Gameplan for reapplication


5-Year Member
Dec 20, 2017
So here is the scenario. My son is home from a military preparatory program at an established military prep school (it is Christmas break). He got a 4.0 in his first semester classes (calculus, chemistry, etc), did ROTC (with leadership appointments), raised his ACTs to 33 English and 32 Math (good SAT scores too), and got very good fitness scores (5;40 mile etc). He has applied to all of the academies (except USMMA) this time around. Last year, he got a Congressional nomination to the USNA but did not get in (he has solid high school grades and did varsity sports for 3 years with some leadership positions including club president, President's club, etc; he also did the USNA summer session). He also did not get into the USCGA.

The bottom line is he is focused on one of the military academies. He is feeling very confident right now of his chances, but I feel compelled to have the "what if" conversation with him just in case he does not get in again.

I am thinking he would be interested in taking a year long Chinese language (Mandarin) immersion program in China (he is of 25% Asian ethnicity) if he does not get in, as he has expressed a desire to do this in the past if he failed to get in yet again as he claims the academies like the Chinese language ability.

Assuming the worst case and he does not get in, what could he do for the next year to further enhance his chances? Do you think the Chinese immersion would be a good idea? Are there any programs the military favors? Should he keep taking the ACT and SAT to keep his scores climbing? He will stay in shape, as he enjoys sports and working out, so that will not be an issue for him.

What I am asking here is what can my son do to maximize his chances of getting into an academy should he not get in this time around? My guess is he will do whatever it takes within honorable limits.

Thanks in advance for any and all feedback and ideas. I have also preached the idea of having a contingency plan, and I have him as a captive audience for a few weeks, lol.
If you've not already done so, suggest you read the sticky above on "Reapplying." While it's geared toward first time re-appliers, it applies (no pun intended) for a third or fourth attempt.

In lieu of doing the immersion program, suggest your DS enroll at a 4-year college and take either the plebe or youngster courses, depending on what he's already taken at the college level. If he wants to do Chinese, have him do it over the summer. While USNA may "like" Chinese or Arabic speakers (not sure this is true, BTW), doing an immersion program at the expense of attending "regular" college would, IMHO, be viewed negatively. By doing Chinese immersion, your DS is NOT taking physics and higher level math (post-calculus), and history, and engineering at the college level -- his competitors are. And some of them may also already speak fluent Chinese or Arabic.

As for the ACT/SAT, retaking depends on what his scores are now. If they are above 700/700, I wouldn't retake. If they are lower, the importance of retaking is directly related to how much lower they are.

The above and what's recommended in the sticky will "maximize" his chances. However, doing all of that is of course no guarantee. USNA is very competitive and the numbers game ultimately catches up with some extremely well-qualified candidates. So you're right to encourage your DS in his dream of attending a SA -- and also wise to encourage him to have alternatives in place.
The conventional wisdom is that reapplicants should attend a 4-year college and succeed in technical courses, while doing ROTC if possible. Chinese is great but foreign language skills aren't a significant factor in admissions. Taking high level courses in math, chemistry, and physics is recommended if he already has the plebe courses under his belt. Your son seems to have a competitive application so it really comes down to being the strongest candidate in your congressional district. This is why ROTC is recommended as it allows you to pursue another nomination.
If what he ultimately wants to do is be a Navy or Marine Corps officer, then he is also on the right track if he does NROTC or attends a 4-year college and becomes a 90-day wonder out of OCS.
Now, if he wants to continue to chase that dream of an Academy experience, then I would say he should pull out all the stops and put forward the best application he can, while making "Plan B" and "Plan C"
NROTC or a 4-year college degree. In the end, he's an officer. If he's standing next to an Ensign fresh out of USNA, they are virtually indistinguishable from each other.