US Military Academy at West Point/USMA Admissions

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Question
Bill,
Thanks for taking the time to help out everyone with these questions. I myself am a current high school senior and a USMA candidate. I was inquiring about two topics, when do most candidates recieve a BFE and also I wanted to get some insight on my chances.
I did not do great on my SAT's, I scored a 600 in the math category and a 570 in the reading category. However I have a 3.9 GPA with AP math and science classes littered throughout my transcript. In addition I was a 2-sport varsity athlete competing at the varsity level since sophomore year and also a captain of my school football team. Other extra-curriculars include volunteering at a hospital and a church as well as an active member of NHS and DECA. I am currently in the 20th percentile of my class. Also was nominated by my congressman for West Point and the Naval Academy, and the Merchant Marine nomination came from my senator. I scored extremely high on the physical fitness test and have been mentally preparing as well. Due to multiple remedials in the DODMeRB my application was not finished until today. As of right now I am a fully qualified candidate. Do I have a chance or should I begin to rely on my back up plans for secondary education?

Very respectfully,

Kyle Duffy

Answer
It's good to hear from you, Kyle.  Thanks for your interest in West Point.

West Point is looking for well rounded young men and women who are good students, good athletes and good leaders in their school/church/community.  Having a balance in ALL three areas is important to maximize your competitive position.  

In the academic realm, your rank in class counts most, followed by SAT/ACT scores, with GPA a very distant 3rd in importance. Your rank in class quantifies how YOU have performed against YOUR peers in YOUR school better than any general measurement (like test scores or GPA).  In the athletic realm earning a varsity letter counts most, with a good score on the physical aptitude exam a close second. In the leadership realm your participation, particularly in leadership roles, in school or church or community activities counts most, of course depending on your particular environment.

Given the information you have provided, you seem well positioned in every area except for test scores.  The average SAT math/verbal score the past dozen or so years has been in the 1285 range.  Your scores are a hundred points below that; of course that does NOT disqualify you, but when most candidates have higher test scores, that makes it difficult for you.

As to what to do?  That depends entirely on YOU!!  How much do you want this, and how long are you willing to wait?  It is not widely understood, but fully 30% of every incoming class is NOT entering directly from high school.  They have spent a post high school year or even two in the Army, college, or other prep schools.  They were serious about admission to West Point and did what was necessary to not only be fully qualified, but to be selected for an offer.  It is also not widely known that easily 40% of the "fully qualified" candidates do not gain admission their first try.

To be perfectly candid, you have a chance, but the chances are slim with those SAT scores.  It's not that they are bad, but rather that they don't measure up to the majority of fully qualified candidates.  It may not be too late to take them again, and ALSO the ACT.  Give yourself every chance to be seen and qualified.

In addition, if you have not already done so, I strongly suggest that you call Admissions early next week, ask for your Regional Commander and lay it all out to him/her.  They are there to support you to become more than fully qualified, but better yet selectable!!

Good luck in your quest, Kyle.  IF you are REALLY SERIOUS about admission to West Point don't give up.  But also understand what you need to do to become "fully qualified" AND selectable.

Best Regards,

US Military Academy at West Point

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Bill Taylor

Expertise

I can answer questions about admissions to West Point; about the history of West Point; about how to travel to West Point, where to eat, where to stay, etc.; and about West Point`s alumni organization, the West Point Association of Graduates.

Experience

I am a 1970 Graduate of West Point. I served six years on active duty and another 8 years in the active reserve. I have been actively involved as a Field Admissions Representative for over 20 years and have participated on my Congressman's Academy Selection Panel for over 25 years. I am actively involved in West Point Alumni affairs, serving in roles both with the West Point Association of Graduates and the local alumni chapter in Annapolis, MD. I also have two sons who graduated from West Point in 1995 and 2001. Both are veterans of the Iraq War and Afghanistan War. The 1995 Grad continues to serve on Active Duty in the Army.

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Science, US Military Academy, 1970 Master of Science (Computer Science), The Johns Hopkins University, 1980

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