Doubts about attending a Service Academy over civilian school

sonar

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Hello. I come here to ask for reassurance in my decision-making process as I look toward my future. I have received an appointment from USMA, and I currently have presidential and congressional nominations (VA-11) to USNA. In my heart, the academies seem to excite me when I think about them and I could very well see myself at one. My dad is a retired marine aviator and officer after 22 years, so my family and I are familiar with the lifestyle. The amazing benefits you receive from a service academy are endless such as job security, a top-level education for no money, great leadership, camaraderie, and much much more. All of these make me more attracted to attending an SA. I also think that the way you have your schedule strictly cut out for you and those types of things would make me prefer a SA over a civilian college. I visited both West Point and Annapolis and enjoyed my visits very much, however, I am a bit concerned that once I actually arrive for R-day or I-day, I am going to not feel the same way I did on my visits now that I would actually be thrown right into it. I think I would adjust quickly and begin to enjoy it after a while, but I am worried that I may not. The only other school I would attend if it were not a service academy would be Virginia Tech. I like their engineering program very much. I also understand that I have 2 years at an academy which I can leave and go to a civilian school. As you have read this you are probably thinking that by the way I am writing, it seems I have made up my mind on whether I want to attend a SA or Civilian school, and you would be right for the most part. I come here to search for any similar experiences, worries, or thoughts anyone has had. I do so because deep down I feel that I want to attend a SA, but I want to find reassurance here so that I can crush any doubts or worries in my mind so that I can feel 100% committed and certain about my decision to attend a SA. Thank
you very much.
 
You will always have doubts and worries, most likely. What’s important in life, is that you don’t let them consume you.

Do you want to be a military officer? Or not? You are fortunate, in that you have been exposed to the lifestyle, and can make your decision with more information than many others (who were from non military homes 🙋‍♀️) who had to decide.

We cannot reassure you. But, I will say, don’t make a decision you will regret someday. You don’t want to be haunted by the ‘what if’s’.

And sometimes we have to make a choice, jump in with two feet, and never look back.
 
Sonar, the choice is a very personal one and what is the right choice for one person may not be right for another. That said, I was also a Marine Mustang and in USMA aviation. For years I had hoped my boys would follow me in the Corps. My middle son, now a plebe at USMA, always wanted to be in the military but looked at every service but Marines. He ended up with appointments to three academies but felt, with his interests, that USMA best fit his desires. He knew he probably would not have as much fun as a civilian college and ROTC, but his belief was then that an SA would push him to his limits and make him perform at his best — and now he is firmly convinced he made the correct decision.

Like you, he was accepted into the Corps. at VA Tech (we are also in Virginia) and he had done summer STEM, etc. at USNA. Being at USMA has higher highs and lower lows than probably at a civilian college. DS #2 (plebe at USMA) has forged friendships through shared hardship at BEAST and sacrifice. He an buddies traveled to Army vs. Air Force game in TX and Army vs. Navy in PA. Yes, there are things he does not enjoy about being at West Point but when he comes home he can’t wait to get back to his buddies at USMA. He has stronger real friendships and comradeship then he would have probably found at a civilian college and ROTC. at West Point he LOVES his professors! Small classes and everything presented in a very practical way with military applications. Professors have practical real world experiences they constantly relate as most are active military officers. There is also a constant stream of guest speakers, branch presentations, and opportunities for summer programs and schools, such as Air Assault.

This June DS#3 will join his brother at West Point. Whatever their formula is it is working for my DS#2 and enough to convince DS#3 to join him (he was a recruited athlete for both USNA and USMA but has chosen to graduate a year early to spen an extra year with his brother at USMA.) I am sure you will make the correct choice for you with guidance from your parents. I don’t think there is a “wrong” choice. Because, as you state, you can leave an SA if you find it is not for you - you have to decide if you will be confident enough with your decision to attend a civilian college - to not look back in future years and wonder If you should have tried the SA? Whatever your choice, good luck and thanks for your willingness to serve in th
 
.
Virginia Tech is not easy … the 1st semester could possibly shock you … most kids get homesick too.

My 1st fall semester at UVA 1980 tore me up … the work was hard, and I got so depressed … and I hardly had any time to eat …

WahooWa, WahooWa,
Uni-V, Vir-Gin-I-A
Hoo-Rah-Ray, Hoo-Rah-Ray
Ray! Ray! U-V-A
.
 
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Sonar, the choice is a very personal one and what is the right choice for one person may not be right for another. That said, I was also a Marine Mustang and in USMA aviation. For years I had hoped my boys would follow me in the Corps. My middle son, now a plebe at USMA, always wanted to be in the military but looked at every service but Marines. He ended up with appointments to three academies but felt, with his interests, that USMA best fit his desires. He knew he probably would not have as much fun as a civilian college and ROTC, but his belief was then that an SA would push him to his limits and make him perform at his best — and now he is firmly convinced he made the correct decision.

Like you, he was accepted into the Corps. at VA Tech (we are also in Virginia) and he had done summer STEM, etc. at USNA. Being at USMA has higher highs and lower lows than probably at a civilian college. DS #2 (plebe at USMA) has forged friendships through shared hardship at BEAST and sacrifice. He an buddies traveled to Army vs. Air Force game in TX and Army vs. Navy in PA. Yes, there are things he does not enjoy about being at West Point but when he comes home he can’t wait to get back to his buddies at USMA. He has stronger real friendships and comradeship then he would have probably found at a civilian college and ROTC. at West Point he LOVES his professors! Small classes and everything presented in a very practical way with military applications. Professors have practical real world experiences they constantly relate as most are active military officers. There is also a constant stream of guest speakers, branch presentations, and opportunities for summer programs and schools, such as Air Assault.

