Advice for a Frustated Dad Please.

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by F15DOC, Apr 21, 2016.

  1. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    OK, I give up on trying to be the worlds greatest dad.
    My DS has achieved a great pinnacle in being offered an appointment to the USCGA.
    He is very proud of that offer, we are very proud of what he has accomplished to be given that offer.
    But now he is wavering on the doorstep of that huge decision.
    I have read so many threads on these academy forums about students hesitating or questioning their decision to attend an academy, so I think I understand his hesitation.
    Last night we sat and had a heart to heart about his dreams, ambitions and hopes for his future. We made it perfectly clear that he has to be the one making this choice, if I was making it for him he would already have accepted the USCGA Appointment, period.

    So here is what he confirmed:
    1) He wants to serve his country
    2) He wants to fly, until recently he wanted to fly fighters.
    3) Now he says he wants to pursue rotary (helos) but fixed wing is still an option
    4) He wants to join some form of military status during college.

    Here is what he has in front of him:
    1) Appointment to USCGA
    2) Acceptance to his state school of preference (both of his parents alma mater)
    3) Full 4 years Air Force ROTC scholarship

    Here are his thoughts on pros and cons:
    1) State University AFROTC will be much more fun
    2) State University AFROTC will be much less grueling
    3) AFROTC graduates with a GPA above 3.2 have a very high likelihood of getting a pilot slot
    4) USCGA will be very hard on mind, body and soul
    5) USCGA has a much better Electrical Engineering Program
    6) USCGA graduates that want to enter aviation will nearly all be allowed the opportunity.
    7) USCG rotary pilots are considered among the elite of the services and it is very rare to be given an opportunity to transfer from another service aviation to USCG aviation (although it happens)

    So, the real kicker here is that both his mother and I believe he will be successful at the USCGA. He is a math wiz and it seems that most of the cadets that struggle academically in all of the services do so in the STEM cores. He won't fail, I am sure of it. He doesn't seem to lead on that he is afraid of failing, but I wonder if that is part of his hesitation.
    As a parent, I want to guide him, but I have seen so many students fail or quit an endeavor that they were coerced or pushed into by a parent. I have a strong concern that he is going to walk away from this appointment, and it breaks my heart to know how much he is going to regret it later. I have several friends and acquaintances that have told me of their regrets after walking away from an academy offer. He had a recent encounter at an air station and spent time with a young USCGA graduate that is now flying. He told my son how much he loves the USCG, even the 2 years he spent on a boat before he got an aviation spot... but he told him how much he disliked his 4 years at the USCGA, ugh. The last thing my son needed to hear.

    Advice? Do we just sit on our hands and see what he chooses. He knows what we would like to see him do and why, he understands that very clearly. He also knows very clearly that we are going to love him and support him in anything he chooses.
     
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  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Happy to talk to him if you'd like. I think in the end it's really what he wants and where his heart is.

    He has earned the "right" to be in this position and make this choice.

    And it's perfectly reasonable to feel their weight if the decision on your shoulders too.
     
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  3. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    I agree, he has earned this right.
    I asked him, why go through all this work and stress applying to the academies if you weren't ready to jump on an offer.
    He said he wanted to keep his options open, he wasn't ever sure he wanted to go to an academy, but wanted to have the opportunity.
    I told him straight up "valid", his mother is mad at me for that, but I think it was a valid statement.
    To further muddy his decision, he only has one other classmate that recd academy offers. The class president and fellow swim team member recd appointments to both USCGA and USNA, he has photos of the nice appointment offers on his facebook page... but guess what, he is not accepting either offer, instead he is going to attend Notre Dame... really?
    I think he has talked with enough grads to get a feel for the pros and cons, but I will ask him if he would like to chat with you, thanks for that!
    I think he understands that life in an Academy can be fun as well, its not all standing at attention, being overworked and unhappy..
     
  4. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Yes. Sit on your hands. Given his choices he cannot make a bad decision here. There is only good choice A and good choice B. I think he has the pros and cons about right. Have him talk to LITS who will no doubt steer him towards the right path, whatever that is.

    BTW.... I'm confident he's more concerned about the demands on his time and missing a "normal college experience" and doubt very much he's concerned about failing. Kids like him don't fail and I expect he knows that. Also, if in his heart f hearts flying fixed wing is his real desire then AFROTC is the way to go.
     
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  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I try to present an even picture, the good and the bad. The better picture someone has, the better, more informed decision they can make.

    CGA isn't for everyone, but it's not because they wouldn't do well. CGA also isn't as "bad" as we make it out to be. Is it hard and stressful? Sure. But at some point you adapt and it become kind of fun. You will be closer to your classmates that you can imagine and you'll be in and out of each other's lives for the rest of your life.

