What can I do to improve my chances?

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by john.3.30, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. john.3.30

    john.3.30 Member

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    I'm a sophomore right now, number 2 in my class of about 420. My weighted GPA is about 4.9. I've got all A's so far in high school, Honors classes and taking my first AP next Semester. I am on the High school drum line, competing in marching band in the fall (state champions 2010, marching in the Macy's parade this thanksgiving) and competing in indoor drum line in the winter/spring (on the CIPA and WGI circuits). I was in the Civil Air Patrol for 2 1/2 years, reaching the rank of C/2d Lt. I attended a basic encampment and staffed two more, serving as Squadron First Sergeant and Command Chief Master Sergeant. I competed in the CAP Color Guard Competition, winning Missouri one year and South Carolina the next. I participate heavily in my church, spending most of my summers on Mission Trips. I am the drummer for our Youth Band and am on the leadership team for my youth group (Freshmen and sophomore year). I am active in the FCA at my school and will be joining the Beta Club this fall.

    My main concern is not being in a sport. Marching band goes from July to December and Indoor goes from January to May so I don't have time for a sport. Your thoughts?
     
  2. USMA2016

    USMA2016 Appointee - Class of 2016

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    I know people who do marching band and I know its time commitment; however, the academy does need to know that you are physically active and capable of passing DPE and DMI courses. Sports also are great opportunities to show that you know how to work well in a team and lead effectively. That being said, you might consider trying to find a sport. If not, you will be making your life slightly harder. You'll have to do really well on the CFA and get some super-stud leadership ECs like class president, Eagle scout, or Boys' state. I'm not saying that it's impossible to get into West Point without a varsity letter, but, just for some perspective, the class of 2014 had 1,375 people when it entered with 1,233 having earned a varsity letter in high school. This doesn't mean that sports participation determines your success at the academy, but it does hint that admissions values varsity letters pretty highly.

    Best o' luck!:thumb:
     
  3. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Diversify

    Your application can be summarized as good academics, CAP, church and drum. I understand someone could be very passionate about something in life, but eventually you have to move on. You are not competing for a band scholarship.
     
  4. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    The lack of a sport will be a red flag to West Point. Everyone is an athlete at West Point.
     
  5. john.3.30

    john.3.30 Member

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    I guess my main question is what is the difference between marching band and say tennis. In marching band, the leadership aspect is huge, especially since the directors delegate a large part of the responsibility to the leaders. They are in charge of some practices, and keeping up with the younger guys and helping them keep up outside of practice. The team work aspect is huge, if a guy has a bad day, we can't bench him. We choose to meet outside of practice for more practice as a team. The mental perseverance is very high, we have to have our minds focused on multiple things without lapse for 3 hours, a feat that our members who were former football players say is harder than almost anything they had to do. I do understand the physical side, marching is physically demanding, but not at the level of cross country or football. To me that is the least important piece because it is the one that I can practice outside of an activity. I am very active, I bike every day and enjoy to run, I keep myself very fit. Your thoughts?

    Thanks for the advice, keep it coming.
     
  6. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    This is from the West Point Admissions' website specifically for sophomores:

    http://admissions.usma.edu/pros_cadets_sophs.html

    I would also look up at the top of the USMA page in this forum at the Admissions Events and find one for your area. Go to the informational meeting and talk to the admissions officer about what West Point expects of its candidates with regards to athletics.
     
  7. oldcorpsdad

    oldcorpsdad Member

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    It can be done

    Its possible, maybe not probable. Last year our high school had a kid who did 4 years of marching band and jazz band make it. He did do indoor track (everyone makes the team here) for 2 years to check that block. He never earned a varsity athletic letter and didn't compete in half the meets. He also worked hard and got good solid scores on the CFA as well as having spectacular SAT scores and academics. Every case is different and depends on the district competitiveness and other factors. If you do make it, you will have to do a sport there.
     
  8. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    Just a dad of a plebe.... but the first thing I'd do is get in contact with the local field force or MALO for your area. Pull together a resume and start having a candid dialog about strengths & weaknesses.

    The input you are getting here are all good data points, though you do need to recognize some is from current applicants, etc.

