Almost There

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by BR2011, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. BR2011

    BR2011 10-Year Member

    Jun 12, 2006
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    As my time here at the Academy comes to a close (~120 days) I wanted to let all the current and prospective cadets know what the Academy really has to offer and provide some advice on how to get the most out of this place.

    As a cadet I have:

    Been to Africa on a 378ft cutter
    Hiked the Rock of Gibraltar
    Flown (actually controlled) a helicopter
    Been picked up out of the water in a helicopter rescue basket
    Sailed the Long Island Sound
    Been a Drill Sergeant (Cadre)
    Been in charge of training 30+ 4/c in my company as a 2/c
    Interned at the National Security Agency
    Patrolled off the coast of Haiti
    Toured Guantanamo Bay
    Been in charge of training almost 300 4/c in the corps as a 1/c

    With those experiences along with many others I feel that I have improved as a person more than I could have ever imagined. The Academy throws you into a lot of "sink or swim" positions outside of your comfort zone and because of that I feel like I and the rest of my classmates are better equipped to handle stressful and challenging situations than most other college grads. More important than that though I have worked with and become friends with some of the best people this country (and others) have to offer.

    Here is what I feel are the most important things to do to get the most out of the Academy.

    1. Bottle up the excitement you feel right now. I remember getting my appointment, watching cool CG videos, looking up to cadets and thinking "Man it must awesome to go there." Remember that feeling because you will need it in the future. 4 years is a long time. Long enough to get bogged down in school work and all of the things you don't have because you're locked inside the gates 80% of the time. A lot of cadets lose sight of why they came here and get very cynical. Don't let that happen to you and have some positive emotions stored away to draw upon.

    2. Take on as many leadership responsibilities as possible. As early as 4/c year be the one who volunteers to organize 4/c responsibilities. Lead 4/c trainings as a 3/c and take on established positions (Guidon, Company Commander, Reg Staff, etc) as a 2/c and 1/c. Stepping up into those positions creates opportunities for you to make decisions, solve problems, deal with others and make mistakes to learn from. It is easy to go through here as Joe Schmo cadet and not truly take advantage of the leadership laboratory that this place is. Step out of your comfort zone and improve yourself as a person.

    3. Have fun. Work hard at the things you are involved in but play just as hard (just don't get into trouble). Boston and New York are an easy train ride away for long weekends, Ruby Tuesdays and Target can be just as fun on a normal weekend, and being with your friends in Chase Hall when not on liberty can be even better.

    For the prospective cadets on here: Ask questions about what it's like to be at the Academy. The website will paint you a good picture but cadets can tell you what it's really like. I've been through most of it and there are a few 4/c on here who are in the thick of it now.
  2. GemStateMom

    GemStateMom 5-Year Member

    Nov 4, 2010
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    Thank you BR2011 for the insightful post, it sounds like you have taken great advantage of opportunities and challenges available to you and have fully utilized the Academy experience. I know that I probabably cannot comprehend how challenging and difficult it may be at times, but I can't help but think of the song by A-Ha - Living a Boy's Adventure Tale, because it sounds like that is exactly what you have done. Congratulations on your accomplishments, and best of luck to You!
  3. Idzak

    Idzak 5-Year Member

    Aug 1, 2010
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    If I'm not mistaken the real fun is just about to begin. Thanks for your upbeat summary.
  4. bossf51

    bossf51 10-Year Member

    Jun 9, 2006
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    Great job by BR2011. We have followed your journey the past several years and are proud of your accomplishments. Candidates on here, take heed of his words. Good luck on your upcoming last few months, with Billet Night, Dining In, Castle Dance and above all graduation on the horizon.:biggrin:
  5. riverdale

    riverdale 5-Year Member

    Dec 10, 2010
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    Thank you, BR2011, for your words of wisdom. Oh how I hope my DS gets the opportunity to heed your valuable advice and experience all that you have -- the highs and the lows; the remarkable person you are is evident in your posting. We wish you all the best and continued success!:thumb:
  6. trackandfield08

    trackandfield08 USCGA 2014 5-Year Member

    Sep 18, 2008
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    I agree with BR2011! Even though I am only a 4/c right now, I definitely recommend you take his advice! I can't really comment on his second point as I have not been here long enough but as for the other two:

    This is a great point! Keep that excitement when you come here and use it to remind yourself why you chose the Academy and why you have taken the "road less traveled" so to speak. Sometimes, its easy to let yourself slip into that lapse of misery when you're faced with exams and papers, 4/c duties (or any class duty), and athletic obligations. Use the excitement to pull yourself out of it and remain positive! :thumb:

    This, to me, is the golden rule here! Although we do not have the typical college experience, there are still plenty of ways to have fun. As a 4/c, get involved in spirit missions! They are a lot of fun and the whole Corps enjoys them. Go out on the weekends, particularly when there is a long weekend like this past weekend. I have friends who refused to leave the Academy at all this weekend, trust me, that only leads to misery at times. Get on the liberty van and go to Target or to the mall. I definitely recommend signing up for a sponsor family as well, they are a great source and an excellent chance to recharge and get ready for a new week.

    Get involved! Whether its sports, music, religious activities, clubs...there is plenty to do here! I have already been to Canada, NYC, the Big E Festival, and Six Flags: New England, just because of Windjammers. In February, I will be going on a Ski Retreat with Officers Christian Fellowship. And even tonight, I had fun just hanging out with some friends in our dayroom and catching up after the weekend. Look for fun, do not sit and wait for it to come to you!

    Sorry that this was a bit long and if I hijacked the thread at all BR2011 :smile:

    BTW, there are only 120 days until graduation :smile:

  7. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 5-Year Member

    Nov 25, 2007
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    100% agree. Good post.
  8. disey3

    disey3 5-Year Member

    Mar 18, 2010
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    Words of Wisdom...'s wishing for a smooth 120 days... :thumb:
  9. rkrosnar

    rkrosnar 5-Year Member

    Jan 27, 2010
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    I agree with the others. Great Post. Thanks for all you do and will do in the coming years Thanks, for defending the freedoms we all enjoy.

    God Bless and God Speed,

  10. YankeesFan

    YankeesFan 5-Year Member

    Dec 17, 2009
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    Can this be made a sticky? This is an enormous source of motivation for me, whether I receive a BFE or not...
  11. swimmer27

    swimmer27 5-Year Member

    Aug 5, 2010
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    BR2011- Congratulations on all the awesome experiences you have had- it's a great accomplishment! Good luck in the future!

    And I agree that this should be made a sticky. It really is a great motivator for all us applicants out there!

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