I believe the optional sections are there to offer the applicant an opportunity to "expand or explain" something in their application that needs expanding or explaining. Perhaps the reason for a bad semester of grades, or a ECA that deserves a deeper dive, or a life experience that has changed you in some way.
In approaching this section, I would suggest looking at it this way. Is there anything that you want to get before the admissions board that has not been addressed in any other part of the application? If so, put it here. If you have covered the material elsewhere, and if there is no need to provide further background or explanation, then consider it "secondary, optional and conditional." But it is an opportunity to get a better "glimpse" of "who you are" and "what makes you tick" .... just keep in mind, however, that in the couse of "explaining" something that is unfavorable (say a bad grade, or perhaps a conduct issue) just remember- no excuses. Explain, but take responsibility and accountability. Speak to the "lessons learned."
On the flip side- have you had any really unique things happen in your life? If so- how did it enrich you, and what can you bring to the table as a result? Speak to it.
My question takes a different tack than what a BGO officer may ask during an interview. It pertains to questions in the on-line application.
The questions on the applications ask:
Have you ever experienced any exceptional adversity that we should know about?
Have you had a unique life experience of which we should be aware?
It seems that the words "exceptional adversity" and "unique life experience" qualify these questions, making them different from a general question about what challenges an applicant has faced or what significant experiences they have had.
If an applicant answers "No" to these questions, it could be that that is an honest answer.
I guess I do not see how an appliant who honestly answers "No" can be viewed to be "too lazy to think of something to say"or that that will tell the admissions review board a lot about an applicant. I think an honest answer would be better than trying to "tell them something" or tell them anything. The questions ask about "exceptional adversity" and "unique life experiences."
navy2010: I am always amazed by the knowledge who have about everything that is USNA..
And sometimes it is even correct. But not always.
Originally Posted by navy2010
Lead the way to where you will sit. "I thought we could sit in here...(as you are leading).... it will be quite for us to talk." (note: You are leading the way, not your parents!)
Perhaps you can arrange for your mom to bring in some ice tea or lemonaide (consider it secondary, optional and conditional, but it tends to break the ice a bit). No cookies- keep it low-key. (Parents, I would not "ask" the BGO "if they would like".... they are too polite and will decline... so just bring in 2 glasses all filled, leave them there, and take your leave. Keep it simple).
As much as you want to be a fly on the wall, this is not the time. Say your "hello's," get your candidate and the BGO settled, drop off some ice tea or lemonaide, and then graciously leave. " I will leave you now so you can chat" is just fine. Go away and busy yourself with something else. Give it 40-50 or so minutes. Ask your son/daughter to give you a call when they get a sense that the interview is coming to an end. Then join back in. That would be a good time to ask any questions that you may have of the BGO and the application process.
Having said that, some BGO's welcome parents to "stay." My advice is that even if "offered," as much as it kills you, DON'T. Your son/daughter will be much more talkative without you in the room, and perhaps a bit more honest. So leave. Graciously, leave. You can join back in later. Give it the 40 minutes... 50 minutes... then you can always come back in and say "How are things going?
Never lead with sitting. Ask, maybe give preferences, but let the BGO have a handle in this. He may have a specific requirement for which you are unaware. A hand sweep of the living/dining area and a “where would you like to sit?” is both common and appropriate.
This must be advice for a different part of the country where the hostess presumes the type of refreshment because the BGO is too polite to ask. No cookies? Not in the South. It would be totally inhospitable. Heck, not that I am by any means endorsing it, even dinner down here is not out of the question. A selection of drinks should be available and ask what he wants. Dietary issues may be at stake and a choice of Southern 30wt sweet tea or lemonaide (sic) may not be a choice at all.
USNA recommends that the interview be held in the home for a reason. It is to observe the family interactions. I always ask in advance if both parents will be available. If not, I will attempt to reschedule. The stock recommendation is time with the family and then time alone with the candidate. The BGO should tell you this. If not, ask. Don’t presume. During the family portion, if you have questions, by all means ask them. Don’t be shy or reserved.
