Questions about USCGA Life

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by alexFL1, May 4, 2016.

  1. alexFL1

    alexFL1 Member

    Apr 17, 2016
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    I have tried to do some research on the Academy, but there just isn't much info online so I have a few questions. Please feel free to answer ones that you feel comfortable answering, thanks!

    1- At Navy I know they have quirky rules for freshman like squaring corners and making chow calls. How similar is the 4/c experience to that? Any other rates for 4/c that are important to know?

    2- What are the dorm rooms like? What is in the rooms?

    3- Is there summer training? And if so what is that experience like?

    4- Is there time in the busy class schedule to play a varsity sport AND be in a few clubs?

    5- What are free time privileges like? What do you do on the weekends? Can you go out into the town?

    6- A little about Swab Summer?

    Sorry for all the questions, especially the broad ones, but I recently got accepted and need to make my decision by next week. I haven't had the opportunity to visit. Please be as honest as possible, thank you!!
    murfthesurf likes this.
  2. murfthesurf

    murfthesurf DS - USNA 2020

    Jun 28, 2015
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    FWIW, on the Economics of the Decision:

    #1.) You will have minimal costs at the USCGA. vs. AFROTC where you will have much more out of pocket expenses that add up over the 4-Years; could be in the $thousands (Room & Board, ect.)

    #2.) You get paid to attended the USCGA ! vs. AFROTC small stipend ( IMHO)
  3. AlexT

    AlexT Banned

    Aug 9, 2013
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    I assume you've visited the USCGA web site. ALL of your questions are answered in the "cadet blogs" tab. You should read from members of each class because the answers to some of your questions will change depending on your year at the academy.
    shellz and murfthesurf like this.
  4. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

    Sep 27, 2008
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    There are also plenty of videos on YouTube to give you a flavor of USCGA life.

    There are "quirky rules" at all service academies, maybe a bit less so after plebe/doolie/swab year, but plenty to go around. Prepares you for more rules once commissioned.
    shellz and murfthesurf like this.
  5. grevar

    grevar CGA Admissions Partner

    Mar 5, 2013
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    Same or similar "quirky" rules. All SA's have them.

    Similar to any other college dorm room. Cadets are two to a room. Some beds are lofted (with the desk) below the bed, and some are regular. Some rooms are air conditioned, some are not. Never seems to be an issue cadets complain about though. You can find ample photos of the rooms by searching online. Shower/head facilities are communal.

    Summer experiences are what really makes it for the Cadets. Each is very different from the last.

    4/C Summer - Swab Summer (About 7 weeks including a week on Eagle)
    3/C Summer - 5-6 Weeks on Eagle, and 5-6 Weeks at a Small Boat Station or on a Cutter serving as an enlisted person. Could be anywhere in the Continental US, Hawaii, Alaska or even Guam.
    2/C Summer - Cadre for the incoming freshmen.. CGAS or AIM, Aviation Training, Coastal Sail, Range Training and more.
    1/C Summer - Regimental Staff for Swab Summer, CGAS or AIM, 6-8 weeks aboard a Cutter as a Junior Officer.

    All cadets are expected to be involved in a Varsity or Club Sport. Many are involved in multiple sports AND clubs. So, YES is the answer.

    Free time not as much as a 4/C, but there are still plenty of weekend's off campus, several overnights even. Cadets often find time to get into town, go to the mall, movies, etc. There is a Liberty Bus that has a route that operates on a schedule during weekends. 4/C's must be in uniform at all times within a 75 mile radius of campus. 3/C's must be in "Rec gear". 2/C's and 1/C's can be in civilian clothing during their free time.

    Best advice is to watch all of the YouTube videos on Swab Summer. You can get a pretty good idea of what to expect. And even then, there will be surprises. It's all part of the plan. If you are worried about "Hazing", don't. It is not permitted and dealt with severely. Sure, there is plenty of yelling, and plenty of physical training, but that's all part of the basic training experience. The Cadets are taught well, and they want you (Swabs) to succeed as much as you want to succeed. Remember, the Cadre are being evaluated just like the Swabs. It is in everyones best interest to be successful. Although the simple fact is that not everyone is.

    Feel free to reach out with any questions.

