Choosing between Service Academies

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by kayla_2015, Nov 6, 2014.

  1. kayla_2015

    kayla_2015 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    My congressional interviews are quickly approaching and I have two LOAs in hand: one from USAFA and one from USNA. I know the nomination board will ask me which is my top choice and have faced the fact that I may only receive a nomination to one academy.

    I have visited both academies and had great experiences at both. I am confident I would be happy at either academy... I just want to make the right decision. Any advice from someone who is or has been in my situation would be greatly appreciated.


    Sent using the Service Academy Forums® mobile app
     
  2. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Messages:
    2,807
    Likes Received:
    444
    You should make a decision based not on next four years, rather next 5 to 9 years.

    Do you see yourself as a Naval officer or Air Force officer.

    Academies are colleges afterall, the worst you can do is fail out or go to another college.

    As a military officer, a failure could result in very very severe consequences. Unless you are very special, you can't say I don't like Navy/Air Force, so let me do something else during your service obligation period.
     
  3. OsseousProgenitor

    OsseousProgenitor New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2014
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    15
    Kayla,

    What discipline do you want to study? Initially, at least for the first five years, what kind of life style do you want to experience? My son wants to be a mechanical engineer, and hence, he decided to apply to the Naval Academy.
     
  4. Boozebin

    Boozebin Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2010
    Messages:
    647
    Likes Received:
    313
    To add on to this great advice look at the career fields each service has and see which one you lean towards most.

    Also look at the lifestyle each service has. I know there is an old post somewhere on here about that topic. Read that and see which way you lean.

    If after all that you still don't have a preference (which I would be surprised if you didn't lean a little one way or the other) by honest with board. Tell them the process you've gone through to try and help you make a decision and tell them after all that you're still split.
     
  5. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Messages:
    2,807
    Likes Received:
    444
    I belive for Navy and Air Force, your major at either academy will impact on the military speciality you will get.
     
  6. Spud

    Spud BGO

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    460
    Actually, at Navy it does not. A pilot can have an English degree and a Marine officer an engineering degree and so on. Because of person's interest they can wind up with a degree that applies to their specialty---an aero engineer who likes airplanes applies and becomes a pilot but not always. The OP ought to be aware that upon graduation she will go into one of the Big Five---ships, subs, air, SEALS, or Marines and will go to a combat ready unit immediately at the conclusion of any specialized training. She/he will be intimately involved in combat operations with all the fire and flooding should the president so order. Even our Supply Corps junior officers are on the bridges of ships. After 4-5 years of operational experience in the fleet, junior officers may apply for specialized fields (civil engineering, aero engineering, etc.) but the Navy does not want specialists who have not had real world ops under their belt.

    Not so with the Air Force and I'll let those posters fill in the jobs of AF junior officers but for the non-rated grads they do go to jobs commensurate with their degrees.

    For the Navy, the OP should investigate exactly what a junior officer does on a daily basis aboard ships, squadron or whatever as that is where you will wind up.
     
  7. zachtx

    zachtx Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2013
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    24
    I had the same choice to make, and I'll echo the biggest deciding factor is what you want to do after graduation.

    In the Air Force, if you want to go in to a rated career field (Pilot, CSO, ABM, RPA), then your major at the Academy has no impact on if you are qualified for one of those AFSCs. They choose rated careers based on your AFOQT (like the ASVAB for officers), your TBAS (test of basic aviation skills), your PCSM score (pilot candidate selection method), and of course if you meet the pretty stringent medical requirements. SO while a lot goes in to rated career selection, what you majored in is not one of those things.
    For non-rated career fields, it just depends. Some jobs require certain degrees, and others don't. If you want to go in to developmental (acquisitions related) engineering or civil engineering then you'll need an engineering degree. If you want to go in to contracting (acquisitions) then I think you have to be either Econ, management, or OR. SOWT (special operations weather team) requires a meteorology degree. Medical career fields require your undergrad to qualify you for the necessary grad school. But any other job, you can pretty much major in whatever your heart desires. PA, Security Forces, Maintenance, Intel, Cyber, Space, Missiles, Logistics, Special Operations, Acquisitions, Personnel, etc. Any degree qualifies you.

    Feel free to shoot me a message if you have any specifics about USAFA life or Air Force careers.
     
  8. falconchic88

    falconchic88 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Messages:
    864
    Likes Received:
    176
    Not really. I was a biology major, and went into Personnel. One of my roommates was a general engineering major and went into Information Management, my other roommate was a bio major with me and went into Intell. There are only a handful of majors that will actually be used in your career field upon graduation from USAFA.
     
  9. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    4,509
    Likes Received:
    459
    I actually think the decision is a combination of the school and the service. You will spend your first four years at the SA before you ever hit the service. And, if you don't like the school, you may leave and then it doesn't matter how great the service is.

    I don't know much about USAFA but here are some things to think about in general when choosing b/t SAs (at least the "big 3; there are somewhat different considerations if USCGA and/or USMMA are involved, such as size of student body).

