"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit."
"The only way to find the limit of the possible is by going beyond them in to impossible."
Arthur C . Clarke
"Always do what you are afraid to do."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."
Henry Ford
"Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs, Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves."
Dale Carnegie
"I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident they came by work."
Thomas Edison
"To finish first, you must first finish"
Sam Walton
"One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man."
Elbert Hubbard
"Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work."
Dale Carnegie
"I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near."
Margaret Thatcher
"The man who does not work for the love of work but only for money is not likely to make money nor find much fun in life."
Charles Schwab
"The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else. Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career!"
Earl Nightingale
"Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work."
H. L. Hunt
"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it."
John Ruskin
"Great work is done by people who are not afraid to be great."
Fernando Flores
"It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up."
Babe Ruth
"Those who let things happen usually lose to those who make things happen."
Dave Weinbaum
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
Winston Churchill
"In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing."
Theodore Roosevelt
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."
"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."
Thomas Jefferson
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is."
Yogi Berra
"The more I want to get something done the less I call it work."
Richard Bach
"Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day's work absorb your entire energies, and satisfy your widest ambition."
Sir William Osler
"The common denominator for success is work."
John D. Rockefeller
"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
Theodore Roosevelt
"Life is about creating new opportunities, not waiting for them to come to you."
Salma Hayek
"You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them."
Michael Jordan
"No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you."
Althea Gibson
"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."
Chinese Proverb
"The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra."
Jimmie Johnson
"Success is never final. Failure is never fatal."
Joe Paterno
"Ingenuity plus courage plus work equals miracles."
Bob Richards
"Everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was."
Richard L. Evans
"It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret."
Jackie Joyner-Kersie
"I see possibilities in everything. For everything that's taken away, something of greater value has been given."
Michael J. Fox
"There are no office hours for champions."
Paul Dietzel
"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
Eleanor Roosevelt
"Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure."
W.J. Slim
"Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom."
Merry Browne
"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?"
Vincent Van Gogh
"Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you."
Frank Tyger
"When the student is ready, the teacher appears."
"Winning doesn't always mean being first."
Bonnie Lair
"It's always too early to quit."
Norman Vincent Peale
"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
John Wooden
"I choose to focus on not what has happened but what we can do."
Ellen Pompeo
"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."
Booker T. Washington
"Courage faces fear and thereby masters it"
Martin Luther King, Jr.
"He who dares nothing need hope for nothing."
"Unless a man undertakes more than he possibly can do, he will never do all that he can."
Henry Drummond
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Mark Twain
"To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself."
Soren Kierkegaard
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
Winston Churchill
"Your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers."
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."
Ambrose Redmoon
"With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity."
Keshavan Nair
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by doing the thing which you think you cannot do."
Eleanor Roosevelt
"It's easier to prepare and prevent, than to repair and repent."
"We more frequently fail to face the right problem than fail to solve the problem we face."
"Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out."
John Wooden
"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."
Dale Carnegie
"There is no chance, no fate, no destiny that can circumvent, or hinder, or control a firm resolve of a determined soul."
"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
Theodore Roosevelt


Academic Excellence

MIDN Robby Fontenot pictured with MIDN Molly Dundon, USNA Class of 2015, earned the Greystone Academic Excellence Award for 2011 by earning back-to-back 4.0 GPAs during both academic semesters at Schreiner University. In the photo above, Molly and Robby completed the San Antonio Marathon as a relay team!

Assuming you meet all medical qualifications for a candidate, the next most important qualification for your academy appointment is your academic credentials. By credentials I refer to your high school GPA, class standing and your SAT/ACT scores. Academic achievement takes the “lion's share” of your multiple as a candidate – and for good reason. The academy admissions board will conduct an in-depth assessment of your accomplishments as a scholar to determine if you have the skills and ability to survive the academic rigor that must be overcome by every cadet and midshipman before they graduate. More than any other basis for evaluation at the academies, good grades or the lack of good grades - will determine your success or failure. It will not matter how extraordinary you are as a Varsity Superstar – if you can't make the grade academically, you will not be invited to stay! Grades influence your ability to participate in sports, Extra Curricular Activities (ECAs) or even be allowed to leave the campus – your academic success is that important to the academies! Big picture: your academy academic achievement is the driving force behind your Class Standing which, as a senior, is the determining factor when it comes to your selection of career opportunities. The higher your GPA, the wider the career opportunities made available to you! Academics are that important and therefore your performance as a scholar is vital to your academy success! 

