10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Sep 22, 2008
Hi, I'm applying to USMA and I just wanted to know what the deal is with the LOAs. There are 8 people at my school applying to service academies and all of them except for me have recieved either an Appointment or an LOA. I have higher grades ( 1400 SAT 3.99 g.p.a. all AP and Honors classes) and more leadership activities (Swimming Captain, Engineering club president, student council) than most of them and I have a nomination from my congresswoman. I did have a medical disqualification for childhood asthma but that was waived by USMA. My liason officer told me the fact that I got a waiver means that I'm really competitive but why don't I have an LOA? (Sorry if I'm a little paranoid about this, but USMA is really the only college I want to go to and I'm trying to figure this whole process out.)
An LOA is a tricky thing. Although many people say that they go to the best of the best, and imply that this relates in great part to grades or test scores, the reality is that it is actually much more complex than that. They are sent to those who, based on their file at the SA, are the best candidates for USMA. Because the SAs look at the whole person, not just testing/academics etc., what appears to be the best candidate to the average citizen looking in is not always the best candidate from the perspective of admissions.

While there is often a correlation between grades/test scores and LOA’s, many LOA recipients are not at the very top scholastically. I personally know of many LOAs who’s test/GPA etc. were around the norm or even under the norm of scores for the prior accepted class. The goal of the SAs is to appoint people who will become great officers. This requires not only scholastic success but also an aptitude for leading others. In the long run, the SAs recognize that cadets/mids must have the scholastic aptitude to succeed and graduate but they also must have the fortitude to accept the difficulties of SA life (not the academic side) as well as the character traits of a leader. Many of these are very difficult to quantify and are intangible.

To try and figure out why some applicants obtained an LOA and others did not is a exercise that cannot be successfully accomplished. Although you may know the scholastic aptitudes of some of these candidates, it is unlikely that you have seen the recommendations written by others on their behalf, reviewed the essay responses to the SA or reviewed all out of school participations (church/club/community etc.). You have each almost certainly submitted your files at different times (rolling admissions at the SAs). More LOAs are sent in the Oct/Nov time frame (even some in the summer for USMA) so if they completed their file before you, they had better odds of an LOA because of the time frame. If your file was not complete until late (Dec/Jan) then there are far fewer LOAs being given by then...

One things you state is that all of the 7 other students have an LOA or appointment to a SA but you do not note if it is the same SA that you are applying to. In reading your note it sounds like the 8 may be vying for different SAs. Each SA admissions office reviews files differently and what may get an LOA/appointment at one SA will not at another.

The best thing you can do at this point is be certain that your file is complete and reflects you to your ultimate potential. If you have not already submitted your most recent transcript, do so now. If you have participated in events/activities etc.. that would reflect well on your file then it is time to submit an updated resume of accomplishments. Good luck to you and let us know how it goes. Remember, it really is still early in the process - most appointments don’t go out for another few months.
The breakdown of the other kids from my school is:

3: USNA - 3 Appointments
it's too late to receive one now, so i wouldn't worry about it. you look great otherwise--you should have nothing to be afraid of! just don't break a hip or something. :thumb:
So LOA's are done now? I'm confused. Do they stop giving them after a certain period of time?
LOAs can still come out. The majority are sent earlier but the are still being issued, as evidenced by several other posts reflecting recently received LOAs.
loa's do still come out. sorry about that. but at this point in the game, it's very difficult to find one. they are all usually given out about August to October. besides, only the best of the best actually get one, and the majority of the offers will be made in the spring. so, do not fault or worry if you don't get one. your time will come.
Generally Speaking

I do know that all congressional nominations must be finished and turned in by 1/31/09 as I was told by my local congressman's office. So I imagine that it is the same across the US. So if you do not have a nomination by the middle of February or so with the exception of a VP nomination which is to be sent in mid March you will not be going sorry to say. I am not applying to West Point though but I did finish my applications for the Air Force and Naval academies on the 14th of December last year. I also received my LOA's from the Navy and Air Force dated 1/9 and 1/13 respectively and I just received my nominations last week. West Point is on a rolling basis and the Air Force and Naval academies are using this process new to this year and not like previous years where all would have to wait till April to get notifications and accept. I am guessing that they do not want to lose all those qualified students to other opportunities. So technically speaking you need to have a nomination to SA of your choice, period and if you have that, then you will have a chance till April. No nomination, no chance and not everyone with a LOA and a nomination will accept an appointment to a SA. There "only" 1200 new students per each academy every year. At a current cost of $400K for 4 years for a general SA education, you can't beat that any where!! Throw in helicopter, fighter or transport pilot training and that education is well worth over $1M...nice :) Remember that SA grad's also are in high demand in the civilian sector and can pull a 6 figure job easily after 5 years or so commitment if one chooses.



Wow you guys go to some competitive schools as far as kids wanting to attend the SA's.

At my school there are no students interested in SA's...better for me I suppose! :shake:
With my school its kind of suprising because its a really liberal catholic school, but we have a really good academic program and athletics. 4 of the 8 kids are going to play sports.
FightOnToVictory, your wait is over. Congratulations on your appointment to USMA! Thank you for letting us know. :smile: