Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 16, 2009

9 Secrets for Getting in USNA

snowgonavyThe greatest accolade given the Naval Academy was by the North Vietnamese commander Major Bui to captured John Sidney McCain III, USNA class of ’58 when he said, “They have taught you too well, McCain! They have taught you too well.”

You don’t have to be a third generation applicant, son and grandson of a four-star Admiral and future presidential nominee to be one of the 10% of applicants who lands a coveted spot in the Naval Academy, but you do need a plan. That’s the first secret. Plan. Here are eight more:

  • Compare yourself against the bare bones requirements here. Is that you? Now check the ‘average student’  here. Still in the running? Even if it’s not you right now, could it be in four years? If so, you’re half way there.
  • Know this is where you want to go. Research your options. A good checklist for comparing schools is available in the book, or create your own. Just do it so when you’ve made a decision, you know it’s right.
  • Look at the long To Do list and understand they must be done. It includes not just becoming physically/mentally fit, but getting a Congressional nomination, passing a physical examination, working with the Blue and Gold officer, filling out piles of forms, possibly attending several sessions at the Academy to be sure you’re right. Accept that. It may interfere with other High School duties, but that’s the Academy way. They want to see how many balls you can juggle at once and still come out with applause. It’s doable and you can be that person. There’s a checklist in the workbook I used (Building a Midshipman) that makes it easy to complete everything, but be ready: It’s quite long.
  • Make a resume. Yes, you’re young, but if you don’t start it now, you’ll forget that when you were in eighth grade, you won the Science Fair, and when you were a freshman, you were the #1 violinist at the area orchestra competition. There’s a sample in the book that can help you.
  • Are you a mix of physical/mental/verbal? You don’t have to be the best in any one category, but a Navy Officer requires all three. You have to be physically fit, mentally sharp and able to communicate your thoughts and ideas. Some schools just want one or two. The Navy challenge: You must have all three.
  • Keep trying. The Naval Academy values people who follow through even when they’re failing, even when there isn’t enough time (think about preparing for Pearl Harbor–did they have as much time as they needed), especially if it means working under pressure (like every battle America has ever been in). That ability to work through problems and stress is as important as the 4.0 and ASB President that Ivy Leagues want.
  • Follow through. Once you’re in the application stage, send the information the Admissions Office requests, then follow through to be sure it got there. They have a handy update feature you can check or use the one in the workbook. Your goal is to be sure they think you’re in the same spot you think you are.
  • Start now.

The biggest secret: Believe you can do it. Anything you can believe and conceive, you can achieve. Set your GPS to ‘USNA’ and get going.

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  1. […] Read 9 Secrets for Getting in USNA […]

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  4. […] Read 9 Secrets for Getting in USNA […]

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  7. […] 9 Secrets for Getting in USNA–no surprise; it’s that time of year […]

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  9. quick question,

    is it helpful to have hours of a private pilots license, even if i have not quite finished the private pilots license? thanks

    • Everything you do that requires talent, leadership, brains, and physicality is important. Definitely include this on your resume, as well as the date you expect to get your license.

  10. […] charge of your future. Here are the broad strokes for application and […]

  11. I know a candidate with a 1530 SAT (790 Math), 4.3+ GPA, Capt of sports team 3 yrs, 1st team all-star, NHS Prez, acing all AP courses/tests, volunteering every Sat, SummerSem attendee, Amer Legion Boys/Girls State, National Merit Scholarship Finalist, select attendee at several leadership programs/conferences, nominated with rave reviews from MOC nomination boards, .. the list goes on. Academics and accolades way above avg. vs other incoming classes, even exceeding top numbers (e.g., ~1250-1440 SAT range, ~3.86 GPA). The candidate did not get an appointment. 1) Can you explain? 2) What can the candidate do to improve resume/chances? 3) What are the options/next steps?

    Candidate still possesses strong desire to serve country and very passionate aspirations for a Naval Academy appointment!

    • That’s hard to say, Bob. Those sound like excellent qualifications. You didn’t mention personal interviews–those are important and may have worked against him/her. The Selection committee wants to know s/he is committed and passionate. It may have had something to do with that. The BGO would have excellent feedback for the candidate on that.

  12. […] 9 Secrets for Getting in USNA […]

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