Considering a GAP year before formally applying. Thoughts.

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by ElsieKay, May 9, 2017.

  1. ElsieKay

    ElsieKay LisaK is in Italy

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    My son was just diagnosed with a medically treatable heart condition, as part of our beginning the medical qualification process. According to the instruction, this is a disqualifying condition UNLESS he is 2 years post-surgery, and non-symptomatic. He *is* being recruited as an athlete at another service academy.

    We will only be 1 year post-surgery when it would be time for him to report. He is currently a Junior.

    This would be the primary reason for delaying his application one year. We would be deferring applying to *any* schools, and he could not attend college in order to keep other freshman scholarships available. He would be applying as a candidate for the class of 2023 as a first-time applicant.

    We are stationed overseas. Attending a 4-year university here is not an option, anyway. However, he *could* take courses via MIT's Scholar Open Courseware Program. Additionally, he could act as a volunteer TA in the high school (Physics, Engineering/Robotics programs), assist with the Robotics Club, participate in community theatre, continue to swim competitively, be an Assistant Swim Coach, be an Asst. Scoutmaster in the Scout Troop, participate in Venturing and OA, continue his language studies, and travel a bit. This would not be a mindless "find yourself" GAP year, but instead one in which the student stays engaged in various leadership and community activities, as well as maintains physical readiness and competitiveness, while deepening his learning in math, engineering and science with quality programs.

    The only thing that has put a "GAP Year" on this map is the medical clearance. He is otherwise ready to head off to college.
     
  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    I would apply this year anyway. There is nothing to lose and a waiver may be granted, especially if he is a recruited athlete who is cleared by his surgical team. What you are proposing is a reasonable back up plan if a waiver is not granted. Don't give up before you even get out of the gate. In any case, if you do execute your proposed plan, be prepared to answer why he didn't go to college. Shouldn't be difficult but it will come up.

    Why no application to a ROTC program? Waivers are granted by the commissioning source. ROTC may grant one where the academy would not grant one. Or not.
     
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  3. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    This may be somewhat uncharted territory. I suppose son could be competitive after a GAP year if his HS academics and College Boards were strong enough, and he was able to "explain" the gap year adequately in his personal statement. However, I think the safer, more mainstream approach would be attending a 4 year college with a strong STEM program, or perhaps enrolling at one of the Foundation schools as a self-prep.
     
  4. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    I would do what is best for your DS now. Medical conditions don't always clear -- you can't know now whether he will or won't be asymptomatic and/or whether other conditions may appear.

    I'm not completely clear on why he isn't applying to (civilian) college in the US now. He could attend college in the US for a year, see what happens medically, and then apply to USNA or other SAs (since you've posted this same question in at least one other forum.). Also, it will be much better for him to apply to USNA from a college than from a gap year -- for many reasons. I can't think of any good reason from a USNA standpoint for doing a gap year other than if it would present an insurmountable financial hardship for him to attend school in the US while you live overseas.
     
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  5. ElsieKay

    ElsieKay LisaK is in Italy

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    Insurmountable financial hardship kind of comes to mind... lol

    We have a list of 11 schools. This is not including 2 schools that have issued letters of interest (because they don't offer his area of major). Of those 11 schools, all but two depend upon *either* a highly competitive academic scholarship *or* ROTC *or* are Service Academies. The initial diagnosis was made this past Friday. Neither of the two remaining schools crack his top 5 (they are probably #9 and #10 on his list -- one is low, because he doesn't really care for the school, the other one is low because there is no swimming at the school, nor any swimming options -- like Masters -- anywhere in the state, let alone in any proximity to the school).

    Of the schools that are left, two are recruiting him for swimming, 6 have programs he could possibly "walk onto" and one has several choices for US Masters programs not too far from the school. That is as of now -- we're still getting some letters from D3 schools. He has a 1400 SAT, but does a bit better on the ACT (33, but with some intense studying and practice, could pull that up a bit higher -- really needs one or 2 more points for a couple of schools).

    There are several "varieties" of my son's condition. We met again with his doctor who indicated that based on DS's history, his current lack of symptoms (during and apart from high-level training), and the high rate of success (across all patients, not just the easy cases), it appears that DS has the type that would allow him to participate in all sports without any restrictions. While he would still need to have the surgery, the prognosis is very, very good. We should know more in 10 days, and even more in about 14. I'm just gathering information, and reading whatever I can.
     
  6. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    I guess I'm not following this. You said your DS is a junior. That should mean that he has an entire year to apply to whatever school in the US he wants. USNA doesn't care what school one attends (within reason) Whether he can get in to certain schools and whether he can swim varsity are separate questions.

    A couple of other points to consider. One's major in college isn't all that important and many h.s. seniors (let alone juniors) don't really know what they want to major in b/c they haven't been exposed to the myriad of courses and majors that most colleges offer. Second, I understand what you're saying re your DS's medical issues. However, I can tell you that there are folks each year who always considered themselves "perfectly healthy" and able to participate fully in all sports, etc. and who end up with medical DQs that are not waived. Not suggesting this will be your DS's outcome but at this point, no one knows. Not you, not your DS's doctor, not even DODMERB. Maybe next year but not now.

    I would not hook your DS's future to what MIGHT happen TWO years from now in terms of maybe attending a SA. Lots of unexpected things could happen b/t now and then. He might not get in and being a "recruited athlete" is not the same as being a "blue chip" recruit.

    My suggestion is to have your son proceed as if a SA is a possibility (i.e., don't burn bridges) but be prepared that he either: (1) will love what ever path he chooses and lose interest in a SA; or (2) the SA option doesn't work out. Life will be much happier for all.
     
