Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by GreatAmerican, Jun 8, 2007.
Here's a novel idea! Why not simply recruit THE BEST?
If the whole class turns out being black one year, or 85% female, or whatever, who cares so long as they are the BEST for that year?
Yeah. I know.
Can't a minority (yes you Z) be a part of that group of "the best" ??
I think that is what they are trying to do - but they can't recriut "the best" if the best don't know about the Service Academies and they are an option for them and if they don't apply. There is a lot of untapped talent out there and they are trying to discover it.
USxA can advertise that it exists and how great it is. That's all it needs to do.
If they have studied hard, kept out of trouble, and are willing to serve, then it's an option. If they have screwed around, gotten in trouble, and are only thinking about themselves, then it isn't.
What's wrong with that?
That's THEIR problem, not the problem of a Service Academy.
The Service Academies don't advertise much, yet they are swamped every year by 10 times more applicants than they accept. It's not a matter of being known; it's a matter of applicants caring enough to prepare themselves and then apply.
Besides, as a minority, I have always been highly insulted by the idea that "We want the best, but we're speaking to you because you are Hispanic." Excuse me? What does my ethnicity have to do with YOUR admission standards? Are you suggesting I don't meet them but would get in just to fill a quota?
If you ask me, a person's race, religion, nationality, etc., shouldn't be part of the admissions process. You are an American citizen with a clean record and good academics, and impecable character; we want you! If you're not, then we don't. Period.
There aren't enough left-handed, trans-gendered, zoroastrianist, vegetarian, .45ACP-owning Sri Lankans at USxA. Let's start up a program to recruit more of THEM, too.
That is exactly what it is trying to do. We live in a huge and vast country - how does a kid from the Black Hills of South Dakota or the corn fields of Iowa or the slums of Harlem find out? They aren't going to visit in the summer, probably don't have BGO's reaching out into their schools and might not e from a military family. They live in congressional districts too. They can be smart and good citizens too. They just haven't been born to the same opportunity as others have.
Doesn't matter if USXA has a million applications if they are all from 3 states on the Eastern seaboard.
So the deal is - they have to quantify their progress or success somehow - so they come up with numbers. The services try to make the Officer corps as diversified as the Enlisted. I think they are pretty close with gender.
Let's take a poll - how did you and/or your child find out about their Service Academy of choice?? I am willing to bet that most people on this forum know about the SA's because of military service or they happened to visit. Go down to the yard in the summer - see all the families visiting, parents with young children. Dad's and Mom's leading their kids around by the hand saying, "Yes, you can go here someday" - a great majority of those are not minorities.
Me: My father was career military - always knew they existed, sort of. really found out when they admitted women as I was in high school then. Never gave any of them much thought for many years after that....
My daughter: On a summer vacations we stopped into USMA with the kids. 3 were bored to tears, one was intrigued.
Same as everyone else: TV.
"We're looking for a few good men."
"Be all you can be."
"It's not just a job. It's an adventure."
Any of those ring a bell? Of course. That's because they were played on TV and put in the print media A LOT.
None of them are aimed at anyone other than AMERICANS.
I always loved the Navy Officer line: "Navy Officer - LEAD the adventure!"
They can advertise during college football games and professional sports. "Think you're the best? Come to USxA, and REALLY make something of yourself!"
I found out about it in the 7th grade when I saw a news article that mentioned the place. No one in my family had been in the military before me. Funny thing is that I had visited West Point a whole bunch of times yet never made the connection. It was just another school, and only 30 minutes away, to boot!
I have known that the service academies existed since high school (until about 2 years ago I thought there were only three of them ). I was not at all interested in them for myself. My son knew about the service academies from an early age due to my husband being in the Army for 7 years. He decided to apply to USMA while in middle school, after hearing stories about the place from a family friend whose father graduated from West Point many years ago.
I can agree with both sides here. I agree with Z - only take the best no matter what gender, race, religion, etc. I also agree with JAM - you have to get the word out to as many schools as possible that this is an option for everyone if they can keep out of trouble, do well in school, and want to be in the military. They need to dispel the myths about academies. Some people think you have to connected politically to get a nomination or that only rich kids go to the academies.
I think they should be getting the word out to the middle school kids because if you want to get into an academy you really need to be planning your classes and activities long before your junior year in high school. If they targeted kids in 8th and 9th grades maybe they would get more minorities applying.
Z you're absolutely correct: The Best Go. No preferences, no gerrymandering to fill quotas, and, no "points added" for "balance".
JAM you're absolutely correct: We need to do a better job in outreach to attract the best of all Americans.
In every inner city and every backwater in the Nation we have young men and women that can cross over the admissions bar if they were educated about the existance of the Academy System. As I see it, one of the needs of the admissions process is to get to the kids early. I agree, a very high percentage of the applicants are educated about the Academy System because of Vet/Alum parents or friends.