    It may be important to mention that I'm no longer in the Coast Guard and I've been out for about five years, so SOME of my knowledge is dated (and it will become more dated). But the general CGA feel and experience hasn't changed that much over the years.

    No rush to make a decision, and it's fine to take some time to figure everything out.
     
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  6. m&m

    m&m New Member

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    It seems that a lot of cadets never "loved" their time at the academy....that is what I gleaned from reading these blogs and forums BUT they all valued their experience there. No, it is not as fun and free wheeling as your average state college experience but it isn't all that far off, you get the best of both worlds I think. You get a first class education and the opportunity to play a wide variety of sports or participate in the various clubs they have on campus to keep things fun. Yes it's grueling but if you are committing to serve your country for five years after graduation, that grind is necessary to prepare you. As others have said, it IS his decision. Did he experience that bean sprout orcadet for a day program? I cannot tell you what to you, I don't know what I would do if I were in your spot. In mid March when we had not heard from the academy I thought my DS was leaning towards UMass Amherst where a lot of his friends were going, he even got a fantastic offer from another state college within 20 minutes from our home offering him free tuition and fees and acceptance into their Commonwealth honors program for engineering, I was thinking that he would go for that, but when the accptance to USCGA came through..that was it, that is what he wanted. I reminded him of all the little negatives that I had heard expressed, because I wanted to be sure he knew what was ahead of him. He said he was absolutely sure that this was what he wanted, so all I could do is say that I would support him all the way...Even should he change his mind. He hasn't. And I find myself getting more excited by what lies in his future every day. Don't worry about his decision...even if he should choose ROTC because he sounds like a great kid and he should succeed no matter which path he takes....I have followed this forum for a while and know how much this appointment was looked forward for. All the best......
     
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  7. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    There was another thread on here in the same situation (I'm on my phone and it didn't turn up in a search). One person commented that's it's like when the dog finally catches the car it's been chasing - and has no idea what to do with the car once it's caught.

    He might just be feeling overwhelmed, wondering if he really has what it takes and generally feeling insecure about himself. Remind him that the admissions thinks he DOES have what it takes to succeed there! He could also just be a normal 17/18 year old that has worked so very hard throughout high school - chasing that car- and now he just wants to take an "easier" path....and that's perfectly normal and ok. Either path he chooses will land him in roughly the same place in four years.

    The question is mostly will he regret turning down USCGA....and I suspect that only he would be able to answer that, and possibly only in hindsight.

    I wish him all the best whatever he chooses!!!
     
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  8. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Agree all you can do is support and listen. It's normal what he is going through. Yes, I believe any admitted to a SA can make it through. It isn't State U fun, but I had a blast. And guess what? He can leave! If he decides the USCGA isn't for him or the military in general is not in his future, he can leave. Make it clear that he will be supported at home regardless of what he chooses and if he decided that USCGA or ROTC wasn't for him, that is okay too.
     
  9. FEIMOM

    FEIMOM Member

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    No advice, but an empathetic mom in a very similar situation on the USAFA side - clear on service, clear on branch, but suddenly not as clear on SA. I have to keep reminding myself that he has great options and will do well no matter what. I feel your pain. Best of luck to you.
     
  10. trackandfield08

    trackandfield08 USCGA 2014

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    I would be more than happy to speak with your son as well. I'm underway right now but I'd be happy to send you my email in a private message. Like LITS, I have no problem sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. I can also give him a little insight to life in the "Real Coast Guard" which should be his true concern. It's a scary thing at 17/18 to sign the next 9 years of your life away. I would honestly be worried if he DIDN'T have any doubts. Trust me when I say that I questioned my decision multiple times at the Academy and multiple times during my first tour. At the end of the day, I wouldn't change a thing but that doesn't mean that I never struggle.

    I think what you're doing is the perfect decision. Be supportive but don't hover. Your son needs to make the decision for himself, it's his life.
     
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  11. afrotc16

    afrotc16 Member

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    Let me know if he has questions about AFROTC. One thing to note is that getting a pilot slot isn't a shoe-in given a high GPA and good stats - it really depends on the year, the demand and a ton of other factors. Last year my det sent 3/7 grads off to pilot training. This year, none of the 4 that went for rated ended up with pilot slots - we've got some CSOs and RPA. Same with next year's graduating class too. I'm guessing USCGA probably would give a better chance of a pilot slot. He should think...what happens if no pilot slot?

    Leaving that aside, AFROTC is a great program and I'm sure your son will excel in it if he chooses this route. An as an electrical engineering major, so many cool internship opportunities are available and AFROTC gives the flexibility for summer internships/research/projects. Just some thoughts. Either way, these are both two great options!!!
     
