I'm going to add here a long reply I wrote for another parent. DS was CGAS at MMI, so this will be relatively specific to that. Also, this was written a couple years ago, and two years after he was at MMI. I don't know LT Kessel, but have spent a little time with Chief Hamilton. Feel free to direct questions to them for authoritative answers. Also, only a few of his CGAS class got their appointments before the last week or two of leaving MMI. And for you parents, the second to the last paragraph applies to you. Graduation is in 8 days, and we already have friends to meet over this coming weekend, people to hang out with.
Begin old quote:
He applied EA. When he went for Cadet for a Day, one of the upper class cadets he ate with said if he got the offer, to take it. I asked later if he would. Response “In a heartbeat”. He got a TWE and I thought I was gonna die. But in fact it was a CGAS offer, which I could tell by the yell from the other room. My suspicion is he was given CGAS as his SATs were slightly lower than average, but he had good leadership records. He was assigned to Marion. We live in Upper York State, so we did not visit prior to his going. We went for Parent’s Weekend and SAP Convocation (graduation from the SAP program). It was a day and a half trip both ways for us. We brought him home with us after graduation. It definitely prepared him for the Academy (more later). He was not a recruited athlete, though I think he could have been. He has done >270 on the PFE 2 or 3 of 4 semesters. Brag – he holds school one track record and two swimming. But he never contacted a coach, other than to briefly meet the track coach by chance on his initial visit when he was a sophomore. He said he didn’t want to do the same things as in high school. So he’s doing both now on the triathlon team. He also is playing on the hockey, which he never had a chance to do in HS. So there are a lot of different opportunities to try different things, I think in spite of being recruited.
In my son’s CGAS class a much smaller group went to GMC. I think they are splitting them more evenly now. The CGAS class was also quite large at 57 in 4 companies. I think they are smaller now, around 40 in two companies. They told them that his was the first class where everyone completed CGAS Orientation. I don’t know the record of the CGAS classes since.
Orientation for CGAS is all seven weeks Swab Summer compressed to 3, by taking out all the fun stuff. It is exams, uniform prep and care and PT. Most of the kids say it is harder than Swab Summer. They then are sent to their respective schools, where they get another week of Indoc (more of the same). So by the time they get to Swab Summer it is pretty routine. Direct appointments who room with CGAS or prior service consider themselves lucky, as they know what to do and how to do it. What’s more, the CGA prepsters show up ready to go. They have a reputation of being really squared away when they arrive. It does generate a little respect or jealousy, depending on who’s watching. CGA is the only academy that actually enlists their prepsters for this program. So the time counts towards retirement, while time at the Academy doesn’t. (Make sense? I didn’t think so either)
Also, your daughter will finish CGAS with well over $10k in the bank. Direct appointment parents want to know why they couldn’t choose that as an option. Some use it for extra programs at the prep school. I don’t know GMC, but Marion has an open water certification program in scuba, including trips to dive in the Gulf. The money covers all the equipment. They also have a pilot training programs which gets you a private pilot’s license. This is really good if you are going to CGA with the intention of flight school down the line. It bumps you up in the list if they know you already can fly. These programs cost money, especially the flight training, but still leave $k in the bank.
There are prepsters from the other Academies, mostly West Point. Be careful getting too involved with other groups at school, outside of the prepsters. They know the risk to their appointment if they get in trouble. Other cadets, at least at Marion, can get in trouble and get out of it pretty well. But the Service Academy Preps don’t have that leeway. There is drinking on campus (IIRC), and definitely off campus. Not like CGA, where it happens but is rare.
Because we lived so far, we shipped three boxes of stuff to Marion rather than move it in. This included laptop, required clothing, lamp, iron, ironing board (last two are critical!).
Essentially the appointment is her’s to lose. Do well at prep school and keep your nose clean. Not all the prepsters in my son’s class received an appointment. Some didn’t cut it academically. Some found it wasn’t for them. If she is successful at prep, she is required to take the appointment to CGA. If she does not get an appointment, she keeps the money and the college credits.
Not too much in your last paragraph I need to comment on. GMC is in a populated area Marion is not and has essentially nothing (Family Dollar near campus actually works well for supplies, though). Rednecks abound. The nearest city is 45 miles. Prep school is a lot more fun that CGA. Few cadets really like being at CGA, but few regret it when they’re done. And they get to do some amazing things while they’re there, including some fun things. If your daughter makes it through the first year, that is the hardest. My son said after that, it’s not easier, but it’s better.
When your child shows up for Swab Summer, they will already know a number of other Swabs, which is very comforting. As well, they can (or at least could) request to be placed in the same company as one CGAS friend, which last Swab Summer and the 4/C year.
What’s more, you will know other parents in the same boat as you. We have friends from CGAS we still see. I can’t overstate how supportive and active the parents of the CGA are. We put the two other two kids through college, small and medium sized schools, and this is totally different. Parents in cities distant from the Academy depend on the local parents, and the local parents depend on the distant parents when the kids are “away”.
Well, that's not everything, but I guess it's a start. I think I'll have to save a copy of this for other CGAS parents. Join the CGAS Facebook page. I don't know if each class's parents have their own page.