August 13, 2012

Book Review: Building a Midshipman

Building a Midshipman (Building a Midshipman: How to Crack the United States Naval Academy Application) Building a Midshipman

by Jacqui Murray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You don’t have to be a miracle-worker to the 10% of applicants accepted to a military academy, but you do need a plan. For the thousands of students who apply every year–and slog through the numbing concatenation of decisions preceding a nomination–there is no greater discouragement than the likely event that they will fail. This, though, is the Board’s peek into an applicant’s moral fiber and an important ingredient to the go/no go decision. In the words of James Stockdale, USNA ’46 and Medal of Honor Winner: “The test of character is not ‘hanging in there’ when you expect a light at the end of the tunnel, but performance of duty and persistence of example when you know that no light is coming.” This is the true story of Maggie Schmidt, an All-American kid who dreamt of attending the Naval Academy when her research into the typical Midshipman uncovered a profile alarmingly like herself. This book describes her background and academic interests, her focus, as well as her struggle to put together a winning admissions package. Along the way, you gain insight into the moral fiber that grounds everything she does and the decisions she must make that some consider impossible for an adolescent, but are achievable for thousands of like-minded teens. This workbook walks you through the long process, provides check lists of everything required, decision making matrices, goal-setting exercises to determine if USNA is a good fit for you, and a mix of motivation and academic advice to balance a decision that rightfully might be the biggest one most teens have ever made. See the publisher’s website at for more details.

From one of my readers:

I bought this book for my son who wants to apply to the Naval Academy. There are books out there to explain service academies, but not how to get accepted. Most have so many steps, it’s confusing to keep track of. This book not only explained why the military makes it difficult, but the step-by-steps needed to be accepted. It is told through the eyes of a successful applicant and makes the reader believe anyone has a chance if they follow this guide.

It has chapters on how she started, the goals she set, why she picked USNA, the steps she took each year in high school from freshman to senior. It talks about her experiences with her Blue and Gold officer, the congressional interview process, how she resolved problems in her application package. A timeline tells you when she did what, what her grades were throughout the application process, how she prepared herself for Plebe summer, how and when she accomplished the myriad steps. It has check lists, examples of application materials, her application resume and explanations on how to solve certain problems that come up. Like the medical examination by DoDMERB. A family friend was disqualified at this exam, and this book explains what to do if you have a problem.

This would help anyone applying to any of the service academies–West Point, USAFA, USNA, Coast Guard–as well as anyone trying to get into an Ivy League. There are books on getting into every other highly-competitive college. I can’t believe this hasn’t been written before.

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Jacqui Murray wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger,IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.