Expecting the unexpected at the Academy?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by ctuma2, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. ctuma2

    ctuma2 Member

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    Ever since I learned about USAFA, I have been determined to attend and I know that no matter what happens, I will always do my best because serving my country is my main goal. Now my question is purely spurred out of curiosity because I honestly don't know why the case is how it stands.

    Throughout my research and browsing, I have come across many stories from cadets who state that the academy is not all that it is made up to be. I've read that many cadets, especially the upperclassmen, get cynical about their time at the academy. Does anyone (perhaps graduate or current cadets) know why cadets would have that opinion. What exactly were people expecting that while attending the academy, they realize they don't want to be there anymore?
     
  2. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    A lot of people put the academy on a pedestal. They think that everyone there will be professional military geniuses and athletes. Reality is different. Yes, cadets are smart, athletic, and involved in the military, but that does not make everyone superman. There will be many times where poor planning, assumptions, and bureaucracy will be evident. Sometimes stupid decisions will become policy. Some cadets will not consider the consequences of their actions. Some will fail their PT tests. Some will fail classes. In short, while the caliber of people is pretty high, they are all still just people.
     
  3. Texasrocks

    Texasrocks Member

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    I guess much the same could be said about many things in life - the perfect job, perfect vacation, perfect place to live... seeking nirvana and the greener grass only to find you still have to mow it, water it, fertilize it.

    I think many of the cadets realize that while the academy was the pinnicle at the time they sought it out, it is merely a stepping stone to the bigger mountains to climb and once they realize that there is some let down.
     
  4. falconfamily

    falconfamily Member

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    Consider that there are about 4000+/- cadets at the academy on any given year, so the idea of "many cadets" feeling cynical might need to be considered with respect to that context, i.e. 100 comments online over a 4 year period is only a small fraction of the students at USAFA. Then understand that everyone goes to USAFA with their own expectations and reasons for being there. Some find out very quickly that they want no part of it and will process out before they even get on the bus on I-Day. Many will depart during the first semester, others will not return after Christmas leave. It is said that the best view of the Academy for most former cadets is from the rear view mirror as they depart after graduation. Yet if you ask a graduate what they thought of their academy experience, most if not nearly all will say it was worth it and was one of the great accomplishments of their lives.

    No matter what college you go to, you will find huge plusses and minusses. It is the nature of things. But I think that expectations amplify disappointments and challenges. Perhaps that is why you see cynical comments from upperclassmen about their time at the service academies, it is not unexpected and while it is worth considering, it needs to be considered in perspective to other colleges.
     
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    It is definitely natural. The academy even expects it. Minus the economy being a factor in a higher retention, it is not uncommon in the past for 50+ to simply quit during basic training. It simply wasn't what they thought it would be. And unfortunately, until you're there, you have no true idea of what you're getting into. And we're talking about people who said "I've wanted to go to the air force academy my WHOLE LIFE". In the past, there would be on average 1200-1300 appointments per year, and within 4 years, the graduating class would be approximately 950-1000. Some were dismissed for academic, honor, and other administrative reasons; but many simply quit within their first 2 years. It simply wasn't what they though it would be.

    And even the most knowledgeable cadets, who know the most about the academy, such as military brats; even many of them don't realize exactly what they were getting into. So when you ask; what were they expecting that they didn't find, and then want to leave the academy....... I don't think it's so much a matter of WHAT, but rather HOW! When I say HOW, I mean that most people coming to the academy don't realize how much time and effort is going to be required of them. I don't think they realize how they are going to be treated in order to reach the air force's goals for their training. I don't think they realize how little control they have over their own lives and decisions. The air force is a way of life. It's something that much bigger than any one individual. And the academy is just the beginning of that way of life. Yes, once you graduate and get commissioned, you'll have a lot more freedom and say so over your future. But it's not absolute. Everything from your dress and appearance to your conduct on AND OFF duty is dictated. I think that's the part that most people who quit the academy come to realize, and decide they can't live that way.

    Unfortunately, many believe that if they go off to ROTC or graduate college and get commissioned through OTS, that somehow it's going to be different or better. It isn't. The air force (military) is still the same. And this isn't just an academy cadet thing. There are many enlisted who think the military is something they've always wanted too. Then, they realize it's not what they thought it was going to be. They do their 4 years and they get out. So I don't think that there's really any expectations that the cadet didn't find; but rather I think they just didn't realize how much work and sacrifice it takes to achieve those expectations of a quality education; serving your country; and being part of something bigger than yourself, where the "Needs of the Many, outweigh the needs of the Few".
     
  6. thealt

    thealt Member

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    Sounds a lot like real life.
     

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