Unsure of which Academy....

Discussion in 'Nominations' started by C/ 2nd Lt. McKnight, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. C/ 2nd Lt. McKnight

    C/ 2nd Lt. McKnight Member

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    So here is my dilemma...

    For quite some time I was fairly dead set on USNA. However this past week I attended USAFA's Summer Seminar and absolutely loved it. I'm now not entirely sure which academy I want to attend.

    I know I still have a year BUT for the nominations for both my senators, they make you choose ONE academy to apply for a nomination for. Does anyone have any opinions on the best way to go about this? :confused:
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Well, this question has been asked numerous times. You need to sit down and ask yourself numerous questions:

    1. What do I want to do when I grow up? Basically, what type of job/profession do you want to do.

    2. If both academies provide the same type of "Jobs", then which MISSION do you prefer to use that job in. The Navy and Air Force have similar, yet very different and distinct missions.

    3. If both of these appeal to you, then it's time to start looking at the personal aspects. E.g. I grew up on the ocean and on boats. I really had no desire to do that again. Let alone for 20+ years. This is just an example, but there are personal aspects of both branches of the service that you will have likes/dislikes for. Use that in your decision.

    Remember, academically, both schools offer a top notch education. As does the Army, Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marines. What really matters is the scope of the work that you will be doing in support of that service's mission. I have degrees in Electronic Engineering and Computer science. I could do that in ANY branch of the military. But "HOW" I wanted to contribute those talents and education, I really couldn't do except in the Air Force. If you can honestly answer the above questions for yourself, the answer will be quite simple. Best of luck to you. Mike....
     
  3. vampsoul

    vampsoul Candidate

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    I had this dilemma between USMA and USAFA last summer. I had to pick one for my senators and the one I wanted to put down as #1 for my rep. I e-miled my MALO and ALO with questions, researched career opportunities, wrote down my impressions of the academies, and made several pro-con lists. Do the research, write down your thoughts and impressions so you can visualize what is going through your head, and then tell your head to screw it and go with what your heart tells you.
     
  4. goldfarb1

    goldfarb1 Candidate

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    Two options.

    Number one. Apply for nomination to USAFA to Senator X. Apply for nomination to USNA to Senator Y. This will diversify your interests.

    Number two. Choose which academy is best for you, and apply to both senators for that academy. I went to USAFA SS as well (trying to decide whether I liked USNA or USAFA). Had a blast. But I decided that for what I wanted as a career I would get more out of USNA than USAFA (hence me just applying to USNA).

    Look past the academy, and look into the services as a career. I don't want to fly, and no other jobs really struck me in the AF (yes I understand you would still be five years away from getting a job, a lot changes, but still something to think about). And quite frankly I'm just not in love with planes. Yeah, I understand AF isn't all about planes but I wouldn't go and join the Navy if I didn't like boats!

    I would really sit down and weigh the academies out. Write it down if you have too. Obviously you have a better shot at a nomination if you are just applying to one academy, rather than trying to diversify them out.

    To get you started think about the basics...
    AF is heavy on R&D and flying, Is this of interest to you? Do you just want to fly? Obviously AF would be a better option since half the class goes to flight school. Would you be willing to sit on a ship for six months? If not USAFA makes sense. Each service has a different lifestyle, culture, etc. Look into that.

    And quite frankly you can't really go wrong with either academy. You are looking at some of the best schools in the country. Only thing I would advise against is not to make the decision based off of strictly the school (which one has a bigger campus, better location, etc.). They are both regimented lifestyles, so quite frankly they are going to be similar in that regard. And if someone says well AF is easier or something along those lines...take it with a grain of salt. Any comment like that is going to be relative. A regimented lifestyle is a regimented lifestlye.

    By the end you should be able to answer--If offered a spot to go to USAFA or USNA right now, which one would you take?

    And for your reading pleasure:
    http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=23021
     
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Definitely don't pick on Size. The air force academy is the 2nd largest college campus in the entire country; 18,000 acrea. Only thing that is larger is Berry College.

    But you are being given some good advice. Remember, the academy is only 4 years. That is so insignificant. Doesn't matter if it's new york, maryland, colorado, CT, or whatever. It's only 4 years. What do you want to be doing for 5-30 years? How do you want to be doing it? Where do you want to be doing it? Actually, it's a pretty simple question.

    Now, should you apply to more than 1 academy. That is totally an individual decision. Anyone who advises yes OR no is misleading you. While intentions may be good, you have to know what it is you want. The academies aren't everything. If you truly want to serve, and the branch of service doesn't matter, then that's great. But if you really want the air force, and that's all you really want, and you don't get it, you should think twice before having a backup application in. Maybe you'll like your backup. Maybe you're resent being there and you'll have a bad taste in your mouth from that point on. Don't forget, there's ROTC and OTC. Not saying you shouldn't apply to more than one academy. Simply saying, that choice can not be answered with advice. That one is totally up to you. Best of luck.
     
