Questions for current or former midshipmen

<p>I just have a few questions.</p>

<p>What aspect of academy life did/do you find the most challenging?</p>

<p>What aspects of academy life do you find the most rewarding?</p>

<p>What would you recommend doing to prepare?</p>

<p>Challenging: Academics. </p>

<p>Quite frankly, they kicked my butt. Sure, I struggled with the physical fitness requirements, but I managed. The academics, on the other hand, were just murder for me. Part of that was that I never developed good study habits, part was that I was too busy dreaming about what a great time I was going to have driving submarines or scuba diving, and part of it was the fact that my usual good memory in the classroom completely failed me for four years. The result? I didn't have the grades to get into nuke school, so I drove ships for five years. Nothing sucks worse than to sit there on Service Selection Night and having to go SWO because you blew all your chances to do anything else.</p>

<p>Rewarding: Graduation. </p>

<p>Whoever said that USNA is the worst place in the world to be AT but the best place in the world to be FROM deserves a PhD, Nobel Prize, Pulitzer, etc., for that one statement. Believe you me, it's worth every little PITA you suffer during those four years, and you really only remember the good parts. What bad parts you remember you'll laugh at, too.</p>

<p>Recommendations: Get in shape and STUDY. </p>

<p>Forget your dreams and your ambitions for four years. Concentrate on doing your absolute best in everything, so when the time comes you have the luxury of being able to choose what it is you're going to do. Take advantage of every academic, professional, and personal opportunity that the place presents you with. Sure, you can have fun, but always remember that you have your whole life to get drunk, get laid, watch TV, or whatever. You've only got four years to get USNA right, and there are no do-overs.</p>

<p>You may ask why I offer my recommendations from the point of view of already being a Mid rather than from that of a candidate. Fair enough. I do that so that you know what your mindset must be BEFORE you get there because you're going to be moving too fast to sit around and reprogram yourself once you're in.</p>

<p>The other thing you MUST do RIGHT NOW is decide, once and for all, just how much the place means to you. I simply refused to quit. I got by on sheer pig-headedness. They were going to have to carry me out in a box before I quit. No matter how lousy the grades or how bad I blew the run, or whatever, I refused to quit even when I felt like quitting. All I wanted was my ring and my diploma, everything else could go spit. If you don't think that way, you'd better take a good hard look inside yourself and see if this is what you really want to do.</p>

<p>Now, all that being said, remember this: Anywhere from 950-1,100 folks not a whole unlike yourself graduate from the damned place each year. If THEY can do it..... Hell, if I was able to do it.... YOU can, but you have to WANT to.</p>

<p>Good luck. :)</p>

<p>I did this w/o reading Z's reply, so apologize if I duped his answers.</p>

What aspect of academy life did/do you find the most challenging?


<p>Running. I was (and remain) technically a terrible runner. I also was from a generation (25 yrs ago) when women weren't encouraged to be athletes the way they are today. I worked hard at it, but it was always a challenge.</p>

<p>BTW, I think 98% of people at USNA find something challenging. For some it's academics. For some, swimming. For others, lack of freedom. For others, military requirements. Etc. That's the real challenge about USNA -- almost everyone finds some part of it quite difficult.</p>

What aspects of academy life do you find the most rewarding?


<p>Getting through, of course. Graduation is perhaps the single greatest moment in your life. Also the comaraderie within your class and company. Years and years later, you have an immediate bond with fellow grads, your classmates and your company mates that nothing in the civilian world can touch. It's hard to explain, but it's definitely there. </p>

What would you recommend doing to prepare?


