On the Fence About Going to USMA

DS is a plebe. Home now for Thanksgiving. Absolutely a free spirit and grew up in one of the most liberal pockets of the US. He made 2 points: I can not imagine myself somewhere else and “ the stuff I have to put up with is so much less than the stuff I get to do”.
So much to unpack here….”life is a b**** and then you die”. We used to repeat that saying to ourselves at WP back in the o’l days. To this day it remains absolutely true….
LOL.....I never thought that LOL is one of the best and succinct expressions I can have for a response.
LOL for those who are demeaning West Point. What a great joke!

"Never understanding never understanding....." General Norman Schwarzkopf said to those who are cynical to West Point.
His recommendation? Ignore them because those cynical people WILL NOT take accountability when all gets tough but the West Point graduates will. That's how they will be trained for four years. My DS is at USNA (Go Navy!) but some quotes about WP make me LOL....WP is definitely one of the best military institutions in the world.
My son is currently a plebe at USMA, and I asked him what he would answer. He said if you want to be there for the right reasons, you will be willing to put up with all the difficult aspects.

The main reason he wanted to go to USMA was because it would provide him with the best training and preparation to become a military officer. Another reason he wanted to go to USMA rather than take the ROTC route is that he will have a much higher chance, almost a guarantee, of being being able to get a combat arms job. In ROTC, a much lower percentage of students are able to get that.

It all comes down to why you want to go there. If your primary reason for going to USMA is because it is prestigious or because your parents want you to go there or to use it as a resume builder or merely to get a free college education, then you may not be able to deal with the hardship.
My OG currently in BOLC has stated he was more prepared for BOLC and was able to prepare for the GMAT simultaneously. Tested in November and received the score he wanted. He has enjoyed more freedom and looks forward to his first post. The opportunities at USMA far outweigh the lack of freedom for both go my sons.

I have a current cadet getting ready for a semester abroad. Both have complained at times about USMA but both would do it again. Current cadet had the opportunity to transfer with a full scholarship to an Ivy university last summer and turned it down after much thought. Does he regret not leaving? No. It was the right choice for him. He was on the fence for awhile about affirmation but when given a seriously plum opportunity to graduate from an Ivy with zero debt, he chose to affirm.
Can someone explain this to me?
Well, he's currently a National Guard recruiter. As far as I know, he's passed his officer courses and what not but is waiting for an officer slot to open up for our state before he gets commissioned. Something to do with how Active Duty Reserve/Guard works but I don't know a whole lot.
Well, he's currently a National Guard recruiter. As far as I know, he's passed his officer courses and what not but is waiting for an officer slot to open up for our state before he gets commissioned. Something to do with how Active Duty Reserve/Guard works but I don't know a whole lot.
Well that explains it. Clearly he has lots of exposure/expertise to tell you this:

"Even one of my sergeants (who is an OCS grad) told me how West Pointers are mostly the ones getting "wasted" on the weekends at BOLC because they can't comprehend the new freedoms given to them."
My DS (USNA) is currently home with a few buds and he loves it! Says it hard work but he also realizes what a great opportunity it is. The only complaint I’ve heard from any of them is those that complain and take for granted the opportunity they have. I think it’s all about perspective one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
This tread is about the Military Academy not the Naval Academy. Different places and different standards/experiences….
This tread is about the Military Academy not the Naval Academy. Different places and different standards/experiences….
I am fully aware this is a USMA thread. That is why I noted he is at USNA. THIS FORUM is about helping each other out. My comments are intended to assist the OP In his decision.
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Hello; I am a cadet in the Class of 2023. Your concerns are valid and I had a bunch of folks tell me the same things when I told them I wanted to come to the Academy. Some of those things are rooted in half-truths, but I certainly don't consider myself a robot and have no regrets in my chosen path.

From what I was told by a BN CDR from the 82nd when he visited one of my classes, there are two groups of people at West Point and from what he described also in the Army: the "cool to care" crowd and the "cool not to care" crowd. If you get to West Point and you are eager to take every opportunity it presents to you, invest time and energy into your studies, your military development, and your "subordinates," you will get a lot out of it and it makes everyday irritants seem minute. If you get to West Point and decide that you are just going to survive, neglect even an ounce of the Kool-Aid, and think that you are above its developmental systems, you will become cynical and have regrets. I truly believe many of those individuals would've been better off in ROTC in the best-of-both-worlds environment, however it is of note that you cannot just decide to suddenly start caring when it becomes important to care.

