This morning's Academy Day with Congressman Jim Cooper was beyond successful. Based on the crowd seated in the auditorium at the beginning of the formal portion, I'd estimate at least 300 folks were in attendance. Despite the Iraq/Afghanistan experience of the last decade, interest in the academies is quite high. I greatly encourage our candidates to take the opportunity to attend an academy day if your Congressman runs one. Based on some of the questions I was asked today, some thoughts... 1. I can't stress enough that JROTC is not the key to an academy. Several times today I had to explain that to kids. I asked many prospective candidates about their sports involvement, stressing the need to play at least two. I got many answers like "I play football, and I am on the drill team" or "I play soccer and I do the rifle competition team." While those are good extracurriculars they are NOT sports. The notable exception is that the Raider team will be considered a sport by admissions if your school considers it a sport. That is rare. 2. Quality over quantity. Admissions doesn't want to see you do 15 clubs. They want to see you do 3 clubs and be a leader in all of them. Simply put, it's not about how much you can cram into your time, but how well you spend it. Being a member of everything under the sun won't help you nearly as much as being in a few things you really enjoy and can find a way to be a leader in the organization. 3. I say it all the time, but let me reiterate.....don't go to West Point to be a doctor. 4. Don't go to West Point to be a pilot. 5. Lastly, if you go to an academy day, be sure to talk to the officers who are there. Hearing from the cadets is great, but make sure you learn a bit about the life after the academy. And when you do talk to either an officer or cadet, don't start with "So what can you tell me about West Point?" Be a big boy/girl and have specific questions. Do your homework. Those reps are there to answer questions, not to shill West Point like used car salesmen. West Point sells itself, and you're asking West Point to accept you, not to recruit you.