The Life of a USMA Plebe

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by 11BRAVO, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. 11BRAVO

    11BRAVO Member

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    I have been reading a few posts lately by individuals who plan to attend West Point. I did not attend there but I was in the Infantry for 11 years and have several former commanders and friends who attended West Point. That being said, it appears some of the candidates are not quite familiar with attending college at a place like West Point. I recently spoke with a Colonel who said, "West Point is a great school but if you want to have fun I suggest attending ROTC at a regular college." This may be true for some people, depending on your personal definition of "fun." For most going to a place like West Point I would say they understand what they are getting into. CBT is most likely a watered down version of Infantry basic training. Maybe it's more intense, I don't know. I guess the only people who would know are cadets who were appointed after serving in the enlisted ranks. A few years ago I spoke with two "rats" at VMI. For those unfamiliar with VMI lingo, a "rat" in a first year cadet, same as a plebe. This one "rat" was a former enlisted US Marine, combat veteran of the Iraq War. I asked him what he thought of his "rat year" at VMI. He replied, "You know, I was in the marines. I went through boot camp at Paris Island and served in an Infantry unit in Iraq. I chose VMI and figured it would be easy considering my background. Boy was I wrong!" He exclaimed. "This is way harder than marine boot camp."
    I believe West Point is probably even harder and for anyone who has any reservation about their ability or who may be questioning their desire to attend a place like West Point I would suggest giving it some serious thought. Combine college with physical training, additional duties and subject yourself to mental and physical anguish day after day after day rising before the sun and going to bed near midnight. If this sounds like your definition of "fun" then you will be fine, maybe even graduate with honors. Attending West Point is a great honor for anyone but not everyone is West Point material.
     
  2. BeatNavy

    BeatNavy USMA Cadet

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    Honestly, I don't think there are many cadets who would say that are having fun when they are spending their Friday nights cleaning for sami while their buds back home are meeting girls. I'm sure that most cadets are very happy that they are at west point they just don't enjoy the loss of freedom., Most would probably say they are sacrificing a normal college experience for something greater.
     
  3. 11BRAVO

    11BRAVO Member

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    I agree 100%. And that is probably enough for most to keep them motivated day in and day out.
     
  4. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team"

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    Hahaha:rolleyes: This post speaks to me!

    But yeah, its not easy deciding...
     
  5. 2012Cadet

    2012Cadet Member

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    Hey, it's not easy watching friends get to party and get girls while you spend weekends doing "cadet duties" :) , but its the price you pay to do what you want to do..."you reap what you sow". That's my 2 cents...
     
  6. SSG A

    SSG A New Member

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    I am on board with 2012Cadet's sentiment that "you reap what you sew". I am a bit older than many cadets will be by the time they graduate and have already had the chance to watch my high school peer group graduate college. I also have the experience of nearly 5 years in the US Army.

    While my friends attending college whittled their days away in boredom, trying to find something exciting or meaningful to do, I worked my a** of every day at work. Ive worked more hours in a month than many of them have worked in a year, some 4 years. Ive accumulated more life experience and been drawn closer to friends than they will ever get the chance. Ive done things that they have to play video games or watch movies to "experience".

    Ive been a leader of men through blood, sweat and tears. Ive dealt with adversity and stress in situations they would never willingly enter. Through all my efforts Ive become one of the youngest Staff Sergeants in our Army. I know that I am tooting my own horn here, but remember also that all my hard work and determination has lead me to a spot will always be subordinate to Cadets and Lieutenants.

    That is the end goal that must never be forgotten. Every single Cadet that graduates will become a leader of Soldiers. Each Plebe that tests his mettle and is not found wanting will have a job that is more than a job. They enter into a way of life and immediately have influence to shape their Soldier's lives. They are forced to deal with stress, work as a team, and to put something greater before themselves.

    College students' time was spent partying. Four years of partying, sheltered from a harsh reality they will walk into at the end. They walk out with outrageous debt and in most cases, no job. The Plebe spends their time immersed in that harshness, learning to function while stressed. Ultimately their experience teaches them to follow so that they understand, more effectively, how to lead.