  6. C/ 2nd Lt. McKnight

    C/ 2nd Lt. McKnight Member

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    Thanks for all the advice. I've been thinking a lot. And I think I still have more to do. But one thing I realized is a big reason I started heavily considering Air Force was because of the brief by the C-17 pilot. I really liked the idea of how much he traveled. Is there any opportunity like this in the Navy? Where you fly heavy aircraft and get to travel to and visit many places throughout the world? It seems kind of like a lame question. I know in the Navy you are on a ship and get to see places all over the world. But are there many types of jobs where you simply get to fly all over the world?
     
  7. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Of course the Navy has all types of planes, the difference as a pilot with the AF and the Navy is the runway is exactly where you left it when you took off for your mission in the AF, and in the Navy they moved it to a new location.:shake:

    As much as traveling the world sounds great at this age, the reason many people don't want to go heavies is because they are deployed the most in the AF. A couple of yrs ago they tracked who was deployed the most, and it turned out to be the heavy guys, specifically the KC pilots with over 200 days in the one yr. This becomes very wearing on the military member, especially married, because after a while sleeping in the Q's and eating out for every meal is not as attractive as it sounds.

    You should look into the actual services, because there is no guarantee you will get UPT or graduate, but there is a guarantee that you will serve. Stinks to be on a ship, if you hate the water. Stinks to be landlocked if you love the water.

    People will tell you great stories of places they lived, however, they typically will omit the places that they never thought they would see. For example, Elmendorf AK is great, but many people who get that assignment paid their dues to places like Camp Red Cloud, S Korea or Clovis, NM. You might want to see the world, like Aviano, Italy, but also be ready to go to Oh My God No, Alamogordo, or Why Not Minot, Freezin is the reason!

    I loved every base we were stationed at, but it was because I took the attitude that beaaching would not make me happy. Trust me, as a young newlywed who was born and raised in NJ, when I got to Mt Home, Idaho, I thought I would die. Mt Home, at that time was the HUB of Elmore County with 8,000 people, it had 1 car dealership, 1 grocery store and NO fast food joints...never did I think there was a town in the US that didn't even have a McDonalds, but I found one....Mc D's is there now. Boise is 51 miles away and the closest town. Our family and friends jokingly would say we lived in Bumble F**k, Idaho. So as much as the idea of traveling the world sounds great, remember the adage people plan, God laughs.

    BTW, I landed up loving Mt Home, it is a high plains desert with beautiful weather, great outdoor activities and Boise is probably one of the nicest cities in the US.
     
  8. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Remember that everyone who loves their job can make it sound great. Somewhere there is a garbage man who thinks there's no better job on earth, but that may not mean you'll love it quite as much.

    Consider what path you want your career to take. Do you want to be responsible for just yourself? Do you want to lead large (40+) numbers of people at a tender age (like say, 23?). Then a ground combat service may be better suited for you. Do you want to fly super high and only worry about a limited span of control? Maybe you want to be a fighter pilot. Do you want to fly sorta high and command a medium-sized group (say, 15-20) at a young age? Then Army Aviation might be better for you. Do you wish to avoid the pointiest end of things and, in general, not shoot people into pieces? Then you may be a great logistician. Or medical officer. Or submariner.

    Step one is dreaming up what you think (note that I said "think" and not "know") what type of career you want to have. Then, as has been said, investigate which services offer you chances to follow that route, and what other interesting routes each offers if your dream service or dream career path doesn't quite work out.
     
  9. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Sorry, but that made me chuckle.

    I think the better description for fighter pilots would come from the movie Top Gun when you describe this community...I FELL THE NEED FOR SPEED!
    If you don't like the feeling of the newest roller coaster at the amusement park, than fighters are not the way to go. If your reaction is ho hum after the ride than you are good to go.

    Scout is correct in the AF you will not be in a leadership (flight CC-FCC) until after your UPT commitment is up. Until then your 1st job is to learn and expand as a flyer. You will become an IP or IWSO/INAV before you become an FCC. The AF is not like the Army AT ALL. In the Army you will lead at a young age, i.e. in the Army it is not uncommon to lead at O-3 hundreds of soldiers, in the AF that would not happen until O-5. Remember and realize that the AF is much smaller than the Army, thus command positions will be smaller in every field.

    For the flying fixed wing world, you can't compare the AF to the Army regarding flyers, you need to compare the AF to the Navy. If you want helos, than you need to look at the Army V Navy.

    The Army has great career fields, just as the AF, Navy and CG. You need to look at what you will do if you don't get flight school. Do you want to sit in a tank, jump out of planes, live on the ocean, etc. Great to have the dreams, just make sure you have a "what if" plan too. Look at the branch, not just the career.

    Even though I am an AF spouse, and have a son that will be commission AF O-1 in 12, the one branch that intrigues me the most is the CG. If flying is your thing and you don't know whether you want fixed or helo, I would suggest looking into the USCGA. They are way cool!
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2010
  10. sprog

    sprog Member

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    Just one note to this. If you are in operations in the USAF (pilot, ABM, Navigator, Missileer, Space Ops),what Pima said is accurate regarding a lack of real command experience until you hit field grade rank. You could still be in charge of a group of a few officers once you hit O-3, but it will never be larger groups of people until about O-5.

