Self motivation

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by Mman5247, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. Mman5247

    Mman5247 Member

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    Does anyone have a kid who was not gung-ho on the academy idea at first? Mine expresses interest but is not doing everything they can to help themselves. There's fear and lack of confidence to sell oneself. In the meantime, the competition is taking every opportunity and gearing up. Did anyone else experience this and then see their kid turn a corner? Should I give up encouraging my kid and just leave them alone? When I point out things that should be getting done, the backlash is that I am being negative. Frustrated.
     
  2. LFry94

    LFry94 USAFA C1C '17

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    Now I'm not a parent, but I have something I want to share. One thing I really appreciate about my parents is how they let me handle the entire process on my own. They never once said to me anything like, "Have you got your medical exam scheduled yet?" "Have you mailed the senators and congressman your nomination packet?" "Have you written your essays and scheduled your CFA?" "Have you done this?" "Don't forget to do that!"

    My parents don't know where I had my MOC interviews at or when I scheduled them. They haven't seen the online portal page. They didn't make any phone calls for me. I set up my CFA, medical exams, and ALO interview on my own. I did all of this through the months of September to December. (I think the last thing I did was my ALO interview early December and CFA in early/mid December.)

    Now this may not apply to you yet, because your son/daughter is only preparing for it, but I want you to see how much I appreciated not being bugged about anything by my parents. If he/she really wants this, then I believe he/she will work hard for it. If your kid is being complacent and not giving it their all, maybe they haven't completely settled on the academy idea yet or may be having second thoughts. Just encourage them to stay active physically, academically, and by taking leadership opportunities and then support them when they do. That's my two pence.
     
  3. Remember_This_Day

    Remember_This_Day Member

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    Agree with LFry94. Although I'm an E, I had to schedule and do everything on my own. Granted the situation is a bit different, but I was still just a teenager. I wouldn't say stop encouraging your kid, but I would say to ask them
    If the AFA is what they seriously want. And let them know that if it is, they need to get it in gear. If it isn't, that it's okay and you'll still support them. Not a parent, but this is what I'd like to hear and what my parents basically did for me when I was on the fence.
     
  4. nuensis

    nuensis USNA 2016

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    My parents don't do the whole English thing. But I still got through it. And three years ago I was that guy that thought that ALL officers were trained at West Point. I didn't even know a thing about West Point, it was just that place where military people come from.

    The beauty of the admissions process for all academies is that it can be successfully completed by any motivated candidate by themselves. Resources are readily available everywhere: BGOs, forums like this one, the local congressman, books, magazines, websites, etc.

    If he wants it, he can get it.

    The real question is, does he want it? A service academy is definitely not for everyone, and serious thought must happen before making a decision. It's good if he's having second thoughts; that means he's thinking.

    Many service academy applicants will also be admitted to Ivy League schools and some of our nation's best public and private universities with full tuition ROTC scholarships. Would he still want the hardship that comes with service academy life when he's faced with a full ride scholarship to Harvard or MIT? By the time he graduates from high school, will he even want anything to do with the military at all?

    If anything, try not to push hard. A nudge once in a while might be helpful (especially when the ol' senioritis sets in), but otherwise, just let him figure it out. Determination, motivation, and initiative is something he'll have to learn, and something the academies will demand. Make sure that he understands that his future is his responsibility.

    Then, later, when he's faced with a crimson envelope from Harvard and a blue or black folder from a service academy, encourage him to make a sound decision before jumping in. I think that's the best thing that parents can do for a candidate.
     
  5. LFry94

    LFry94 USAFA C1C '17

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    Well put, nuensis.
     
  6. goldenlion

    goldenlion Member

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    Maybe your child just needs more time to mature. During the last year, my DD has changed a lot. A year ago, I had to prod her into sending an e-mail or asking a question. Then when she did, it was embarrassing since the e-mail was filled with mistakes or the question was not well stated. All of a sudden, she is asking questions, returning phone calls, sending e-mails, making appointments, etc., all on her own and doing it correctly. Additionally, the "attitude" has also disappeared. I am really quite amazed by the transformation.

