The West Point Candidate Book

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by Ken2012, Jan 16, 2010.

  1. Ken2012

    Ken2012 Prospective

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    I recently picked up a copy of this book and I thought it was excellent, so I thought I'd share some of it. It contains quotes and stories from West Point grads. It contains advice for people interested, applying, and current cadets. Also if anyone could verify any of this it would be appreciated. It is authored by Sue Ross (AFA Grad) and Randy Lee (USMA Grad :thumb:) and is the third edition (2009).

    This is from the book by the way, not my personal opinion.

    Preparation:
    -This book has a large section on motivation. There are many many reasons of an individual's motivation/interest in going but money, self recognition, or other people wanting you to go are not good reasons. The best reason is obviously to serve the country by becoming an officer in the United States Army.
    -Many cadets' grades drop to C's; even the straight A students from high school. The reason for this is many could very easily get A's without much effort.
    -It is more important to learn the material then doing whatever is neccessary for the grade. Some are often concerned with impressing the teacher.
    -Since West Point classes are small, participation in class is expected.
    -Are you a "Copier"? Do you simply answer the questions to an assignment or do you read the chapter? Simply answering does not teach very well and promotes word-to-word copying.
    - Senioritis - Seniors often tend to slack off; especially after being accepted.
    -Often, teachers explain much of the topic in class. This discourages self learning as most students expect to just show up to class and be "spoon-fed", so to speak.
    -Great classes to take in high school are Calculus, chemistry, physics, computer programming, speech/debating/reading classes. Also Algebra.
    -Always get help when neccessary.
    -Physical aspects are big. It is advised to be in good condition.
    -Extracurriculars are a huge component as well.

    The Application Process:
    - The sooner, the better! Getting started early is important as there is a lot to do.
    - MALO's are a key asset. They evaluate candidates and also help in the process.
    - Don't forget anything or be too vague. Anything can help but it needs to be explained or at least mentioned.
    - Be neat. Some staff have claimed to received coffee stained forms.
    - Best to be early or at least on time (For interviews or paperwork).
    - Proofread your papers. There's a difference between Winslow, AZ and Winslow, AR.
    - You, not your parents, are applying. Most of the application process should be personal.
    - Have other options. The ultimate goal is to serve for the country as an army officer, not only to attend West Point.
    - Seek all nomination paths (Senators, Representative, Vice President, children of military/veterans/Medal of Honor recipients, ROTC/JROTC, current active/guard/reserve.
    - You do not have to be in the same political party or have helped your nomination source. There are no political favors. It is based on qualifications.
    - Check your senators/reps' nomination processes.
    - Do it yourself. It does not look that good if a parent calls on a candidate's behalf.
    - Letter of Recommendations. Make sure the writer has what they need from you (Information, mailing addresses). Simply asking them to write the letter is a poor effort.

    Tips from the Nominations Staff:
    - "Show commitment. Follow up and check on your file."
    - "I want them to bug me, to bother me."
    - Staffers on your side can help you sometimes.
    - Obey instructions. "It is really dumb when they submit a whole pile of letters - one had sixteen sent; another had twenty and I was about to kill him!"
    - "An Arizona staffer told of one mother who became angry and created a scene because she could not accompany her son into an interview."
    - Tip: Writing letters opposed to calling shows initiative. Most people hate writing letters.
    - Questions in interviews: Why do you want to go? What are your other choices if you aren't accepted? Would you turn in your friend for cheating (*Honor Code*)? Can you handle the stress? Who is your hero (Caution: Remember political bias. Also rap artists may not be a wise choice)? Are you in a relationship? Current events? Strong/Weak Points? How are you preparing physically/academically? How do you handle failure?
    - Tips: Practice interview. Choose appropriate attire (JROTC uniform is highly recommended). Be on time.
    - "I'll never forget one girl who came teetering on three-inch high heels; the panel was not impressed."
    - "Several panelists laughed about some candidates who come in jeans, T-shirt, without socks or in a sweat suit. One staffer, laughing and shaking her head, remembered a candidate who came in shorts and sandals."
    - Don't under consider prepatory schools or college. It can help a lot academically.

    There's also a lot on surviving West Point itself which I could post parts of if anyone is interested.
     
