TO: Current Cadets

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by 2014JEZZMOM, Jan 31, 2010.

  1. 2014JEZZMOM

    2014JEZZMOM Member

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    You were once where many of our kids are now, going through the application process, then counting down the days till BCT.

    Is the reality of it anything like you expected? What do you enjoy most/least?

    How have you grown as a person and what do you think you would have missed out on if you had gone to a traditional college instead?

    For those who have been there for awhile, how has your perspective of academy/military life changed over time?

    I know that's alot of questions, if you feel up to responding, don't feel you have to answer them all. Any input will be interesting and helpful for those coming up behind you. Thanks so much!
     
  2. eagle36

    eagle36 USAFA Alumnus

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    not going to post too much, cause i should be doing hw ;)

    so i'm a senior, now 115 days from graduation. i can't imagine myself anywhere else.

    i was torn coming. i didn't decide until end of april to choose USAFA over Wash U in St. Lou. it's really not like what i expected. i had pictured a perfect world where everyone was equal in all aspects of academy life and upperclassmen were perfect. instead, people still have areas of strength and weaknesses, and upperclassmen screw up, but it's how they learn.

    the opportunities i've had have been beyond my imagination: jumping out of planes, traveling around the US (NYC, Boston, st. louis, chicago, delaware, florida, texas, arizona, DC), soloing a powered aircraft, working in an emergency room, teaching enlisted BMT at Lackland, working BCT, working with and/or meeting numerous generals, a semester exchange to Navy, singing with the Chorale and Catholic Cadet Choir

    I've definetely grown a LOT over the apst 4 years. you can't begin to imagine how different people or events will affect you and change you. i've definetely become a much better person. coming here forced me to push myself and grow, whereas i probably would not have done so on my own at a "traditional" college.

    perspectives definetely change as you go on, some for better some for worse. you learn more and try things that do/don't work. i appreciate it all more now though as my time gets shorter.

    as for the best and the worst, the worst is keeping sight of the bigger picture and what you go through before you really comprehend it all. i still probably won't fully understand the effect these four years have had on me for many years to come. the best part is the opportunities you're given and the people you get to do them with. nothing can beat that.

    so a little longer than i expected, but it is what it is. base assignments in 12 days, graduation in 115, and i'm trying my best to enjoy every last minute of it.
     
  3. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Eagle 36, and everyone else...

    You said it VERY well in your "not really long" post.

    Trust me...you will look back upon your cadet career and wonder:

    a. WHERE did it all go?
    b. Have I really REALLY been here that long?
    c. OMG now what?
    d. Am I really an officer?

    And it will begin all over again. The excitement will be the same, the fear will also. And you'll do WELL. And you'll achieve. And you'll be amazed at who in your class will excel!

    Folks you figure are the total "dweebs" just might turn out to be generals in about 23 years! Trust me...I'm a Colonel...and a LOT of my VERY GOOD friends are wearing stars and neither me nor THEY thought that would EVER happen!!

    Names? Dave Goldfein, Garret Harencak, Dwyer Dennis, RoWayne Schatz, Brian "BeeBop" Bishop, Jeff Kendall, Daryl Roberson...just to name a few! They're all old friends of mine and GREAT guys...but generals? :thumb:

    BUT...it did happen. And they've done VERY VERY well!!

    And then there's Dana...your current Dean. She was a superb cadet and a great lab partner. But General material? Folks probably would NOT have chosen her. But she's done AMAZINGLY well!! Her star is WELL earned!

    Trust me...the time will fly and you won't believe how quickly your 25th reunion will come up!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  4. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Is is what I expected? Yes and no.
    I expected more organized PT, less outside of class preparation, and I placed cadets on a pedestal.
    I found out that during the school year, outside of classes and mandatory functions, you have to manage your own time. Classes aren't like high school. In HS, I could go to class, take notes, and pull an A in most subjects without further work...doesn't work that way anymore! I "discovered" that cadets really are college students. We have the same failings that many others do. We don't always finish our homework, we procrastinate, some become cynical, some do incredibly stupid things, etc. We just have to operate at a standard that many others aren't held to.
    One of the big things I didn't expect--having a "to-do" list every day, and never seeming to complete everything. There is literally always something more you can/should/want to do.

    The opportunities here are great. I don't know anywhere else where you can do some of the things cadets can do for free. Not many schools will pay for you to take a 3 week trip to an Air Force base and get fighter rides, or pay for about 13 hours of flying time, or let people become sailplane or parachute instructors, or see the inside of a nuclear launch complex, etc.

