I Need Help with My Decision: USNA or Civilian College

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Paul111, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. Paul111

    Paul111 USNA 2022

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    Hi all,

    I have to make my college decision by tomorrow at midnight. I'm between USNA and an elite business program at the University of Cincinnati (where I live). I've called, emailed, and spoken with dozens of different people (current students, grads, respected adults, friends) trying to make a well informed decision, but I keep going back and forth. The decision is so difficult for me because a) the two routes would be very different, and b) I don't have much connection to the military, so my lack of exposure makes me unsure if the military is the right path for me.

    I love almost everything about USNA: the people, the discipline, order, regimented lifestyle, beautiful campus, and the honor and prestige that surrounds the place (I went on a CVW, and visited 3 weeks ago). However, I have three reservations:

    1) Most importantly, I don't know if I am "called to serve." I have always admired the military (growing up I felt this sense of awe when I saw someone in uniform), I support the goal of the military, I know I would be a good officer and I'm the type of person who will do their best at whatever lies before them, and I would be willing to serve because I know it's a good cause. However, I don't have this gut feeling to serve, and I am not set on serving like so many incoming plebes are and were their whole lives. On the other hand, it could be that, after attending for a year, I find that this route was meant for me. All my skills seem to suggest so.

    2) The majors. In general I don't have clearly defined goals for what I want to do when I am older, but I know I am good at business related things (managing and leading, organizing, communication skills). However, USNA doesn't offer business, and none of the majors they offer seem to fit me perfectly (at least on paper. I may find that I enjoy some of them). I am not particularly drawn toward STEM, which is emphasized at USNA, however I'm not bad at STEM either. I would probably chose English at USNA because I've enjoyed English in HS, and it would provide a good foundation for me to pursue grad school or a range of careers after my service.

    3) Lack of freedom, and separation from family. I'm sure all mids face this problem, but I don't like the idea of only seeing my family (with whom I am very close) only a couple days 4-5 times a year. Also, on a daily basis, I wouldn't have much time to read, relax, or pursue other passions and hobbies that I could do at U. Cincy. Side question: how much time would I have off to visit family while I am serving after the academy? I just don't want to miss my younger siblings growing up and having a strong family connection.

    This decision has been on my mind seemingly 24/7 for the past two weeks. I've tried to look at the decision from as many angles as possible. I know I would have some regret either way I went, but in particular, I just can't help but think of missing out on the prestige; universal recognition; being part of something so great, important, and unique; and all the opportunities that only a SA could provide.

    I would greatly appreciate any advice. Most likely I will decide tomorrow afternoon. Thanks.

    Paul
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    This seems pretty simple to me but then I have some biases. A few items for your consideration:
    - If you attend USNA you can always get your business degree after serving your commitment, so it's not an either/or sort of thing.
    - Many midshipmen do not come from a military background. Many may not know that it's the right path for them. Keep in mind that you aren't committed to continuing at the academy and serving until very late in your sophomore year.

    My son went through NROTC. I don't think he had any strong desire to serve in the sense that most people mean that. He certainly never talked about that. What he had a strong desire to do was to BE a Marine officer. There are many different motivations for attending an academy. A strong desire to serve is not always one of them.

    You do not need to declare a major out of the gate. You have time to do that and consider your options. If we all took the perfect major for us then there would probably be peace on earth. Perfection is generally unattainable, unless you're my wife. :D Keep in mind that there are other things you will learn there than merely your major. Leadership and discipline are two examples. I stated on another thread today that my DS, when he finally went to the fleet, was responsible for a platoon of 78 men and women along with $16 million dollars of equipment. He will also have been to 6 foreign countries on the Pacific rim by this July. New USAFA graduates cannot rent a car because they are under 25 but the Air Force trusts them to fly jets worth tens of millions of dollars. You won't get opportunities for leadership and responsibility like that anywhere else. And when you finally leave the service you take those skills with you to wherever you go next.

    Our family is pretty close. My son went to college only a 3 hour drive away. I had bought him a car in expectations that he'd be home to visit from time to time. We got to see him on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes at Spring break. I think once you get to wherever you attend college you'll discover that going home is not quite as important as you do now. After all, you'll have a new independence that you will want to exercise.

