Liberal Arts

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by tonk002, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. tonk002

    tonk002 5-Year Member

    Oct 9, 2010
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    I tried posting this in another forum, so maybe ill get more response here.

    Im halfway through my second semester of junior year ( I just started a two week spring break!). Im 16 years old, and I strongly believe that no one can know what it is they want to do for a living when they are around my age. I also do not believe that a teenager can know for certain that they want to be in the military at age 16. That being said, here are the two very basic prerequisites for what I think I want from my college experience:
    1. A military atmosphere (either an Academy or a SMC)
    2. An institution with a strong Political Science/International Affairs program(s).

    Now, VMI and Norwich have been at the top of my list for college for sometime. I love the programs in IA and Political Science at both schools, and the military piece of both schools. (There are more individual things that I am interested in that are far too numerous to list here). West Point has been another school that I have been looking at. However, the one issue with the school has been the emphasis on math and science that I feel is placed there. I am not an outstanding math student or science student. I do well in math and science (low As and Bs), but wont take math past Pre-Calc or Science past Chem by the time I graduate. The remaining parts of my schedule are filled with history, language and social science courses, and many are at the AP level.

    I know that USMA is very much heavy on math and science (for whatever reason- Im not sure why). I enjoy the classes I take and they challenge me to dig deeper in topics I love. But, I also might want to attend USMA -it is an outstanding school with an amazing reputation in all sectors. Here is my issue: I dont want to give up those classes that I love for science and math ones. I dont think its right to take classes to gain get into a certain school. Are there kids at USMA who are not heavy into science an math? Should I still consider an USMA even though Im more focused on Liberal Arts?
  2. billyb

    billyb 5-Year Member

    Jun 17, 2010
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    Being focused on liberal arts is fine, HOWEVER every cadet will take a tremendous amount of math and science. NONE of those courses are easy and many of them are very hard even for those students strong in math/science.

    I was pretty good in science and solid in math in HS. I will tell you that Calculus was extremely hard at WP and you should definitely take it in HS. Looking back on things I would HIGHLY recommend Calculus, Chemistry and Physics in HS. Not taking those 3 courses in HS will put you at an extreme disadvantage at WP.

    You don't have to love math and science, but if you aren't willing to take those 3 courses in HS (and do well in them), then I think you would be climbing a steep uphill battle academically at WP.
  3. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot 5-Year Member

    Apr 29, 2010
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    I think you may be too focused on the math/science portion
    Of the curriculum. Allow me to give you a small sampling of the classes I took which were not a math/science course:

    Adv. World History 1 & 2
    History of the Military Art 1 & 2
    History of Imperial and Soviet Russia
    Poems & Poetry
    Military Leadership (Psychology PL300)
    American Politics
    International Relations
    Macroeconomics (some numbers, nothing more than algebra)
    Microeconomics (same)
    International Economics (same)
    Comparative Economic Systems (philosophy of Econ)
    International Political Economy (no math, all writing)
    Defense Economics (roundtable course)
    Corporate Finance (addition, subtraction, multiplication)
    Money & Banking
    Adv. Literature
    Composition EN302
    MS300 Military Science
    MS400 Military science

    That list doesn't include a single math/science core course. By most metrics, despite the traditional bent for engineering, WP offers a liberal arts curriculum. By offers, I mean forces it down your throat. It's a good thing. It's nice to be able to discuss the deflection of a cold-rolled steel beam and still make references to Captain Yossarian, or hold my own in a debate about whether the rise of China will ensure peace in accordance with hegemonic stability theory, or talk to my sister about the vestiges of the Westernizer vs. Slavophile argument in post-Soviet Russia, or understand what "monetizing debt" means, or know how to read a balance sheet, or how the Duke of Orange contributed to the tactics later used in the American Civil War, or any number of other dissimilar pieces of knowledge.

    The thing you must bear in mind is that you will work. I used to laugh when my ex-gf would complain about a tough semester at State U with 16 credit hours to her name. The lightest I ever carried was 18, and more than once carried 23 (with permission from the Prof and Add/Drop to carry a 7th class). WP knows how to cram 5 years of school into 4 years.

    The choice is ultimately yours. Just don't think that WP will short you on either hard science or the arts.
  4. sprog

    sprog 5-Year Member

    Mar 10, 2009
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    I think I might have made a response to a similar post in the SMC forums a while ago, but I'll chime in and echo a few comments on here too. Coming from a guy with a BA from VMI (International Studies), I can tell you that the math requirements for liberal arts majors are more onerous at USMA than at most of the SMCs (I hesistate to say "all," because I dislike using absolutes). I think VMI requires only two semesters of statistics, two semesters of chemistry (geared for non-science types), and two free science electives for people in the IS or history departments. You won't need to take calculus at VMI if you are in the liberal arts. Obviously, USMA requires more advanced math and math-based sciences than that.

    I still don't think you should give up on USMA just because you have a little math phobia. Honestly, if you want to be at West Point and are not completely unable to perform in math (which you are not, given your post), I think you should be motivated enough to work through the tough science and math classes there. It comes down to your motivation. From scout's post, it certainly looks like you'll have ample L.A. courses to enjoy at USMA, and as for the other'll have to suck it up and do your best. Unfortunately, every college has classes that are required and suck the big one for certain folks.

    I wouldn't pick an SMC solely because the math requirements are less than USMA. If you really want WP and can handle the math (even if you don't like it), you can put up with it to get the great experience that USMA provides.

    Good luck, and know that the IS program at VMI is a good one if you decide against USMA or need a "Plan B." This is coming from someone who was in it (what seems a million years ago). :biggrin:

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