Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 29, 2014

Checklist: Why you might be a midshipman…

Here are the initial qualifications for being accepted into the United States Naval Academy:navy mascot2

  1. You are a US citizen (although there are ways around this one)
  2. You’re of good moral character–no arrests, stuff like that
  3. You’re between 17 and 23 years old
  4. You’re unmarried
  5. You’re not pregnant. You can’t even graduate if (they know) you’re pregnant. And the Honor Code means they should know if you know
  6. You have no dependents. This means children as far as I know. Siblings who depend upon you I don’t think count

If this is you, keep going.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for TeachHUB and Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, and freelance journalist on tech ed topicsCurrently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer.

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 27, 2014

Navy Colors Are Born

billgoatThis day in USNA history:

Navy Colors Blue and Gold were born, 27 August 1802

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Jacqui Murray wrote the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, a USNA columnist for, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, a weekly contributor to TeachHUB, and a monthly contributor to Today’s AuthorCurrently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 25, 2014

What Wise Men Say About War and the Military

War and peace may well be the oft-most quoted topic. The history of man is the history of war. How we handle that 88-199-etuniquely-human trait of killing our own, marks our humanity and our culture. As long as man has been able to scribe his thoughts on stone or paper, any form that will talk to his descendants when he’s gone to a greater place, man has shared his wisdom learned from the battles and blood that mark our existence.

As you read these quotes, you’ll see an emphasis on leadership, knowing what’s right, facing war with strength and valor–all traits taught at the Naval Academy.

In peace, sons bury their fathers; in war, fathers bury their sons.


“So the important thing in a military operation is victory, not persistence.”

–Sun Tzu (author of the Art of War)

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Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 22, 2014

How to Prepare for the Congressional Interview–Part III

USNA Crest

There are a couple of givens–requirements without which you will not succeed at a congressional interview:

  • Be sincere. Let the committee see who you are and make a decision. A Military Academy is a big decision. If something comes out that excludes you–but you were honest–it might be the right decision. Trust the process. No one will be out to get you.
  • Be prepared. Are you prepared physically, scholastically, mentally, medically. They’ll want to know. They’ll have your file and will know. Make sure you’re not wasting their time.
  • Know what it means to apply for and be accepted into the Naval Academy. Understand the demands, the rigor, the expectations and the commitment you are signing on to. Know what you’re getting into and that it’s the right move for you.
  • Know you can succeed in one of the toughest schools in the country. Few Universities require a physical  and medical commitment as well as scholastic success. All the Military Academies to. Be absolutely sure you can succeed in this environment and communicate it to the committee. It’ll take more than words–lots of positive body language to back up your verbal.
  • Be committed to the success of your country. Patriotism and loyalty aren’t trite words at Service Academies. Believe them and adopt them as yours.

If you get through this bullet list, here are some of the questions you may be asked by the committee:

Here are questions that are suggested as possibles. Review them. Make sure you have good answers to each:congressional interview

  • Why do you want to go to the Naval Academy
  • What are your alternatives if you do not get into the Naval Academy
  • Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years
  • How are you going to handle the pressure of the Academy
  • How are you preparing physically for the academy
  • Tell us what you think of (a current event)
  • What sparked your interest in the Naval Academy
  • Who would you most like to be
  • What is leadership, and what makes you think you can be a leader
  • How have you handled failure and stress in your life
  • What are your best and worst characteristics
  • What do you know about the honor code?

Here are questions that the applicant in Building a Midshipman was asked. Print out the sheet and write your answers next to each question:

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Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 20, 2014

Wednesday Heroes

U.S. Army Air ForcesOn April 30, 143 airmen, after a 70 year wait, were finally awarded the POW Medal they had earned. The 143 airmen were held captive in the Wauwilermoos prison camp in Switzerland. Of the 143, only eight were able to attend the ceremony:

Lt. Col. James Misuraca
Maj. James Moran
First Lt. Paul Gambaiana
First Lt. James Mahon
Tech. Sgt. Alva Moss
Staff Sgt. John Fox
Sgt. William Blackburn
Sgt. George ThursbyYou can read more here  Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 18, 2014

USNA: Blue and Gold Interview

060628-A-2421-007The B&G (Blue and Gold) Interview allows the Naval Academy one more opportunity to insure that they appoint

Blue and Gold Interview

Areas B&G Officer will rank you

candidates who will make it through the next nine years. Few other colleges invest the time and money in a personal in-home interview (except for recruited athletes) and the follow-up that the Service Academies do. But then, they’re spending taxpayer money and want to be sure to get it right.

