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.
Here’s the fifth installment:
How It All Started
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Man in the Arena, a speech by Theodore Roosevelt
You didn’t even know the US Naval Academy existed until your brother decided to attend a Service Academy Night at the School District. He’s a year younger and a passionate student of military history. Mom joined him and when they returned, pronounced, “It’s you.”
Like the irrepressible pull of gravity, the academics attracted your interest—over-powering while integral to Midshipman life. Low class sizes taught by skilled professors whose primary function required that Midshipmen learn the material to be used in the defense of the nation. For the academically-inclined, this is irresistible.
You wonder, “Am I that patriotic?”
“Do I have to cut my hair?”
“Could I wear a uniform all day, and follow someone’s orders without question?
“Could I trust these people with my next nine years? And what would I do for the military once I graduate?”
Military life remains an uncertain decision.
But you look back at your life. Year after year, blurry sections came into focus revealing a crystal clear image, as though you stepped from the water to solid ground. You are athletic. You spent seven years in karate, seven years in soccer, and competed in cross country (you also played basketball for one year, but we won’t talk about that).
You are impatient with people who don’t commit their best every waking moment. You spearhead school groups—assuming leadership in the command void characterizing high school group efforts, recognizing that a hesitant leader is akin to the sound of Theodore Hesburg’s uncertain trumpet. You march to a different trumpet—the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’s’ “…trumpet that will never call retreat…”. A reluctant leader, knowing as Abraham Lincoln did, “To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.”
You respect authority and embrace hard work. You learned to persevere, because you’ve been forced to try and try again with your studies.
Sometimes teachers wonder why you take that ambitious class. You’ll have to outwork everyone else just to stay even, and a simpler class satisfies school requirements. But you take it, and drive yourself without mercy. And that’s OK because you triumph.
It’s about the way your mind works.
The bottom line: The USNA recognizes many paths to a successful Plebe. It seems prudent to take that first step, one foot forward, until two roads diverge… and a choice presents itself…
For worksheets and diagrams that go along with this chapter, purchase Building a Midshipman
Next week: Chapter Three
If you don’t want to wait through the installments (or can’t)–or want to access the workbook, Building a Midshipman can be purchased here:
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 midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, and a freelance journalist of tech ed topics. Currently, she’s editing a military thriller that should be out to publishers this summer.