Leaving the Academy

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by TexasSailor, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. TexasSailor

    TexasSailor New Member

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    Disillusioned student here looking for advice.

    When I first found out about USMMA, I thought my dream job would be working on a ship. I still think it's pretty cool, the travel and adventure is definitely appealing. But now that I'm here I've sort of stopped romanticizing things. In all honesty, the lifestyle of always being going and never being home anywhere for more than a few months now scares the absolute heck out of me. I kind of want stability later in my life. I'm a deckie, not an engineer, so shoreside employment would definitely be pretty limited if I stayed through. But at the same time, I'm afraid these feelings might be temporary and if I quit I'll regret it for a long time. Can anyone who might've had similar feelings offer some advice? Could I just be experiencing a weird form of home sickness, or are these feelings a legitimate enough reason to transfer out?
     
  2. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    1. There are many different options available as it pertains to sailing schedules. You may find yourself gone far, far, far more than you are home (MSC), you could basically set your own schedule (Union Hall), or you can work a shorter set rotational schedule (inland/offshore) anywhere from 7on-7off, to 28on-28off.

    2. Shoreside employment options for deckies are more prevalent and varied than it may appear at this stage of your education. You are only limited by you.
     
  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    You have to answer that. I will say that you're not committed to doing it forever, and when you do it you will be a young adult looking fir just that adventure before you settle down. I say stick with it and see what comes out the other end. You can always change things then if you need to.
     
  4. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Unless you are lucky, you will not find a job/career that is perfect.

    Unless you have a better alternative (I will figured it out is not a better alternative), stay until you come up with a workable plan. Easier to find a new job/career when you have a job/career.
     
  5. TexasSailor

    TexasSailor New Member

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    I've already decided that if I drop from here, I'll transfer back to my home state and pursue a physician's assistant career path. That was my original plan before I found out about the maritime industry. It's just I'm uncertain and scared that if I drop for what I want right now, I'll realize later on that it was just a temporary desire
     
  6. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    If so I would say you still don't have better alternative. Have you taken necessary steps to start school back in home state as soon as you get back? Do you have money to pay for school or applied for loans?

    Going back your concern, our lives don't work like that. Many things in life, we don't know how we feel about it until we do it and the consequences kick in.

    Did you consider going active military after graduating from USMMA, serve out your military oblgiation, than pursuing PA career path? If you are 17 or 18, graduate 21 or 22, serve 5 years, 26 or 27 start PA school.
     
  7. BuckeyeGuy

    BuckeyeGuy Member

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    Only you can decide what is best for you. Not sure if you are a Plebe or 3C, 2C, 1C.

    I never attended any of the academies. I cannot even begin to know what you are experiencing.

    I do agree with MemberLG...you are still young and will be when you graduate and if you do go active duty, perhaps Coast Guard, you could be stationed state side and possibly take classes while serving. There is a KP grad who is a Moderator on here and I believe they are practicing medicine. So you too can pursue a new and different career after you graduate.

    Personally, I would finish out the year and then re-evaluate your situation. If you do finish out the year you have a chance to transfer your credits or test out of classes at your new school and that will be that much less you will have to pay for tuition. If you are a plebe, it will get better and if you wait until the end of the year, you could change your mind or not. Regardless, you need to do your best now at the academy in all aspects...physical, mental and especially academics because if you do stay you want the best GPA to make your life easier/better with a few added liberties for getting those good grades. If you don't do your best academically and you do decide to leave, your classes may not transfer. If you don't do your best no matter where you are, your life could become more difficult and you could/will suffer more ways than one.

    If you are still unsure what to do, consider talking to the Chaplain regardless if you are religious or not, it should be confidential and you should not have to worry about repercussions by others.

    Best of luck in what ever you decide.
     
