Thank you in advance to anyone wiling to read my post and offer some assistance.
So, I am I high school Junior living in Central Bucks- a highly competitive district in Pennsylvania. My school ranking and GPA are both decent, but unimportant in my application since my school does not automatically report class rank. I did manage to do well on the ACT with composite score is a 35. Unfortunately my application is a bit weak in areas aside from academics.
I’m a bit worried that I’m sorely lacking in leadership experience. I played varsity hockey as a Freshman and Sophomore, but never became Captain or Assistant Captain while doing so. It’s doubtful that I will be attain such a position even if I return to school hockey in my Senior year. Additionally, I write for the local newspaper I may be able to become one of its editors (although that’s not a given), so my only leadership experiences have been through Summer Leader Experiences and Keystone Boy’s State. I was admitted into both the USMA and USNA Summer Leadership Experience Camps as well as Keystone Boy’s state. I fear that these experiences are more like summer camp than a leadership position and that the academies don’t regard it as a substantial example of an applicant’s ability to be a leader.
Moreover, my athletics are a bit of a weak point. As previously mentioned I played varsity hockey in my Freshman and Sophomore years. During those years, and junior year I played for a club team as well. I plan to return to varsity school hockey in my senior year. I also run distance track and cross country in the spring and summer. Unfortunately, I’m not a talented runner so I don’t think the academies will pay much attention to it.
So my question for any potential reader is this: What can I do in my Senior year to make my application stand out? I wouldn’t say my resume is in a bad spot, but it certainly needs improvement. I am having a hard time coming up with ideas on how to improve on my athletics and leadership, so any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks for your time
The summer programs at the academies are marketing outreach programs that bear no weight in admissions. They are just summer camps to give potential applicants a chance to see the posts, play soldier/sailor for a week, and perhaps complete a a CFA (optional). Neither camp counts toward leadership, but attending and participating in Boy’s State does figure in to the admissions rubric as does your varsity sport experience. Have you earned a varsity letter(s)? As you can see from a recent class profile:
Of an incoming class of 1210, almost all were varsity athletes and most earned letters:
So, keep at your sports and see if you can earn a leadership spot in either hockey or track. For grades and test scores, you should study the stats in the above link and make sure you at least meet if not exceed those metrics.
As for chances, I will repeat what I tell every applicant who asks: Due to the vagaries of the nomination process and the rubric the service academies use to determine appointments, it is impossible to chance anyone.
Your first step is getting a nomination. USMA does not consider applications without a nomination, so you need to familiarize yourself with this process if you aren’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 this 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%. How likely YOU are to be 3Q, no one here can tell you. 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. Also be prepared to answer your understanding of the consequences of your decision.
Also, you should scour the wealth of applicant information on the USMA website and serviceacademyforums.com (CC for military applicants) where you can learn more about the process and get all your questions answered by current and former military personnel. However, no one there will chance you either for the reasons I gave above. These sources will tell you to do your best academically, up your physical fitness game, and pursue leadership opportunities. You will want to show quality over quantity, stay focused, and put your best application forward. That’s all you or any candidate can do.
A couple of points to add to ChoatieMom’s input. I’ve sat on a few congressional boards and when a student tells us that they’ve gone to SLE I feel a little more confident that the student knows what they are signing up for. When I showed up at West Point I did not really have a clear idea of what cadet life would be like and SLE gives you some idea. In terms of athletics you don’t have to be a recruited athlete or super talented. The fact that you are a distance runner means you probably won’t fall out of PT runs. Your congressional district may be competitive in terms of many students taking a ton of APs or attending top universities but what will be important for USMA admissions is how many students actually go far enough in the admissions process to garner a congressional interview / nomination. This can vary widely from district to district and from year to year. Leadership is hard to really assess with a high school student and a lot has to do with how you present yourself in person