STEM Classes

Back Bay Boy

New Member
Oct 18, 2017
My son is very interested in the USNA and had a great visit there. His only concern is the amount of STEM classes that are core classes. He has had very good grades in high school but has had challenges with AP Physics and math classes. Will teachers and tutors be available as needed? Will he have extra time to dedicate to classes if he doesn't get the material as fast as others might? I have no concerns about other classes. Since all graduates go in the Navy afterwards, what are the differences between someone that has a 4.0 and someone that has a substantially lower GPA? I am asking here because he doesn't want to express doubt to a BGO.
Someone with firsthand knowledge could give a better answer than me, but I understand that the Academy's class sizes are small and there is ample extra instruction available. STEM courses can be very challenging but are doable given a lot of hard work and dedication. Keep in mind though that with sub-par math and science grades it is a lot tougher to gain an appointment.
Thanks. He has been able to get all A's in his science classes but only got a 2 on the AP physics test. I have been told that his schools AP physics teacher has a VERY low pass rate. Most kids pay the $90 not expecting to pass but so they don't have to take the teachers alternate final exam. He did not take honors math and has received a B and two B+ grades but is in AP calculus this year after college prep calculus last year.

He got a 34 on his ACT. I believe the breakdown was 30 math, 36 science, 36 English and 35 reading. He said that the science section was more like reading comprehension.
Generally speaking if offered an appointment he can get through the core curriculum if he works at it and seeks out the available help and support.
AP scores do NOT need to be reported to SAs; all cadets will take placement exams first summer.

As for GPA it matters for choice of branch and post; every graduate still gets commissioned but lower class rank means 2nd or 3rd choice of service branch [ie intelligence, aviation, surface fleet, subs, etc etc etc.] Lowest in the class get what's left or what the Navy needs.
First, its good that you recognize that USNA has a STEM focus. A strong STEM background is important in today's highly technical military, particularly when it comes to understanding aircraft and shipboard systems. That is why every graduate gets a BS degree (even "Bull Majors"). Admissions is slanted toward acceptance of those with an aptitude for math and science courses (Math SAT is weighted more heavily than verbal and Admissions looks closely at performance in Physics/Calculus.).

If DS gets in, and has weak background or aptitude for STEM courses, then an already tough program is tougher. I will let others with more current information comment on teachers , tutors and time, but is my understanding that there are plenty of opportunities for Extra Instruction. Time is of course a limiting factor -- if you spend more time on academics, you inevitably take away from something else, and as a Plebe that makes life difficult.

With respect to GPA -- USNA hires all its graduates, so at a macro level, GPA isn't all that important and it really isn't a predictor of success as a Naval Officer. History is full of graduates who were near the bottom of their class and went on to great things. That being said, GPA plays a factor in service selection, eligibility for post graduate programs both in and outside of the Navy.

Finally, DS should not hesitate to talk with his BGO about these issues. Admissions isn't looking at BGO's to evaluate candidates academic profiles, but we can make recommendations for NAPS and /or Foundation programs. If an otherwise outstanding candidate came to me and stated they were concerned about the academic program , I wouldn't hesitate to include a recommendation for NAPS /Foundation in my comments.