    Every Soldier has days when they think twice on their life decisions, I know that I have had my fair share. That is because not all days are going to be glorious hollywood depictions of the reality of a Soldier's life. There will be days when you question the sanity of the decisions you have made. When these days occur, I find it helpful to consider the "Rocking Chair". Imagine yourself, in old age and nearing the end of your life. Look back on your decisions. How many West Point graduates do you think have regretted their decision? Now how many that had the chance and never went regret their decisions?


    "The more sweat on the training field, the less blood on the battlefield."
     
  7. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team"

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    I can't help but disagree with that statement...and its already come up or been implied in previous posts.

    Its a generalization that compared to SA cadets, regular college kids slack off or procrastinate and party all day and night. Its completely untrue. Comparing such poor students to cadets is not a fair comparison nor is making any conclusions off such a comparison accurate.

    Many people who go to WP, in my opinion, are Ivy-league material and at least a top ranked public college. If you want to compare cadets to other college students, you should be comparing them to such kids who have worked hard to gain entrance into such prestigious civilian schools and will continue to work hard to graduate with honors. And when you compare those two pools of people, it becomes very different and I know I cant speak for a WP cadet, but I'm sure they know what they are sacrificing,
    the freedom and tangible "fun", for a WP education. Thats why choosing colleges, unless you have completely decided to go to WP, is so difficult.
     
  8. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    I think many who get into West Point could get in anywhere...but many are students who have a level of self-awareness that most college students don't possess. They know they lack the self-discipline necessary to succeed in a traditional college with all the temptations and freedoms. Some truly need the structure and rules that come with a SA life.
     
  9. SSG A

    SSG A New Member

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    I admit my mistake in making the generalization that all college students are slackers. There are exceptions to every rule and categorizing everybody under one heading was wrong.
     
  10. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    I don't think all of them could get anywhere also. Other "good" schools place weigh academics and almost nothing else. Not to mention the tremendous weight being recruited for a sport has on your application.
     
  11. Grannie

    Grannie Member

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    While the generalization may have been a bit over the top, but after raising children, who attended universities in the private sector and attending graduate schools myself, it is not too far off course.

    After approx. 6 months of following this board, I find this discussion to be one of the strongest, most insightful I've read; and, would hope all of the young hopeful candidates take the opportunity to think about what has been said here. It is such a privilege and an honor to be chosen to attend the #1 school in the country, a fact that should not be forgotten nor taken lightly. Certainly there are trade-offs (e.g., Friday night "fun", no cell phones during beast, etc.) for this privilege; but in the scope of the "greater world", those trade-offs are mere fleas on an elephant's back.

    I am slightly taken aback at the thought that candidates choose the Academy due to the lack of personal discipline and seek the enforced discipline and structure of the Academy in order to avoid failure. A reality check and some serious self-introspection is in order for those young men and women for they will certainly fail if not at West Point, then later.
     
  12. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Seriously? I know quite a few college students who have it rougher than those at an academy. I can think of one who was thrown out by her mother at the age of 12, never knew her father. Is attending a major university and paying her own way with work and financial aid. She is in a time consuming demanding program, lives in an apartment and must cook, clean and pay her rent and get good grades.

    There are plenty of kids at civilian college who are in ROTC and committed to serve their country. Many rely on their scholarship to pay their way, plus work a part time job, plus live off campus and must pay their rent, cook their food, do their own laundry. They have and must support a car and car insurance. All while attending college and maintaining great grades, going to mandatory PT, weekly labs, summer training and FTX's and on and on.....

    SA kids come out without some valuable "life skills". After 4 years - they do have a little bit of a repuation of being "socially inept". They have been told what to wear, what to eat and when to clean.
    SA kids do party and some do it against the rules. Don't believe it when you hear there is no drinking. If that were the case, there would be no alcohol boards. At West Point, Thursday nights are pretty rowdy when the cows and firsties come back from the club after having downed a pint or two. 21st birthdays ARE celebrated.

    So there are differences - SA kids and ROTC kids come out with different skills. The notion that one has "sacrificed" more at graduation is nonsense. The kids who have sacrified the most at age 22 are those who have enlisted and deployed.

    IMO - the worst thing a parent can do is put their SA kid on a pedestal when there are other children in the family. Particularly those who work, attend college and get great grades.
     
  13. Grannie

    Grannie Member

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    FYI - First: I was a single mom, whose children did just what you describe to get their education. Second: The young man from our home, who has accepted his appointment, was abandoned at age 3 and has overcome a lot of obstacles in his young life. He certainly has not experienced being on a pedestal.

