T Nation

West Point


Hello GAL. I've posted on here before about becoming a military officer and since then, have made some decisions. I've decided that I want to be in the Army instead of the Marines. Why? I feel like I would get more choice with what I want to do with the Army. With the Marines, I feel like I'd get screwed over and end up being unhappy with my military career, which is never a good thing.

I've been talking with a recruiter who has been very helpful. I told him straight up that I want to go to college first and do ROTC and he gave me all the facts that I needed to know. I looked at them with my parents and I came to the conclusion that I want to take the officer route.

Along with ROTC, I am interested in applying to West Point. Before you go off and tell me what I need to do, I know what the requirements are and know how rigorous the application process is. I'm working on talking with my regional commander and getting to know him. I have many connections to the military and to my congressmen/women, so I'm not sure that a nomination should be too hard to come by, even though that they can only choose 10 individuals to select for a nomination.

Despite all of this, I am having some troubles. Since I am a junior in high school, I haven't taken the ACT yet. My recruiter has told me to take it early and take it often. I took a prerequisite test in May of this year and it said that I am projected to score from a 26-30. Obviously, I'm shooting for the higher score and I wish to get AT LEAST a 30.

Along with my ACT dilemma, I'm not sure what to say in my letters to my congressmen. Obviously I should give all my basic info, why I want to go, etc etc.

If I don't get into West Point, I won't be heartbroken. I always have ROTC to fall back on. However, if I don't get in and go with ROTC, I was considering SMP (simultaneous membership program), where I enlist in the reserves and go to college and do ROTC at the same time. It'd help pay for school and I would have prior experience when I graduate, giving me a leg up on other officer candidates.

So to sum this all up, what should I do about my ACT and applications? If anybody has gone through ROTC or had any experience with it and/or West Point, please feel free to give a reply. Thanks.



ROTC is better, college AND military experience...

Seriously don't talk to recruiters just seek out some experience like you are doing here. Start calling ROTC programs at the schools you want to apply they will be able to explain the finer details better than anyone else.

Also the question that I would ask anyone wanting to become an officer... Do you really want to do it? Think about that for a long time. You can't do this for the paycheck (the Army will take most of it back anyway), or to be the "Boss" or just for the title of Army Officer. Not that it is a super hard job or anything but I hate seeing officers that give us a bad name, they are lazy, out of shape, unprofessional, uncaring, and generally unhappy or just huge dicks and douchebags.

An officer really should want to be one. It is an honor and a privilege to get to lead soldiers and NCO's. If you do your job right you will be the one who makes the important decisions and your ass will be on the line. But you will have the respect of enlisted soldiers and NCO's who may be old enough to be your parents. You also get to do a job that is intensely rewarding when done right and can be easy if you just relax.

Anyway I am getting ahead of myself, I just worry about the new crop of Officers coming in. A lot of them seem to be more motivated by economic conditions and status than being a soldier.


Thank you for your reply. Honestly, I couldn't care less about the money. What matters to me is serving my country, no matter the pay. I'd just like something to fall back on if I ever decide to leave the military.



My advice is to go the ROTC route. A good buddy of mine from highschool went to West Point and played football but said the schedule was crazy. They're very strict (obvi) and all that.

If you really want to go the officer route then I say you should try and go to a "regular" college and do the ROTC thing. You'll have more fun that way. Plus all the O's that I met/worked with who went through West Point or the Naval Academy were kinda douchey lol. Not as cool as some of the other O's but that's all subjective.
Aaaaaaaaaanyway, what do you want to do in the army? Go for a cool job otherwise you'll probably not have that good of a time. Try to get into the pilot, SF or EOD pipeline... You will have a much better military experience IMO.

Good luck.


Hey man,

Having zero military, I can't help you there, nor speak to your concerns.

What I can help you with is the other part. If you're worried about your ACT scores being a limiting factor, my advice would be to make sure they aren't one.

Simply, get a higher score on your ACT. Even if you wind up not following your projected route and decide to go ROTC instead, you should give yourself the best advantages.

So, I've trained a lot of high school athletes who want to get into certain schools but whose scores on SAT or ACT was limiting - started referring them to this:

Link: http://edgeincollegeprep.com/

(if the link doesn't go through, just google "the Edge in College Prep")

It's the single best test prep program I've come across. I've had kids go from a 26 to a 32 on the ACT, and
someone went from a 1230 to a 1490 on the SAT.

Great program, they do awesome work.

Good luck.


Nothing to add but a question (since this is as far as I read), but why do you think this?


its cause the marines are gay.... obvi



I have no experience either with this personally, but the guys I did know who joined the Marines came out with absolutely nothing that translated into something that helped them get a "real job."


If you're going in as an officer then it's not about getting a "skill" that will translate into a "real" job. It's first and formost about leading Marines. It's all about earning the sword and EGA and not at all about getting that killer job lined up.

As an officer it's about getting leadership experience (unless you want to be a commercial pilot or lawyer) and that's what is going to give you the skills to get a job. When I left active duty nobody paid a lot of attention to my MOS but they did ask me a lot of questions about my leadership style and problem solving ability. People tend to think that Marines are totally rigid and unable to think for themselves but that's is catagorically not the case.

Don't think that your MOS is going to define your career or your experience. Your unit and your peers will have much more to do with that than your particular job. Besides, once you get past Capt it's all about the desk job. There's staff positions that need to be filled, recruiting positions, training positions, etc. There's only a small handful of actual combat leaders when compared to all of the other work that gets done. So if you're hoping for that specific job because you think that will drive your happiness then don't even bother pursuing a career as an officer.



