Cousin wants to attend US Naval Academy- what should she know going in?

So one of my cousins is in the summer before her junior year of high school, and she’s recently started expressing interest in trying to get a navy commission after school. She really wants to be a naval aviator, and apparently (at least according to her) she has a much better chance of getting a job flying if she goes through the naval academy instead of the ROTC. I know there are a lot of serving/former military dopers, so I was wondering if there was anything I should be telling her to expect/be prepared to deal with if she actually gets in?

She should know a Congressperson or two.

Here is a list from eHow:

A few years after I graduated from college, I explored the possibility of entering the Air Force, ostensibly to be a pilot. I remember there being many questions regarding drug use, and especially drug use back in high school. I was asked if I had any kind of drug experience in my background, beyond “experimentation with marijuana”.

Thus, if your cousin has used other, “harder” drugs, or has sold any drugs (including MJ), she will probably not be accepted. Of course, standards might have changed in the past 20 years.

How’s her eyesight? Gotta be 20/20 to fly. My brother is entering the SEALS in July and was roughly -3 in each eye, so he had to have PRK lasik done. Now, my parents could easily swing the 4k, but would that be a concern for her? Can’t do the cheap lasik either, gotta be without a flap.

Is she prepared for constant sexual harassment? Benign, but constant? Is she tough enough for it?

What do her extracurriculars look like? She really wants at least 4 years with a sport, and 4 years with a non-sport extracurricular. She needs to be in leadership positions in these organizations–team captain, newspaper editor, etc.

There is a process through which she can apply for a congressional recommendation (each office will have its own, actually). For this she needs great recs from her teachers.

She needs to be enrolled in the most challenging academic courses available.

She needs to be in the school’s National Honor Society, and get involved in interesting community service projects. Angling NOW to get elected president or VP of the NHS this coming spring would not be a bad idea. Related to that, she needs to NOT CHEAT on anything: any whisper of poor character in her rec letters will stop everything.

I have two very close female friends who attended various US (but not naval) military academies. Both had significant incidents with sexual harassment, including and up to physical assault. One on multiple occasions after she was told to “suck it up.”

Neither of the pertinent academies did anything other than lip service to help out, or even investigate. Once they brought charges, they were branded and had their careers ruined. These cases were in the last 10 years.

Unfortunately, both of them show the mental scars of these events, with little to show for it except broken dreams and lives. One is on permanent disability from the military for traumatic stress.

I know the sample size is small - and I in no way condone the activity and in fact strongly support women in the military - but she better be very prepared mentally and go in with eyes wide open to deal with the worst case scenario.

Alternatively, if your father is a Brigadier General, you can get in on a prayer, fail out, do drugs, and transfer to a different academy - or my father in law did in the 1960s.

She may want to take a look at this article to see what she’s getting into. One thing she seriously needs to understand is that while her odds may be in favor of getting a flight slot out of the academy, she’s going to pay for it in a rather difficult curriculum, with plenty of calc and physics, and a very stunted college life. If she’s strong in math, then it shouldn’t be too difficult. Otherwise, she needs to consider the reality that she’s going to be competing against some very strong peers, and she’s going to have to truly excel in that environment in order to get that flight slot.

I would encourage her to also consider NROTC. The type of personality that may not flourish in the hazing- and ritual-thick academy atmosphere may do very well in a regular college environment, where excelling can get that flight slot.