As a longtime lurker on this forum, and in appreciation for the endless sound advice posted by the moderators (and others), I thought I would give my opinion on the reasons my son was appointed to USNA. 1. Success at Summer Seminar. Going there in shape is very important, as is maintaining a good attitude. Performing well on the CFA (max sit-ups and push-ups; better than average mile time) certainly caught the eye of his squad leader who was effusive in his praise. Contrast that with those who reported in poor physical condition. No doubt this was a negative for them. The squad leader does provide a review of each individual and while this may not be a game changer, a positive review will certainly help. Bottom line- get in shape, be enthusiastic, help your teammates, stay off your phone and treat SS like an audition. It will definitely help you. 2. Everyone knows this, but I’ll restate the obvious- great grades and test scores are of paramount importance. My son was in the top 5% of a 500+ size class. He was enrolled in the toughest curriculum. His ACT was 32 for Math and English. 3. Sports. He was a two-sport athlete with 7 varsity letters and captain of both as a senior. Sustained participation led to leadership opportunities. Functioning as part of a team teaches invaluable lessons and competition pushes one to excel. 4. Communication skills. Practicing for the BGO interview and congressional interviews really paid off. He came out of both feeling very confident in his performance. One of the moderators on this forum mentioned “it’s not what you say but how you say it.” He was prepared, and his delivery reflected that. Leaders must be effective communicators and I think this is overlooked by many applicants. 5. Teacher recommendations. Getting to know your teachers and not simply performing well in their classes will undoubtedly strengthen your letters of recommendation. While we did not see any of these letters, my son’s teachers expressed their intent to be detailed and positive. 6. Extracurriculars. My son applied for, and was accepted to, a Youth Leadership position for our area. Combined with Boys State and his part-time job he was able to effectively demonstrate leadership potential and time management. Working 15+ hours/week as a junior was challenging but he was able to persevere, and in my view, this probably signified a readiness for academy life. I think a part-time job was a tremendous asset. In summary, I think my son was above average in most categories with no significant deficiencies. He didn’t have a 36 ACT and was not a valedictorian. I think the key was being well-rounded. He wasn’t off the charts in any one area and I’d be willing to bet his Whole Candidate Score (or whatever metric is used) was high enough for a relatively early appointment.