College v. Academy

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by LineInTheSand, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I was with my wife's family this weekend, including my brother-in-law, who is also my classmate from CGA. He's currently at Yale for his master's.

    Now, I think of Yale as a very impressive school. It's ranked #1 for his program.

    But as I listened to him give updates about his life to the friends and family around him, he refered to his current occupation as "I'm at grad school."

    Ok, I get it, he IS at grad school, but never did he mention "YALE" which I'm sure would have turned a few more heads than simple "grad school."

    And this line of thinking dredged something else up. As cadets at CGA, when talking to anyone about our school, we always said "my college" or "at college" or "my school." People had to dig deeper to hear "Academy" and even a little deeper for "Coast Guard Academy." Of course, between cadets we always said "the Academy". But why not to others?

    Maybe some of it came from our apprehension of joining the fleet and dwelling too much in our academy past (I know this isn't an issue for students at ALL of the academies). Maybe we were trying to avoid mixed reactions from "is that like college" to "oh you should have gone to college."

    We didn't wear CGA stuff. In fact, I don't think I really started buying Coast Guard Academy apparel until a few years after I graduated. Cadets would make fun of other cadets who wore CGA gear out and about. That's contrasted with my experience at George Washington University, where it is VERY acceptable to wear GW gear. Judging from the 4-6 (what I'm guessing were) NAPSters in Newport this weekend, clad in USNA gear, maybe it's OK to wear Navy stuff at USNA.

    I don't know. I do know that I generally don't come straight out and say "I went to CGA" even now, as I'm on the outside, and my diploma is more of an anomoly than similar to the other 45% of CGA officers I worked with.

    I'm not ashamed of my school, not even close. I'm not exactly sure why I avoid immediately saying where I went. I'm proud of it.

    I would be interested to know if it's this way at the other academies, or if that's still the general trend at CGA.
     
  2. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

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    My husband is a West Point grad. When he talks with people, he talks about "college." He is not a "ring-knocker" and he just doesn't always talk about it. He is retired military, is a proud grad and will wear sweatshirts, etc. When I talk about my college, I hardly ever mention the name of the institution, either. Maybe this is because we are 25/30 years removed from graduation.
     
  3. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    USMA's comment of ring knocker said it all to me.

    We have friends that say when I was in college, and friends that say at the Academy. The funny thing is the ones that say college do not wear their ring. The ones that say Academy do.

    This is not a slam, I am just saying it is interesting how our friends see it. They all go to their reunions, and the AF V Navy game every yr., thus they have that connection to this day. It is just the ring knockers I know say the Academy.

    As far as apparel, it is always their spouses that have the gear, not them.

    I also think the older you get, name dropping does not mean a heck of a lot, thus it is a reason why people say when I went to college.....
     
  4. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Unless it comes up or I need to mention it specifically, I don't mention that I graduated from West Point. I am very proud of West Point.

    You might be overthinking it. Many people tend to provide answers to questions not asked.

    Your brother-in-law's case, the question was what is he does - full time student working on a graduate degree. Some folks will anticipate the follow up question and answer it with "full time student working on a graduate degree at Yale."
     
  5. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    A year and almost a half out, my sons no longer wear their USAFA rings and don't talk too much about it, though they both loved their experience there. In fact, just-married son says ALL his kids will go to USAFA.:)

    Don't know if that's because so many of their current squad-mates are ROTC and college seems a life time ago for all of them.
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I was less likely to wear my ring while I was in, but now that I'm out, it's about all I have left.
     
  7. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    I think a lot of academy grads have a certain consciousness about appearing to be a ring knocker.

    I usually say "in school" or "in college."
    The farther out you get, the less not wanting to be seen as a ring knocker really matters to people, it seems to me.

    ...establishing the right reputation and all that.
     
  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I think it all depends on the company you are around. When my son is at home, we live in a very small town. Everyone he knows, as well as family, all know he went to the air force academy. "Most" know it's an accredited university. So when he and friends got together, they simply talked about being "In School" or "At College".

    When he graduated the academy and got selected to grad school, it got a little more complicated. Unless you're an egg-head or familiar with "Think-Tanks" and such; most people don't know what the "RAND Corporation" is. Even less know what the "Pardee RAND Graduate School is. Now, with the exception of the handful of other Air Force Academy grads at RAND, most of his interaction day to day is with civilians. He only sees a military base or his uniform a couple times a year. So, when meeting new people, the conversation usually goes something like:

    "So what do you do"?
    "I'm in the Air Force".
    "What base are you at"?
    "Right now I'm going to grad school".
    "Are you still in the Air Force or did you have to get out"?
    "I'm still in the Air Force".

