Review of application process and plebe year


Jun 9, 2015
I posted some of this content about a year ago as DS was about to report to I-Day. I have updated it to include some details of plebe summer and plebe year. I do this to help those who, like us, are clueless to the process of getting in and surviving plebe year. Here is how the story unfolded for my DS who just completed his plebe year at USNA. Best of luck to all you soon to be plebes and others aspiring to get in!

So it has been a little more than two years since my DS decided to jump on this roller coaster. We are not a military family. He went to a small rural high school (32 in his senior class) and no one from his school has ever gone to a service academy. We were about as clueless to start with as they come so I thought I would jot down some of the process we went through. Others who have also gone on this ride may wish to chime in things as well.

10th grade- DS and I are discussing colleges and he tells me he might be interested in applying to a S.A. (His older brother was briefly interested earlier but soon decided it was not for him). I told him to investigate it and tell me if he was still wanting to go for this. I also told him to kick his college search into gear in general, initially the academies were only one of the things he was looking at. I did a little preliminary research myself to see what the application process was all about. I also began helping him look at other colleges and scholarships. I helped him with pre-SAT prep because from his 10th grade Pre-SAT scores we knew he had a shot at National Merit. He was already in lots of sports and extra-curricular things...

Summer after 10th grade- He says he wants to apply. I ask him some questions as to why? He gives me some well thought out answers. He says he is excited by the potential life as an officer in the military. He says he wants to be surrounded by the very high quality individuals that will be there. He says he is not interested in the “typical college party crap” that is too often such a big part of traditional college. He says he wants to study engineering at a top school and he wants to try and qualify to fly jets or helicopters. Frankly his answer impresses me. It was better than I expected from a 16 year old. We decide to get serious about it. I tell him I will help but I will not do it for him. I will provide assistance but that if he wants this, then he must own it. I kinda thought he wouldn't get it all done.

Junior year- Lots happened. Took Pre SAT (got National Merit Commended but missed National Merit by 8 pts).Took the real SAT 3 times (by taking it 3 times he was able to inch math and reading both over 700. His super score was 2080. Completed preliminary applications to USNA, USAFA and USMA (this was a great deal of work and a lot of supplemental items were required). Targeted his workouts toward the candidate fitness test. He really had to work on pull ups because he is large framed (football linebacker). He went from 3 pullups the first time he tried to 9 on the day he took it for real (Oct. of senior year). Won state championship on math team. He also worked on the nomination applications. This was a lot. I was surprised at his determination. He had matured a great deal. He had a ton of leadership, academic and athletic accolades but he had a kid nipping at his heels for Valedictorian so he had to keep his grades high. We were also at a tiny rural school but in a congressional district that had some very large and competitive high schools. Maybe not as super competitive as some but still quite a few really good kids to compete against.

I don’t remember exactly when but somewhere in here he achieved official candidate status with all 3 S.A.s, They sent him for a medical and an eye exam. We learned what DODMERB stood for. He passed the exams with no problem. In fact he had 20/15 vision.

Senior Year- Completed all parts of the candidate files by early Oct. (recommendations, Writing samples, transcripts, CFA…). Completed nomination application packets to Member of Congress, State Senators and V.P. Got invited and attended blue chip candidate dinners by local West Point and Naval Academy Alumni groups (West Point’s was very nice but Navy’s was better, got to meet Roger Staubach and Ross Perot). It was at this time that he realized he had a good shot at this. It seemed they were interested in him. I wonder how many at those dinners got appointment offers? Then came the nomination interviews with the M.O.C. committee. It was pretty legit. 12 member panel made up of grads from all the academies. They asked him to rank his choices. At that time he ranked USAFA as his first choice. They asked him if he would accept a second or third choice if that was all he got. He said absolutely. Around Christmas he learned that he had received nominations to all three SAs. This was a surprise but a good surprise. He also applied to 3 “regular” colleges. One of them only took 20 minutes for the entire application which DS found surreal. Then within a 10 day period at the end of January he got offers of appointment from all three academies! He was in shock! Air Force sent an email only, West Point and USNA sent big fat envelopes. The one from West Point was by far the nicest.

He was hoping to get into one and he was floored to get into all three. He had a really nice problem.

So after visits, investigations, prayers and dinners with a few ex-pilots and aviators who graciously answered more of our dumb questions, he selected USNA. He ordered a” Don’t Give Up the Ship” flag and started ending every correspondence with “Go Navy Beat Army”

So then he dodged a big bullet. On a church youth trip to a wake boarding park, he hurt his back. Not badly, but this was only about 2 weeks before I-day. It only hurt when he did push ups (kind of concerning). He reported to I-Day saying it was “mostly better”

I was waiting for a bad phone call that he had re-injured it or that it had gotten worse but none came. When the first phone call home came at the 2 week point I asked him how his back was and he replied “ oh well I guess that I have worked it so hard that it has gotten better.” DS was excited and very chatty in the first phone call which is not his usual stoic self. He said he was sore and he felt sorry for a few who had shown up out of shape because they were really sore. He said food was pretty good and there was a lot of it. Apparently he is in a small minority who wasn't that crazy about the buf chick (buffalo chicken sandwich). He talked fast and used a lot of new terms. Squaring corners, bulkheads, buf chick, pep, double sir sandwiches, damage control... My favorite was when he referred to the issued nerdy eyeglasses as " birth control"
That one cracked me up.
His favorite thing - sailing...I found that amusing for a kid from Texas.

DS remained fairly upbeat on phone call 2.
He said his favorite things were anytime he is sitting down or not being timed.
He also said he was surrounded by people who are "simply outstanding" and that the session 1 detailers had "become human" a couple of days before the switch but there was much anticipation about how the new set would be.

Then after about 2/3 of plebe summer, his attitude greatly improved. I think he had realized he was going to make it. Parents weekend was great!

So the academic year began. Hard classes and now instead of every moment being scripted, he had to get everything done on his own. He made straight B’s. He had never made a B before in his life but he was more proud of those B’s than any high school A’s. He came home at Christmas wanting Mexican food. Second semester has worked him hard as well. Swimming kicked his tail. He is a sinker. He joined the astronomy club and played in the BSU worship band.

So now Herndon has been climbed and“Plebe No More” has been chanted.

He is on his youngster cruise shadowing a boatswains mate who he says has taught him more in 2 weeks about the workings of the ship than he ever thought possible.

The adventure continues.

Now we are clueless again…uncharted waters ahead! But man, this is exciting!
Awesome! Great to hear these kind of stories. I know I could research the answer to this, but could you tell me how much time off they have after Plebe Summer and before fall semester?
Hmmm I don't really remember. Not much, not enough to fly home. There was parents weekend then if memory serves they had a few more days of activities but lighter than plebe summer then the brigade reformed.
None really. After Plebe Parents Weekend they are still technically in Plebe Summer but it's still a very transitional week. Plebes will move from the wings set aside for Plebe Summer to their academic year rooms. They get their computers, finalize class schedules, book issue, final uniforms for ac year. There is a lot more down time than the previous weeks of Plebe Summer. They are generally given more freedom on their own take care of visits to ac advisors if needed, go to Mid Store, email has now returned. Actually they will probably have an assignment or two to complete before day 1 of class. The Brigade slowly returns during this week. 1/C leadership returns earlier than the rest follow. Plebes are off limits to the Brigade and still only deal with detailers. Not sure if they still do or not, but used to do their 1st semester PRT also. Final parade for turnover and then they are turned over to the Brigade. Usually still a few days until class starts so lots of reform briefs.