Posted by: Jacqui Murray | March 12, 2012

Build a USNA Midshipman–Part VII

building a midshipman

Building a Midshipman: How to Crack the USNA Application

Building a Midshipman is the story of one applicant’s journey from high school student to Midshipman in the United States Naval Academy.

It has been the bible for many military academy applicants, whether their goal is a spot at the Naval Academy, West Point, the United States Air Force Academy or the Coast Guard Academy. Now, Monday’s, I’ll serialize it on this blog for free. Of course, if that’s too slow, you can purchase the book on the publisher’s website or Amazon. Either way, you get lots of tips and tricks for cracking the Naval Academy application.

To be sure you don’t miss any of these:

Here’s the seventh installment:

Chapter Four

Why the US Naval Academy?

 Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if

 they have ever made a difference in the world,

but the Marines don’t have that problem.
—Ronald Reagan

How do you precipitate from eighteen years of growing and learning that your perfect college is spelled ‘USNA’?  What should you consider to be sure this unique approach befits your future? Without a doubt, the Naval Academy sounds great:  It’s prestigious and highly competitive, putting you shoulder to shoulder with those who will decide the future. It offers undergraduates world-class, cutting edge facilities and equipment.

And it’s free. That’s right. We the Taxpayers pay for your college experience, including the flight that takes you to Induction Day, because Congress sees this as a necessary commitment to building America’s future. The Naval Academy explains why so many high school seniors apply every year:

“Midshipmen are good students, leaders in their high schools and communities and participants in competitive sports. But other common qualities of midshipmen don’t show up in statistics. The young men and women who choose the Naval Academy look for more than a college degree. They like the idea of being challenged mentally, physically and personally. They are people who don’t want to settle for the ordinary, the routine or the easy.”

Midshipmen receive the highest quality education with the assurance of meaningful employment after college in a job where they can make a difference. In return, their academic and personal choices are limited, from which clothes to wear (no choice), which classes to take (little choice) to summer vacation (forget that—you are an employee of the US Government).

Over time, you have found that life’s fittest path inherently suits your natural skills and innate abilities. Sometimes you just seem to like it. It’s the easiest, even as it appears the most intransigent, because it uses your inborn talents, native cleverness, and asks you to be exactly what you already are, but better.

The Naval Academy seeks moral, honest, well-rounded high school graduates not afraid to challenge themselves or embrace hard work. The sole product of the Naval Academy is leaders. They don’t pay for four-years of Ivy League college to create a research scientist, an actor or a musician. You must be prepared to use the hard-taught skills to lead men and women through life-threatening circumstances—with the confidence that you know how to do just that.

Midshipmen concentrate on three areas:  Physical, academic and moral—a unique tercet in college education. Like the three branches of the United States government, one quality can’t succeed alone, and it takes all three to make the whole Midshipman. And like a design-build architectural firm, the Navy stands behind their training by employing every graduate.

Few colleges or universities share this unique confidence. No matter the statistics trumpeting how many grads Fortune 500 companies hire straight out of a university, no guarantee is given.


GPA High High High High High
SAT High High High High High
SATII None None Yes Yes Yes
Class standing Imp Imp Imp Yes Imp
Top % 20% 15% 5% ?? ??
Yrs foreign language 2 2 2 2 2
Take toughest classes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
IB No No Yes Yes Yes
Easy 4 years? Rigorous Rigorous Exciting Exciting No
Easy getting job after Built in Built in Easier They help Easier
Quality of teaching Profs Profs Good Most ??
Fun? Yes! Yes! Very Yes ??
Cultural Diversity 50 states 50 states ?? ?? ??
Has an orchestra No No Exc’lnt Good Good
Grad school opp. Maybe Maybe Yes Yes Yes
Cross country Team Yes Yes Yes ?? Yes
Soccer Team Yes Yes Yes ?? Yes
Karate Team Yes Yes ?? ?? ??
Non-scientific major No No
Fresh/Soph housing Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Percent admitted 12%
Physical fitness req’d Yes Yes No No No
Attrition rate 5.2%

You gain some understanding of this symbiotic relationship from the adage, “C students rule the world.”  The underpinnings of this maxim proclaim the long-standing and unspoken balance between academics/sports/arts that allows for a well-rounded graduate who can relate to the world on a personal and empathetic basis, who sees academic excellence in perspective, as part of the larger whole, to build a successful leader. While you do find students with 1600 SATs and GPA’s that scream straight A’s, you also find those just like you.

In the chart to the left, you see the Pros and Con Maggie used in her college decision. Adapt it to the criteria important to you. As you research your schools, visit the campuses, collect information, and fill in the boxes. The result will be a tool allowing you to arrive at an informed decision.          

The Naval Academy’s selection process requires facility in unusual academic areas—proficiencies most other schools don’t rank among the qualities important to acceptance:

                                  1. pass rigorous physical tests of upper and lower body strength
                                  2. follow complicated instructions to fruition
                                  3. think quickly on your feet
                                  4. communicate well with the written and spoken word.

The last turns out to be critical to the USNA selection process. To graduate, you needn’t major in science or engineering, but you must transfer information in a highly effective manner. English has always been an easy subject for you, from parsing a cogent and pithy essay to delivering a poised speech. Once again, fate’s hand prods you toward a military school.

At the end of the day, you’ll pick the US Naval Academy not because of its world-class education, its small class size, its eminently qualified professors, its easily-available tutoring, or its Ivy League look. You’ll pick it because you want to learn.

And why does the Naval Academy pick you?

“To insure safety at sea, the best that science can devise and that naval organization can provide must be regarded only as an aid, and never as a substitute for good seamanship, self-reliance, and a sense of ultimate responsibility which are the first requisites in a seaman and naval officer.”  (Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Class of 1905)


Next week: Chapter Five

For worksheets and diagrams that go along with this chapter, or if you don’t want to wait through the installments (or can’t), Building a Midshipman can be purchased here:

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote 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, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing TeachersIMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write AnythingCurrently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.


  1. So cool that they get to fly to induction day! And I love the bit about “summer vacation”, hehe!


    • To her credit, Meaghan never minded that her friends were playing while she was slogging through mud. What an experience!


  2. […] Build a USNA Midshipman – Part VII ( […]


  3. […] Build a USNA Midshipman–Part VII […]


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