Every year this forum is flooded with parents and aspiring Midshipman wanting to know if this or that is influential, or how their stats stack up, or whatever it may be. The truth is, everyone that gets appointed to the Academy has great SAT/ACT scores, they have stellar grades and GPAs, they were all active in clubs and student government and were varsity captains and have a gazillion volunteer hours. Every good candidate has those things. The Academy has plenty of smart, athletic applicants, but the Admissions department wants to know what is something that YOU specifically bring to the table. What is it that sets you apart from thousands of your peers from across the country? What is your 'wow factor'? What's something you have done, experienced, etc. that no one else (or very few) has? Ask yourself that question and the answer will secure any nomination you apply to and, eventually, your appointment. You want example? I come from a middle-of-a-corn-field town in the heart of the Midwest. Graduated top of my class of 150. Had the SAT scores, the ECAs, the Varsity Letters, the works. The problem was I didn't know how to sell the Academy and the nomination panels the reason why I deserved it more than the others. I didn't get in out of HS. I re-applied. I enrolled at a Big 10 university. I took 18 credit hours in HARD classes and worked a full time job. I applied, contracted, and was selected for PLC Juniors (Marine OCS for those that don't know). I worked my butt of to make stellar grades. When it came time for nomination interviews they asked me what I had done to improve from last year. They saw that this small town boy from nowhere (where most of his classmates were still stuck in the small town working odd jobs or if they're lucky in the mines or in a factory) went to a good school, took a lot of hard classes, killed them, AND was already on the path to officership. I was more confident, I knew my plan A and my plan B frontwards and backwards. I had a goal and that was service and I was going to achieve that by any means. That's a 'wow factor'. I secured all three nominations I applied for and was appointed within days of sending my college transcript. I hope this helps any aspiring to attend a service academy. Find your 'wow factor' and make it known that it is service, not attending a prestigious institution, that is your goal.