High School Sophomore Advice

Spartan917

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Jan 24, 2017
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I have been greatly considering making an attempt at becoming a cadet at the United States Military Academy, and I am unsure of the likelihood of that with my current academic and extracurricular standing. I am currently a sophomore in high school with a cumulative GPA of about 3.76 after the first semester of my sophomore year. I believe I can improve my GPA as I am currently enrolled in several honors courses and looking to enroll in an AP class in the coming semester. I performed somewhat well on my PSATs with an 1100 overall which according to the college board website is within the 89th percentile nationally. One weak point in my potential application would be my extracurriculars. I am as of now only participating in marching/concert band, although I am open to pursuing athletics such as football, cross country/track, and wrestling. I am unaware of whether I am eligible for a varsity letter in only taking band which I noticed most West Point cadets received when reviewing admissions statistics. Physically I feel I can meet or exceed the standards of the CFA so that is not such a concern for me. I have not been involved greatly in my community or with any clubs as a leader of any form. I would like to inquire to any former cadets or applicants or anyone with any knowledge of the USMA admissions process as to their experience in it and what would the best course of action be for me to pursue in creating an application that stands out and grants me a respectable chance of admission at West Point.
Thank you for any and all feedback in advance.
 

tug_boat

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Jun 18, 2012
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You've come to the right spot. I would encourage you to check out USMA.edu. Also take a look at the above stickies for guidance that buff81 posted. I would encourage you to look with in for motivation and inspiration to serve as an Officer in the United States
Army. Only you can find the answer.

Push Hard, Press Forward
 

army2021

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Jan 4, 2015
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Look at the USMA Class Profiles from previous years and try and build your resume around what they look for. I used it as a checklist and started pressing around when I was in your shoes. Join clubs with the intention of becoming an Officer in all of them that you can. Endlessly pursue leadership positions. Keep your class rank high, take challenging courses, and do all you can to get high SAT scores. I'd recommended doing 2-3 Varsity sports and attempt to become a Captain by senior year. I see you wrote down Wrestling and XC, I do both. Been a wrestler for years and it's given me the mental strength to wear I know I'll succeed at anything I'll do. Also did XC to further stack my resume. I'd suggest even doing track or something in the spring if you can, I personally did Lacrosse. If your school offers JROTC, I'd take it and become a leader there. If it's not available, try and find a local Civil Air Patrol unit, Sea Cadets, etc. Make the most out of your summers. I interned at my state's War Memorial which is also like a full out museum. Got hundreds of hours volunteering, met amazing people, was with Vets every day, and made connections. Best thing I ever did. If you're able to find some sort of internship to do over the summer that'd be great. Do all you can to stack your resume and develop as a leader and a person, but remember to have fun too. It's a long road so don't get burned out. Hope this helps! Fill free to ask me any any questions, not an expert but I can give pointers from my experience.

PS: Research the Whole Candidate System (WCS) that USMA uses and try and find a way to familiarize yourself with your MOC (Congressman).
 

jl123

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Feb 20, 2016
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One weak point in my potential application would be my extracurriculars.
In addition to the other suggestions, go to Boys State. That is the biggest bang for the buck in the extracurricular/leadership category. Small time commitment, large WCS impact.
 

Spartan917

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Jan 24, 2017
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In addition to the other suggestions, go to Boys State. That is the biggest bang for the buck in the extracurricular/leadership category. Small time commitment, large WCS impact.

Thanks, I checked out my states American Legion page and found the dates and location of the event and it is doable. I'm assuming yes but as the prerequisites state the participant must be at least a junior in high school does that give me two opportunities to partake and would participating in two rather than one make much of a difference on my USMA application? I do have an interest in government regardless and I had never heard of the program prior to today so I greatly appreciate you sharing.
 

army2021

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Thanks, I checked out my states American Legion page and found the dates and location of the event and it is doable. I'm assuming yes but as the prerequisites state the participant must be at least a junior in high school does that give me two opportunities to partake and would participating in two rather than one make much of a difference on my USMA application? I do have an interest in government regardless and I had never heard of the program prior to today so I greatly appreciate you sharing.
You can't apply this year. You apply as a junior. Same summer you'd be eligible for SLE I believe.
 

buff81

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Oct 31, 2008
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I'd like to emphasize test scores. They are SO important!
Take both the ACT and SAT often.
Prep for them and take them each time they are offered, if affordable. West Point superstores, so there is no penalty to taking the tests multiple times.
High test scores will catch the eyes of your RC.
High test scores improve your chances of getting a LOA.
High test scores will help you with getting a nom.
High test scores will help you with your Plan B - in getting a ROTC scholarship or other scholarships and in getting acceptance to your Plan B schools.


