Ever since middle school, joining the military and going to USNA has been a seemingly unreachable goal that kept floating in the back of my mind. After attending NASS and SLE, I had no doubt that I wanted to go to a service academy and continue on to serve my country. So why, now that I have the appointment to USNA in my hand and less than a month to commit, am I suddenly questioning everything I have believed in the last 5 years of my life? (long story short, my parents.) The dream of attending a service academy was entirely my own. Applying for seminars, training, applying for service academies, congressional nominations, etc. I had no intentions of even considering civilian college, and even now, I can't imagine myself in a place other than USNA. I was ready to accept my offer of my appointment when I received it almost 2 months ago, and I still am ready to accept it in a heartbeat. But my parents are desperately trying to make me reconsider. I know they want whats best for me, but I just can't seem to see eye to eye with them, especially because USNA is pretty much all I've ever wanted. Here are their arguments (with some of my counterarguments in parentheses): USNA simply isn't worth it. While the option offers a free, top-notch education, the program seems to focus more on training than learning. You would have more free time at a civilian college to study and focus on learning. (The structured, rigorous daily lifestyle is one I thrive under. If you think I'd be more motivated at a civilian college, you're crazy.) You are practically signing away the next 9 years of your freedom. (Yes, and it's going to be awesome.) If you choose to rejoin the private sector, the 5 year service requirement will put you far behind. Regular college graduates will have 5 years of more relevant experience in the work force already that you will never be able to have, being that you will already be 27 when you get out. (Yes because I'll have had 5 years of experience as a Naval Officer, holding more leadership responsibilities than I would ever have in 5 years of working as a fresh college graduate.) Honestly the debate never ends. They think I could be more successful at a civilian college with more freedom, individual thought, and room to grow. They think that I'm "too smart" to go to the academy. I think the academy is where I have the potential to truly find myself and become the best version of myself possible. To me, success is not about scoring an internship or job in a Fortune 500 company; it's about doing something that matters and that will impact many more lives other than my own. Of course, I could turn down the appointment, go to civilian college, then try the ROTC or OCS route in hopes of becoming an officer. But at that rate, why not just go to USNA now since I also value the academy experience itself. I'm sure my parents respect the military just as much as I do, but they want to make me aware of its potential flaws. And while googling "will attending a service academy ruin my life" as a joke to myself, I actually happened upon this article http://www.johntreed.net/gotousma.html by a West Point grad, illustrating some of the points my parents made actually spot on. (The article is 100+ pages long, so I just read part of it, but long story short he's telling people to not go to USMA.) And it's scary to think that someone who was just as eager to attend a service academy as I am, now regrets the decision fully. Maybe the service academy was not the right decision for John T. Reed, but who's to say that it's not the right decision for me? I know that if I attend civilian college, I will most likely live a life of what if's and regret. On the other hand, at 17, am I really equipped to make the decision that will alter the rest of my life and determine the next 9 years of it? Having no family history in the military, this is where I'm really hoping to get the opinions of forum members, especially those who have gone through the academy and their experience in the service. What do these next 9 years really mean? Have I really been too optimistic about going through a service academy? Will attending a service academy ruin my life? Sorry for the unnecessarily long post, and thank you in advance for any advice you can offer.