The measure of a man is the way he bears up under misfortune.
– Plutarch

As a candidate, you should be able to determine the importance placed upon academics at your particular academy by looking at its national ranking as an institution of higher learning. The three major academies (the Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy) traditionally do very well “educating” young men and women. Their investment in your education provides them with very capable officers upon graduation.  More importantly, the academies academic reputation also ensures a continuous stream of highly qualified candidates who desire to attend those academies. When you consider the need for academy scholars from the perspective of national academic recognition and academy recruitment, the emphasis placed upon each candidate for high academic achievement becomes justified.

As a candidate seeking your Plan B, I would encourage you to research the various academy prep schools and to “dig deep”.  Do not be satisfied by window dressing or historical reputation.  Both will leave you wanting either by not delivering for you as a reapplying candidate or by not sustaining you once you enter the academy. When I was teaching at the Naval Academy, I made a point to visit the Naval Academy Foundation in Annapolis where I intended to volunteer my services. I was compelled to give something back to the Foundation because in 1976, the Foundation sponsored me to attend a prep school (I did not earn my appointment directly out of high school). While I was speaking to the Foundation Director in 1998, he lamented to me that the prep school programs had not changed much from when I was a sponsored candidate, however, while prep school education had remained stagnant, the academy qualifications required to earn an appointment had continued to climb and expand. If only there was a program with the flexibility and capability to stay in step with the growing academic demands mandated by the academies that were evolving. At that point in time, I began to consider an idea...an idea that became Greystone.

Vicky Reyes, Greystone Class of 2013, USNA Class of 2017 has continued her own version of Study Hall at the Naval Academy.

This was the genesis of the Greystone Preparatory School – the beginning of a new and different approach to academy preparatory education that is designed to keep up with or exceed the admissions qualifications established by the five Federal Service Academies. The intent of the Greystone program from its beginning was to elevate the level of academy preparatory education from the existing high school level or a community college/junior college level to something that was on par with the academy academic challenge – and it had to be flexible enough to keep pace with the ever-growing candidate qualification standards. The only way to make this idea into a reality was to elevate the prep school academic program to the same level as the academy first-year courses.

Unlike traditional academy preparatory education, Greystone is a challenging one-year university-level program located on the campus of Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. Because of this relationship, Greystone students earn up to 38 college credits in demanding courses such as Calculus, Chemistry with lab, English and History.  These are courses recommended by the academies for those candidates who are reapplying but more importantly, courses that are in sync with academy first-year courses. Academic experience at this level not only demonstrates a more accurate assessment of scholastic capabilities to an academy admissions board, but it also serves to minimize past academic weaknesses which can make a scholastically weak high school candidate more competitive.

Experience in a challenging university curriculum provides those candidates who earn their appointments with a significant advantage over other traditional “academy prep” students. Through their Schreiner experience, they fully understand and therefore can deliver exactly what the academies expect from their students – there is no “learning curve.” In addition to the university-level academic challenge, Greystone students learn and practice critical time-management skills, hone decision-making abilities, and master the fine art of setting and sticking with priorities – all skills that are essential if you are going to succeed at an academy.

Apples to Apples

“The Academy is not a high school, a community college or a junior college; the Academy is a four-year, fully-accredited institution of higher learning. Prepping your candidates in anything less than that is going to provide a disservice to your candidates.”

-VADM Rempt

What separates Greystone from other academy preparatory schools is the academic curriculum provided by Schreiner University. As stated to me by VADM Rempt while he was the Superintendent at the Naval Academy, “The Academy is not a high school, a community college or a junior college; the Academy is a four-year, fully-accredited institution of higher learning. Prepping your candidates in anything less than that is going to provide a disservice to your candidates.” I took his advice to heart and in so doing, have set the new standard for academy preparatory excellence. This academic relationship between Greystone and Schreiner University is unique in this field because it is the only academy preparatory school affiliated with a four-year, fully-accredited university. Do not be fooled by false claims made by other prep schools who insinuate to be “university-like” when they are affiliated with a junior college – there is a huge difference! Schreiner University is fully-accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – the same organization that provides the academies with their accreditation.

Ian Correll, Greystone Class of 2013, USMA Class of 2017 in Study Hall.