As others have said -
- Take the hardest courses that your school offers and make an A or B in them.
- Be a Varsity athlete, earning a Letter. Being a multiple varsity athlete is even better. Make it your goal to be a Captain. Play the sport(s) that you are passionate about, but team sports will get you more WCS points that an individual sport. Band will not count as a sport. It will count as an EC.
- Make sure a math teacher and a Chemistry or Physics teacher knows you and likes you. ;). You will evaluations from both a Math and Science teacher.
- Whatever ECs you are in, be a leader in that EC. Listing a bunch of ECs is not that important. Being the leader of an EC is. Don't join something just to lengthen your EC list. Do something that you are passionate about and take on a leadership role.
- Go the Boy's State and run for an office.
- Stay in shape for the CFA and max as many as you can.

And of course, frequent this site often! You will learn so much! :thumb:
 

Spartan917

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Jan 24, 2017
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Okay so I plan on taking 3 honors courses, an AP course, forensics, and weight training this semester. I also am planning on continuing participation in my high school marching band through my senior year, which I will pursue leadership positions in. I also plan on going out for the football team, as well as trying out other athletic programs when the opportunity presents itself. I will plan on attending boys state the summer of 2018 before my senior year. I am going to pursue taking any AP classes I can and challenging myself to get to the top of my class before the application deadline. I currently have something like a ~3.75 GPA which I plan on improving to the ~4.00+ range given the volume of AP/Honors courses I will be taking. I believe I did somewhat well on the PSAT but I will definitely look into a prep class for my junior year going into SATs. What else will I be able to do to make my application more appealing in addition to these things? Also when should I start seeking info regarding congressional nominations and preparing myself for interviews?
 

army2021

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Jan 4, 2015
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Try and do multiple varsity sports. Idk if you're big into football, but if you're doing it just cause, I'd do something more laid back like XC. That way you'll have more time available in the summer to work/volunteer and more time to study during the school year as practices end earlier. Leadership positions in clubs, such as student body, beta, and/or NHS president, vp, etc. Take as many weighted courses next year as possible along with AP/IB to boost your rank even more, but don't kill yourself with an overload. Try and find something military related to do if possible, can't hurt. Apply for as many summer programs as you can. You'll have boys state/sle next summer, find something for this summer. Keep stacking your resume, it's what you gotta do. Apply for everything opportunity that presents itself to you, take advantage of everything resource you can. Don't stress amount Nom interview now, but maybe try and familiarize yourself with your MOC. You can even reach out to your MOCs office and try an intern over the summer. This would be huge for USMA and for the Nom process while also capitalizing on your summer. Hope this helps. Any other questions?
 

buff81

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@Spartan917 -
My 2nd emphasis for you -
You need to make it a priority to earn an athletic Varsity letter. You'll be leaving a lot of WCS points on the table if you don't.
Can you do football and marching band? I would assume that they conflict.
Remember, in the eyes of WP, band is an EC, not a sport.
If you don't want to give up Band, track is a great option. It will prepare you for the running that you will do at WP and it is not during football season ( if that conflicts with band).
 