I will give you a comparison of two prior-service individuals of whom I am both friendly-acquaintance and friends with--both are tabbed and scrolled and deployed with the 75th. One used his expertise to better those around him, joined military clubs and crushed academics, and ended up high in Corps leadership because of his successes. The other became cynical upon arrival, decided he was too good for a lot of West Point's programming, and has fallen off quite a bit with disciplinary issues regarding alcohol. It is what you make of it; you have to have the right mindset to succeed.

One of my friends is doing Army ROTC at a highly-regarded university. She would've done great at West Point, but did not get a medical waiver from the Academy. She is disappointed by what ROTC is, and said to me that she believes it is a copout in comparison to the training opportunities we receive. I have no perspective on this and am just sharing her thoughts with you.

The immersion in pseudo-military life at West Point has its downsides, no, I cannot go to a frat party every weekend. But I also don't think that has much appeal after the first or second time, anyways. But that immersion allows me to talk to hundreds of officers whose paths I am following, talk to NCOs about what it takes to be a great platoon leader, and hear from Medal of Honor recipients, division CSMs and CDRs, etc. I have had one-on-one conversations with SMA Grinston, GEN Milley, and Sec. Esper, have strolled through the Pentagon and run through the tunnels in NYC with the Corps surrounding me, and have had mentors and instructors in every branch to learn from. It is insanely cool to be a cadet and have these opportunities. I realize that a lot sitting around a fire with my high school friends who have chosen other college routes. The challenges are worth it, and I am stronger, faster, smarter, and a better person than I was a few years ago.

If you have targeted questions about being prior-enlisted I am more than happy to link you up with some of my friends; just shoot me a PM.
Some great advice and counsel in this thread. Take the following as just a small sample size of previous experience. I have two academy grads and one current AROTC:

- Others told my wife and I that they would never "do to their kids" what we were allowing our two to do - attend an SA. They would come out like indoctrinated crazy loons with no social skills and behave like college kids gone wild once they were out in the real army. BOLC was filled with kids who continued their college ways - there was no pattern to them being academy grads, ROTC or OCS. You want to carouse and drink, you can do find a way to do that anywhere. I think there is a level of jealousy or inferiority complex when it comes to academy grads. Let's face it, not everyone gets in and not everyone can complete it. I think that is why some on the outside talk it down.
- You will do more training in a year (probably less) at WP than in 4 yrs in AROTC. My AROTC attends school at a large and top AROTC unit and they take it seriously, but it still is far from the training, resources and opportunities you will get at WP. The WPs travelled and did more challenging training than I could have imagined.
- During covid, WP is definitely more like prison than college. It is what it is. Prior to covid, there were many trips to other colleges, many trips to Manhattan. In terms of diversity of entertainment experiences off post, I think my first grad had a wider and deeper experience than I recall my 4 years of going to dorm parties and off campus parties.

What is more important to you as you prepare to become an officer? Do you want to be immersed in a military setting with higher levels of training and opportunities? Or, is the college experience something you desire before you embark on your military career?

The important thing is you do what fits you. Deep down inside, you probably know what that is. The only wrong answer is to go against that gut feeling.
DS (USNA '25) had options between ROTC and SA's. He talked to many people as he was making his decision---SA grads, ROTC grads, OCS grads. At the end of the day he chose USNA as he felt is was the best culture fit for him. One of the persons he talked to was a USMA grad. He actually advised DS to go the ROTC route for a "normal college experience." The USMA grad fell into some issues post graduation----lack of experience in the party scene but with money in pocket. So he made a few questionable decisions that he thought could have been avoided if had done the "normal college" route. Each person has a different experience.

As he just was home for a brief visit (5 months since I-Day), I asked if he still wanted to go back and was he in the right place. Without hesitation, he said yes I am going back and in the right place. This was after he complained about the food in King Hall, the constant pressure of Academics coupled with ECA and MO's, early morning workouts, the cobblers, the terrible laundry service, 0-dark thirty workouts, parades, Mando meals, etc.

Just the week prior he had to stand watch for 5 hours-twice as along as expected- on Saturday morning. It happens but this would not happen at a Civ school. However at the end of the day he wants to be the best naval officer possible and believes he is in the right spot.

IMHO, SA grads carry a huge amount of advantage in the civilian workforce when competing for open roles. Even when competing against Ivy League, big time universities, SA grads almost always come out on top of the hiring pool.