Academic Terrors?

Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
27
I have read horror stories on these forums from years past of seemingly ridiculously difficult classes/instructors. I haven't seen as many of these within recent years. What is the current climate like for academics? How is the administration right now when it comes to giving plebes/MIDN second chances? How are the actual instructors and professors in general? Are there any that we should be warned about ahead of time? Which classes are the plebe killers? Are there any tips to graduate from the most difficult service academy besides the obvious "work hard, study a lot, ask questions, seek help early and often?" What would you recommend studying RIGHT NOW in free time to ensure success at the academy? Would hate to experience getting setback or kicked out. Any help or insight is appreciated.
 

kpmom2013

10-Year Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2009
Messages
1,278
First of all, don't get yourself psyched out before you even get there. Second, don't waste your time on social media. Plebe killer classes tend to be chemistry and calculus, but there are plenty of classes in later years that are way tougher. Most of the professors are good and will go out of their way to help you succeed. Some are awful and take pride in students doing poorly in their classes. It doesn't matter which professors are bad because you do not control your scheduling of classes. The current administration is not as lenient as those in the past with respect to setbacks, but a lot of factors come into play. There is a big difference between a Plebe/Mid with multiple failures who never sought academic help and has multiple sticks (disciplinary referrals) and one who fails only one class, went to office hours every week, and is otherwise squared away. I may take heat for saying this, but I have seen women and minorities given more second and third chances than white males. As for what to do right now, enjoy your remaining weeks of freedom. You would not have been offered admission if you did not already have what it takes to succeed at Kings Point. Spend time with your family and getting as much sleep as you want. Good luck.
 

22Setback23

New Member
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
4
Hello, current midshipman and as you can tell by my username, I'm a setback. I was class of 2022 and failed calc 1 and physics 1. Calc, physics, and chem (to a lesser degree) are the definite plebe killers. The only reason that chem doesn't get as many is because there's a huge curve on the final. Many professors at KP aren't good communicators, but many of them do want to help in any way they can. If you can't get help from professors, there's tutoring from professionals and midshipmen. Nobody at KP wants you to fail and seeking out help when you need it is going to get you through tough classes. Speaking from the experience of getting setback, it does suck a lot, but it taught me so many lessons on how to get through KP. Don't be afraid of the plebe killers, and ask for help.
 

KP Eng

Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Messages
200
1) Be afraid, be very afraid, but use that fear to make good decisions about how you use your time when you are a plebe.
2) Take responsibility for your learning. Most of it occurs outside the classroom. College professors are not like high school teachers. If you fail they view it as something you did, not them. They will help you if you ask, but you need to ask.
3) Understand the grading policy and use it to your advantage. Don't waste time on things that aren't worth a lot of points. Also understand the credits each course is worth and plan your time with that in mind. What does that mean? Don't spend 3 hours a night learning Spanish Bowline tying for an A in a 1 credit knots lab, and fail a 4 credit physics because you didn't study enough.
4) Sitting down in a class where everybody was one of the smartest people in their high school is a culture shock. The pace of instruction is faster than you are use to. They will not adjust it to you, you need to adjust to it. The good news is that you and your classmates can help each other as many will have already taken Calc, Chem, and Physics prior to plebe year.
5) Use all the resources available to you, and don't wait until you are in trouble to do it.
6) Go to class, don't sleep in class, pay attention to what the professor is telling you.
7) Academics at KP are very doable. They are an exercise in humility, endurance, and time management. Most people make it in four years. Be one of those people.
 

shiner

USAFA Grad, Faculty 3yrs, ALO 7yrs
10-Year Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2010
Messages
365
@KP Eng is spot on with his suggestions! Understand the syllabus and focus efforts on higher ROI items. The only thing I would add would be that sleep is important. Plebes have so much coming at them and many have never struggled to prioritize like they will learn to do out of survival.
My initial reaction to the fire hose was to shoulder more - do more - sleep less. This resulted in mediocre everything. By design, the system is set up to overload and overwhelm - this environment will teach students critical skills that will be needed upon graduation and only something learned through experience and not simply by reading about time management and prioritization. Once I started sleeping more the grades went up because I was awake in class.

I have always recommended to candidates that you should focus on things that will get you kicked out and place greater importance on those things over things that will get you yelled at. You are going to get yelled at regardless.
 

KPEngineer

Eternal Father ...
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Joined
Oct 21, 2009
Messages
1,221
Agree with @KPEng 100%. Would also agree with @shiner re: sleep and ROI.

See help early and often. The pace is fast and if you start falling behind it can be difficult to catch up. I was in more than one study group of several classmates that I found very helpful.

