USCGA or USNA

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by grevar, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. grevar

    grevar CGA Admissions Partner

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    Well, I know it is early on in the process for most, but for my DS, the decision is all but officially made.

    After much soul searching, it seems as though he has decided on USCGA.

    He finished up 2 of 3 nomination interviews so far, and was told he will get the nom from our congressman, but it won't be released until the Jan 31 deadline. He received the appointment offer from CGA via email and a phone call, but the BFE is still enroute.

    I will say, it was a tough decision for him that involved many different thought patterns, but in the end, it is what he feels called to do. Just wondering how others who were fortunate enough to have a choice between SA's.

    I am proud of the decision he has made, and I will say that either would have been the "right" decision in my eyes. I am prior military, but neither Coast Guard or Navy, so my prior branch really carry much weight here at all...nor should it have.

    In retrospect, I know there are several factors that he weighed...

    -Hard to pass up on the "glamour" of Annapolis and the Naval Academy. Not much of a comparison in campuses. Not in size or amenities. Having seen both campuses, there is no doubt the CG does "more with less" as they say. Also no comparison between New London and Annapolis. Annapolis is a world class tourist destination, as is the Naval Academy itself. New London, while the area is nice to see, there is no comparison.

    -many have mentioned size matters. "Hard to fly under the radar" at CGA compared to USNA. Honestly, as his dad, I think that is better for DS.

    -playing lacrosse is important to DS and being able to play on the first ever D3 Varsity lacrosse team at CGA was a factor, although not a game changer. After all, lacrosse or any sport won't matter much after graduation. But, I think lacrosse or any sport that you like is a great diversion from the drudgery of freshman year and beyond. He had no chance of playing varsity lacrosse at USNA. He just doesn't have the size needed for his position for a D1 team.

    -most importantly was his research on life after graduation. The mission he felt was more in line with his personality, etc. There is some research on retention rates after five years (although Im not sure how accurate) being higher in CG than Navy. Deployments of 2 months or so compared to 9-10 months. Job satisfaction of those in operational units that he has met with / spoken with. All of these things were considered.

    -One of the most difficult aspects of the decision (that I am very proud of him for overcoming) was the general lack of common knowledge of the Coast Guard Academy vs. the Naval Academy. Here in our land-locked state, we get "I didn't know the Coast Guard had an Academy" all the time. Or even worse, "I really thought he was going to college...." No matter what SA you may end up at, get ready for that one! Then there is always the "What do you mean you are choosing CGA over NA....are you crazy?" Sometimes that's hard to explain.

    I posted this on the USNA section because I wanted to say that up until a month or so ago, USNA was the number one choice. He attended both NASS and AIM, and CVW and CFAD, so we've tried to give him as much knowledge of both as we can.

    Things can and do change. Will they change again for DS? Probably, most definitely not at this point. For those of you considering multiple service academies and end up with choices.....follow your heart and understand that the popular decision may not be the right one for you. Like I tell my son, you've come a long way to get where you are. Others would love to have the "choices" that you have. Enjoy it, and again, follow your heart!

    I am interested in hearing other perspectives on this from those parents and hopefuls who were/are in similar situations.
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    He made a good choice.
     
  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Can't say I or my DS has been in a similar situation. Few are. But the above paragraph was the key, to me, that indicated he made the right decision. It's what happens after the academy that's most important. Given that he made that choice despite all the "drawbacks" compared to USNA (that you mention) tells me his heart is really in this choice. Once again, good luck to him. He sounds like a fine young man and you should rightly be very proud. :thumb:

    Of course the other plus is that LITS went to school there! :biggrin:
     
  4. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    I had the same choice 30+ year ago.:eek: Obviously, I chose USNA.

    For me, the reasons primarily involved the relative size of the two schools and, especially, the very small number of women in each USCGA class at that time (~30). Also, in 1980, USCGA was part of DOT, which was being cut under the Reagan Administration while the "big 3" were experiencing budget increases.

    It was the right decision for me. That said, there are time when I wish I'd chosen USCGA/USCG as, like your son, I think the career opportunities were more in line with my desires. Thus, USNA was the better school/SA for me, but USCG likely would have been a better career choice.