<p>Figure out now what is likely to challenge you (most people have a pretty good idea) and work your hardest to improve in that area. If you're a lousy swimmer, join a swim club, take lessons, etc. If you're bad at pull-ups, find a gym teacher or trainer who can give you exercises to improve. If you have trouble at academics, try to determine what subject(s) are hardest for you. Try to take the most challenging courses now so you're as prepared as possible for USNA. At USNA, take advantage of all of the study programs that are made available (tutors, extra instruction with professors, study skills programs, etc.). </p>

<p>Do everything you can to learn as much as possible about what you're getting into. If you're a junior, sign up for NASS. If you're offered a CVW, take it, even if you did NASS. Read (recent) books about not only USNA but the other service academies (there's an excellent one on USMA published a couple of yrs ago). Spend time w/your BGO. If you know any mids or former mids, talk to them about these very same questions. Learn about your career options upon graduation and make sure you would be satisfied with at least two of them.</p>

<p>Finally, search your soul now. Be sure that USNA is what YOU really want. Not what your dad, your mom, your grandfather, your brother, your sister, your friend, your teacher, or anyone else wants. What you want. It's hard, it's not "free," it's very different than a college experience. There will be bad days for everyone. Every single person. What gets you through those days is your personal desire and determination to stay. If you don't have it, you'll quit.</p>

<p>The time to figure this out is now -- not in July, August or January of your plebe year. It's natural to have some doubts about how you'll do at USNA. However, if you're having serious doubts about whether it's the right place for you, don't just go and hope it all works out. Chances are that it won't. On the flip side, if it's what you want, and you get in, the odds of your making it through to graduation are overwhelmingly in your favor.</p>

Graduation is perhaps the single greatest moment in your life.


<p>I am vindicated.</p>

<p>Most people say their wedding day, or the birth f their children. To me, the climax of my life so far was the hat toss. Five years of effort, pain, misery, and commitment distilled into one split second.</p>

<p>Damn, that was cool! :D</p>

<p>As more and more of you start seriously considering the Naval Academy - this is something that I have only begun to distill - I've shared these thoughts with several mids, current and former and they concur with this analysis. Let me say that I do not mean to sound 'negative' at all about the wonderful opportunities/adventures/education/training/experiences that every young person who graduates from the Academy will have. I just think it is a serious decision and once you make the choice - go for it - but for sure be aware of what you're getting into.</p>

<p>Here goes.....</p>

<p>I came to the conclusion yesterday as I was thinking about the many, many up and down comments of my child's experiences ( so far) at USNA that whatever else is going on there with her - unlike my older 4 who all 'went off to college' - she is not simply 'at college'....She is in the military. I
realized that any child at a Service Academy is not "At college" like all
their other high school friends. They won't go home at the holidays and
compare notes about 'college life'. They are first in the military - which
so deems them the 'privelege' of higher education/training/travel/experiences as the military chain of command and their Commander in Chief so dictates.</p>

<p>Maybe many of you reading this will say: "well, no DUH!" but for me - it has
helped fix my mindset in a helpful way. Our children can't sleep in, party
all weekend, skip a class, take a nap, wear whatever they want, sleep in
another person's room, leave the campus at will, pull an all nighter, or have
friends come on campus and hang out in their room. They can't study when
they want, bathe when they want, eat when they want or sleep when they want. They at this point don't watch TV, listen to music, go see each weekend's movie releases or shop in the malls. Are they in prison? No, they are in the United States Military first and foremost. Except for one other young man from her high school of 3400 who ( thank God) came to USNA as well - there will be no one in her circle of friends who will have any idea of what she is really dealing with. I suspect any of us parents with current Plebes... come this holiday break will notice our kiddos will have have similiar experiences.</p>

<p>If our kiddos had chosen ROTC - they'd be having a 'real college experience'
with a military overlay. But at a Service Academy they are in the 'real
military' with a college overlay - HUGE difference.</p>

<p>I was sharing these thoughts with my daughter in a phone conversation
yesterday and I said: "I guess there's a reason it's called the NAVAL -
Academy - where NAVY comes first. She laughed and said : "You're right mom, it's not called "The United States Academy of Naval Science." Her laugh was like balm to my mother's heart. She has her moments like all of our young
people do there at USNA, but her laugh comforted me to realize that she
'get's it' and will continue to survive and thrive there in a military
first, college second world.</p>

<p>Great thoughts shared so well. Thank you. :)</p>