Mother thinks attending academy is terrible idea. Questions about post service life.

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by didlidog, Nov 15, 2016.

  1. didlidog

    didlidog Member

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    I am a current applicant for the service academies. My father is indifferent about me applying to the academies and helps me with the application. However, my mother, on the other hand, is completely against me attending any of the service academies. She tells me that I will have an extremely difficult time assimilating back into society and will be looked "down" upon by others for not having attended a college that is "normal."
    Obviously I disagree with my mother. But to help confirm my beliefs, how easy has it been for you post graduates and post service individuals to integrate back into the civilian life? Is it difficult to associate and connect with others after service? And how easy was it for you guys to find a job that is well paid?
    If I go into the academy, I am interested in cyber security and computer science related majors.
    Also, my parents have no background in the military and so as expected, my mother makes conjectures without factual evidence.
     
  2. Fishpart

    Fishpart Member

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    My wife is a USMA Grad and I am an ROTC grad; our oldest is currently attending USMA. We did not have any difficulty assimilating into society when we left the service and I would actually say my wife still does a better job than I do after 20 years. My experience is that your military service will attract some employers and will scare some away. Since we have been at war for over 16 years, you will find Vets everywhere and can probably connect with them better than somone who never served.
    As for finding good paying employment, The Long Gray Line is about the best network on the planet and Old Grads are EVERYWHERE. Most companies can find skilled workers but need leaders to thrive, all of the Service Academies (and ROTC programs for that matter) develop Leaders of Character as their primary mission. The military has always had a special need for and been at the forefront of cyber security related issues. The Service Academies always rank in the top 10 on lists that rank colleges, employers pay attention to that, but remember your first desire must be to become a military officer.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  3. time2

    time2 5-Year Member

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    It sounds like your mom already has her mind made up based on wild opinions and random gossip for people she apparently knows. I would suggest you AND your parents visit any college you are serious about applying to whether it be a SA or a civilian university. Talk to those who actually go there and understand their perspective and the various career opportunities, do enough research so you know what all this involves. Then you can base your decision on things that are factual. One of the things you will learn about SA's is that there are no lack of well-meaning friends/neighbors or the even postman who fling out random opinions even when they have no idea what they are talking about.

    You shouldn't attend an SA just because you think it will enhance your resume AFTER leaving the military. I agree as mentioned above, your first desire needs to revolve around being an officer in the military.
     
  4. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    Your evidence is in the significant number of academy kids that are following in the footsteps of a parent or sibling. If you ask around, the academies are full of legacy kids.

    If it wasn't a good move, it wouldn't be repeated so often.
     
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  5. waboo@1229

    waboo@1229 Member

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    I'm a mom. I understand your parents indifference. It's frightening to think the DS/DD going to this incredible unknown path. Be strong to find the path that suits you. You parents will find their way to shine light on it! That's what mom and dads do.

    Best of luck.
     
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  6. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    +1 waboo,

    But indifference is one thing...telling your DS/DD that it is a "terrible idea" is another.

    When my DS originally expressed his desire to apply for the SA's and ROTC, my wife was NOT happy, but she did not discourage him. She only asked that he learn all he could about the risks and benefits. As @waboo@1229 said, she "shined" a light on the subject matter.
     
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  7. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    I live in an area where there are plenty of retired vets and they seem to be highly functional and fully integrated members of society.

    When my son expressed an interest in becoming a Marine his Mom was dead set against it. Privately I finally made her see that when he graduated from high school he would be 18 and he could do whatever he wanted - she would have no say. Once I did that, she told him he could join the Marines but he would go to college first and join as an officer. That's when he started looking into NROTC and thus an officer was born. Don't know if it helps in your situation... but...

    Keep pressing forward. It's your life. I've never meet anyone who didn't look up to an Academy student or grad or any other service member. I suppose it might be different in your neighborhood.
     
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  8. 808DAD

    808DAD Member

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    My wife and mother in law questioned why I encouraged my DS to apply to the service academies. My son's grades and test scores could get him at any private college but after a week at USNA summer seminar my son was hooked on the academy life. The women in my family wasn't happy but when it's free tuition to a highly esteemed college it was hard for them to deny his first three choices. He now is in his third year at the Air Force Academy and have loved every minute of it. In a matter of fact his first class on his first day was flying. At which college can you experience that? My wife has bought into his service though she doesn't want him to fly helicopters she knows it's his choice.
     
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  9. jl123

    jl123 Member

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    You will not be looked "down" upon for attending a service academy. Academy graduates are viewed with a similar level of prestige as Ivy League graduates. Of course, there are those who will denigrate the accomplishments of both groups, usually out of envy or ignorance; many people do not know that the academies produce a large number of Rhodes Scholars (USMA ranks 5th behind Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford) and numerous other academic achievements.