    Either way, your DS can't go wrong. If he feels USCGA is right for him, that's where he should go and you should (as I know you will) fully support him!:thumb:
     
  5. coastiefam

    coastiefam Member

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    20+ Coast Guard years (and still going strong) for this family so I have to say good choice!!

    Feel free to send us a pm if you (or he) has questions about life at the Academy or beyond.

    Congrats. It was an honor to be in such a decision making position!

    Sent using the Service Academy Forums® mobile app
     
  6. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Interesting. I had the same choice, 24 years ago. I applied to USCGA almost as an afterthought. When I had my nom interview with Sen Harkin, he asked why I didn't apply there, and I said, I didn't know it existed.

    I couldn't afford to do campus visits to either school. It's hard to emphasize how difficult it was to gather reliable (non-anecdotal) information about the SAs, without the internet. So, in the end, I went with the one for which I had more information. (Also, like usna1985 wrote, there were many fewer women at USCGA and I didn't want to stick out THAT much!) Although hindsight is quite the bugger sometimes, I wonder whether I might have stayed in, had I attended USCGA. I was looking for that smaller, liberal-artsy kind of experience and better operational/afloat possibilities when I was making my decision about education and officership. I could not know, at the time I separated from USNA, that my entering class (1993) was the first or second class year in which women service-selected from the same OOM as the men.
     
  7. jebdad

    jebdad Member

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    Div III vs. Div I

    When you are talking about Div III sports at USCGA, does the recruiting factor come into play as far as admissions. A candidate who is a borderline recruit at Navy could be an outstanding recruit at USCGA as you mentioned. Does USCGA recruit and does it help a candidate's admission?
     
  8. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Best of luck whatever he chooses. DD wanted only USNA and only applied there. We were too close to USCGA and USMA for DS. Neither son or daughter wanted anything that close. Helicopter would be too close.
     
  9. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Guess he was afraid he'd end up heading home every weekend? Or parents would be coming by to check up on him? :biggrin:
     
  10. grevar

    grevar CGA Admissions Partner

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    They say officially that athletic recruiting doesn't weigh that much on admissions, but like in everything, I'd say unofficially that may be a different story. I know the coaches do recruit and "go to bat" for a candidate with the folks in admissions. Perhaps Objee can give an official word on this as I may be wrong.

    For my DS, he was not a "recruited" athlete, but he did make and maintain contact with the lacrosse coach throughout the process. Not sure what (if any) influence that had on admissions. I would guess not much at all as he is a strong candidate regardless.

    As far as playing DI vs DIII, I'd say for my DS, he will stand a much better chance actually getting to play lacrosse at that level. He could have played Club Lacrosse at USNA, but he would rather play on the varsity level. Honestly his skill set is more in line with DIII anyhow not to mention his size. Again, lacrosse is just a plus in choosing USCGA. There were far more important reasons he considered.

    Best of luck to your son, whatever route he chooses.
     
  11. AcadGradDad

    AcadGradDad New Member

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    Forget the School What Service to You Want to Join?

    As a USCGA grad who made this decision 20+ years ago and the father of a current USMMA Mid who choose between CGA and MMA. My advice is think long term about what you want to do in the service after graduation.

    Growing up near Baltimore with a father, grandfather and uncles who were former Navy Officers and spending much of my free time sailing on the Chesapeake I thought USNA was the only place for me. I didn't even know CGA existed until I started the SA application process. In the end my desire to drive ships and preference for the Coast Guard's humanitarian, safety and law enforcement missions led me to CGA. Looking back I'm sure I made the right choice and used the right decision criteria.

    For my son, choosing MMA not CGA was based on his preference for the wider options available after graduating. With both a mariner's license and an engineering degree he can get an active duty commission in any service, go to sea on merchant ships or work shore side in the maritime industry. Based on his post graduation interests I think he made the right choice.

    When choosing between SAs I suggest things like size of the school, location and campus amenities should not be factors. When things get rough during your academy career you need to draw motivation from your desire to be an officer in the service that aligns with your school. Without this motivation, you will be miserable at the academy and during your service obligation if you graduate.

    Focus your research and decision making on the after graduation service not the academy details.

    Finally never choose an academy based on your parents' preferences or wishes. I saw too many cadets at the academy to please their parents, suffer through one or two miserable years then drop out because they lacked the drive to be a CG Officer.
     

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