Decision Time: USMA or USNA

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by jmvogel, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. jmvogel

    jmvogel Member

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    I have been given an appointment to both USMA and USNA and now I have to choose, here's what is going through my mind:

    USMA: I have always thought that I want to go to West Point. I've been a ArmyStrong guy for as long as I can remember. I attended SLE at West Point over the summer and absolutely loved it and visited again later in the summer with my family and it solidified my love for West Point. I recently went on another visit in early January to see what it was like during the academic year and it wasn't as fantastic. My host, his roommates, and a lot of the other freshman he hung out with said they did not enjoy it there and that they wish they would not have gone or wanted to transfer. I'd say about 70% of the students I talked to were in a poor or miserable mindset. This changed my outlook on USMA. I find myself to be a pretty mentally strong kid from my failing and overcoming many times in sports and other aspects of life, but it bothered me that so many kids weren't happy to be there. I definitely think I could handle USMA without becoming depressed, I'd just rather not be around kids who mope all the time. USMA has always been a goal of mine and is very near and dear to my heart, I can definitely see myself there.

    USNA: I initially applied to Navy because I figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone with the whole application process and seeking nominations, etc. I never considered it too much until I had my interview with my Blue and Gold officer and he spoke highly of all the opportunities I could have in the Navy and how much he loved Annapolis and USNA. Being from Indiana, I've always been more of a land guy so the whole "live on a ship for months at a time" idea is foreign to me, but I definitely think I can adjust. I'm also very interested in the Aerospace Engineering program there and the opportunity it gives me to become a pilot. I have a friend at the academy who's a plebe and absolutely loves it and in his biased opinion the mental attitude of students at USNA is more positive. I kind of let USNA fall to the way side again and concentrated on USMA until I got an LOA from them and realized that I should get a Nomination for Navy to guarantee myself a spot in an academy. Also, my less-than-stellar visit to USMA made me really want to consider Navy again.

    I can definitely see myself at either academy. Navy gives me opportunities to try completely new things like aviation and life at sea, but Army will give me multitudes of opportunities as well. I fell in love with Army first and still at this time consider it my preference, but Navy started to present a lot of opportunities to me that I think would be interesting.

    Any feedback or helpful advice would be awesome! I'm thinking out loud and figured I could post on here to get help. Thanks!
     
  2. 845something

    845something Member

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    You visited during the "gloom" period. You hung out with the wrong crowd - misery loves company. West Point is not about having fun, it is about preparing you to be an Army officer. Most graduates will tell you that they had fun at West Point, but it wasn't fun if that makes sense. Guess what, the Army is the same way. There is a lot of suck before those few great moments, but those great moments and leading Soldiers through the suck is why we do it.

    I can't/won't speak for life at navy other than I'm sure you could find those same miserable individuals there.

    What you need to do is decide what kind of officer you want to be - Army or Navy/Marine.
     
  3. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    Not surprising you got those responses from Plebes at WP. They all say that. When my DS went on his overnight, they all told him not to go to WP and that was 5 years ago.

    You visited at the best time, which is the worst time at WP, the Gloom Period where everything is gray from the weather, to the uniforms, to the buildings, to their spirits. Their attitudes change as graduation nears and summer opportunities are before them. Things get better. Plebe year is the most restricted and sucks the most. You get more passes and leadership responsibilities every year.

    Your focus is too narrow. Think service (Army/Navy) not the school (USMA/USNA). Think big picture. WP is only for 4 years. Your military career is longer. WP is the tool to achieve Army officership.

    If in your heart, you really want to be an Army officer, then don't let some Plebes during the Gloom Period at WP make you doubt.
    Or if you really want to be an Army officer but don't like the lifestyle at USMA, then ROTC is an excellent option.

    Good luck with your decision. Don't rush. Take all the time that is allowed for you to make your decision. They are your appointments. Take the time that you need to make the choice that is right for you. Don't feel pressured because you think someone else could have your spot. That is not always necessarily true.
     
  4. Akrogan

    Akrogan Member

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    I certainly do wish I was in your position.

    Right now I've just been nominated out to AF and am waiting to hear back...

    However, there was a time where I really wanted West Point, basically up until the summer of my Sr. Year.

    West Point has lots of prestige, and so does Navy...

    You just have to do what you see yourself doing for at least 5 years...what lifestyle do you REALLY want?

    I decided to go forth and all out for Air Force, as that is what I want to do with my life.

    The college you go to will give some experience, but you need to look at your what you want to do as a job...

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  5. BigBear

    BigBear Class of 2015

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    I mean, do you really want to spend the rest of your life as a squid? That's the all-important question...

    seriously though, your choice should come down to Army vs. Navy. Both have aviation, though their respective roles differ tremendously. Then Academy vs ROTC. Both will get you a commission, but the experiences vary tremendously.
     
