Difference in USAFA, USNA, and USMA

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by bandad, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. bandad

    bandad Member

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    Any thoughts on the differences between USAFA and USNA during the 4 years in school (not asking about service afterwards)? DS has visited USNA (STEM/SS) and did a visit to USAFA (daily visit with a cadet including class, lunch, etc). Also realize that USNA is in town, and USAFA is a bit removed from town. DS has talked about difference in Majors, but what the difference in life/culture/time at these two academies? From DS' perspective, the two academies appear to be similar but I know there are differences and he has applied to both for the class of 2017. Also, how does WP compare?

    Maybe a mid/cadet that participated in one of the academy exchange programs between USMA, USAFA, and USNA can reply...

    WPig - Instead of hijacking the other thread, I "borrowed" your quote. :thumb:

    Thx,
    bandad
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2012
  2. jct95

    jct95 Member

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    I think your son should take into consideration what he actually wants to do in the Military. For example, I'm very dedicated to what I want to do in thr Military and what branch Inwould want to serve in.
     
  3. bandad

    bandad Member

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    DS goal is to serve his country, and he may be interested in flying. He could fly at either academy, would be honored to go to an academy and is open to a career path (and even major) at this point. I hear there are significant differences and I am just trying to understand some of the differences in life at the academies while you are in school.

    bandad
     
  4. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    Great! I'm hoping that someone's knowledgeable about these institutions and their services might lend some insight to this. I've some ideas, but this needs input from those who have upclose experience in 2 or more.

    I think it could be very helpful to students considering these options. I guess we'll see ...:confused:
     
  5. bandad

    bandad Member

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    WP - sent you a PM
     
  6. stella

    stella Member

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    USNA vs USAFA

    We have 'heard' that USNA is more diverse than the USAFA...in all ways (racial, economic, political beliefs, etc.). This came from student who visited both many times and went to summer programs at both, talked with graduates of his high school who were at both.
    He liked that 'feel' of USNA more.
    I remember he also said that the environment of USNA was a bit more urban and educational because of its proximity to DC and the outings and visitors it offered.
    He liked USAFA, just found it more isolated and homogeneous.

    He did not investigate West Point beyond one visit. Great, beautiful place, but it did not 'click' for him. He is a white male, somewhat conservative and wanting an academy that would expose him to lots of different kinds of people and beliefs. He felt this would be so at the USNA above the others.

    Would love to hear if others believe the above to be accurate.

    Anne
     
  7. calebss310

    calebss310 USNA Class of 2016

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    We have the CIC trophy. :cool:
     
  8. subvet

    subvet Member

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    Sent you a PM
     
  9. Vista123

    Vista123 Member

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    My cousin went to usna but spent 1 semester at usma as an exchange. My son asked him the differences and below was his email reply (remember though, cousin describes himself as an "Old NAG" and is biased)

    "All of the major academies are top tier schools. In my opinion among the three, Navy is the most academically rigorous especially in science, math, and engineering. Civil engineering is probably the exception since I dont think Navy carries that subspecialty. I took EE and physics at both schools. At navy I had to work my butt off studying, At army I spent my study time polishing my shoes and trying to stay out of trouble ;) didnt crack a book until midterms. That's probably changed some and is all relative. whatever you choose - You'll work hard and meet some great people. If you are looking for a challenge, an opportunity for leadership, you couldnt go wrong either way."
     
  10. subvet

    subvet Member

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    Vista did you get the answer to 2/C loan questions?
     
  11. Vista123

    Vista123 Member

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    (sorry - off topic)

    Thanks for asking subvet. I actually was initially interested in the ACE loan information-but I didn't ask my question clearly enough. (as usual I know what I am thinking but it doesnt match what my fingers tap out) DS was applying for a scholarship that his club team gives out but he had to document his costs for college. We tried to gather more information on that by looking for documents regarding the ace loan. It was only somewhat answered. I am sure there are more costs but i cant find anything official (IE club sports, some leadership summer trainings, printer ). If he makes his sports team he will have to purchase all of his own gear which is up to $1,000 per year-so that will eat up alot of his "pay" :rolleyes:.
     
