Getting past the WOW factor...

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by USCGA_2018, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. USCGA_2018

    USCGA_2018 Member

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    And making a sound and reasoned decision.

    This is the dilemma that my son is facing. He was offered a full appointment to USCGA and was ready to sign and commit that day. He was so adamant about CG that he was going to cancel his MOC NOM interviews.

    In the time since learning about his USCGA Appointment, he received an LOA from USMMA and was then offered the Primary Nomination to West Point from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Yes, it sounds funny to say it that way, but that's how my son keeps referring to the personal phone call that he received after being taking out of class one week ago today. The "WOW Factor" was in full effect.

    Now, everybody that he engages in college and career talks with that learn of his choice invariably intimate that obviously your going to choose West Point. It's making me crazy. People with no real knowledge or experience are encouraging the selection of the USMA because "West Point" is a household term. It's frustrating and unfair.

    I'm hoping that there is someone here that perhaps has faced this decision or knows of a way to get my son's feet back on the ground so that he might make a reasoned and rational choice about his education, service and career.

    I don't want to convince my son to attend USCGA anymore than I want other folks persuading him to attend USMA. Besides visiting both academies again, talking to alum, visiting bases, etc... What else can or should be done to help make the decision?

    My apologies to candidates and parents of candidates that are still waiting to hear good news about their own applications. I don't mean to be inconsiderate to your plight. That waiting is difficult and nerve racking. This is just a different type of angst that we were not prepared for.

    Any USCGA and/or USMA folks in a three hour radius from Richmond, VA want to meet with my son to discuss your experiences at the academy and in the service? We would be happy to travel to meet with you. Private message me if you are interested in doing that.
     
  2. Big B's Dad

    Big B's Dad Member

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    The dilemma is his not yours. That may sound blunt but he has to choose the place that he wants to be at.

    We had a bit of a dilemma recently with my son who was nominated to both USNA and West Point and had a 3 year ROTC scholarship to a local University and was accepted to their Business School (harder to get into than USNA and WP). He decided that the Business school with the 3-year was a good fit as it allowed him to make some decisions later. He injured his shoulder in year 1 of ROTC and now is sitting out year 2 of ROTC. He is home now for break and said he doesn't think the shoulder can take a career in the military (he is awaiting word on a waiver) and that he wants to commit to the Business School 100%. He is making the decision (albeit with a medical issue pending). It might be part shoulder and part something else but it is his call not mine (I will gladly write checks for school and made sure we had a plan B for that).

    Standing back now I can see that he is in control and making his decisions and owning them. I talked to a baseball player's Mom who ended up leaving USAFA after a year and she said everyone but him thought it a no-brainer to attend when offered. He later admitted he did it because he felt he had no choice after being offered a chance to attend. Bottom line applying and interviewing is not the real test of their desire to attend in some cases. Only they can measure that when the time comes.

    My advice to my son and my current one going through the process is get as many options as you can in front of you and make the choice only when you have all the options (considering deadlines). For my second son it is the USCGA or Marine OCS or possibly Navy ROTC. He didn't want to apply for the others as he felt his choice would not be one of those. When he said "I don't think I want to apply there" it was a done deal for me. Different than your dilemma but my point is he is in control of the no's and not me.

    You can help with a sit down, but make them talk it out and make informed and decisions that they own...not one you sold them. I went through Marine OCS and was amazed at how many guys were there that didn't want to be. I keep that in mind when I "help" my kids through the process...its a gray line but one I know is there.
     
  3. grevar

    grevar CGA Admissions Partner

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    PM

    Sent you a PM
     
  4. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    At some point the answer for "Why USCGA over USNA" was "I didn't want to settle."

    USMA and USNA are obviously better known than USCGA, but not "better".

    And he may be reminded that the WOW is also those people realizing, likely for the first time, that USCGA is the kind of place that someone MAY chose ahead of Annapolis or West Point. "Wow, I didn't realize that." Well, now they do. And you can take that opportunity to educate them WHY it is often the better school (uh oh, LITS said his alma mater is better...)

    Possibly as a joke, with an element of truth, when people asked "Why Coast Guard over Navy..." the answer was "because I wanted to be good at my job."

    Once you get to USCGA, there's no more doubt or concern. You've made the right choice and don't have the "is it as well known." Who cares? Your classmates won't.

    And then you'll graduate, and it will be the same thing all over again, this time with the service instead of the school.

    At some point along the way you realize you don't need the world to know you fight Lava Monsters at the top of mountains like Marines, or ski to the peaks with your sniper rifle like the Army, or do some kind of 70%-80%-90%-100% thing like the Navy....

