Torn between USAFA and USMA

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by HSmadi, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. HSmadi

    HSmadi Member

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    So recently I've been informed of appointments to both USAFA and USMA. Currently, I am in a very hard decision as both institutions are amazing and I want to make sure I make the best choice for myself. I have visited USAFA through DVP where I went for 5 days and totally fell in love. For the longest time, I was dead set on Air Force. However, I found myself to not have a bias over the branches, and since I have not visited USMA I can't make a 100% decision.

    I know its important that I visit both academies and currently my counselor and the parents association of Phoenix are fighting to raise funds to get me to West Point. Hopefully, I will be able to visit and then from there I will truly know where I will feel the most at home for the next 4 years.

    If I do end up visiting, or I dont, I would appreciate feedback from anyone with opinions on what to consider when making this decision.

    A little background on me is that I am very interested in the sciences and will most likely take a Biology major. I am hoping to go to Medical school, but realistically I will be happy with any job revolving around science whether it's a researcher, etc.

    I appreciate anyone's advice as I do not come from a military family, and my desire to serve has no bias to a branch!

    Thank you again.
     
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  2. LoganFrost

    LoganFrost Member

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    I went to a service academy seminar held by my congressman, Sen Rand Paul. From everything I have heard, USAFA is MUCH more cadet centered. I have a friend who was a nurse at the AFA and she said that the level of respect that the staff has for the cadets is amazing. There are so many CADET ONLY facilities, like gyms and such. From what was said about the USMA, it is more like a prison. It's also much harder physically, which if you had a choice, why chose the harder path if the outcome is the same? :p.
    My personal opinion is, the Air Force academy has a lot more "fun" activities like skydiving or gilding through Colorado. My point is, if I were in your shoes, the AFA would be my best choice! Best of luck!
     
  3. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    What service would you rather be in?
     
  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    This will be the next 9 years of your life. It is not just the SA, but the 5 years AD. I would really take a look at career fields before hitting the accept button.

    Logan,
    I bleed AF blue (DH served 20 years and DS is an O2). That being said I think your remarks were off the mark....prison? Fun stuff?

    Remember according to the op flying isn't their priority.
     
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  5. baileydb

    baileydb Member

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    My Dad served 22 years in the Army and my brother currently is in the Army. Both of them, thought they have had positive experiences and love(d) serving, say AF is better :)
     
  6. jebdad

    jebdad Member

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    HSMadi- you mention your desire to be a biology major. On a recent tour at usafa I am pretty sure they told us that major would not be offered going forward. I could have heard wrong so maybe someone at usafa could chime in.
     
  7. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Agree with the advice on here. Its about what Service you want to be in vice what school you want to attend. The Army and Air Force are very different services with different missions. Obviously you have a desire to be a doctor, but really research the options in case you don't go medical. The Air Force tends to be a more relaxed environment than the Army. The Air Force's mission is flying and everything else supports it. The Army is very ground based. If you like sleeping in the dirt, carrying a weapon, rucking, then the Army is a good fit. If those things don't sound appealing, then USMA is probably not a good fit. The Army is more intense on physical fitness than the Air Force. I have a buddy who is a doctor in the Army. He did his residency at Bethesda and is now a Battalion Doctor for the 82nd Airborne. Far cry from his specialty of being a Pediatrician. There are days he jumps out of planes in the morning and then holds sick call in the afternoon. He will rotate back to the base hospital after a year - 18 months and be a Pediatrician. They are very different services with different personalities and missions. Its a not a matter of one being better than the other, but what matches with your career goals and personality. The best fit is where you will do best and be most comfortable.
     
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  8. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    The Army loves to do this with their physicians these days: train you to be an XYZologist and then instead of letting you do what you've trained for they send you to be mainly a paper pusher for 2-3 years so the skills you just acquired get to waste away a bit. One of the biggest downsides of going Army when it comes to medicine these days. The Navy gets their pound of flesh from you before you do your specialty training (usually) and the Air Force is somewhere in the middle, more skewed toward the Navy way.
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I believe the description of USAFA being more fun than West Point is accurate. USAFA might be the "most fun" service academy.

    And I believe they get light sabers… which is pretty cool. We just got a dinky metal sword.
     
