What can I do?


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Feb 18, 2009
I'm a freshman at McLean High School (the 55th best high school academically) and I really want to go to the Naval Academy but I dont know what I can do to improve my chances except get good grades. Any suggestions?
I'm a freshman at McLean High School (the 55th best high school academically) and I really want to go to the Naval Academy but I dont know what I can do to improve my chances except get good grades. Any suggestions?

Be the best well rounded package that you can. In other words, good grades are great, but you need sports, clubs, extra curricular, leadership, volunteering, etc.

Run for student office, volunteer and take charge of important events and good causes. Get involved in your school and/or city athletics. Understand that you have to sell yourself and the more "features" you come with, the better the chance you'll be bought.

but how can get more involved and take charge?

Scouting (not required, but it looks good)?
Church volunterring?
Community Service?
School volunterring?
Class Rank?
Letters of Recommendations?

you will need all of the above
Please just do it... don't ask how to take charge, just do it.

I remember a Gunny who had 4 Lance Corporals all in line for one Corporal spot.

We were training reservest on bivouac skillsets, and we watching them pitch the CP Tents. 3 of the Lance Corporals made jokes and comments about unfit the reservist were, and one of them just walked up to them, many who outranked him, and organized them into teams, taught each of them the different steps and then organized them into train the trainers and had each of them take turns running the teams and pitching and re-pitching the tents.

By the end of the day, we had 1 less Lance Corporal because he was promoted that day. The other 3 Marines lost their 96 due to poor conduct and lack of bearing.

The key here was the guy didn't wait to be told how to take charge, he didn't ask if he could do it, he just did it.

That's what leaders do, they lead. They don't ask permission. So just do it. Take charge, do your best, and be a leader.
the kind of kids who are accepted to the service academies are the ones who've stepped up and made plans for themselves. they've led first and foremost because they've believed in the cause- NOT because they thought it would get them to the academy, and they sought that cause

truthfully, if you're high school is that kind of caliber you should have no problem finding out how to step up
To have the best shot at an appointment, you need to do three things really well.

First is academics. You should take the highest level math, science, English, and language classes you can handle. For example, as a senior, you should take Calc, not Algebra II or Pre-Calc. Getting As and Bs in these classes is a good thing. Given where you live (No. VA), you want to score around 1350 on the SATs. If you aren't naturally a good test-taker, start preparing early.

Second is athletics. Start with what you like. Team sports are good as are sports that involve running. If you can do varsity, that's great. If you can't, you can still participate. Sports such as martial arts, golf, skating, skiing, cycling, etc. are ok but not as good for USNA. I'm NOT saying that you won't get in if you participate in those sports, just that they tend to be solo (vs. team) activities and harder for USNA to measure excellence.

Third is leadership. You don't have to be leading as a freshman. The best way to approach this is to find a handful of activities that you enjoy. They can be in or out of school. Examples include student gov't, school clubs, church activities, scouting, or community activities such as working with Big Brothers/Sisters, animal rescue, etc. What is important is that you enjoy the activity and feel passionate about it.

As you spend more time with that activity, leadership should come naturally. It can be "formal" (i.e., club president) or informal (starting up a dog rescue in your neighborhood). The key isn't so much the title you have but what you actually do. You can be president of a club and do nothing or be just a member that is responsible for many things.

One final comment . . . you will be much happier in h.s. and in life if you focus on doing things (activities, courses) you enjoy rather than what will get you into USNA or other SA. IOW, if you play the cello and really enjoy that, don't stop b/c it's probably not going to help you with USNA. Mids and officers have lives outside of their military responsibilities. That said, you also have to buckle down and do things because they're "good for you," like taking tough courses and studying. It's a balance.
No disrespect but i just wanted to add something about the last post. I have played soccer, baseball, hockey, and ran track. However for the past 6 years i have been cycling (like lance armstrong) and at a professional/elite level for the past 2 years. This sport encompasses more teamwork than any other sport i have been a fan of or participated in. Just a little educational bit, hope theres no hard feelings!
My son would be happy to talk with you - he too is at mclean high. I know several kids from mclean high who have gone to usna and a couple to usma. My son would be delighted to share his knowledge and the answers he got along his journey these past years. Send us a PM if you would like to contact him - he's a senior.
The best advice I can give looking back on the process is just be a leader. Be the kind of guy that the Admissions office looks at and says "I want that guy/girl to be an officer in the U.S. Navy." People worry way too much about having the 4.0, Eagle Scout, etc., etc. Will these things help you? Of course they will. But having a 4.0 doesn't mean you will be a good Naval Officer. Get decent grades and good test scores, but excel in everything that you do. Kill the interviews. Show that you are a competitor and that you have the will to succeed. I took the ACT five times and I know a lot of other guys and girls on here took them as many times or more. I re-took my CFA because I knew I could do better. Just show USNA that: A) You can lead B) You have the desire to win and C) You live your life as a competitor.
Simply, if you are supposed to be at the Academy, you will be there.