How open should I be about applying to USNA?


Apr 23, 2016
I am a college reapplicant to USNA after almost being admitted to NAPS (They told me I was only denied because there were a lot less slots than they anticipated) and I am going to VT and joining the Corps of Cadets. I am planning my course of action for reapplying to USNA and I have been wondering how open I should be. I definitely know I need to tell my advisor and my professors so they can complete necessary parts of the application, but what about my commanding officer (I would need his/her recommendation to potentially get a nom) and my peers? I don't want to rub anyone the wrong way but I also want to not let it stand the way of getting an appointment. Also, how soon should I tell my professors and CO after meeting them? I don't want it to look like I am taking VT for granted and am just using the school to get into USNA. If anyone has any advice or prior experience, please help me out!
dashg16, I had the same question with Air Force ROTC and USAFA. Being in JROTC, I asked my senior instructor, and this is what he said. Do not tell the cadre the second you meet them. That sounds like you are only participating in ROTC for the appointment to USNA. "Hi I'm ----- and I want to go to the Naval Academy." However, wait about a month, then express your intentions to the cadre and your friends once you have had a chance to demonstrate your potential in ROTC. Once you decide to break the news, be sure to have your ducks in a row (application, essays etc) and continue to participate in the team of your ROTC detachment. Make connections, you may be working closely with some of the cadets in your detachment after commissioning. You are no better than the cadets in ROTC, and in the end, you both are getting commissioned in the US Navy. The cadre will understand.
I just had a Candidate admitted as a reapplicant doing ROTC. My advice to him a this time last year was consistent with RoyOrbison's comment above -- do not even tell them that VT /ROTC was your Plan B, and that you "almost got into NAPS" (By the way, there is no such thing, I would be curious who "they" is that told you that). Go to VT/ROTC , hit the deck running and excel in everything you do. Don't give your classmates/upper class any reason to doubt your comittment to the Unit. Submit your application quietly, and then once you have established yourself as leader among you class, ask for your Unit Commander recommendation. ( I don't know how formal a NROTC unit is, you may have to request Mast to meet with the Skipper -- if so, you should ask one of the LT's assigned (perhaps a USNA grad ) how that can be accomplished discreetly. Keep in mind, USNA is not even going to review your application until your first semester grades are in, so there is no benefit to getting your application done early -- go to VT, kick a$$, establish yourself and then you have something new in your application that you didn't have last year. The added benefit is that if you don't get into USNA - you have set a good first impression with a well regarded NROTC unit.
This is the same advice I gave my DD last year and it worked well as she was admitted as a re-applicant. You need to show up and prove your commitment to your current school and demonstrate your potential as an officer.

The other key piece of advice is to enjoy your first year of college. Do not focus on what you think you missed out on. Look at the amazing opportunities that are available for you as an ROTC cadet at VT.
Agree with the above posters. One thing to keep in mind regarding team work within the unit... you may actually end up being there for 4 years. Don't count your chickens before they hatch. Also, some standard advice still is relevant - apply for every nomination you are eligible for. You may not get a recommendation from the skipper or a ROTC nom. It happens.
Ok thank you everyone who replied, so I guess I won't really tell that many people unless asked. At what point do I tell my instructor?

Also, @OldNavyBGO, I was waitlisted for NAPS and both my admissions counselor and a NAPS coordinator told me I only was denied due to lack of open slots. That is what I meant by almost got in, sorry if that wasn't clear.
I had someone from VT successfully reapply to USNA (and graduate from USNA) a number of years ago. Don't think she did ROTC but not certain. It was a VERY hard decision for her to leave VT b/c she ended up loving it.

I would pitch it this way: I'd hoped to go to USNA but am thrilled to be here at VT and in NROTC. Right now, I plan to reapply to USNA b/c that's still my goal -- but obviously my plan might change as I spend more time here. However, in order to keep my options open, I have to move forward with applying for noms now b/c of the early deadlines. [note that you can submit your USNA package quite late as a reapplicant b/c they need first semester grades]. I hope you'll support me with that and I promise to give you (the ROTC unit) 100% effort on my part throughout my time here.

Hopefully, you'll have an open-minded CO and unit.
At what point do I tell my instructor?
- IMO, when you are ready to ask for the Skipper's endorsement/recommendation. You don't want to come in Day 1 and ask for a Recommendation. Make a (postive) name for yourself, be recognized, then make the ask. I am not suggesting that you hide it or mislead anyone, but from a practical perspective your Chain of Command cannot make any recommendation until they get to know you.

I was waitlisted for NAPS
-- That makes sense. Keep in mind, selection for NAPS is a recognition that there is something in your record that make Admissions think you would be a good Midshipman, but something else in your record that makes them question whether you can succeed at USNA. This is often academic preparation /College Board scores. If that's your case, taking a tough STEM course load and doing well in college level academics is critical. (See the Sticky about Reapplications).

Hopefully, you'll have an open-minded CO and unit.
-- I would like to think that those selected to lead NROTC units are open minded and want to see their Midshipman fulfill their dreams, and if that means losing a good Midshipman to USNA, they would fully support that. However, I am not naive, and know that there are some that will take offense to the fact someone would leave the Unit for USNA. Be careful to avoid any indication that you think that USNA is better than NROTC -- fine to say it is your goal, but be prepared to explain why you would rather go to USNA than finish NROTC tactfully.
Don't worry, your situation isn't unique. It is not unusual for cadets move on to service academies from the VTCC. I think my son's class had at least one person move on to each of the SAs after first year and if anything they were proud of them, although they did think they were a bit nuts for wanting to start at the bottom again! USNA1985's approach is the way the cadets I know about used and they were fully supported by the Corps and their ROTC cadre. Show up in shape, eager and committed to working as part of a team and people will be fine with it.

I will say, though, that I know far more cadets that planned to reapply but opted to stay (including one that was offered an appointment and subsequently turned it down). Then again there was another that stuck with his dream and went to a SA after doing two or three years with the VTCC - and his parents remarked on how much support he got from his buds at every step of the way.
I will tell you that my DD embraced her first year of college and lived it to the fullest. She showed up in shape, participated in her ROTC unit and did well academically. There were a few tears as we drove away a year later knowing that she would not return. She is at peace with her decision to start over at West Point but she would not trade her year at SMU for anything.

PS, after almost three weeks of Beast, I hope she feels the same way. Will find out this weekend when we get to talk to her.