USMMA vs all Academies

The variety of options is one thing that really attracted my DS.

He wants to be a pilot. He's hoping for a flight slot, but realizes that 5 years at sea would enable him to easily pay for commercial flight training on his own dime at ATP.

On the other hand, he doesn't know if spending a significant time sailing is something he'll like. How would he or anyone else really know until they've done it?
Some people love it. some people hate it and some can take it or leave it. Wanted to be a SWO with the dream of standing on the bridge of a Navy destroyer chasing down Russian submarines during the cold war era. By graduation my desire to be a SWO was still there and it happened. Stationed with the Pacific fleet doing the thing I wanted to do with a conflict brewing in the middle east aka Desert Storm my dream became reality. 2 deployments to the Persian Gulf and 1 down in Central America assisting the Coast Guard with chasing Narcotics smugglers. After 5 yrs I decided I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go back in the Merchant Marine. I transfered my commission as a Navy LT to the Naval Reserve and went back to shipping out with my golden ticket(3rd Engineers License). Literally overnight I went from being an engineering officer on a destroyer to a 3rd Asst Engineer on a SuperTanker making 4x my Navy pay. Notice to all KP Mariners - Keep your USNR commission and marine license current. You can double dip on 2 pensions. One from the Navy and another from your Maritime Officers Union.
Notice to all KP Mariners - Keep your USNR commission and marine license current.
^^^ This

To get the Navy Pension you need 50 points a year. Being in the SSO program alone doesn't quite get you there, a couple of correspondence courses a year is all it takes to make the 50 and get the pension.

Never let your license fully expire. If you don't plan to renew it, at least put it in continuity. It can stay in continuity forever and all you need to renew it out of continuity is the same as renewing without sea time. You never know what the future holds and when you might need/want it.