  6. bpu

    bpu Member

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    Please reread all the above posts because they are dead on accurate.

    Visiting WP in January? I am surprised they only said they hated it and didn't use stronger words. Your friend loves USNA? You must have spoken to him the day after Army-Navy football game - or while he was still in recovery from a concussion. Most mids hate that place ALMOST as much as cadets hate WP.

    Forget USNA vs. USMA as others have said on focus on Naval Officer vs. Army Officer. That should be your only consideration.

    My son had two overnight visits at Navy and one at West Point. The mids hated Navy and cadets liked West Point. Difference? It was 110% dependent upon the time of year my son visited.

    He picked Army over Navy and turned down Air Force, which was his #1 school for years like you like Army Strong. He's complained about West Point continually for over 3 years now. What would he do differently if he could go back in time to his senior year in HS? He would accept his WP appointment in December when he got it rather than continuing to look at Navy and Air Force before finally accepting his West Point appointment in March. Actions speak 100x louder than cadet complaints.

    70% said they want to quit. Surprised it wasn't 90%. Funny thing though, 90% of those 70% will stay and wear their rings proudly in a few years. (The attrition rate for the 30% who say today they want to stay likely will be higher than those who say today they want to leave!)

    Flying and aero engineering. WP pilots love flying and WP has basically an aeronautical engineering minor in their mech engineering major. The only difference is just a couple of classes. (Aerospace engineering I believe is a field with more limited opportunities. There are a lot more planes in this world than rockets and missiles.)

    Good luck. Nice decision to have to make - hard as it is.
     
  7. Defendergrad

    Defendergrad Member

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    Go Navy! My DD wants to go to West Point. ;). Either way congrats.
     
  8. cadet85

    cadet85 Member

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    You and I are a lot alike in some aspects of this. I have been saying Go Army, Beat Navy! for so many years. Every man in my family has served in the army. I life, breathe, and think army all the time. It was my dream to get accepted to USMA. I dreamed about it every night -- and I mean every night. It is a strange obsession. I say all this to tell you that if your heart has been set on Army this whole time, then it is a good sign. Don't let one bad visit and a crowd of miserable cadets get you down. I too visited USMA, was escorted around campus by a cadet, and I absolutely loved it. He introduced me to every year cadet there is Plebe on up, and nobody hated it there. They all said regardless of anything that was thrown at them, at the end of the day, they wouldn't rather be anywhere else. PLEBES said this. To my face. I thought the plebes were going to tell me it sucked, but you can get through it, but no. Please, do NOT let others dictate what you do. You can decide to be happy even when it is rough, and it will be rough no matter where you go. Your heart is set, so follow it.

    P.S. it is the BGO's job to tell you how great USNA is... as it is for a FFR from USMA. They will all make their academy sound amazing, but you need to choose for yourself. :thumb:
     
  9. USCGA_2018

    USCGA_2018 Member

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    Two great schools and two great services. Tough choice, but seems like you can't go wrong.

    DS was in the same boat with USMA/Army and USCGA/Coast Guard. I really stressed that he focus on the services and not so much the academies. Take away all the hype, mystique, glamour, prestige, etc... and at the end of 4 years you have a bachelors degree, a 5 year commitment, and potentially a lifelong military career.

    Talking to alum and current service personnel was a huge help for my DS. The other thing that was really helpful in understanding the missions and priorities of the services was to read the Posture Statements. These are lengthy and detailed, but will give you great insight into the services.

    Again, try to compare Army and Navy and not West Point and Annapolis.

    Here is the Army Posture Statement: http://usarmy.vo.llnwd.net/e2/c/downloads/302970.pdf

    Congrats on the double appointment. You seem like a winner for either service!
     
  10. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    West Point: cold, gray, gloomy, cold, really cold. Outside Thayer Gate is Highland Falls...a town with nothing to do, except for a few restaurants. Walking privileges lead you basically no where.

    Annapolis: Beautiful picturesque town. Boats, fresh seafood. Famous restaurants (Chick and Ruth's, etc). Cold, snow, but not from October to March. Quick trip to DC for fun. A nice mall is within walking priv. Dorms are air conditioned.

    West Point is not always a great place to be; it's always a great place to be from.

    When you are 18, four years seems like a long time. I think you will find a way to be happy at either place. Do you want to be an Army officer or a Navy/Marine officer? That is the bottom line.
     
  11. napjim

    napjim Member

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    Congrats on the two appointments -- my son is struggling with the same choice. His story is nearly identical to yours -- always wanted West Point -- has friends going there and then figured he'd apply to Navy too. Now he has a big choice to make. One of his friends, who is in his second year at USMA shared this point, echoing what others have said here:

    "Don't worry about the school. They're both great places. Look at the mission and job opportunities of the army and navy (and marine corps) and see which one best suits you and what you want to do. The navy and army are very different so pick the one that resonates most with your personality and aspirations because both schools are great and they're just a means to service in their respective branches."
     
