questions from a mom

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by cathyk, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. cathyk

    cathyk Member

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    My daughter is a HS junior and is investigating USCGA. I am thrilled but have questions a concerned mother should ask (I don't even know if this is the correct thread to ask). Could someone please put my mind at rest by answering them? We live in the midwest, how often does the typical student come home and by what means? The academy is tuitiion free, but what kind of money does she really need? I understand this is not the typical college life, do the cadets go out to movies or do anything outside the academy when (if) they get free time? If they get a long weekeend, do they spend it on campus, or spend it with the host family (not the correct term, sorry)? Dd has never been exposed to military (regimented) life. How hard of an adjustment is it for a young lady? We have done quite a lot of research on the academy, watched u-tube videos and are starting to plan a spring trip to New London, what else should we do? How often should we really visit the academy? Thanks for everyone's help, I'm sure I'll have more questions and hope not to become a nuisance. If you have any suggestions on where else to look, please pass it on.
     
  2. firecaptain

    firecaptain Firecaptain

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    Good afternoon. There are many resources, both on-line through this forum and others, and through sources like the Coast Guard Parents association. Our daughter is a 4C at the Academy and is also a midwesterner. I sent you a private message.
     
  3. shellz

    shellz Parent

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    Great questions! You are wise to think so carefully about your daughter's possible path at USCGA.

    I have a son, not a daughter, at the academy, so I can't really speak to the "girl" issues, but I will say this....it seems that the girls we know of have made the transition as easily (or as with as much difficulty) as the boys. The type of girl who does well there is pretty much a go-getter who enjoys challenge and more challenge. It's not an easy road for girls or boys, but the corps does tend to bond together very quickly during swab summer and beyond, and your daughter will have 250 new brothers and sisters by the end of R-day.

    Our son had zero military experience. None in the immediate family, no friends that had military family, so his choice to pursue CGA was a little bit surprising. He did do a very rigorous sport which required a lot of him, participated in scouts...but that's about it for regimentation. They figure things out pretty quickly, and as long as they are willing to put in the effort, the whole military thing seems to fall into place.

    We are on the west coast...and the distance is killer. We see him over Christmas, but not Spring break as his sport takes a week long training trip at that same time. We try to get out for Parent's Weekend (and have made it the last three years!) and then he comes home for three weeks of leave in the summer. That's about it. It's so hard, but so worth it. He has gotten to do and see so many amazing things during his time at CGA. I've learned that when my kid is happy, even if he is 3000 miles away, I am happy. The leave periods at home are truly priceless! We are on the countdown to the holidays right now. For the first time since he has been at CGA, we will spend Thanksgiving together. Only because we are bringing Thanksgiving to him....too short a leave period for the 6000 mile roundtrip journey, so we are packing up the whole family and visiting him in a nearby city.

    As for cost of attendance....as you know the students do not pay room/board/tuition, and they are given a set amount of pay each month. The amount begins with a modest 150.00 ish a month, and it increases a bit each year. There have been recent changes in how cadet pay is handled, so I am not sure of the specifics, but at the end of their tenure at CGA, the cadet is receiving much of his 900.00+ a month. The balance not available for personal use is used for books, haircuts, dry cleaning, school expenses. The amount they receive in a month can vary (due to the new pay structure), based on varying school type expenses. Our cadet has never asked for money. We have, however, surprised him on occasion with a little something in his acct. They really do have enough to support their basic needs, plus a little movie/dinner money. It's not lavish, but doable for most cadets.

    Visit the academy. Visit again if need be and you can afford it. Try to get in on the Cadet for a Day overnight visit. The cadets are pretty honest about their experiences, and your daughter will get a good idea if the academy is for her.

    Good luck. Keep asking questions. We've all (most of us) been in your shoes, and remember how hard it was to fathom sending our child to such an a-typical college. It's been an amazing ride so far....and we can honestly say there have been no regrets on our side, or our cadets.
     
  4. SAL

    SAL New Member

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    I agree and recommend applying for AIM when the applications become available. It's a great summer program for students between their junior and senior years of high school and it gives them a taste of what life will be like as a cadet.
     
  5. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Definitely have your DD apply for AIM - It was a great program that solidified my decision for the USCGA to be my first choice. I'm from the midwest as well, and it isn't too hard to get home for things like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the other leave periods.

    Depends on what type of person your DD is. Is she able to adjust quickly? Looking for something to challenge her? If so, she should be fine. Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions.
     