I didn't say I have no experience, just that I didn't read his post past that point. My being a Marine got me my first real job out of the Corps. Most of the guys I served with got "real jobs" that relate to what they did while they were active duty. It has to do with going into an MOS that will give you SOMETHING to take from it. You hate dealing with food and the food service industry, but you go in as a cook, then yeah you'll hate it and come out wanting nothing to do with it. You want to be a grunt and come out and do something relating to computers? Well, you should have picked another MOS. Recruiters will fuck you (in all branches) if you're stupid enough to let them. If OP's talking about becoming an O, it's not like he's going to go 4 years and be done. 20+ years and retirement is a "career" in the military. One enlistment (or whatever O's call it) doesn't define your whole "career".

What atypical1 posts is spot on.

It's about what you gained from leading Marines (and leading soldiers/sailors/airmen too) that pushes you in from of others, in the "real world". Leadership is what's important.

And no, I still haven't read the entire first post.

Atypical1, Semper Fi brother, have an e-beer on me.

Greg, go tug a fellow sailor, would ya :wink:


hey bud, I used to go to West Point for two years. After my third summer (before my cow/junior year) I decided not to sign the contract and left. If you have any questions, PM me. I got my nominations from both Obama/Rahm Emanuel so that's pretty cool, haha.

I wouldn't sweat the ACT that much. Take it a few times, study for it, but it's not a deal breaker. I got a 25 the first time I took it, 20 the second time (hungover), and 25 the third time. I just wrote really good essays on my application and had a 3.2 GPA in high school (and had a nice variety of classes in the language/science dept). Also, West Point likes to accept people from everywhere in the states, which helped me out because Chicago/Illinois tends to be pretty liberal and thus, a fewer amount of people tend to apply.

I would recommend ROTC over USMA, personally. I have a feeling if I did ROTC, I would be a 2LT right now. But WP totally turned me off the military, yet right now I'm considering applying for OCS in the next few months because I miss a lot of aspects from it (the Army, not USMA).

In short, save the ages of 18-22 for having fun and getting a good college experience. Because of that, I cannot recommend USMA. You will have plenty time to be serious once you graduate and get sent to your unit.


Thanks for the reply. And no, I don't want to be an officer just so I can have the rest of my career lined up if I decide to leave the military. I might want to make my entire career the military, or most likely end up going into the FBI, CIA, DEA, or something of the sort if I decide to do my time and leave. At this point, serving my country and getting my education squared away are my biggest priorities.



I've heard of people being put where the Marines need them and having their choices totally disregarded. I feel kinda stupid saying that because I don't really think that the military is filled with much choice in the first place.




I have 22 years in the Army right now.

I spent over 14 years as an NCO in the Army, much of which was in the Special Forces

About six years ago I attended OCS and am now an Infantry officer in command of an airborne infantry company in Afghanistan.

My next job is going to teach at West Point.

Having established some credentials, I will say that the military is a great career. West Point is a phenomenal start. I applied to and was accepted to West Point for the class of 1994 and turned it down. It took me nearly 15 years to finish college after that.

Go to college first. If you can get into West Point, do it. Look across the board at what West Point alumni that have left the Army are doing... the connections you make are better than just about anywhere outside of Harvard, Yale or some other elite organization like that.

I understand and appreciate the whole being an NCO first, and don't disagree... some of my best years were as and NCO, but if you are smart and willing to learn and never fail to realize that the NCOs that work for you are truly phenomenal leaders then you will be okay.

If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.



Who said that your job won't translate to real life? There's plenty of opportunities for mechanical work, logistics, infantry, intelligence, and even a new cyber warfare program. See for yourself- http://www.docstoc.com/docs/14298792/MOS-DESCRIPTIONS

As an officer in the Marine Corps, your MOS is largely determined by you. You give your top choices at the beginning of The Basic School (TBS). Your actual MOS is determined at the end of TBS, and is based on your performance throughout that 6 months. If you don't perform well on your PFTs and CFTs, you bomb your academic tests, you fall out of humps, and you don't achieve your objectives on a FEX, then you won't receive your first choice in MOS.

If you don't like that, you have no faith in your abilities.

If that's the case, then you aren't cocky enough to be a fucking Marine.


I always thought you needed a 4.0 gpa, tons of sports and credentials, and a really high ACT to even attempt to get into West Point? I live near Annapolis and I know the Naval Academy is tough to get into.

One of the posters said it best...the connections you get with WP will be unlimited. If you can get into WP then do it. I visited WP last year for a 3-day work event and was in awe walking around the campus.

I didn't have the guidance in high school nor the drive to get into any of those schools, but looking back I wish I had. Good luck with your decision.


It might have changed since I went to TBS but we had the quality spread for MOS selection. Essentially they put 1/3 of each of the different MOS openings into each 1/3 of the company rankings. I was in the middle of the top third of my class so didn't get my first choice and there were guys below me who got my first MOS choice. In fact you can be in the bottom third of the class and get your first choice of MOS. That's why I always stress that being a Marine officer is 100% about wanting to lead Marines.

Has that process changed in the past few years?



And this based on what, O prophet of high school wisdom?


What department are you going to be teaching in?

@ OP, I just graduated West Point in May. PM me with any questions.


Honestly if you pick a major you like then your junior and senior year of WP are a blast. I loved it. It's not for partying, but if you are able to get into the school then you will graduate as long as you give in the effort. They don't accept people that don't have the capability to graduate.