  8. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    Stick it out through at least your first run of sea year. . . . what looks unstable now may be stable by the time that you graduate, and vice versa. Take advantage of this opportunity. I never regretted my time there, although I can tell you that I didn't much care for it except for sea year. . . if medicine is still appealing to you, you can do that, too. I know one of the moderators has moved into that career. I eventually came ashore, but having graduated has been helpful in my career, and I look back at my time at sea (both during school and the years after) fondly. That is a lifestyle that very few outside of the maritime community even understands. . . I didn't really struggle academically at KP, but I did have to work at it. The Regiment? Initially, I had some real issues with it until I figured it out. Others have written here with far more eloquence than I, but find something that interests you to take your mind off of it. For me, it was the Rugby Club. . . . and other activities. Don't let a decision that you make as a teenager affect your future self. . . . just sayin'. Oh, and in the long run, there IS no real stability in life. . . When I sailed, I worked for several different companies, the longest being roughly four years, but I eventually got laid off from that one, too. I was always able to find another berth, though.
     
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  9. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Something I haven't seen addressed yet. It would likely do you a world of good to evaluate what, specifically, about your goals is motivating and appealing for you. I mean specific, tangible factors, not your dream. (Dreams vaporize in adversity.) Try to identify why your dream job was working on a ship. What specific personal goals did it fulfill for you? Was it (just) the romance of visiting exotic ports of call? The good salary and future in the field? Are you someone who thrives on change and newness? Whatever your reasons, spend some time getting crystal clear about those. Same for medicine. Consider your personal values - what matters to you, not what you THINK should matter. Is it service? If so, how do your career choices fulfill this personal value? Was it bravery? Loyalty? Intelligence or integrity? The clearer a picture you can develop for yourself about how your future goals help you become more fully YOU, the more likely are those goals, whatever they are, to carry you through the adversity of the next four years, whether that's USMMA or State U.

    What I can also say is that almost every college freshman is, or soon will be, in your shoes. You're 17-19, a young adult for sure - but you have probably not been away from home and completely, totally on your own. The bubble is gone. Add to that the massive, major "interruption" to your easygoing routine that is a life at a service academy (and not even as a plebe yet, correct??), and you would be completely nuts not to ask, "What the hell am I doing? Here?" One of the most valuable things a young person can learn is how to have an emotion, but not inhabit it. All I mean by that is, you can be upset about a test score without firing off a snarky email to your professor. (I am not saying you did or would, just giving an example to illustrate.) Similarly, you can be surprised and disgruntled and dejected and uncertain, without having to act on those emotions right now. This is what everyone means when they say, never leave on a bad day.

    You bring up possible regrets and I think you're showing a lot of personal insight to do so. That practice (looking inside yourself) will serve you very well in your future, whatever it may be. But you're also very, very early in the game. Very few of your peers have any real idea what they'll do after four years and 300(+) sea days, and it's completely normal for you not to know how life in four years is going to look.

    In the short term, you're committed for a year now. Also, if you change your mind about USMMA, the courses you take this year are mostly transferrable and will be important to your pre-health curriculum requirements. Why not stay for a year? Why not see what you're capable of, while formulating a clear set of personal goals and the clear plan to advance toward them?
     
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  10. USMA Mom

    USMA Mom New Member

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    All great advice. I just want to add a personal experience.

    I was a cadet at USMA... years and years ago. When I went to the academy, my intent was to be career military like my father. The first year was tough, but I made it through. The second year was easier. I even made the honor roll my yearling year. However, I didn't think I would be able to do what I wanted, when I graduated. I could not image what it would be like spending 5 YEARS doing something I wouldn’t like, let alone 20. (When you are 19, 5 years is an eternity!) Here is the thing – I didn’t know what I would have been doing in the Army, I just made some assumptions and focused on the negative. That wasn’t my only concern; I had others, all equally weak. Ultimately, I resigned prior to the start of my junior year. I went to a civilian university and graduated in my career field. I’ve had a very successful career. (Funny thing is that I’m not currently doing what I thought I would when I was in college. I know very few people who do.)

    Within weeks of resigning, I regretted that decision. I still regret that decision (20+ years later). I had never quit anything before, and I felt like a loser. If someone found out I went to West Point. I always thought I had to 'justify' my decision. 'Oh, was it too tough for you? You couldn't handle it?' I spent a lot of time contemplating “what if”….. What if I had stayed? Where would I be? What are my friends doing? Even today, when I look back at that decision, I still think I made the wrong decision. I think what I missed most was the camaraderie and esprit de corps.