  12. RazorMike

    RazorMike Member

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    Don't know if it's true or not but I've read that the West Point cadets are the happiest complainers in the world. My DS is currently a plebe. He really seems to be enjoying his time there even during the gloom period :eek:
     
  13. RazorMike

    RazorMike Member

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  14. GoBlue1984

    GoBlue1984 Member

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    Attitude, attitude, attitude. It is gloomy in jan to mar but my Plebe son likes it there. At least that is what he says. If you are looking to have "fun," no service academy is the right place. If you want to lead and serve - now that is a
    different story.
     
  15. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    BGO gave DS very good advice: "can you see yourself serving on a ship? And doing ship stuff?" And same for Army and Army stuff.

    Even if you are convinced you will go aviation or similar, you will have lots of Navy or Army "stuff" to get through, and they are very different. And you need to be prepared to live in those worlds for several years!

    Sent using the Service Academy Forums® mobile app
     
  16. nothingventurednothinggai

    nothingventurednothinggai Member

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    Its a real challenge to sort out these great choices. I will start with a funny story, but it also says a lot. I do a lot or work with DoD, and come from an Army family, dad USMA, but am 4F and never served. Wifes family, all Navy, Dad USNA 2 star. We have a lot of active duty friends.

    So one of our sons developed a bug to sail for Navy as a HS freshman. We called a friend who was the CO of an Arleigh Burke, and got him a ride. In the Ward Room the XO turned to my son and said "Son, I hope you are thinking about the Naval Academy". Son responded "I am Sir, but we are an Army Family and I am thinking about West Point as well"

    The XO said "Son, you dont want to do that. In the Army you get cold food in the rain and mud 6 days a week. One day a week, you build a fire to warm up, and people shoot morters at you. In the Navy, we get a hot shower every morning, air conditioning all day, and steak and lobster every night". Then he turned to me and said "Sir, I understand you are a taxpayer. They are small lobsters" -;

    So here is my takeaway. The Navy has about one hundred forty billion plus dollar machines supported by 500,000 uniformed and contract. The Burkes and the Fast Attacks. There are more Admirals than there are boats. Being a CO of one of them is awesome, but it takes 20 years, and very few get one. Everyone else is is in a support role, not to the CO, but to the machine. The CO is God. All below him, run a department to a 1000 page check list. I would rather be an 05 CO in the Navy, than an 05 in the Army.

    On the other hand, the Army is about people, and the units are smaller, and 01's and 02's and 03's are really running their show in their 20's. You will get to lead people, and be independently responsible for them early in your career. That doesnt happen in the Navy until you are a rare 05 who gets Command.

    If billion dollar systems crammed into 550 feet are exciting to you, and if you believe you can make the long haul to be a CO, Navy is it, I think. If people interest you, and you think you can be a CO, albeit of a much smaller Cadre in your 20's, then go for that.

    My kid spent a ton of time at Navy. He is a collegiate level boat racer, and that excited his 18 year old brain. He wasnt thinking about the service that comes after the Academy.

    He is now on the sailing team at USMA. He choose USMA because he said the kids were just more serious and mature. Afghanistan does that to people, but hopefully, that is over.

    I would much rather be a Captain in the Army than an 03 in the Navy. But I would rather be a CO as an 05 or 06 in the Navy.

    So the answer to your question is simple. You cannot go wrong either way.
     
  17. LJM

    LJM Member

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    Interesting Perspective

    As I'm in the same place as you, I've really been struggling to make the decision as well. I reached out to my Boys State counselor, who was a West Point grad in the early/mid 2000's and a ranger in the 75th, with some insight into this. His mindset was entirely different than anything I had heard thus far...

    Unless you are completely sold on serving in a particular field that the other doesn't offer, he advocated picking almost ENTIRELY on which school would be a better fit. At first, that seemed crazy to me. The more he explained his rationale, the more I realized that it was actually a great idea. If you think you would be happier at USMA vs USNA or vice versa, there's a good chance you will be able to learn to love at least ONE career path that your respective academy offers.

    Just a thought.
     
  18. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Fellow Hoosier Here

    Back a few years ago I was in the same sort of predicament.

    Did I want to go to USAFA/USAF or USCGA/USCG? I knew either way that I wanted to fly planes, but it was AIM that solidified it for me and I stopped applying to USAFA when I got in early action to CGA.

    If you're worried about shipboard life don't be-it's not that bad and you get to go to some pretty cool places (I've been to Europe, up and down the east coast, and all around the Caribbean).

    Pick the service that allows you to do something you're interested in/like the lifestyle of. Only 92 days to go till graduation for me and I know I've made the right choice.
     

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