Convincing parents to let me apply to West Point

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Jan 26, 2020
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Hello all, I have lurked here for some time but made this account to post. I am a current junior and I plan on applying to USNA and USAFA. I would like to apply to USMA too, but I’ve only recently made this decision while the others have been discussed and dreamed about for much longer. My parents are fully supportive of my application plans for USNA and USAFA, but every time I mention West Point they get skiddish. They tell me to “focus on two” and if I’d “really see myself in the Army.” I also understand that for nomination purposes, my MOC allows three preferences. I have this itch in my heart and mind that if I don’t apply to West Point, I will always wonder “what if?” I tried to bring up SLE and they shut that down too. I even thought about applying to SLE just in case I don’t get into the summer seminars but decided that an acceptance would result in a not so pleasant conversation of me breaching their trust. I can fully see myself in all three branches, but they think I’m apparently not Army material. I just want to serve the country as an officer, and I would like to do so at a service academy if possible. I understand I am rambling at this point, but I have nobody to talk to since no friends are going through this process with me and my parents will not reason out anything related to the WP or the Army. Any advice is appreciated.
 

MidCakePa

DD USNA OORAH! / DS ROTC HOOAH!
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With respect and not knowing your parents, I’m guessing this has to do with the perception that the Army is more dangerous, i.e. ground combat in close quarters. Many can argue that point. But for many parents, the thought of their kid on a ship or sub, or in a fighter or bomber, isn’t as intimidating as the Army way of fighting.

I understand the deep desire to serve regardless of branch. My DD took the same approach. Try talking to your parents about what it is specifically that they’re concerned about. Try to empathize with their concerns. But also help them understand that in today’s world, there really is no longer a true “front line.” That may not fully mollify them, but fact is, no one branch is inherently less safe than any other.
 
Joined
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With respect and not knowing your parents, I’m guessing this has to do with the perception that the Army is more dangerous, i.e. ground combat in close quarters. Many can argue that point. But for many parents, the thought of their kid on a ship or sub, or in a fighter or bomber, isn’t as intimidating as the Army way of fighting.

I understand the deep desire to serve regardless of branch. My DD took the same approach. Try talking to your parents about what it is specifically that they’re concerned about. Try to empathize with their concerns. But also help them understand that in today’s world, there really is no longer a true “front line.” That may not fully mollify them, but fact is, no one branch is inherently less safe than any other.
This is what I was thinking. I also don’t think they realize how many roles and branches the Army has. And I don’t think they realize I could go SEALs or Marines from USNA or special warfare from USAFA. Any active duty position in the military has risk, but I don’t know how to change their perspective if they aren’t willing to have a respectful conversation with me. They’ve supported all of my ambitions until now, and I am happy they are letting me try this process. Thank you for your advice, and I will continue to try to work things out with them.
 

Capt MJ

Formerly Known As Attila The Hunnette
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Will you be 18 by the time you would report into USMA, USNA, USAFA, on or about July 1st of 2021? If you are 18, you do not require their signature. I realize that sounds drastic, but think about how hard you want to fight for this.

The good thing is, SLE isn’t required, though it’s a great way to learn more about USMA.

If you want to take your shot at USMA, you should take it. Do your best to be calm and reasoned throughout any discussions, be a good kid, but stand your ground if that is your dream and calling. I agree with the other poster that it’s likely fear of their understanding of the Army. Do your best to educate them and share the results of your research.
 
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Jan 26, 2020
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Will you be 18 by the time you would report into USMA, USNA, USAFA, on or about July 1st of 2021? If you are 18, you do not require their signature. I realize that sounds drastic, but think about how hard you want to fight for this.

The good thing is, SLE isn’t required, though it’s a great way to learn more about USMA.

If you want to take you shot at USMA, you should take it. Do your best to be calm and reasoned throughout any discussions, be a good kid, but stand your ground if that is your dream and calling. I agree with the other poster that it’s likely fear of their understanding of the Army. Do your best to educate them and share the results of your research.
I will be 18 by I-day or R-day. I’m continuing to do my research while reasonably stating my plans and dreams to them. I’m also hoping that I can attend a summer seminar so I can use that as evidence that this is really for me and what I want. If all goes well, I would open an application then and there for USMA with their support, and if still no support, I will face the decision as an adult. Thank you for your input and the info about the parent signature
 

dddad

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OP, you seem to have thought this through pretty well. At the end of the day, if you see the career opportunities in the Army as good ones for you and WP is itself appealing, then just keep pressing forward to advance your application. Over time and with discussion, your parents are likely to come around. In my view, Army offers an incredibly broad set of branching possibilities and WP’s academic and military programs/opportunities are second to none. Plus, as you get further into the process, you may figure out exactly which of the academies is right for you. So, don’t get discouraged by the currently frosty reception. Just do what you need to in order to keep your options open. Keep in mind, attendance at SLE will likely have no bearing on whether you are ultimately accepted to WP. So, no need to worry too much if it takes your parents a while to get on board.
 