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sandiego95

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Dec 20, 2016
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Lots of good info for you. My son just received his appointment last week. He only had one varsity letter (XC) but did very well on the CFA. Remember academics is 60% of your WCS score. I am sure in my son's case being at the top of his class and his near perfect SAT's balanced out the lack of more varsity sports. He was also an Eagle Scout, Senior Patrol Leader and Head of his Model UN team. Does your school have any other leadership options?
 

kinnem

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Thanks, I checked out my states American Legion page and found the dates and location of the event and it is doable. I'm assuming yes but as the prerequisites state the participant must be at least a junior in high school does that give me two opportunities to partake and would participating in two rather than one make much of a difference on my USMA application? I do have an interest in government regardless and I had never heard of the program prior to today so I greatly appreciate you sharing.
You can only check the Boy's State checkbox once on the application. I don't think attending a second time will add any value. DS went as a rising senior. I do not know if rising juniors attend.
 

army2021

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You can only check the Boy's State checkbox once on the application. I don't think attending a second time will add any value. DS went as a rising senior. I do not know if rising juniors attend.
You are correct, they can not. OP should look to apply during junior year and start that application early in the process, however it's irrelevant at the moment as a sophomore
 

Spartan917

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Jan 24, 2017
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Lots of good info for you. My son just received his appointment last week. He only had one varsity letter (XC) but did very well on the CFA. Remember academics is 60% of your WCS score. I am sure in my son's case being at the top of his class and his near perfect SAT's balanced out the lack of more varsity sports. He was also an Eagle Scout, Senior Patrol Leader and Head of his Model UN team. Does your school have any other leadership options?

Unfortunately I live in a somewhat rural district and leadership opportunities are limited compared to other schools. There is a CAP cadet squadron about a 30 minute drive away from where I live but other than that I have not been able to find any other military leadership experiences in the area. I'm unsure of whether CAP would make any difference in my resume based on what I've read. If you could provide anymore information on getting started with Model UN I would appreciate it as that program does interest me, especially if it has an impact on the leadership section of the WCS score as that is where I am most lacking. Also just curious did your son receive any MOC noms and which ones?
 

army2021

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Unfortunately I live in a somewhat rural district and leadership opportunities are limited compared to other schools. There is a CAP cadet squadron about a 30 minute drive away from where I live but other than that I have not been able to find any other military leadership experiences in the area. I'm unsure of whether CAP would make any difference in my resume based on what I've read. If you could provide anymore information on getting started with Model UN I would appreciate it as that program does interest me, especially if it has an impact on the leadership section of the WCS score as that is where I am most lacking. Also just curious did your son receive any MOC noms and which ones?
Reach out to your school's administration and get started on whatever process necessary to found the club. Being the founder of a club and then probably being a leader in it thereafter would be great leadership for your resume.
 

perched_eagle

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Oct 5, 2016
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Ask around your school and see if anyone has been appointed recently. Then follow up with these people and see what helped them receive a nomination and an appointment. Good Luck.
 

Spartan917

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Jan 24, 2017
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I kind of doubt it considering there are only 200 students in the graduating class I mean but I suppose it's possible. In the case of smaller schools / less populated areas of the country are there added chances of receiving an appointment based on a lower number of applications from those demographic? I go to a high school with only about 850 students and I'm in the Great Lakes region if anyone knows anything about that.
 

WetsuGator

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Jan 5, 2017
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I kind of doubt it considering there are only 200 students in the graduating class I mean but I suppose it's possible. In the case of smaller schools / less populated areas of the country are there added chances of receiving an appointment based on a lower number of applications from those demographic? I go to a high school with only about 850 students and I'm in the Great Lakes region if anyone knows anything about that.

Noms are all based on Congressional districts so in theory, you're competing against the same number of people regardless of where you live.

Also, 200/class really isn't that small. I attended a HS with 100 and we average 2x SA's every year. It would be really beneficial to ask around and find out if anyone has actually made it to a SA. A little leg work on your part will do you a world of benefit.

Best of luck!

-AIR CAV
 

army2021

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Noms are all based on Congressional districts so in theory, you're competing against the same number of people regardless of where you live.

Also, 200/class really isn't that small. I attended a HS with 100 and we average 2x SA's every year. It would be really beneficial to ask around and find out if anyone has actually made it to a SA. A little leg work on your part will do you a world of benefit.

Best of luck!

-AIR CAV
Good point. And on top of this, you can talk to your counselor(s) to see about past grads who were appointed. My school, while greater in size, had no one going to SAs every year. But I talked to my counselor about past grads who were appointed so that may be something to look in to
 
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