Navy Dads

I just got off the phone with my son and he is so rattled and discouraged.  He failed a physics exam today.  He's got another exam Monday and another one next Friday.  He's worried that he doesn't have what it takes to get through this.  My wife and I are desperately trying to keep our son's head in the right frame of mind.  I told him to Fight, keep his composure, keep his head up and NEVER QUIT!  I just don't know what else to tell him or have any other ideas on how to encourage him.  I'm hoping that the higher ups making the evaluations will take this into consideration and give him the help he needs to get through this grueling academic program.  My wife and I would be extremely thankful for any suggestions and encouragement any of you might have for us.  Thank you!

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Tell him to brush it off and move on. I failed a few exams myself from not really studying and completed power school just fine. I have seen people fail half the exams in power school and still make it through. Tell him to get with friends or the instructors if he needs help grasping certain things.

My son graduated nps on May 3. He told me after the fact he was sure he was going to fail, and had dropped subtle hints to prepare me for it. An instructor or tutor took him under his wing one evening, working and reworking the problems with him for several hours. He tells me that's the only reason he passed.
He said his philosophy was to give it his best shot, so he'd have no regrets if he failed.
I wish I was that mature at 21.
I guess you can only tell your sailor to get all the help he can, show them he's dedicated, and don't quit trying. Remind him that boot camp helped prepare him for this stress, and his only choice is to give it his best shot; no regrets later.
That's all I can suggest.

The thing about nuclear training, at least A school and Power School is that the help is there, you just can't be too proud to take advantage of it.  If he failed that test he is probably on increased study hours and will be spending many hours this weekend studying for that Monday test.  Our sailor constantly helped others who were struggling and I am sure there are others doing the same now.  There are always instructors available as well.  The Navy wants these nukes to succeed so the help will be there so encourage him to use all the resources available.  The best thing for you is to stay positive and supportive.  This is a very long and extremely stressful period but few fail because of academics.  Most fail because they did something stupid outside of school.

Like Mike K said -- there is lots of help available - from instructors and tutors and division Chief and other students, all of them really really want every student to succeed. Hey, their efficiency rating depends on student success.
Ask for assistance - it's there. No shame in asking for help.
My sailor (honorman) was happy to help others -- not just because of being a good person -- but because when those students who struggle become Nukes - the better they understand the basics the better for all the sailors who will be working with them for the next many years -- what goes around, comes around. So your sailor needn't fear asking help from other students, especially those who are doing well with the exams. Some will gladly help explain stuff - some won't - but it never hurts to ask.

I would remind him that the selection criteria to be chosen in the first place is very tough.  Your son wouldn't be there if the Navy didn't think he had what it takes.  That being said the courses are tough and take work - most students struggle with some courses while finding others easy.  A year from now your son will be an expert at many complex technical subjects he probably doesn't even know exist yet.  I taught enlisted math between graduating from Annapolis and classing up at Nuke School so I have seen it from both sides.  This training pipeline is a tremendous investment in time and resources that the Navy doesn't want to see go to waste.  They want him to succeed and will help him get there. 

Hello to the Manns family. Your son is most likely overwhelmed with the soon to be completed school, graduation and course study. Help him by letting him know not to focus on graduation but on each and every day of study and class. Physics is just math, and every word is a symbol in setting the math sentence. He needs to translate carefuly the problem and pose the question: what dose it mean? It is helpful for him to think that he dose well by only the test at his hand and not by worring of the past and future. The instructor guides them to the most important information and therefore memorize exactly how is done, and not to condition himself with "what if." Also tell him that it is the"today" that matters because tomorow will come no matter what. One test at the time, focus on concepts and one or two main applications. He will make it. He needs your attention as stress relief; let him exhale and simply listen. Regards, I. Nugent.  

Thanks to everyone who replied and offered advice.  This is all still pretty new to us and we feel terrible hearing our son sound so down!  We will pass on your suggestions and continue to encourage him.


Your son has made it through A-school, which is a huge success so far. Power School is intense, and in the early stages, the instructors are looking to  determine mandatory study time, if required, by each student, which can change throughout the course of study.  Know that the instructors will not give up on him, so he should not give up on himself.  Tell him not to be afraid to seek help from the other students, as well as, their academic advisor whenever possible. They know  students need varying amounts of coaching, and it may mean many long hours, even until midnight, in the Rickover Building to keep pace   But where else can you get paid to go to school.   The ultimate goal is to build a cohesive team not just individual achievement.  My son is in the last 6 weeks of prototype at Goose, which has its own set of challenges that must be overcome.  Look up the post by "Zazzws" March 15, 2010  at, titled "Nuke School at Goose Creek" for some useful how to study at Power School suggestions.  Good luck.

@hank -  The hardest 2.5 years of my life was trying to keep my son from losing faith during his Nuclear training.  I know exactly how you are feeling...and I know exactly how your son is feeling.  My son was soooo close to dropping out and quitting the program many times. Closer than I actually knew at the time.  I was constantly on the phone with him, encouraging and cajoling him.  It was pretty much a full time job trying to keep his spirits up and his motivation up.  What I didn't know at the time is that he was talking to his superiors directly about pulling out of the program for exactly the same reasons that you are describing of your son. 

My son never told me how truly close he was to actually pulling out.  The only thing that saved him, (I thought it was me and my mentoring) was the coaching and guidance of his superiors.  They are the ones who convinced him that he had what it takes to get through the schooling.  My son eventually told me that they were the ones who simply would NOT ALLOW him to quit.  Despite all of my efforts it was actually the fine instructors in power school who actually kept my son afloat and viable during this time.
Some people truly may not have what it takes to be successful in this program.  Hopefully your son is communicating with his instructors and superiors and seeking guidance and support.  If they feel that he has what it takes they will do everything in their power to salvage your sons nuclear training. 
It is extremely difficult for caring, concerned and involved parents such as yourselves. Keep doing your best to support your son and keep him encouraged.  You and I can not truly understand the intense pressure that these kids go through during their training.  You support is valuable, but in the end it will be up to your son and his superiors whether or not he makes it through.
Best of luck to you and your family.          

Thank you all so very very much!  Your feedback and inspiration has made a world of difference.  My wife and I will continue to be there for our son and guide him during his rigorous training.  We've passed along all of what you have shared with us and I'm certain now that he believes that he can make it through.  Our family is so excited and cannot wait to be there in Charleston for our sons successful completion of NPS in February.  Again, thank you! 



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