    EDIT: My son has been in Okinawa for 18 months with 6+ months to go. Mom and I flew out to visit him at about the 12 month mark. I expect your folks will make the same effort wherever you might be stationed. And then there are the video calls. I can't emphasize how important the video is to staying in contact. You'll see your family at Thanksgiving, Christmas and parts of the summer (Do they have a spring break?) It's much easier to maintain relationships in the 21st century.

    I think you answered your own question with that particular paragraph. Go for it. Business school later....
    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
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  3. THParent

    THParent Member

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    So @Paul111 , I am going to ASSUME that you have an Offer of Appointment to USNA (hence the choice you must make by May 1st).

    Just so you know, USNA offered you that appointment because they anticipate that you will do well there. You already have what it takes to succeed at the Naval Academy.
    I will also assume that you have a good deal (scholarship?) awaiting you at the University of Cincinnati, and you already have what it takes to do well there, too.

    It is a great position to be in. The ability to choose your path and not be at the mercy of happenstance, is a blessing
    You worked hard to get to this point in your life, and it wasn't handed to you.

    What do YOU want to do with it?

    The first time I jumped out of a perfectly good aircraft, I was terrified. It turned out okay because I was wearing a parachute. ;)
    I had to go four more times. I didn't like any of those jumps. I may have peed down my leg once or twice, but I did all of them.
    I took the risk and I was glad that I did it. I felt stronger. This was at a time when I thought I was bulletproof and beer was a food group.
    I never did it again, but I could today if I had to (you know, if the aircraft was missing a wing, already in flames, and clearly on an uncontrolled path straight at the ground).
    It was all a calculated risk, well outside of my comfort zone. If I had it to do over (and I was several decades younger) I would not hesitate this time.

    I hope that helps.
     
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  4. Humey

    Humey Member

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    I didn't like any of those jumps. I may have peed down my leg once or twice, but I did all of them.;)
     
  5. Humey

    Humey Member

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    The thing is if you choose the civilian school, you will probably kick yourself for not trying USNA. If you change you mind, you wont get a chance to go back to USNA. However, if you choose USNA and you dont like it, nothing is preventing you from going to the University of your choice. Try it, if you dont like it, transfer.
     
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  6. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Moderator

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    You have had some really great advice here, but the answer lies within your own instinct.

    Now think of it this way....

    20 years from now, which choice do YOU think you will have the greatest REGRET not choosing?

    Mull that over and your inner voice will tell you the right decision.
     
  7. believe2023

    believe2023 Member

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    It is 12:01 EDT..What did you decide? I have no doubt that whichever path you chose..you will do great!
     
  8. THParent

    THParent Member

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    He has all day today to decide.
     
  9. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    One thing to the OP, do NOT be late in letting USNA know. Last year, had a candidate with an appointment on May 1. When there was no reply, on May 2, that appointment became a TWE. Just sayin . . .

    I know a young man who was in your shoes 5 years ago holding an appt to USNA. Family was not military and he wasn't gung ho, though was certainly willing to serve. Wanted to do business, wanted to spend time with his family, etc. Ended up turning down his appointment. Did very well at the (excellent) civilian college but never felt challenged academically or otherwise and never lost his desire to be in the military. (Ironically, the head of his college's business school was a USNA grad!)

    FF 5 years and he is now trying to become a SEAL. Despite NOT going to USNA and NOT doing ROTC, his desire to serve actually increased. However, b/c he didn't attend USNA, his path to becoming a SEAL is very difficult and may be largely impossible for reasons I won't belabor here.

    I've never asked if he regretted his decision, but I do wonder.
     
