Leaving USAFA, Starting Over, and Being Okay

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by MO2, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. MO2

    MO2 Member

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    I offer the following in case our experience may be helpful to others.
    _________________

    We were at Parent’s Weekend with our C4C in 2013. This past weekend we watched the events at USAFA from afar as we dropped our son off for his sophomore year at a local university.

    Attending USAFA became his dream when he was a 6th grader.
    For years he lived his life and made choices with USAFA in mind.
    He was delighted when he learned he was accepted.

    The weeks of BCT came and went without complaint.

    Acceptance Day marked the beginning of the academic year. Adjusting to the new daily routine at this point was a challenge.

    Parent’s Weekend 2013 was a difficult visit for the entire family. He talked about leaving USAFA. We spent the weekend listening and encouraging. He stayed.

    By the end of September his outlook had changed. Things were going well and he was SO GLAD he had stuck it out! He had good friends and a great roommate. He was learning to have some fun. Academics were going well. Talk during Thanksgiving break reaffirmed the same.

    At Christmas he came home in good spirits but talked about USAFA just not being the right place for him. He decided he would finish the year, yet withdrew before second semester was over.

    We ALL mourned the loss of his dream.

    He came home, collected himself, and worked at multiple jobs to save money for school. He investigated career fields he had never heard of and looked at schools he had never considered. With time, pieces of the transfer student puzzle fell into place. He is excited for the new school year.

    What happened? Why did he leave?
    I don’t know if I will ever understand fully. I have taken much time to reflect over these past months. I know he could have been successful at USAFA if he had decided to stick with it, yet I can see now why it was not a great fit for him/his personality. I have come to admire him for knowing himself well enough-and for being strong enough-to make a change when it didn't feel right.

    He values the time he spent at USAFA. He grew a lot while there.

    He made great friends while at USAFA. One visited us for several days this summer and he has plans to see others.

    He would have always wondered “What if…?” if he had not accepted the appointment. He is grateful for many experiences he had while at USAFA.

    He is still on track to graduate in May of 2017. I believe he will be successful with his new major and new career path.

    His goal is no longer the one he set for his eleven-year-old self, and that is okay. He will be okay.
     
  2. Blondie1

    Blondie1 Member

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    Thanks for sharing. Sure it was difficult for all of you. Glad he has adapted to a new plan. There will always be those that find the SA route is not best for them. Must take a supportive family to help with finding a new direction. Wish your son well on his future.
     
  3. navymomwannabe

    navymomwannabe Member

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    Such a powerful story. Thank you. DS didn't make it to the academy but did receive a ROTC scholarship. Although disappointed, I was starting to think that the academy was not really the right fit for him. Tomorrow he starts classes at a civilian school as a midshipman and I know he's right where he needs to be. Grateful for the growth that we all went through in the process. Excited to see where he lands.

    I hope that he can know himself as well your son did and follow where his heart truly wants to go. Your son sounds like a very impressive young man.

    All the best to you all.
     
  4. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Dreams change. I won't think of it as "a loss of his dream" if he made the choice to leave freely. The reality of USAFA (or any academy) does not always measure up to the dream we have of it.

    Sure, he'll transition, but don't think of this as a loss, but him having more clarity in what he does or doesn't want to do in the future.
     
    VelveteenR likes this.
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Totally agree. Its been said and shown too many times that no matter how much a person says or believes that going to the academy is something they've always wanted, you have no idea of exactly what to expect or what you're getting into until you actually get there. You can read all the forums, books, articles, etc.... As well as speak to people who have been there. But you won't know for sure if its for you until you actually get there.

    Most important that I tell every applicant I come across or work with is: going to the academy can not be your goal. Some may think its semantics, but attending the academy or any traditional college/university should simply be a tool and means to getting towards your goals. Some may think the academy can be a short term goal, but you have to look beyond that. And in the case of this youngnperson, I'm sure their goals and dreams are still there. Just that the academy isn't the path or tool that's appropriate for reaching that goal. Nothing wrong with that at all.
     
