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Bear Magnet
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Discussion Starter #1
Guys, I received an e mail from my 16 year old son, Ian this morning. He forwarded this to me from the United States Military Academy at West Point. It reads as following.

West Point Admissions. [email protected]
Ian, as one of the nation's top students, you've been specially selected to receive Your Candidate Checklist: 4 Steps to Help You Become a Cadet.
Provided by West Point, this free guide will walk you through our unique application process that begins your junior year.

Given your success in the classroom, you will appreciate the rigor West Point puts into all facets of its education. From outstanding faculty and state of the art facilities to a challenging curriculum, we are considered one of the premier academic institutions in the country. The results of our holistic approach to education speak for themselves as our cadets regularly produce and present scholarly works ( books, journals, conferences) and they consistently win prestigious awards including Rhodes, Marshall and Fulbright scholarships.

Congratulations on being one of our nations best and brightest students! Ensure you stay on your path to future success by requesting Your Candidate checklist right away.

Sincerely,

Deborah J McDonald
Colonel, US Army
Director of Admissions
United States Military Academy
606 Thayer Rd
West Point, New York, 10996


I've been crying tears of joy off and on all day!!!
 

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Bear Magnet
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Discussion Starter #4
Right now, Ian is a junior at Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. He is not only at the very top of his class, he is setting new records there for course load and GPA! He didn't even ask for admission to West Point. They have approached him! Do you guys understand what this means? If he finishes his undergraduate degree there he will have a full ride scholarship to any graduate school he wants! MIT, Stanford, Cal Tech, Yale, Harvard. ANY of THEM!!!
 

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Hunter/Survivor
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A warrior mindset is required.... I know a young man who was selected for the Point based on his high school foot tball
achievements and his GPA, he was mowing cadets down in training but he left after one year because it wasn't in him. Broke his Dad's (former Marine) heart but he recognized that the warrior wasn't in his son, only on the field.
 

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Stop YOLOing
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If he finishes his undergraduate degree there he will have a full ride scholarship to any graduate school he wants! MIT, Stanford, Cal Tech, Yale, Harvard. ANY of THEM!!!
Congrats to both of you!

But going to a military academy doesn't give you a full ride to any graduate program.

Are you talking about a different program in addition to the four years as a cadet? The military has a lot of funded grad school programs, but you don't receive any of them simply because of where you got your bachelor's degree.
 

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Semper Fi
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Congrats on having a son that is a high achiever.

Now not to rain on your parade but that letter is a targeted mass mailing and simply an invitation for him to apply. It is not a guarantee that he will be accepted.

Keep in mind that he will owe the Army 8 years In uniform and high academic achievement doesn't always translate into being a good officer. Has your son shown any interest in joining the military prior to this?
 

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Bear Magnet
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Discussion Starter #9
Ian has had a perfect 4.0 GPA for the last six years. I began researching what it would take to get him into one of the better engineering schools several years ago. If he does indeed attend West Point with the same academic success he has had so far, it's a pretty good bet he will be accepted at just about any school he wants to finish his graduate work and the Army will pay for it. There are more than enough scholarships available for him to apply for as well. He is pretty much a computer whiz and is interested in cyber security.
 

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Listen to the ghosts
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I think it's great if he get to West Point, but please be careful.

My son had a classmate who went to West Point. Wanted to fly helicopters. His junior year, he was scheduled to take a study abroad semester in Mexico. West Point canceled his semester a couple of weeks before he was to go "abroad". Then they gave him an F in the course since he didn't actually go. They subsequently relented and gave him a D so he could at least get the credits. Knocked him far enough back in the class that he didn't get into helicopters. Went into military "intelligence" instead, and will probably get out as soon as he serves his commitment, which should be soon.

Another was a first semester senior. They had some kind of snap PT examination. The guy was 1 pound over the tables and so they expelled him and billed him six figures for the the "education" he received.

Just be very, very careful.
 

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Stop YOLOing
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Ian has had a perfect 4.0 GPA for the last six years. I began researching what it would take to get him into one of the better engineering schools several years ago. If he does indeed attend West Point with the same academic success he has had so far, it's a pretty good bet he will be accepted at just about any school he wants to finish his graduate work and the Army will pay for it. There are more than enough scholarships available for him to apply for as well. He is pretty much a computer whiz and is interested in cyber security.
My friend, there are a lot of grads on SB from the three Service Academies (and probably Coast Guard as well), and even more vets who know enough specifics about how the Academies work to recommend that you balance the joy of the prospect of him going to an Academy with a balanced approach to those prospects.

USMA literally has a team of people whose job it is to identify promising high school students and inform them that it's even an option; a lot of people don't even know the Academies exist. Your son might literally have gotten a mass mailer, like @Steve_In_29 said. That's not a bad thing, because that's often how this process starts. But it's definitely not a sure thing, and there's a lot of work between now and inprocessing if that's the path he chooses.

A 4.0 GPA is barely above average for Academy applicants. A lot of 4.0+ applicants get denied admission. What else has he done? Does he have a Varsity letter in any sports? (Because about 80% of cadets do.) Is he the captain of any teams or clubs? Does he have leadership positions in the church or community? Is he an Eagle Scout? A high GPA is just the price to play; a good GPA with all these other things is what will get him an interview.