For the Naval Academy, it’s a mandatory step, and an important nod in the approval process. By this point in the interview process, the B&G officer knows you better than any other person involved in the selection. His/Her opinion of you will weigh heavily as the admissions personnel review your application.

Be sure to create a good rapport with your B&G officer. Chat with her/him at any Academy Nights you attend. Email him with updates in your application process. Ask his help if you’re stuck on anything.

Sometime after you’ve been named a Candidate, probably after your DoDMERB physical, and when s/he’s sure you’re a viable candidate–that you have the stamina and commitment for a Naval Academy adventure,–s/he’ll arrange a formal interview  (‘formal’ may vary, depending upon the person). Wear something casual, but not sloppy–khaki pants and a collared shirt—conservative, respectful. His/her questions might sound similar to the Congressional Interview—why do you want to attend the Naval Academy? What will you do if they don’t select you? Nothing tricky. S/he must write up her/his recommendation to the USNA admissions, so her/his goal is to have one last conversation to determine the level of fit between you and a Navy life.

2009-11-07_1816S/he may have suggestions about becoming more competitive among the applicant pool, or getting your self in shape for the rigors of USNA life. S/he may want you to start winnowing out unnecessary activities from your schedule and concentrate on physical and academic areas.

All in all, it should be a stress-free interview that helps you understand better what your chances are and what the future will be if you are selected. Don’t be surprised if you leave it wanting to study harder!

Send a thank-you note to him/her. Check the CIS Candidate website to see when the section alluding to ‘B&G Interview’ shows up as completed.

–from Building a Midshipman 2008

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Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 15, 2014

How to Prepare for the Congressional Interview–Part II

interviewPut yourself in the shoes of an applicant. S/he’s submitted her application, been found physically, medically and scholastically qualified. Now it’s time for interviews–with his/her Congressperson’s Nominating committee and later, his/her Blue and Gold Officer.

Today, s/he must impress a committee of knowledgeable interviewers. The Congressman has only a limited number of nominations he can offer to all four service academies. Here’s how it might go:

The day of the interview, you attend morning classes, but your mind is elsewhere. At lunch, you get early dismissal and come home to prepare. You dress conservatively—dark pants and light-colored blouse, with closed shoes and pulled-back hair—not your usual knotted pony tail. Your father drives because you’re too nervous. You arrive early. Before going in, you make sure your clothes are neat, your teeth are clean, and you feel positive and confident.

The first thing you notice as you enter is a room full of nervous potential nominees. You see two people you know, interviewone from your school, and chat for a moment. As you wait, the Congressional assistant pops her head in the waiting room and chats with you, about something the two of you had discussed at the Service Academy night. She puts you at ease, even as you feel all other eyes in the room on you, wondering how you merit special treatment. As you sit, you mull over your reasons for applying and how the country’s investment in you can be returned.

Finally, your B&G officer leads you to the interview room. You enter a large office with five officials—two you have already met. You shake hands, smile, look them in the eye and sit calmly. No fidgeting. No senseless moving. The questions are similar to those you expected. No one tries to confuse you or obfuscate issues. They seem sincerely interested in ferreting out those best suited to Academy life, and most willing to accept the long-term commitment accompanying an appointment. When you answer questions, you reply honestly, calmly, the hardest question being why you selected the Naval Academy as your first choice rather than the Air Force Academy (your family has a history of participation in the Navy). Your dumbest answer confused the nomenclature for Navy and Air Force planes (is the Harrier a Navy or Air Force plane?). Time flies, and it’s over before you know it. As you leave the building, you get curious looks from the candidates still waiting, as they try to read your thoughts.

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Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 14, 2014

Plebe Parent Weekend is Past; Reform is Coming

usna The physicality of plebe summer is over. Now it’s the brain’s turn to exercise. Brigade Reform, when all Midshipmen return to USNA, is August 17th and classes begin August 20th.

It’s not just USNA–it’s all the military academies that are welcoming their newest class to their Academies. You probably saw lots of videos of USNA’s Plebe Parent weekend, but did you see West Point’s? Watch this. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s inspirational:

During Cadet Basic Training (CBT) also known as “Beast,” plebes have to memorize lots of different bits of information and military phrases, mottos, and quotes. One of them is the Soldier’s Creed. With no disrespect to the Soldier’s Creed, I thought that Plebes needed something of their own, so I changed up the words, and this is what turned out.
Hope you enjoy it.

