Not to answer for 20kbrown04 but i will give you what my son has said:
1st is Time Management! The academy constantly gives cadets more than can be done in a day. It makes you juggle and prioritize - “I can workout every day but I may have to settle for a lower grade in _____ class or do I play a sport but that may mean little time to socialize. Develop good study habits and time management skills!
2nd is Get Physically Fit! My son was a runner (5+ miles a day), a competitive swimmer, and played lacrosse. You will have time to improve fitness during BEAST but it sure makes life easier if you are in very good shape on arrival. Many cadets relax after the CFA and stop there - Don’t! Keep improving your fitness. My son just tried out for the Parachute Team. One part of the long tryout process was a 14 hour “smoke” session with timed 15+ mile ruck, after a full day of obstacle courses and PT.
3rd - Don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy your senior year! If you do go to USMA you will look back and fondly remember those weekend mornings where you could sleep in, or go to the movies with friends, and think “what do I want to do today?” Get your application done and try to relax and wait. It is hard, and always have a “Plan B” but don’t sacrifice your senior year.
All that said, my son loves being at West Point and despite the Plebe tasks, lack of sleep, and constant places to be. He has developed friendships stronger than any bonds formed before and the opportunities are amazing. Enjoy the journey! Good luck with your application and desire to serve.
Love this!!! @MarTac
this is very good advice. It is great to hear the perspectives of many, so you know what your weaknesses and strengths may be.
For me, I realized that:
1.) Time Management is critical. I spend more time preparing for my higher credit hour courses than I do with the less. 4.5 credit hours compared to 1.5 is quite the difference. You will notice that you won't be able to finish every assignment here, so start developing study habits that will make you a better and faster reader, organization skills so you do not get behind, and find a method that reminds you of everything that is due. After BEAST, you are out on your own, responsible for your duties, classes, and other responsibilities. If you forget something it is on you.
2.) BEAST loves to run you to death, so make sure that you can run 3 miles at least at a 9:00 minute pace. If I had known this, I think it would have been much easier for me to keep up with my group. Also, nothing can prepare you for the hills you are going to face here. If you can, try to practice inclined sprints, ruck at an incline, get used to the heat, and get used to being uncomfortable.
3.) West Point wants to challenge you because they know you can handle it. When you are getting "smoked" or corrected, realize that we are all just kids working for the same mission. Additionally, when you are getting smoked it's good to remember that it won't last forever. Everyone here has a schedule, so embrace the suck because the reward is worth it.
4.) SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS. I cannot stress that enough. You will realize very quickly how much they truly mean to you while you're here, so make sure to spend as much time as possible. You will see that a lot of cadets have parents that live on campus, live an hour away, or are here every other weekend. For me, I was a little envious of these kids because my family is over 1000 miles away. However, any chance that you get, make sure to remind them that you're ok and that you love them.
All in all, any preparation is essential. I love it here and feel like this is where I was meant to go. Some things suck, but you learn to embrace it and realize that it won't last forever. My plebe year has already taught me many life lessons and I can't wait to learn even more. Find the good in the bad and keep pushing forward!