10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Jan 17, 2009
Hi everybody. This is really stressing me out so I hope someone can help.

Here's my dilemma. As of now I am almost certain that I will attend either USMA, USNA or USAFA (I have been accepted to all so that should be no issue). However, I am largely uncertain which one I will attend. Ever since I was a young child it has been my dream to go to West Point so right now USMA is very emotionally engrained in me. However, I realize that the other two offer incredible opportunities as well. Though it is my core desire to go to USMA I am worried that it may only be because I have wanted it for so long. Looking at the career opportunities I think that being a platoon leader in the army would be an amazing job. I also think being a jet pilot for the Navy, Marines or Air Force would be incredible as well. However, Because I have no way of actually experiencing which one fits me best I was hoping that you guys might be able to share your insights with me on the pros and cons of each career (infantry officer vs pilot) as well as any special differences between the academies themselves. For example, I know that at USNA I would have career opportunities to do both, but I want to choose the right Service Academy as well. I don't really have an interest in boats and I worry that much of my time may be wasted when it could have been spent learning things that would be relevant and make me a better officer.

I know that it all comes down to what I want most but thats the problem. I keep researching things but I'm really torn. Anyways, thanks in advance to anybody who can help me.
What interests you? I know you said that being a pilot or platoon leader would be great opportunities, but remove the military from the whole equation. What would you be doing as a job after you would retire from the military? Look at what degree and civilian job you would be getting into and decide whether or not flying airplanes would benefit you more than directly organizing and leading a group of men and women that you are personally responsible for.

That's my advice.

Personally I am looking at a degree in Aeronautical Engineering because I love flying and designing things so much. Getting the experience of working hands on with the machines I would hopefully be designing eventually is what will influence my decision the most. I too would be happy with USAFA, USNA, or USMA. In the end though, I would most likely accept the offer to USAFA over the other two because of the direct correlation to the career field I would eventually enter. (If I decide to retire from military service with enough time left in my life to take on another job.)

Anyway I hope this helped, congrats on the offers of appointment, and good luck wherever you may end up in life. :thumb:
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I faced that same dilemma 30 years ago. :thumb:

It's an incredible privilege to HAVE that dilemma. But...what to do?

I ended up sitting down and truly thinking long and hard about the following things:

a. WHAT did I really want to do as an officer?
b. What SA afforded the best opportunity to reach that goal?
c. IF I CAN NOT do what I wish, then which SA affords me the BEST "backup plans" that I am truly interested in so that I can still serve a full and satisfying career?
d. I want to have a family. Which service will "be the lesser impact" upon them, realizing that military service will impact them?

I dropped USMA first as I wasn't terribly interested in helo's and there weren't too many officer career fields there I was interested in. Why take another's slot?

I agonized over USNA/USAFA...both offer flying careers (first choice). The allure of carrier duty is STRONG...fleet duty, etc. I love the sea and it would be so normal for me to be at sea. BUT...I give ALL the credit to the families of naval service members because they put up with such lengthy separations, and make things work. I didn't want to do that. I knew how often I moved as a kid as an AF "brat" and I couldn't imagine how hard it could be on navy kids. Perhaps I didn't give folks enough credit there but I didn't want to do that so I eventually chose USAFA over USNA.

And now with 25 1/2 years of AF service behind me and no retirement date in sight, yet, I can say I've never regretted it.

But now and then when I see a show about carriers, fleet air, etc...I AM glued to the tube.

aylordu; actually, it's quite simple. See; for some people; they either only have 1 choice, or worst yet, no choice. You say you have been accepted; therefor I assume an appointment; to all 3 academies. If so, the answer is quite simple. What do you WANT. It doesn't matter which one offers better this or better that. It doesn't matter which one allows this or allows that. The ONLY thing that matters is that you want to serve your country via a service academy; and that you have certain desires in mind. Which academy can satisfy those desires up to you. Remember; ATTENDING AN ACADEMY IS NOT A GOAL!!!! If you believe it is/was "YOUR GOAL" to go to the academy, then you really need to re-evaluate what you're doing. The academy; any of them; is a MEANS TO REACHING YOUR GOALS!!! The academy is only 4 years long. If that's your goal, what do you do after you graduate??? Die and turn into dust????

So; as I and many others have recommended to many others before you, the answer is actually quite simple. What do you want to do when you grow up??? We already understand that you want to serve your country. That's great. We got that. So, HOW do you want to do that? Let me give you some examples of you ANSWERING me and what I would SUGGEST.

1) I really want to learn more and work with nuclear energy: Go Navy
2) I really want to get into engineering and R&D: Go Air Force
3) I really want to get into Civil Engineering; Bridges, Road, Dams, etc... Go Army
4) I grew up around the ocean and I love the idea of being out to see for 6 months at a time: Go Navy
5) I prefer to be at a stable base for 2-3 years: Go Air Force
6) I prefer the camaraderie and team environment where I deploy with my UNIT and not just as an individual: Go Army
7) I want to fly Heavies; Cargo; Multi-Jet type aircraft, Tactical Fighters: Go Air Force
8) I want to fly Fighters in Air to Air combat scenarios: Go Navy
9) I want to fly choppers: Go Army
10) I like BAMs (Big Ass Missiles): Go Air Force
11) I like LAMs (Little Ass Missiles): Go Navy
12) I like TAMs (Tiny Ass Missiles): Go Army

Now; don't ANYBODY REFUTE any of these scenarios and tell me that one of the other branches does this or that also. We know that. Each branch does some of what the other branches do. E.g. All 3 have choppers; etc... Let's not go there. That is a WASTE of everyone's time. The point is; each branch does have some things they SPECIALIZE in. So; determine what it is you WANT TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE, and then decide which branch specializes in that. later... mike...
1) listen to your heart
2) listen to CC; he knows his stuff

You and I have been lucky enough to be given this great opportunity. If it were up to me, I say go USMA.