Capt MJ

Formerly Known As Attila The Hunnette
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Make sure they know you can attend for up to 2 years and walk away with no obligation.
 
Joined
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OP, you seem to have thought this through pretty well. At the end of the day, if you see the career opportunities in the Army as good ones for you and WP is itself appealing, then just keep pressing forward to advance your application. Over time and with discussion, your parents are likely to come around. In my view, Army offers an incredibly broad set of branching possibilities and WP’s academic and military programs/opportunities are second to none. Plus, as you get further into the process, you may figure out exactly which of the academies is right for you. So, don’t get discouraged by the currently frosty reception. Just do what you need to in order to keep your options open. Keep in mind, attendance at SLE will likely have no bearing on whether you are ultimately accepted to WP. So, no need to worry too much if it takes your parents a while to get on board.
You nailed the reasons why I want to go and why it’s so appealing. I have indeed given this a lot of thought, and I just hope that my parents will too. There is simply no other place that can give me the opportunities WP and the Army can. AF and Navy may compare, but they are each their own. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to attend SLE, but I would definitely like to have the experience before going in. Thank you for the advice.
 
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I'd also like to point out that similar to other colleges (correct me if I'm wrong folks), you can apply to West Point (and the extra stuff I'm not familiar with) and see if you get in, but you're not 100% committed. This could be a talking point with your parents-ask them to at least let you apply and see what happens. Like you said, it may hurt in the future to think about the "what if" factor. Again, anyone correct me wrong if needed as I'm just an AROTC applicant/winner. I just know my parents were also not initially on board with the AROTC during college because of the stigma regarding the Army and combative roles, but I wouldn't want people limiting themselves to lifelong opportunities because of pressure from their parents. Cheers!
 
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If your parents are worried about your safety, I would try to change their mindset about the army. Only 15-20% of the army is branched infantry, and many in the army, and the military as a whole, may go their entire career without seeing direct combat depending on their MOS. While I don't know your parents I assume they just want what's best for you, but remember that this is your life and your goal, so you should be firm in pursuing your aspiration to serve your country.
 
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If your parents are worried about your safety, I would try to change their mindset about the army. Only 15-20% of the army is branched infantry, and many in the army, and the military as a whole, may go their entire career without seeing direct combat depending on their MOS. While I don't know your parents I assume they just want what's best for you, but remember that this is your life and your goal, so you should be firm in pursuing your aspiration to serve your country.
I’ve been trying to search for the infantry numbers. Thank you so much for the help!
 

TexasAggie204

DS USMA 2024
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Only 15-20% of the army is branched infantry, and many in the army, and the military as a whole, may go their entire career without seeing direct combat depending on their MOS.
My son (Class of 2010) was not branched Infantry but ended up as an infantry platoon leader as a Lieutenant and saw combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

-Needs of the Army-
 

kinnem

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+1 to Capt MJ. Also, it can't hurt to start the application without their permission. They may come around if they see your commitment to it. And as you point out, you'll be 18 when the time comes.

If you decide not to apply, or are not accepted, there is always the Marines.

I hope you also plan to apply to the various ROTC programs as a backup.
 
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+1 to Capt MJ. Also, it can't hurt to start the application without their permission. They may come around if they see your commitment to it. And as you point out, you'll be 18 when the time comes.

If you decide not to apply, or are not accepted, there is always the Marines.

I hope you also plan to apply to the various ROTC programs as a backup.
Of course. ROTC is in the backup plan and I will apply to a handful of schools that I could go to for cheap and be happy with if neither the SA or ROTC plans work out.
 

VelveteenR

Just gathering dust in the nursery...
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@bluejayburrito: My husband and I are parents who were not on board with our son's decision to apply to service academies, but we explained our position very clearly and kept the conversation going all while not lifting a finger to help him. He's now an O1 and anyone who's been here for any length of time knows that we still feel he had better college options, and we may never fully come to terms with the military (and threads like the Firstie who is not being allowed to graduate due to a late medical diagnosis aren't helping me).

