Former LEAP test prep student and high school valedictorian, Taylor England, is our guest blogger on her journey to get an appointment to West Point.
The best advice I can give about getting into a service academy is to start early and continually seek opportunities to build relationships.
As soon as you become interested in a military academy the first step is to reach out to the local representative from the school (each district has one for each service academy). This representative will be the key that unlocks many doors in your future. The earlier you do this, the better the representative will be able to advise you on how to enhance your application.
During the junior year of high school apply to a summer camp, each service academy has one. Students typically apply by the end of January. The importance of doing that application the day it becomes open cannot be stressed enough. I applied at midnight as soon as it became available, and my representative was alerted. This showed my passion for going to a service academy. The summer camp experience not only helps your application, but it also gives you a good feel of the campus and how things run at that service academy. I would also encourage you to go to more than just one camp. I went to both the Naval Academy’s and West Point’s camp which aided me in choosing my first-choice. Don’t be fooled. These camps are just as much an evaluation of you, as you of the school. During the week, the Cadre will be taking notes for evaluation of you; just be yourself, and it will all work out.
Back to doing everything early: the application for the actual service academies will come out at the end of May/early June as you finish your junior year. Another good thing about going to the summer camp is your application will be available earlier than the average applicant. Once again I stress the quicker you get all of the requirements done for your application, it can greatly influence your success in the process. Representatives have to wait for you to finish at least 75% of your application process before they can even interview you; it is in your best interest to just sit down and crank it all out.
Writing essays in the summer is not what you want to do, but most of the essays will be able to be used more than once. I wrote the first essay for my West Point application and was able to chop it up and move things around and use it for the Naval Academy’s application. Each essay is around 500 to 1000 words, so not too terrible.
Along with the application to the school, you must also receive a nomination from a congressman, senator, Vice President, or President. You can only get the presidential nomination if one of your parents served in the military. Each congressman or senator has their own application and timeline for when it is due, so be on the lookout. Also apply to each nomination possible. Apply to both senators, the congressman, and the Vice President as it it can only help your chances. After you send in your application, it will be reviewed and you will get a call IF you make it to the interview portion.
In the interview you’ll be questioned about your morals, your activities, your thoughts, why you want to serve, and random questions (one of my questions was what was the last book I read?). You will find out if you got the nomination around Christmas time of your senior year. After you receive your nomination, you must then wait to get accepted by the school. When the school accepts you, they will call and inform you of your appointment to the service academy. Waiting for that call can take months; the first call to go out will be in January and the last call they will make can be the day before you are supposed to report.
What looks good on an application? There are three parts of the application: physical, academics, and leadership. The physical part is assessed by the candidate fitness assessment (CFA) and consists of pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, a basketball throw, a shuttle run, and a one mile run. Different service academies stress certain events in their application process. This test is standard across any service academy. The physical part is also assessed by how many sports you participate in, varsity letters achieved, and awards earned in any of them. If you are on travel teams or select teams, make sure you list these too. Just get involved and excel at the sports you are passionate about. The academies are looking for athletes. The physical part is weighted as roughly 10% of your overall application.
The next part of the application is academics, carrying the heaviest weight (the weight of academics differs between service academy). Your ACT/SAT scores, GPA, rigor of course load, and academic awards achieved are all considered. I can only speak from experience academically, but the average GPAs and test scores are posted on websites. I believe the average ACT score is around a 30 for each academy. Most of the academies super score: so take the test as many times as needed to get the best score possible. I got a 34 in science and reading, a 33 in math, and a 29 in English. It has been said that most service academies weigh math and English most heavily. West Point told me that I should retest to get my English score up. You will be pushed to retest; if it can enhance your application, do it! The next part of the academic portion is your GPA and difficult level of classes. If you have over a 4.0 and you are taking easy classes, they will want to know why you didn’t challenge yourself. On that note, make sure you are finding the right balance. Take as many AP classes and IB classes as you can without letting your grades suffer. However, the service academies would rather you challenge yourself and get a B+ then to not challenge yourself. Keep this in mind when all of your friends are scheduling really easy senior years. Class rank also has an effect, but the service academy will take into consideration the type of school you go to and the number of people that go there. If your school says they don’t rank, you should know that deep in their system they do, and it can only help to find this out. So find out who knows it and get it. I don’t really know the average GPA and class rank, but I would say that top 10% and at least a 3.8 would be a good ballpark, if not higher. They also want to see academic accolades, such as national honor society, national merit scholar, best student in a certain subject, etc. Make sure not to slack off your senior year, because your grades are monitored.
The last piece of the puzzle is the leadership portion, which includes all the leadership positions you hold but also the activities in which you participate. Strive to be in as much as possible. Take on leadership positions such as captain, student body president, committee chair in a club, having a job, or leading a community service project. The service academies really like to see a lot of community service, especially if you lead a project. Become involved in a breadth of clubs, don’t just be in one type of club. Student council, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and church organizations are common clubs sought. Also, there is a program called Boy’s State/Girl’s State run by each state’s government. It is an opportunity to play a part in the leadership of the state; the typical opportunity is to be appointed junior year. Your school should be able to send two students to the program. This looks excellent on your application. Some admissions officers will tell you to go to this program over going to their summer program. Therefore, seek how your school nominates its students.
