How do I become certain that the military is right for me?

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by FutureCadet12, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. FutureCadet12

    FutureCadet12 Member

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    I have had my eyes set on USCGA/USNA for some time now, but recently I have been doubting whether the military really is the right fit for me. I am currently entering my sophomore year of high school, and have earned a multitude of leadership positions while maintaining good grades. However, while I enjoy sports, I am not what you would call a "natural athlete." For this reason, I worry about what the military may hold for me.

    To summarize, I am just unsure about whether I should pursue my goal of being in the military. At this point, I am most interested in serving in the Coast Guard/Navy. For those of you who have had experience with this, was it a clear-cut decision for you?
     
  2. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Super Moderator 5-Year Member

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    As long as you can pass the CFA you are athletic enough for a SA. Trust me, there are plenty of kids at a SA I would not call great athletes. Questioning things is good. Research your local Congressman for a SA Night. Most will conduct these and have Admissions liaisons like BGOs and possibly even Mids and grads who can answer tons of questions. When you are a rising Senior apply for Summer Seminar and the AIM at USCGA. You can visit a SA and apply for STEM at USNA to get a glimpse of USNA even sooner.
     
  3. MemberLG

    MemberLG 5-Year Member

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    What does not being a natural athlete has anything to do with the military?

    What did you do to earn those leadership positions and what did you do in those leadership positions? A few things I learned during my life is that telling people what to do when things are normal is not leadership.

    It might sound like a cliche, but deciding to serve in the military is a decision to do something different with your life than most other people and serve your country; and dealing with the consequences.
     
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  4. Full Metal Bulldog

    Full Metal Bulldog 5-Year Member

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    You don't have to be a natural athlete or even really THAT athletic to succeed at an SA or SMC, or really even as a military officer. You really just need to understand and want to live a healthy lifestyle. From what I've experienced that's paid off to people more in the long run, physically and mentally, than being in extreme shape.
     
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  5. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe 5-Year Member

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    There are no natural-born leaders, just like there are no natural-born lawyers or teachers or doctors. Whether in the military or as a civilian, you will bring everything you are - your strengths and weaknesses and life experiences - to whatever profession you choose. The corollary to this is that the Navy and Coast Guard know that their personnel must be trained. They have honed this training very well. In other words: you bring your willingness to consider a profession as an officer, and they provide the training and opportunities both that give you a wide-angle, real-life picture of what the life is like, AND the opportunities to consider whether it's a good fit for you. That's one reason that cadets and midshipmen at the SAs have two years to decide, without penalty if they separate from the academy, and NROTC midshipmen on scholarship have one year.

    Do your research ahead of time. Read everything reputable you can find. Apply for the USNA STEM camp and/or NASS. I know that USCGA has a similar program for rising seniors.

    As to your last question: I was one of those midshipmen who didn't figure out that the Navy was not for me until I had been at USNA for a year. I do not consider that year wasted AT ALL - I began to develop some of my best habits there, for instance, MUCH sooner than many of my peers. (Some of them still haven't learned basic self-control and collaboration, for example!:cool:) Point is, you don't have to be convinced you want a career in the Coast Guard or the Navy even before you go to a SA - much less while applying! You DO have to be entirely open to that possibility, and to investigating with all good faith and enthusiasm. And if you wind up at a SA, you will find that many of your classmates aren't completely sure when they start out, either.
     
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  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 10-Year Member

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    I think you just feel it out. Go see some units, talk to people in the services. Talk to people who have served in the past.

    Some people go in convinced it's their callings, only to realize it's not. Others think it's a way to pay for school, and then make along career out of it.

    On reflection, I'm not sure I was the best fit. I did my five years after four "fun" years at CGA.

    I had classmates I didn't think were good fits, who ended up being great officers.

    All you can hope to do initially is collect information to make an informed decision. Then re-evaluate the decision and your desires. Ask for help. Do research. Keep an open mind. And at the end of the day, realize it's a job and the decision is yours to make.
     
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  7. CoastiePilot

    CoastiePilot 5-Year Member

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    Also, look at the missions of the organizations as a whole. I feel this applies on the military AND civilian side. When you read what they accomplishing, do you get that tingling in you belly that says 'yea, I wanna be a part of that'? If the answer is yes, then you may be a good fit for them regardless if it is a military organization or not. I've seen so many colleagues fail because they just didn't buy into all the great things the Coast Guard does which drove their lack of motivation and subpar performance. You may not know specifically what you want to do once you get inside (I would say over half of CGA cadets don't) but that's ok...you have plenty of time to figure it out. Also, keep in mind the service academies are just a small piece of a much bigger picture. 4 years seems like a long time (especially when you are there) but you are out and done with a degree and commission before you know it and part of the bigger picture that you hopefully bought into.
     
  8. Humey

    Humey Member

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    Others have given great advice. Their is an alternative. You could join the Merchant Marine Academy. From what I read, once you graduate you have options that allow you to go either civilians or military. You will have to do reserve duty if you dont go active.

    Per their website

    No other federal service academy offers you the career options of Kings Point. You may choose to seek your opportunity as a ship's officer at sea, ashore in the maritime and intermodal transportation field, or as an active duty officer in one of the Armed Forces. Since the Federal Government has provided your education at Kings Point, you will have a service obligation when you graduate -- in the maritime and/or transportation industry, and to Armed Forces Reserve duty.

    Per wikipedia

    Midshipmen at Kings Point have a wide variety of options upon graduation. Unlike the nation's other Federal Service Academies, graduates of USMMA are required to fulfill their service obligation on their own by providing annual proof of employment in a wide variety of occupations as approved by MARAD for a specified period of time.

    Graduates may elect to fulfill their service obligation by working as licensed officers on US-flagged merchant vessels, as civilians in the maritime industry, or as active duty officers in any branch of the uniformed services of the United States, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, or the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Regardless, graduates are required to maintain their US Coast Guard-issued merchant marine officer's license for a period of at least 6 years.

    Those graduates electing to enter the civilian work force in the maritime industry, and those sailing in the Merchant Marine, are also required to maintain their Navy Reserve commission (or another reserve component commission in the Army National Guard or Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air Force National Guard or Reserve, or Coast Guard Reserve) for a period of at least 8 years after their commissioning as officers, and are required to serve in the maritime industry for at least 5 years following graduation.
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 10-Year Member

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    That would be contingent on other services accepting them. It's not automatic.