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.