    If the people are local, they ask if he's at UCLA or USC. He has to explain RAND and the grad school. He's totally proud of his academy experience and graduating. He's not a ring knocker. But finding common ground to talk to people can be difficult at times.

    The same thing happened with me with my time in the Air Force. Nothing to do with the academy or anything else. I'd come home on vacation and see some of my old friends back home. I basically had to let them ask what they wanted to and not start any conversations myself. They couldn't understand my language. If I talked about PCS'ing or going TDY, they obviously didn't understand. If I mentioned the schools I attended, they couldn't relate. Even with my own family.

    College is the same way. MOST people can understand "College". They don't really understand the academies. Let alone that they are even a university. Some people think the academy is just a special school to make officers. Some have even said; "Why are you going there, couldn't you get into college?"

    So how you speak of the "Academy", "College", "Military Service", or anything else, will depend on the company you are around. As with any other topic, you must find the "LCD" (Least Common Denominator).
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    And to be clear, there is a right way to be a ring knocker and a wrong way. The wrong way has an equivalent in the normal school setting.
     
  10. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    Your first mistake is thinking of Yale as a very impressive school

    Second, I can completely understand why it was so hard to get the name of your school out of you. If I went to CGA I would be embarrased too.:shake:

    All that being said ... Like you said, there is a right and wrong way to be a ringknocker. Proud of the school you went to is good, looking down on all those who didn't go to your school is bad. I don't give a second thought to which word I use to describe my higher education. The only time I did was when I was sailing on inland vessels which is very much a non-Academy world for mariners and Academy grads in general have a very poor reputation.
     
  11. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    DD never wears her ring. Does not flaunt and is not a "Ring Knocker" Months after first assignment Comander introduced her to the Brigade during a presentation as a USNA Gradute. First time they ever knew. Gunny said. as a funny comment, "That explains everything" They like and respect her even without the ring.
     
  12. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Speaking for CGA, there are plenty of upperclass cadets who will wear a CGA shirt or sweatshirt when they are headed home for the holidays. A few even wore some class-designed t-shirts on liberty during Eagle this summer.

    Most of the JO's wore their class rings out to the bars too. I don't think cadets aren't ashamed of the Academy experience or anything, but there isn't a need to flaunt it around or brag about having attended the place...Most of the people involved in the cutter community went to the Academy anyways.

    I think that's something that's different about us than the other services: A higher percentage of our officer corps comes from the academy since we don't have a ROTC program. The majority of OCS graduates, who go through their 17 week program at the Academy, are prior-enlisted too and are already "in" the community...
     
  13. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I have worn my ring proudly since the day I received it. There are NO flat spots on the bottom (from ring knocking). However...when flying, it's in the sleeve pocket.

    Highest compliment I received was from a Wing Command Chief. He was on a jet I flew and during debrief, I was putting my earplugs away (same sleeve pocket) and I took out my ring.

    Chiefs reaction: "WHAT?! Captain....you're a zoomie??? OH man...and you're so normal...how's that?"

    I still smile at that memory!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  14. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

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    I was surprised when I found out my DH was a West Point grad, too. I hate to say it, but there was a typical profile/personality type of JMO from the Academy and usually I could always pick them out when I met them (It was much harder to distinguish the grads amongst senior officers, however.) Even today, when it does come up in conversation with other people, most people would never guess that he's a grad.
     
  15. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    "you're so normal" That is why they hide the Academy. :biggrin:
     
  16. Jordan2819

    Jordan2819 Member

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    I find colleges to be better because they offer the best of both worlds (if it has a corp of cadets such as VT or A&M)
     
  17. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Hmmmmm.... not exactly the original point I was making, but explain.

    They way I read it.... they get a pretty good taste of the military life, while also having an opportunity to get a good taste of the college life.

    I probably would agree with that, assuming that's what you meant.

    That said, I don't think they get the best military experience or college experience, they just get the closest thing to having both.
     
  18. mako1017

    mako1017 New Member

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    Academy grads do have a reputation of being arrogant of where they graduated from, hence the term "ringknockers". So, I think it really depends on the social situation. Some grads try to down play their alma matter just because they don't want to others to think they fall into this category.
     
  19. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    So far in my time out here, no one has volunteered that they are a USAFA grad. I usually have to get pretty far in conversation before it would come up or ask about where someone graduated from.
     
  20. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    It seemed to come up less while I was in. Now that I'm out it's not such a big deal.
     

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