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comment by Devac
Devac  ·  925 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: I'm back! And, alive! Not that I wouldn't be.

    Also if anyone has questions about West Point or their basic training and fun stuff like that feel free to ask and I will answer asap.

Actually, what do you learn there? I've done some reading on West Point between you leaving and now, but it left me with an impression of a university (and I have to say, major selection is very impressive and above what I had expected) with a very extensive physical training. Perhaps you could answer by telling about your own plans? How does a day of a WP student/cadet looks like? :D

Congratulations and keep it up!

nowaypablo  ·  923 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My goals at the moment including maximizing work efficiency, which I'll judge by how much sleep I can get per week after finishing all tasks. Apart from 18 credit-hours in my 1st semester and an average of 20 in the future, there are a ridiculous amount of random annoying tasks, especially as plebes, including taking out trash, sweeping halls, and delivering laundry to all cadets in your company. These duties also include maintaining a room standard, which is stupidly detailed and fairly difficult to maintain while you're living in the room. Inspection can occur during weekday business hours at the risk of punishment-- the punishment here is called Hours.

On that topic, hours means taking your parade rifle (an old wooden m14 we all keep in our room and use for drill/parades) and walking back and forth central area for x Hours. It blows. Also, you get your rank stripped away if the violation is bad enough, which adds a layer of ridicule when you're not actively completing your hours. As people get lazy and especially cynical, the risk of getting hours aggregates and the shit you eat is likely due to you by the time you receive it.

I haven't answered your question yet, I'm just ranting. But to try to answer your question, we learn everything any other college does, along with a hefty emphasis on maintaining a physical standard and a standard of discipline, aka "military bearing." It's a lot better than it sounds, because everyone going through it with a mind-blowing sense of humor makes playing the game not only tolerable, but a lot of fun.

I'd say the one thing I've learned so far is how far teamwork can go. Every second me or my buddies is out of the room or at a desk working, everyone else is behind them making sure they're covered and accounted for. I've been back on campus a few days and I've already had my ass saved by my roommates, and vice versa for sure.

My short-term goals include deciding between Persian and Arabic and getting squared away to take on the semester on Monday. My long-term goals include reaching the standard maximum on the APFT (Army physical fitness test) which consists of 71 push-ups and 78 sit-ups in 2 minutes each, followed by a 2-mile run under 13 minutes, and getting my GPA high enough to finagle my way into Princeton by the end of my sophomore year, just in case I decide not to commit to the Army.

The GPA is not just academic, it consists of 3 pillars: Athletic, Academic, and Military/Leadership. The 3rd is usually graded over the summer during military training and leadership details, the other 2 are accounted for during the school year. Your GPA dictates your class rank, which is critical at West Point. A high class rank means more opportunities, including travel and exchange programs (all-paid), but more importantly, being assigned the army branch of your choice, followed by the post of your choice.

So, let's say I'm 300th in my class. I'll most likely be assigned Infantry if I choose that branch because they always need more infantry officers. However, I may not be assigned a post with the 25th infantry div in Hawaii, even though it was my 1st choice, cause that clearly awesome gig is already taken up by the top 50 infantry branching cadets before me.

Otherwise, it's just college!

edit: also especially as a plebe my day could start anywhere from 0500 like it was during basic training, to 0600. Classes don't start till 0730 the earliest though, to give you a scope of how much shit goes on that isn't directly a class here.

edit2: Also it's like by far the most beautiful campus I've seen except for Amherst college but that's only because they have a cliff overlooking a crazy cool mountain. I'm right on the Hudson river in the Hudson river valley though so it's a close call. This place looks like fucking Hogwarts, straight-up. On morning runs, I'm usually greeted by a sunrise, a bright pink sky, and literal castle walls on my right with the Hudson river on my left.

blackbootz  ·  902 days ago  ·  link  ·  

This is amazing. Especially the part on teamwork and covering each other. I wish I was in something similar.

I think I'm at 71 military push-ups in a minute, the sit-ups I'm not sure at all because I don't know the form (does someone hold down your legs?), and I'm at a 5:50 mile, but haven't timed a mile point five, and I know I'm pretty gassed after my mile so I'd probably come up short there.

What are the odds of you not committing to the army?

nowaypablo  ·  902 days ago  ·  link  ·  

71 in a minute is (edit: fucking) insane! My APFT score is currently at 280 (66 push in 2, 77 ups in 2, 13:30 mile) which is nowhere near satisfying for me. My goal of 300 (technical maximum) is close in sight, considering I somehow gained 60 points overall from my last one (a horrendous 220). After I hit 300 by maximizing all 3 events, you begin to supermax over 300 which is an ideal goal for me. Your physical grade at West Point doesn't hit the A+ mark until you reach over 300.

Someone does hold our feet on the sit-ups, there are plenty of helpful methods on isolating obliques at a time to let your core rest and stuff like that, but if you try a shortcut and don't get all the way up then you just wasted a rep.

The odds on my commission are completely unpredictable. I have no fucking clue, and I'm not sure when I'll find out :D Everything is baby steps at the moment. Right now, as you can tell by the quality of my writing, my #1 goal is a nap.

Once you start running 2 miles, and then a nice 3-mile now and then, you will quickly feel the ability to take on longer distances. I used to never run more than a mile, now I'm signing up for 5Ks for the hell of it. It doesn't suck as much as you think, plan a fun route!

blackbootz  ·  902 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Woah, woops. I meant 71 push-ups in two minutes. Ha! That would be fucking insane. I edited the original.

Right now I've relegated all weight lifting to a point in the future where I'm nearer a gym that I like. In the meantime it's been all soccer, school, and, of course, sleep. Amen to the sleep. I can't recommend enough power napping if you're the kind of person who can, which it sounds like you are. I set my phone alarm for 30 minutes, mute it, and in about 10 minutes I'm drifting, and I wake up superhumanly refreshed. The people who complain about feeling groggy after naps I find are generally doing it for more than 30 minutes. Hours in some cases. That's no bueno.

By the way, that reading list is seriously awesome. I've read Kavalier and Clay and it's one of the top 10 best books I've ever read. And I'm a big fan of David McCullough. You have some great people looking out for you.

nowaypablo  ·  902 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's still fire, especially considering that they're military. Your triceps will thank you.

Thanks for getting me hype about these books! I took leave this weekend to go home for labor day, hope to get started on the McCullough. I read the first pages of Kavalier and it seems cool but I will never get to read a book of that size this semester :(