    I think it may be unrealistic to think that some kids can just do all this stuff on their own. They need to be taught and guided. But of course, they don't want to admit that they need help or that you know anything...hence the attitude.

    Good luck!
     
  7. SimpleMan

    SimpleMan Member

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    @Mman5247: You don't say how old your child is (maybe a sophomore? junior?) nor which academy he/she is looking at. But if it is USMA then get your hands on the National Geographic DVD series "Surviving West Point" and watch it with them. I went though a period of utter fear based mainly on not knowing what I was really looking to get myself into. I watched it with my father around this time last year (end of my junior year in high school). Watching that allowed me to face it and see what at least the first year would hold for me there (NOTE: It was filmed in 2001/2002 so I'm sure a lot of the details have changed, but it in a general sense it holds). In my case, it made me less worried and more motivated. I think it was 10 episodes of 1/2 hour each and I found it at the town library. Good luck.
     
  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I think it's fair to say that each individual is different. R_T_D; you might believer that you were a teenager like those in high school, but an enlisted 18 year old is so much more different than an 18 year old in high school. Matter of fact; an 18 year old enlisted is generally more mature than an 18 year old academy cadet. You are 100% responsible for yourself. You can make all the decisions AND MISTAKES you want to and you have to account for it.

    Having said that, each teenager is different. There are some that tend to be much more motivated than others. Doesn't mean they are better, more mature, etc... Just more motivated. Maybe they have a "Not so good" home life and are motivated to get out and make something more of themselves. Maybe their family doesn't come from a lot of financial means and they are highly motivated to have a chance at going to college.

    On the other hand, there are some applicants who have many options. They are the 4.0gpa in the IB program or in all AP classes; #1 in their class; class officer; star football or basketball player; volunteer; clubs; etc... and they have 3,4, or 5 solid offers and acceptances from universities. Their primary choice might be the academy, but they may not see the urgency because they have so many choices. Or maybe they come from a family where while the parents think the teen should be making all these decisions and being proactive, they (the parent) has been too involved in the child's past in making/helping make most of the teen's decisions. If that's the case, NOW is not the time to say: "OK, you're getting ready to apply to college; you're on your own".

    Point is; it's not uncommon for some teens to need a parent to "remind" them to get certain things done, to fill out the applications, to make certain phone calls. Most parents want to believe that they were the best parent and their little Johnny or Janie are the best kids out there. Truth is; some parents probably cared about their kid too much at times and didn't make them 100% self motivated, proactive, or independent. Especially at 16-17 years old. Again; this is not the time to tell them that it's all up to them because they need to now become responsible. That's not fair if you didn't prepare them for this day.

    So while I've always said that the applicant is the one that needs to complete the application; do the essays; make all the contacts; and make all the final decisions themselves, it's not unreasonable for a parent to make sure that little Johnny or Janie are keeping up with the process. Just like you probably asked them if they got their home work done, cleaned their room, put their dirty laundry in the basket, etc... It's ok to make sure they are keeping up in their college application process.
     
  9. JMS

    JMS Member

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    Mman,
    Well, I don't presume to have any answer for you, but DS is my 3rd (and youngest) and I think I could have written your post at one time or another for each of my DSs and DS. You son is interested in one level or another in going to a top notch school. You have already succeeded. I have a friend who will be struggling to get their kid out of High School. Others I know need to keep bail money on hand.
    Any way, I suspect that your son's reticence may be related to the really big 'unknowns ' he is facing. I remember asking my son if he thought he would 'like the military.' No sooner than the question was asked I realized he had no way of knowing... no first hand experience ... but that question weighed heavily on his mind. We talked more and he liked the idea of 'trying' the military stuff by joining a local Civil Air Patrol unit. (Similar to JrROTC or Sea Cadets). It confirmed for him he wanted to proceed with the SA applications, and helped him with a lot of maturing regards communicating in a direct, polite, business-like manner.
    You are doing a great job, It may help to scratch a bit more on the background to the inaction.
     
