Building a Midshipman

building a midshipmanBuilding a Midshipman

How to Crack the USNA Application from a Midshipman who lived it

Think you can’t get in the Naval Academy? Of course you can, and here’s how.

For the thousands of students who apply every year for one of the four military academies—a slog through the numbing concatenation of decisions preceding a nomination–there is no greater intimidation than the likely event that they will try and fail.  But, for the USNA, that’s an examination into their pithiness of moral fiber, an important ingredient to their 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 how one All-American kid did it. She had no idea she could aim so high and succeed so succinctly.  Her research into the typical Midshipman uncovered a profile alarmingly like herself. If she dreamt of attending a college where she fit in and attracted kindred souls, this qualified.

When you first meet Meaghan, you may wonder, why does she think an Ivy League school will accept her?  She doesn’t earn straight A’s or play quarterback on the football team—or center on the volleyball squad.  This book describes in detail her background, her 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 allows her to fight the good fight. The support from family and friends, and decisions she must make that superficially appear impossible for an adolescent, but are in fact achievable for thousands of like-minded teens.


Book information:

Title and author: Building a Midshipman: How to Crack the USNA Application from a Midshipman who lived it, by Jacqui Murray

ISBN: 978-0-9787800-8-1

Release Date: July, 2008 by Structured Learning

Genre: Non-fiction

About the Author:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular To Hunt a Sub. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.


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What readers say:

I bought the item as a gift and received rave reviews from the recipient’s parents. The book has a very detailed strategy and timeline for specific actions to increase the probability for entry into the academy.

I got this book as a present for a high school friend of mine…he has been interested in the military and was planning to enlist, I was hoping that he might look at the academies as well. He’s now in the process of applying, I was looking at it with him and it looked crazily complicated, but this book clearly explains the steps and makes this important process simple and easy to understand. Thank you to the author for this helpful resource, I will be recommending it too anyone I can find.

…follows the story of young Maggie Schmidt from her formative high-school years all the way to her acceptance as a midshipman at the USNA. Maggie’s story is equal parts inspiration, preparation, and dedication. She demonstrates that successful candidates aren’t born; they are made – self-made. Supported by her family, she single-mindedly undertakes each task necessary to gain admittance to her chosen school thereby cutting down the giant of intimidation one piece at a time. O’er the ramps, the author, Jacqui Murray, chronicles Maggie’s campaign with a strategist’s eye for detail that turns the book into an indispensible primer for students seeking admission to any one of the Ivy League colleges. It includes checklists, timelines, worksheets and real-life examples for every stage of the application process. An index is also a handy reference when researching a particular step in the process. Inspirational quotes encourage readers (both parents and students) to carry on throughout this daunting task. By the end of the book, you will want to shout “Go Navy! Beat Army!” just like Maggie.

Sample chapter:

Congratulations! On being accepted to one of the premiere institutions of higher education in the United States.”

Those words from the United States Naval Academy, on an innocuous eight and a half by eleven sheet of stationary, delivered in a legal size envelope, are addressed to you, Maggie Clara Schmidt, Candidate Number xxxxxx.

You have awaited that envelope—sometimes filled with hope, but more recently with trepidation—for months.  During the humid June days of Summer Seminar, you were told an acceptance letter could arrive any time after September. September arrived, and departed. As did October. And November. The new year rolled in, and still no word. Then humbling news: A friend received his acceptance letter. You celebrated with him, but worried—when would yours arrive? Why did he hear first??  Will they take you?

Then the Administration invited you to Candidate Visit Weekend—this must be positive! Your Blue and Gold Officer agreed; they don’t invite everyone. You arrived in Annapolis in January, survived the freezing winter weather without complaint, returned home to California, and still no admittance. Lots of reassurances, but no letter.

Now, here it is, in your hand.

“You have the right to be extremely proud of yourself.”

And you are. You were always sure they would accept you—what’s not to like? Tears burst uninvited from your eyes, and a passing car slows to stare at your antics.

The first thing you do is post on IM (Instant Messenger):

“I’m in!”

Everyone you know understands what that means. You email a Plebe friend, and his reply addresses you “Midshipman Schmidt”.

That makes it official. For four years, you will be Midshipman Schmidt. No longer will you be “Varsity soccer player Maggie Schmidt” or “Our concertmaster Maggie Schmidt”. You will be an employee of the United States Armed Services. Hooyah!

Congratulations pour in.

When you wear your USNA jacket (Sprint Football—from your Midshipman pal), people ask, “Are you in the Navy?” 

“No, I’m going to the United States Naval Academy.” 

“Wow. You must be smart.”  The moniker firmly tattooed onto USNA students.

Some people nod and smile, with no understanding of the path you have chosen. Military seniors talk about their Navy days, memories and advice for the newbie. It’s as though you now belong to the nation’s largest fraternity, a loyal bond of friendship forged by those who wear the uniform.

Your parents can’t stop smiling; their work is done. They’re sending their precious child into the proverbial “harm’s way”, to follow the noblest path available since man first engaged in war, and that’s a good thing. Girlfriends want to meet your male classmates; male friends ask why you want to fight. Your smart friends accept you into their MENSA club.

All of them feel extreme pride for you, their friend, and then pity that, while they spend last lazy days before entering the college classroom, you will be running and jumping and sweating through Plebe Summer.

But you don’t want a break.

It’s time to start your future.

You sit back and wonder, what happened? Was it prestidigitation, or did they accept me for who I am? 

And who am I?