leaders. Reduced/eliminated those which did not. Huge difference.

    So what was the difference we saw?? At USNA overnight visits plebes hid from upperclassman, and this was confirmed in discussions we had as parents with USNA new mids. Feared, not respected. At USMA, DS's experience on visits and as a plebe, was that they respect the upperclassmen and want to emulate them. This is not accidental, it's the USMA Method.

    I have no doubt that in the '60/70's USMA plebes also feared the uppers. And that's the era the guy's article refers to. Even stories late 70's grads tell make my hair stand on end.

    I also think USNA graduates good leaders, I know several. But I'm convinced USMA has the edge here. They made the right call in '98, no matter how many "the corps has" condescending comments heard from old grads. :)

    OK, so you are interested and want to help guide your son. Read "Absolutely American" and "Duty First". You will get more insight into current USMA strengths and weaknesses. Even some of that has changed. But the variances are more from individual Commandant & company decisions, the policy and method are largely accurate.

    Then visit both schools. Talk with Cadets, both plebes and Firsties. Explore careers. Visit the parents clubs for both in your state. Talk to parents of cadets. You'll find many parents of grads are still involved. Get their input on how the svc academy has positioned their kid. Talk with old grads. Skip the war stories, look for balance, poise, personal success at what they chose to do post military. These will tell you more than any forum post or web tell all ever will. (mine included)

    I'll wrap up with this- if your son/daughter is not 100% convinced they want to be an Army/Navy officer, and that a service academy is the best route to do so, then make that decision early. The only thing worse than not getting in, is to get in and be miserable. Too much hard work, passion, and energy involved.

    I have a son at a private civvy college. And one plebe at USMA. We are convinced both are where they are meant to be. Neither would do well at the other's school, or career choice. It would be doing them a disservice to push them one way or the other.

    One last story- DS was walking down the sidewalk today on a duty errand. Ended up passing the Comm's house. Right as he passed, a mini-van pulled up, and out dashed a man in a suit to get in. DS realized it was the Comm, and saluted out of habit. As he was getting in, the Comm turned and asked where he was going. DS replied. Comm said "get in". Turned out they were headed the same place. As they entered the building, DS started up the stairs. Comm headed for the elevator, but then turned to DS and said "You are with me, take the elevator". And proceeded to give him pointers on presenting a speech someone else wrote. Then bid DS good morning, and went to his commitment.

    All that said... does that act alone make USMA the place to be? No. But it's not a single act. This type of thing happens every day, at many levels. The mutual respect is intrinsic. The same Comm two star general will happily read cadets (and RA officers) the riot act when needed. DS has seen that from a distance as well.
     
  9. gsfikaris

    gsfikaris Member

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    Hawk,
    thank you for the excellent post! My son has been motivated to go to USMA/USNA for years. Its his parents that are concerned after reading the initial post above by former grad John Reed. I am interested in your take on that gentlemans opinoin.
     
  10. 1017225

    1017225 Member

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    Hawk- Thank you for the excellent post. I am looking to be in the class of 2016 next year and have done a TON of research on the academies. Since I became interested in my sophomore year, I have spent a lot of time scouring the respective academy websites, various forums (this one is the best by far), had all of my questions answered, and opinionated articles from various graduates of the academies.

    Almost without exception, all of the graduates and cadets I have read articles or posts from agree on a few things; the academies do an unparalleled job on teaching cadets how to become leaders, how to respect others, and how to actually enjoy being who they are with less of the personality crisis, self-deprecation, and emotional insecurities that many people suffer from. In short the academies make you feel comfortable being who you are.

    I read about three-quarters of the article around which this thread centers. From what I have gathered, this man had a very long and rough experience at both west Point and in his career. From the personality that he reveals over the course of his rant, it is evident that he was not a correct fit for the academy. USMA is a place that a cadet must attend knowing what they will be faced with and be able to cope with those harsh realities and come out stronger from them.

