NASS reflections

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by chaphillmom, Jun 22, 2019.

  1. chaphillmom

    chaphillmom Member

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    DS just got back from week 3 of NASS. He had a great experience! He really enjoyed the activities and seminars, and met some great kids while he was there. The week solidified in his mind that commissioning as an officer is still the direction he wants to go. However, he also realized during the week that the SA life was not for him. He has already put quite a bit of time into his application, but I would much rather he realize this now than after getting admitted and starting a plebe year. He has been working on NROTC applications in parallel, and is excited to continue with that.

    I asked what the deciding factor was, and if he wanted more time to research it and think. He said the realization for him was that he wants the traditional university experience that will allow him to focus more on his academics, and that he is completely sure. I'm not in any way disappointed in him! In fact, knowing him like I do, it is the right decision. DH and I wanted him to reach a decision without interference from us, and I'll admit to some relief. At the same time, I feel a bit of sadness that the process ended so quickly. A bit muddled in my thinking, I know. :)

    So- a couple of questions for the forum. Is this a common outcome? DS has written a very nice email to his BGO, and I know he also needs to go into the system and withdraw his application. I assume when his ACT scores and high school transcript show up they will know to ignore them. Thanks in advance.
     
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  2. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    This is not unusual at all. And it’s a primary reason to attend any SA summer seminar/experience: to see if SA life is in fact for you. Many attend thinking it’s only an interim step to applying, being appointed and eventually graduating — only to change their mind. Others attend skeptically, not expecting much and going perhaps for reasons that are not their own — only to change their mind.

    It’s all OK. SA life is not for everyone. Nothing worse than hearing about a mid or cadet who dropped out a couple weeks — even days — in because they didn’t want to be there to begin with. Your DS will bloom where he’s planted.
     
  3. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    One of NASS’ functions is to help potential attendees learn more, and that includes trying the SA “fit.”

    NROTC is a fine path. If your son gives wholeheartedly to his NROTC experience, and takes advantage of every leadership opportunity, he will be well prepared. Being a good junior officer is not all about the academics, though having a good education and the ability to grasp complex material is always handy.
     
  4. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    Not at all uncommon, and frankly I would consider that to be a success for both USNA and DS. First, unless someone is 100% committted, attending USNA (or any Service Academy) can be unpleasant... you can get through, but its a lot more rewarding if you truly want to be there. From USNA's perspective, it not only opens an opportunity for someone who really wants to be there, but also promotes awareness to those who might not know much about USNA . I wouldn't be surprised if DS's stories about NASS have already reached friends, teammates, etc, sparking the interest so that someone else might apply.

    Finally, do remind DS that USNA is not a true reflection of the real Navy, aka the Fleet. If his original objective was to serve as a Naval Officer (vs. "attending USNA."), passing on USNA is not problem, and as CAPT MJ points out, he will be well prepared through NROTC.
     
  5. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily 5-Year Member

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    Both of my kids went to NASS. For our DS, it helped fuel his fire for wanting to go to an Academy. For DD, it helped her realize she did NOT want to go to an Academy, but had still had the desire to serve and opted for pursue ROTC. I had really wanted her to keep pursuing both, to then make a final decision, but in her heart she knew she did not want it, so she withdrew her Academy applications and moved forward with the AROTC/NROTC scholarship applications. After getting both ROTC scholarships, she ended up deciding on NROTC and went to Notre Dame. She LOVED her college experience and NROTC. She never regretted the decision she made. She is now stationed in San Diego and currently on her first deployment. Our DS, continued down his path and applied for both NROTC/AROTC scholarships and USNA/USMA. He got all of them, in the end, and had to make his choice. For him, it came down to the decision between USNA/USMA and chose West Point. He is now also commissioned and preparing to report to his officer basic course. He, also, has no regrets in his choice. Sometimes, they just know which path is a better choice for themselves and we parents need to get out of the way in letting them decide. Kudos for you for doing that and supporting his decision!
     
  6. NervousMother

    NervousMother New Member

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    Mine went to NASS and had the same conclusion. It’s too far from a true college experience for him. The goal is to commission and he found he prefers a different path to that goal. I’m thrilled. He’s having a little struggle with letting go of this lifelong desire.
     
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  7. stanfordovaly2k

    stanfordovaly2k Member

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    USMAROTCfamily said:

    “For our DS, it helped fuel his fire forwanting to go to an Academy“

    I truly understand what this comment means.

    My DS finished his NASS3 this week and his experience at NASS nailed down his goal, i.e., Commissioning through USNA.

    I realized that NASS has been well designed to allow parents to get out of the way and let students decide what they really want to do and how they want to reach their goals.

    OP’s writeup reminded me of where I was at long time ago.

    I had the same passion but eventually didn’t apply to any SAs but only AROTC.

    My college life was beautiful (?) but I still maintained my passion throughout AROTC, physically and mentally.

    Since I went through the same route, I totally understand what OP’s DS decided. He seems very independent and decisive on his future!
     
