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An Open Letter to Kings Point Applicants A short time back, a high ...

An Open Letter to Kings Point Applicants A short time back, a high ...

Regiment) is divided

Regiment) is divided into companies and platoons who live and function together. There is a student leadership structure which extends from the freshmen to the seniors, watched over by experienced prior military officers employed by the school. Classes are held Monday through Friday in a normal college block schedule, and regimental activities are held in morning and afternoon time slots. All students are required to wear standard uniforms issued to you by the school during working hours and for most school functions. Due to the nature of the regimental program, free time and the freedom to leave campus can be limited, especially during the first year. These restrictions are slowly lifted as you progress each year, giving you greater freedom and privileges as responsibility also increases. You should know that aside from marching and some optional small arms training, there is no military or combat training at KP (aside from the programs that might be available from armed forces recruiting offices on campus.) The primary focus of the school is your degree and merchant mariner’s license. The regimental part is a structure for forming leadership, management, and teambuilding skills. Academics Your courses are scheduled for you depending on what major you choose, with the exception of some options for elective courses. In your first year, everyone studies lots of the basic stuff, including calculus, English, physics, chemistry, and history. It will not be until your second year that you will start to split off from your peers and focus more exclusively on courses specific to your area of study. In addition to the academic courses you will take, there are also lab times which might span from the typical chem lab to engine maintenance or practicing in the ship’s navigation bridge simulator. Also, every midshipman’s course load will include classes in basic at-sea safety and survival training, basic first aid training, swimming, and a few required gym credits. Each semester, (and there are three per year, called trimesters), you will have almost all your classes with a group of midshipmen who share your major, called your section. Class sizes are quite small. With less than a thousand students enrolled at any time, you will rarely encounter any classes held in large lecture halls. The professors are often experts in their fields of knowledge, and most have long careers in the maritime industry. A handful also have military experience, and are still active in the Reserves as they teach. I won’t lie to you, academics is probably the most challenging part of KP. Classes are hard and fast, and there are a lot of credits packed into each semester, more than at typical colleges. This is due to the one out of four years devoted to sea time (called your Sea Year – will discuss that later), which means that four years of courses are compressed into three. Academics is above all else the #1 cause of students being separated from school, the most troubling courses being calculus and physics right at the beginning. If you have studied these in high school already, you should be a leg up from your peers. Even those who were straight-A AP students in high school can have a hard time getting through KP. The difficult courses are compounded by the fact that so much else is pressed into your time, especially your freshman year. The ones who succeed, and I will not be the first to tell you this, are the ones who are best at managing their time, not necessarily those who are the most academically minded. Plebe Year and Beyond Kings Point, as with any military organization, is very much a fraternal society, with a formal hierarchy and levels of rank within the student body. As a new freshman, or Plebe, you would be of course somewhere on the bottom, subject to the orders of the classes above you in an established chain of command. What a lot of new candidates seem to be worried about is Indoctrination (or Indoc,) the two week boot-camp-ish summer training session before the start of the academic year. This should be the least of your worries; it is intense but quick. You will find plenty of information about it elsewhere. Just be loud and pay attention. As I said earlier, your studies are your biggest concern, and incidentally should always be on the top of your priority list, no matter what those in charge of you tell you.

After Indoc, school starts, and you begin plebe (or freshman) year, which is long and can be sometimes confusing. Classes begin and it is now up to you to balance yourself between studying, sports, extracurricular activities, your Plebe responsibilities, and some time for fun and recreation. Aside from all that, most of your year is spent in a kind of long, tedious pledge, where you must, as a class, come together to complete a long list of tasks assigned to you by the Seniors, designed to teach teamwork and personal discipline. It ends when the upper classes approve you as worthy of joining the ranks of Kings Pointers and you cease to become a Plebe and become an official Midshipman, with all the rights and privileges thereof. That first year is where most people are weeded out. If you can make it through that, you will probably survive to the end. Perhaps the most significant thing you take from Plebe year is a close bonding with your classmates. There is a saying that you cannot make it through KP alone, and it is absolutely true. The school is practically designed to make you rely on others to get through. Even the stoutest independent people will find that they cannot succeed without help from their friends. Your sophomore and junior years, (Third and Second Class years, respectively), are spent setting the foundations of your professional knowledge and skills for your career, as well as moral and leadership foundations. Classes become more specific to your major, and therefore more interesting, but can often become more difficult. (But that’s ok if you have developed good study habits Plebe year.) Responsibility within the Regiment is given to you in compounding small doses, allowing you to stretch your wings some and test your skills as a leader and manager. As a Third Classman you will be responsible for overseeing a room of Plebes, and acting as a duel disciplinarian and mentor for them as they try to make it through their first year. As a Second Classman, your area of responsibility will extend to include several Plebe rooms and the Third Classmen who oversee them. During all this time you can also volunteer to be assistants for Seniors who hold leadership positions in the Regiment. Aside from in the Regiment, you also develop into leaders in your extracurricular activities. These two years are especially important because they include your Sea Year. Sea Year is divided into two periods of time, totaling 300+ days, where you are sent aboard commercial ships as a cadet, a sort of apprenticeship role. During these two years, your class will split into two halves, and you will trade off semesters attending class at KP, and semesters at sea, until the two halves of your class come back together for Senior year for a full year of school. The half, or split, you are assigned to is mostly voluntary and for most people depends on the seasons of whatever sports they are involved in. Senior Year, or First Class Year, is I believe your most definitive and memorable year at KP. You are at the top of the pile now, having survived three grueling years of school, and with the grand learning experience of Sea Year behind you. By now you have changed quite a bit since first arriving Plebe Year. Many notice that they have grown in maturity much faster than their peers in more traditional colleges. Classes now focus exclusively on your areas of study, and you have the opportunity to take more electives based on career paths you would like to pursue. Throughout the year you prepare for the Coast Guard licensing exam, a week long battery of testing that concludes your time at KP and which will give you the permits necessary to have many of the jobs available in the maritime industry, as I described in the beginning of this letter. In the Regiment, you can now choose to take on a leadership role and be directly responsible for the welfare and resources of wide groups of students or facilities at the Academy. You work closely with officers at the school, who can help guide your judgments. Outside the Regiment, you may be a team captain, a club leader, or perhaps even skipper of a boat at the waterfront. This is the time where your leadership, morals, management skills, and endurance are really put to the test. This is really the last big hoorah, your last opportunity to test your abilities in an environment where there will not be lasting repercussions before beginning a professional career. By now the things you thought were overwhelming Plebe year seem simple, and you are able to balance a very busy and heavily loaded schedule. You and your friends will be tightly bonded by now, connected by shared experiences and difficulties triumphed.

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