Character Development & Integrity - USNA Personal Statement


May 14, 2020
Hi there! I am a prospective candidate for USNA Class of '25. I have begun to write my personal statement but I'm very stumped on how to answer the second part of the personal statement which is as follows...

(2) Describe a personal experience you have had which you feel has contributed to your own character development & integrity.

I really can't recall an event that seems to fit the bill. I'm sure I've had one but I'm also really unsure of what USNA means by character development and integrity. What are they truly asking here? Is it mostly a situation in which you did the right thing despite outside forces telling you to do otherwise? Would simply owing up to a mistake instead of blaming others answer the question?

On a side note,
Not sure if this has been posted before but here is a link to an interesting article on USNA's emphasis on character development that I came across.

Character Development at the U.S. Naval Academy by - William B. Garrett Vice Academic Dean U.S. Naval Academy
I wrote about an event where I did not follow the cheating crowd and was honest in what I put forward to my teacher. I then continued on to say how that influenced my overall character and how it shows my beliefs. I just looked up the Navy definition of Integrity and found a scenario that fit the bill.
Don't overthink it. We don't all have dramatic moments from which we developed character that caused us to act with integrity. Just look into your own life and answer it for you. It might be as simple as 'my parents brought my up in such and such a way and as a result I did this right thing'' . I dont think they're looking for a particular type or style of answer, its more about thinking and communicating your thoughts clearly. You don't need to write 'The Old Man and the Sea' or anything.
Thinking about the question in reverse might make it easier to remember any specific moments or mentors that helped you become who you are. "What parts of my character/integrity am I most proud of?" And then, "How did I develop or realize the importance of that aspect overtime?" You certainly don't need one super dramatic story (I wrote about picking up litter), but it's often easier to write about a certain anecdote.

I think the article you found gives a good idea of the emphasis of character development at USNA, so you might consider this prompt an opportunity to show USNA that you care as much about your character development as they do.

I found the personal statement to be by far the hardest part in the application. It was the last thing I finished; in fact, I didn't even have a draft until late November, after my senator nominations interview. However, those interviews helped me write my personal statement because I had to explain clearly why I wanted to go to USNA to the interviewers, who also asked a fair amount of questions about character. That being said, don't be like me; rather, find a parent or teacher or someone you can talk with this summer in order to help you get your thoughts in order. Alternatively, sit down with a paper and pen (not google docs) and just free write about your character development and what's important to you for thirty minutes. Then let it sit for awhile before reading it again, and you might find something you think you can write about more.