I would add that no matter what your career goal is, during plebe year focus at least 90% of your effort on getting you GPA as high as you can. By that I mean don't get sucked in to regimental extra curricular activities like color guard, etc. "I know I have a 1.0 GPA but I was in color guard" isn't going to keep you from disenrollment. At least 1/3 of your credit hours are completed in the 1st year and having that to fall back on can save you from a bad trimester/quarter. I saw more than one person go overboard on the regiment plebe year because they thought it was going to get them the AD slot they wanted. Instead it got them a plane ticket home.

People talk about KP being a 4-year degree in 3 years, but the reality is that it's a 5-year program done in four. Setbacks are irrelevant in the greater scheme of life. Virtually no one cares how long it took you to graduate, just that you graduate.
 

Mr2020

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy '19
Joined
Dec 27, 2018
Messages
295
Some are awful and take pride in students doing poorly in their classes.
Never had or heard of a professor like this at KP.

They have a math placement test, and it determines whether you get into 4 day/week or 3 day/week calculus. If you aren't good at calculus bomb that placement test on purpose and get into 4 day. I was in 4 day and it was a breeze. physics II and prob/stat nailed a lot of people. Nobody should ever expect to get a pass in a math/science dept class if their grade is even a 59.999% because they'll fail you. After all, their profession is based on calculating numbers. However, as you become an upperclassman the professors in marine trans/business (especially business) will usually give you a pass if you're in the ballpark. this is referred to as the "gentleman's D", or the lowest passing grade.
 

KPEngineer

Eternal Father ...
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Oct 21, 2009
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Never had or heard of a professor like this at KP.
Obviously a deckie.

Some are awful and take pride in students doing poorly in their classes.
100% true

I had a professor fail me in a class because I missed one lab session while I was in the hospital having my appendix out. I had to go to the Dept. Head to get it changed to an incomplete.

There are other engineering professors who have stated in class that KPers are stupid and his tests are too easy (class avg. was like 20%) and he couldn't give that test at "normal" college because everyone would get 100%. Same professor constantly makes statements how difficult his class his. "It's easier to land the Concorde on the grinder than it is to pass my class" and "It's easier to pass a bowling ball than pass my class".* Back when they posted grades on their office doors you could see the vast majority of people got D's. Same professor opens second course in a series with 'You think you're so smart because you passed XXX? Everyone passes that, not everyone passes this class."*

*Note, these quotes are 99.99% accurate except that speech patterns are changed to protect the guilty. If you had his class, you already know exactly who it is and that he in fact does take pride in students doing poorly in his classes.
 

KP Eng

Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Messages
200
Sleep is a great point. It took me a couple years to figure that one out as well. I think of that as a graph with two lines. One is the impact on test performance from an additional hour of sleep, the other is impact from an additional hour of study. When those two lines cross, go to bed.
 

Mr2020

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy '19
Joined
Dec 27, 2018
Messages
295
Obviously a deckie.
Certain professor in maritime business from the class of 78 comes to mind for throwing engineers out of bowditch for wearing their boiler suits... or humiliating people for wearing an A-Jacket in class.
 

ChaggyC17

New Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2020
Messages
7
It was not until my senior year at USAFA did I finally realize that studying past 10pm was useless. Also, I realized it was important to get some breakfast prior to an exam. It made a difference to me for sure.
 

cmakin

5-Year Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
956
Obviously a deckie.



100% true

I had a professor fail me in a class because I missed one lab session while I was in the hospital having my appendix out. I had to go to the Dept. Head to get it changed to an incomplete.

There are other engineering professors who have stated in class that KPers are stupid and his tests are too easy (class avg. was like 20%) and he couldn't give that test at "normal" college because everyone would get 100%. Same professor constantly makes statements how difficult his class his. "It's easier to land the Concorde on the grinder than it is to pass my class" and "It's easier to pass a bowling ball than pass my class".* Back when they posted grades on their office doors you could see the vast majority of people got D's. Same professor opens second course in a series with 'You think you're so smart because you passed XXX? Everyone passes that, not everyone passes this class."*

*Note, these quotes are 99.99% accurate except that speech patterns are changed to protect the guilty. If you had his class, you already know exactly who it is and that he in fact does take pride in students doing poorly in his classes.
Oh, I know exactly who you are referencing. I passed, but it was a struggle. I worked harder for that D than I did for any A in Calculus (yup, I got a couple of those). I will say that 9 years after graduation, I found myself witnessing tensile testing as part of my job, and found that I did retain some of that knowledge. I never failed a class, although I know I came close on a couple. . . I can't offer any more advice than what has already been put forward. That said, the same goes for any college. I know that my daughter struggled with some of her classes (not at KP). There were times that she questioned her majors (yeah, two of them, IT and Supply Chain Logistics). And yet she graduated with honors. . .
 
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