The USNA does good work with their programs at Leahy Hall, RGO's at congressional cattle calls, and some of the BGO's at specific High Schools. These informational programs need to be in every high school, every year, to elicite interest and ignite the dream. How many new Ensigns and two louies sit around for six months waiting for their primary school to open up. Use those guys to be the evangalists to spread the gospel to the kids that arn't aware of the opportunity that's available. Do a presentation for the top 30 academics in every school. Talk about integration! Once kids see a path, see success, and see the high quality of character that the Academy System produces, game over.
Heck, schedule specific NASS weeks that accomodate potential candidates that don't have the means to travel to Annapolis for a week. I believe that once a horizon is shown a young mind full of mush, a desire and dedication can be kindled in that person to strive for that goal.
When the kids in the future see seniors leaving their High School and going off to a SA, it becomes self fulfilling. More will see the availability and the opportunity.
Will I get the message if I don't have a TV?
USNA has a top quality diversity outreach program. There are field admissions representatives in every major city, visiting middle schools on a continuing basis. Successful Naval and Marine Corps officers repeatedly visit the schools in these areas. These admissions personnel, leaving no stone unturned, mine the PSAT/SAT results and visit the homes of eligible candidates. They win over a lot of these qualified young people, and even with the moms remembering the prejudicial Vietnam draft being one of the primary reasons for the race riots of the '70s, win over many of those.
Then comes the real culprit. If your kid is capable of scoring a 1400 on the SATs, next time they take them, have them "accidentially" pencil in the African-American box for race. I guarantee you that you will be the first on the block to know what day the SAT results are out. You won't be able to get out of your driveway. This is where we are losing out. There is no way that our wearing of uniforms and a military commitment can win out against an Ivy League free ride. Even the $2500 computer payment becomes a huge deal. We cannot compete with Harvard and these kids are a very valuable commodity. This is where USNA is focusing. How can we get our fair share of these 1400s, especially the ones with sports and ECs. A daunting task.
And before you start talking about patriotism, or a lack thereof, ask yourself truthfully what would happen if every one of the 1160 plebes to be this year received a letter in the mail offering a free no-strings-attached full scholarship to Harvard, Stanford, MIT, etc.
And last but not least, we still have that ugly face of racism that continues to exist in some areas in the US. There was an outstanding young black woman not too many years past who was unable to secure either a senatorial, or even a congressional, in her district but was able to glean one of the two Vice Presidentials that year. Go figure.
My limited experience with SA outreach which most of you seem to think is ubiquitous:
I live 3 hours from Annapolis and 3 hours from West Point.
I have attended a college fair each fall since 1999 at a big inner city high school. Area has population of approx 400,000 and 20 high schools. Probably 15,000 or 20,000 high school students. Lots of 10th and 11th graders attend.
Only ONE time did I ever see a Service Academy represented there. This year there was a table from USAFA.
A single midshipman home on Op Info talking to a single precalculus class in a single school is more effective than handing out brochures to all 20,000 of those high school students.
I found out in 4th grade from my parents I believe. I wanted to go to USNA or USAFA ever since. I joined Taekwondo that year to begin preparing the physical and discpline side to enter (Entered USAFA as a 3rd degree Black belt with 2 state titles and two World Top Ten places). I thought I couldn't handle jumping out of a plane so I dropped the idea a bit in middle school (ironic since I jumped out of a plane TODAY). Then, I decided USAFA was the place for me in High School....got in. Had I been offered a place free with no strings attached at MIT, Caltech, etc. I still would be here. This has been a dream long in the making.
I expected some grief from that statement. It was directed towards those who are today facing that great unknown of plebe summer and plebe year less than a month away, not someone who has just completed it.
lol I understand. But I thought about that statement before even coming, this would still be where I would have come, I was that intent on coming here.
Thanks on the congrats, especially worth it after jumping out a plane yesterday!
Interesting concept. As BGOs, we are reminded that we are not recruiters. I can honestly say that I have never recruited a white male, simply helped him along the process. However, every time I have the opportunity to present the Academy to a female or a minority, I salivate. Why? I want to see my numbers reflect that of the student body. I actually have seeked out several females and attempted to interest them. Was I recruiting? Probably.
Now the rest of the story. Despite women receiving slightly higher markes in the administration process, males graduate from the Academy at almost a 10% greater rate. The majority of the males leave due to either academic or discipline problems. The majority of the females due to an unspecific "not really wanting to be there". Now the real problem. A disproportionate amount of female grads select Surface Warfare. And a disproportionate number of those leave the service after their initial obligation. So much so that the Surface Warfare community today is unable to fill it's Department Head billets.
The above scenario was an exact profile of the candidate that the CGO presented to us BGOs as an example of someone who didn't want a military career quite as much as their parents wanted an Academy education for them.
Problems recruiting minorities? Absolutely. Worth it? Having been in-country Vietnam watching the race riots on AFARTs, I feel that the officer corps should reflect the enlisted under them.