    Many academy graduates attend the top graduate schools in the country. When I look at my classmates it is impressive how many have graduate degrees from elite schools. However, it is not uncommon for the academy degree to be the dominant factor in business relationships. Early in my business career a CEO told me, "We didn't hire you for your Ivy League MBA, we hired you because you went to West Point." The reason - leadership training and experience. During business school case discussions, it was astounding how clueless most graduates of "normal" colleges were in Leadership courses - and these were brilliant students with undergraduate degrees from Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc.

    As far as transitioning to civilian life, I'll pass on this advice: An instructor at USMA once advised me that during my time on active duty to work on one thing each year to make myself more marketable and better prepared for life after the service. After service commitment or retirement those additional language/computer skills and relevant coursework/experience make your service academy and active duty experience that much more valuable.
     
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  10. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 WPAFB 5-Year Member

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    I am not from a military family and grew up in Oregon, where there is little to no military presence. My mom was VERY against my interest in a service academy, but I got her on this forum and in touch with some parents of cadets and grads and they helped her understand my choice. She became very supportive once she understood what I was doing.

    I had a lot of people ask why I was "throwing away" my opportunity to go to a good college to go to USAFA, but almost always they just didn't understand what USAFA/the service academies are.

    Having a degree from a service academy is a big deal and definitely not a negative.
     
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  11. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 5-Year Member

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  12. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team" 5-Year Member

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    Your mother has no clue how much an appointment from the academies, much less a diploma, means. I actually feel a little insulted and flabbergasted that someone holds such a disparaging opinion of my school and those in the military. In this day and age, can any graduate ever recall being "looked down" upon for having attended an SA?

    At the end of the day, the decision rests with you...I don't know what your relationship is like with your parents but the decision is yours. Attending an academy and serving in the military is not going to turn you into a robot that cannot associate with other "normal" people. There are thousands of other things you should be contemplating while applying to an SA - your concern is not one of them.

    I also agree you need to reconsider your priorities. I wouldn't treat the military as a mere stepping stone to something else you actually want to do in life.
     
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  13. didlidog

    didlidog Member

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    Thank you all for the thoughtful and comprehensive responses.
    So I guess many individual's mothers also initially were extremely against the academies but later on learned more about the academies and began to understand the benefits?
    Chockstock, what in particular should I be contemplating on while applying to the academies? I agree. Although I have not attended the academies, I am quite flabbergasted that my mother is so against something that she has absolutely no experience with.

    The service academies are definitely not a stepping stone for my future path in life. I am applying to the service academies because I want to serve. However, I may one day decide to leave the military after serving for many years and at that point in time, my ability to join civilian life would be crucial. I am sorry if it sounded like I am going there solely for the education and will try to leave as soon as possible.

    Jl123, How much free time did you have to work on other activities while on active duty? I was under the impression that during active duty, life is quite busy.
     
  14. Pima

    Pima 5-Year Member

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    didlidog

    To make rank in the military you will need to get your Master degree, for the AF most officers will get that out of the way as an O3. Bullet (DH) had his completed by the time he had 5 yrs in. Most officers do this on base/post/online at the base educational office after their work day

    jt123 is correct you want to work on life after the military while you are in the military, but doesn't have to be "other" activities as in outside of work. Many times it will include the jobs you do as an officer on AD. IE Bullet, an AFROTC grad was an F15E WSO, he was never going to be a busdriver in the sky (airline pilot) since he was a WSO, so for his ADAF career he worked on becoming the GO TO guy for weapons. Fliers do not fly 5 days a week, 2x is a good week, the other days they have an"office" job, such as weapons, scheduling, training, life support, sim instructor, etc. Bullet worked up the ladder in weapons, including going to the dreaded Pentagon for a weapons job (joint assignment ---JROC).
    ~ FFWD 15 months before eligibility for retirement. His old Pentagon boss had retired, was now a defense contractor working on the F35, and knew he was near retirement. He offered him a job that day, knowing he could not start for 15 months. Bullet hit the button at the 1st chance he could (1 yr before he could leave). He interviewed with 2 companies (1 for the 35 program and 1 for the 22), offered jobs for both 4 months prior to retirement. The big thing here to realize is both of those airframes are single seat (pilot only), but because of his weapons experience they selected him, a WSO over any pilot.

    When posters say other activities, to me that is in part of what you need to do, you need to become that GO TO person by specializing in something within your career field.
    ~ Another example. To make rank you will need PME. That is military education programs, such as CGSC at Leavenworth or ACSC for the AF at Maxwell. Bullet was a fortunate one, he was selected to attend CGSC in residence as an AF officer, only 60 in the AF for the yr. The AF officers (O4) selected to do this had 2 things in common, regardless of their career field.
    ~~ 1. They all had their Master degrees completed. Master degree is masked (blind), iows the selection board for making O4 did not know if they had one or not, BUT for the PME in residence selection board it is not masked, thus they knew if these officers had completed their master.
    ~~ 2. They had all done ACSC by correspondence or seminar prior to meeting the PME selection board.

