Service Academy vs state university - any regrets from grads?

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May 22, 2018
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Hi. My son is considering pursuing a nomination to one of the academies, and I believe he has a good possibility of receiving it. However, as a parent I have a question.

I wonder if my son will later wish he had a more stereotypical college experience and if he will will have regrets or "what if" kind of questions. Are there any service academy grads out there that are willing to speak about this from their own experience?

My son will make his own choices and I would never get in the way of that, but this thought keeps nagging at me. I have a son already enlisted in the Army, and I myself was in the Army N.G. for seven years, so please understand I am all-in if this is what he chooses to do with his life.

Thanks in advance!
 

USAFA10s

USAFA Class of 2012 Kirtland, AFB
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Definitely no regrets. Service academies may not be a typical college experience, but they are an awesome and unique experience of their own. Zero debt, a great guaranteed job and a tight network based on the shared challenge of making it to graduation. If you believe the point of college is to grow and be prepared for your future, a service academy is a great option. If partying hard is a priority...maybe not so much, although cadets do a good job of making their own fun, it’s just a little different
 

Dadof2

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I wonder if my son will later wish he had a more stereotypical college experience and if he will will have regrets or "what if" kind of questions.
You could also flip this question around if he chooses the stereotypical college experience and ask "I wonder if my son will later wish he had a SA experience and if he will have regrets or "what if" kind of questions..."
 

Devil Doc

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My son we thought was for sure headed to Annapolis for football. He was interested in serving but football was a top priority. USNA didn't work out and he snubbed VMI and other offers and ended up attending five schools in order to graduate due to chasing the sports dream. He was also an All-Met baseball player. He did graduate though and commissioned in the Marines via PLC. After seven plus years he doesn't miss the academy experience or claim happiness from the State U experience. He is up to his backside in alligators training Marines for war. I agree with the above. If offered an appointment, go for it.
 

AROTC-dad

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After seven plus years he doesn't miss the academy experience or claim happiness from the State U experience
Senior Chief Devil Doc's DS illustrates my belief that a large portion (not all) of SA candidates are extraordinary enough to thrive wherever they are planted.

There are many routes to commission. It just depends on which toll booth you want to pass through.
 
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BTCS/USN

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Have to ask what is the long range goal? Both routes are a means to an end. Both have their pluses and minuses. Both can result in the same outcome. The obvious difference is that you can have both experiences in one path but not in the other. SA for a B.S. degree, then State or private school for post grad work. Can't work using the other route.
BTW, I was still able to "party" well past my 22nd or 23rd year of age as proven by my extensively documented list of screw-ups that lasted well into my next decade.[emoji23]
 
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Have to ask what is the long range goal? Both routes are a means to an end. Both have their pluses and minuses. Both can result in the same outcome. The obvious difference is that you can have both experiences in one path but not in the other. SA for a B.S. degree, then State or private school for post grad work. Can't work using the other route.
BTW, I was still able to "party" well past my 22nd or 23rd year of age as proven by my extensively documented list of screw-ups that lasted well into my next decade.[emoji23]
Very valid point about SA and then grad school elsewhere later.

Re: goals - My DS believes the SA will teach him valuable lessons about discipline, life, leadership, and in addition allow him opportunities to network and get a superior education. Those are pretty much the goals at this point for him.

However, having done my time in service to Uncle Sam, I also feel that his push-up skills will get a lot of advanced training before it’s all over with if he is accepted. [emoji56]
 

Old Navy BGO

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Absolutely no regret...what did I miss ? We had our share of fun, perhaps more time compressed and perhaps even wilder at times since the opportunities were more limited. It's fun, getting together with my classmates 30+ years later now, we remember those good times and most of the bad times don't seem as bad anymore.

My time in the Navy was also great --when I was in the VP RAG, one senior officer described deployments as just like a fraternity, but with money. There was a lot of truth in that statement ...sure we worked hard, but played hard too.
 

Humey

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Honestly, only your son willl know if he has regrets and that will be only after he finishes. I am sure there are plenty of people who do regret going to the academies as well as those who dont. The other issue is unless you have something to compare, you have no way of knowing if you made a mistake or not. It all depends on your son
 

Stealth_81

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I actually asked my son this last night in a Skype chat. He is at Squadron Officer School right now so we talk a lot more frequently than I am used to. He says absolutely no regrets. My other two kids went to State U so it isn't like he has nothing with which to compare his experiences.

While at USAFA he got to fly several different aircraft and travel all over the world at no cost. He got experiences that he would never have gotten at State U. In addition, he got to do a lot of things that normal college kids do. Rockies and Broncos games. Road trips to various other schools for weekend shenanigans. He had over 1 million ft. of vertical drop logged for snowboarding (yes, there's an app for that). He also climbed 10 of Colorado's 14'ers (14,000 ft. mountain peaks), six of them solo. Neither he nor I think he missed out on much by going to USAFA. It is what you make of it.

Stealth_81
 
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