I recently received a Private message which I could not respond to because I do not have enough posts for the privilege. So I am posting my response and hope that I do not offend the person that sent me the message but I could think of no other way to respond. Question - I have a question that I am hoping you can help us with. Do you have any sense of the diversity and comfort level of minorities at the various academies? We are at the VERY initial stages of helping our oldest look into things. One of her teachers ia a Naval Academy graduate and put the bug in her ear to consider applying (currect junior). He put her in touch wtih the Academy already. She is a black female with very good grades in top courses, a strong athelete (but not strong enough to be recruited...simply loves to play sports) and lots of leadership. Also, she is a good kid (no trouble, not boy crazy, etc.). She has been in a school with almost no other minorities and adapted fine. So, non issue on her end. What she/we wonder is whether she will be viewed as an affirmative action candidate in spite of all of her hard work and background. She has a good freind who is now at the naval academy. He is a white male and encouraged her to apply to all summer seminars. BUT his immediate reaction based on his experiences is: 1. Rule out the CGA. They have had a history of racial problems and don't offer many option post academy for careers. 2. USNA is great...the cadets (term?) are overall bright and more open minded. He heard one racial comment and an older cadet put the person 'in check' and told him that stuff wasn't welcome (even though it was a group of just white males). The place is diverse and offers SO MUCH that you can't go wrong (our daughter is a math/science kid) 3. WP might be too strict, on every level...just TOO military in thought, action, etc. all the time 4. Air Force she might like...but he hated the remote location and 'laid back' vibe...not what he was looking for. But, he and our daughter have been friends since grade school and if she did not come to USNA he would rather see her at USAFA than WP, because of environment. He thinks between her academic strongth in math and science, sports interest, band interest, not wanting to deal with racial issues and need to be a 'girly girl' once in awhile, USNA would be best, USAFA next. Any basic thoughts you have would be welcomed! Answer - Wow - How the world has changed, at least for me. FYI - I am a white male who grew up in North Carolina. To put things into perspective, my Grand fathers favorite show growing up was "All in the Family" w/ Archie Bunker. With that said, the Army and West Point in particular sure helped change my perspective on things more than 25 years ago. We were taught that all soldiers are one color "Green". In my 4 years at West Point, I never heard of any racial incidents or saw any cadets treated differently because of their race or sex. As plebes, we were all treated like dirt. 1) Never heard anything myself but then again, I don't really consider the Coast Guard a Service Academy. 2) I was really surprised to hear of the incident at Navy. I have a close personal friend that is an Annapolis grad and a BGO and I know how he would react to such a comment. I guess you can still find ignorance in the world. I don't believe that you will find any differences in the academies in terms of race or sex, either harder or easier. The only recent example I could site would be the essay my son had to write for USMA, it dealt specifically with explaining how you personally feel about the importance of diversity in the Army. 4) I agree that when I was at USMA 25+ years ago, the females were less girly than the other two academies and that probably rings true today as does the "laid back" attitude within the Air Force. I do not agree with the remote comment, however. Colorado Springs which lies just outside the post has over 400k people and several other colleges. Now WP is remote. It's a 45 min car ride from anywhere. 3) Yes WP is hard and from what I can tell, the 4th class system has not changed all that much over the years. But WP is about learning how to lead people and lets face it. It is a whole lot easier to manage technology than it is manage human beings. Her and I emphasize "HER" decision of academies needs to be based on what she wants to do after the academy. They are all hard and unless she wants to succeed for herself, she will never make it or at best be miserable for 9 years of her life. As I said in my original post, WP is about people leadership, Air Force is about technology, Navy is about leading technical people. Finally the affirmative action question - I spent a lot of time at USNA and WP learning how the process works and as I said, I have a close friend who is a BGO for Navy. Here's how I understand the process to work. The 1st 5-600 appointments come straight from congressional nominations which are either principal nominations, meaning the academy has to take the candidate if they meet the minimum qualifications or competitive nominations which means the academy picks the most competitive candidate from a list of ten names nominated for 1 slot. The other 9 then go into a pool. Then another 2-300 come from Presidential nominations, prior service, recruited athletes etc. The balance (2-300) come from the pool. This is where diversity comes into play. The academy evaluates the diversity of the class from the first two groups of appointments and then goes into the pool to pick the most qualified candidates to fill their diversity requirements. This is the only time that your daughters race or sex will be a factor and only then if her particular category was short in the initial 75% of appointments. Keep in mind, however, that she has to be good enough to get a nomination and even then she has to meet the minimum requirements to be picked from the pool. In other words, if she isn't good enough to get in, she will not make it out of the pool. In which case, she may be offered a chance at the prep school or a foundation scholarship. That academies are very careful not to admit someone they do not believe can succeed. She may get some help to prepare for her second try via prep or foundation but she still has to go thru the process all over again. The best advice that I can give you and her is to go see each academy for yourself. Navy is the only one that will do an overnight visit unless you already have an appointment but even half a day spent shadowing a cadet during the academic year can tell you a lot about what life is like. FYI - my son received his LOA to Navy yesterday (his first choice) but we are still dealing with a couple of medical waivers. Make sure that you review the Medical DQ codes on the DodMERB web site. What you don't know can hurt you. I hope this helps and good luck.