    If, however, you work in a support field (maintenance, security forces, transportation, supply), then you will be in charge of larger groups of enlisted guys as a junior officer. Support officers don't, however, tend to end up with things like wing command too often (although some might get a Logistics Group command).

    The top brass of the USAF are pilots, it's just how it is. Maybe it will change, but I doubt it. There are generals who are not pilots (even four-stars), but they are the minority. If you are thinking about the USAF, ask yourself if you would be happy not being a pilot.

    I had a similar experience to the OP (although I went AFROTC at VMI, not USAFA), in that I thought being a C-5/C-17 pilot sounded like the best job in the world. I love to travel, and the days of TDY didn't bother me a bit. It was a big reason I went with the USAF as my service. At the end of my Third Class or Second Class year at VMI (I can't remember), I found out that I didn't meet medical standards for a Class I, and could not be a pilot. I don't say this to scare you away from your dream to fly heavies, as there are certainly plenty of guys out there flying the big planes; however, I suppose my story can make for a cautionary tale. You should pick whatever service will make you happy, no matter what job you do.

    I ended up a missileer, which I picked because it was operations. While I don't regret serving in the USAF, I sometimes do wish that I had chosen the Navy/Coast Guard instead. Missile duty at Minot was not what I would call a fun time, and in retrospect, I think the Navy or USCG would have better served my non-flying interests. Hindsight is 20/20 for me.



    Just something to consider
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2010
  11. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    The Navy is different. By the time your initial commitment is up, you will have been a branch officer, a division officer, and probably a department head. A lot of leadership possibilities there.

    Flying, after a year or so in your initial squadron, you will qualify as a section lead (2 planes) and before the end of your first tour, division lead (4 planes). A LOT of high visibility leaderhip in this role.
     
  12. C/ 2nd Lt. McKnight

    C/ 2nd Lt. McKnight Member

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    If I end up not being able to fly, I would want to go into the engineering field. Another part of what made me consider USAFA over USNA is that AF has a Civil Engineering major and Navy doesn't.
     
  13. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    That just made my day. :shake:

    Yeah, that was one of the reasons why I leaned primarily toward the CG when I was applying to the Academies. The AF was my number one choice, but that all changed when I went to AIM. There seemed to be something about the campus that I liked, something I really can't put words to.

    While I'm not sure if I'll qualify for Flight School for vision, I feel confident in saying that I'll be happy either way serving as an officer in the Coast Guard. You should definitely take a look into it. :thumb:
     
  14. sprog

    sprog Member

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    You might think about USMA too. They are big with CE. I think it is safe to say that the Army's practice of civil engineering is probably the largest of the services. The Corps of Engineers has numerous military missions, and is actually a huge participant in civil construction as well. Of course, the Army also has aviation opportunities in rotary wing aircraft.

    Could someone who speaks Army lay that out a little better for me? I think of the Army Corps of Engineers as a mostly civilian agency (Wikipedia says 35,000 civ. and 650 military). It seems like, with those numbers (if they are accurate), that USACE would not include all Army personnel who have branched into Engineers. Anyone know? For example, are units like Engineer Battalions (etc.) that are assigned to Infantry/Armor Divisions part of the USACE?

    Civil Engineering is a very popular major at VMI, and several guys I graduated with went Engineer in the Army. I just can't remember if those guys were actually part of the USACE or if it was called something else. Being USAF and a liberal arts person, I'm not fully versed on the subject (save from my own oberservations).

    The Army might not be your cup of tea, but it's just another thing to think about.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  15. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    You definitely want to keep your options open. Afterall, it would be nice to be able to choose where you want to go.

    Sprog- one of my neighbors was in the Army Corps of Engineers as a civilian, so I'll try to talk to him about his experiences and the make up of the USACE. Incidentally, one of my best friends back here at home (who's going to West Point in a few days) wants to branch USACE.

    To the OP- have you considered applying to all of the Academies? Including King's Point maybe? Like previous posters have said, look at the service first, because that's where you're going to be sending more time in. (4 years at the Academy, 5 years AD in the service and 3 years reserve if you choose to "5 and dive"). Then look at what you would want to do in that service.

    Plan B- Apply for the ROTC scholarships. Aside from that, look into the Senior Military Colleges like VMI, El Cid, Norwich, etc. if you want a more regimented college life style.
     
  16. C/ 2nd Lt. McKnight

    C/ 2nd Lt. McKnight Member

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    I have considered applying to all the academies. It's just that the Army and Coast Guard have never really appealed to me to be honest. It is kind of hard to explain but it is what it is.

    As far as ROTC goes, I am applying to the three SMCs mentioned. And if all else fails, I will go ROTC at a civilian school.
     
  17. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Don't confuse USACE with the active duty Engineer branch. They are not the same.
     
  18. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Thanks Scout. Shows the scope of my knowledge on the Army. :shake:
     

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