Saw this question on Quora and it made me think. I went into Beast Barracks at West Point when I was seventeen and clueless. Then it seemed like my military career was filled with one more challenge after another as I sought them out.
First, once you’ve been through a getting hazed school and then served on cadre at one, you’re not as stressed by it because you know it’s a job on the part of the cadre, although there are occasionally sadists among the instructors. Interestingly, they were often the ones who screwed up the most as students and are venting.
For me, the key was high standards; not hazing.
Danish Fromandkorpset Combat Swim School was when I was in the best shape of my life. We’d prepared hard, camping on an island off the coast of Maine for several weeks, swimming every day, running, doing PT, small boat drills etc. to get ready. My team sergeant ran that because he’d been through Dive School and later was NCOIC down there. When we arrived they simply told us the tasks we’d have to accomplish to graduate and then trained and tested us. What’s interesting is I didn’t even know how to swim when I went to West Point (not a big thing in the Bronx). I went through Rock Squad and survival swimming at the Academy. In Denmark we learned such things as dry suits aren’t. The North Sea is very cold in November. I remember we were doing a pier infiltration one night, moving very slowly and I heard this strange noise and finally realized it was someone’s teeth chattering. I credit my team sergeant, Dave Boltz (RIP) in that every team member graduated, which was rare.
Beast Barracks, Ranger, etc. were stressful. Lack of sleep, lack of food, someone always on you. The entire plebe year as West Point is intense. The #1 thing you learn is time management.
The school with the lowest graduation rate was jumpmaster because you had to score 100% because gravity always win. We started with 84 Special Forces qualified guys and graduated 17. I could probably still do a JMPI–inspecting a jumper.
Mentally, Robin Sage, the last exercise in the Q-Course, was a mind-fuck. Lots of lose-lose scenario where the goal was to see how you thought on your feet. What makes the Q-Course special is that you cadre will be your team-mates down the line. So they take it damn serious.