  12. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    Of course I may be a bit biased, but I truly believe that the Naval Academy allows for the widest area of viable choices than the other service academies. It leaves a lot of room for varying tastes in careers.

    As an example - in the Air Force, as an officer, you're either a pilot or you are not. Nobody will ever come right out and say it, but you're a second class citizen if you are a non-pilot. And those who reach the highest ranks are usually pilots.

    In the Army, you are going to be on a ground force of some kind. Warrant Officers are mostly flying those Army helicopters you see. You better like getting dirty because that's what the Army is all about. They are ground pounders. Some people like that kind of stuff. They're into all that Rambo stuff. If that's what you like, then USMA would be a perfect choice.

    At the Naval Academy there is such a wide variety of choices, all of which can lead to a very viable career.

    You like getting dirty like they do in the Army? Become a Marine. Or maybe even a SEAL!

    Want to fly like they do in the Air Force? Go ahead and become a pilot!

    You can be on a ship!

    You can be in a submarine!

    All these things are very different.

    To me, the other service academies are very monolithic compared to the variety of Navy options.

    If you go to USMA or USAFA and change your mind about what you want to do - you're kind of stuck.
     
  13. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    Great gouge! And does make a clear case in terms of the end games, for sure. And for what it's worth, I fully concur with Memphis.

    What about the environments, the rules and regs, assignments, locations, "culture." Anyones willing to venture out?

    Backing it up some ... what are the key differences in SAs in candidacy/appointment process? What about daily life at each?

    While I'm not the one capable of explaining this, what I do know is that the Navy is not the Army is not the Air Force is not the Coast Guard is not the Merchant Marine.

    And yet we continually see students either unaware or ignoring these vast differences, or not seeing them as important to their lives.
     
  14. Grad/Dad

    Grad/Dad Member

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    I am a USMA grad whose son is set on USNA which I think is the best choice for him but I will be glad to share my perspective. When we start started this process, he was dead set on West Point having attended soccer camp there 2 summers ago. I insisted on visiting all three academies during the academic year so that he could see what life was really like. Although, the 2 night visit at Navy was the most beneficial, I feel we were still able to learn what we needed. Here are the main differences as he and I saw them. Some of these had bearing on the decision and some did not.

    1) Tradition/history - West Point came out on top with Navy a close second. Air Force being built after WWII isn't even in the game.
    2) Academics - Although all three are fine institutions, you need to evaluate this based on your preferred field of study. Both my son and I are Engineer types and we were blown away with the Engineering tour and facilities that we saw at NAVY. We actually talked to Engineering students that were building and launching their own satellites into space. I was disappointed that neither USMA or USAFA emphasized this during their short tours. Having graduated from West Point I would also like to point out that the "Thayer" method used for instruction at USMA is not for everyone.
    3) Fourth Class system - West Point is without a doubt the hardest with USAFA being the easiest. One example: WP allows Plebes only 2 off post passes the first year but then again, where are they going to go, McDonald's in Highland Falls??? At the other two, you can get off post and decompress for a 12 hours nearly every weekend during the academic year.
    4) Athletics - OK, no Army Navy Football cracks. Athletics are big at all three but because of the size of the posts, both USMA and USAFA's facilities dwarf Navy's. If you are not a recruited varsity athlete, I suggest that you check out which club sports are offered at the respective academies. My son's thing is soccer and West Point dropped Club soccer due to funding.
    5) Mission - I know that you didn't want to hear about service after graduation but if you understand the differences in their missions, you will better understand why and what the differences are during the 4 years at the academies. West Point is all about leading people because that's what their Grads do. Air Force is all about Technology and Navy is about leading Technical people.

