BAM ebook coverMany of the hints in this blog come from Building a Midshipman: How to Crack the USNA Application. It’s the story of one student journey to the Naval Academy and includes many timelines, guides, workbook pages, to help you achieve your goal.

Available at: (workbook) (ebook)

An Excerpt

Chapter One

Who You Are


I am an American. I serve in the forces which

guard my country and our way of life.

I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command,

I will never surrender the members of my command

while they still have the means to resist.

— USNA Code of Conduct

For your entire life, you lived (past tense now that your official residence has become the Naval Academy)  in a middle-class two-story California home with a younger brother, two Labrador retrievers (bed Labs of course), and two parents. Across the street stretches a park where your AYSO and Club soccer teams practiced dribbling, where you perfected martial arts kenpos for competitions, where you struggled with the flexed arm hang for the USNA Physical Aptitude Examination, and sometimes where you just sat amidst nature to study.
Your name is Maggie Clara Schmidt, a freshman at the local public high school. You’re a muscular 5’6”, 135 pounds, with wavy auburn hair—permed once, but never dyed. You resisted the childhood fad of piercing ears or other body parts (lucky for you because the USNA now requires a waiver for all piercings and tattoos). Freckles pepper the bridge of your nose and high cheekbones declare your European ancestry. Dimples decorate your face every time you crack an unsolvable math problem, unravel the physics of an everyday event, or enjoy the humor of your friends. Clear eyes sparkle with a menacing intelligence that demands honesty and forthrightness from those who draw their focus. You value principles and hard work—which might make you an oddity on the high school campus if not for the similar group you’ve found. You can smell the rancid scent of disingenuoty, deceit, and posturing on those around you, like spoiled food.

It took seven years before your parents bought living room furniture, the couch so old even the Salvation Army refused it. Instead, they spent the money on music lessons and sports—and then tutoring when the full force of high school hit. You redecorated your bedroom once in soft pinks and purples, but never again because you stopped noticing the walls and bed covers. The room shrunk to the Desk—a compact space with books, papers, pencils—the accoutrements of a student.

Your heritage is imbued with the scent and feel of the military. Your Uncle spent twenty years in the Navy—starting as NROTC at New Mexico State University. One grandpa served as a Navy seaman during WWI and the other survived three wars as a proud Marine. Several cousins tried military life, but, like coraframs (USNA dress shoes) that you can’t wait to kick off of tired feet, it didn’t fit. You spent thousands of hours preparing for your Shaolin kenpo black belt with a Master Sergeant in the Marines. Test day, his military rigor and toughness brought both of you through. His son—a fellow martial artist—followed him into the Marines and you attended his boot camp graduation at the San Diego Marine Corps Recruiting Depot.

Between sports, music and studies, your life resembles the tightly woven fabric of the Navy’s dress blues. Since elementary school, your days have been a balancing act of physical activities, concerts, martial arts (what your mom calls a ‘life skill’), church and academics—a pentagonal foundation for life. Somehow, busy-ness replaced the popularity contest other girls spent hours a day pursuing. You tried only once to be “fashionable”—in sixth grade—but couldn’t quiet your outspoken tongue. It became clear that perspicacity soothed your spirit like comfort food, even as it charted new waters.

Look Inside the book


  1. Hello ma’am, I have been reading your blog for about a year now and just recently got your book. I am a sophomore and very dedicated to going to the Naval Academy, but I still had a couple of questions and wanted your personal opinion on my resume and things that I should do. Is there a way I can send these things to you through contact like an email address?


    • Absolutely, Josh. We can chat more privately through Can we include your parents in the loop?

      Your timing is right–sophomore year is very important to the application.


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