    USAFA does mature cadets in understanding and accepting responsibility. (That said, refer back to the part about us still being college students.)

    As for perspective, I think many cadets think things like "attention to detail" are overstated, but eventually we start realizing sometimes the details ARE important. Does anyone really care that your SAMI bed is within 1/8th of an inch? No, of course not. That's not the point. People start caring when the question becomes "are you sure you cleared that pistol?" or "did you set the altimeter correctly?" I think the Academy helps foster an emphasis on taking things seriously.

    I also realized how nice we actually have things...Sometimes I'll be talking to people worried about not getting enough hours at their job to pay for classes or rent. These things don't cross my mind...
     
  5. PDub

    PDub Prospective

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    From a fourth class cadet's perspective:

    Is the reality what I expected? No. Mainly because it's much more challenging then I had expected. I've heard stories and talked to lots of people that had been through this place, especially regarding what fourth class year involves, but the actual experience is much different. When every morning you wake up with a certain dread and overall depression due to the where you're at and the things you have to do, it can be tough to summon the happy memories and hopes to keep yourself going. You know that none of your friends most family members cannot fully understand the things you go through. This is when many become cynics and lose the motivation and enthusiasm that got them here in the first place.

    But one thing the Academy has done for me is instill a strong sense of pride and confidence, knowing that because of what I have already been through, I can handle what is going to happen next. As mentioned earlier, this place will force you to grow and you learn to expand your limits. That's something missing from a civilian school. And while the average high school graduate is struggling to make grades to graduate from college, let alone finding a job or paying off the college debt, none of that is in a cadet's worries.
     
  6. cadetmom100

    cadetmom100 Member

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    These two comments are just about verbatium what I have heard from my cadet. I believe that after a year and a half he truely sees the value of the education and experience he is getting, yet it is very hard for him to explain it when he talks to his friends at "normal" colleges. At the same time the pride he shows when telling someone he is a cadet at the Academy is awesome.

    You know that none of your friends most family members cannot fully understand the things you go through.

    But one thing the Academy has done for me is instill a strong sense of pride and confidence
     
  7. 2014JEZZMOM

    2014JEZZMOM Member

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    PDub: In what ways is it more challenging than you expected?

    Everyone: THANK YOU for your interesting and helpful posts, I think alot of candidates and appointees will enjoy this peek of the academy from those who are experiencing it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  8. PDub

    PDub Prospective

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    For me, I think mostly it was emotional. Very demanding tasks are placed on you during Basic and fourth class year that would be impossible without teamwork. It's necessary to look to your left and look to your right to realize that you're not alone, and you need to count on your buddies you went through basic with to help you, and on the other hand, be there when they need you. It's one thing reading and hearing about how challenging this place is, but it's totally different actually going through it and experiencing the pain. It's fair to say that this has been the most challenging seven months of my life. Doesn't sound very long, the days can often go very slowly. But the most important thing is to stick with your classmates. No one is perfect (some far from it), but you have to help and encourage each other, that way no one quits. We pride ourselves on having everyone still being here, on the road to Recognition, with everyone from Basic still here :)
     
  9. bendaddy

    bendaddy Candidate

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    The cadet who precedes this reply was my guide to a 3-day visit to the Air Force Academy through the Diversity Visitation Program. Plainly stated, he is my hero. His perspectives gave me the full gist of what a fourth-class year at the Air Force Academy is like, and to say the least, I was quite shocked. What the c4cs go through during their first year (and what I hope to endure as well) is amazing. Like PDub said, it is evident that teamwork is an absolute necessity. After all, the Air Force Academy is there to produce competent leaders of the team of the United States Air Force. Becoming and being a part of that team is where the pride lies in having had an education at the Air Force Academy. That is what I have come to learn and respect during the few days I spent at the Academy.
     
  10. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Less than two years ago, I sent my two boys to USAFA. When they come home, I hug my sons close, knowing that they have become MEN. More than that, I feel they are becoming what they have worked so hard to attain, officers trained in the greatest leadership institution in the world.

    Sure, they have bad days (weeks?), but when they come home, their friends complain about having to do homework when they have hangovers and haven't been to class all week. Their friends who graduated are working at part-time jobs, paying off student loans, some have no jobs and few prospects. When they hear what my sons do, the friends are fairly dumbfounded.
     

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