Lastly, during the candidate only session, never never stick your head in to see how thing are going. You will be perceived as meddling. If and when the BGO wants you back, he will ask the candidate to come and get you. Most often, I will ask the candidate to go and get his parents to see if they have thought of any final questions. But occasionally, I will ask the candidate to walk to the car with me. It is sometimes amazing how much more open they are out in the open where they KNOW there are no prying ears. This is the BGO’s ball game even though he is using your house. Don’t lead. Be receptive to his wishes.
All, in all, everything else, though, good advice.
Our BGO wanted the parents (in our case, mom, dad, and stepdad) present for the first half of the interview.
Then, when he indicated that it was time for the private interview, all three of us physically left the house. We took the dog for a long walk, and grabbed a Starbucks.
Our mid said that the BGO basically asked the same set of questions all over again in the private interview. To make certain that we weren't influencing his answers, I am sure. And they had a long discussion about career paths and service selection.
Re: refreshments - I had some fresh-baked cookies ready - the coffeepot was primed, and I had all kinds of beverages on hand. But our BGO only took a bottled water.
Oh, and we had a USMA and also a USAFA interview at our home. All went much the same way, except the USMA colonel definitely had a sweet tooth and loved the homemade cookies and coffee.
WP grads are not as picky about their food as USNA ones. They will eat anything.
I have had two interviews where the moms were totally over the top. Answering questions intended for the candidate. 'Correcting' the candiate. Sticking their heads in every five minutes during the private session to ensure things were okay and to interject something. Truly meddling. One both occasions, I was back in their homes for subsequent interviews. One for a little brother and the other for a repeat application. In both cases, they met me at the door and excused themselves to go grocery shopping. I think their sons had a little discussion with them after the first interview. Moral of the story. The kids know what they are doing. Allow them to do it. Moral2: Hide the dog food when the woops visit.
Ha ha. After I hit post, I realized that a cookie maker would probably take my comment in the way that it was not intended. My attempt was to only diss a woop. You know, a woop would probably eat a pit bull's cookie.
Hmmmm, so cookies or no cookies... A question of the ages
Anyways, what kind of an answer are the BGO's looking for if they ask you what kind of service selection you would like? I understand that they want to make sure that you've spent some time studying the Navy and service selections that are possible but how certain do they want you to be?
^^^ I am not sure they are looking for a specific answer, but rather that the candidate has done the research and at least knows the options available and that there is a military committment at the end of 4 years of school. Surprisingly, some kids never open the catalog.
how certain do they want you to be?
Mids change their mind all the time. Protramid is designed to give them a taste of each service community- subs, surface, air, marine, etc. They are given until the Fall of their 1C year to select/rank their choices for service selection, which will then depend on the needs of the Navy and their order of merit.
This must be advice for a different part of the country where the hostess presumes the type of refreshment because the BGO is too polite to ask.No cookies? Not in the South. It would be totally inhospitable. Heck, not that I am by any means endorsing it, even dinner down here is not out of the question.
Perhaps. We usually offer a range from which to choose (water, lemonaide, iced tea, half and half, coffee, tea). We keep it simple- anything beyond that could be construed as offering a bribe. Dinner would be out of the question at this juncture.
Have never had "sweet tea," but we have Long Island Ice Tea, which would certainly not be a wise offering for an interview. If you have ever had one, you will know what I mean! What we do have are "half and halfs"... half lemonaide, half ice tea. CSH is famous for them.
We did take "our" BGO out to dinner after the appointment arrived. Unexpected, and from the reaction, appreciated. Nice guy. Former Marine. Now practices law.
My son's BGO interview was not at our home. It was in the BGO's office, which happended to be his judge's chambers. It was kind of interesting considering he is a juvenile court judge. He asked that one or both parents come if at all possible. We both did. He talked with all three of us for a few minutes, offered us a refreshment and invited us to wait in the courtroom while he talked privately with son. I did tell him that I never thought I would be bringing my son to juvenile court. I guess that is how he keeps his life balanced. He sees the kids that mess up all day long. When he does BGO duties, he gets a chance to see the kids that are succeeding.