Should you go to, or stay at, West Point by John T. Reed. Copyright John T. Reed. Like all West Point graduates, I am often asked by young people if they should go there.
Australia. The Australian Defence Force follows the same usage as the British military system, using the rank of officer cadet (for the Australian Army (OCDT) and the.
Sometimes, current cadets ask whether they should stay there. My best answer to that question is the book I sell the most copies of—Succeeding. It is about how to match your unique combination of strengths and weaknesses to the optimal career for you and the optimal spouse for you.
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If you get those two decisions right, the rest kind of falls into place. I am only one graduate. I advise anyone reading this to get other opinions and perspectives from other graduates. Talk to former cadets (people who left West Point before graduation), graduates who got out of the Army as soon as their commitment was up, and graduates who stayed in the Army for at least a 2. That’s the whole spectrum of West Pointers. See which of them seems most like you. Listen to the specifics of how they describe the experience and their decisions to stay or leave.
Here is a photo of me taken in my cadet room in the winter of 1. I was a junior. I know the season and year because of the three rifles and saber in the right background. I was the C- 2 company guidon bearer and a corporal then.
As such, I was the only junior in the company authorized to wear a saber in parades and meal formations. Back then, only seniors wore sabers. Everyone else had a rifle except for guidon bearers. In my right hand is my slide rule. Its tan leather case is on my desk.
I still have it. Electronic calculators had not yet been invented. The Barracks was Central which had been built in 1. Each room had three cadets and a no- longer working fireplace. One of the binders in the top of the rifle rack is the “Blue Book” or Cadet Regulations which I refer to later in this article. The uniform I was wearing was the class uniform for the winter months.
The shoes are spit- shined leather, literally. Now they wear Corfam.
Believe it or not, one of my roommates took the picture to commemorate our room being a horrible mess that day. It was during exams and we were consumed with studying and inspections were eased up during such periods. A couple of months after that photo was taken, they took our senior yearbook photos in the spring of our junior year when I was 2. Here is that photo: Here is an email from a father of a former cadet- wannabe: Hello, John, My son, whom your site saved from going into college AFROTC, is incredulous, but agrees he'd been warned about this kind of thinking within the military: by you.
Thanks again for saving my son from one of the worst mistakes he could have made in life. He's completely free of the desire to join the military now. Feel free to quote my comments on my son. He said just two days ago that he can still here the sonic crack of the bullet he dodged when deciding not to go the military route as he'd dreamed of doing since his elementary school days. I credit several sources for the removal of the rose colored glasses about the military: your columns and your book Succeeding, a former Navy pilot- turned- history- professor who echoed your views to him, two recent Army veterans who told him that their experiences were even worse than what you guys talk about, and my own discussion about why I did not sign Air Force enlistment papers as an 1. Unfortunately, too many young men (and women) do not avail themselves of the advice that's out there. So many young people have had less- than- happy upbringings and can't wait to get away from home.
Many watch a few artful war movies (the drill sergeant boot camp scenes in Full Metal Jacket seem to be the most influential!) and get the urge to join a he- man's gun club. Many go to air shows and watch the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds and think military service is all showbiz and glory. In short, there's a huge marketing and emotional buildup of military service that overwhelms the voices of sanity trying to tell how it really is. Some listen and benefit to those voices, and others either ignore or never hear them in the first place. My son completed the cadet program in Civil Air Patrol, becoming Spaatz Award recipient #1. Outstanding Cadet …. He has continued his membership in Civil Air Patrol and promotes their Search and Rescue function.
He continues to lecture to cadets at various squadrons and actually uses your articles as information he includes in his talks about applying to the Air Force Academy or the other Service Academies. He makes sure every cadet he comes across who expresses an interest in joining the military is made aware of your site and how to get to it. He does not militate furiously against the military so much as he tries to make sure they know that there are other experiences and views available to them that they would be well advised to carefully consider. I expect that you're going to catch more hell for your latest article about women in the military. What you say makes sense to me and is most likely, again, how it really is in the military.