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 13, 2014

Wednesday Hero: Col. Donald Cook

Col. Donald CookCol. Donald Cook
33 years old from Brooklyn, New York
3rd Marine Division, MACV
August 9, 1934 – December 8, 1967

Captain Donald Cook was taken as a POW in 1964 and was held for three years until his death from malaria. For his action as a POW he was posthumously promoted to Colonel and awarded the Medal Of Honor.

From his Medal Of Honor citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while interned as a Prisoner of War by the Viet Cong in the Republic of Vietnam during the period 31 December 1964 to 8 December 1967. Despite the fact that by so doing he would bring about harsher treatment for himself, Colonel (then Captain) Cook established himself as the senior prisoner, even though in actuality he was not. Repeatedly assuming more than his share of responsibility for their health, Colonel Cook willingly and unselfishly put the interests of his comrades before that of his own well-being and, eventually, his life. Giving more needy men his medicine and drug allowance while constantly nursing them, he risked infection from contagious diseases while in a rapidly deteriorating state of health. This unselfish and exemplary conduct, coupled with his refusal to stray even the slightest from the Code of Conduct, earned him the deepest respect from not only his fellow prisoners, but his captors as well. Rather than negotiate for his own release or better treatment, he steadfastly frustrated attempts by the Viet Cong to break his indomitable spirit and passed this same resolve on to the men whose well-being he so closely associated himself. Knowing his refusals would prevent his release prior to the end of the war, and also knowing his chances for prolonged survival would be small in the event of continued refusal, he chose nevertheless to adhere to a Code of Conduct far above that which could be expected. His personal valor and exceptional spirit of loyalty in the face of almost certain death reflected the highest credit upon Colonel Cook, the Marine Corps, and the United States Naval Service.You can read more about Col. Cook here
Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 11, 2014

Checklist for Getting in the USNA: Pre-High School

Your checklist has begun. If you don’t have it in Word or Excel or OpenOffice, start that now. You might think because it’s600px-Blue_check.svg short, you can remember, but that changes quickly. Be sure to include a column for ‘completed’ and ‘due date’.

Here’s what we’ve covered:

For more on how to get into USNA:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for TeachHUB and Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, and freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer.

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Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 8, 2014

How to Prepare for the Congressional Interview–Part I

buildHere’s my previous post about an introduction to the importance of the Congressional Interview to attending Military Academies. Thanks to the Structured Learning workbook on Building a Midshipman for this:

The final stage in your pursuit of a Congressional nomination to a United States Service Academy is a personal interview…” This letter, received April 30th of your Junior year, confirms that your Congressman remains aware of your continued interest in the Service Academy interview and nomination.

A year ago, at the Service Academy night, you listened to the presentations from each of the five Service Academies, and then introduced yourself to Congressman Cox’s assistant, Ms. Leslie Duvall, to let her know you would be applying for a nomination. She suggested you get in touch in spring for a packet. Interviews would be the following November. On April 30th, you received a confirmation letter, outlining what the Congressional Nomination packet would include:

  • a completed Application for Nomination
  • a resume (based on an enclosed sample)
  • a short essay discussing your reasons for seeking admission to a Service Academy
  • a photo
  • SAT examination results
  • three letters of recommendation.

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 6, 2014

Wednesday Hero: Lt. Cmndr Rufus Herring

Lt. Cmndr. Rufus HerringLt. Cmndr. Rufus HerringU.S. Naval Reserve
74 years old from Roseboro, North Carolina
Commander: USS LCI(L)-449 / LCI(G)-449
June 11, 1921 – January 31, 1996

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of LCI (G) 449 operating as a unit of LCI (G) Group EIGHT, during the preinvasion attack on Iwo Jima on 17 February 1945. Boldly closing the strongly fortified shores under the devastating fire of Japanese coastal defense guns, Lieutenant (then Lieutenant, Junior Grade,) Herring directed shattering barrages of 40-mm. and 20-mm. gunfire against hostile beaches until struck down by the enemy’s savage counterfire which blasted the 449’s heavy guns and whipped her decks into sheets of flame. Regaining consciousness despite profuse bleeding he was again critically wounded when a Japanese mortar crashed the conning station, instantly killing or fatally wounding most of the officers and leaving the ship wallowing without navigational control. Upon recovering the second time, Lieutenant Herring resolutely climbed down to the pilot house and, fighting against his rapidly waning strength, took over the helm, established communication with the engine room and carried on valiantly until relief could be obtained. When no longer able to stand, he propped himself against empty shell cases and rallied his men to the aid of the wounded; he maintained position in the firing line with his 20-mm guns in action in the face of sustained enemy fire and conned his crippled ship to safety. His unwavering fortitude, aggressive perseverance and indomitable spirit against terrific odds reflect the highest credit upon Lieutenant Herring and uphold the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.You can read more about Lt. Cmndr. Herring here Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 5, 2014

Plebe Parent Weekend–August 7-10

This year, Plebe Parent Weekend is August 7-10, 2014. I can only imagine the excitement of those who are packing, planning, ready to see their Plebes after a long summer. How much will your child change? Will they still be excited about the USNA choice? Will they want to talk or sleep? I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s comments.