For me, this whole interest in the SA's was started in 8th grade by the desire to be a naval officer. I have deliberated, I have reasoned, and I have explored all my options, but for every reason I find to go to USMA or USAFA, it never will trump my underlying desire to be a midshipman. After so much work toward this goal, I cannot imagine giving it up now. For a while I was very strongly considering USAFA because I want fly, but if I accept that offer, I will forever be asking "what if?" I could never know what it would have been like to reach those age old goals and dreams.

You said it yourself, it has been your DREAM to become an officer in United States Army. Why is it a bad thing that the you would go just because you've wanted it for so long. Apparently you've wanted it really bad because you kept working for it. You are now being handed the opportunity to prove yourself. Take it. Make the most of it, and take it personally when guys like me shout "GO NAVY!" even though you know 4 1/2 years from now we'll be your brothers and sisters at sea.

You've been working toward this opportunity very hard for a very long time (I know because you don't get to make this decision without it). I know I can't give up this opportunity, and neither should you.

A lot of people are probably going to be pissed that I'm telling you where to go, but you posting this thread has just solidified the fact that I'm going to accept the offer from USNA. Thank you.

Go Army,
On I read about a young man that had acceptances to all 5 SA... he ended up choosing USNA.... interesting reasons....

Hard decision, but if your life long call has been Westpoint.. that is probably where your heart will lead you...

Good Luck:smile:
Aylordu; while you headache over choosing between the 3 academies; imagine 2 other scenarios.

1) SCENARIO 1: The desire to SERVE trumps every other motivation. You Apply to all 5 service academies as well as different ROTC programs in different colleges. And YOU DON'T GET ACCEPTED!!! Now that really sucks. Do you blow it off and believe that God/Fate/etc... did not want you to serve your country in a military capacity??? Do you pay for your own college; buck the system; and go OTS??? Do you go enlisted and do/finish your college while trying to hold down a full time military job/commitment? (Definitely the hardest route)

2) SCENARIO 2: (My Son) Put your entire future in the hand of God/Fate/etc... Make up your mind in Junior High that the Air Force Academy will be your 1 and only choice. (Some may have felt this way about West Point, Annapolis, Coast Guard, or Merchant Marines). Go to the extent that you WILL NOT apply to any of the other academies. It was going to be what he worked for, for 6 years, or nothing at all. Backup would be applying to traditional colleges and universities.

The point is, I think your decision is sort of in the middle of emotions and difficulties. You simply have to decide what you want and choose the appropriate academy. Screw whatever anyone else suggests. You said that you've ALWAYS wanted to go to West Point. Well; you got West Point. Accept it. What seems to be the problem??? Do you believe that you've always wanted West Point for grandiose reasons? E.g. watching too many WWII, Vietnam, etc... movies. John Wayne.; reputation? Is it because you have a long family history? If these are the reasons you have ALWAYS wanted to go to West Point, then I agree that you probably need to readdress why you want to go to an academy and then decide what you want to be. Then choose the right academy. Like I said, your situation is pretty much middle of the road.

My son's was probably the easiest. DON'T GIVE YOURSELF MORE CHOICES THAN YOU CAN HANDLE!!! He wanted Air Force and that was that. He didn't want to get accepted to navy and not Air Force and then have to decide if he should take it. Especially for the hundreds of reasons that go through a young person's head. E.g. Free education, I get to serve my country, still better than a traditional school, etc... By only choosing the air force academy, my son made his choice simple. Let all the schools that he applied to accept/reject him. If Air Force is on the list, he picks them. If not, he goes down his list of schools in priority order and takes the highest school that accepted him.

Now I'm not telling those of you interested in the class of 2014 or beyond to ONLY PICK ONE ACADEMY. That is totally up to you. My son knew deep down inside that if he COULDN'T get accepted to the Air Force academy, then getting accepted to any other academy would be second best and a compromise. He knew the requirements and his capabilities. Not that Air Force is harder or easier than the others. Just that he knew what they wanted and he knew what he could offer; academically, physically, emotionally, leadership, etc... He always wanted to serve. But if the air force academy wasn't going to accept him, then he would go to a traditional college and regroup there. Either AfROTC or OTS. For those of you applying, if your #1 goal is to serve; then apply to all of the academies. If you puke your guts out on the ocean, DON'T apply to the Navy or Coast Guard. It's all about YOU. Not what I or anyone else suggests. Best of luck.... Mike......
I don't get Scenario 1. If one doesn't get a ROTC scholarship they can still take ROTC in college. Getting a scholarship is not a pre-requisite for ROTC.
I would assume that there have probably been instances where an application for an ROTC scholarship while in college has been rejected. For example, if your grades go down the tubes, or you get caught drinking or something like that, you could conceivably stay in college but miss out on a scholarship.
I just wanted to say thank you to everybody who has posted in all three forums (I posted in all three to get everyone’s viewpoint). You guys have been great and your advice has been really helpful. Also thank you for your support and congratulations.

To answer a questions asked: I received an LOA from each academy and was nominated to all of them as well.

If anyone else has any more suggestions, advice or information about life in the particular career fields, the academies or personal experiences feel free to post. I appreciate and value all of your guys’ suggestions very much and am eager to listen to anything you have to say.