To HS Juniors considering USCGA/AIM- My AIM experience

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by Crusader 6, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. Crusader 6

    Crusader 6 Member

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    I thought I'd make a thread about my experience at AIM this past summer in order to answer questions that anyone considering USCGA/AIM might have about AIM. I know there wasn't much info out there when I had applied for AIM regarding its nature, so I figured I would help out by telling my story.

    First off, if you are not aware, AIM stands for the Academy Introduction Mission, and it is the USCGA's equivalent of the summer seminars offered by the other service academies. It goes from a Sunday to Saturday, and there are three sessions. I was in third week last summer, likely because I applied a little later in the application window. I can't remember if they offer any scholarships or financial aid for getting to the academy, but you must pay the cost of the program and any expenses to get there. Since I'm from Oregon and had never been to the East Coast before, I opted to arrive two days early and get used to the climate and do a little sight seeing. I stayed in Groton, which is just on the other side of the sound from the academy. If you aren't from a humid state, it might be wise to show up a day early or so to get used to the insane humidity of a Connecticut summer, that way it won't be as much of a shock as it would if you arrived on reporting in day.

    Anyways, Sunday arrived and I took a taxi to the academy. CG vets and volunteers were stationed around to guide you to the drop off point, and one older gentleman peeked into the cab and noted that it was a good thing I was wearing good running shoes and that I would need them. This didn't help my nerves at all. Once you are at the drop off point, you surrender all of your valuables including your cell phone and they are stowed. You put your bags in the designated area for your company (I was in Foxtrot) and then you acquire all of the gear you will be issued for the week (shirts, shorts, water bottle, drawstring bag, hat, etc). Next, we were taken to a lecture hall where they played "The Guardian" until everyone had reported in. Then they start calling out companies to go back and retrieve your stuff. This was when things started to get more intense, as yelling started for us to grab our things in like 30 seconds and be outside the building in formation. This commences the shock and awe of being suddenly thrust into a disciplined military environment. We were instructed on how to respond to commands and such, and then told to run to Chase Hall as fast as you could while carrying everything you brought along. This was unfortunate for me since I had extra stuff due to arriving early. I had to carry a large suitcase, my backpack, and the drawstring bag. USCGA is built on a hill, and the assembling point is at the bottom, Chase Hall is towards the top. Great. I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into when I was gasping for breath as we all stood against the bulkhead in Chase Hall. More yelling and then we were assigned rooms. Rooms must be kept in good order, clothes folded a specific way, and beds made with hospital corners every morning. Reporting in day was mostly just getting over the shock of everything that is going on and learning some of the basics for protocols during the week. The first full day involved a lot of this too.

    Mealtimes are a blessing, as you get yelled at less depending on who your cadre are, and the food is actually very very good. Meals are one good time to get to know your cadre and your other shipmates when the cadre ask questions about your interests and such.

    A typical day consists of waking up at 6:00 AM, 10 minutes to get ready, morning PT, morning formation, breakfast, something to occupy the time (sometimes it's a walk down to the dock to tour an icebreaking tug or basic drilling in a field) afternoon formation, lunch, more time spent doing other things (often times there was a seminar during this time), more time used for what the cadre see fit, evening formation, dinner, and more cadre controlled time until bed. On a couple of the days, you will have several hours allocated for constructing a robotic boat that must be designed to complete a series of tasks in a robotics engineering competition held on the last day of AIM. One day also has a few hours set aside for sailing, which was one of the highlights of the week. I had never sailed before, but I got to run the tiller to steer as well as run the rigging when changing directions into or with the wind.

    I'll be the first to admit, AIM is not easy. However, it was one of the most rewarding things I have accomplished so far in life. Foxtrot company graduated 14 out of 20 (one of the dropouts was Rear Admiral Scott Burhoe's niece! That's saying something). It was a tough week, it challenges you physically and mentally, but most of the struggle is overcoming yourself. On the first night there I was definitely questioning what I had gotten myself into, but I got through the next day and knew I could make it the whole week. Even if you aren't considering the CGA, I think AIM is a valuable experience. My reasons for not applying to the academy are not because I didn't enjoy AIM or like the CGA, but more that I realized that the Army is my calling. Even with that knowledge, I don't regret AIM in the least.

    I know I have been a little vague and I have left out a lot of details, but I am going to withhold some details for the sake of the experience and your surprise when you get there. If you have questions, feel free to ask away and I will answer to the best of my abilities.

    -Jason
     
  2. bossf51

    bossf51 Parent

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    Crusader excellent job with this. Wherever your journey take you, I'm sure you will do well with it!:thumb:
     
  3. Objee

    Objee USCGA Admissions

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    Need-based scholarships are available for both the program fee and travel expenses...it's rare that both would be covered, since we have limited scholarship funds and want to assist as many students as possible, but applicants may request both. There is a standard "scholarship request" form to complete when you apply.
     
  4. Crusader 6

    Crusader 6 Member

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    Thanks for the kind words, currently waiting on the January 4th AROTC board to get back to all of us with word of who got scholarships.

    And Objee, I was pretty sure I remembered seeing something about financial aid while applying, so thanks for clearing that up.
     