I copied these from the USNA website. First, their page for the upcoming weekend:
plebe parent weekend

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Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 4, 2014

August To Do List for USNA Applicants

usna to do listDepending upon where you are in the process, you may have done some of the items on this list. Skip them. Be

happy you’re done. Move on to the next:

First Steps:

If you’re serious about attending the USNA or any other military academy, buy a few books (or check them out of the library) on the process. It’s worth the investment because if you pursue this dream, you will be investing much more of your time and money before you achieve your goal. Better to make sure this is the direction you want to go.

Here are two books to get you started:

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 1, 2014

Get a Congressional Nomination to a Service Academy

sealsIf you’re a senior in high school interested in a military academy, it’s time to round up a congressional nomination to the service academy of your choice. The Naval Academy, West Point, Merchant Marines and the Air Force Academy all require a nomination from your Congressperson, your Senator or the Vice President/President. Only the Coast Guard Academy excuses this step. (Visit for more information).

Each Congressperson is different, so check your local representative’s website, but they’re similar to this one from Congressman Pat Tiberi

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Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 30, 2014

Wednesday Hero: Sgt. John Levitow

Sgt. John LevitowSgt. John LevitowU.S. Air Force
55 years old from Hartford, Connecticut
3d Special Operations Squadron
November 1, 1945 – November 8, 2000

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Levitow (then A1c.), U.S. Air Force, distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while assigned as a loadmaster aboard an AC-47 aircraft flying a night mission in support of Long Binh Army post. Sgt. Levitow’s aircraft was struck by a hostile mortar round. The resulting explosion ripped a hole 2 feet in diameter through the wing and fragments made over 3,500 holes in the fuselage. All occupants of the cargo compartment were wounded and helplessly slammed against the floor and fuselage. The explosion tore an activated flare from the grasp of a crewmember who had been launching flares to provide illumination for Army ground troops engaged in combat. Sgt. Levitow, though stunned by the concussion of the blast and suffering from over 40 fragment wounds in the back and legs, staggered to his feet and turned to assist the man nearest to him who had been knocked down and was bleeding heavily. As he was moving his wounded comrade forward and away from the opened cargo compartment door, he saw the smoking flare ahead of him in the aisle. Realizing the danger involved and completely disregarding his own wounds, Sgt. Levitow started toward the burning flare. The aircraft was partially out of control and the flare was rolling wildly from side to side. Sgt. Levitow struggled forward despite the loss of blood from his many wounds and the partial loss of feeling in his right leg. Unable to grasp the rolling flare with his hands, he threw himself bodily upon the burning flare. Hugging the deadly device to his body, he dragged himself back to the rear of the aircraft and hurled the flare through the open cargo door. At that instant the flare separated and ignited in the air, but clear of the aircraft. Sgt. Levitow, by his selfless and heroic actions, saved the aircraft and its entire crew from certain death and destruction. Sgt. Levitow’s gallantry, his profound concern for his fellowmen, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.You can read more about Sgt. Levitow here Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 28, 2014

Headed for USNA? Prepare Yourself–Senior Year

Here’s a summary of what your senior year in high school might resemble if your goal for college is USNA. This is based on the real experiences of a successful Naval Academy applicant, what she did

building a midshipmanfor the four years of high school to make sure she was offered a slot at the college of her choice:

  • You spend a week at the Naval Academy’s Summer Seminar
  • You spend a week at the Air Force’s Summer Seminar
  • You take the mandatory health class—required to graduate (you sneak it in the eight days between NASS and UND Summer Science Program)
  • You spend three weeks at the University of Notre Dame’s Summer Science program
  • You spend a month with your UCI mentor completing background for your science project
  • You complete the Siemens Westinghouse Science and Technology project—“Genotypic and Phenotypic Variation
  • Between Brassica rapa Populations on the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate”
  • You sign up for two more SAT examinations, giving you a last chance at the best score possible. And, you study as much as you can in your summer free time
  • You get your driver’s license