    Also, I have another grandson that entered the Army last summer so I guess I can say we are experiencing the full spectrum.
     
  14. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    You shouldn't be taken aback. Some accept their appointments simply because its free. Some do it for the structure they feel they need. Some just want to serve. There is an infinite number of reasons people have for what they do.

    There are and always will be those stories. There are always truly exceptional people on both sides of the fence. I do think attending a SA means making a sacrifice and although you are not "simply enlisting and deploying", you are agreeing to serve upon graduation at which point you will most likely get deployed. While the sacrifice isn't something as important as a life, it is a sacrifice nonetheless, which most people at a civilian colleges would not be willing to make.
     
  15. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Right you are.

    Grannie - then surely you must know that most college students are not at college to "party" their life away. They are not slovenly, lazy kids who skip class because attendance is not mandatory.

    Your young man will have many fine opportunities at West Point that he might not otherwise have at a civilian college. He is lucky indeed and kudos to him for choosing to make his life better through serving his country. The service academies are fantastic opportunities for kids who come from families of very limited means. I wish him the best and a terrific West Point career.
     
  16. Grannie

    Grannie Member

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  17. Stormtrooper30

    Stormtrooper30 Member

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    I'm merely a prospective but perhaps my opinion can help out here.

    I'm from West Memphis and so many of the kids that I know want to go to Ole Miss/are attending Ole Miss. Ole Miss has a stereotype of being a place where your parents pay to party for 4 years, but Ole Miss has one of the top honors programs in the country. The University of Memphis is also a good school, but it lacks the funding to have top notch facilities. Perhaps I got off topic, but there are kids at my school who want to go to college to simply party all night. There are also those that legitimately want to go to get a good education and a good job. The kids that want to party all the time are generally the ones that are spoiled beyond beleif. Any teen worth their salt will know that ruining a great oppurtunity like college is a terrible thing to do.

    As far as motivation to attend a service academy? It's hard to say. When I first started my college search I was hellbent on a single college I wanted to attend. It is a civilian university and I love the campus. It wasn't until my friend's sister got appointed to USMA did I even learn about it. Ever since then, I've been drawn to this site and check it everyday. I've almost become obsessed. I don't really know what it is that draws me in.

    The challenge of doing something difficult and accomplishing it is something that appeals to me. I attend a rigorous college prep school, so I know that I would survive at universities like Virginia or Vanderbilt. The SA's, however, are a new challenge that would test my integrity like I have never been tested before. The opportunity to be gained from attending a SA is just so great. I mean, after 9 (or more) years, you would have an unparrelled education and experience leading people under stress. A civilian university can't give you that. I'm not sure if this is a very good reason to sacrifice my leizure time for, but it's all I can come up with currently.
     
  18. 11BRAVO

    11BRAVO Member

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    I would like to believe that anyone who accepts an appointment to WP or another SA wants to attend there because they believe a SA will best prepare them to be a leader our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines. I would like to believe that attending a SA means the candidate is focused on service to his/her country first and foremost. I would like to believe that attending a SA is the result of an excellent foundation in academics, community service, and self-discipline. I would like to believe that everyone who attends an SA spends more than the 5-year minimum "obligation" to pay back their college debt. The reality is that only a small percentage of SA graduates make a career in the military. That is truly the basis for my original post...to make all of these candidate think hard about this decision. You have to ask yourself, "why do I want to attend West Point?"
    If your number one answer is not "to serve my country and lead troops," then maybe WP is not the best choice for you.
     
  19. BeatNavy

    BeatNavy USMA Cadet

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    +1
     
  20. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Don't worry about it Grannie. Some here tend to put words in peoples mouths.

    Your son or daughter will have less freedom at a service academy. Far less than their civilian counter parts and far less than their ROTC counter parts. They will miss out on some lessons, like how to set up rent payments and what to look for in a lease agreement. They won't often dress in civilian attire, and when they do, they may not be on the cutting edge of fashion. You can pick out service members often by their hair cuts and poor dress.

    Going to a service academy will not be the easiest route to take, praise them and but keep their heads the appropriate size. They will need you support and the support of your family to get through it.


    Liberty Thursday nights? West Points getting soft!!! :wink: (I'm sort of kidding, don't take that seriously).
     

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