Aim realism

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by jwest182, Aug 29, 2014.

  1. jwest182

    jwest182 USAFA Cadet C/O 2019

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    Hey all!

    I attended aim this summer (first session), and while I didn't exactly enjoy all of it (that's not exactly the point though), I learned a lot and am glad I went. I did have two questions though:

    1. For anyone who has possibly been through both aim and swab summer (or similar), how does aim compare to the actual thing? Is it actually as realistic as they say, or is it really toned down?

    2. Kinda a similar question, but does anyone have any idea of the washout rate from swab summer, of people who attended aim? Basically, the "I survived aim, so does that mean I can survive the real deal" principle.

    I know these are kind of ambiguous questions, but I appreciate any insight!

    Thanks!

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  2. capolo13

    capolo13 Member

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    I was a Company Commander this year, so I got to see both programs at the same time. I also went through AIM, CGAS, RAT week at my prep school (NMMI), I was a Swab Summer Cadre for the Class of 2017.

    AIM this year, from what I observed, was significantly toned down from previous years of AIM. Swab Summer is definitely more difficult in terms, one the prime factors being: Swab Summer is much more physical. Much. There are regimented workouts, weightlifting, the obstacle courses, etc.

    Also, the Cadre are allowed to be much more... persistent. AIM has 4-5 Cadre, not all of whom are present all the time. Swab Summer has 9-10, 6-7 dedicated SS Cadre and 3 Waterfront Cadre. So there is much more pressure on each individual, much closer scrutiny.

    No one "likes" the summer but it's necessary. Generally washout rate from Swab Summer is near 10%, 30 out of about 275, but some companies this year lost as many as 15-20%. Of those, MOST did not attend AIM.

    It's survivable, always. The biggest factor that makes people fail at AIM is low physical fitness or lack of willingness to engage, undisciplined, don't like authority (these are all my observations). These are the same factors that make Swabs fail. We've had AIMsters get 12 pts on the PFE before. The lowest Swabs get around 170, average is around 220, one of the swabs in my company got a 285. So preparation is key; usually AIMsters don't know what they're getting into it.

    Feel free to ask any other questions that come up; hopefully I'll have an answer for you.

     
  3. jwest182

    jwest182 USAFA Cadet C/O 2019

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    What company did you command this year? Also, just curious as to your thoughts, if you were to give a short list of keys to success at ss, what would be on that list?

    Thank you very much for all your help!

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  4. grevar

    grevar CGA Admissions Partner

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    My son just completed SS. I would suggest you purchase a book called "Swab Summer" by Markam Starr. It is a great book and takes you through the day to day life of a Swab. It's loaded with great information and was very helpful for him (and us as his parents)

    My son did attend AIM by the way. He describes it as much more intense than AIM, and "days feel like months". Looking back though, it went fast.
     
  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    To me, and this is a little dated now (to AIM/Swab Summer 2004) AIM was as close as they could get to Swab Summer without turning people completely off to the Coast Guard Academy. Is AIM Swab Summer? No. Is AIM camp? No. My classmates gave their AIMsters a pretty good taste of Swab Summer. It wasn't Swab Summer, but the AIMsters weren't just having fun. I think at the end of the day, at least when we did it (I was a Swan Summer cadre), AIM gives a decent taste of what Swab Summer will be like.
     
  6. capolo13

    capolo13 Member

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    Echo.

    LITS is completely right; when I went in 2009 it was much more difficult and very well simulated Swab Summer. Recently, I'm not sure. I don't know maybe I'm just desensitized to it now. But it seemed especially easy to me this year, there were lots of alterations to our training program in Chase but it's hard to say from the AIM side, since I wasn't over there a whole lot.

    A short list...

    physical preparation: be fit. This isn't a "reach the bar and quit" type thing. The more fit you are, the better off you'll be. Physical fitness is a important thing, not even just for Swab Summer, but for getting respect. If you show up and do 8 pushups (it's happened) you won't be in good standing. Do 60, and you're looking pretty good.

    Mental preparation: Ask yourself why you want to be at CGA. Do you want to "save lives"? Why do you want to save lives, why in the Coast Guard and not the Peace Corps? ask the deep questions now, because you're committing 9 years of your life or more to the organization. And it will strengthen your resolve during the summer.

    Speak as little as possible, and only with the standard responses.
    Don't show attitude, ever.
    Don't show emotion when you are presented with a challenge.
    Don't show up with a rolling back pack.

    Don't expect to "win". You can't win, or beat the system. Swab Summer is designed to make you, the perfect 4.0 varsity athlete, fail at everything. The challenges are doable, but you have to listen to instruction, do what you're told, and work together. It really is that simple, but you have to BELIEVE it in everything you do.

    Hopefully that answers it, ask me again or more if it doesn't, running to class.

     
  7. jwest182

    jwest182 USAFA Cadet C/O 2019

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    Sent you a PM
     
  8. trackandfield08

    trackandfield08 USCGA 2014

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    Its sad to hear that AIM is being watered down in some aspects. I was an Aimster in 2008 and then an AIM cadre just two years ago, it was an awesome program and I loved being an AIM cadre because I loved the opportunity to help high school students decide whether or not the Academy was for them.

    As someone who was an Aimster, a Swab, an Aim cadre, and a Summer Company Commander, I would say that AIM is a gut check rather than a carbon copy of swab summer. AIM cadre place pressure on you through physical and mentral stresses but not necessarily to the extent that swabs are. The gut check is to see if you can (a) handle the stress and (b) decide whether or not you really want to commit to nine years in the Coast Guard (4 at the Academy and 5 following graduation).

    That being said, I wouldn't base your endurance on your success at AIM. There are Aimsters who drop out during swab summer just like there are people who drop out that didn't attend AIM. Your mindset is no longer "its just a week" but a mindset of "I have a whole summer plus four years of this." As always, feel free to ask any questions on this forum, you never know when someone who lurks on the board might have the same question. Its nice to see the CGA section of the forum a little more active. It gets quiet around here. :smile:
     
  9. mfp

    mfp Member

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    USCGA not the end all

    My son was denied admissions at the USCGA following a week session at AIM the previous summer...devastating news at the time (Christmas Eve) but he has moved on...accepted into the Marine Engineering at Mass Maritime...just finished orientation and first week of school...he now sees the reason why MMA grads have good paying jobs days after tossing their camo cover in the air! The USCGA missed out on a terrific midshipman but understand the CGA is not the end of the world if denied a spot....the odds are astronomical even for kids who had tremendous high school careers in the classroom and on the playing field...the quotas are rejecting great candidates, very plain to see.
    Go Bucs!
     

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