  6. USCGA13STN

    USCGA13STN Member

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    Ma'am, as a fellow midwestern (Kansan) as a current cadet (2/c) and as a writer for the cadet blog program, I suggest you go straight to the source, some cadets and ask them individual questions, have your daughter read the words from the horses mouth as it were. If you have any questions feel free to PM me and I can answer them for you or your daughter, alternatively you can email me from the Academy blog site :)

    http://www.uscga.edu/journal.aspx?id=13875

    R/
    STN
     
  7. Momto2DS

    Momto2DS New Member

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    Dear Fellow Midwestern Mom,

    As you will find, all questions are worth asking because someone out there is probably wondering the same thing too. I agree with the others that your daughter should apply to AIM because it is helpful in "painting the picture" of what Academy life is like. But do not get upset if she does not get in to AIM. It is not a make it or break it situation.
    The next suggestion is to reach out and try to locate some other families from your area in the Midwest that you can meet for lunch or call to go over those inevitable questions along the way of the application process that will come up. We are few and far between, but can be invaluable to each other. Feel free to private message me and I will help you track down a connection.
    Definitely visit, and make sure to check out not only the Academy, but the surrounding New London/Mystic area. I know for our family it was a culture shock coming from the Midwest. And yes, it is definitely a little disadvantageous trying to go home half a continent away, but CGA is a family and your daughter will find a friend or two from the New England area who will step up and look out for her when you can't, I promise. My DS has always made it home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Summer and Spring Break (if he wanted to). We just rationalized that the plane ticket costs are our version of college tuition. Your DD will not really need money (especially her first year), but we usually sent $100 per month for DS to have if he needed it on top of the stipend.
     
  8. BruceRTalbot

    BruceRTalbot Member

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    The Coast Guard Academy was the first military service academy to admit women and did so before it was required by law, and it currently has a higher percentage of females in the corps of cadets than the other academies. USCGA is also the first military service academy to be headed by a female, Rear Admiral Sandra L. Stosz. The Coast Guard is the only service where every job is open to women.

    Even though USCGA is "female friendly" it is always a tough adjustment to go from civilian life to military life. However, the cadets will tell you that the friendships they build while at the academy form an intense bond that make that adjustment a shared experience.

    The bigger question is why your daughter wants to attend USCGA? It is not because it is a free education--it is not free--you give back five years in military service. She should want to attend because she believes in the mission of the Coast Guard. It is the desire to be a part of that mission that helps cadets adjust to the academy lifestyle.
     
  9. runninbob

    runninbob Member

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    Our son is a 4/c Cadet (freshman) also from the midwest, He left home June 25 for June 27 R-Day (reporting -in day) . He has not been back to Nebraska since then. He will have a few days here for Thanksgiving & a couple weeks at Christmas. He texted my wife on Sunday and said he was going to the mall since he had libo (liberty or free time). On other occasions he has spent time with his host family. This is the family he stayed with over R-Day weekend. He also has a sponsor family, but has not had much contact with them. We were also able to attend Parents Weekend a few weeks ago and got to spend some time with him then.
    I would also suggest that your daughter apply for AIM. As someone previously noted ,if she is not selected for AIM, it does not mean she will not receive an appointment to the academy. DS was not selected for AIM or for cadet for a day. He did attend the STEP program, at about this time last year.
    Something I have found is that this forum is full of great people who, if they don't know the answer to your question, will find it. This is all new for you and your DD so the questions you have are the ones that pop into your head. I know "There are no dumb questions' but I am sure I had several dumb ones at this time last year :smile: Ask away.
    Feel free to message me. I surely don't know everything,but we have been through it. You are in for an exciting ride. Best of luck to you and your DD.
     
  10. shellz

    shellz Parent

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    And one more note...the perspective of a parent, looking in from the outside, is going to be quite different than from the cadet's perspective.

    My point is, ask away here on the forum. And obtain the cadets' perspectives through the blog, etc. Both are invaluable and will help paint a complete (or as complete as is possible) picture of academy life. :thumb:
     
  11. cathyk

    cathyk Member

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    Yes, absolutely agree. Yesterday's topic on the way home from school was "comfort zone". I can see the whole picture, DD doesn't have that experience yet-she's excited and very scared of the unknown (as we all are). I'll continue to ask questions.
     
  12. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    It's perfectly normal for your daughter to be nervous. It's good for her to remember that over 10,000 have made it through, so she's got a great shot too.

    And like others have said, the friends you make at CGA will be with you forever.

    I went to my class reunion a couple of months ago...and while I had not seen a number of classmates in 5 years, it was like we were never apart.
     

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