I wouldn't say it's "a good bet" that the Army will pay for any grad school he wants. That's not how it works, either from the Army's point of view or from those graduate programs. It's certainly possible, but several moving parts have to fall into place for it to work out, and he only has control over some of them.

It's awesome that he has accomplished enough to have his potential recognized, and you should both stay motivated. But be sure you take an informed approach to what each signal means, and the reality of what four years at a Service Academy offers.

Partly because the cadets who show up because their parents pushed them to, rather than because it's something they wanted for themselves, tend to be absolutely miserable there. They gave up a normal college experience (often including a full ride with ROTC) for something they find out they don't really appreciate...and the parents often don't even know they pushed their kids that way, because the kids never told them.

So again, like Steve asked, has Ian shown any interest in the military prior to this?

Not trying to bring you down here at all...just want to help you understand what it all means so both he and the military have the highest chance of success.
 

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Bear Magnet
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Discussion Starter #12
Yeah, I understand all of this guys. Like I posted earlier, I've been researching all this for quite some time now.
Extracurricular activities are a large part of being admitted to any of the service or Ivey League schools. He was raised doing service rifle competitions with a Garand, an M1A and several ARs. He has also been doing a summer high school internship in the labs at UW's High Bay Research Facility in Laramie. Gonna do some Civil Air patrol stuff including flight school this year.

I know this isn't a slam dunk guys. I'm just really excited he has even been noticed by USMA West Point.
 

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Live Secret, Live Happy
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Right now, Ian is a junior at Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. He is not only at the very top of his class, he is setting new records there for course load and GPA! He didn't even ask for admission to West Point. They have approached him! Do you guys understand what this means? If he finishes his undergraduate degree there he will have a full ride scholarship to any graduate school he wants! MIT, Stanford, Cal Tech, Yale, Harvard. ANY of THEM!!!
Congrats, sounds like a right smart kid. But your postings shows you could do more research to help your son take full advantage of this situation.
First, if West Point is interested, so are the other three (Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard). If he wants engineering, I recommend the USAF Academy.
Second, contact your congressmen. Service Academy students are appointed by US Congressmen and Senators, not by the Academy itself.
Third, both of your primary state universities (OU and OSU) have better engineering programs than the Ivy Leage schools, and equall to MIT, Stanford, or Ca Tech.
Finally, working level for Engineering is Barchelor of Science. No reason to work toword a masters unless he wants to teach.

Btw, I lost out on a USAF apointment due to my eyesight. But I earned my Mechanical Engineering degree from Iowa State in 1982, then worked as a weapon designer at NWC China Lake for 32 yrs. Engineering took me from from the hog farm to rocket science in four years.

Tell your son to pull his hat down tight, life is about to get western.
 

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Hunter/Survivor
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California Maritime Academy at Vallejo has a great engineering program, my Brother in law got his engineering degree there and retired from Navy reserve as a O-6 and did well in private sector.

Hick Industries: you must know where all the good Chukar hunting areas are around China Lake.... :)
 

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Absolutely congratulations to your son that the option of applying to the Point presents. I gotta say, however, that I am a bit disappointed in the letter. Lots of accolades about the institution but hardly a word about military service or service to our nation. Actually, not even a mention of the U.S. Army.

I get it that this is a mass mailing to the best and brightest, but seems to me it's a bit typical of military advertisements. Long on what a student can get, and short on the purpose of the US military.
 

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Stop YOLOing
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Second, contact your congressmen. Service Academy students are appointed by US Congressmen and Senators, not by the Academy itself.
Minor quibble, but for terminology's sake--congressmen/etc. offer nominations. The appointments themselves come from the Academies' admissions boards, but can only be offered to candidates in those nominee pools.

Btw, I lost out on a USAF apointment due to my eyesight.
Interestingly, I got into AF but the Navy turned me down that year for eyesight. Part of these application processes are just luck--who else happens to apply the year you do, Navy putting in an eyesight requirement on the year I applied, etc. Nothing I could do to control those things.

I gotta say, however, that I am a bit disappointed in the letter....Long on what a student can get, and short on the purpose of the US military.
Just a recognition of our society today. It's not only an Academy thing, and it's the only way the Services can get enough people to do the mission.

The Marines are a little different. They talk more about what it means to be a Marine than about post-service benefits, but still not much talk about serving your country.
 

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Bear Magnet
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Discussion Starter #17
My son and I are more than grateful for all the suggestions, ideas and insights from all of you!!
Please note that the letter he received from USMA was written by a lady. This has really piqued his interest in the military even more than it was before. He's been a military history buff for several years.
He usta show photos of him shooting at school but that got shut down real quick.
 

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Your son needs to learn early that today's Army is highly politicized once you get above battalion.

The men will fight with heroism, as they always do. But that alone does not yield victory. Just look at the percentage of General Officers cashiered for 20 years of war without victory and you will have the answer...Especially when compared to the numbers during WWII where commanders were relieved regularly, and without prejudice.

