DD and I are back from the first USCGA Admissions Cadet for a Day (Overnight) of 2016 held Thursday and Friday of last week. The Admission Brief on Thursday began ~8:30 am for Parents and Applicants and also included a walking tour of the USCGA Campus. This CGA Event was (IMHO) the most informative, explanatory and transparent Service Academy Admissions presentation I have ever experienced. I am not bashful in stating that the other SA’s need to see how it is being ‘done’ at USCGA. The USCGA team did not hard sell; they did not need to! They simply laid the Admissions process and took the time to go in-depth by ‘filling in’ some of the CGA’s desired criteria that fits the ‘whole person’ profile that the Academy seeks out from its pool of applicants. Members of the Team openly shared varied personal experiences of their own application process, including the why and when they first applied. These personal antidotes added rich flavor to the information that was being shared. This also confirmed to the assembled that the application process is long, detailed and stressful for a reason; the CGA builds each Class with the goal to mirror its make-up as a reflection of the people of the United States to whom they serve. As a USNA Plebe parent, I bear (pun intended) witness to the long and arduous admissions process of the USNA and so I can also attest that the CGA admissions process clearly maintains a selectivity that is as equal, if not more, in trying to select/build a Class with the ‘right’ applicants to meet its’ mission requirements. This presentation also confirmed (to me) that there is a ‘secrete sauce’ unique to each SA. This SA ‘secrete sauce’ has been created, tried and tested and adjusted over dozens of decades such that it is honed and reviewed continually by each unique SA Admissions team by using the mounds of data that is collected from each SA Class that have come and gone over the years. ‘Shaping the Class’ was a phrase that stood out to me. Getting more into the weeds, I do believe (and the CGA seemed to confirm) that each Academy looks for “a hook” with each applicant; they attempt to uncover what life experience has shaped an applicant; does he/she have a background that goes beyond the average?; is there a ‘thing’ that makes this one’s essence stand a bit above another’s?; does this person have 'more' than what appears ‘on paper’? To answer one question that was asked during Q & A, the CGA Admissions spoke to its own ‘selection mechanics’ (as I recall, and anyone, please correct me if I am in error!). They stated that the CGA uses a two-person review panel that votes on the applicant’s package for appointment. This panel is comprised of an Admissions Officer and a Faculty member; the Faculty person is not always the same and they are chosen from a rotating pool of CGA Faculty members. These two people will go over the package and together vote an applicant ‘in’ or not. Split decisions are taken up again further in the process for adjudication that I didn’t quite catch (sorry). I did hear that Class ranking is apparently not quite as important in the selection criteria as it once was; the best example for what is important to the USCGA (as provided during the Q & A session) was the emphasis to the applicants in the audience on making sure that Application Essays are meaningful and well-written. On the drive home, DD commented on the genuine enthusiasm she felt from every member of the Admissions Team when explaining the CG mission and the CGA experience to the attendees. It was this passion she witnessed that made her visit and overnight better than anything she experienced at NASS or her CVW in Annapolis. My DD’s goal is to become part of this fine organization.