Two years into engineering school, "epiphany",and now want to enroll at West Point. Worth it at all?


New Member
Jun 23, 2016
Hello, I am a current 20 year old engineering student at a public university. I had a rather drastic change in my perspective after both having become a very strong Christian and having educated myself much more on the origin of the conflicts in the Middle East, in particular: works by William Muir and also contemporary publications. I just have this gut-wrenching feeling all the time that I will make 80-140k a year as an engineer for the rest of my life, but never feel I contributed to anything. I cannot help but think of the parable of the talents and that I will have sat on the opportunity to manifest my contribution to the world in the eyes of God. Even if you were to tell me that's not true at all and that I might end up throwing dirt around in a desert, I could still not placate this feeling which pains my stomach at all times of day. I feel disconnected from my generation. I value order and discipline; something so aloof at my university and my life in general.

With that being said, I must admit a great weakness: I cannot see myself at any place other than West Point if I were to enter the military. I have been researching it and its alternatives for a while now and simply would have to go there to go through this long arduous process. There isn't any question in my mind about that. I come from a rather large city school and we (for whatever reason) do not seem to value the military at all :( and so academies never even crossed my mind in high school, but yet now it is my strongest intention (and not just some capricious whim)

My biggest concerns: I have already gone through four whole semesters of college (on partial scholarship though) and I've already taken Single and Multi-variable Calculus, differential equations, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, etc. I realize there is no way to graduate before 4 years, but I have heard of grad school dual enrollment type programs for transfer students.

I also do not know what exactly I would even put on an application besides my current college GPA. Do I need to include old SAT scores, new GRE scores, proof of having played a sport in college or high school?
I have over a 3.6 gpa. I haven't taken the GRE yet, but I had a 1400/2040 SAT score (I'm not even sure if they would look at standardized test scores in this case). I am in good shape but do not play any sports for my university except club sports (though I varsity lettered 3 times in high school-idk if that matters). I have perfect vision, health records, criminal records, etc. I would need to get a nomination and I am unsure how long this process takes and when I could even realistically start by.

The worst part: I will be graduating next spring anyways because I took a lot of AP credits in high school.
On one hand I imagine this [graduating two sem. early in eng.] would make up for a GPA that's not stellar (though still well above average I imagine) and displays an ability to handle lots of material thrown in at once. On the other hand, it means I'll only be two sem away from graduating.

I am looking for advice on the matters I have mentioned. An answer to any of these or even to my overall dilemma would be great!

Questions summed up:
1. Can you receive graduate school credits?(I was planning on pursuing a graduate degree anyways)
2. Do you have to take exams to get credit for classes or do most of them transfer fine? (I know my APs do)
3. Do I need to take the GRE or show them my SAT scores?
4. Sports?
5. Nomination process-how long will it take and any tips (I do have some connections through my father but to local congressman)
6. When could I realistically start at the academy if all goes well?
7. In your personal opinion: Am I making a mistake?

Thank You very much for any input to any number of these questions!
The only question I'm going to address is this - no matter how may college credits or degrees you have, you will start as a "freshman" and complete 4 full years at USMA. If you're ok with that, and meet the age requirements (under 23), then I'm sure other folks will be along to answer the rest.
USMA is a path to commissioning. There are several paths towards the same goal. It seems to me you are asking if you can jump from one path to another after you have already traveled 75% down the path you are on. If you are drawn towards serving our great nation as an Army officer - bravo. I would suggest you seriously consider OCS. However, that being said, there is a possibility of going to USMA. To answer your direct questions:

1. No graduate school credits. If appointed to USMA, your would enter as a cadet and do 4 years of undergraduate study towards a degree.
2. Appointees are able to "validate" course work. This would mean you will not re-take any course which you validate. However, you will take the same number of credit hours as every cadet during your 4 years at West Point. (This might open up a possible minor course of study to you)
3. No to the GRE. You will need either the SAT or ACT - and you can re-take them as a college student if you choose.
4. Collegiate level sports are not a requirement. Participating and demonstrating leadership in athletic competition is.
5. Look up each of your Congressional nomination sources (1 Representative and 2 Senators) as well as the Vice-President on the web. Visit each of their web pages and look up the process for seeking a nomination. Each source will have their own slightly different process and timeline. For many nomination sources, the timeline has already begun for the class of 2021.
6. You should seek to apply for the class of 2021 - which would be a June 2017 start date. You must not have reached 23 by the start date, nor have any dependents.
7. IMHO this isn't the most logical way to seek a commission in the Army (especially since you will have your degree in the spring of 2017). You have what appears to be a pretty solid chance at seeking a commission through other sources. You can contact your local recruiting office and ask for the contact info for the officer recruiter (what we call an OSO in the USAF). They usually deal with a region (not a particular office), so they can be a bit more difficult to reach.
Looks like Cidgrad130 addressed your individual questions well so I'll just give my (not so eloquent) opinion. If your ultimate goal is to be an officer, really look into OCS. It is a viable way to become an officer and it won't cost you an additional 4 more years of college. That being said, if attending West Point AND commissioning in the Army as an officer is the dream, follow that path. You only seek to gain by applying but you have a hard decision to make regardless.

I'm starting as a college freshman next year with a lot of IB/AP credits but, like you, I realized USMA was my dream. I grew up as an American girl in the Middle East that faced racism and sexism constantly and was eventually evacuated after my American school was attacked by Islamist extremists. Living in the US has made me appreciate what real freedom feels like and I hope to serve to keep it alive. To me, I think USMA's would make me into the leader I want to be. Funny how I realized all this right after the USMA 2020 application closed though...Anyways, if it is your goal, the least you can do is pursue it and see where it takes you! Best of luck!
Have you considered the foreign mission field? Many denominations have foreign mission boards and your engineering skills and desire to share your Christian witness would be a great combination.
Sometimes the only way to test the waters is to put your toe in. Many people start West Point older than you...I hope it works out for you.
There is only one West Point, you are only 20 yrs old (very young), for the rest of your life you can proudly say you are a graduate of West Point!!! Just do will get in easily with your grades & experience:)
If serving as a military officer is what you want to do, then buckle down with primary sources and do the work for a comparative analysis (good officer skill). Explore all your paths to serving as an officer. See what fits. Rule out what doesn't. Go for it, if you think you you will later regret not trying. Be clear on determining if West Point is THE goal, and why, and it's either that or nothing, or you have a desire to serve as an officer, and are open to other paths. There is no right or wrong.

If there is an AROTC/other ROTC unit on your campus or a nearby school, go visit and interact f2f with serving officers. You will gain a different perspective than what you learn from your laptop or phone.

You have proven academic skills in desired areas, a record of sports/athletics, so you would be in the competitive zone. There is no magic formula that guarantees admission. No one here can take the place of a Service Academy Admissions Board.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." Lao Tzu
If you want to do it, then do it. You aren't as old as you think you are. You will have to put up with some games Plebe (Freshman) year and the lifestyle is very different.

It sounds like you have an honest desire to serve (which should be the principle reason to go) and based on your experiences, are more mature than many who decide to go.

Start working out, think about retaking the SAT/ACT, contact your members of congress. Your high school class rank, athletics and clubs still matter. Your college course grades can give your file a boost.

Sylvanus Thayer had a degree from Dartmouth before he attended (of course West Point was only a year long then). Lots of older cadets with Prior Service Soldiers making up a large portion of every class.

Good luck.