    I only know a small handful of people that left voluntarily and all of them regretted that decision, even if they went on to successful careers. I’ve never met anyone who left and said, “That was the best decision for me.” I’m sure they exist. Maybe you will fall into that category. Just make sure that if you leave, you leave for the right reasons.
     
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  11. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    I can say that there are some that I know (or knew) personally who left KP and didn't regret it, but those were the ones who quit to stay at sea and earn their license through the "hawsepipe". The industry has changed so much since then, I don't know if that happens any longer.

    KP grads get a lot of flak in the industry, but when I sailed, I avoided most of it by just getting my job done. . . .I even was told by a few that I was lying when I told them I went to KP. . . . and took it as a compliment. . .
     
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  12. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    When I was sailing inland I never made mention of being a KPer. I worked hard and never copped an attitude about my “pedigree”. I cooked when asked and cleaned toilets when asked. I chipped, painted and needle gunned when asked. The mate and deckhand would sit next to me and be slamming Academy guys as “buying” their licenses but I just continued to keep my mouth shut and do my job.

    It came out when I was telling a sea story about a trip to Singapore and another deckhand asked if I was a wiper or QMED on the ship and I was forced to “admit” I was a cadet. Later while going under the Throgs Neck bridge, the first deckhand pointed at Ft. Schuyler and asked if that was where I went to school. When I poined at KP and saying I went to the Federal Academy he asked what the difference was. I pointed at Ft. Schuyler and said “here they buy their licenses” then pointed at KP and said “over there YOU bought My license”.

    I must have done OK there because the owner called me about six months after I left asking me to come back. I was the first Academy grad they had ever hired and now they go to the Academy career fairs.
     
  13. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    First - let me say this is a great thread with a LOT of good points and advice. Sounds like you are a probably a plebe or third classman and you are indeed going through a phase of being at KP that I believe over 90% of everyone who attends goes through - I call it staring into the abyss. And it usually happens sometime during our first 18 months at Kings Point... Yes if you are an plebe to some degree it's a form of homesickness or a little "buyer's remorse."

    Did you just see a couple facebook posts from your high school classmates at "State U" now with big red cups surrounded by dancing and partying members of the opposite sex? Or perhaps a letter or email from your BF/GF about their arrival at "State U" and how many quirky, cool, etc. people live on their hall/floor/etc.? Then of course you had to go off and do your cleaning station, or perhaps seeing folks from home or thinking about it as part of Parent's Weekend triggered it? Or, or, or..

    My advice is what I told my DS when he had his abyss moment during the "dark days of winter" Feb/March of his plebe year, though I'm thinking for you this is occuring early in your plebe year - 1) if you haven't been to sea you really don't know wether you'll love it, hate it, or somewhere in between so go sign up for "B" Split (going to sea in June) stick it out though your first sea year, then think it out and decide to stay or leave. 2) As has been said above you will have many career options and choices - I was/am a deckie, my son was/is a deckie (Shopper); I'm on my third career and the sum total of time I've been unemployed since graduation June of 1982 was four (4) HOURS in 2010 when I left a job without any real backup plan at the time. So my advice and experience is don't make any decisions on a preconceived notion about what options and opportunities graduating as a deckie will provide you.

    You'll be a SA graduate with a ton of experience and maturity upon graduation and that, in and of itself will open doors for you or more importantly give you the confidence to open them yourself you can't even imagine right now. You'll be part of an alumni group that is second to none. I could go one and if you want me to PM me and I'll expand on this aspect of my answer.

    If you are in either your second or first class year then my advice is stick it out graduate, satisfy your obligation - five years of that isn't very long at all. So though it may seem a long time to you, odds are those five years without student loan debt, a solid first job or jobs, will set you up for lots of great things the rest of your life, as well or better than what you'll have to spend getting to "where you want to be" as well or better than if you leave now. So if it's just fears and not a total loathing of being at sea based on your full first sea year experience, it's likely more than worth it to graduate on time from KP.

    However if the feelings persist for a long time, well into your third class year after you've been to see than at the end of the day you do indeed have to do what you think is right for you, but make sure of your decision before you walk to Wiley Hall and resign - that is a bell that can not be "un-rung."

    Good Luck!
     
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  14. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    Yeah, I didn't normally raise the topic, but there were times that it came up. I love the description of the differences between the two Academies. . . .
     

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