Hoping for the best while fearing the worst

The Commissioner

10-Year Member
Founding Member
Retired Moderator
Sep 4, 2006
My son's USCGA application process is complete. Everything the Academy requests was delivered. The waiting game begins now.

The process started last spring with the successful application to AIM. He told his parents that he had a great experience in New London. He did well on his physical test. His company finished second in the honor competition and first in the drill competition. He got along well with the cadre. Most important, he felt at home at the Academy and hated to leave. His desire to attend a military academy soared through the roof after AIM.

Despite a long list of legitimate and value-added community service work including being elected president of the county 4-H junior leaders, despite being elected president of the student council, despite earning 10 varsity letters in team and individual sports, despite being in the top 10% of his class and taking all the college level courses he can fit in, I am very worried about his chances of acceptance at Coast Guard, much less any academy.

For whatever reason, he hasn't scored well on the standardized tests. He's taken the SAT twice and his best score of 640 in math is weakened by a 540 in verbal. He recently scored a 22 on the ACT. Looking at the scores alone, he appears to be non-competitive.

While we wait, we will be investigating 'safety schools', particularly ones with strong ROTC programs. He's always said that he wants to be a military officer.

I'd like to hear from other parents who've been in the same situation, particularly about applying for a 4-year ROTC scholarship while waiting for news from the academies.
First, let me say I think your son is a very strong candidate. The SAT's are a factor but not a deal-breaker, IMHO. Did he take them again earlier this month? They will always take the highest scores he gets.

Did he apply early action? He may not be taken for EA, but he could still get an appointment. My son was in that group. He did have higher SAT's but some of his other stats did not measure up to your son's.

It has been said before, but I repeat:the CGA, as with all of the academies, looks at the whole picture.

As far as ROTC, my son went that route as well as a backup. A lot of it depends on which college he applies to, how many kids are looking at that particular school.

My advice to the Commish and Son, relax, take a few deep breaths. If your son accrues additional honors as the year goes on, let his admissions officer know. Good luck!:thumb:
My son only applied to USMA but some of this may be applicable to USCGA.

Like your son, my son did not do as well on the standardized tests as he should have. On the SAT he got a 540 on both the math and the verbal. He took the ACT twice and got composite scores of 26 and 27. Based on his 3.86 GPA and the classes he took (almost all honors and AP) we would have expected him to do better on the tests. For some reason he is just not good at these, not sure why, maybe nerves. I was concerned for his chances of getting into USMA because of these scores. In the end he was offered civil prep for a year and then a place at USMA next year, if he does well in college this year. He also had to retake the SAT and ACT. (We don't know his scores yet since he just took the SAT two weeks ago and the ACT this past weekend.) I strongly believe if he had scored better on these tests he would have been in the class of 2010.

At the same time he was applying for USMA he applied for an Army ROTC scholarship. He was awarded a 4 year scholarship at Washington State University and had accepted it because he had not heard from USMA at the time. After he found out he got into the civil prep program, he decided to turn down the ROTC scholarship. If things had not worked out the way they did, I know he would have done well in ROTC. There is absolutely nothing wrong with becoming an officer through ROTC. When he called the ROTC program at WSU to tell them he was not going to be coming there after all, he was given a hard time by the officer he spoke to. Basically the Capt. told him "you can do civil prep and be an officer in 5 years, or come here and be an officer in 4 years." For my son, it was not about the fastest route to becoming an officer, but about pursuing his dream of graduating from West Point, so he chose civil prep. I am not telling you about this to discourage your son from accepting an ROTC scholarship while waiting to hear from the academy. I am only telling you so he can be prepared for this possibility. I am sure the Capt. at WSU was disappointed and that is why he was harsh with my son, but in the end the Army will still get a good man and officer.

My opinion is that your son should definitely apply for ROTC scholarships in addition to the academy. If he does not get into USCGA the first time around he could go to college, do ROTC, and reapply to the academy. By the way, there are some "coasties" in the prep program at NMMI with my son.

Good luck!
Thanks to bossf51 and WAMom68 for your frank and encouraging responses. It's always nice to hear from others who've blazed the application process trail.