    In our state, my son had to make his choice during the nomination process. It is a well know fact that in Wisconsin, the Congressman and Senators coordinate their nominations in such a manner that they can give the most people nominations. Which means, you are only likely to get your first choice. In the end, he chose Navy over West Point because of one thing...water. He is a swimmer and a wake boarder. He loves being in and on the water. Everything else that was important to him was equal between the two. He was not impressed by the Air Force Academy.

    Hope this helps.
     
  15. wannabe2013

    wannabe2013 Member

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    Air Force is the most relaxed. A Aero Major friend of mine was on exchange at AF, and he didn't crack a book. Their plebe year ends half-way through the spring semester. Somehow they have more take home pay than midshipmen. They have liberty on a regular basis, and they have beer on base. They can wear civilian clothes as plebes and drive as 3/c. I've also hear they can commission as hotel-management officers. Its a friendly joke among the Academies that USAFA isn't really a 'military' Academy because of the above. Regardless of whether you think its good or bad, its the closest to a civilian school in terms of personal life.
    Navy is probably middle ground as far as 'military'ness. We're in an urban area which is an amazing advantage compared to all of the other Academies. It makes life a lot better; however, as a 4/c or 3/c you're always in uniform and cant drive far away which means you're never able to relax. Life in the hall isn't too bad. Its definitely strict, plebes have special rates, 3 formations a day (as opposed to AF's occasional 1), parades, watch, no beer, and other professional obligations. Nothing is unbearable, but there are significantly more obligations.
    WP has the reputation has the reputation for being the most hard-core. We theorize that it has a lot to do with the fact that WP is so gloomy in the winter time. They have a lot of the same military obiligations as navy, but ad on the fact that plebes can't talk outside and they have super-strict room inspections a couple of times a semester as opposed to Navy's once per semester. Through personal interactions with midshipmen and woops, I prefer Navy's leadership style. WP is a lot more no-nonsense, do as I say because I said so. Navy is more new-age and cooperative or more 'relaxed' leadership (only slightly). I will admit that a lot of midshipmen don't practice this style very well and end up just being doormats, but its just an observation.
    CG is definitely the most hard-core (youtube and all streaming websites are shut down outside of working hours), but they seem to love it and they're universally excited about doing the job they'll have after graduation. That's something you can't say about USNA, USAFA, or USMA.
     
  16. Melitzank

    Melitzank Member

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    Grad/Dad and wannabe2013, thank you for that input, I think everyone will like that input, some great perspective.
     
  17. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    Agree 97133M ... Both responses lend really good "meat" to gnaw off the bone that might mightily serve candidates pondering this plunge.

    In fact, there are 5 different SAs for a reason. Presumably because of what Grad/Dad's point #5 touches on ...

    "5) Mission - I know that you didn't want to hear about service after graduation but if you understand the differences in their missions, you will better understand why and what the differences are during the 4 years at the academies. West Point is all about leading people because that's what their Grads do. Air Force is all about Technology and Navy is about leading Technical people."

    G/D ... and others ... can you expand upon this any for readers? Seems to me THIS is the real end game. Or should we say 5 end games?

    There are many issues that may not be obvious to novice wannabes ... location of where men & women will serve. The kind of "tours" they will experience. Varied impact upon families (Even WITHIN a chosen service.) Family benefits, or lack there of for specific services. Post-grad educational expectations AND opportunities. More on the TYPE of work done. Differences in POST-Service careers and experiences. Differences in chosen fields such as medicine, law,clergy, others among the Services. Locations where post-servicemen and women tend to live.

    No doubt some of these may be insignificant or silly questions. And no doubt there are many better questions that responses will lend valuable insight for wondering minds and budding candidates.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  18. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    It seems fairly obvious, but USMA focuses much more on ground activities -- land nav, marching with packs, living outdoors for extended periods, etc. This is especially true during the summers. So, if crawling around in the dirt isn't for you, you probably won't be too happy at WP.

