Blue & Gold Officer Program

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One of the most important aspects of our development as leaders has been to assume responsibility for developing our subordinates and those who come after us, to especially prospective candidates for appointment to USNA. Naval Academy Information Officers or Blue and Gold Officers (BGOs) are actively engaged as volunteer adjuncts to the USNA Candidate Guidance Office to carry out the mission.
QAC BGO – Jim Ripley

USNA Information Program Mission Statement

“To market the opportunities available at the United States Naval Academy and to identify, recruit, and counsel young men and women of all different backgrounds who possess the potential to develop morally, mentally, and physically into the nation’s future naval, government, and civilian leaders.”

Even if you are not a BGO, you are probably going to encounter youngsters with potential and interest in USNA, and it’s never too early to help direct and motivate them in the right direction. The first point to make with these young people is the importance of academics, especially math and science. Minimum math capability has not changed since any of you were a midshipman. Candidates must bring a good working knowledge of Trigonometry and Conic Sections to USNA because the first math course for everyone is Calculus.  Although it’s not required, probably 90% of successful candidates take Calculus in high school so, when you talk to elementary and middle school students, parents and school leaders, remind them not to leave middle school without taking Algebra I. This puts them on a path to take Calculus in high school. Remember also, even BULL majors take 3 semesters of Calculus plus Chemistry, Physics and a variety of engineer courses at USNA in order to receive a bachelor degree.

USNA offers Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) programs for middle and high school students. Information for these programs is available at the STEM tab of this website.

If asked whether to take an easy course and get an “A” or a hard course and get a “C” while still in high school, the answer is always to take the hard course and get an “A”.  USNA is a Top 5 Undergraduate Engineering School and a Top 5 Public School Liberal Arts Program. We compete for students with MIT, Stanford, and the Ivies.

Rule of Thumb says 600 Math and 600 Verbal are required to qualify for admission.  Lower scores can be offset but only with superior grades. Candidates should also take the ACT. Some people do appreciably better on the ACT. An ACT 26 is equivalent to a 600 SAT. USNA will use an overall composite SAT/ACT score taken from multiple tests i.e., the best math and the best verbal from multiple tests and will mix and match SAT and ACT. Start testing as soon as a student has completed Algebra I and Geometry, and test often.

Leadership Potential is the obvious other credential necessary to successful candidates.  Extracurricular leadership in school: Class, Student Council, National Honor Society, Sports Team, etc., and outside of school: Scouts, Church, etc. are all viable and important reflections of future leadership potential.

Notes from the BGO Officer for Engaging Potential Candidates

QAC Shipmates, I frequently get referrals from y’all and others about good young folk interested in USNA.  To that end, I prepared several talking points for you as shown below.

  1. The first question I ask a young person is, “What grade are you in and what math are you taking?”. The usna.edu web site is ambiguous about how much math is required to qualify. The web site says Pre-Calculus or Calculus are desirable.  This wording allows Admissions to identify potential candidates for NAPS and the Foundation.  If a candidate wants to be appointed directly from high school (HS), they need to take Calculus in HS.  Calculus is the lowest level math we teach at USNA.
  • The normal progression to take Calculus in HS starts with Algebra I in Middle School.
    • 8th Grade Algebra I.
    • 9th Grade Geometry or Algebra II, depending on the school system.
    • 10th Grade Geometry or Algebra II, depending on what you took in 9th grade.
    • 11th Grade Pre-Calculus/Math Analysis. Title depends on School System.  This class includes a lot of Trigonometry.
    • 12th Grade Calculus. Advanced Placement (AP).  AB Calculus is 1st semester College Calculus covered over the entire year. BC Calculus is 2 semesters of college calculus covered over the year.  Also included is Dual Enrollment Calculus which is 1st semester college calculus taught by a teacher accredited to the local Community College.  The Dual Enrollment is credit for both community college and high school. Some private schools teach calculus not affiliated with AP or a Community College.  Too much information? Bottom line, take Calculus in HS.
  • Most NOVA school systems offer Algebra in the 7th grade. This allows Calculus as a Junior.  If the student is in the Fairfax or Arlington Systems, they offer the 3rd semester of college calculus in HS.
  • If a student does not take Algebra I in MS and you get to them early enough, they can catch up at summer school, taking on-line classes or, if the are in block scheduling, taking two sequential classes in one grade year.
  • If a student attends a HS offering International Baccalaureate, IB programs, they need to take Upper Level, UL, to acquire the Calculus credentials.
  1. The usna.edu web site is also ambiguous about Chemistry and Physics. Again, this is to evaluate potential NAPS and Foundation candidates.  If you ask a current or recent Midshipmen, their hardest course Plebe Year, 99% of the time, is Chemistry.  Candidates are not going to get appointed out of HS, unless they have Chemistry and Physics with Labs.
  2. USNA is a top tier school and a STEM School but you already know this.  We require 2/3 of the Brigade be in a STEM major. – Interesting note, Army and AF are less than 50% STEM – Even English, Foreign Language, History majors, etc., take 3 semesters of calculus, chemistry, physics and a variety of Engineering Courses and get a BS degree.  Lots of people are not aware of this thinking they can skim by on an easy major.
  3. You cannot get credit for taking college level calculus, chemistry, physics, foreign language, et al, either in HS or college. You can test out of a course and move to the next level but you get no credit.  Everyone takes a minimum of 144 semester hours at USNA and it must be completed in 4 years.  If you are old enough to remember, we do not routinely do Turn Backs anymore.
  4. You can attend Medical or Dental school after graduation.  We offer all requisite courses, even Biology.  Bet you did not know about Biology.  Its offered by the Chemistry Dept.   Up to 15 people a year can matriculate to medical or dental school.
  5. You cannot go directly to Law school from USNA. Cdr Harmon Rabb on JAG did not go to USNA although he got all his uniforms from Andersons on State Circle.  The Corps sends some people to Law School after a 1st tour but there is no guarantee.
  6. Average SAT at Navy are 1365. Rule of thumb, 600 each math and verbal are required to just qualify.  Also take the ACT.  Different format.  Some people do appreciably better. Take the tests multiple times.  We use a composite of the best Math and Verbal scores from multiple tests.
  7. People ask about GPA. There is no required minimum. Most schools offer AP or UL IB classes which count 5 points for an A, etc.  I seldom, if ever, see a successful candidate who is not above 4.0, after Junior year.
  8. Leadership credentials are still important.
  9. If a candidate wishes to reapply after not getting an appointment out of HS, at college they need to take a Plebe representative curriculum, Calculus, Chemistry with Lab, English, History and preferably a ROTC class. You can take ROTC, even if you are not a college student. NROTC participants, even non-scholarship, can apply for a NROTC nomination to USNA.
  10. Even if a candidate has a Presidential Nomination, they should still apply for and strive to get a congressional nomination. After making all the Principle Appointments, when Admissions selects students for one of the 500 or so Alternate Appointments, congressional nominations have a significant priority.
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