Plebe Year Classes Question

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by pchoi619, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. pchoi619

    pchoi619 Member

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    Hello Community,

    I was just wondering when/if/how the Candidates pick and choose their classes for Plebe year.

    I chose "civil engineering" as my intended major. Will this affect my class schedule?

    Also, I heard engineering majors practically die from coursework over the four years. How do the other majors compare?

    Thanks for your response!
     
  2. USMA2016

    USMA2016 Appointee - Class of 2016

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    Short answer: you don't get to pick your plebe classes. Yes, you can validate some coursework and bump up to some yuk required classes, but you still will not be deciding the path of your curriculum. Unless you validate a number of courses, you won't start your major until cow year. Even so, you don't officially choose a major until then too.
     
  3. abeastlybeast

    abeastlybeast USMA Class of 2015

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    As was previously stated, you do not get to choose plebe classes. Validating classes will advance you into yearling year classes. You do, however, choose your major during your yearling year, not cow year. You may be able to take major-related classes during yearling year if you manage to validate enough courses or if you stress to your academic counselor that you wish to take those classes earlier.

    It is true that engineering majors are very busy with their classes. Many people major in engineering here though, so obviously it is possible to succeed. I'm not sure what the particular course load is for civil engineering, but if that's what you want to do, it should be worth the amount of time you put into it.
     
  4. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    As a Mech major, a lot of my classes are also required by Civil majors. For the most part, the extra work we have comes from the graded homework assignments (problem sets) and lab reports which are in addition to the daily course readings.

    The great thing about Civil and Mech is that they are two of the most popular majors so you will have plenty of people to work with. Also, it is the best department (IMO) when it comes to teaching a class. Due to the amount of work we have, they actually teach hands on classes with well organized notes instead of expecting everyone to follow the Thayer Method.
     
  5. TheChicagoan

    TheChicagoan Member

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    Now, how about a question from a WP hopefull - what about dual majoring? Do people often do that? Or is it even possible. To further my question, I want to major in Political Science (Int'l Relations) and Information Technology (Security), so is something like that even possible?

    Then again, I plan on asking all these questions at SLS, but more information would be nice :)

    Thanks,
    TheChicagoan
     
  6. pchoi619

    pchoi619 Member

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    Thanks for the response guys. Totally forgot that USMA is a liberal arts college. and thanks for the imput on engineering. I think I'll go that route, I love the math and what not.

    See y'all july 2nd!
     
  7. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    Depending on what you validate, some may even be cow/firstie required classes. (History is one of these areas)

    In any case, you will have a full plebe schedule, and you will not get to pick what you take.
     
  8. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    Yes, it is not uncommon. Generally easier to do if you validate some classes. Also harder to do with engineering type majors as a minor. But you can minor in a non-engineering path with a declared engineering major, if you are a glutton for punishment or an academic whiz. :smile:

    I'd use your google-fu and look at the USMA catalog (or red book) to see the majors and course requirements.

    But it's not something you have to worry about as a plebe, just validate whatever you can, the more you validate the easier it will be to double major or have a minor.

    The one most plebes miss is validating any of the english courses. (Comp and lit). Both are tough grading courses and most apparently do not do well on the validation course. DS wishes he had paid more attention to the English Lit validation test, as the course is a pain.

    Apparently swimming is another test you'll want to put maximum effort into as you can bypass a required course. (Still have to take Cow Drowning though). DS missed this by one point and thinks he could have made it if he had known what was at stake.
     
  9. TheDukeOfEarl

    TheDukeOfEarl Member

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    It's funny how USMA is so many things to so many people, depending on what angle one is looking from. I always thought of USMA as an engineering school, since its Engineering gets such high marks from those "ranking" lists. But it is, of course, at its heart a Liberal Arts college. No, wait, I mean a military science school. Or is it a finishing school for future leaders? Oh yeah, and they are a D1 powerhouse in a lot of athletics. Well, regardless of what label we apply , they are doing something right.