  2. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team"

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    Wow, this is scary if its the case. I didnt fare exactly the best in high school academically, so if I do get accepted to WP, I had better try...:frown:


    Is this true as well? I'd appreciate it if someone could verify this. I remember hearing somewhere that almost everything at WP is self-studying. Do they really give you the books and material for you to read BEFORE attending the class/lecture?


    Hahahaha. Too bad my MALOs kind of a douche.


    Yeah, this would be helpful :smile: Thanks for the post. Where did you get the copy of this book?
     
  3. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    That seems like really good material. You should definitely add more when you get the chance. :thumb:

    Chockstock: Yes, you have to do your homework assignments prior to the class covering the material. The purpose of the class is for the teacher to answer questions about the material which you could not answer yourself, not to teach it all to you. You will get a syllabus telling you the material you must cover prior to every lesson for the entire semester.

    And yes, straight A students drop to C students here. It is because high school took no effort and studying outside of school time, while here you pretty much have to spend hours on school work outside of school every day to succeed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2010
  4. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team"

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    Oh. I wonder if a regular college teaches its courses like that :confused:. But yeah, that sounds pretty different from high school.

    Well, I find it surprising that such high school students would gain admittance to West Point in the first place >.> Although its true that easier, earlier classes taken can be passed with little outside effort, but I would assume that most cadets take APs or IBs in high school prior to WP, which definitely require out of class time to pass.
     
  5. armybratkl

    armybratkl Member

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    The information regarding "spoon-fed" students mentioned referred to high school students, not cadets at West Point.

    The way a course is taught depends on both the professor and what school you attend. I know that at more prestigious colleges such as Northwestern and even the University of Illinois, you are expected to at minimum, be familiar with the subject matter that will be taught BEFORE the professor goes over it in class. However, I also take calculus classes at a small community college in the area, and this is not expected of us. I'm not sure what it would be like at a middle of the road university.

    This is a bit offensive. I am that sort of student who may fall behind, because all of my classes throughout high school have been extremely easy and do not require that I put forth much effort. My school does not offer APs or IBs. I did not settle for easy classes, either. I am currently the only student in the entire history of my school to have taken both Honors Calculus and Honors Physics II as a junior. I am taking Honors Spanish IV and Honors Chemistry II this year. I am able to get A's in both of those with little to no out of class preparation.

    I don't understand your rationale in saying that straight-A students who found classes easy wouldn't gain admittance...
     
  6. Ken2012

    Ken2012 Prospective

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    I got this book on Amazon. They are also Navy and Air Force equivalents. It cost $20 though, which is why I thought I'd share it. :rolleyes:

    And I would imagine that students' grades drop in college, especially West Point. In most colleges the expectations are a lot higher and tougher, such as being stricter at passing assignments on the specific due date. And at West Point you have other duties and not to mention physical upkeep.
    And West Point encourages you to look for additional help on your own to help with the material.

    About the spoonfeeding part, I think I was sort of vague on my part. My school is similiar to Armybrat's. The most my school has is a handful of honor's classes and 6 AP courses. I do often learn the material on my own but I know that if it confusing, I could just skip it and wait until the next day, as I know my peers will also not know, so the teacher will have to explain it to everyone. I'm not saying everyone is like this, but everyone has at least experienced it somewhere. West Point definitely is designed to work everyone out of being spoonfed. I'll post the whole section.

    "Consider the follow scenario: The teacher, Mr. Spoonfeeder, assigns a chapter in the science textbook on Monday. On Tuesday, he reviews all the material from the chapter that he feels is important - those things he will cover on the test. He will explain it in great detail, and because he is a conscientious teacher, he will then ask questions to make sure the students understand it. The next day, he will hand out worksheets in class, watching as his students complete all the questions. If anyone has a question, he is right there to explain the concept again and help the student get to the right answer. On Thursday, he decides that the concepts were awfully difficult and most of the students are struggling. So he works hard to come up with another method of explaining the lesson, just to make everyone grasps it. On Friday, he reviews sample test questions in class, just to make absolutely sure the students are ready for the test... The smarter studentsknow that if they do not grasp the material the first time it is presented, Mr. Spoonfeeder will surely explain it again. All they have to do is keep coming to class and paying attention, and Mr. Spoonfeeder will make sure they learn what they need to know."

    What's happening here is the material is clearly outlined and he is available at the easiest convienience, while making it almost no effort. I can say I've seen this before and have been in, though now I try to learn it on my own and ask for my own help when needed.