I contacted the Army ROTC recruiting officer at my alma mater and learned from him that the deadline for the 4-year scholarship application is 1 DEC. He said my son can apply even though he hasn't chosen a civilian school yet. That appears to be the next step. I'll be happy for my son (and relieved) when he knows where he will be at this time next year!
If your son's primary goal is to serve his country then a ROTC scholarship is a great alternative to a service academy. It is always good to have a plan B and a plan C. My daughter's approach was Service Academy is plan A, then ROTC scholarship, then Plan C is she is not qualfied medically.
Fortunately, she would like to attend the college that offered her a ROTC scholarship even if it doesn't work out. So she is pretty set with her civilian school.
The AROTC scholarship can be done all online and is pretty simple and easy to do. If he is willing to become an officer in the US Army then go for it. When she was offered her scholarship at the interview she explained to the Prof of Military Science that she didn't think she could commit yet because of her service academy applications. He told her that is would be no problem for her to get out of the scholarship and that last year he lost his #1 applicant to West Point.
No doubt the senior year is a long one and full of stressors for both parents and kids. A reasonable goal is to have something in place that he can live with when he graduates.
Best of luck to him and hopefully his first choice - USCGA will come through for him.
As a BGO, a viable backup plan is an indicator to me that the candidate does indeed want to serve his country. Whether or not the candidate is pursuing a ROTC scholarship is a mandatory question on our interviews.

Additionally, there are Coast Guard billets at the Naval Academy Prep School. Someone correct me please, but I think there are a half dozen or so Coast Guard midshipmen candidates there annually.
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Many more than that unless they've changed things, which I doubt in this case.

I'm giving estimates based on memory, but of my NAPS class of approximately 220 (at the beginning) a good 50 or so were USCGA candidates. At an absolute minimum there were 30.

USCGA offered me a slot at NAPS, but they were beaten by USNA by three days. Of course, USNA was my first choice, so some other lucky USCGA hopeful got that slot. :thumb:
You are correct. Found it the second time I went to the NAPS website. Coast Guard annually sends 35-40 and USMMA 20-25. Had no idea it was that many. A great opportunity.
USNA69 said:
You are correct.

Can I quote you on that? :yllol:

35-40 would make sense seeing as the classes don't seem to be as big anymore.
I don't think so. You generally stand on your own merits and qualifications. Applying for ROTC might help you a bit but not applying will not hurt you. It's a good plan B option but not a deal-breaker.
kwyjibo247 said:
Does it look bad in an interview, if you don't apply to a ROTC?
Let's fast forward to your interview, kwyjibo247. You will be asked why you want to go to an Academy. If your response is a variation of the statement that you want to serve your country, what will you answer when the interviewer asks the follow up question of what your plans will be if you are not accepted at the Academy? Going to a civilian school, majoring in basket weaving, and backpacking around the world to "find" yourself after graduation doesn't cut it. You should demonstrate a backup plan that will allow you to serve your country.
I would say I would go to civilian college for a year than re-apply. Which is what I would plan to do.

If you plan on re-applying the next year to the academy, can you be in ROTC? Cause if you can I woujld, but I'm not sure how you could.
kwyjibo247 said:
If you plan on re-applying the next year to the academy, can you be in ROTC? Cause if you can I woujld, but I'm not sure how you could.

Yes, ROTC units are able to nominate directly to the academies.
Coast Guard Careers

My son is primarily interested in a Coast Guard career, not necessarily a career in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps. This last week he had me travel to The Citadel since they have a Coast Guard Auxiliary unit. The Citadel has many ROTC options. Since his primary interest is the Coast Guard he has decided that he doesn't want to pursue ROTC appointments but would rather seek grants, scholarships and loans to reach his goal of earning a commission in the Coast Guard.

I'm impressed as I watch him work the situation. He has been accepted to The Citadel and Norwich University. His first choice among them is The Citadel. He also is a freshman in college now and applied for a non military alternative as plan C. He is wait listed with the Coast Guard Academy so he sent an email to The Citadel informing them he was wait listed at the Coast Guard Academy, which is his first choice. The precess and stress have helped him mature over the past year. He is focused and has never panicked. This weekend he ditched plan C and is focusing on Plan A - he is fully organized for either but is really holding out for the USCGA. WHatever happens most of the candidates I believe will have learned a little and grown through the process.
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Prep School

When speaking to my son Bobby about plan B he has mentioned Prep school. He told me that the two schools used by the USCGA are Marion in Alabama and the New Mexico Military Institute. He never mentioned NAPS. He has been very complete in his research so I'm not really confident about NAPS.

My son went as far as to apply for and be accepted to Marion, just in case. I suspect the USCGA has to "send" you to MArion or NMMI - just going on your own probably wouldn't help.