    Link: http://www.usma.edu/dcomm/PressReleasesbd\nr31-11.html

    :smile:
     
  10. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    There are a couple of different definitions of Liberal Arts (LA) college, and USMA fits both:

    First, it's not the other possible buckets:
    - A university, largely defined as a specific number of degrees offered at undergrad through grad level.
    - A technical or vocational school offering primarily engineering, medical, legal, or other specialized training. Any specialized school including engineering schools can fall into this.

    It does fit the affirmative LA definition:
    - require an initial core curriculum aimed at imparting broad general knowledge and developing general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum. IE: mandated core curriculum without the option to cut straight to major requirements. While some major requirements can be started early, the core freshman/sophomore curriculum is non-specialized.

    Liberal arts the simply the most common designation, and most smaller colleges fall into this bucket simply by not meeting the University definition due to not enough grad level degrees.

    There are few schools which take the Liberal Arts philosophy to an extreme, focusing primarly on a broad classical training, with very little specialization. USMA is not one of those, nor are most LA colleges.

    The label has nothing to do with political leanings :smile:, which is the most misunderstood aspect of "Liberal Arts" college. In fact, many universities & hard core engineering schools are more politically liberal than most of the Lib arts schools! :smile:
     
  11. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I wouldn't say extreme so much as traditional, as indicated by your own use of the phrase
    " broad classical training "
     
  12. SimpleMan

    SimpleMan Member

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    I poked around a bit trying to find information on the USMA website about picking courses... I should have just come here first and found the answer above which is, basically, "don't sweat it since you have little choice except to validate what you can, and then take your hands off the steering wheel for two years". So I'll go that route. This is a relief to me since I really have not lasered in on one particular major or area of study. Likely science or engineering but I've got some thinking to do .

    However, all of this has gotten me thinking: Say I decide to major in, say, Mechanical Engineering or Computer Science. Fast forward to me graduating in June 2016, with the degree in ME or CS, and spending 5 years active duty, maybe overseas in the field in combat for parts of it, maybe working as an MP or leading a platoon in logistics. At the end of my 5 years I decide to either re-up or I decide to discharge and go private sector. How and when do I expect to use the Mechanical Engineering or Computer Science (or whatever major) skills that I learned 5+ years earlier? Especially in Comp Sci where languages an technology changes. How do I retain and use the knowledge I gain at USMA when the Army will, as expected, be sending me to wherever they need me most? Any former cadets able to describe how you get back into the game in your area of study? Or am I worrying about something that will become obvious once I reach that stage of adulthood? I'm kind of embarrassed that I just thought to ask this now...
     
  13. RockyB

    RockyB Member

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    I think that is a great question, and better late than never. Hopefully someone can answer it. I look forward to reading the responses.
     
  14. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I suspect the people who could answer this from first-hand experience are at least in the reserves and probably not hanging out here. Although I can't speak to Mechanical Engineering perhaps my 38 years of experience in the computer software industry can lend some insight.

    It's nothing to worry about. The more the industry changes the more it remains the same. The fundamentals like data structures, error recovery, communication, algorithms, all remain the same. The means (ie. languages and protocols) change. You pick them back up the same way you would have learned them if you were active in the industry. You pick up a book and work through examples etc. Or you refresh your rusty skills the same way. I spent several years in management and various planning roles and was away from programming for a number of years. I had no trouble jumping back into the techinical ranks.

    Of course if you're on the hardware side this may not apply, but I think it does. The most valuable thing you learn is college is: you learn how to learn. You'll get back on top of your game and you'll be motivated and have the discipline to do so. In fact with your leadership skills you'll probably be managing Mechanical Engineers or Computer Scientests, where the grasp of every technical detail is not as important as understanding the fundamentals.
     
  15. RockyB

    RockyB Member

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    Great reply! I believe one of the most consistent attributes I have heard about former academy grads, and military officers in general, is the strength of their leadership & mgmt skills and the ability to get the job done. :thumb:
     

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