Through the affiliation with Schreiner University, Greystone students are also full-time Schreiner University students. As full-time Schreiner students, Greystoners earn up to 38 transferable university credit hours. I evaluated 122 colleges and universities - public and private - before I discovered Schreiner University. What attracted me most was that the Schreiner academic environment closely emulates the academy first-year academic environment in terms of their academic challenge and increased scholastic performance expectation. This provides an exceptional basis for evaluation by academy admissions boards. This level of academic performance when successfully completed removes much of the emphasis placed upon high school academic performance or College Board examinations. As university freshmen engaged in a challenging academy-level program, Greystone students demonstrate their actual academy-level scholastic capabilities which removes much of the guesswork for the academy admissions board.

The high-quality educational experience is focused on individualized learning and mastery of subject matter. To ensure successful performance at this level, students are required to establish a structured and organized university-level work ethic, study skills and time-management while the Greystone Staff provides academic oversight. To ensure students master these scholastic concepts, they are required to engage in a proctored four-hour study hall six nights per week, submit their grades weekly, and when they encounter academic difficulties, students are required to seek assistance from their professor, obtain a tutor for that subject from the Schreiner Academic Center and join a Greystone study group. As an instructor at the Naval Academy, my Plebes used these skills and techniques to overcome their academic difficulties – and all academy students will eventually have academic difficulty. These same academic skills and techniques taught and then practiced during their Schreiner experience translates to enhanced performance at the academies. Superior performance in the Schreiner classroom has a direct correlation to superior performance in the academy classroom.  This correlation is now recognized by the academies.

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.

– William Ellery Channing

Unlike any other academy prep school, Schreiner professors (with their doctorates) teach each Greystone course. Class size is limited to 18-22 students. With a 13:1 student-to-professor ratio at Schreiner University, Greystone students receive an extremely high-quality education in an environment conducive to strong academic achievement. Schreiner is an extremely challenging academic institution; however, Greystone students are able to excel as scholars due to the program emphasis placed upon organized and structured study as well as weekly grade collection, evaluation and counseling. Students do not languish in their misery if they are unable to understand a subject – they are empowered to take action! Like the academies, Schreiner believes that students who try will succeed. It is only when they stop trying that they fail. Greystone provides a motivating and inspiring academic environment intended to support exceptional academic performance. The average GPA at Greystone for the Fall 2012 semester was 3.81. 32 students earned a space on the Schreiner University President’s List (GPA of 3.7 or higher). 22 of those students earned 4.0's. And 9 Greystoners earned a spot on the Dean’s List (3.3 to 3.69 GPA). Keep in mind, each Greystone student is carrying up to 18 Schreiner credit hours of extremely challenging courses. You must ask yourself – how is this possible? It is possible because our students receive guidance and oversight from Schreiner faculty who are dedicated to teaching and Greystone Staff who have the experience and dedication to ensure the success of our students.

Over the last nine years, Schreiner University has sent more students to the academies than any other university in the country. In addition to the Schreiner academic curriculum, Greystone students are required to take every SAT/ACT beginning in September to ensure that they leave no stone unturned as they pursue their academy appointment. Taking every SAT/ACT available provides the necessary opportunity for students to improve their scores.  Unless they take the test, they will not improve their scores.  Because the academies "super score" the SAT and ACT, poor test performance will not hurt the candidate.  Greystone is committed to leaving no stone unturned when it comes to improving a candidate’s qualifications. This is referred to as our “whole candidate” approach to preparatory education. Therefore, it only makes sense that students receive briefings from SAT and ACT consultants to ensure they understand the strategy that will allow them to enhance their scores. The United States Air Force Academy allows Greystone students to partake in its reading enhancement course that not only increases their reading speed, but also their comprehension. Greystone students also enroll in an online math assessment program that determines their starting point and then tailors a math fundamentals training program to strengthen those areas where they test weaker. Both the reading and math program serve as a building block that will help to increase SAT and ACT scores. 

Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

– William Shakespeare

Candidates who are serious about earning their academy appointments and excelling through the academy must maximize their year of prep to ensure their overall success. Accepting a lesser challenge in the classroom is not only doing you as a candidate a disservice, it is also sending the academy admissions board a message that you are not willing to take on the academy-level challenge.  At a time of record academy applicants, the academies are not seeking reasons to say "yes" to a candidate - they are seeking reasons to say "no".  Show them what you are made of academically; that you are a scholar and capable of excelling though the academy academic challenges.