    -- Main focus (e.g., aviation vs. nautical vs. ground)
    -- Location of the school
    -- Life as a plebe and upperclass
    -- Focus of plebe summer (for example, USMA is very different from USNA -- not sure about USAFA)
    -- Accessibility of non-school activities (i.e., how easy/hard is it to get out in town and what can you do)
    -- Percentage of military vs. civilian professors
    -- Majors offered
    -- Likelihood of getting your first or second choice in service selection
    -- Summer training programs
    -- Additional opportunities (earning your pilot's license, foreign exchange programs)

    Then, of course, you consider the opportunities upon graduation, the likely places you'll be stationed, whether you want to spend 2 yrs in Mountain Home or much of a 3-yr tour deployed:smile: . . .
     
  10. bpoythress

    bpoythress New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Also choosing

    I'm in a similar position to OP's - LOA in hand from USAFA and told by USNA representatives to expect an LOA from Annapolis, and suddenly I could possibly be faced with a choice I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to make: which one do I want? I know both will offer me a great shot at UPT, presuming I'm Med Q'd. For me, I'm concerned more with the environment I will be diving into and the person I will be upon graduation, and which I'll be happy in even if I don't end up getting a pair of shiny wings.

    At the end of the day, I want a military career and the awesome opportunities a Service Academy can offer. At the same time, however, I want to maintain certain aspects of my personal self from inprocessing to tossing my cover. Yes, I understand that the SAs are designed to, among other things, break you down and rebuild you into what they want you to be. I have no problem with that, but I want to make sure I'm being broken down and rebuilt into the kind of person that 2014 me would want to meet, and I have no real way to gauge whether the Air Force or Navy align better with that.

    I am, (not in an undisciplined sense,) a very easy-going person, and tend to be more friendly/personable; that is one aspect of my personality I want to keep. I also want to attend an SA and enter a branch that will be, at the very least, respectful of my protestant faith. In the end: I want to still be the type of person people want to meet and be around when I leave USXA. Can anyone shed some light on some of the aspects of each SA/branch with respect to these concerns?

    Thanks to all in advance!
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
  11. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Messages:
    7,545
    Likes Received:
    1,005
    I don't think either academy can build you into something you don't want to be. In fact, I would say you'll be closer to the you that you want to be with either academy. You're the one who makes the choices, not them. Will you be more disciplined? Yup. Will you be in better physical shape? Yup. Will you have a command presence? Yup. Will you be a little martinet? Maybe. Totally up to you. Will you be a real hard ba$tard. Maybe. Totally up to you.
     
  12. hopefulmom19

    hopefulmom19 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2014
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    23
    Another choice - alittle different

    My DD just got a call from USCGA yesterday giving her a "head-up" that her appointment will be coming in the mail very soon.
    I wish I could say I was excited about this but she has an LOA from USNA and an appointment already from her MOC.
    I thought she was all set on going to USNA (well she put the likelihood at 90% just to be alittle coy)
    Now she is seriously considering USCGA and the USNA dropped to 70%.
    USNA has so much more of what she is looking for - possibility of foreign travel, more majors (particularly Arabic), much better location and student body that was more the size she was looking for.
    She some how has the idea that the careers coming from USCGA are better suited to her. She likes the idea of helping people in her day to day job (ie search & resuce and drug interdiction).
    She thinks of USCGA as little picture "help" and USNA as big picture "help"
    I know that USCGA is a wonderful institution but as a mom I really picture her at USNA.
    Has anyone been faced with a similar choice between Academies? I appreciate any thoughts.
     
  13. Wilco

    Wilco Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2014
    Messages:
    199
    Likes Received:
    124
    Tough decision but nice options to have

    Both your daughter and Kayla are in great positions and both should be commended for working so hard to be offered two appointments. Good luck to both.
     
  14. jebdad

    jebdad Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2013
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    67
    Search posts by Grevar. I believe his son had same decision last year. There are some great posts regarding this.
     
  15. Sydney C.

    Sydney C. Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    Messages:
    349
    Likes Received:
    281
     
  16. hopefulmom19

    hopefulmom19 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2014
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    23
    Thanks

    The posts from grevar last year "USNA vs USGCA" were very helpful
    Thanks
     
  17. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,755
    Likes Received:
    1,004
    USCGA is better.... so she's got that going for her. :wink:

    My decision was 12-13 years ago now, but it was between USCGA, USNA and USMMA (eventually, in that order). USNA did a better job of keeping my interest throughout the application process, but USCGA won out in the end.

    Why?

    I liked the idea of doing a job, in an organization that is often overlooked, in wartime and peace. I visited and USCGA felt "right." The students, to me, seemed more put-together than the folks at USNA or USMMA. Yes, USNA has more name recognition, but that didn't translate into "makes better officers... ship drivers" to me.

    Two USNA midshipmen were visiting my high school and a blue and gold officer asked them "which is the hardest?" We were both surprised to hear them say "the Coast Guard Academy."

    But why? Well, at 900+ total students, it's extremely hard to be a wallflower. It's hard to "get by" because you will be noticed and your upperclass will expect certain things of you.