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  7. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Super Moderator 5-Year Member

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    I concur with 1985. SAs can issue waivers, so why not pursue a SA path if that is what he wants? It is May and his DoDMERB won't be for a few months, his issues could be resolved and he back to healthy. As 1985 stated, there are two categories of recruits... recruited and blue chip. That can make a big difference. Another factor... the attrition rates of athletes from their sport (not the SA itself) is extremely high. It ranges on teams, but I would venture to say its close to 50%. Swimming should be a factor, but an evaluation of the SA without the sport needs to be highly considered. Also, if he applies this year, then his reapplication is smaller for the following year and he has had practiced with interviews and established relationships with his MOC, BGO, etc. I would caution this more for any athlete pursing an athletic scholarship to a university. I had a great friend attend Pepperdine and walk from the team after 2 years. Parents couldn't afford $50k/year (its higher now), she had to find a new school. I would also agree on pursuing whatever is his Plan B with earnest. Many candidates who get the TWE end up loving their Plan B and never reapply. Also, if the concern is losing a year of eligibility he could go to a Plan B, continue to swim and train (Masters program or even red shirt) while reapplying and lose no eligibility.
     
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  8. ElsieKay

    ElsieKay LisaK is in Italy

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    I'm not trying to hook my son's future on what might happen 2 years from now. I realize it is entirely possible that he could do everything "right" and not get in fall of 18 or 19. I'm asking for experience/advice regarding a potential GAP year. The waiver system is not an exact science, but the direction for a DQ in his case is explicit for 2018, but could very well not be a DQ requiring any waiver one year later.

    He is wanting Mechanical Engineering... and has spent time working/learning in that field, on his own, in coursework at school, and with engineers in the field. It's what he does. He sings in the shower, too... enjoys community theatre... and has done a few things with photography and film. But the majority of time he's talking about building and designing, or doing it :) He has no interest in schools without engineering programs. His swimming eligibility would not change.

    I only know that my son doesn't want to give up SA or NROTC if he doesn't have to, nor does he want to apply next year if waiting a year might eliminate the DQ altogether. I'm not trying to be difficult, just asking questions regarding the impact of a gap year that is not frivolous with regard to SA/NROTC selection/scholarships. How does one burn bridges by waiting to apply?
     
  9. ElsieKay

    ElsieKay LisaK is in Italy

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    According to DoDMerb, his condition is an automatic DQ for 2 years post op. Even if he is medically cleared for unrestricted activity... it's a no go with them according to the instructions. After 2 years, it's no longer an issue.

    He's not going to get a swimming scholarship. Swimming (other than the fact he loves it, and it's driving him nutty to not be practicing) at best is a hook to help set him apart. He has an opportunity to walk on at several schools, but financing college has always been separated from swimming. He would do a masters program at one college in his top 5 choices. We're choking on Net Price Calculations of $20k a year, after Pell Grants, academic Awards, etc. So I completely hear you on not relying on athletics to foot the bill. We haven't factored in outside scholarships yet, as applications for those will begin this summer. He would prefer to go away next fall. He's ready. I'm ready. But I don't want to simply not consider a gap year, if that would be his best option.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
  10. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    I don't think anyone is saying that. They/I are saying that you would be missing a potential opportunity that has no downside if the attempt fails.

    Additionally, regarding NROTC, I'm confident there is at least one in-state school based on your home of record, where he could major in mechanical engineering and has an NROTC program. He wouldn't need to pass DoDMERB until he has a scholarship or contracts. May not be his dream school, but we all face financial limitations in life. I would certainly be including such a college in my plan C, D, E, or F.
     
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  11. ElsieKay

    ElsieKay LisaK is in Italy

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    You are correct regarding NROTC and our state. However, there is no financial advantage to going instate vs. OOS, since the costs are the same (none of the colleges are close enough to family/friends where room and board could be factored out of the financial equation....in fact there are zero colleges within a reasonable commuting distance he could attend and do anything other than a 3-2 engineering program, and that is at least as expensive an option as taking out loans to help cover room and board for 4 years, if not more). The schools closest to family have no NROTC. He will be working his way through school (unless he gets a full ride through a competitive scholarship, or several scholarships), so I figure he may as well like where he's going to be!
     
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  12. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 Kirtland, AFB 10-Year Member

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    Keep in mind I am no way involved with admissions, but I think there is nothing wrong with a gap year for financial reasons. I have friends (both SA and not) who did exactly that because they needed to earn some money first, either to support family/siblings, or offset college costs. It shows responsibility and forethought, nothing wrong with that.

    The essays provide a perfect place to explain these choices. I also would go ask about his medical situation on the DODMERB board here, but if I am not mistaken, there is no downside to applying anyway, and it would give him a leg up on reapplying as well as show he is serious.
     
  13. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    How do you burn bridges? Getting married on the "plus" side. Taking drugs on the negative side. And, potentially, "wasting" a year -- NOT saying the OP's DS would be doing that, but someone who just goofs off for a year with no reason could find him/herself out of luck.

    I suggest the OP's son contact Admissions and explain the situation, including living overseas. See what they suggest.
     
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  14. Wishful

    Wishful "Land of the free, because of the brave..." 5-Year Member

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    I am a non-military parent. I can see where a gap year for financial reasons makes sense. After that, I believe that a need to mature would be the next reason. That doesn't sound like this applies to to your son. So, coupled with no downside to applying, negates the gap year argument. Also, from what I have read over several years on this forum, the SA's place a value on an applicant who reapplies.
     
  15. DrMom

    DrMom 5-Year Member

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    Gap year? It better be spent saving the world or if it is for financial reasons, it should be spent working--and I like the open course suggestions so long as there is a transcript it would be most useful. I think your child should call admissions. When you apply from overseas you are managed more closely than in the US. (My oldest applied from overseas and everyone was exceptionally helpful ). Good luck.
     
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