Looking back at high school, DC somewhat regrets the focus they put into chasing their dream of an appointment. They had limited social life due to focusing on academics & athletics. Athletics included club sport that involved year round, six days a week practices, that were located more than an hour and a half away. So 5-6 hours a day of travel and practice. Every. Single. Day. (except Sundays) For more than 4 years. The exception being during the high school season, which was essentially a mixed-blessing break from the practice grind. The result was 4 years of varsity letters, team captainship, multiple high school records, multiple first team all area selections in a county more populous than a number of states, state championship qualification in a state more populous than most countries, and D1 recruiting.
If anything, academically they focused even more intently than on athletics, using the 3 hours a day of driving to and from practice to do homework and study. Or write drafts of nomination and Academy application essays. Staying up until late at night, or early in the morning, putting in the work necessary to excel. Staying home on weekend nights to study, instead of going out to socialize and party, despite being encouraged by their parents to make time for fun. Four years of mathletes team competition and captaincy, four years of student government, 3 years of math and science tutoring, and four years of community service club membership. The result was a near-perfect SAT score (without a prep class or tutor), 4.0 unweighted GPA that included the maximum number of honors, dual-enrollment college, and AP classes that were available. Top of class ranking and more than 2 years worth of university transferrable credits coming out of high school.
The combined result of the multiyear effort was multiple scholarship offers, multiple congressional and senatorial nominations, and multiple early offers of appointment, one of which was accepted. Four successful years of Adademy academic and varsity team experience, commissioning, IGEP, and now several years in active duty service. So...mission accomplished.
As I mentioned at the start, DC somewhat regrets the sacrifices made in the successful pursuit of the dream. There were a lot of sacrifices. People will talk about the normal college experience versus the SA experience. DC talks about the loss of the normal high school experience versus the chasing the SA appointment experience. The contrast between being voted most likely to succeed by their senior class, versus most likely to have a "normal" carefree high school career. But, at the end of the day, the sacrifices made were what enabled the win at the finish line. So, while DC looks back wistfully at times and wonders "what if?" for the lost fun times, they also think "thank God!" for having had the fortitude to stay the course and live what is, for them, the dream.
There is an expression in athletics that says, "All it takes is all you got." That is exactly what DC put into the multiyear effort of achieving an appointment. But they were never secure in the belief that they would succeed in that effort. They were always aware that no matter how smart they were, how athletically gifted, how dedicated, there were always going to be other candidates that were smarter, faster, and more committed. At the Academy, there were many classmates that made DC feel humble. Because for all of their accomplishments and accolades, those other classmates were smarter, were faster, were more focused. And it made DC even more grateful that the Academy opened up its doors to them.
So, if you want to have a chance to receive an offer of appointment, start early and give it all you got. And don't ever feel that you, or your DC, is entitled to an offer, because there will always be another candidate that is smarter, faster, or more dedicated.