I very much appreciate that you respect your parent's feelings and don't want to flout them, but I believe @Capt MJ's points are most relevant:

- You are/will be old enough to make this decision on your own
- You will have two years to walk away from any academy without penalty if you find the decision is not right for you

The first point took the decision out of our hands, and the second calmed my hair-on-fire soul as it meant that he was not conscripted on day one like an enlistee, and his affirmation would be made by an adult with a two-year immersion experience. I could accept that.

As for fears of bodily harm, if you read my first post here, that concern was uppermost in my mind as our son was gung-ho on SEALS, Rangers, any high-adrenaline function. Your parents need to understand that the majority of officers in any service, any branch, assume this risk, but the Army may provide you with a broader range of non-combat options as mentioned above.

OTOH, know that USMA branched 81% of the class of 2019 into combat arms, and that percentage is expected to continue rising. Here is a thread discussing those numbers:


And this thread discusses the new method of branch selection for the class of 2020 and forward:


The world is not getting any safer, so I do understand your parent's concerns, but they are misinformed if they think you are guaranteed to be safer in the Navy or Air Force--but safety is not a driver for those who elect to serve in this way. (Damn testosterone.)

Anyway, as a parent who understands your parent's concerns, I have to say that this is YOUR choice to make. Make it in peace. It's your life, and your parents WILL come around. They have to. They love you. :)
 

Heatherg21

USNA mom Bacon Lover Dog Lover
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I applaud your determination and willingness to seek counsel. Is their someone who you know has served, attended WP or an FFO who could possibly sit down with your parents and you and talk through their concerns?
 

Impulsive

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@bluejayburrito, you seem to really be handling this in a mature way, and have thought your decisions through. That is a good first step. As others have said, if your MOC's (and I don't know where you live) do not require you to only accept one nomination per school, apply to all, rank them in your order of preference, and visit all of them if possible. If your parents are so adverse to you going into a "Military" type college where combat of some sort is likely after graduation, maybe try looking at the USCGA. It is more Law Enforcement, Pollution and response, and Search and Rescue than combat generally speaking. Maybe it will allow your parents to be more supportive, and if you check into it you may very well find that it offers you some things the other academies don't.

Best of luck in your journey, I hope you find your dream...:)
 

TB_Rays

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Oct 22, 2019
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I am awaiting my decision for the class of 2024 right now and have been exactly where you are. My parents were and are still very opposed to me attending USMA if I am fortunate enough to be admitted. One of the big things that helped me to get them to a better place was showing them that I was aware and well informed of what I would be getting myself into through going to West Point. I am not going to lie, there have been countless arguments since I hit Sophmore year and began to pursue West Point, however over the last several months they have come to the realization that I have a right to decide how to spend my life. If USMA is something you are truly passionate about pursuing, do it. It may cause strife at times with your parents, but I would say do what feels right for you. Had I simply given up with USMA after my parents gave me pushback, I can't imagine how I would feel right now watching others hear back. Good luck!
 
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I applaud your determination and willingness to seek counsel. Is their someone who you know has served, attended WP or an FFO who could possibly sit down with your parents and you and talk through their concerns?
I don’t have any West Point contacts, only USAFA cadets and Navy midshipmen/alumni.
 
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@bluejayburrito, you seem to really be handling this in a mature way, and have thought your decisions through. That is a good first step. As others have said, if your MOC's (and I don't know where you live) do not require you to only accept one nomination per school, apply to all, rank them in your order of preference, and visit all of them if possible. If your parents are so adverse to you going into a "Military" type college where combat of some sort is likely after graduation, maybe try looking at the USCGA. It is more Law Enforcement, Pollution and response, and Search and Rescue than combat generally speaking. Maybe it will allow your parents to be more supportive, and if you check into it you may very well find that it offers you some things the other academies don't.

Best of luck in your journey, I hope you find your dream...:)
Thank you, I have definitely considered their thoughts and my own. I don’t know if they are necessarily opposed to combat, or if they just think that AF and Navy don’t have any. If I can’t get WP on the table, I will try for the other two. Although, USCGA doesn’t need the nomination... I most definitely want to apply for as many academies as I fit with and can reasonably see myself at which would be 3 or 4, unless my interests narrow down in the next year. I’m hoping a summer seminar or visit can help clear my mind and let me see my true fit while also comforting my parents as I begin this process I envision for myself.
 
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