My Advice to Class 19'

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Navy18, Nov 25, 2014.

  1. Navy18

    Navy18 New Member

    Nov 24, 2014
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    I am a current plebe of class of 18'. I am currently four months into the academic year. I am here to pass advice and insight to the Class of 19' that I wish I got before coming here.

    To put into perspective, here is some information about me before the Naval Academy.

    In High School I had a GPA of 4.15/5.0. I was ranked top 10% in my class: 151/1,563 (big class). My SAT was a 2090 (760 math, 650 verbal, 680 writing). My ACT was a composite of a 31. I took a total of 12 AP courses throughout my four years in high school, including AP Calculus BC and AP Chemistry.

    I did Varsity Swimming for four years. I was Team Captain and attended State my senior year. I swam club swimming for 12 years and had many other leadership positions in clubs and other activities.

    I received an LOA to the Naval Academy September 17th, LOE to West Point in November 27th. I received a senatorial nomination to West Point and a congressional nomination to Naval Academy. I was accepted to both academies and chose to attend Naval Academy. I never regretted that decision even for a second. Beat Army.

    However, once I came to the Naval Academy I was surprised how ordinary I was. I was average in physical compared to everyone else even though I had 12 years of swimming and half of year of crossfit under my belt. All my accomplishments might sound impressive, but it is the norm here.

    Plebe Summer

    My advice for preparing for plebe summer: Run, Run, Run.

    My BGO told me this one advice for my preparation for Plebe Summer and I did not listen to him. I fully regret that now. I was in pretty good physical shape prior hand: I did Crossfit for six months prior in preparation and swam daily. However, the one physical aspect that mattered I did not do. The NA propaganda videos that state that we did an outrageous number of miles running do not lie. We woke up for PEP (physical education program) six times a week and ran five times a week. The days we did run, we ran anywhere from 3-5 miles (interval training or regimental runs), and did calisthenics afterwards(different variations of push-ups, squats, abs, ect.) The one day we did not run, we did stations.

    Do not be a chit suffer.

    What I mean by this is that Class of 18' was notorious of having a record number of people on chit. A chit is an excuse from physical activities for any reason (most common: shin splints, but also pink eye, sprained ankle, "feeling" bad). People would "surf" from chit to chit and be known as that "guy" or "gal" that nobody liked because they did not put in his or her fair share.

    Be prepared to be exhausted 24/7

    Doing PEP every morning and standing all day at attention really takes a toll on your body. You will sleep like you never slept before. Trust me. You can not prepare for being exhausted. You can, however, prepare yourself mentally to prepare for the worst.

    You will become efficient in memorizing details.

    You will be expected to memorize a new sentence or "rate" every day or every other day and be expected to recite it at a moments notice at the top of your lungs in front of all your peers with a detailer right in your face. If this seems daunting, it isn't. Everybody has to do this. This memorization carries into the academic year also with pro-knowledge (in a sentence: a weekly test on military knowledge on anything from undersea warfare to navy customs). You will find yourself at the end of Plebe Summer with a strange ability to remember little details.

    Stay Humble.

    Nobody cares about your past. Honestly. Nobody cares that you were an all-star athlete or a genius at your little-known high school. Nobody cares that you went to NAPS or were a prior-marine. It is the hard truth, but learn it now while you still have the capability to change your mindset. During Plebe summer, everybody is at the same bottom rung of the food chain. Nobody is better than the guy or gal standing next to him/her.

    My final advice and thoughts of Plebe Summer. You will be surprised on how many people are completely out of shape and nonathletic once you come here. Of course, there are a ton of physical studs (in my squad, the male who had the least number of pull-ups in our pull-up competition was 15) here, but there is always that one guy or gal who can not run. Honestly, as long as you are in decent physically shape and can run you are fine. Do not do some ridiculous physical regiment to prepare for Plebe summer. Just run daily (3 miles is enough).