It's not a matter of patriotism. However, there are tons of people out there who WOULD select USNA over a free ride at an Ivy-League school. I was one of them.
I would rather have a Brigade composed of people like that, even with B-averages in high school, that a bunch of A+ earners whose commitment to USNA would be broken by dangling a Harvard free ride before them.
ETA: Damn. The Hornet beat me to it.
So what does USxA have to do with that? Maybe the esteemed Congresscritters should form an exploratory committee to investigate themselves.
Yeah, like THAT will ever happen.
Interestingly enough, I had a similar point driven home not too long ago. The son of a family friend, who I had only met once about 17 years ago when he had asked about USNA, was at a party I attended. Sadly, I didn't recognize him. After he left, his mother came to me and began going on and on about what an impression I had made on him that one time I'd spoken to him about USNA, and how, all these years later, he STILL looked up to me. I was embarassed beyond measure.
So I can only imagine the impact it would have for a Midshipman to walk into his school or another in his area, in uniform, and to talk about the place. Direct intel, as it were.
I am all for getting the word out about the Academies. I am all for different and creative methods (Mids, seminars, whatever). What I loathe is the idea of "We need to go out and aggressivly recruit THIS kind of person so THOSE OTHER people will be happy with us." That's quota-driven, not quality-driven.
What is "THE BEST"?? "THE BEST" for whom? The academy? The Navy? The country?
Maybe "THE BEST" for all of those includes a diverse group of socio-economic, gender and racial backgrounds.
Maybe these women were wooed by the beauty of the academy ---
You seem to be overly hung up on kids going to the academy to please their parents. I am not saying it doesn't happen - but I wonder why that many would waste 9 or 10 years of their lives pleasing mommy and daddy.
I bet there are kids who went being unsure but encouraged by their parents who ended up loving it - anyway, I digress.
Are you saying more women choose Surface Warfare because they want to leave after their initial obligation? After all they aren't able to get the big Sub bonus that men can get. If they don't get flight school what else is there?
Maybe women are leaving for different reasons. Women tend to want to get on with the business of a family sooner than men. By the time their 5 years is up they are 27 or 28. As hard as Navy life is for a man, I would think it would be really hard for a woman with a family, being at sea for lengthy periods, especially when she has other lucrative options waiting in the civilian world. As a disclaimer, I am just proposing a hypothesis.
Well, who isn't guilty of that to one extent or another?
Maybe I'm not reading this correctly. I understand the differences you mention between men and women, the dropout rates and causes, and even the impact of so many leaving after their commitment. However, doesn't your conclusion apply to men AND women?
I did my five and left, but it was more because I didn't enjoy SWO than anything else. Had I been on subs or in Navy Air, things would most likely have been much different. (It was my own fault it wasn't, of course.)
If anything, your example leads back to the idea that we want people dedicated to USxA and a subsequent career.
Did I miss something?
Not sure we can compare the two eras. While I agree that the Officer Corps SHOULD reflect the ranks, I do NOT believe in making them so through artificial means. There are plenty of capable and motivated minorities (God, I HATE that word!) out there that are Officer material. Let the world know you only take the best, and they WILL find their way to you.
If they don't, then they don't fit the bill anyway, so why bother?
Why do you insist on suggesting that I believe otherwise?
What I disagree with is the idea that one race/sex/nationality needs to be recruited more heavily than another simply because of how the Brigade or Officer Corps LOOKS.
Tell you what.... When I am on watch, and a huge Class B fire breaks out in the mainspaces, I want the BEST POSSIBLE OFFICER on watch as EOOW, not the one that LOOKED best during the application process. I don't care what they look like, or who they worship, or what language they spoke at home as a kid, or what their internal plumbing looks like. I want the BEST. PERIOD.
Their "socio-economic, gender and racial backgrounds" will matter not one bit when decisions have to be made, some of them life-or-death. What WILL matter is BRAINS, CHARACTER, and the ability to THINK UNDER STRESS.
When the GQ alarm rang for a main-space fuel-oil leak in Fire Room #1 one night, I didn't man my station wondering what color of skin the DCA had. I simply hoped it was Joe, who knew the ship inside and out and had demonstrated he could handle such a situation. Same thing when GQ sounded for potential battle; I didn't care what nationality the TAO was. I just hoped he was the best at handling such a scenario.
You'd be amazed at how much sway some parents will have over their kids, and how often they will do so against the kid's best interests or desires.
Sad, but true.
When USNA briefed me to be especially alert to parents who were guiding thier kids excessively toward the Academy and told me that noting same was my primary mission as a BGO, I listened. Just following orders, ma'am.
Yep, and those who do waste both 10 years of their lives and 4 years of the Academy's resources combined with wasting six years of fleet JO training and grooming. It seems that a lot of these kids are trained to succeed. They will not quit. But they will get on with their "real life" at the earliest opportunity.
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