USMA or USAFA I want to hear opinions of those that have been/are going

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I’ve been accepted to both USAFA and USMA. I have the difficult decision of deciding which one I will go to. This question is based on academy experience. (I know that the academy experience is a small part of what you actually go for...which is the career choice but I’m stuck because I can see myself doing a few careers in army AND Air Force). Anyways, USAFA has been said to be easier, relaxed, and “fun.” While USMA is more rigorous and is said to be the most “military.” I think USAFA would be great and it’s been my dream since I was young. It probably WOULD be more “fun”; however, being accepted to USMA and doing research has torn me. I love the strictness of West Point and the prestige. I almost feel as if any other academy would just be trying to replicate the intense “soldier” part of the military while West Point is said to do it so much better. To be honest, I kind of want more strict rules and something that makes other Academy-goers grimace. (KEEP IN MIND I am not going for the prestige or anything. I have wanted to serve my country and known I was going to do so since I was very young. I know what the academies entail and I am more than up to the challenge. This has been my goal and the final destination is being an officer to lead others. With that being said...back to Academy experience.)This is all inter-branch banter but I want to hear your opinion. If you had a second choice, (I am not sure whether the Army or Air Force has always been your dream so you may be very biased) which Academy would you choose based off of experience? And explain to me a bit, why you chose to go to the academy you did or are currently attending. Thank you in advance.
 

Impulsive

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The best advice I can offer is VISIT BOTH! Spending two days with a Cadet at the academy will give you insight into life, training, and academics. this is YOUR decision, take charge of it. DON'T use someone else's opinion of any institution, form your own, make your decision based on what YOU want and move forward! Congrats on your appointments, choose carefully and with knowledge!
 
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Jan 15, 2020
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The best advice I can offer is VISIT BOTH! Spending two days with a Cadet at the academy will give you insight into life, training, and academics. this is YOUR decision, take charge of it. DON'T use someone else's opinion of any institution, form your own, make your decision based on what YOU want and move forward! Congrats on your appointments, choose carefully and with knowledge!
I appreciate the advice very much. My only problem with visiting both is that I live in HI and, as you know, it is so very expensive to visit, especially coming from here. I realize that it is my choice and this is just going to be a tough one no matter what I learn.
 

Sargrio22

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You need to ask yourself this question to yourself if you haven't already; what branch do you want to serve in? You'll (probably) only be in school for four years, so think about the next 8+ years after you get out. If you want to be in the Air Force, don't go to West Point. If you want to serve in the Army, don't go to USAFA.

I'm a current candidate for West Point. My uncle is a Captain in the Navy (USN grad), and after going on a tiger cruise with him when I was much younger, I wanted to follow his footsteps and go to the Naval Academy. But as I've grown up and thought about it more, I realized the Army would be a better place for me. So, even though I would love to go to the Naval Academy, West Point has become the obvious route for me.

Something to think about!
 
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oatsguy

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Dec 13, 2019
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Congratulations. You are in a position few have. Besides visiting both schools, I think the more important question is what do you want to after the academy. What is the career you want? Both schools have very different cultures and experiences. However Army will have more variety with more options that AF as it's air focused. You need to focus on the big picture and long term.
 

dah19

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Feb 22, 2019
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I can guarantee USAFA isn't "fun" or relaxed (especially the first year prior to recognition). My doolie there would greatly disagree with that statement. When asked if he likes it there, he will tell you it depends on the day. This semester he is crazy busy with classes and debate team. He had a discussion with a West Point cadet during the Army/Navy game and there were similarities and differences. You need to really ask yourself what your goal is in the military.
 

Capt MJ

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Excellent peer advice above from @Sargrio22 and others. Which service will you fit better in and offers you the most paths you could see yourself on? Which one offers things you absolutely don’t want to do and want to avoid any chance of being in that field?

Then there is my tried and true coin toss method for those with the “I’m equally torn” problem. It’s really your reluctance to let something go completely. You’re dating two Academies. You can only marry one. You believe you love both, and you can’t bring yourself to let one go.

Swear to yourself you will wake up in the morning, and based on one and only one coin toss, you will abide by that decision, since you think you are equally torn. Toss the coin. If you get a result that has you saying, “I’ll just do two out of three,” you have your answer. You are not as willing to let the other one go.