    You protect and regulate 96,000 sq miles of coastline and inland waterways, you're organization is from way back in 1790.... and your entire force is smaller than the officer force of the Navy. You work in old ships on new missions and you get no respect from your sister services until their crusty old master chiefs get sea sick on your 110' cutter. You hear the 6ft tall jokes and "not a branch of the military" from folks who sit in an office for 20 years in Texas. Through it all you'll remember that you and your shipmates know the truth, and you stop worrying about impressing everyone else. They get pretty damn impressed when you save their lives.
     
  5. coastiefam

    coastiefam Member

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    I'm going to send you a pm

    Sent using the Service Academy Forums® mobile app
     
  6. Blackbird

    Blackbird Parent

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    First, congrats to you and your DS. USCGA, USMMA, USMA. Impressive.

    Second, time may lessen the WOW factor. He has until May to make his choice. Encourage him to enjoy this season and remind him that there is no rush no matter who or what may be pushing him.

    Third, help him understand that a SA is just the stepping stone to a much broader life/career. What does he want to be doing in 8 years? I get that this is a difficult question for most 18 year olds but he needs to consider the huge difference between serving in the CG and the Army. Perhaps by focusing on the very different potential opportunities that are provided by the CG, Army, and Merchant Marine your DS will be able to make the best long term decision for him.

    Last, I find myself just praying a lot for my son over these type of decisions. The more that I read on this Forum the more I realize that the Appointment is just the beginning of the parent's roller coaster ride.
     
  7. AuxNoob

    AuxNoob CGA Admissions Partner

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    What LITS said.

    What Blackbird said.

    Read them again.

    Yes, it is tough for a 18 year old to see down the road past graduation to actual service. The question he has to figure out is what mission does he want to do.

    Name recognition doesn't have a lot to do with that. If he wants sea service, West Point ain't gonna cut it.:thumb:
     
  8. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    +1 to what's been said above. The only thing I can add is that although rationality does come into play in making the decision, a certain part of it is irrational as well. What's in your heart is not rational, but sometimes you just have to follow it. So it can be emotional, but similar to "is it for the right reasons", you have to ask "is it for the right emotions". I would say choosing one over another because it's more prestigious would be the wrong reason or emotion. Choosing it because "I want to be good at my job" or "I want to be satisfied and take pride in my job" is a good reason/emotion. But in any case, it won't be entirely a rational decision.

    Hope this made some sense.
     
  9. Packer

    Packer Member

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    No reason to rush the decision. Encourage your son to not make the decision until later. The emotions will settle down with time and the decision will be a better blend of the rational and the emotional.
    Congratulations to him, he is in a very enviable position!
     
  10. Objee

    Objee USCGA Admissions

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    As others have said, there is no reason to rush this decision. We know that some of the other service academies are requiring accept/decline decisions prior to the traditional May 1st deadline that virtually all colleges, including CGA, have agreed to observe; however, we also know that extensions are granted when requested. At a minimum, he should participate in our Academy Experience Program and similar "appointees only" visitation programs at the other service academies prior to making his decision. Even if he did AIM, the other summer seminar programs, or overnight visits prior to being appointed, the time on campus is much more important/meaningful with an appointment in hand and decision to make.

    We appreciate how hard it can be for appointees to think four years into the future, but sometimes it helps to stop comparing the service academies and start comparing the services. That is, visit www.uscg.mil and www.army.mil to learn about the missions (they are very different) and the life that will come after graduation. Your idea of speaking with recent graduates is a great idea and your son's Admissions Officers should be able to coordinate those meetings. If he really can't decide which service he prefers then USMMA may be the best place for him since he could be commissioned into any service, or pursue civilian employment opportunities while serving in the Navy Reserve, following graduation.

    I can't speak for the other service academies, but we want our appointees to make the right decision for them and understand that's not always going to be CGA.
     
  11. USCGA_2018

    USCGA_2018 Member

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    Thanks for all the comments and words of wisdom. As usual, these forums never disappoint.

    I had DS read the thread and the PMs. I can tell he is thinking again! We are going to enjoy Christmas and New Years and then in January he will start an evaluation in earnest of his options.

    Again, thanks for the support, encouragement and guidance. It is greatly appreciated.
     
  12. BruceRTalbot

    BruceRTalbot Member

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    My daughter, who graduated USCGA class of 2013, recently spoke to a student who was in a similar situation: multiple service academy offers. The applicant was very focused on comparing the schools however, my daughter urged her to consider what she will be doing after graduation. "You will be spending MORE years in your military service job after graduation than you will in the 4-school years."

    In your case, there is a bigger difference in the jobs your son will be doing after graduation from USMA, USMMA or USCGA than in the schools.
     

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