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  8. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    Prepare a part of your mind for the fact the SA door is not fully closed until they age out at 23. As I think back over the many USNA sponsor sons and daughters we have had over the years, there have been several who said, “SA, not my fit, I’m fine with NROTC, now that I’ve visited/done CVW/experienced NASS. That full-immersion military school is just not me. I’m happily off to Acme U, and I’m no longer dreaming of USNA.” Fast forward to forehead-smacking “I’m an idiot. Regular college isn’t what I wanted. I’m re-applying to USNA, and I’m a lot clearer now on who I am and what I want.” NROTC, of course, is also a nom source.

    Just be open and let them find their path, as you are currently doing.

    I am particularly close to one sponsor daughter, now a successful submarine officer, who told me she was worried she wouldn’t be able to compete at USNA, even though she was offered an appointment. She turned it down and went to a well-regraded state U with NROTC, where she thought she could play her sport, enjoy regular college life, have freedom away from home. She realized after a month or so that she craved being in a highly competitive environment with others like her, all focused on the goal of a commission, all struggling together. She scrambled to re-apply, wrote a thoughtful essay about her self-discovery and got an appointment. She played two varsity sports, graduated in the top 10% of the class, was an Honors English major who was recruited to go subs because of her excellent STEM grades, worked her tail off and thrived, while grumbling just as much as her classmates about the workload, the restrictions, etc. I got the “forehead-smacking” term from her, when she described how she changed course.

    I mentioned the above not necessarily for this particular case but for any reader who wonders if it’s okay to change your mind.

    It is.
     
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  9. chaphillmom

    chaphillmom Member

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    Thanks all for the replies. I agree with @stanfordovaly2k that NASS was set up to help kids experience the academy without parental interference. I remember from when I pulled up with him for check-in to when he said goodbye and walked through the doors was about 5-10 minutes. Mom wasn't needed or allowed. :)
     
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  10. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    We have to break out the classic SAF saying:

    “You taught them to fly. Now step back and watch them soar. Or falter, but find their way.”
     
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  11. cb7893

    cb7893 5-Year Member

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    I often read parents and aspirants saying things like, "it was always a dream to attend an SA" since HS, childhood...the womb. In my case, it was me that dreamed of one of my DSes attending USNA. I always loved sailing and the Ocean, but located in the middle of the lower 48.

    When my DSes were about 6 and 3, I sailed a boat from the Bahamas to Annapolis. We arrived at night, and moored in Annapolis Harbor. USNA was all lit up. There is nothing quite like harbor lights against a dark sky. My plane wasn't leaving BWI until mid afternoon the next day so I wandered the streets. Besides eating three crab cake sandwiches, I walked along the wall on the perimeter of USNA. I thought and still think the ship's gray paint on the buildings was one of the coolest things I ever saw. My shuttle pick up was at the main gate and security was not what it is today, so I was able to go inside the gates where I was equally awed.

    I spent the next dozen years hoping that one of the boys would live out MY dream for them.

    DS#2 had exactly the same takeaway. Mind you this was 7 years ago. His motivation was not serving the country, defending the constitution, or attending one of the most prestigious universities (deservely) on the planet. His motivation was the chance to work the biggest, baddest machines on the planet. He attended a SeaBee engineering camp, which he also loved. We picked him up at the airport after the camp and the whole ride home he told us he was considering enlisting, because the officers really don't build, operate, maintain the big machines.

    Well, he applied for and received an NROTC scholarship to University of Michigan. The table was set by January, then he got kicked in the eye with a soccer ball--during friggin' gym class. He was medically DQed. He chose to stay at our in state BIG 10 U with a full tuition/R&B scholarship rather than pay OOS tuition at U Mich with $5,000/semester scholarship. He made a full recovery, which couldn't be determined for at least a year. He could have reapplied in the meanwhile, but didn't want to put parts of his life on hold and risk another DQ. He never looked back. He chose to make the most of what was right in front of him.

    Fast forward to today. He is realizing the dreams he had when he was a Junior in HS. The only difference is the scale of the machines--robotics instead of Carrier catapults. He missed a number of experiences in NROTC and the Navy which cannot be replicated, but it also works in reverse. He would not be where he is today without those experiences that the Navy and NROTC would have precluded. His older brother, Army 1LT, took and is taking the most serpentine route one could never have mapped in advance. He has ended up exactly where he wants to be, but where no one, including himself could have predicted.

    The takeaway is that you should be glad that your DS has ambition, discipline, dreams and the self-confidence to make his decisions and move on. Writing his BGO is a very good sign.

    Wish him the best of luck!
     
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  12. justdoit19

    justdoit19 Member

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    I JUST 10 minutes ago had a “reflection” discussion with my NASS Mid detailer son. His younger bro is applying and attended NASS.

    We were talking about how younger bro is applying NROTC as plan B. And how that is different than how my Mid was feeling at this same time in his application 2 years ago. He was all in NROTC, but upon my advice, still completed his USNA application, since he was close to being done anyhow.