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  12. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    One other thing your son should understand.... ROTC programs are no piece of cake and will be demanding and stressful as well. I'm sure it's not as much as any academy, including CGA, but he should go into either with eyes wide open.
     
  13. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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    http://www.serviceacademyforums.com...academy-ruin-my-life.48334/page-3#post-481358

    In all fairness our son did Not have Upper end college options. He put all his efforts into the academies, only other school he applied for was VMI. He had USNA, USMA, and VMI to choose from and VMI did not offer room and board.. for us finances were a consideration. I think the hesitation is more reasonable if you have other Excellent college options to choose from.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
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  14. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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    The Opportunity”
    The opportunity before me
    like a mountain I could climb,
    but it somehow seemed so frightening
    like that mountain wasn't mine.

    So I quietly withdrew my gear
    I backed away you see.
    I really did convince myself
    it wasn't right for me.

    I told myself that it could wait
    I'd find a better way.
    To change myself I'd have to leave
    But right here is where I'd stay.

    Since that time I've wandered
    through the valleys I could find,
    looking for that easy route
    those ties that would not bind

    I guess I always thought I'd find
    that hill just right for me.
    Instead I've spent my prime, my life,
    locked in mediocrity.

    Yes, I'm getting by now, successful some might say,
    but, I must admit I often think, where would I be today...?
    If I had just dug in that day,
    If I had not walked away!
     
  15. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    ^^^That was the thread - thanks forumjunkie :)
     
  16. alaska66

    alaska66 CGA Admissions Partner

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    F15DOC...My DD is a 4/c at USCGA. I'm sure she would be happy to text/talk to your son, as she's had several bean sprouts recently in the same situation. DD turned down USNA and 4 year Navy ROTC at UW to attend USCGA, and she couldn't be happier with her decision. Send me a pm and I'll give you her contact info.
     
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  17. Mman5247

    Mman5247 Member

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    My son did better academically in the academy than in ROTC with more time on his hands to waste and less support system. How mature is he? My son did not go to state U to have a wild time. But the distractions in the dorm are constant. Professors in EE program can be a crap shoot. So even a strong student it's not a given that he can maintain 3.2.

    Ask him to soul search and make a decision toward something, not away, and not based on any fear.

    Some kids (and parents) may be enamored by the prestige of the academy. Think about the about the career instead.

    High achiever kids often are uncomfortable with the idea of no longer being at the top of their class. At the academy (and somewhat with afrotc) they get broken down and rebuilt as a team player. With AFROTC, he'll have more freedom to keep to himself or make friends apart from his unit. Will he use that freedom to make good choices or bad ones?

    You know your kid and have instincts about where they belong and how much you can push. Some kids need the push because you know once they get over the fear of the unknown and make friends, they will never look back. Others are more self assured and just need space to own the decision. And if you push it will backfire. Others follow strongly the influence of their friends and can be short sighted if not given guidance. My advice is to pray and trust your instinct. Everything will turn out for the best.

    Look, if he turns down USCGA and regrets it, he can reapply. What's the loss of one year in the grand scheme? Conversely, if he goes to USCGA and drops out after 6 months, he can transfer to state U with no shame. Ok no scholarship but he can still join the unit.

    Isn't Air Force cutting way back recently?
     
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  18. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    Wow, that was awesome!!
    What terrific responses and offers, this is a great forum with wonderful people....
     
  19. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    I can't imagine an Academy would give a candidate a second look if they turn down an appointment... would they?
    But in reality, if he does turn it down and goes elsewhere, I am fairly certain that regret and rethink won't happen for years...
     
  20. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    We had a USNA sponsor daughter who turned down her appointment out of HS and went to a civilian college, because she felt that was right for her at the time. One summer and two months into her college freshman year, she started kicking herself, and re-applied. This time, she was sure about her motivation, and could articulate what had changed for her in a year away from home. She took challenging courses, got a 4.0, worked on her sport, and accepted an appointment for the next year. She walked onto a varsity team, and in her junior year, walked onto another varsity sport team and did very well in every aspect of graded performance. She credited that year away from home with increased maturity and better perspective. She did say that she got a bit overwhelmed by the fuss made by her school and family, and could not differentiate clearly between what she felt called to do and what others were projecting onto her. Once away from home, she got clarity. For her, that was her answer. She wanted to feel challenged, pushed, with a goal in sight, and she saw herself in uniform, serving. She's doing that right now, at sea, on deployment.

    Everyone's journey to "the decision" is different.

    "Man cannot discover new oceans until he has the courage to lose sight of the shore." - Andre Gide (I would edit to "people" and "they have." One of my favorite quotes. Of course, it has "oceans" in it.)

    More inspiration about daring:
    http://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/65-quotes-that-will-dare-you-to-do-great-things.html
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016

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