I'm sitting in a car on a six-hour drive to Army/Navy for tomorrow's game and was thinking about when I did the same thing last year and where I was in this process. I've got time to kill so I figured I'd write some words of advice for the aspiring USMA Class of 2024 about what I did for West Point admissions that worked well for me. Do note that I do not have an official appointment yet, but am 3Q, have two nominations, and an LOA. My regional commander told me to just wait for BFE's to come out. So take anything I say with a grain of salt, but I want to get it out while it's still (relatively) fresh in my head. First things first... I got interested in AROTC at the end of my sophomore year and eventually got interested in USMA at the beginning of my junior year. After talking to many graduates and a few cadets and doing a LOT of research, I pretty much knew it's what I wanted. I reached out to my Field Force Representative, who came to my school to talk to me and go over what I needed to work on. That's the first thing I think you should do, as they will be your local contact for the next year. Take a visit, if you can. I did an overnight visit on November 29th of my junior year. I'm fortunate enough to live a manageable 2.5 hours away from USMA, so this was doable for me. You'll know quickly if you want to go to West Point. You'll know quickly if you don't. I had a fantastic experience shadowing a female plebe and I'm sure you will as well. I saw her a few weeks ago at Army/Air Force and was able to tell her that she deserves credit for my desire to go here. Go to admissions events... NETWORK! This is the single best piece of advice that I can give to anyone serious about this application process. Trust me on this one--go to every one of those admissions events that you get emails about within convenient driving distance. I probably went to six. It's not because I wanted to learn more about the school; I could give that PowerPoint presentation at this point. It's to get in front of your Regional Commander, your admissions officer, to ask them questions, to introduce yourself, to get name recognition. Mine knew me by name after the second event, remembered me at SLE, and was happy to see me when I did an overnight last month. Networking is so, so, so important in this application process. Your Regional Commander WILL pull strings for you if you show them you are passionate about West Point. They are the ones who decide who gets an LOA, who gets a medical waiver, who they push for an appointment. Thirty-five kids out of several thousand applicants in the Northeast got an LOA. I can tell you right now that I am not the most academically-gifted or most athletic candidate out there. But I took a lot of initiative in this process, and that is 100% why I think I got the LOA. My RC told me he wished more kids showed so much motivation and drive to get to West Point. So if you want it, do that. Networking can help get you a nomination, can get your foot in the door, can make you stick out from the crowd of 12,000 applicants. Especially if your district is competitive. Build a support system of adults and peers. I think one of the best choices I've made over the last year was to reach out on this platform and create a group of prospective cadets to the C/o 2023. We made a GroupMe in January, and a core group of us talk every day. Regardless of what some adults on here said at the start, building that group was probably the most worthwhile things to come out of this. Some have since decided to not continue applying, but they remain as a support system, and we all are the best resource of information to each other. Sometimes it's nervewracking to ask a question on here, but never to each other. There is no more updated source of information than those going through the process right now with you. This can be a lonely application process. Having some friends to back you up and motivate you (even if they're from the other side of the country) will help A LOT. Apply for SLE. Apply for the Summer Leadership Experience the day it opens. For us, it was January 15th. Admission is competitive, and you may not get accepted. That's completely okay. There is a correlation with kids to go to SLE, but don't get confused, it is not causation. Some of our GroupMe got in and attended, most did not. No one knows the formula for getting in. Whether you go or not is not the be all end all. If you get in, go, I went and had a good time and met some cool people. But if you don't, don't think it's over for you. Do extracurricular activities, but don't do anything specifically for West Point. If you're applying to West Point, you're already probably a pretty well-rounded kid. Take those activities that you thrive in and thrive extra-hard. Be a leader and a standout in those activities. But don't pile things onto your resume just because you think West Point would like it. Sure, stretch for that extra varsity letter, but don't just participate in a billion activities. You may as well spend that time improving yourself in other areas. Learn about West Point's culture. I've done a lot of "stuff" with West Point. I go up whenever I can find an excuse, have been to a couple home football games, follow all the Army accounts I can find on Instagram, and watched Austin LaChance's videos religiously. It's not that I just want to do all these things, but they give you a general idea of what you are getting into. It's in times when I doubt myself that I think back on these things for motivation. Build relationships and talk to people outside of admissions. Talk to veterans. I can almost guarantee you that some teacher at your high school served in some way shape or form. Learn about their story, or stories, and really listen. No matter if you want to serve for five or forty-five years, that will be you eventually. They will help you figure out what you might want to do in the Army. Be friendly with your teachers, those SOE's are a pain in the butt to get, but if your teachers know you personally they'll help you more. Find a mentor, or three, and learn from them too. Talk to cadets, Old Grads, parents of cadets, whoever is willing. Learn everything about this process. Other miscellaneous advice... Start everything EARLY. Nomination applications, CFAs, homework, and candidate statements will pile up. They're not kidding when they say this. If you have questions about DoDMERB, email firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry Mullen). He'll get back to you usually within 24 hours. For your basketball throw on the CFA, look up how a soccer goalkeeper throws a ball. Do that. Ask questions. GoArmy2022 was super helpful for me on here. This forum is a great resource. Don't get discouraged. This process is a test of grit. If you have any questions about what I did, feel free to ask. I hope this helps someone--I had wished there were more resources out there for kids super early in the process when I was in that position last year.