    Just saying had Bullet never got his Master degree at night on base (Bases have satellite colleges like Embry Riddle, U of MD, Webster, etc) as a young O3, plus ACSC via correspondence as he moved up the ladder in the Weapons shop, he probably would have never went to CGSC and end up at Pentagon. The Pentagon in the AF is the dreaded assignment, many fliers would rather do a yr remote in Korea over the Puzzle Palace, but that assignment opened up the doors to his 2nd career.
    ~FYI: When he got his Master degree, we had 2 children under 4, and I was pregnant with our 3rd. He was jumping out of perfectly good airplanes with the 82nd AB. We made it work. If he was taking classes that night, or doing a night jump than we met for lunch knowing he wouldn't be home for dinner.

    Finally, you stated academies, as in plural. I am just speaking as a spouse of a now retired AF officer (O5) and a Mom of an O3 ADAF pilot. I would take a step back and really look into the life of each branch and the career field. The AF is jokingly called the Prima Donna/corporate/bankers branch. Duty day is 8-4 if not flying...when you are young and not deployed. They don't get up for a 10 mile rucksack run at 5:30 a.m....PT training for them is the squadron golf outing and carrying their clubs.

    I would end my novella by also saying that yes, indeed, graduating from any SA creates an incredible network for after AD life, BUT it is what you do when you are AD that will matter more. As stated earlier, Bullet was an AFROTC grad., however, for him and my DS now serving, their career fields are very small. You will keep meeting up with the same people somewhere along your career. Think about it. RPA pilot, well there are only 3 or 4 places (Pentagon included) that they will station you at. Nuclear Subs in the Navy? Same deal...how many dolphins do you think there are? Rangers in the Army? Missileers in the AF? Helos? Cyber in any branch?

    OBTW before ending this novella. I DO agree with your Mother about assimilating after the military, but she will not like my answer. Bullet and I had problems assimilating back to the civilian world after 21 yrs ADAF. Our problem was for 21 yrs we had a social circle/family that "got" the life. Weekends and holidays were with our AF family. Even when you live off base/post most members live in certain neighborhoods (Eagle River in AK is called base housing of the north for Elmendorf because so many that buy/rent live in Eagle River).
    ~ Our DS got married in 14. His wife is also an AF brat. The flower girl was the granddaughter of his babysitter and best friend (AF friends for 20 yrs). His groomsmen were AFROTC. He is assigned to Dyess. Fencers DS and my DS see each other frequently for dinner at each other's home for dinner.
    ~ DS and DIL just had our 1st grandbaby. The spouses in the squadron made sure that meals were delivered to their home for the first week after the birth.

    Our DS will be at least 33 before he leaves the AF. He and his wife (DIL) have never known life as a civilian. DS waived those little American flags on the runway when Daddy returned after 4-6 months deployment. Yet, there he is now doing the same thing his Dad did knowing full well the hardship on his own wife and child. There she (DIL) supporting him knowing how it felt for herself as a child.
    ~ RAND did a study about military brats and the percentage that join. Guess what the result was? Compared to the civilian world, there was a higher percentage that were brats!
    ~~ One can say it is an assimilation problem, or 1 can say that they saw the amazing opportunities of seeing the world offered that they wanted to keep their lifestyle going.
    ~~~ FYI: DS went to UPT at Del Rio aka AF slang...HELL Rio. Followed onto Abilene Tx.

    Our DD went to VT, and is a teacher. She fought to get a DoD teaching slot in Europe to no avail. So, she too wanted to continue on seeing the world with a tie to the military. She lives 3 hrs away.

    There are negatives, I will not lie. Every year at this time, Bullet comes home to see me baking Xmas cookies and crying to the song, I'll be home for Xmas. JMPO, but it is hard on your folks, and I think part of it is more about being so far away or maybe facing life/death danger than life after your military career.
    ~ You can easily find out by saying something on the level of: Mom, do you actually think that Raytheon. Rand. L3Comm, SAIC, BAH, Lockheed, etc will choose someone with NO military experience at the age of 26 (when you can walk) over someone that has experience. How about GS?

    Just saying as a Mom it maybe more about you not living nearby than you know. Just maybe it is about you not being home for holiday dinners, and family celebrations. Or maybe it is about her fear for your life. I get it. Truly, I do. I am fortunate, I lived a life where my DH, and now my DS, state/d I can't believe they pay me to do this, I would do it for free. That is what makes me smile through my tears when I hear that song.