    People think Plebe Summer is the challenge. They are wrong. The true challenge is the academic year. Not trying to scare you guys, but it is true. My detailers during Plebe Summer always stated that Plebe Summer you will get the most sleep you will ever get throughout your four years here. That is 100% true. We have a "light's-out" at 11 o'clock, but nobody really follows it. I wake up every morning at exactly 6:05 and average 6 hours asleep a night. You are expected to function on this little amount of sleep daily and even less on some days.

    Tips for the Academic Year

    ACADEMICS. ACADEMICS. ACADEMICS is the key to everything. It opens up so many opportunities you will not even imagine.

    Be ready to have a lot of late nights.

    Everything here is teacher dependent. You will find out that you can take the same class as your roommate, but have 10x more work than he does, even though you both are learning the exact same material. Ex. For my naval history class I have daily 5 minutes quizzes over 20-40 pages of reading every other night. I have written five 4+ research papers. On the other hand, my roomate has had 3 quizzes and hasn't written a single paper. This is the sad truth, but it happens.

    Everything is dependent on which company you are "randomly" put into. One company has morning workouts every morning. Some companies do not have any.

    Take advantage of clubs and varsity sports.

    I rowed varsity crew for 4 months, including plebe summer, and now I do not. Doing a varsity sport is awesome and having the group of teammates is an incredible support system, but it takes a lot of time that you could be otherwise using to study or work out on your own. Depending on what company you are in, you could get out of many required plebe duties. Personally I do not think it is worth it, unless you really love your sport or your teammates.

    There are a ton of clubs here that everybody should take advantage of. Clubs allow you to get off the yard and do some pretty awesome stuff. Ex. I went to Lake Rawlings, Virginia last weekend with the Scuba Diving Club to go scuba diving and get my Open Water certificate. Cool stuff like that. Do what interests you and even if it doesn't, try it anyways.

    Chemistry sucks. (I advise taking AP Chemistry if possible)

    Validate as many courses as you can.

    If you do not know the Sponsor program. It is awesome.

    You will learn to time manage really well (part of being a midshipman).

    Working out is a daily must. It is part of the culture and believe it or not, it is considered weird if you do not work out in a day.

    I would like to major in EE (electrical engineering) and I am undecided for my service selection (which is perfectly fine).

    Overall, I honestly love it here at the Naval Academy. I have been challenged like never before both academically and physically. I am in the best shape of my life. Not even once have I regretted my decision of attending.

    This may be very overwhelming to you, but you will get used to it. Plebe Summer will prepare you for the academic year. At the end of the year, you will be surprised how much Plebe Summer will benefit you.

    Good luck on your endeavors Class of 2019' and see you next year.

    If you have any questions regarding Plebe Summer or the academic year, post them here and I will try to answer them all (no guarantees).
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
  2. USNA18

    USNA18 Member

    Dec 2, 2013
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    Honestly it's not that bad guys, don't freak out

    Sent using the Service Academy Forums® mobile app
  3. Spud

    Spud BGO 5-Year Member

    Dec 27, 2011
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    Usually when I see a thread from a 4/C entitled "ask me anything" I am underwhelmed for a number of reasons. First a 4/C is no source of accurate info---ask any upperclassman---and second, why are you trying to make it easier on the lambs following you? You are going to be the detailers and upperclass for them. Nobody ever made it easier on you and Plebe Year NEEDS some shock and awe to make it effective.

    However, this post is great and I take great exception to my previous thoughts. Navy 18 does a great job of describing his experience and gives a picture of exactly what I remember from 40+ years ago. I am copying this and passing it on to my BGO candidates. It will either challenge them magnificently or blow them out of the water and either is fine. Good luck Navy 18.
  4. USNA02

    USNA02 Parent

    Oct 21, 2013
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    Well said, Navy18

    My son is also a Plebe, and you have captured well what I have heard from him.

    Even with all of that, he, like you, loves it. Well, maybe not the lack of sleep part but Thanksgiving leave is fast approaching!

    Best of luck to you!
  5. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 5-Year Member

    Oct 27, 2008
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    I'm of the same mindset, Spud. And, I agree, this was well-written and useful information. More importantly, it seems to have been written with a genuine intent to inform and help.