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 24, 2014

You Know You’re a Plebe if…

If you read my post on Plebe Parents, here’s one for your future or current Plebes. These are from the USNA parent networks. Good reading…


You Know You’re a PLEBE When…

  • your favorite word is “YUT!”
  • it is dark when you get up and it is dark when you go to sleep
  • you wake up and discover your bed is on fire and go back to sleep becasue you just don’t care
  • when sitting in your room you are used to any Plebe just coming in and waiting while a group of upperclassmen walk past
  • you think about how relaxing it would be to be in jail
  • you now can have REM sleep standing up
  • the highlight of your night is getting new mail from the Brigade Mislo.
  • you pass time by singing cadences to yourself.
  • for excitement you dare each other to do stupid things at night in the halls.

    22-mile limit for Plebes

    22-mile limit for Plebes

  • the library becomes a four star hotel.
  • you thank God evey night around 7:30 for being allowed to walk.
  • your summer break sucked.
  • whenever going from point A to point B you plan an emergency exit strategy.
  • you find yourself screaming bloody murder at 6:50 in the morning.
  • shining shoes and studying menus is a pasttime.
  • you’re afraid not to read the newspaper.
  • going to class is a refuge.
  • you have to be in bed by 11pm on Friday night.
  • being allowed to watch TV is an honor.
  • your quality of life rests on the outcome of a football game.
  • you drink no beer.
  • you meet your girlfriend at mandatory dance lessons.
  • going to 7-Eleven to get a Slurpy involves covert operations.
  • your life stops when your computer breaks down.
  • your self-esteem suffers because you notice you’re getting less email.
  • you pray nobody will talk to you.
  • being allowed to call someone by their first name is a privilege.
  • you find yourself hanging out in the midstore a lot.
  • the only time a woman touches you is when Suzy Q cuts your hair in the barber shop.
  • you made more money in high school than you make now.
  • you build up your courage every time you want to leave your room.
  • you’re afraid to go to the bathroom.
  • you can count things you enjoy on one hand.
  • you have more weekends than firsties have victories over Army.

Follow USNA or Bust on Twitter

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for TeachHUB and Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, and freelance journalist on tech ed topicsCurrently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer.


Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 23, 2014

Wednesday Hero: Lt. Col. Jerry Coleman

Lt. Col. Jerry ColemanLt. Col. Jerry Coleman
89 years old from San Diego, California
VMSB-341, VMA-323
September 14, 1924 – January 5, 2014

Not only was Jerry Coleman a pro-baseball player, playing for the Yankees from 1949 to 1957, but he was also a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marines. Coleman postponed his entry in to the MLB to join the Marines. He flew 120 missions in WWII and Korea and earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and thirteen Air Medals.You can read more about Lt. Col. Coleman here

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives just so others may get to enjoy freedom. For that I am proud to call them Hero.
Those Who Say That We’re In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don’t Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Wednesday Hero Logo

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 21, 2014

Goal Setting for a Fourteen-year old

logical thinking

Understand chess? That’s a start for USNA Thanks to XKCD for comic

Can a high school freshman be goal-oriented?  Should they—or is this too early?  Though many deliberate, no one yet has invented a time machine to unring the proverbial bell. And high school requires the ringing of many academic, social and economic bells. Many future-shaping decisions become final based on these four years.

Zoe, like your sons and daughters, is thinking about which college she wants to attend. Some value just academics, and others academics and sports/fine arts/community service/a passionate involvement in something. Often contradictory, choices must be made early in the high school regarding ambitions, focus, and intents.

‘No goals’ means decisions are made for you. If you don’t commit yourself to “do” high school (work hard, take challenging classes, never never never give up even one extra-credit point on a test), then you have made a choice. It’s passive, but effective. Each time you make the decision to skip studying for one test, or make the decision to not put the extra time into one project, you shorten the height of your grasp on the future.  Too many compromises, and goals become dreams for someone ‘luckier’ than you.

To paraphrase Dylan Thomas: Never go gently into that good night. Rage against any grasp-shortening decision, any course of action that leads away from your dreams, or any choice that compromises your ability to accomplish. My daughter is trying to make a habit of completing tasks, not making excuses for inaction. It’s hard the summer before high school, but she’s trying.

Without a plan, you will be forced to react to circumstances, rather than act aggressively and passionately in your best interests. Never a good plan when you’re talking about eternity. No one cares about your future as much as you do.

And if she does care, if she takes those first and second and third steps toward being the captain of her ship, he has empowered her future.

Read More…

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