  10. Remember_This_Day

    Remember_This_Day Member

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    I agree, you've done a great job thus far. Actually all the parents on this forum have. But this also reminded me of a conversation I had with my Mom about if I would "like the military" or not. While the fear of the unknown wasn't paralyzingly for me, I do remember seeing people that ended up staying at home because it was just more comfortable there. So pat yourself on the back for being an awesome parent, and continue guiding them in the right direction (I'd be lying if I said I still don't call my mother every once in a while for advice)
     
  11. OhioSoccerMom

    OhioSoccerMom Member

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    Mman,

    This could so easily have been my post! Thank you for postig it!! I, too, am really starting to question where my DS is at in this whole process. He'll be a junior next year, and it's getting to be "crunch" time. Not being from a military background, I knew I didn't know everything I needed to about setting this ball in motion (DS in interested in WP). That's why I came here when DS was a Frosh.

    Every so often I'll say,"If you want to know what's going on, read the SA Forum." He mostly doesn't. I'm waiting for the corner to turn, and I'm so glad that goldenlion has posted that it will! Even if he decides that this isn't the thing for him, I'm waiting for him to tell me what the "thing" is so that we can prepare for it!! In the meantime... DS gets solid grades, not stellar, but solid. Plays soccer. Has a part-time job. Sings in jazz Choir.

    He says, when I ask, that he's still interested in WP, or AROTC. But I'm not sure he's educating himself enough to *know* that's what he wants. Instead, when he has free time, he plays X-box. :thumbdown: I hate the X-box.

    Maybe I just need to relax!? But I can definitely relate to frustrated, and maybe a little lost!
     
  12. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I definitely understand your frustration. Realize however that other than really knowing what he wants, there's not a whole lot your son can do at this point in time. The only thing he can really do is succeed in his classes. Keep taking the hardest classes he can do and do well in them. Around December, he'll be able to apply to Summer Seminar for next summer, but other than that, there's not much more. Be involved in sports; hopefully build some leadership positions. Maybe let their school counselor know that he's interested in being nominated for boy's state.

    In your case, it seems that he's not necessarily under involved with his future, but you are over involved. Nothing wrong with that. Just realize that a 16 year old has a different set of priorities and stresses that they deal with.

    I can honestly say that my son didn't get serious about his post high school future until March of his Junior Year in high school. He is a military brat, and to be honest, I didn't think he would want to join the military. Not after having lived in a military family. Plus, we knew that he would have so many other opportunities. He talked about the military on and off during junior high, but it never seemed too serious. I'd been helping kids for years with post high school options. College, academy, ROTC, enlisting, trades, etc... My son just didn't seem convinced it was time to start. March of his junior year, he applied to summer seminar and got accepted. Went to boy's state that summer and air force summer seminar. Got back and said he definitely wanted to go to air force. He completed his application in less than 45 days. (Done in July). He refused to apply to any other academy. It was air force academy or civilian colleges. He applied early admissions to 3 civilian universities in September. Finished those in 2 weeks and was accepted by October. Then he got an appointment to air force the first week of November and chose that. He held onto the other scholarships and acceptances until spring just in case something happened and he needed to change plans.

    Point is; while he talked on and off about what he wanted for a number of years, he didn't start anything serious until March of his junior year. I would ask him from time to time what he wanted; did he need help with anything; what was his time table; etc... The main advice he took from me was to finish everything in July for the academy and everything in September for the civilian colleges. This way he could enjoy his senior year and just wait for who wanted him. Nothing worse that trying to do applications in October and November when you're taking classes, homework, football practice, class officer, etc...

    I believe you have plenty of time. As long as he's taking the hardest classes, doing well in them, doing sports, building leadership and extra curricular activities, then you have nothing to worry about. Ask the occasional question, but don't worry about it. Come september or october, you can mention summer seminar and possibly visiting colleges. Best of luck. mike....
     