    Good luck!
    alexFL1 and murfthesurf like this.
  6. classof2k19

    classof2k19 New Member

    May 4, 2016
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    Weekends are tricky at the academy and you have to take advantage of them to the fullest to maintain your sanity.
    • If you play a sport such as baseball which spends lots of weekends traveling in the spring try to make the most of your weekends in the fall.
    • If you live nearby or have friends that go to college in Boston or New York you can easily take the trains up to visit them overnight but you have to route a request. (The trains to NYC are free in uniform if you take the right ones) It is also great for 4/c to split a hotel in Boston for a weekend and roam around in civilian clothes or something like that. Visiting sponsor families overnight or just on the weekend can also be fun.
    • Requests to leave overnight can simply be granted if your company officer is feeling generous or you can earn them with academic or military performance.
    • Community Service events are a hidden gem and I once signed up for one that involved getting a free bacon cheeseburger from a beachfront restaurant and teaching autistic kids how to surf even though I had no idea myself. It was a total blast playing with the kids and CS events are not only fun but 6 hours are required each semester and extra CS hours can help your military grade. Don't be afraid to spend your free time at a CS event they can be a ton of fun!
    • If you aren't leaving overnight, have sports, or are going to a CS event then this would be regular liberty or libo. There is a libo bus which runs around New London to places like chili's, the movies, and walmart which is a classic go to. This is how most of your libo time is going to be spent but this can get boring and repetitive. Mystic is also close by but there is not much reason to go there. Mohegan Sun Casino is also in the area and the libo bus runs there on occasion especially if there is going to be a concert there so always be on the lookout for concert tickets at Mohegan Sun and go with your friends.
    • Some people also go on long off base runs, go long-boarding or just hang out in the woods on Mamacoke Rock.
    Next Generation likes this.
  7. rjb

    rjb Member

    Feb 15, 2014
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    Mystic is a great place to go to maintain your sanity! Mystic Seaport is a wonderful maritime museum. There are great restaurants and Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream is a favorite cadet spot. DS found a barber what give an outstanding $13 haircut (cadet discount).
  8. trackandfield08

    trackandfield08 USCGA 2014

    Sep 18, 2008
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    Grevar pretty much covered it but I'll add a few things.

    1. 4/c year at CGA is very similar to Navy. Freshman are required to square their corners and their meals for just about the whole year. Instead of chow calls, 4/c do "clocks" which is the same concept. You double-time (run) everywhere when in gym gear. You march in section, also known as bussing, everywhere you go when outside during the academic day. There are several other "quirky rules" you'll have to follow but it's all a part of the experience.

    2. Compared to my brother's dorm rooms at Clemson and now Ohio State, I got a much better deal. Honestly, the rooms are nice and they're a decent size. There's plenty of room for two. Each person gets a rack, a dresser, and a closet. Some people share a bookshelf while others have bookshelves mounted over their desks. Anyone at CGA who would complain about their room should stop and think about the "rooms" the people they are training to lead live in on a ship. I'll take my standard size 2 person room to 21-man berthing with beds stacked 3-high any day.

    3. Grevar was spot on with this one but I want to add a little bit more to 1/c year. They've been cutting down on the number of cadets that stay to be on Regimental or Company Staff for the summer b/c they want more cadets to experience the fleet. I've heard from several cadets that the companies will go back to the older style X-ray, Yankee, Zulu platoons that LITS experienced when he was cadet (all those years ago ;)). Most cadets will be in the fleet for the entire summer. Some cadets are assigned to cutters for 12 weeks. Some are sent for 5-6 weeks but then have the opportunity to experience other programs such as internships in places like NASA, Capitol Hill, the NSA, science research centers in Alaska, study abroad experiences in Prague or Hong Kong, and so much more. You can also apply to spend 6 weeks at an air station if you want to be a pilot. Simply put, the summers are packed with events but they have been the best summers of my life.

    4. Absolutely, I would say about 80% play a Varsity Sport and participate in multiple clubs.

    5. As a freshman, you are only granted liberty from 1200 PM - 1 AM on Saturdays and then 7 AM-6PM on Sundays. There is a liberty shuttle that will take you around New London and Groton to places like the mall, Target, the movie theater, a bunch of restaurants, etc. During swab summer, you can also request a sponsor family which is a great way to get off base and relax in a more private setting. All cadets are granted long weekends during holiday periods like Columbus Day, Labor Day, MLK weekend, etc. For those weekends, you can leave when liberty is granted on Friday and then return by your class designated time on Sunday. Don't worry, you'll find plenty of ways to have fun.

    6. Anything specific? It can be intense. There will be pressure and stress. There will be screaming and there will be physical training. It will be hot and humid and you will be tired. But, thousands of other people have made it so you will too. The videos on YouTube will show you some of Swab Summer but there are definitely things that are kept secret. Take it seriously but not too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself (in private) and play the game.

    My biggest advice is to write a letter to yourself before you show up about why you decided to attend USCGA. Take it with you and read it when you are at your low points. Trust me, you'll have plenty of those during the four years but that letter, combined with the support of your family and Coast Guard family, will get you through anything. I graduated nearly two years ago and it's impossible to describe the bonds you form with people. The hardest part about graduating was moving from a place where you lived in one barracks building where it was only a few steps to your closest friends to a place where your friends are more than a few hundred miles away.
    BSCSDS, matthew4325, F15DOC and 6 others like this.

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