    Now, also consider the size of the school and the service. The entire school is smaller than a single class at USNA. You will know all of your classmates. You will know all of the members of the classes immediately ahead and behind you. You will know the vast majority of the classes two years ahead and behind you. And you will know a good portion of the classes three years ahead and behind you. You will see them in the fleet. You will see your company officers and instructors in the fleet too.

    If you're a "slashmate", if you're bad at what you do and you don't help shipmates out.... people will know.

    The Coast Guard Academy feeds 40% of the Coast Guard officer corps. The entire Coast Guard officer corps is around 6,000.... you won't know EVERYONE, but there's a very good chance you'll know someone who does.

    I think (or I've been told) that USCGA cadets really really dislike their time at CGA (I certainly didn't like it until.... maybe my senior year, or maybe after I graduated) and USNA midshipmen enjoy USNA (as much as is possible), but that Coast Guard junior officerss enjoy their work in their jobs more than Navy (or Marine Corps) junior officers.

    Annapolis, MD (USNA's home) is MUCH MUCH nicer than New London, CT (CGA's home). The Navy's budget makes the Coast Guard's budget look like petty cash.

    My boss commented on the sad Polar Class Coast Guard ice breakers, reading from a Washington Post article about the cutter's age. "You think that's bad... it was commissioned in 1993.... my cutter was commissioned in 1969, and has gone through two mid-life overhauls... with no plan to replace it... and it was one of the newer ones in its class."

    The Coast Guard Academy is not the place to go if you want everyone to immediately recognize what you did to get there, what you have to do to graduate from there, and what you'll be doing after you graduate. It IS the place to go if you can figure out how to be completely comfortable and confident in doing a job every day with little fanfare.


    If I had to choose again, between USCGA, USNA, and USMMA..... USCGA wins every time (but I'm not unbiased.)
     
  18. grevar

    grevar CGA Admissions Partner

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2013
    Messages:
    513
    Likes Received:
    103
    I think I can speak with some intelligence on this as YES, my son did have this decision last year as did a few other classmates of his that we have come to know over the course of the past year.

    Here we are almost a year later and he has not regretted that decision even for a minute. In fact, I was surprised as the number of applicants that accepted USCGA over USXX seemed extraordinary high last year (Or at least higher than I was expecting)

    Feel free to message me privately if you'd like to discuss further. I'd be happy to.
     
  19. trackandfield08

    trackandfield08 USCGA 2014

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2008
    Messages:
    476
    Likes Received:
    84
    I want to comment on a couple of things, some misconceptions people have about the Coast Guard and USCGA.

    1. Possibility of Foreign Travel: It is true that the Coast Guard is primarily stationed stateside but there are plenty of foreign travel opportunities. As a cadet, I had the opportunity to attend a conference/competition in San Remo, Italy on the Law of Armed Conflict attended by students from military academies around the world (a conference USNA has not attended for awhile). Since I've graduated, I have visited three other countries while on patrol and will visit three more on my next patrol. As you climb the ladder in rank, there are more opportunites to serve overseas. You can be an aide to an Admiral and travel or you could be an attache to the Far East. You could be stationed with AFRICOM or any other number of jobs. Trust me, your daughter will travel with the Coast Guard :smile:

    2. Location: I will agree that New London is by far a less ideal location then Annapolis. But, it is an hour and a half from Boston and 2 hours from New York. Its very common for cadets to travel on long weekends (even as 4/c!) to these areas. Some go the White Mountains in New Hampshire and hike, others head to the cities to see a show, get some good food, or attend a sporting event. As a fourth class, yes, you are more restricted to the New London area because of the liberty policy but it honestly wasn't all bad. You find ways to make any area fun (even if it comes down to nerf gun fights in Target or water balloon fights in the passageways of Chase Hall).

    At the end of the day, I wouldn't look at your daughter's choice as a choice between schools but a choice between services. As her mother, you are probably right in that the school size, location, and major choices of USNA are more her style. But its the minimum five years afterward that are the real deal. I wanted to attend USNA at first and in the end found the Coast Guard more my speed for the same reasons your daughter has stated. Its a small service with a big mission that is ALWAYS ongoing. I have only been a graduate for a few months and the things I've gotten to do in just 1.5 patrols have shown me that I made the right choice. What I most like about the Coast Guard is that it is a family, because of its small size. I get the chance to know every single one of the 100+ people on my boat, not just a fraction of the people you would work with on a carrier. In the end, your daughter is the only one who knows what the best choice for her is. I think its awesome that you support her enough to come on here and ask the question. :thumb:
     
  20. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,755
    Likes Received:
    1,004
    Let's see, where did I go while I was in the Coast Guard (doing work for the Coast Guard)….

    the Bahamas
    Haiti
    Gitmo
    Greece
    Spain
    the United Kingdom
    Germany
    Colombia
    Panama
    Curacao

    Also about the proximity of Boston and New York…. both cities are easily accessed by way of Amtrak….
     

Share This Page