Telling your parents about West Point

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by mynameisnt, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. mynameisnt

    mynameisnt Member

    Oct 4, 2015
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    Hey guys. As you are all aware applications for the class of 2021 open fairly soon. I'll be telling my parents about my plan to attend West Point, and just wanted some insight as to what questions/concerns they might have. Obviously everybody is different, but any help would be great. If you are a parent, what questions did you ask? I've obviously done my research and have made up my mind, and I'm extremely confident in my decision. I just don't want to seem unprepared when breaking the news. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

    TenCTex likes this.
  2. Spud

    Spud BGO 5-Year Member

    Dec 27, 2011
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    Your job is explain to them why you want to be an Army officer, not why you want to go to USMA. West Point is just a bridge to becoming that Army officer.
    nofodad, AROTC-dad, MomWPgirl and 2 others like this.
  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

    Oct 21, 2010
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    While I agree with spud that the primary concern will be why you want to be an Army officer, don't sell any concerns about USMA short. For example, "Why not Big State U? They have a ROTC unit and are so much closer to home! We would get to see you more often". Be prepared for stuff along those lines as well. Be respectful of their concerns. They are real and legitimate, but keep in mind it's your life and when you turn 18 it is solely your decision anyway.
    TenCTex, AROTC-dad and MomWPgirl like this.
  4. brovol

    brovol Member

    May 26, 2015
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    As a parent of an applicant, I would suggest explaining why West Point is what you want. I somewhat disagree with many who suggest that it should be all about service as an officer after the academy. The four years a person spends at any school are a very important part of his/her life, and include very important development in terms of who you become as an adult. This, I suspect, is particularly true for those who attend a service academy.

    Furthermore, attending West Point means more than just becoming a tremendous officer. USMA is one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the word, in addition to being the leading leadership school. That degree will serve you well throughout whatever civil career you might choose after service.

    My son convinced me that he is driven by patriotism. My wife and I both share great concern for the perils of our son serving in the military, but we are both very proud that he truly wants to fight for freedom and democracy. It sounds corny to some, but it sends chills of pride running through our spines.

    I would just be frank with your folks. It is your choice, and needs to be. I am sure you have considered other options, and have given due thought to the pros and cons.

    Lastly, if they have any reservations, take them to West Point. Once my wife and I went there with my son for a visit, we were ready to apply ourselves. It moves you.
    MomWPgirl likes this.
  5. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

    Sep 27, 2008
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    Approach it like a project. Anticipate questions. If you're the type, have handouts or make slides for your iPad or laptop: key points about SA (cost, value of degree, comparable schools, full medical and dental, opportunities, famous grads, service obligation, college rankings, the application process, the fact you can attend 2 years and walk away, all kinds of points, etc.), Army career fields, pay and allowances for a 2LT (Google as an example "DFAS officer pay chart 2016") , look for O-1 under 2 years service), show class profiles of USMA classes to show the competitiveness.

    Give them hard facts and common sense reasons seasoned with clear cut motivation. Discuss your Plan B. Show them this site and other official websites. Ask them for questions or concerns, and if you don't have a good answer, research it and get back to them. This approach will help you gain confidence in your decision too.
    MomWPgirl likes this.
  6. VelveteenR

    VelveteenR Just gathering dust in the nursery...

    Jul 24, 2014
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    Our son sat us down a week before he went back to school for his junior year. He started simply, “Mom, Dad, I want you to know that I will be applying to service academies next year.” Never in a million years did we see that one coming, and he knew it. While we sat stunned and with poker faces (hopefully), he presented his simple case. I paraphrase, but some of this is etched on my memory forever:

    I know that this is far from the plans I have always discussed with you (film school at USC), but something hasn’t rung true with me about that path for some time now. I guess I’ve known why for quite a while, but I know how you feel about the military, so I’ve hesitated to talk to you about it until I could clarify it to myself. I’m concerned that you hear me out and try to understand why I plan to serve my country before I consider doing any other thing. You have raised me to believe that “to him whom much as been given, much is expected.” You have provided me with so very much, so I think about that a lot. In fact, trying to understand what is expected of me informs all my decisions and is fundamental to the choice of college I make, the use I make of my education, and this next year is all about focusing on making the best college choices. You know that I love cinematography and have put many years of effort into that interest, but that’s just it. It’s just an interest. It will always be there for me. When I think about what I want out of my education and my life, I don’t think about shooting films. I think about meaning, I think about what all this education is for, I think about my talents and where I can best use them, and those thoughts always seem to end up with me in uniform. I want to serve my country, and I know there are many ways to do that, but I know that my education and experience have prepared me to be a candidate for officership in the military. This is how I want to serve. I will be applying to both Army and Navy, I hope with your blessing but, if not, I hope we can continue this discussion until you at least understand why this matters so much to me and why it seems so right to me.