    Fast forward, and upon another 6 months reflecting, pondering, considering, and another visit, he changed to all in USNA. The reasons are not important. What is, however, is that he was able to choose.

    Personally, I wouldn’t shut any doors until it was necessary. A lot can change senior year, with more growth and reflection. It’s nice to have both options available.
     
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  13. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 10-Year Member

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    Summer Seminar is by no means an accurate reflection of what it's like to be a midshipman. In just one week, how is it even possible to convey the experience? I would say a Candidate Visitation gives a more realistic and overall better impression of what the day-to-day life is like.

    For instance, how can your son know to what extent academy life distracts from studies based on his Summer Seminar experience? I can think of many ways in whicha civilian college experience would provide more distractions.

    In my opinion, if your son still wants to serve as an officer in the military, I would encourage him to continue with his USNA application and he can always turn down an appointment should he get one.
     
  14. NervousMother

    NervousMother New Member

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    While I hope he attends a traditional university, and frankly picks a whole different path, I will be here to help while he decides. I do think USNA is unlikely, but rather a different Academy. Of course, whichever path he pursues will be his path. But I will keep in mind that the door is not closed.
     
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  15. chaphillmom

    chaphillmom Member

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    I hear you @Memphis9489 . On the other hand, we take kids for college tours that last a few hours and expect them to get a feel for it, even though I know the universities are only showing off the glossy bits. DS feels like he got a great view of the USNA, had a positive experience, and wants to focus on NROTC. If he looks back at some point and regrets this decision, then I see that as its own lesson.
     
  16. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 10-Year Member

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    Being willing to attend a service academy requires a candidate to commit to some very basic understandings:
    - It's not going to be a typical civilian college experience. No fraternities/sororities. No wild parties. Strict control. Curfews. Lights out. Permission to do everything.
    - It's full immersion into military life. No half measures. No part time exposure. It's not a "sometimes" experience. It's all the time.
    - NROTC students spend a very small part of their summer in training. Naval Academy students most of their summer in training."
    - The standards are extremely high and it can, at times, be very competitive.

    ... and there hasn't been a single graduate who wouldn't tell you, "It was totally worth it. If I could go back in time, I'd do it again."

    When it comes to service academy applications, I often tell parents, "Don't let the application process be a learning experience. Don't let the Titanic hit the iceberg and chalk it up to an experience." They will have plenty of time to learn life lessons later.

    What do they know? They're high school kids, still!
     
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  17. SCubb

    SCubb Member

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    Ok all you seasoned hands - how about this? DS finished SLE and boys state over the last three weeks. He has returned more than convinced he wants To try for USNA. The people he met, the military experience, the structure and discipline is, according to him - exactly what he is looking for.
    But I am now less convinced (and yes, I know and fully support it’s HIS call) after the last two weeks. During the weeks in the few calls home we got he sounded exhausted, frustrated, seemed to hate it all. Then he comes home and decompresses and tells his friends how great the Academy is going to be. DW thinks he is just venting to us on the phone, but I can’t imagine getting those calls during plebe summer or during plebe year.
    DS is “all in”. Should I be??
     
  18. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    Hmmm, sounds a lot like DD at USNA. And from what I’m learning, sounds a lot like her shipmates. Mid life in general, plebe life in particular, is exhausting and frustrating. It’s also exhilarating and exciting. That’s academy life, whether at Annapolis or West Point or the other schools. But as many alumni here have said, they don’t regret the experience at all.
     
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  19. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    @SCubb

    “Embrace the suck.”
    “USNA - bad place to be, great place to be from.”
    Typical refrains.

    Complaining is a military tradition, and the SAs have their own special version. Yes, if he gets in, there will be those calls, emails, texts. Your job will be to listen, say things like:

    “Mm hmmm. Sounds tough. Glad you got through it.”

    “Mm hmmm. I know you’re frustrated and tired right now, but I have complete confidence that you can get through this.”

    “Mm hmmm. I can tell you are frustrated about X and feel stuck. What are you going to try to get unstuck?”

    “Mm hmmm. We trust you to make the right decision. Sleep on it.”

    “Mm hmmm. Ok, let’s see how you feel about things at Thanksgiving. Just keep trying until then.”

    “Mm hmmm. You’re at USNA with a whole bunch of other smart people like you. I know this was your first C, but your brains WILL grow back.”

    “Mm hmmm. Yes, I hear you saying you hate that effing place, but did you do anything fun this week?

    Everything you described - 100% normal, to be expected, to be survived. Fast forward to Commissioning Day - the shouts of pure joy as the covers sail into the sky is sheer relief that the lid of this particular pressure cooker is finally off. They have gained the skills and fortitude to make it through flight school, TBS, nuke school, EOD school, long deployments, combat operations...
     
  20. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    Rollercoaster #1: application process

    Rollercoaster #2: Plebe summer and year

    Rollercoaster #3: the other 3 years, which include bonus loops and rolls for service selection, pre-comm physicals, etc.

    Rollercoaster #4: hitting the Fleet and Corps

    It does not stop.