Soon after I retired one of my colleagues went on to command an infantry battalion and was telling me how hard it had gotten since most of the true war fighters were purged under Obama and all that were left were mostly "blow dried, fake tanned, liars." He went on to say how hard it is to compete against liars. The liars always have the advantage over you. But I do have guarded hope for the nation.

That hope comes from pockets of patriots and honorable God believing people who will save the day until political opportunists to start the destructive cycle all over again. It is up to those currently serving who will train our next generation of leaders to keep the values intact against the continual, unrelenting attack from the godless and the left so that when the country needs the next generation of heroes to save it we will be ready.

Today, too often soldiers' lives only matter when they can be used as political leverage to fund some Senator’s pet project, otherwise they are an abstraction that only a select few in the world outside the beltway even fathom. Evidence the difference in perspective between the Carlisle School of Political Correctness and Beltway Success to the Leavenworth School of Advanced Military Studies who trains our warriors guiding the end of the spear.

The courageous ones resist the useless bureaucracy to do right by for our soldiers, who never receive an ounce of recognition but still push against the crushing weight of a system that is polluted by the greed and politics of the military-industrial complex which Eisenhower warned us about. I am as thankful and honored to have served with true heroes and war-fighter. The problem is there are too few of the good ones and they are usually buried deep under layers of the phonies, drones, and narcissists. Phonies do not promote nor surround themselves with those who outshine them. But tell your son that if he truly loves America to not give up, fight against the evil ones to his last breath. Use Mao's theory of protracted war, when they attack we retreat when they retreat we attack.

None of this is intended to be a rant against any particular administration. I am not bitter with the Institutional Army, but more than a little astonished with how the organization functions in time of crisis. There is a human cost. Nothing in life is free. Our men and women in uniform who always do what is right and what is required without fear of personal consequence. Their physical courage is inspirational, as is the moral courage of our true leaders. These Heroes aren't always the nicest people and certainly not politically correct.

Life in the combat arms business doesn't require a refined persona, it requires blunt honest and the iron will to do what is required even when that involves grave personal consequences. Even when it requires going against conventional wisdom. As a veteran you understand this. Most of America doesn't. This is made worse by things like the Department of Homeland Security branding veterans as a domestic threat because they have militarily useful skills and may not support the direction of the current administration. This declaration is more insidious than you might think, as it is motivated by a desire to control those veterans who take seriously their oath to the Constitution. It also drives much of what we're seeing in terms of personnel drawdown.

The ugly, political process has little to do with real security of our country, but much to do with political advantage of the incumbent party. Again, I'm not bitter, but astonished at how things really work at the highest levels of government and how they are whitewashed with "spin" to conceal the true intention during implementation. It turns my stomach and dishonors our heroes.

Here's what I saw in 1994 and again now. The marginal performers are already gone, having been released through voluntary incentives and administrative board processes. The cutting now is not about getting rid of dead wood, it's about shaping the leadership in a way that supports administration policy. It's counterinsurgency - if you oppose this failed and inappropriate strategy then you're done. Period. It is a polite process of firing, but punitive nonetheless.

You don't win wars by organizing political campaigns, you win by imposing your will on the enemy at great cost to his ability to wage war. That involves killing and dieing. An ugly and unforgiving reality, not at all appealing to the intellectual crowd that always occupies positions of power. It is however the absolute truth of warfare.

The best leaders see this happening and are leaving in droves. Mostly at the mid-grades. They simply resign and go on about their lives. So, as in 1994, the politically savvy folks bubble to the top. They are driven more by careerism than dedication of oath and principle. The past result has been a hollow, leaderless Army that fails to win wars when called upon. The bureaucracy continues to survive, while real heroes leave the service to go on to live their lives.

I see the near term future as both bleak and hopeful. Bleak because America's leaders will ignore the real lessons of 20 years of war against a dedicated foe, and proceed blissfully down the path of careerism. Trump's withdrawl of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan without an exit strategy is folly. As a result, our enemies will be emboldened. This will inevitably lead to another war to test America's resolve. How Biden would handle it is up for grabs.

That's where the hope comes in. Real America still exists in pockets of God fearing, morally strong communities. Real America produces patriots and heroes that will rise to save our nation in times of crisis, but likely at great personal and national cost. Sadly, the elites in the political ruling class will claim credit and start the cycle all over again.

It's not a crazy conspiracy theory, just an observation from experience. I don't believe in the "black helicopter" stuff, or UN takeover of America. That's not going to happen anytime soon. I do believe that our military is too highly politicized, largely because General and Senior Enlisted leaders are nominated by politicians for the purpose of serving their agenda. That's the simple fact
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As JustJeff notes it has to be the kid's decision...one of mine really wanted to attend a service academy, but it took re-applying to their top two choices to get accepted to both...after spending one year at a local private ($$$) university...fortunately for me on a ROTC scholarship.

The other kid also applied (different branch) but after they didn't get in they realized they were perfectly happy at their private school ($$$) with ROTC instead...dad happy they also got a ROTC scholarship...& would likely not have been with the full military academy experience.

Strangely enough, I expect both will end up pilots.
 
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