  10. Jess7655

    Jess7655 New Member

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    Hi, I'm a mom of a DD who is considering the service academies. I have not served in the military, however I have some experience with this idea of calling. I am a pastor and now I know what it feels like to have your colleagues talk about how they feel "called" to the profession when you have doubts. I knew I wanted to be a pastor, I knew I could be a good pastor, I knew it would fulfill me and sustain me and make me feel useful. I knew it would bring me joy. But was it my calling, my god given mission? I didnt know. 10 years later im still not sure. I firmly believe there are other career choices I could have made that would have made me happy. Paths that would have brought me joy and given me a sense of purpose that would have used my skills sets. I love my career as a pastor and chaplain. I could have loved OTHER careers. Choose your path, claim it, own it, and invest in it.
    I truly don't believe that there is one career that is right for you and only one career that is right for you. If you wish to graduate from Business School that is a wonderful path. If you wish to become an officer in the military, that is also a wonderful path.
    The world is full of amazing opportunities. And you have 2 great opportunities before you. I think when we talk about calling, we're waiting for one thing to announce itself and say pick me me! Unfortunately that's not how it works. These two schools have said they want you. Now it's your turn to decide if you want either of them.
     
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  11. time2

    time2 10-Year Member

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    Even if you take a job in the private sector at a large company, there is no guarantee you will spend your entire career in the same location. If you are unwilling to consider living in different locations, you will tend to limit your career potential. Moving due to your job isn't just related to the military.
     
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  12. believe2023

    believe2023 Member

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    Thank you
     
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  13. skismuggs

    skismuggs 5-Year Member

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    Don't wait too long or wait until 11:59pm. Your internet may go down, the USNA servers may be down or you might have a hard time connecting because everyone else is doing the same thing.
     
  14. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    Beware of the "Pressure Switch"...its amazing how your computer senses an impending deadline..
     
  15. Kierkegaard

    Kierkegaard Member

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    The acceptance deadline has me wondering--Is there anything stopping someone from accepting their offer of appointment today and then backing out of it before I-Day if they change their mind? Not saying this is a good idea, but I'm curious if it's happened because technically you aren't in the military until you sign the agreement to serve and take the oath of office, right? It certainly would be inconsiderate to Admissions and the candidates on the waitlist, but if there's a "no-show" on I-Day, what does USNA do?
     
  16. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    All the SAs plan for a range of acceptances and actual report-ins, and attrition at various points. The class size is a moving target.

    There are those who accept, then tell the SA no or simply don’t show. Famously, there are those who arrive on I-Day, take one look at the line outside the door, reality hits them, and step back. The ones that always stumped me were the ones who got their haircut, then said nope.

    The USNA keeps rolling, no matter what.

    Once they have taken the oath, it’s another story. I think there is a certain number of weeks they have to stay before they can request to go home. There are several threads on this.
     
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  17. time2

    time2 10-Year Member

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    You are under no obligation until you start I-day and take the oath. No one is going to come knocking on your door from USNA and force you to enroll if you are a no-show on I-day. However, it is considerate to let USNA know if you have changed your mind and no longer plan to attend.
     
  18. Paul111

    Paul111 USNA 2022

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    Thank you, everyone, for your good words of advice. I confirmed my admission to USNA last night.

    I don't necessarily feel relieved, and there were still many thoughts going through my head today about the decision (mostly, leaving to go on a challenging path which is separate from all my friends and family). However, I made the decision because I know the path would be more challenging and will hopefully make me a better person in the end. I thought about what my life would be like in 10 years, having been formed through the program and accomplishing something important through my service. I also thought about the opportunities the academy would offer. My decision required me to look beyond my current doubts and short-term desires and I chose what I thought would be best in the long run. It may not be the fit for me in which case I can leave after my first or second year to pursue another route, but I will still give my all at the academy with the hope and desire that I will thrive there.
     
  19. Dckc88

    Dckc88 Member

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    Congratulations on making a decision! It doesn’t surprise me that you don’t feel relieved yet, there are still a lot of unknowns, making a decision didn’t answer all of your questions. Congratulations on your choice and on your accomplishment of an appointment, best of luck on the journey ahead!
     
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  20. BTCS/USN

    BTCS/USN Member

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    Down the road your family will still be there and still be family. High School Friends not so much. You will grow at quite a different pace than those you went to high school and/ or grew up with. The upside to that is after little time at USNA, you will wind up with more friends and more family that you could ever have imagined having.