This June DS#3 will join his brother at West Point. Whatever their formula is it is working for my DS#2 and enough to convince DS#3 to join him (he was a recruited athlete for both USNA and USMA but has chosen to graduate a year early to spen an extra year with his brother at USMA.) I am sure you will make the correct choice for you with guidance from your parents. I don’t think there is a “wrong” choice. Because, as you state, you can leave an SA if you find it is not for you - you have to decide if you will be confident enough with your decision to attend a civilian college - to not look back in future years and wonder If you should have tried the SA? Whatever your choice, good luck and thanks for your willingness to serve in th
Thank you very much! I appreciate you taking the time to give me all of this info
 
Hello. I come here to ask for reassurance in my decision-making process as I look toward my future. I have received an appointment from USMA, and I currently have presidential and congressional nominations (VA-11) to USNA. In my heart, the academies seem to excite me when I think about them and I could very well see myself at one. My dad is a retired marine aviator and officer after 22 years, so my family and I are familiar with the lifestyle. The amazing benefits you receive from a service academy are endless such as job security, a top-level education for no money, great leadership, camaraderie, and much much more. All of these make me more attracted to attending an SA. I also think that the way you have your schedule strictly cut out for you and those types of things would make me prefer a SA over a civilian college. I visited both West Point and Annapolis and enjoyed my visits very much, however, I am a bit concerned that once I actually arrive for R-day or I-day, I am going to not feel the same way I did on my visits now that I would actually be thrown right into it. I think I would adjust quickly and begin to enjoy it after a while, but I am worried that I may not. The only other school I would attend if it were not a service academy would be Virginia Tech. I like their engineering program very much. I also understand that I have 2 years at an academy which I can leave and go to a civilian school. As you have read this you are probably thinking that by the way I am writing, it seems I have made up my mind on whether I want to attend a SA or Civilian school, and you would be right for the most part. I come here to search for any similar experiences, worries, or thoughts anyone has had. I do so because deep down I feel that I want to attend a SA, but I want to find reassurance here so that I can crush any doubts or worries in my mind so that I can feel 100% committed and certain about my decision to attend a SA. Thank
you very much.
So I attended NASS. I could tell who really wanted to be there or not. And from 15 people, I can say that only 4 REALLY wanted to be there and study there.

In my case I really consider myself someone that REALLY wants to study there, I have never doubted it.

So if you are doubting it, it’s probably because it doesn’t move your heart the same way it moves other applicants hearts.

This is my opinion. You should really consider and think your decision before making it. You will be the next four year there.
 
Very, very few people who graduate from a SA regret it.
Indeed! And most people who graduate from an SA harbored moments of doubt, trepidation or second thoughts. Even those who wanted it since middle school. Doubt is normal, as long as it’s not overwhelming. A bit of doubt usually confirms that you’re thoughtful, serious and introspective — all good traits of a successful mid and officer.

There’ll be many opportunities to question your decision: I-Day, plebe summer, right after winter break of plebe year, right before youngster year, the approach of 2-for-7. And don’t let appearances fool you. DD said it’s often the most gung-ho, take-no-prisoners mids — those who talk a big game — who end up bailing first. And it’s often the seemingly insecure ones — those who constantly question their place — who end up excelling both at USNA and on AD.
 
Indeed! And most people who graduate from an SA harbored moments of doubt, trepidation or second thoughts. Even those who wanted it since middle school. Doubt is normal, as long as it’s not overwhelming. A bit of doubt usually confirms that you’re thoughtful, serious and introspective — all good traits of a successful mid and officer.

There’ll be many opportunities to question your decision: I-Day, plebe summer, right after winter break of plebe year, right before youngster year, the approach of 2-for-7. And don’t let appearances fool you. DD said it’s often the most gung-ho, take-no-prisoners mids — those who talk a big game — who end up bailing first. And it’s often the seemingly insecure ones — those who constantly question their place — who end up excelling both at USNA and on AD.
Thank you for the response. I agree that I think I only have a little bit of doubt, and from what i’ve now gathered, it seems to be very normal. It is definitely not overwhelming as I often am excited by the thought of attending a SA.
 
Almost everyone at a SA at some point asks him/herself some version of: What the heck did I do? Why am I here? Why again didn’t I go to that civilian school?

And a few minutes - or hours — or even days — later . . . They know the answer.
 
So if you say yes to your appointment and it isn’t a good fit, the civilian path is available to you pretty easily.

The converse is not true.

I say go for it. You have expressed a desire to serve and lead.
 
Doubt about something you have never done is very normal.

Deciding on the military because of all the great advantages you will get in life, that great education, that retirement, that camaraderie, sounds great. I stressed that to my own when they were considering.

But my main memory of active duty was my body rotting away with jungle rot, pitch black bloody stools for weeks on end, terrible fear and stress and at times incoming.

i don’t see anything about actual military service other than all the great perks in your OP.

A SA and the military in general can be a lot more than a future great life and lots of advantages. One needs to consider those things that might not be all that great as well.
 
I am a bit concerned that once I actually arrive for R-day or I-day, I am going to not feel the same way I did on my visits now that I would actually be thrown right into it. I think I would adjust quickly and begin to enjoy it after a while, but I am worried that I may not
Attending a Service Academy is kinda like a Turkish steam bath --once you are in it's not so hot ! (I think that's a quote from David Poyer's Return of Philo McGiffen....I read it long , long ago).

Seriously, I doubt that there is anyone alive who doesn't have reservations or concerns going, and as '85 says, probably no one that has ever regretted attending after graduation. It's that 4 years in between that are tough -- emotions can run between "I Love this Place" and "I HATE this Place" (PG version :) ! ), sometimes in the same day.

Coming from a military family, you have some idea what you are getting into - far more than many of your classmates. However, at the end of the day it has to be your decision ..you have to want it for you.
 
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