    The only thing I would question is his advice to "take advantage of clubs and varsity sports" when he has emphasized that "ACADEMICS. ACADEMICS. ACADEMICS is the key to everything." I think there is a wide consensus that varsity sports (in particular) and academic excellence do not go hand-in-hand. They are nearly mutually exclusive. Participating in varsity athletics only serves to make academics even more of a challenge - more so than for those who do not participate in varsity athletics. Of course, there is certainly a difference between being on the Varsity Squash team and the Varsity Basketball team. Some sports are far more time consuming and involve missing many more classes.

    Plus, one of the downsides (some might consider it an upside) is that their summer training experiences are either abbreviated or non-existent. For instance, many of the football players have "cruises" during zero block which involve nothing more than hanging out at the Norfolk Naval Base for a couple weeks.

    There's a reason that almost nobody on the football team (or any of the marquee sports teams) majors in a group I major (i.e. engineering). In fact, very few of them are even in a group II major.
  6. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO 10-Year Member

    Jul 15, 2007
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    I concur with all said -- great summary of being a plebe. I will also add that some of the things you mentioned (i.e. teacher dependent, company dependent) you will see again in the Fleet -- so what you are learning/experiencing is value added when you are faced with the same issues (albeit, different scenario) in a few years.
  7. kayaker

    kayaker Mother of USNA Midshipman (Class of 2019)

    Feb 5, 2013
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    Great post! I'm sharing it with DS. He was wait listed last year, is NROTC this year, and is reapplying for Class of 2019. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving break. Good luck with exams!!
  8. Aspiring_Midshipman

    Aspiring_Midshipman Member

    Dec 8, 2012
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    Navy18 - guessing you're in Major Hall's history class? We've got another 40 pages for Thanksgiving break
    COmom likes this.
  9. grevar

    grevar CGA Admissions Partner

    Mar 5, 2013
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    Interestingly, my son is a 4/C at the Coast Guard Academy and what you have written could very easily have been written by a Swab at CGA. Strikingly similar if not identical.

    Well written and very appropriate.
  10. nuensis

    nuensis USNA 2016 5-Year Member

    May 23, 2011
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    Take advantage of the Naval Academy. Sign up for stuff.

    Get an internship. Get neck deep in some Top Secret work.
    Attend a lecture. Rub elbows with a CEO or Admiral after a Forrestal. Participate in a seminar or panel.
    Sign up for movement orders. Go somewhere cool.
    Get your craftmaster pin. Sailing qualification. Go to Airborne School. Solo a plane.
    Go abroad over the summer. Go abroad for a semester. Have your youngster cruise on a JMSDF frigate.
    Stand helm or conn under instruction over your training cruises and drive a multi-billion dollar ship or submarine. Don an FFE and put yourself in a fire drill. Get a damage control qualification.

    The Academy will take a lot out of you. Return the favor; put yourself out there and take it back. Don't get so caught up in the classes and formations and duty days and homework and cynicism that you forget where you are.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
    flynavy, USNA1987 and COmom like this.
  11. TheNaterrater

    TheNaterrater Member

    May 30, 2012
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    My biggest struggle was the boredom and annoyance that occurred all day every day. Physically, plebe summer was a breeze.

    Sent using the Service Academy Forums® mobile app
  12. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Super Moderator 5-Year Member

    Jul 13, 2011
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    OP, great post. Totally spot on. One of the things that has sort of always puzzled me on this site is the few questions future Mids ask about the academic year. Each event of Plebe Summer is singularly not that hard, but when you add in the yelling, heat, homesick, Plebe hack, lack of sleep , no free time, doing nothing right, and your body starting to break down, it sort of builds on you. Yes Plebe Summer is hard in different ways for different people. The academic year is much longer and much harder for most Plebes than Plebe Summer in a totally different way. For current Plebes hang in there. Some of the really hard weeks are ahead, but once you hit spring break, you will see the end is near and you are almost done.
  13. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

    Jun 9, 2006
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    I also think PS seems harder for candidates anticipating it and plebes going through it for two main reasons:

    First, for most folks, it's entirely "new." As Hoops says, the yelling, the realizing you aren't perfect at everything, the exhaustion, and just the military itself. Unless coming from NAPS or the Fleet (and even then . . . ), you don't really know what it will be like so PS seems harder looking toward it and going through it.