My own observations of girls my family has known that join the military is strongly indicative that military life is not good for women. Nice girls (and boys) from good homes enlist and four years later return as exceedingly foul- mouthed, heavily tattooed, heavy- smoking, alcoholics, often with illegitimate children. I wouldn't wish the sort of environment that produces such maladjusted individuals on anybody's child, least of all my own. Keep up the good work. My family deeply appreciates all you do.
With gratitude,Clay Salisbury. Amarillo, TXWest- Point.
On 1. 0/1. 0/0. 7, the CEO of a Web site called west- point. Articles on your Web site are being discussed on the West Point Forum. If you’d like to join the Forum and the discussion, go here: http: //www.
Subscribe Now.”I never visited that Forum, but based on the above comments, there are apparently some other perspectives on the West Point experience available there. I pointed out to the CEO that my name, phone number, and email address are at the bottom of each of my Web pages in case anyone there had found any errors or omissions in my facts or logic. As far as I know, no one else from the West Point Forum has ever contacted me. I tentatively conclude that means they have found no errors or omissions in my facts or logic. If that is the case, then any adverse comments there about my articles about the military would have to employ intellectually- dishonest debate tactics, like questioning motives or name calling. There are comprehensive lists of intellectually- dishonest debate tactics at my article on the subject at www.
In his 2. 00. 8 book A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market, Temple University Professor John Allen Paulos captures the nature of chat group discussions quite well: Chatroom denizens form little groups that spend a lot of time excoriating, but not otherwise responding to, opposing groups. They endorse each other’s truisms and denounce those of others. Only a brief visit to these sites is needed to see that a more accurate description of them would be rant rooms. Anything I posted at west- point. I posted here. If anyone there has found any errors or omissions in my facts or logic, and brings them to my attention, I will correct them here. That covers all reasons for communications between me and the Forum. College Confidential.
A habitue of a Web site called College Confidential told me there was some discussion about this article there. It has a discussion forum for each college. The West Point one is at http: //talk. It was some people criticizing me as “negative” and “a real jerk” and out- of- date and inaccurate as well as some people who defended my articles. As usual, my critics were vague and unspecific, relying totally on intellectually- dishonest debate tactics like name calling. No specific out- of- date information or inaccuracies in my articles were cited.
My supporters, as usual in my experience, were specific and factual. For example, one supporter quoted my admonition above to talk to former cadets, grads who stayed in the Army, and grads who got out of the Army.
A critic said prospects should talk to current cadets, not former cadets. Current cadets as a source. I do not oppose talking to current cadets. I just did it myself in September, 2. I was there for about a week for my 4.
But you need to keep a number of things in mind with regard to current cadets: • They are very young and inexperienced• Few have ever gone to another college to be able to compare West Point to other schools• They are on active duty in the U. S. Army in the belly of the beast. They need to be careful what they say.• Young people are less capable of admitting they made a mistake than older people. See the discussion of the psychological phenomenon of “effort justification” at Wikipedia. Effort justification is no doubt strongest during the effort which is the situation of current cadets. Here is a quote from another Web article about “effort justification: ”It also seems to be the case that we value most highly those goals or items which have required considerable effort to achieve. This is probably because dissonance would be caused if we spent great effort to achieve something and then evaluated it negatively.
We could, of course, spend years of effort achieving something which turns out to be a load of rubbish and then, in order to avoid the dissonance that produces, try to convince ourselves that we didn't really spend years of effort, or that the effort was really quite enjoyable, or that it wasn't really a lot of effort; in fact, though, it seems we find it easier to persuade ourselves that what we have achieved is worthwhile and that's what most of us do, evaluating highly something whose achievement has cost us dear - whether other people think it's much cop or not! This method of reducing dissonance is known as 'effort justification'.