Stress involving high school and college.

Hello everyone, I am new to College Confidential and just now starting to get the hang of it. I have a few questions regarding my worthiness for college, mainly West Point, and how I can improve my chances of getting in.

It is a huge goal of mine to receive a letter of appointment from West Point as I am wanting to become a cardiothoracic surgeon in the Army, and I believe that West Point is the best way to prepare for that career, both physically and mentally.

At the moment I am a high school sophomore. My current weighted GPA is a 3.75, and my unweighted is a 3.86. I unfortunately am not taking any honors or AP classes right now, mainly because I am afraid that I will do poorly in them and they will hurt my grade. However, I am determined to raise my GPA, and will try to take them next year.

I am currently taking an Anatomy & Physiology class and a Health Science Education class as I am sure they are good classes to take for the medical field. So far I have all A’s and only a B in English, although virtual learning is proving to be a struggle for me, and communication between me and my teachers is difficult. The workloads are manageable but time consuming.

I have not taken the ACT yet, so I don’t know what to expect on it. I am aiming for at least a score of 31. I have the official prep book but don’t know how to use it to my advantage properly, nor do I have many friends.

I am not doing any sports at the moment, except going to the gym 5 days a week. I was never really good at sports, and left the school wrestling team last year because it was embarrassing to constantly get pinned on the mat, even though I was new to the sport.

Fitness wise, I am average. 9:20 mile time, and 54 pushups in 2 mins and 60 situps in 2 mins. I am currently working on pull ups, and can do around 5 max.

I’d really appreciate it if anyone here can give me some advice or tips on how I can improve upon myself and school. I hope y’all have a great day. Thank you.

This is a red flag, to me: “I am afraid that I will do poorly in them and they will hurt my grade.” Being embarrassed is also not a good sign, but a little more understandable.

Being afraid is going to hurt your chances. If you are in the military, bravery is key. So if West Point is truly your goal, face your fears. Challenge yourself. I am pretty sure WP wants to see that. I believe WP cares a LOT about recommendations, more so than many other colleges. Here is their CDS, and you can see that academic rigor is VERY important. You also have to have a letter from a senator, if I recall.

I am no expert on WP, but there is a sub-forum here on CC. I suggest you look at that.

I understand. I’ll try and face my fears)). Thank you.

What if you don’t get into Med school- how do you feel about your military commitment then? What if you discover that surgery is not for you- how do you feel about your military commitment then? What if you don’t get admitted to West Point- do you still want to serve? There are many ways to join the armed forces (not quite as many ways to become a surgeon… but you can do a conventional undergrad, med school, residency path).

There is not a single specialized class you can take in HS that is good preparation for a medical career. You need the basics- math, physics, chemistry, biology. Don’t worry about anatomy-- there is nothing you’d cover in HS which will help you down the road in med school.

Have you looked at ROTC at a conventional college?

I’m certain I’ll get into a med school if I work and study for it. And yes I have looked at ROTC at a conventional college, but that’s ONLY if I get rejected from West Point. However, I will be applying to other colleges along with West Point, so I’ll see later on who accepts and who doesn’t. Thanks))

@blossom I think I forgot to press “reply” under your comment lol. Let me know if you can’t see it.

@AsianInvasionAD, the biggest red flag in your post is that your goal in applying to West Point is to become a doctor (any type of doctor). Your chances of going to med school from USMA are so slim, regardless of how hard you work/study, that you should reexamine your options. USMA attempts to graduate and commission about 1,000 2LTs each year. Of that number, generally fewer than 20 are chosen for med school. In our son’s class of 2019, the number was ten, and GPA is just part of the selection rubric. West Point cadets are ranked by OML (Order of Merit List) comprising academics, physical, and military performance; you will need to be superior in all three and end up in the top 3% of the class. Understand that you may not necessarily go to medical school right out of West Point, but serve in a branch first, and your specialty may be determined by the needs of the Army. Also, most Army doctors do not attend the academy but apply for a commission after earning their medical degrees elsewhere. Becoming a doctor out of West Point (or any of the academies) is not a sure bet by any means. If your main goal is medicine rather than becoming an Army officer, you will have much better odds of achieving that goal via the civilian route.

Because it sounds like you are just starting to explore this option, you might want to read this article:

Then scour the USMA website and research the USUHS and HPSP programs for a better understanding of the military path to medicine.

If you DO decide that you want to become an Army officer via USMA, whether or not you are selected for medical school, you will need to focus your course work on doing well in calculus, physics, and chemistry as those are the three courses most scrutinized for admission. USMA is primarily an engineering school, and all cadets are required to take and pass those three courses Plebe year regardless of what they eventually major in. Admissions will next expect that you’ve taken the most rigorous courses offered by your high school and done well in them. If APs are the most difficult courses at your disposal, you must take advantage of them because you will be competing against those who have.

Another concern in your post is your lack of team sports participation. All West Point cadets are physically fit and almost all were varsity athletes in high school. For example, of the 1302 candidates appointed to the class of 2020, 99% were varsity athletes, and a large percentage were also team captains:

Varsity Athletics …1294
Letter Winner …1142
Team Captain …826

You can study a recent class profile to see that these percentages generally hold (and get a good look at the stats you need to meet or surpass):

In addition to HS course selection and sports participation, you need to start focusing on securing a congressional nomination. USMA cannot offer an appointment without a nomination, so you need to familiarize yourself with this process if you haven’t already by checking the websites of your congressperson and both senators. Once you start the nomination and application process, you will be assigned a Field Force Representative (FFR) who will shepherd you through the process and who will have insight into how competitive your district is and how you stack up against the competition in the year you apply. Getting the nomination is the gating factor; once a candidate has a nomination and is deemed 3Q (qualified academically, physically, and medically), the likelihood of an appointment is close to 50%. You will also need to dig deep to be able to explain clearly and genuinely to the nomination panels why you want to serve as an officer in our armed forces. (Hint: The answer is NOT, “I want to be a doctor.”) Also, be prepared to answer your understanding of the consequences of your decision knowing that USMA branched 81% of the class of 2019 into combat arms. That percentage is not expected to go down anytime soon.

So, what else can you do? In addition to scouring the wealth of applicant information on the USMA website, you should check out (CC for military applicants) where you can learn more about the process and get all your questions answered by current and former military personnel, including questions about the path to medical school. There is also some good general information about the application process in this article:

Note: Our son graduated and commissioned from West Point last May and is now serving his nine-year commitment in the Cyber branch at Ft. Gordon, GA. I’m happy to answer any other questions you have to the best of my ability.

I understand now ma’am. Thank you for your that information. I’ll try and see what other sports are offered here in my town. Thank you again.

@AsianInvasionAD: If you haven’t see this already (or posted it), becoming a doctor via USMA is being discussed on the service academy forum with some very good replies: