Marine anticipates new path at USNA

13 Oct 2006 | Lance Cpl. Ryan M. Blaich

Many enlisted Marines and sailors are constantly looking for avenues to better themselves. Joining the military demonstrates the service members’ willingness to pursue different challenges. Some join the drill field to become the feared drill instructor and some volunteer to recruit future Marines. Others desire to shed their enlisted rank to become an officer through one of the most highly recognized institutions in the world, the U.S. Naval Academy.

Every summer the USNA accepts 1,200 men and women from all 50 states whose goal is to become leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps. Enlisted Marines and sailors have an advantage over their high school peers when applying to the academy and adjusting to military rules and regulations based on their prior service.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. Wolff, a Marine Air Ground Task Force enlisted planner with II Marine Expeditionary Force, said applying through the USNA Web site was easy.

“I filled out a preliminary application and was accepted (to use the Web site) two days later,” Wolff said. “I was given a user name and password that gave me access to the package area.”

Since childhood, Wolff dreamed of becoming a Marine. Recently, his ambitions led him to apply for the officer ranks. He feels comfortable with his decision and believes the training he received at recruit training and Marine Combat Training will give him an edge over civilians, who may find it harder to adjust to military life.

“The military has definitely given me the upper hand,” said Wolff. “If I’m accepted, I don’t feel I will have to make a big adjustment like those who’ve never lived a military lifestyle.”

Wolff, an avid chess player, hopes to be accepted in time to attend classes beginning June 2007. Since receiving his enrollment package three weeks ago, he has spent much time completing all requirements, especially by running and lifting weights to get in top physical shape. This is only a small part of what becoming a midshipman is about.

“You have to be good in all areas; academics, leadership and athletics,” he said.

Wolff will also have to be interviewed by three officers in his command. Separately, two colonels and Wolff’s commanding officer will each conduct private interviews with him.

“Filling out the paperwork and getting in shape is easy,” he said. “It’s getting the CO’s recommendation that is worrisome.”

Wolff feels confident in his decision and in his ability to become a member of America’s military fraternity of Naval and Marine Corps officers. If admitted into the academy, he will be of a select few. This year more than 10,700 men and women applied for enrollment, only 1,215 were accepted.

If Wolff becomes a member of the 2011 class, his commission is certain through persistence and hard work. The USNA boasts a 78 percent graduation rate.

The USNA has basic requirements all Marines and sailors must meet before eligibility is considered.

According to Marine Administrative Message 465/05, the basic requirements for admission into the Academy include U.S. citizenship, good moral character, at least 17 and not have reached age 23 on July 1 of the year they would enter the academy, unmarried, not pregnant and have no dependents for which they are legally responsible. A combined score of 1200 is required on the Scholastic Aptitude Test with a minimum score of 600 in math and 600 in verbal.  A combined score of 52 is required on the American College Test with a minimum score of 26 in math and 26 in English.  It
is highly recommended that applicants have qualifying SAT or ACT scores before applying.

The USNA admissions board sets Marines and sailors up for success by enrolling them into an additional year of academic preparation. The Naval Academy Preparatory School is designed to help students in need of additional academic assistance and to make the transition into an extensive class load easier. Upon completion of the NAPS program, students will begin full-time courses the following year.

For further information on the U.S. Naval Academy, visit their Web site at