    The good news is that West Point looks for Scholars & Leaders as well as Athletes. I know multiple cadets who were appointed and are doing very well at USMA now without varsity athletics. I also believe based on observation and lot's of dialog with USNA, USAFA, and USMA admissions types that USMA does the best job of looking for good candidates who do not have varsity athletic experience. But that said, you do need to answer questions admissions will have, but not ask out loud:

    1) What did you do with your time instead?
    2) Can you perform physically?
    3) Can you function in a competitive team environment?

    These are things you can answer, either with your current EC's or future.

    But the big question will be physical performance. The best way to answer that is to rock the CFA. You have time to do so! And besides, if you cannot do well on the CFA you will have a difficult time as a plebe if you do make it.

    Which leads to my second recommendation- see if you can get on your track or cross country team, even if at JV level. It will help you get ready for beast, and will help round out that area even if you do not make varsity.

    I did not see Eagle Scout or similar in your stats. That one helps quite a bit and can often offset lack of varsity athletics if you have a strong CFA. (We had USNA admissions tell us that they view Eagle Scout with Senior patrol ldr experience as equivalent to varsity captain, etc.)

    Getting appointed to WP without varsity athletics (or similar background) is a harder path, but many do it each year. My son did last year, and ended up supermaxing the APFT. And just recently was selected for one of the USMA club teams as a walk on.

    But all that said- get in contact with your field force, have that candid review of your stats & EC's. Then listen and prepare. You have time!

    PS: Forgot to mention- USMA in previous years has issued LOA's to strong candidates without varsity experience. Who knows what they will do this year. I know this as fact in our area for the previous two years. But the key is the phrase strong candidate. Input from our field force as well as briefings from admissions- if your application is not well balanced (academics, leadership, athletics/physical) you had better be proficient in all and excell in two.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  9. dhawbaker

    dhawbaker Member

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    Completely True. You will not get out of doing some kind of sports here, it's just not possible. You WILL be either Corps Squad, Club or an IM Slug.

    As for the reason USMA looks for sport participation it's because it shows both athletic ability and physical fitness. If you do not do any sports, you better crush the CFA to prove that you are physically fit. Crush, as in max.

    I know some guys here who didn't participate in sports in High School, but they are still athletic and they maxed their CFA. So it's possible to get in without sport participation, but why risk it? Make your resume look that much better. Find a sport whether it be club, school, intramural, etc. and join it. You'll have fun, you may end up being good at it, and it boosts your resume. Benefits you all around!
     
  10. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    valid point, but the reality is your reality/knowledge/opinion matters less and what other folks in the admissions process think of marching band matters more.

    A person could have a perception of that participating in a marching band consist of hanging around and playing musical instruaments.

    A side suggestion is to incorporate what you wrote above into one of your candidate essays.

    Another point I usally make to all SA applicants is that sometimes it is not what you accomplished but what your compeititors accomplished. Again perception plays a factor. Who appears better on the surface, someone like you or another applicant with similiar academic accomplishments that played football. Ideally, all accomplishments need to be analyzed and considered; but in the SA admissions process there is no time for it and common perception prevails.
     
  11. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    Yep, and what they did not tell applicants is while you get to express a preference for your intramural sport, you are at the bottom of the list in terms of priority. So you'll likely be assigned the sport which the rest of the company wanted that also still had room.

    So don't count on being able to pick your intramural as a plebe. Seems like most are just assigned one.

    Like most things USMA, your experience can vary based on company & Comm, etc.
     
  12. john.3.30

    john.3.30 Member

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    Thanks for all the info. I went to an admissions meeting tonight and got a lot of great info. I'm looking at ways to fit athletics in my schedule, I've thought of doing a semester of track or maybe working on my running and biking and run a few local duathlons. As far as the Eagle Scout thing, the CAP Mitchell award (C/2d Lt.) is comparable in the eyes of admissions. Thanks for all the advice!
     
  13. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    The Admissions meetings, academy days and similar are great ways to make contact with your field force. If you come prepared with an informal resume you can usually get input from admissions reps & FFR there. Likewise, you should have received an email contact for your admissions rep. While they will be very busy now, DS's experience was that they were more than willing to provide input on your resume.

    Forgot about that. So round out the physical aspect (athletics & CFA) and I'd expect you will get favorable reads on your core stats.

    One thing to keep in mind, Athletics are part of your WCS. While you may be strong in other areas you will want to find ways to add points for that section as well.
     