    USNA obviously has a lot of focus on water activities -- sailing and seamanship and even swimming. So, if you don't like being on the water . . . well . . . In some ways, you have the broadest choice of career opportunities -- drives ships, drives subs, fly planes, or be a Marine. However, if you want to do something very different (i.e., hospital administration, logistics or hotel management -- all jokes aside), your chances are much better at USMA or USAFA.

    USAFA cadets do a lot more flying -- gliders, small planes, etc. It obviously lacks the tradition of the older SAs -- but that allows you to help build the tradition. I believe that, in the USAF, there is still a big divide between those who fly and those who don't -- so consider that if you don't intend to fly.

    USCGA focuses not only on water but also on police type activities given their mission. They do some really neat things! However, the academy itself if VERY small -- you'll probably know everyone there, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective.

    USMA takes marching seriously. USNA pretends to. USAFA doesn't even pretend.:yllol:

    I think most would agree that USMA is the most "military," probably followed by USNA and USAFA. Not sure where USCGA fits in.

    And, to the USMMAers out there, I don't know enough about it to comment. However, it is a great school and offers terrific opportunities upon graduation.
     
  19. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    GREAT insights, 1985. Maybe you'd lend some additional (I know you've done this before, but not on this thread) about being a barrister and the different paths (or lack there of) among the SAs.

    RE: 1985's quote... Or maybe if flying doesn't intend to be for you down the road.

    Note also that while many may go in thinking "flying", pilot, aviation, this has its own significant hurdles for health, "fit", fitness, academics, etc. MANY who go in thinking this, do not end up in this community. And ... even when they do, flight school is very demanding and some fail to make it through these additonal years of education and training.

    And this is the same for Navy, Coast Guard. Army's flight program is totally different, using mostly enlisted warrant officers to fly choppers, as I understand.

    And so, even for those determined that aviation is the row they want to hoe, careful consideration and examination of the alternative options for a chosen service is essential. And it may well push candidates leading one way or the other, toward a specific choice for well-considered, practical reasons. For example, if one doesn't ever want sea duty or chronic flying over H2O? Well, AF might be the better choice. If one doesn't see flying a drone from a computer in Wichita to be such a great plan B, well CG or NAVY might be a better option, especially if the idea of serving on a ship or sub might be viable, enticing plan Bs.

    The toughest part might be helping adolescent "immortals" to consider their own human frailties and pragmatic preferences. :eek::rolleyes::shake:
     
  20. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    I can speak primarily for USNA but, as I understand it, the SAs are NOT a good way to become a JAG.

    You cannot go JAG directly from USNA (or, I believe, the other SAs) the way you can go to med school (at least from USNA). Rather, once you are on active duty, you can apply to have the USN send you to law school. It's VERY competitive and you must start law school before you have completed 6 yrs on AD (not counting the SA time). Because you graduate in May, you must start law school 5 yrs after you graduate. This is written into the law and thus is not waiverable.

    This is important b/c this means you must apply to law school and, concurrently, to the USNA program 4 yrs after you're out which means you should be taking LSATs (and prep courses) 3 yrs after you're out. What I'm saying is that you must decide pretty quickly upon graduation that this is what you want to do.

    If you're accepted to the program, USNA pays your tuition and pays you a salary. You pay room & board, etc. Upon graduation from law school, you go to JAG school and then, most likely, to a CVN for your first tour. Payback is 6 yrs which means that, when you consider your time in school and your USNA commitment and your JAG commitment, you're looking at 20.

    The alternative is to do your 5+ years, get out and go to law school on your own. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your departure (i.e., do you get a separation bonus, etc.), you may or may not be able to come back into the military as a JAG. I would say that the overwhelming majority do not.

    Those who primarily want to be USN JAGs are better off NOT going to a SA.

    Finally, if you think you want to be a JAG b/c of what you've seen on NCIS or in the movie "A Few Good Men," think again. It's a terrific experience b/c of the level of responsibility you get very early; but I doubt many would say it's "glamorous" work or, like most things, remotely similar to what you see portrayed in Hollywood.
     

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