Congratulations! You just received an invitation to one of the Candidate Visitation Weekends at the Naval Academy. I highly recommend that you attend, if you can.
Here's why . . .
CVW is a great way to 'see' USNA and the lifestyle of midshipmen there, especially the freshmen (or Plebes). You will arrive on a Thursday afternoon and will be paired with a Plebe. Over the next 40 hours, you will have the opportunity to eat with the midshipmen, stay in the dormitory (Bancroft Hall, also called "Mother B"), attend classes and learn some details that no other program can provide to a candidate. By the time you depart on Saturday, you will have a great understanding of life at USNA.
In many ways, the program confirms a 'potential' relationship. You, as a candidate, understand if USNA is a good fit for you, and that the life of a Plebe is something you will be able to handle. For USNA, the school understands that you now have an in-depth view of the life of a midshipman, and despite the restriction placed on the Plebes (and upperclassmen), you are interested in joining the Brigade.
Do not fear that the Admissions team at USNA will penalize you if you cannot accept the invitation. Clearly, schedules and budgets may not allow you to travel to Annapolis. However, if you can attend, it is a great opportunity. You should make concrete plans for your trip.
Here are some guidelines for your CVW excursion:
1. BRING SOME HOMEWORK
Have some reading, homework or similar quiet work so you don’t annoy your Plebe and his/her roommates when they have to study.
2. DON'T STAND OUT
Dress so you don’t stand out. Your clothes should not features big logos or bright colors. Wear 'regular' clothing with a collared shirt or blouse for arrival and class. Good walking shoes are a must. And, do not wear any NAVY gear! Your Plebe will appreciate you not generating any 'undue attention' from the upperclassmen.
3. PREPARE FOR DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES
Bring a variety of clothes for different activities, including gym clothes, a swimsuit, layers for weather and varying temperatures (both indoors and outdoors). You will likely have an opportunity to take the CFA for your first or second time.
4. ENJOY AND LEARN
Have fun, bring a good attitude, ask good questions and make a good impression (but don't try too hard). One suggestion: you may want to bring some good snacks to share with your hosts and other Plebes.
5. DON'T BE OFFENDED BY NICKNAMES
The 'mids' will call you "their drag" or "a drag" so don't be alarmed by the reference or similar language.
6. ARRIVE ON TIME
Traffic is ugly around USNA so anticipate issues arriving on time and plan accordingly!
7. PACK LIGHT
Avoid bringing a large suitcase as lugging it up the stairs of Bancroft is painful. Use a backpack that is easy to carry. Here's a suggest list of items to bring:
One khaki pants (or similar) for arrival and class wear
One collared shirt (or similar blouse) for arrival and class wear
One cotton T-shirt for when you gets tired of the collared shirt
Two pairs of shorts, one for exercise, one for sleepwear
Two dry fit T-shirts, one for exercise, one for sleepwear
Three pairs of socks and underwear, just in case - A sweater or sweatshirt, and wear a jacket for layers
One pair of running/tennis shoes
One pair of Crocs/sandals for room and shower wear
Bedding: just bring one small bedsheet and a small sleeping bag. You will sleep on cots. You can do without a pillow for two nights.
CVW is fun and insightful. Enjoy your visit and take advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as you can about the U.S. Naval Academy and your life as a midshipman.
[I would welcome a chance to discuss details with you. I offer coaching services to pace and prepare you (and your parents!) for the entire Academy application process . . . including Academy visits! Contact me at email@example.com, 503.515.7406 or complete my contact sheet on the home page.]