  14. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    You'd be very wise to find a way to fit some athletics in your schedule. I've heard our RC say several times that it is very difficult to get an appointment to WP without participating in a sport. While optimal, a varsity letter is not a requirement. Participation is the key.
    Home school students get appointments and they can't earn Varsity letters. So, how do they fulfill that part of the application? By participating in club sports or doing something you are considering - running in local races. Marathons, 10Ks, triathlons, duathlons, etc are all great athletic participation events that can be put on your application.
    Athletic participation is 10% of the WCS. You certainly don't want to have 'zero' points in that category!
     
  15. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    Are you slamming cadets who participate in IMs?
     
  16. john.3.30

    john.3.30 Member

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    I just wanted to post an update and see if I can get some more advice.
    -Junior
    -Number 1 in my class (about 430 in my class)
    -Weighted GPA around 5.1
    -All A's: honors and AP Euro, taking AP US this year
    -Beta Club 2011-Present
    -FCA Leadership Team 2012-Present
    -High School Marching Band (State Champions 2010, 2011, Macy's Parade)
    -Indoor Drum line (6th place in our class at the World Percussion Championships)
    -Band Vice-President 2012-Present
    -Percussion Captain 2012-Present
    -Civil Air Patrol 2.5 years
    -Mitchell Award (C/2d Lt.)
    -1 basic encampment and 2 staff (Squadron 1st Sergeant, Command Chief Master Sergeant)
    -CAP color guard competition won Missouri one year and South Carolina the next
    -2 Wing (state) Commander's Commendations
    -Very Active in Church
    -Youth Leadership Team 2010-Present
    -Youth Service Team 2010-Present
    -Youth Worship Band
    -Middle-School Small Group Leader 2012-Present

    Soon after I got the advice, our indoor program extended both its schedule and its season. I now do Marching band from July-Late November and then Indoor from Late November-May so sports is not an option. To leave them as a leader just to check a box would be to go against everything I believe in, it is not an option. I feel pretty good that I can excel on the CFA. Any advice on how to improve my app? I'm pretty much booked every moment of the day but I'd still like to hear advice.
     
  17. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    Test scores?
     
  18. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    Buff81 gave you this advice one year ago. West Point expects you to play a sport. You said, "To leave them as a leader just to check a box would be to go against everything I believe in, it is not an option". Sports are more than just checking a box at West Point. Every cadet is an athlete.

    If you haven't seen Scoutpilot's recent post about the changes to Admissions, you need to read it now. The admissions process is even more competitive now and unfortunately, your application will have a big blank place where the information about athletic participation needs to be filled out.
     
  19. time2

    time2 Member

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    Band is considered an extra-curricular, not a sport by the service academies regardless of what your particular group does in high school. Being physically fit and active is a HUGE part of what it takes to be successful at WP or any of the service academies. Do you routinely run 2 miles, lift weights or have an established exercise routine? You need to adjust your priorities to make time for those things that matter if you intend to apply to WP or any service academy.

    You don't learn how to become an athlete overnight anymore then you start studying for a calculus exam the night before the final, both take extensive effort and time. You develop workout routines based on what works for you. It is amazing how many don't grasp what a big part being physically fit plays in all of this.

    It is no secret that 90%+ of those attending an academy were varsity athletes in high school. If a year has already gone by since the original advice your were given, the clock is ticking and time is running out.
     
  20. john.3.30

    john.3.30 Member

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    I understand where you are coming from, but at my school, to switch from what I am doing to a sport would be for nothing but to check a box. The band is the highest commitment at the school by far. On the part of physicality, to be great at it, you have to be fit. We condition as a section, and I condition myself outside of practice. I have been doing about 25-35 miles a week biking in between practices (more in the summer) and am starting to run again.

    I fully understand that not doing a sport will significantly hurt my chances, and I except that. I understand why admissions doesn't count marching band, in reality there are probably less than 40 bands in the nation that operate around the level that we do. Most of the bands in the US are just a glorified pep band.

    As for test scores, I took the ACT Sophomore year as a benchmark and got a 30. Can't remember the exact breakdown but I was slightly higher (31 or 32) in Math. After I take Pre-Cal this year, I'll take it again.

    Again, I appreciate all the suggestions, but I have made my choice.
     

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