USNA: "Exceptional Adversity" Question

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by srlowery73, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. srlowery73

    srlowery73 Member

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    One of the questions on the USNA application is, "Have you had a unique life experience of which we should be aware?" If I was going to put anything for this it would be that when I was younger my family had to live in a hotel for four months because we had a house fire. This made it harder to go to school and for my parents to go to work. Would that be an example of a satisfactory answer to the question?

     
  2. OldRetSWO

    OldRetSWO USNA 78/parent 11/BGO for >25yrs 5-Year Member

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    No, not in my opinion.

    I've seen/worked with candidates who were living on their own, working to pay own rent while still maintaining grades, outstanding sports, etc while in High School. A few yrs back I
    had a young lady who was Battalion Cdr of a large NJROTC unit and doing all of her classes, sports, etc while working in the school cafeteria before school and during study halls to help her mom pay the rent.
    Those are Exceptional Adversity.
     
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  3. srlowery73

    srlowery73 Member

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    Okay. My incident was a while ago so I guess it doesn't have a major effect on me right now. Just trying to make sure I fill out all the boxes that
    I should on my application.
     
  4. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    @srlowery73, it depends. Were you a little kid who wasn’t overly affected by the episode and who was too young to derive a meaningful lesson from it? Was it fairly recent so that you felt very acutely the consequences and it shaped how you now address certain issues in your life? Was the situation so traumatic that it adversely affected your school performance far beyond what you’re capable of? How you answer these questions can help you determine whether the experience is worth sharing.

    No doubt that was a very tough experience that none of us would wish for. However, know also that USNA is trying to determine whether you’ve had to overcome extraordinary circumstances to get to where you are now. There’s no penalty for not answering this question. But it’s ultimately up to you to decide.
     
  5. gala10

    gala10 USNA Class of 2022 Mom

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    I think there are two different questions in the application: adversity is one and life experience is the other. and if I remember it correctly, my son's answer to the life experience question was about his encounters with other cultures something like: he traveled the world and experienced new perspectives. nothing too detailed. I think the house fire is more significant than 4 months hotel stay, but probably for the adversity question, not the unique experience one. This is the advice I would give to my son, but what do I know?
     
  6. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    The hotel issue might be relevant for some. I had a candidate whose house burned down and spent "their" (leaving it grammatically incorrect but gender neutral) entire junior and early senior year in a hotel. The candidate's parents didn't speak English so the candidate had to spend most of their time on the phone with the insurance company, contractors, etc. And that candidate attended one of the most competitive public high school in the country and was maxing their grades. Didn't leave time for much else. That, to me, was an adverse experience.

    Another candidate's mother died of cancer early in her senior year (and had been very, very ill most of junior year).

    Realize that not everyone has such a story -- hopefully, most 17-yr-olds have had relatively "normal" lives -- and it's not going to hurt you if you were one of those.
     
  7. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    This is an opportunity to provide Admissions more information about yourself if you think it can help your application. Think "I overcame [describe adversity] and it helped me to be a better person and a better future leader because.........." It might also be useful to explain apparent weaknesses in your application package (i.e. my mom/dad died when I was young, and worked 40 hours a week putting food on the table instead of [schools sports, athletics , etc]. However, you should avoid portraying the adversity as an excuse -- be positive and emphasize what you learned or gained from the experience. For example, in USNA1985's hotel scenario above, it is not uncommon for a young junior officer to have to help his/her troops deal with things like insurance, bad landlords, predatory salesmen, etc. The candidates experience may prove valuable (and maxing grades under the circumstances is impressive).

    As others have stated, its not necessary to include anything , and frankly I would suspect that most candidates do not. In fact, I would counsel against including a statement if you have to think too hard about it. Those that have faced and overcome adversity , and are competitive for admission to USNA can probably answer the questions without much thought.
     
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  8. bopper

    bopper Member

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    I do interviews for a regular college and one kid didn't seem to have many ECs. We talked and it turned out that he watched his elementary-school aged brother after school because his parents were working...and divorcing. But he showed leadership through noticing the kid was falling through the cracks so he started making sure he did his homework and signed him up for a baseball team and took him to practice and such.
     
  9. USN SWO ret

    USN SWO ret Member

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    If there are any lingering side effects from that incident, it might be important down the road - everyone attends fire fighting school and if that event created a fear/phobia of fire, it might be important. Living in a hotel for a few months probably wouldn't qualify, especially if it was years ago.