One major source of stress that most high school students are subjected to is the pressure to pick the perfect college to attend. While myriad factors go into making a decision—size of the campus, out-of-state or in-state, study-abroad opportunities, student life—many students seem to forget that getting paid to go to school could be an option for them; this would surely play a significant role in the brutal decision-making process. By attending the United States Naval Academy Preparatory School, DHS alumni Ricky Knoff recognized this opportunity and seized it, along with the several other opportunities that accompany attending such a school.
While the financial aspect definitely appealed to Knoff, it wasn’t the only factor that played into his final decision. In addition to receiving essentially a $500,000 scholarship, he can pursue the major he wants and graduate as a distinguished leader in the country’s military as an officer in the Navy or Marine Corps. Although the Naval Academy is the ideal fit for Knoff and the career he wants to pursue, he has had to tackle some challenges since arriving in the fall.
“The hardest thing for me is the adjustment to all of the military terminology and getting used to the fact that I am more of a number than a person,” said Knoff. “No one is an ‘individual’. We are all a unit. Behind that would be the peer leadership, the hardest position to be put in, and to be led by your peers, because people choose not to listen and/or choose to do it sloppily, not caring for the outcome.”
As one would imagine, attending a military academy entails a strict, punctual, and consistent schedule.
“The rough outline would be 0600 reveille (dressed and ready with doors open), to morning chow, with classes from 0740-1135, lunch, and then more classes from 1250-1530,” said Knoff. “At 1530-1730, we have a mandatory sports period where you can do pretty much what you want to get exercise. There is a gap to get dinner and relax until 1900, where we have study period until 2200, and from there you have field day, which is cleaning. Then we have personal time until 2300, when taps is called and doors and lights have to closed and turned off.”
For anyone looking into attending a military academy or enlisting in the military, Knoff offered some encouraging words and insight.
“The best advice that I can give is you have to hold yourself to higher standards than those people will hold you to,” Knoff said. “If you wish to succeed, try often and try early. It doesn’t matter how many times you may fail, and if you put in everything you can to the mission and don’t succeed, it is still a success for your character. So, with that being said, try to go to a place of the highest education you can, aim for the top academies and be willing to serve your country, because it will benefit you more than you can imagine in the long run.”
For more information on the United States Naval Academy Preparatory School, visit: http://www.usna.edu/NAPS/Academics/index.php
By Emily Peterson