    I mean, the students do learn the material and aren't "cheating" their way in, so to speak, but It's just that they have less of a responsibility and are being outlined a lot.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2010
  7. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team"

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    You misunderstood my words...when I referred to students who took easy courses in high school, I was referring to students who voluntarily took easy credits to try and breeze through high school. I was surprised that such students, if any, would earn an appointment (WP focuses on the difficulty of classes in their admissions). I definitely did not mean students who may live in school districts that offer few or no advanced courses and I'm sorry if it came across that way. Obviously, you've taken the initiative and taken what WAS offered at your school. I know for sure that WP wouldn't view your application in a negative light, given your school's circumstances.
     
  8. armybratkl

    armybratkl Member

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    Okay, I'll accept the apology. If that is what you meant, then that only means you misunderstood what was originally said. Straight-A students drop down to being straight-C students because they aren't used to classes in which they actually have to study to pass... they aren't straight-A students, necessarily, because they opted out of harder classes -- perhaps, as in my case, they were not offered. Even straight-A students can be "spoonfeeders." For example, right now in Chem II we're going over naming coordination complexes, probably one of the most difficult things we've covered to date. I understood it as soon as she explained it, but if I didn't, I know my teacher will explain it at least half a dozen more times -- and this is an honors class.
     
  9. vampsoul

    vampsoul Candidate

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    A few of my AP courses run this way, too. My AP Chemistry class does this with homework assignments. It's supposed to help the class cover more material if the teacher can just go over the hard spots of the material rather than everything. I believe it is referred to as the Thayer method.
     
  10. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    I thought the Thayer method referred more to the fact that you recited and received a grade every day in every class. I suppose it makes sense that in order to do so you would have had to prepare the material in advance.

    Unfortunately my sons' AP Chem class isn't like that and they even have a "take home" final for the semester exam next week. :rolleyes:
     
  11. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    It originated that way but currently it is more like this.


    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3997/is_200203/ai_n9063661/
     
  12. Ken2012

    Ken2012 Prospective

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    Okay I've pulled out some more important highlights.

    Surviving West Point
    During plebe year, cadets learn military knowledge, physically train, and perform military type duties, and being taught the skills of officers, while also juggling academics and sports. Cadets learn leadership skills by observing the upperclassmen, whether it is positive, negative, poor, or excellent. The plebes themselves may fail. They will be set up for criticism and correction.
    There are always new limits, in building confidence, knowledge, and physicaly fitness.

    -Advice from Plebes
    Keep the right attitude. You may feel overwhelmed but you can upll through.
    Plebes must memorize days until graduation for each class.
    Take things one step at a time. Set small goals, such as the end of CBT opposed to 1100 days left.
    Remember the ultimate goal of serving as an officer. A few bad days are worth going through.
    Remember to sleep! If you are tired you can not pay attention during the day and learn as much. One plebe explained how he only sleeps a couple hours every night but takes naps throughout the day after performing some duties.
    Some cadets stay up most of the night with academics. It is important to set a deadline for sleep and prioritize. In example, math is important as it may be fresh, while a history reading assignment can be put off for a little later.
    Support through your friends. Helps relieve stress and pressure. In example, one plebe and his squad played a prank on the upperclassmen when they politely asked to pass every single item.

    -Upperclassmen Advice
    Make every minute count. Prioritize.
    Relax also. Join clubs in example.
    Time management. Plan out weeks and stay ahead. Seek out extra help if neccessary.
    Cyberspace (Youtube, e-mail, etc) can be a huge distraction. One cadet was dismissed from playing a computer game too much years ago.
    Find a good study place. A personal room may not be the best due to distractions. The library is a good place.
    Teamwork. Friends can help each other out in situations.

    Intercollegiate Athletes
    It is demanding but awarding. There are many sports and provide opportunity for leave to play and be part of a team.

    Advice for Parents
    Make sure your son or daughter is going/applying for their own personal reasons.
    Know what they are getting into. Visit the academy or talk to a graduate. Research the admissions process.
    Help with the process. Simply reminding of deadlines is helpful. But make sure not to do it for them, it's still their work.
    Remind them to physically train.
    Support. It helps motivate. Avoid saying they are missing something fun at home. Visit on A-Day or Plebe Parent weekend in example.
    Join a Parents Club.
     

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