Lou Holtz, the University of Notre Dame’s erudite ex-coach, entrusted with turning UND football players into graduates, once exhorted, “How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become after the game, whether you are a winner or a loser.”
High School is like the second half, and you’re about to find out if you’re a winner. At the starting line, all students are equal, crossing the freshman threshold with the same opportunities, and same possibilities for their future. The 4.0 student stands shoulder to shoulder with the star athlete, and the C student who aspires to nothing more than minimum wage work has an equal chance that inspiration will strike. Every one approaches the starting line, not knowing if the race will be won with brains, hard work, willpower, or intensity of desire.
But you’re different. You know what you want: USNA. There are five general skills you’ll have to learn over the next three years (if you don’t have them by the time applications go out, prior to senior year, it’ll be too late).
- How to solve problems
- How to manage your time
- How to prioritize
- How to get along with people
- How to think
Maybe you’re thinking, that’s easy. I do it every day. Or maybe you’re wondering: How do I make this happen? I can answer both: It’s not easy or everyone would do it. The only thing easy is the instructions for making it happen.
Vigilance. That’s right. Be vigilant. Every time you’re faced with a problem, try to solve it first. Every time you meet a person you just don’t like, figure out how to get along.
More on this later. For now, know that these are skills the Naval Academy values so they’re worth learning. You either learn them now, in high school and in time for the USNA application, or you’ll learn them later in the School of Hard Knocks that is life.
Not to fret, though. I’ll give you lots of ways to accomplish this. If you want to, you can do it. They only piece that you must be born with is the desire to attend USNA.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is an adjunct professor on tech ed topics, webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, an ISTE article reviewer, a monthly contributor to Today’s Author and mother of a Naval Officer and an Army grunt.