    Second, you don't yet know the challenges Ac Year will bring. Suddenly, come late August you realize you have to do many of the things you did during PS AND attend school full time. Academics are hard and you must do well.

    Thus, in it's weird way, Ac Year makes you "appreciate" PS. :smile:
  14. Joedoe

    Joedoe Member

    Mar 20, 2014
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    Aside from the yelling, PS was actually kind of fun. After the first week I had a much clearer understanding of what was expected. It wasn't so scary.

    AC year is tough. Classes are on a par with what some of my other non-SA frends are doing except all the extra Plebe stuff. Add a varsity sport on to that and I swear I have to remind myself to breathe sometimes. It's a killer.
    Time is definitely in short supply around here. But I am still happy I made the decision to attend USNA. go figure.
  15. TS20

    TS20 Member

    Jul 7, 2014
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    Are there any clubs out there that are just crazy-awesome adventurous? I'm in to that stuff. Like mountain climbing or something?
  16. USNA-Hopeful-2021

    USNA-Hopeful-2021 Member

    Oct 27, 2013
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    Check out the Mountaineering Club on the Extracurriculars Page on USNA's website. It says that the club offers, "various expedition-style kayaking, mountaineering, rock climbing, hiking, back packing and fly-fishing trips each semester."
  17. SuaSponte

    SuaSponte Member

    Mar 1, 2013
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    If I had anything to add on to the discussion I would say take advantage of opportunities that present themselves with little fan-fare, usually found over email. Sure, everybody knows about scuba club and the marsot screener . Not everybody knows about LREC, or the random club that just started. For example: a CIA officer came and spoke to a group of about 100 midshipman who were interested in the clandestine service. His allotted speaking time was about 45 minutes but when the questions began it was hard for myself and many others to leave our seats, I ended up staying over 2 hours. The speaker was announced over email, along with many other interesting opportunities. Branch out, have some fun, and take advantage of what the academy has to offer.

    PS: plebe summer wasn't very difficult at all, prepare to be bored and excel while you can.
  18. TheSavage44

    TheSavage44 5-Year Member

    Mar 2, 2009
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    Spud, lay off. He's taking initiative which, in my eyes, is an outstanding leadership trait. Disseminating everything he did in the aforementioned reply, Navy18 is doing a service to those in the classes following him. Better prep for plebe summer = better results. At least you backed him at the end of your reply. Navy18, keep up the good work. And if you want to know anything about the aviation/NFO life, let me know :). Class of '13 here.
    USNA1987 likes this.
  19. servenow

    servenow Member

    Jan 13, 2015
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    Thank you for the information Navy18. I shared it with my candidate son. He is in the thick of waiting now. Seriously the first large test of commitment as other offers come in and it is easier not to keep on building your portfolio. But he truly wants USNA. What percent of plebes do you think truly could understand what USNA is all about before plebe summer?
  20. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 5-Year Member

    Nov 25, 2007
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    Great advice. I'd add a few things, from my similar experience at CGA.

    1. You get through the summer and all four years as a team. Be prepared to admit you need help (when you need it). Be willing to accept help when it's offered. And ALWAYS be willing to give help when your classmates need it. (NOTE: I'm not talking about cheating.)

    2. No matter how hard Plebe Summer (or in my case Swab Summer) seems in the moment, you'll look back and realize it was pretty basic. You cadre will tell you what to do and how to do it. They'll then expect you to do it. Two summers later, when you're the one training the plebes, you'll experience a different kind of stress... a stress that's more indicative of your future as an officer.

    3. Enjoy your sleep time before being a cadet or midshipman. And midshipmen and cadets.... enjoy your sleep time at the academies, because often, once you graduate and your at a unit, 5 hours will feel good. Every year we had a health assessment, we always failed sleep.... always.

    Loved the advice above though. It means something to have it come from a current 4/c midshipman. It's fresh.

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