    The one major thing I take from his article is that a candidate must be informed about the unique environment they will encounter at the academy and know themselves well enough to judge whether or not they will do well at the academy. For myself, I do really well under pressure. When I have a timetable to meet, things to do, and challenges to meet, I do really well and have fun doing it. When (like during the course of regular high school) I am unchallenged and have little to do, I get lazy and become content to sit around and chill out. Even with taking the hardest possible academic load for the past two years, being the president of a club and a member of several others, I am bored. The classes are easy for me and I don't find much difficulty managing the club, even with a 1000% increase in membership from my first year in the club. The only time I have ever really been challenged was when I did wrestling last year in combination with the heavy class load and the EC commitments. While I had that, I had a lot of fun. I knew what had to be done and how much time I had to do it. In essence, I feel that this aspect of my personality, in addition to several other factors I won't delve into due to the length of them, will really help me excel at a service academy.

    The differences between SA's and civilian colleges, even the Ivies, seem relatively large and easy to spot. I think one of the most important things for a candidate to have is information on what it is they are getting themselves into. Without this, the risk of dropping out during BEAST or as the academic year starts and thereby losing a full year of what could have been a successful start at a civilian school somewhere else. I hope that people who read Reed's article will take it for what it is, an opinion. It is your job to supplement that article with the opinions of other grads, both ones who enjoyed the experience and those that didn't. Then you have to decide which of those article's authors is most similar to yours.
     
  11. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    Just had a discussion with DS that is a prime example of USMA "method" and value add....

    Plebes have duties. One of the more difficult ones is laundry. It's an exercise that is somewhat complicated by nature, and made more complicated by the traditions some would call hazing. And that's the way most plebes initially view it. And some still do even almost a semester in.

    But DS found himself fighting *not* to be excused from laundry duties. IE: He essentially had a pass due to club athletics practice. But it was his turn to be CIC (cadet in charge). Which puts you in direct scrutiny of many very difficult upperclassmen, the 1st SGT, Platoon leaders, up through company CO. Not a fun thing, and clearly with some risk.

    He is doing it because:
    1) It needs to be done, it's part of their "job"
    2) It can be done badly and painfully, or efficiently. He's been involved in both, both as a leader and follower
    3) The whole company pays the price if it is done badly (both in getting smoked, taking 2-3x the time it should, and also from getting the wrong laundry)
    4) They are learning to function as a team. And function as leaders. And accordingly, are working strategies, plans, etc. He wants to put those into play.
    5) It's one of the few times a plebe get's to "lead", and he wants practice.
    6) He is developing confidence in his personal leadership style, and thinks he can make a good go of it.

    What's this mean? Simple.... what started as hazing is now a leadership exercise. The Cows and Firsties making it difficult are doing it to force the plebes to learn. They all have better things to do. Certainly do not want to spend 1-2 hours with plebes stepping all over themselves. But it's their job. And the plebe's job to learn.

    Another part of Laundry duties is a knowledge briefing. CO picks a topic the day before. 'The battle of Hastings". Plebe has to brief the rest of the plebes just prior to laundry duties. As laundry duties are executed, the plebes are tested on "knowledge" from the briefing. They learn:

    1) How to do a good briefing on a topic with very little prep time
    2) How to absorb critical knowledge from a briefing
    3) How to recall that knowledge under pressure and duress
    4) Consequences of not doing 1-3

    Bad briefer, they all pay the price. No one can get through this alone.

    Also to each runner has to know the Name & rank of the person they are delivering to, along with their roommates. The CIC and AIC has to make sure that the laundry is delivered in rank order. They develop & learn tricks to make that work as well.

    So ultimately, the laundry chore becomes a real world leadership exercise. Wise cadets figure this out, learn from it, and use it as practice.

    This is done every week. Like clockwork.

    Are there civvy college classes in leadership? Sure. Exercises they can do? Sure. Do they do them every week? From day 1? Eat, sleep, and breath them? No. Get smoked if its not done well? Naah

    So hows this relate to the "perspective" of the grad's website. My read: He missed out on the new USMA method. And never busted past the old method to make the break into real leadership. Today, he'd probably be the plebe cussing about laundry duties as hazing. Rather than the majority who are seeing it as a lab to learn and practice leadership.

    Caveat: I'm just a parent of a plebe who somewhat has drunk the USMA Kool-Ade. But I'm also someone with 27 years in a fortune 20 company, now at a very senior level. Probably seen more bad leaders than good, including recent CEO's. But I promise you, the things I see USMA doing are things I wish my peers, leaders, and employees had as skills. And are things that no Ivy or civvy school is currently teaching to the same extent.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  12. gsfikaris

    gsfikaris Member

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    Everyone's thoughts are really good. A colleague of mine runs a physician residency program. He is a university of Chicago grad but is most happy when he has service academy grads in his residency program. He calls them by far his best students. Interesting to hear that. I guess that runs counter to that original toxic article by that former grad.
     
  13. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    An update to the "Laundry as learning" post I made earlier. Not entirely on topic, but does give insight into the USMA method.

    DS & mates executed their Laundry plan. Like clockwork, except for the fact that the company leadership sprung new demands on them, which derailed them, generating much smoke (PT & Yelling). And increased the complexity of the task significantly. They had to adjust & adopt, without getting rattled. They got it done, but it was ugly for a bit.

    DS was disappointed as he was CIC. But then his 1st SGT told him the next day they did a good job with the changeup. And not to sweat it, as the focus is to learn how to lead under stress. If it goes too smoothly, then they are not learning.

    Is this hazing??? Learning??? Both?? DS thinks it ultimately was a good exercise, though it stunk to be them for a bit. And now the bar is raised, more work to do.

    What I can tell you is that DS would not have missed that exercise for anything. Smoke and all. And is taking the higher bar on as a challenge. Partly because that's his personality, but also more importantly, that's what he believes Army officers should do. And certainly what USMA cadets would do.

    Then again, you have to look who they are exposed to. At an major civvy school, you have a professor this week saying that it's shameful that people are sending "US Killers" care packages.

    At USMA, they meet and interact with people like MAJ Daniel Gade. Talk about an inspiration, do some google fu and get the back story. http://www.faithdeployed.com/2011/02/daniel-gade-beyond-the-battlefield/

    Again, clearly we drank the USMA Kool-aid. But these are data points far more current and relevant than that toxic article. I'm sure USMA is not perfect, nor does it graduate perfect officers. But it's pretty darn good as far as I can see!
     
  14. Tail-Dragon

    Tail-Dragon Member

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    Apparently laundry duty got "stepped up" this week. DS spoke about it last night, his opening comment to me was, "duty was interesting last night." He does not see it as hazing, hazing by the way has no point but to make the antagonist feel empowered over someone. It is a leadership puzzle to be solved and he fell right straight into a trap, of course then came smoke, but I can assure you he and his mates will not fall into that trap again. The standards at USMA and the other four academies are high, they are not diluted down to make sure someone doesn't get his feelings hurt or feel left out. All too soon my DS will be responsible for the lives of other parents children and personally, I have been astonsished at how quickly USMA is transforming him into a leader. If you look you can find lot's of sour grape comments about the academy, I read those as coming from people who found out quickly they were not cut out for a demanding leadership role.
     
  15. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Please stop using the term "hazing." Duties are not hazing. They are neither demeaning nor pointless. They are a training event, performed under controlled and prescribed conditions to a predefined standard.

    Referring to them as hazing is inaccurate and inflammatory.
     
