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West Point Recruiting Pitch Is Big On Career But Doesn’t Mention The Army


West Point Recruiting Pitch Is Big On Career But Doesn’t Mention The Army

True, we are a more “selfish” society, so appeals to values like selfless service may not resonate with as many as in former times, but there are still many parents raising their children with the right values.  What kind of high school student is West Point seeking to attract?  What impression do these letters leave with kids who are considering applying to West Point because they want to be Army officers? What do cold call, pitch letters from USNA and USAFA say?

By USMA Data Blog

What exactly is West Point pitching to candidates nowadays?

“Duty, Honor, Country”? Not anymore.

Selfless service to country? Being a Commissioned Leader of Character?

Adventure? Proving yourself through overcoming difficult challenges? Be a Ranger, or Green Beret, or Soldier? An Officer in the United States Army?

Or, none of the above.

If you’re a candidate today, you’ll get “leadership skills” to “succeed in any endeavor.” And the education “valued at more than $250,000.”

Here’s the pitch from a 2024 recruiting letter (click to enlarge):

2024 Recruiting Letter, shared by a reader

All this is great, but it sort of begs the question of “why West Point?”

If we didn’t already know better, from reading this we wouldn’t even know that West Point had anything to do with being an Officer in the United States Army.

And it looks like this is not new.

Colonel Deborah McDonald’s 2023 recruiting letter says that graduates “enter rewarding, well-paying, and diverse fields such as Engineering, Cyber, Finance…” and that “As a West Point student [ed: no cadet anymore?], you will begin your professional career… in addition to guaranteed employment after graduation… ”

There’s a lot to miss in these letters.

No mention of “Army” other than in signature blocks, for example.

But the bottom line is that being an Army officer is “out,” and recruiting themes center around professional career advancement and financial advantages.

To cite the reader who contributed these:

“Couldn’t it have said something like, “Visit and learn how our motto – Duty, Honor, Country –  is uniquely recognized as the maxim of America’s preeminent leadership institution, shaping graduates for a lifetime of service and leadership experiences in the United States Army and beyond.” —USMAdata reader

Yes, it could have. That it didn’t is a deliberate choice.

We find this to be yet another example of the loss of moral gravitas of West Point.

It’s an example of praxis: The ideals of those in charge are reflected in the language, the language shapes the message, and the message finds the recipient.

Who is this message finding, and who could it be finding if it were centered on the right values?

First published on usmaData: West Point Admissions & Data Insights

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