You also have some time. These appointments are yours until the deadline. You earned them; you can take some time to mull over tangible and intangible factors.
 

MidCakePa

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+1 to the advice above.

Your question is fairly common but ultimately unanswerable in this venue. I doubt you’ll find anyone who was a cadet at both USMA and USAFA, so you’ll mainly hear about an experience at one place but not at both.

Here’s one way to think about it: If forced to go with your second career choice, are you happy with it. For example, if you can’t get Army infantry or Air Force pilot, are you enthused about option #2? What about #3? And #4...and so on? The longer the list, the more likely you’ll be satisfied with the overall experience. Ultimately the needs of the service come first, so you have to be enthused about whatever Uncle Sam throws at you.

In terms of strictness or fun, forget the reputations. USAFA will be plenty strict. USMA will be plenty fun. Don’t worry about things from that aspect.
 

boxmm24

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Feb 15, 2019
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I know you hope to make the right decision for you right out of the gate, but if not, all is not lost. You can apply to do a semester swap at the "other" Academy before you graduate and even cross-commission after Graduation to the service you later find that you wish you had chosen. Good luck! As agonizing as it is, you are in a great position! Well done!
 
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Jan 15, 2020
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+1 to the advice above.

Your question is fairly common but ultimately unanswerable in this venue. I doubt you’ll find anyone who was a cadet at both USMA and USAFA, so you’ll mainly hear about an experience at one place but not at both.

Here’s one way to think about it: If forced to go with your second career choice, are you happy with it. For example, if you can’t get Army infantry or Air Force pilot, are you enthused about option #2? What about #3? And #4...and so on? The longer the list, the more likely you’ll be satisfied with the overall experience. Ultimately the needs of the service come first, so you have to be enthused about whatever Uncle Sam throws at you.

In terms of strictness or fun, forget the reputations. USAFA will be plenty strict. USMA will be plenty fun. Don’t worry about things from that aspect.
First of all, thank you to everyone on this thread. Your thoughts and advice are just great. Also you’re all right, both academies will be plenty fun and plenty hard. From this quote above, you hit the nail on the head in regards to my branch ideas. Air Force Pilot is #1, then comes STO and TacP officer and so forth. The goal would be not to do things like cyber-space and so on and so forth. (Of course I will do whatever is in the best interest of the military, so I may not even get that). Army would be infantry, aviation, and... then I’m sort of lost. So in regards to that, I may have more opportunities in the Air Force. I appreciate everyone helping me look at the aspects of either academy that I failed to take into consideration. And based off of this, I think I have more career opportunities that I am interested in in the Air Force and that makes my choice a lot easier. And @Capt MJ your point of being in love with both and not being able to let go of one is exactly what my problem is. But overall, I very much appreciate all advice given and, believe me, it has been helpful because I now see more things that I needed to take into consideration.
 

Ditka089

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Oct 30, 2018
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The best advice I can offer is VISIT BOTH! Spending two days with a Cadet at the academy will give you insight into life, training, and academics. this is YOUR decision, take charge of it. DON'T use someone else's opinion of any institution, form your own, make your decision based on what YOU want and move forward! Congrats on your appointments, choose carefully and with knowledge!
I have a LOA from both USMA and USAFA, and appointment to USNA. I’m looking forward to my overnight at USMA and CWV at USNA. Other than the general USAFA tour open to the public, there are no overnights. Hard to get a feel for a place you can’t visit for longer than two hours with a group of visitors. Frustrating a bit.
 

dreamwiz

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Oct 24, 2019
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@OP
My dilemma is "USNA" vs. "USMA". I plan to accept either one sometime in Feb.

A little different aspect and dilemma but it should be same in terms of an ultimate decision.

Although the following old thread is for USNA vs USMA, there are great insights and advices based on many years' hands-on experiences.


You seem to have chosen USAFA already but the above link would be helpful. Good luck!
 

dah19

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Feb 22, 2019
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I have a LOA from both USMA and USAFA, and appointment to USNA. I’m looking forward to my overnight at USMA and CWV at USNA. Other than the general USAFA tour open to the public, there are no overnights. Hard to get a feel for a place you can’t visit for longer than two hours with a group of visitors. Frustrating a bit.
There is an accepted students visit in April, my son went last year. You get paired up with a cadet and can go to class and lunch with them. You get a tour of places visitors can't go. It's worth the trip.
 
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