    Talk to her. Tell her as a young adult, I need you to support me. If you don't I will always carry that burden of your (her) concerns. It will always be a thorn in our/your relationship. You will be required to step up as an adult, not a teenager in July/Aug/Sept., be it an SA or ROTC cadet.

    Trust this one thing...she will support and brag about your decision. Life after the academy on a good day right now is a decade away.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
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  15. jl123

    jl123 Member

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    Life is quite busy on active duty, just as in any profession. People working on Wall Street find time to study for CFA exams, accountants for CPA exams, lawyers for bar exams, corporate executives for MBA's at night. The military is no different, although there may be a few specialties that would make it more difficult.

    In the mid-eighties, I waited about a year after graduation to get comfortable in my military job and then started taking courses at night and worked around field exercises. I studied on weekends, giving up the same free time my civilian counterparts were giving up to improve themselves. I know several people who earned masters degrees while serving. Back then USC and Boston University, among others, offered part-time masters degree programs at locations on or near post for military personnel. Today, with the proliferation of high quality on-line programs, it should be much easier to find a relevant and worthwhile program. Additionally, that extra work pays dividends whether someone stays in the military or transitions to civilian life.

    The bottom line is that progression in any field requires substantial work outside of business hours, especially in the early years. To paraphrase a quote I once heard regarding entrepreneurs, "Successful professionals work eighty hours a week in their twenties and thirties so they won't have to work forty hours a week in their fifties and sixties."
     
  16. madhttr

    madhttr Dad

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    As a civilian, I heartily agree with your post. In 20 years in the insurance industry I have completed two professional designations and an MBA all on my own time. And the last quote--let's just say I wish I had heard that advice in my twenties so I would have started on it then. Like a lot of things, it pays to start early. Kudos to the OP for thinking ahead.
     
  17. KP2020Dad

    KP2020Dad DS - USMMA '20

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    There are many benefits of attending a service academy and can really set you on the right course for the rest of your life. However, there is no fame or fortune to be had and, at times, you will be in harm's way. Joining the military and serving our country is a calling. If YOU feel this is the right thing to do...than go full steam ahead. It may be a little tougher for you due to the lack of parental support, but what you'll find is a whole other family that is behind you. Those of us that have served in uniform know how important it is for younger generations to take our place. Continue to work toward your goal. Eventually, your parents will come around. In the mean time, find a local service academy rep to help with the process and continue to use this platform for recommendations/assistance. Good luck.
     
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 5-Year Member

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    Regarding if veterans are looked down on, it really just depends. I've worked at a small employer where, while may not looked down on, I'd say a veteran was likely misunderstood. I worked at another place where being a veteran was just a cool little side fact. And, where I work now, it's generally a good thing (not a tie breaker, but it's just cool, and it has a good veterans network).

    You'll have a small minority out there that think you're dumb or couldn't get into a college (this isn't unique to the military). You've have a small minority that thinks it's amazing. And you'll have a majority that realizes its just another phase of life or past experiences.
     
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  19. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team" 5-Year Member

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    In my opinion, the only understandable reason for parental disagreement is the safety factor. My mother was against me going to USMA but simply made me promise that I select a non-combat branch, a promise I (sort of) kept. So your mother may share those same concerns as well. But to me, the reasons she gave you are invalid.

    I can tell you what I was considering when I was in the application process - whether I would enjoy life after the academy, whether I was even cut out for the curriculum, whether I was good enough to secure a nomination (this kept me up at night), and whether it was better than going through the ROTC program at UM-Ann Arbor. If I were you, the first thing I would do is decide on which SA you want to go to... I only ever got one nomination so I could only apply to one school (I only wanted to go to West Point). If you're considering applying to two or even three different schools, you must have developed a new vaccine or something because it is my understanding that they only award multiple nominations to the most accomplished and deserving students.

    Several people brought up that point because you may wind up lacking commitment because you're too focused on what is ahead. Don't hear it from me, the older and much more experienced graduates on this forum can tell you...you most likely won't have a problem transitioning back as a civilian, as long as you served honorably.
     
  20. DevilDog

    DevilDog 5-Year Member

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    This is a little different because I did not attend a Service Academy. The day I enlisted in the Marine Corps, my mother did not talk to me for a week. She grew p in Cuba and knew the reputation of the USMC, as first to fight. The time I spent at Parris Island, I received a letter from my mother everyday. She is your mother and mothers never want their children in any possible manner of being in harms way, especially non-military families. My ex-wife was totally against our son going to USAFA. I knew the great education and the opportunities he would have at the Academy, he is engaged to one of his proffessor's daughter, and after the Air Force. It is a great way to go.
    As a Marine, I can't begin to tell you how many times I have been interviewed by someone who also served, whether in the Marine Corps or another branch. You become something a lot bigger than yourself.
     
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