  16. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    gsfikaris - Glad to see you are reaching out in a great forum to find out information and be open minded. Obvsioulsy I am a USNA grad, but I second what folks are saying here in the West Point thread. Although Hawk and I may disagree on a few things, as I think USNA has the edge, he is spot on regarding the rest! That is just some fun rivalry between Service Academies! It isn't just about the school, but about a career choice. I think Hawk and a few others addressed this well. Some background as I was a Marine and left shortly after my initial commitment to enter the private sector. I loved my time at USNA and as a Marine and would never trade the experience for anything. Academy grads are in high demand in the public and private work sectors. I have found regardless of my other work experience or education, the thing that catches other's attention is the fact I am a USNA grad. Not sure where in threads, but someone recently published a great link addressing Academy grads as great business leaders and although the Academies/Services themselves do not teach business, they do develop amazing business leaders. I do agree with this statement. The time management skills, dealing with a diverse work force, critical thinking skills, making tough decisions, making quick decisions, how to be a professional, dealing with strong personalities, strong work ethic are all things that are applicable to everyday life in and out of the military. Those of my friends and I who are in the civilian work force have all done well and thrived. The skills I learned in the classrom, court, and battle field have absolutely gotten me to where I am today. The alumni networks for all the Service Academies are very strong and helpful. There are alumni chapters for nearly everywhere in the country and if you are new to an area and looking for a realtor, job, etc. these are great resources in support. The Academies also host Career Fairs throughout the country, have resume databases, and alot of the larger cities will have alumni networking events. The alumni networks are always happy to help out a fellow grad. I live in a large city with Academy grads everywhere. I been offered jobs in elevators, at bars, and in meetings from other grads just because I was a grad and they knew nothing about me! Hopefully this eases your fear about the civilian sector job market prospects. Bottom line, they are amazing schools, but someone must want that lifestyle and want to serve their country to be the right fit. Best of luck.
     
  17. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    Preaching to the choir here..... some of these are activities that many outside USMA would position as hazing are in fact a leadership puzzle and are not viewed as hazing by most plebes. That was the position of our posts.

    Most plebe Duties that remain do have at their heart traditions that in earlier form were largely hazing without value as leadership development.

    My read (and others) is that it's pretty clever of USMA to redirect those activities into a constructive one.

    And some are apparently just duties, their job, No more, no less. "Orderly duty" is essentially emptying the trash. Someone has to do it.

    Of course, compared to old grad stories that I hear there is no way current duties could ever be confused with the real hazing they endured. ("taking a shower", "hanging out", sabre point at the back of the head while information, etc)
     
  18. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    I have a cousin who is nearing the end of his Cardiology residency. He once worked with a pacemaker company where he discovered that many of the people there were USMA grads. This company needs folks who can make quick decisions under stressful situations and found that USMA grads were the best at being able to do that.
     
  19. titan2010

    titan2010 Member

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    Sorry if I sound like a typical cynical yuk, but it truly makes me sick to my stomach when I read:

    "Are there civvy college classes in leadership? Sure. Exercises they can do? Sure. Do they do them every week? From day 1? Eat, sleep, and breath them? No. Get smoked if its not done well? Naah"

    "DS & mates executed their Laundry plan. Like clockwork, except for the fact that the company leadership sprung new demands on them, which derailed them, generating much smoke (PT & Yelling). And increased the complexity of the task significantly. They had to adjust & adopt, without getting rattled. They got it done, but it was ugly for a bit. "

    I really enjoy proud and loving parents, but it's simply not like that at all. Take the image you are trying to portray in the quotes I have selected and cut the seriousness/stress level of it by about 80-90%. Honestly, it's not bad at all. I would've said that last year, too. Plebe year was EASY. I almost feel like I got slighted. I learned only to hate my fellow classmates who decided they had better things to do (manage _____ team, attend film sessions conveniently scheduled right during duties) than to attend our duty sessions. That's it.

    If you really want to have this stressful, team-bonding experience -> Go to an SEC school and join a frat. You'll have plenty of opportunity to bond with your fellow pledges doing stupid tasks.

    The 4th class development system is getting exponentially easier every year. Being harsh on a plebe is socially unacceptable amongst upper-classmen.

    This is just one brave poster who is about to get lambasted by all the other parents who "know" more than me.
     
  20. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    I don't think anyone will lambast you, though it is a bit funny to get "The Corps has" from a yuk. Reminds me of:

    [​IMG]
    http://mylifeisgreyt.tumblr.com

    My comments were not about bonding, it was about learning lessons and leadership. And this proud parent has also heard from cows and firsties that it took them a bit to realize what those lessons were. And a few recent grads.

    My observation is that sometimes duties are just duties. And sometimes they are learning puzzles. And some figure that out, and some do not.

    Hopefully winter break will help some with the cynicism. :smile:

    But all that said, none of us who are not in your shoes fully understand, so any current cadet get's credibility and benefit of doubt. Even the wise grads I know and interact with admit that their experience varies, depending on year, company, and even individual circumstances.
     

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