  5. Dedham

    Dedham Member

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    A Father's Take on AIM Application

    Thanks, Crusader, for the excellent description.

    As a father who has followed these forums for over a year and who's son is going through the junior summer application process for the four service academy's, I'm most impressed by the Coast Guard's. None of the other academies require essays and a transcript, or allow letters of recommendation. It indicates to me that the Academy is looking for those who are truly interested in committing themselves to the Coast Guard and that the Academy really is trying to see the whole person. While this is only for the junior summer program, I've advised DS that the admission process of each academy will be indicative of the culture of the academy, which will be indicative of that academy's service branch. So, as a first impression, the AIM application impresses me. The comprehensiveness of the application should also be enough to dissuade anyone from thinking that selection for AIM is by lottery.
     
  6. ski_addict29

    ski_addict29 Member

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    ok so I just applied this morning, and your description of AIM helps a lot. I didn't really know what it was truely like, and I want to say thanks for informing us. :smile:
     
  7. ski_addict29

    ski_addict29 Member

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    I was wondering where in the application was the letter of recommendation? I didn't see that so I am wondering if I missed it
     
  8. Objee

    Objee USCGA Admissions

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    It's an optional supplemental form on the Application Menu. Did you read the instructions prior to applying? If you didn't, you might want to now to make sure you didn't miss anything else...
     
  9. ski_addict29

    ski_addict29 Member

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    alright will do. I checked my application and i didnt miss anything. but i will check again
     
  10. Crusader 6

    Crusader 6 Member

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    No problem, I figured more and more questions regarding AIM would be popping up soon and it seemed like a good time to post my take on it and offer my knowledge to anyone considering AIM/USCGA.

    In regards to the application requirements and how it reflects the school, I completely agree. Most individuals there were top notch people, motivated in school, and wanted to be there. A girl in my company went to all of the academy seminars and said that AIM was the best one. Our cadre told us how small the CG is how tight knit the community tends to be. That is one thing I did liked about USCGA.
     
  11. scutrules

    scutrules Member

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    For the record, his niece spent the majority of the week sick at Munro Hall, she did not drop out by choice...

    I also attended the third session of AIM this past summer. As part of Echo company, we had a bit of a rivalry with Foxtrot (I'd like to add that we destroyed them in inter-company sports, the dance competition, as well as other events).

    AIM was, overall, a great experience for me as well, and I learned to push my boundaries, both physically (there was lot's of running and even more PT, especially because of the sudden afternoon downpours that would leave our Cadre sprinting for cover).

    I would like to echo Crusader's emphasis on arriving a day or two early. I had to try to fit AIM in after a trip to Japan, which resulted in me flying home (to California) from Japan and straight to Rhode Island 4 hours later on a red eye flight with a stop at Chicago O'Hare. I arrived at Providence at around noon the next day, three hours before a bus was scheduled to arrive and pick us up from the airport. Due to the intense heat, the bus broke down on the highway and we did not arrive to the academy until around 6 pm, missing all of the "excitement" of the first few hours. So, get there early, get used to the heat, and enjoy the New London area for a bit because there will be no time for that once the week starts.

    I hope everyone considering AIM is able to go, as this was the final reason I needed to be sure I wanted to attend the CGA. Just be prepared to run...
     
  12. Crusader 6

    Crusader 6 Member

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    Ah, the nature of his niece's dropping out was not disclosed to us. And as far as the rivalry goes, you definitely killed us at soccer and the dance off, but I don't recall the results of the engineering competition. I know Foxtrot got third in team competition.
     
  13. YankeesFan

    YankeesFan Member

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    See... you're both a bit on the wrong side because the Charlie Cobras are the best every year! :shake:
     
  14. trackandfield08

    trackandfield08 USCGA 2014

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    Agreed with Yankee! I was in Charlie for AIM in 2008 and for Swab Summer this year...best company. :smile:

    Although I am in Alfa now....also a very good company.
     
  15. Crusader 6

    Crusader 6 Member

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    I don't seem to recall either of us claiming Foxtrot or Echo was the best, so there is nothing to be "on the wrong side" about.
     
  16. BruceRTalbot

    BruceRTalbot Member

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    I would like to suggest that in future posts we refrain from using a person's name when talking about people who have to leave for whatever reason. It's a little too close to gossiping. A person who leaves may have a personal reason (death in the family, injury, medical issue, or just realizes the academy is not a good fit). A.I.M. is the time to give the academy a test drive and there should be no judgments made as to leaving because it may deter others from trying the academy on for size. My two cents.
     
  17. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I would refrain from bragging about dance offs as well...at least, please don't do it in the fleet (although there maybe some dance time). :wink:
     
  18. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Yes, Alfa and Charlie are good companies. But they're not a great company like Hotel :thumb:

    Honor Company FTW!
     
  19. Crusader 6

    Crusader 6 Member

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    Right, I'll edit that post. I didn't really think about her privacy when I posted it.

    EDIT: Or maybe I won't, no edit option for the original post. Well this is noted for future reference, need to watch what I say sometimes.
     
  20. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Hotel....like Australia for the British Empire, is where we put the poor cadets; the criminals... :wink:

    You will find you best company somewhere between Alfa and Charlie. :biggrin:
     

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