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  10. haleym

    haleym Member

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    Although my only experience is at USAFA, as a service academy (although not as a service in general) our physical standards are very high- much higher than active duty AF and other academy fitness tests. In addition to this, C4Cs (as well as upper class leadership) have physical training every week, so I don't want you guys making this decision under the impression that life at USAFA will be "easier".
    But LITS is right, we do carry light sabers in formation. You should definitely base your decision on that. :D
     
  11. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Why choose the harder path if the outcome is the same? Well, the outcome isn't the same. If you want to be an Army officer, then going to USAFA isn't the right place. If you want to be an infantry officer, drive tanks, or other variety of things, and serve in the Army then USMA is the right place for someone. Its sort of like someone going to the CGA and hating water and boats? Not a good pick. This isn't about picking the easiest, nicest, most fun SA, its about picking the service you may spend the next 20-30 years of your life. I was a Marine and lived on Air Force bases for about 14 months of my life and had dozens of airmen work for me. Would I ever want to serve in the Air Force? Nope, not the right Service for me. I would not have thrived as well in that Service as I did in the Marine Corps. Just didn't match up with my personality, goals, and things I wanted to achieve. All the SAs are Cadet/MIDN based, that is what they are there for. The staffs are very respectful of all their students as students are just as respectful of the staffs. Mutual respect is something that the military is built upon. The large majority of facilities at all the SAs are for Mids/Cadets. I don't think you will see much difference in any of those items at each school. USMA is dark, gray, old, so yeah it has a different feel than USAFA. I think I read something the other day that the Supt or someone at USMA is older than the USAFA itself. USMA is old and tons of tradition, that is good or bad depending on the the person. Of all the SAs, I think Army focuses much more on physical fitness than any of the SAs with Navy a close second. USAFA does have harder standards than the operating forces in PT, but so do all the SAs, because the bar is higher for SA students, as it should be.

    OBTW, "fun" is subjective. Jumping out of planes does like a horrible idea of fun for me! Now I could totally get behind light sabers.
     
  12. Puma68

    Puma68 Member

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    Congratulations on both of your appointments! They are both top notch - with West Point being the oldest SA- several of our Presidents graduated West Point. I don't know about USAFA eliminating a biology major, but approx. 70% of USAFA graduate with engineering degrees. USAFA is mostly known for the math, technology and engineering. Whereas, USMA has a complete Life Sciences department for majors (pre-med and research). You have to pick what branch you like and what college path you want to choose. Honestly, with the career path you are interested in, I'm surprised your nomination interviewers didn't steer you to a different SA - West Point or Naval academy.
     
  13. Rocko

    Rocko Member

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    Now that's funny right there, I don't care who ya are! My DS said it isn't that great because he was forced to get the blue light saber and wanted the red one! o_O
     
  14. NJ Falcon

    NJ Falcon New Member

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    Congratulations! You will be choosing between two exceptional institutions, each with a unique culture.
    The Academy that is the right fit for you is partially an objective decision in terms of majors available and type of job you want after graduation. Other posts have already brought up the importance of realizing that your service commitment is longer than your time at the Academy.
    Having said that, I hope that you will do what ever your can to visit West Point and get a sense of that Academy personally.
    My son is currently at USAFA. He toured USMA as well, and knew after one day that it was not the place for him. This realization was not something he could really explain, and he thought the people he encountered were nice and professional...it wasn't about what was wrong with USMA, it was about what was right for him.
     
  15. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    :eek: Dang it, LITS! That was supposed to be a secret!
     
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  16. HSmadi

    HSmadi Member

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    Thank you to all who have shared some input. I've found myself to lean more towards one compared to the other, and with some more researching, your help, and my upcoming visit I know I will be able to decide! Best of luck to all applicants and may you all get your desired appointments!
     
  17. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    You sound like my DS. He got a duel appointment (USMA and USAFA). We visited USAFA. But because he wasn't medically qualified (yet) he didn't get a chance to get to USMA as we waited to buy airline tickets after he was qualified. USAFA would not wait for him to visit (they wanted a decision even though he had a plane ticket). So he had to chose.

    Like you, he wanted to be a medical doctor and is biology major/ Chinese minor. In fact, he just took his MCAT. The biology department at USAFA is exceptional.

    One thing to remember.. There is a cap on the percentages of Cadets that can go to med school or around 2% (20 or less students). Since 1/2 of the cadets want to fly (he didn't then) you more-or-less double the possible slots or 20 out of 500 cadets. Realize if there are a lot of cadets wanting to to an MD at USMA, it's going to be dog-eat-dog. If you are on the top of the food chain, they it won't matter. But it's going to be a factor for some years.

    If I understand things correctly, when you are deployed, all the Doc's are in the same spot. Our neighbor (Army colonel) reminded us that the other 90% of the time you are state-side you are on base. So do you want to be on a nicer AF military base or not? I'm just sayin....
     
  18. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Realistically, none of the SAs are really "the best" way to become a doctor. I'm not saying it can't be done, or you won't be prepared. The odds are just rather long, and the focus of the institution does not value the med student like some other places would. I saw quite a few people wanting to be docs realize they weren't going to make it after biochem and a couple other classes.

    Soooo....
    Make sure you want to be a military officer first, and a doctor second.
     
  19. Boozebin

    Boozebin Member

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    With all the great advice posted above I hope it's helping you in this rather difficult decision which will affect you life for at least the next 10 years.

    But if that still hasn't helped I'll give you comic relief answer! You posted the same question on both the AFA and USMA but you posted here first!

    I think if you listen really close to your subconscious you'll hear this little kid and they're saying Off we go into the wild blue yonder! Just saying!
     
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