Overall, the process of getting into a service academy is long and painful….I’m not going to lie. You can ease the pain by getting started early and always striving to enhance your application. It is also important to ask questions along the way; ask your representative or people who already go to an academy. They will know what admissions is looking for. A service academy is an amazing opportunity to serve your country! GO ARMY, BEAT NAVY.
applicationsCollege SelectionNational MeritService Academies
Hey all, so I am applying to West Point and this particular essay is for a nomination from my states senator and i'll be sending it to my representitive as well. For all who don't know West Point requires a nomination in order for you to even be considered able to be offered admission. This is pretty much where the brunt of competitivness is because you are competing with those in your congressional district for one nomination. This makes it easier or harder depending on where you live to get into a service acadamy.
To the essay
Prompt - Why do you want to attend a service acadamy?
Limit - 500 words (though for the senator the limit is 3500 char.)
There are many things that make a service academy a great opportunity. To many when the word "free" is uttered about any of the academies people's ears perk up and heads turn. Many others are attracted to the academies because they want to become officers in the Military and either don't know about ROTC or think that it is of lower value compared to a commission from per say West Point. For the majority however, the calling of Duty, Honor, Country is one we seek to answer as well as the opportunity to continue our education at an institution whose goal everyday is to inspire you to be a leader of character.
I have been interested in West Point specifically for a very long time. I grew up the son of an army warrant officer and since I was able to understand what it stands for I have loved the military. The lessons of honesty and integrity were ingrained in me from an early age and have since become the core values that guide me in life. Among these values lies a growing hunger for knowledge; a hunger that I have gone so far as to leave my hometown and attend a selective public school dedicated to education at the highest standard. The Alabama School of Math and Science has been a exceptionally unique education, not only in my studies, but in maturity and independence. I have been drawn to West Point because it is exactly where I need to be in order to continue on my goal of being a leader and scholar.
Many are drawn to West Point, not only because it's name is synonymous with greatness, but because the word free is so often used to describe it's education. West Point is by no means free. In return for one of the best educations in the country, a commitment of active duty service is required. Now that may deter many from completing their applications but I look forward to those years if I get accepted. I have always wanted to serve my country and West Point is the perfect opportunity for me to get an education and training for the job I have always wanted.
The call of Duty, Honor, Country is one I do not take lightly. The opportunity presented by West Point and the other service academies is not for everyone. However I know that I belong at West Point and I hope to not only prove myself during the decision process, but to continue to prove and improve myself long after.
I took time to see if i couldn't rewrite this to see if I couldn't get my own personality through and to make this stand out a bit so here it is. (btw, thank you digeridoo for offereing advice!)
I'm running along a stone path flanked by beautiful great green lawns towards an awe-inspiring stoney castle, not that I had a chance to admire. Little did I know I had made my first mistake days ago when choosing which bag to take with me on my flight. One of my father's old military sacks to store all of my belongings, I was cursing myself every step for not bringing a suitcase like seemingly everyone else. After the long run in sunday dress I quickly dropped my bag beside me in the lane indicated with camo tape. Taking a breath I stared straight through the sergeant standing in front of me who was in my face trying to get me to crack a smile. After he turned his back I let a small grin flash for a second, I couldn't believe where I was. That was my first introduction to West Point and the beginning of one of the best weeks of my life. Attending the Summer Leadership Experience was an honor that I barely had time to register while there. It was like living a dream, a very regimented, fast-paced, and competitive dream surrounded by people who were as competitive and driven as they were vastly different and refreshing.
Competitive and driven individuals were one of the major reasons I came to the Alabama School of Math and Science. The short of it is my old school didn't have the dedication to learning nor the challenging classes that I desired. A boarding school centered around the teaching of university level courses where you were also challenged to be an independent and active individual was all I needed to know. The day of my interview I was on my way home when it dawned on me what attending would mean. Three years later the experiences I have had at ASMS have made me grow from a kid interested in learning to a young man who desires greater challenge in university and the same feeling that a community of like minded, driven, and intelligent individuals gives you.
I have felt for a long time that the university that answered my call of challenge and community is West Point. I heard about the school from my father and the people he worked with as a CW4 at fort Rucker, and since then I have chased after every bit of information that I could regarding it's existence and the path to getting accepted. After experiencing all that SLE had to offer, from the academic lectures, PT and field exercises to the people that are going through everything you are, I have gone from thinking I will love West Point to knowing I do. The opportunity presented by West Point and the other service academies is not for everyone. However,I know that I belong at West Point and I hope to not only prove myself during the decision process, but to continue to prove and improve myself long after.