    I was dying inside as he said all this because I know my son. He made his case with the same quiet determination that drove him to choose a boarding school 2500 miles away from home at 14 when all of his friends were fine with our local high school offerings, the same tenacity to persevere along the path to earn his Eagle rank even though he was away from his troop most of his high school years, the same fearlessness with which he picked up an oar as a pudgy ninth-grader and said, “yes, I can do this.” Our varsity crew Eagle Scout was now telling us he would be pursuing a call to the military. It was done.

    We probed every aspect of service we could think of with him to make sure he understood what he was getting into – as much as could be understood before the fact. Some of our questions included:

    Do you understand how long the commitment is?

    Do you understand that you will not be calling the shots?

    Do you understand that the Army/Navy will use you where it sees fit, based on its needs, not yours?

    Do you understand what an order is and its ramifications?

    What is your understanding of “service?”

    Who are you serving?

    Where do you see yourself in service?

    Do you understand what you might be giving up?

    Are you willing to go this alone without support from us? (We are NOT moved by military installations)

    Do you understand the term “ultimate sacrifice?”

    Are you willing to make it?

    Are there any conditions or circumstances under which you would not make it?

    Do you know how much we love you?

    True to his word, he completed the arduous application process far from home with no help from us. His boarding school also required eight other applications. We counted on the low acceptance rate or a DQ to make our military angst moot and to see him at one of his top-tier EA choices, but it was not to be. He chose USMA. We love him fiercely. We pray for him daily. We’ve buckled up to support him on this rough ride now that it’s started. We’re proud of our son for reasons that have nothing to do with the military but we know, without a doubt, that he will make a fine, fine officer.

    So, mynameinsnt, make sure you yourself clearly understand why you are applying for military service (not any particular school) and, as others have said, present your case, listen to your parents respectfully, and be prepared to continue having this dialog until both you and your parents are satisfied you are doing this for the right reasons. If you can't convince them, you won't be able to convince a nomination or admissions panel.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
    wisbang35, cezme, Stonewall and 12 others like this.
  7. tug_boat

    tug_boat Member

    Jun 18, 2012
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    Start by being open and honest about "your" goals and desires. You'll be 18 soon and will accountable for your own action as an adult through the eyes of the law. You'll enjoy your success and failures like any other adult.

    In other words be a big boy.

    Push Hard, Press Forward
    mynameisnt likes this.
  8. Voyager20

    Voyager20 5-Year Member

    Sep 27, 2011
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    VelveteenR - I'm blown away by your post. Love your son! The maturity and drive sounds so surreal to hear from a teen.

    I come back to read this forum regularly, because I always find something inspiring about the young people and the parents.
    Stonewall, mynameisnt and AROTC-dad like this.
  9. bookreader

    bookreader Member

    Feb 5, 2015
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    @VelveteenR - I hope your son will be able to use his film talents to use making stellar army spirit videos!
  10. TenCTex

    TenCTex New Member

    Dec 11, 2015
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    Great post.
  11. Row2020

    Row2020 Member

    Dec 28, 2015
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    Not USMA specific but here are my two cents. I casually asked DS on the beach summer of his sophomore year about his college plans. USNA NROTC PERIOD. I was completely caught off guard but I believe that this worked in his favor. What? Why? "Why navy?" "What if?" and "have you thought about?" Perhaps as a result, he was suitably prepared to answer these questions when the interviews rolled around. He developed a working definition for integrity,honor, and leadership and sought to find these things in his past and future endeavors. This self examination also led him to USMMA. He loved both schools and is thankfully nominated for both.

    On a side note, the tougher sell has been to my mom/nana. Her memories of waiting for my Dad to come home after he volunteered to go to Vietnam straight from college/ROTC are vivid and is not thrilled with the idea of SA/NROTC/AD for her first grandchild. Dad/Papa is beyond proud with the prospect. Long/Short challenge yourself, question yourself, and have a rock hard resolve. People will have questions and they will question you and your motives. Go into this process with confidence but also a solid plan B-F. It's a long road but DS has grown and matured exponentially throughout. There is a funny thread out there about the questions/ignorance/ misunderstandings that surround SAs. I don't have a moment to look it up but it's pretty recent and spot on. Best wishes!
  12. Craig

    Craig 5-Year Member

    Dec 19, 2010
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    If they were Navy, bring the kleenex.
    FalconsRock and civic29 like this.

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