Last Updated on January 10, 2022

Successful West Point Essay Examples

The following are West Point essay examples from cadets who have won appointments to West Point in the past few years. We will provide commentary at the end of each essay as to why each of these answers to West Point’s questions are effective. For information on all the West Point application requirements, read our Ultimate Guide to getting into West Point.

Essay 1:

Prompt:
Explain why you want to attend the United States Military Academy and serve on active duty as an Army officer.

Answer:
I want to earn an undergraduate degree at West Point pursue my passions of military service to our great Nation while exploring the sciences. I work diligently in high school, taking advanced academics, keeping in top physical condition, holding school leadership positions, and volunteering in the community. This, along with the honor of knowing many Army officers, gives me confidence in pursuing West Point as the next step toward becoming an officer in the Army.
I’ve been fortunate to have the support of my teachers and mentors in my pursuit of becoming a West Point cadet and future military leader; they reminded me of the importance of selfless service. My football coach, Chris Page, before he passed away, told us the incredible sacrifices
he made to make himself a better teacher and coach. Through his stories, the purpose of my hard work in preparing for a military career crystalized- be better for others so they can be better serving our country. To honor him, I founded the Coach Page Scholarship Fund so others would be inspired by his life of selfless service.
To gain additional insight on being an Army officer, I have talked with a family friend, Major General Joseph Jones, who was the Commanding General of U.S. Army Cadet Command who talked to me about life as a cadet and the challenges I would face. I also wanted to see an active military unit, so I visited with a captain at the New York Army National Guard training site at Camp Smith. There, I saw how Army officers lead by example; they are expected to get “dirty on the field” and to support other soldiers in all their goals. I am inspired by military leaders I have interacted with and through them, I’ve gained an understanding and respect for the duties I
would assume upon commissioning.
For the privilege of serving our great Nation, I have prepared for the challenge and honor of being a USMA cadet and upon graduation, to commission as a proud officer in the Army.

Commentary:

Note that this first essay is not a laundry list of accomplishments the candidate did in high school. Rather, it centers on what the candidate did to find out more about what life would be like both as an officer candidate and an officer in the United States Army. Notice the candidate talked to officers as well as took time out of his/her schedule to visit a local National Guard unit to meet with officers and see what life in the Army would be like. This shows West Point that you understand that becoming a cadet is a serious commitment and that “get” why you are making this commitment is important.

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Essay 2:

Prompt:
What are the most important qualities in becoming a successful USMA cadet and a successful Army officer?

Answer:
I spoke to several currently serving and retired Army officers and non-commissioned officers as well as visiting a local National Guard unit near my home to answer this question. In my conversations and visits, I asked each of them what they felt were the most important qualities in becoming a successful cadet and Army officer. In short, they emphasized that officers have strong character and core values, they get things done, they communicate clearly and effectively lead. These characteristics, they felt, were the foundation for success as a cadet and future Army officer.
Army officers do the right thing for the right reasons, all the time. It means doing the right thing whether someone is watching or not. They are loyal first to the Constitution and nation, then to the institutional Army, then to their units, then to their soldiers and finally to themselves. They do not tolerate deviations from what is right from subordinates, peers, superiors or friends. Army officers are self-confident. They are confident in their ability to accomplish assigned missions and their ability to control themselves. They project a calm, unflappable, martial image regardless of how challenging the environment so as to inspire confidence among their subordinates. Army officers know how to be and are in charge when appropriate. Army officers get things done. They are able to determine how best to divide large tasks into smaller parts and then develop plans to accomplish them. They are able to set priorities and manage their time accordingly, then organize themselves and others to accomplish the priority tasks. Then, they relentlessly apply themselves until they get the job done. Army officers are clear verbal communicators. They recognize that clear communication requires effective listening, careful thought, and articulate and appropriate responses. They have exceptional verbal delivery.
Finally, military officers are effective leaders. They are skilled at influencing and directing others in order to accomplish a task. They have a knack for employing group problem-solving, developing commitment from teammates, delegating and following-up on tasks, and motivating the people they work with to accomplish a group goal.

Commentary:

Note again that the candidate kicks the essay off again emphasizing that he/she went out and asked officers and non-commissioned officers the exact question that West Point is posing to him/her. Rather than simply guessing the answer to the question, this candidate shows that he/she went out of her way to find out the answer. Then, the candidate shows what he/she learned from these officers and effectively lays out the characteristics that he/she felt made good officer candidates and future officers.

Essay 3

Prompt:
West Point and the Army are committed to the idea that respect for others and an understanding of diversity are important leadership traits. Why will you be successful in working with leaders, peers, and subordinates of a gender, color, ethnicity, and/or religion different from your own?

Answer:
Military officers are comfortable working in teams and they value the inherent strengths that come from teams made up of people with different backgrounds and perspectives. They are respectful of others. They understand that high performing teams are characterized by common goals, shared responsibility for success, and appropriate leadership-followership relationships.
I spent last summer in Nicaragua; three weeks in an intensive Spanish language program and two months living with a Nicaraguan family in the country. While I was in the country, I was working with a non-governmental organization (NGO) that was fielding small-scale alternative energy projects that people could us. For example, I helped develop an apparatus that fermented chicken manure into methane gas for cooking. Not headline-grabbing stuff, but it worked very well for these folks. I learned an incredible amount. I learned that people are people wherever you go. We may look different, we may talk different, we may have some different ideas, but we are all basically the same and should treat each other with dignity and respect.
I understand that I will deploy to other countries and need to appreciate foreign cultures and show respect for their different points of view. By practicing inclusion in leading others in the Army, that will surely transfer to both myself and the people who I lead respecting those we interact with overseas.

Commentary:

This essay should be centered on an experience the candidate had that shows that he/she values diversity and respects others. The first paragraph summarizes the argument, the second paragraph talks about the experience, and the third concludes forcefully with a summary as well as applicability to his/her future role as an Army officer that will require him/her to deploy, fight and win.

Final Thoughts for Your West Point Application Essays:

Essay #1 is probably the most important of the three essays and is standard across most Academy and ROTC applications. The key to most of these essays is to do some legwork and ask serving or retired officers about these questions as well as go out and visit local Guard or Reserve units to see the Army in action and forcefully answer these questions drawing on these interviews and experiences. You can get our tips on Congressional nomination essays here.

If you do the above things, you are that much closer to a West Point appointment!

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