  13. dohdean

    dohdean Member

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    One suggestion for parents whose son or daughter has expressed an interest in an Academy (and of course who has the grades, extracurricular activities, etc. to make an Academy a possibility) -- take a trip this summer and visit the Academy nearest to where you live. My daughter (now a Junior at USAFA) decided in elementary school that she wanted to go to an Academy -- the how or why of that isn't important (we aren't a military family) -- what is important is we started making visits when she was in late elementary school. On a trip to Washington, DC for other reasons, we added a trip to Annapolis. We live in Colorado -- so we visited USAFA a number of times. A minister at our church was a graduate of West Point -- she talked to him several times about what it means to attend an Academy. We bought books on the Internet about applying to an Academy. By fall of Junior year, she decided to apply to the summer programs at West Point and USAFA. Fortunately, she was accepted to both -- after summer seminar at West Point, we drove to New London and visited USCGA. Those trips reinforced her interest -- and by July before Senior year, she knew where she wanted to apply and spent the summer on congressional and academy essays. Not all kids are going to do this -- but those visits and conversations, like all college visits, help your son or daughter visualize the place where they may spend 4 years. Might help younger students get a handle on whether this route makes sense for them.
     
  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Excellent post dohdean.

    For those who aren't fortunate enough to be within visiting distance of an academy, check to see if your high school has had any students who are currently attending the academy. I can't speak for anyone except air force, but we have a grass roots program which is usually on the monday following thanksgiving. Kids are back in school and the academy allows selected approved cadets to stay one extra day at home for thanksgiving break, and they go to their alma mater high school and visit with interested high school students. We allow; at least here in Wyoming; for any student to come and visit with the cadet. Usually one of the local ALO's is there too. Obviously it's not at every high school, but we usually get a fair amount of participation. It's good to have students talking to someone fresh out of high school and closer to their age. The ALO's help with procedural type questions.

    Anyway; if you can find a school with academy cadets who came from that school; you can check with that school's guidance department or principal to see if/when they have a "grass roots" visit. best of luck. mike....
     
  15. goldenlion

    goldenlion Member

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    It's good to know that it isn't unusual for kids not to know what they want to do when they are older. It seems like all of my son's friends have their lives planned out, which is causing him a tremendous amount of anxiety because he isn't so sure. On top of that, he really doesn't have any weaknesses academically. He is just as strong in math and science as he is in reading and writing. Every teacher he has ever had has always told him he should be a writer. Just in the last month and in this order, he has mentioned engineer, doctor, engineer, definitely not medicine, lawyer, not wanting to join the military, service academies are out, apache pilot, and now back to engineer (at least I think so since he is mentioning Georgia Tech). On top of that, for the last 4 years all I've heard is how he has zero interest in swimming in college. Now all of a sudden, he is talking about wanting to be recruited for swimming. Hmmm...I'm just hoping the school he winds up choosing has the Post 9-11/GI Bill Yellow Ribbon program, because I know it isn't going to be cheap!
     
  16. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    As my sons' wise old pediatrician told me years and years ago, "Don't fall into the trap of comparing children." As the mother of college-age sons, I have found that it can be difficult to expect teenage boys to look to the future and make big plans when they are mostly interested in the present: cars, food, TV, sports, girls, food, xBox, sleep, etc.

    I can guarantee you that lots of the organized, got-it-all-together high school kids ain't that great. My oldest DS has friends like that and once they got to college, they just couldn't quite make a go of it. One in particular has goofed off and it looks like medical school will be out of the question----he was one of the top students in high school. A second smart classmate went the pre-med route as well and goofed off/got into trouble so he is behind and will graduate in Art History.

    My last comment is that college is a very expensive place to "find yourself". Encourage your son to take a "gap year" like European students do and figure out what he really wants to pursue. Tell him to take some classes at the community college---no one ever said that kids have to graduate and proceed directly to good ol' State U.

    http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/on-the-ground-with-a-gap-year/
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2012

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