  6. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Well said. As much as I think that a cadet/midshipman should not stay when they realize that SA is not for them, I would ask anyone consider leaving SA to ask themselves - WHY and apply critical thinking to their reasons.

    - Most will agree that SA is not same as the real military service. SA is about preparing you to become a commissioned officer. Many stupid things that happen at SA are just that stupid things at SA. What you do at SA is about staying at SA, graduating, and preparing yourself to be a commissioned officer. What you do once you graduate is serving your country. If anyone thinks there is a perfect college, I have a bridge to sell you.

    - Hate to stereotype, but young people tend to think short term. Do medical students enjoy their 4 years at medical school? My guess is no. Do law students enjoy their law school years, perhaps yes :). Is 4 years of misery worth the foundation to be successful for the rest of your life? Some might remember a thread where the poster discussed how attending a SA might be a lost opportunity because he plans to do certain thin by early 30s. Or it could be by 21 or 22 graduate from a college debt free, 5 years of guarantee employment with great leadership/job experience, now your 26 or 27, got 50 plus years to achieve your life goals.
     
  7. MO2

    MO2 Member

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    "Dreams Change"
    I love this and so many of the other nuggets of wisdom from your very thoughtful replies. He made the choice to leave and is on a new path toward achieving his goals.

    Thank you to each of you for taking the time to respond. You have given me so much more to think about. Your insights are much appreciated.
     
  8. Buff-IP

    Buff-IP USAFA '88 Pilot

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    Life at the Zoo sucks.

    Probably a bit more kindler and gentler than when I went through, but bad enough.

    There is constant pressure, academic, athletic, military...you are constantly juggling them. Mostly you spend your time treading water, just barely.

    Nobody breezed through USAFA. Everybody has strong areas and weak areas. There are a few exceptional grads that made it look easy, but the rest barely made it.

    Going there is easy, staying is hard.

    I never was going to quit, but it was painful staying.

    Just because he left doesn't mean he failed...he made it through most of the first year, he accomplished more than most of the worlds population even attempted.

    He shouldn't feel shame or regret, just move on.
     
  9. Crazardo

    Crazardo New Member

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    Are you allowed to enlist or do ROTC if you voluntarily leave a service academy?
     
  10. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    You are considered in the military when you're at the academy. So when you leave, there will be paperwork saying under what level you left. So, if you left in good standing, then yes you can enlist. As for rotc, that also depends. Generally I would say there's no problem. However, if you're applying for an Roth scholarship there may be some questioning as to why you left the academy. Sort of like quitting a job. Your next potential employer may wonder if you're going to quit again. But as long as you left in good standing, you are allowed to enlist or try for rotc.
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    To add onto Mike's post regarding ROTC,leave the scholarship issue alone.

    AFROTC operates differently than USAFA, even for those lucky few that get a scholarship. Statistically less than 20% of all cadets are scholarship. Basically the same chance of garnering an appointment.

    The scholarship is basically only guaranteed for two years. As a sophomore aka AS200 you will compete for Summer Field Training. This is a national selection board. Last year the selection rate was @53% overall. Cadets were required to sign paperwork prior to board if they were going rated. Non-tech, non-rated, of I recall had less than a 20% chance of being picked up.

    Those not selected were placed up for disenrollment. The high majority were told ...at this time, we are unable to....

    The importance of that last statement is there is another option that was not mentioned. OTS.

    Chances of getting a scholarship from the ICSP board IMPO would be slim, and chances of the CoC at their unit ranking at the top with only one semester there is just as slim.

    Weigh the risks...if you want to be an officer look at door number three. The best is they pick you up...the worst is they didn't, but meanwhile you still got your degree to start at a higher salary...plus, joining the military isn't the only way to serve this great nation. You could work for the Reserves/Guard, Homeland, State Dept, civilian for any branch.
     

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