USNA vs. USCGA

FutureCadet12

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Hello all,

I am a high school freshman with aspirations to attend either USNA or USCGA. Currently, I am more inclined towards USNA, but that may just be due to the lack of knowledge I have about the Coast Guard. I do know for certain that I love being on the sea... that's about it though.

Thoughts?
 

ktnatalk

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Hello all,

I am a high school freshman with aspirations to attend either USNA or USCGA. Currently, I am more inclined towards USNA, but that may just be due to the lack of knowledge I have about the Coast Guard. I do know for certain that I love being on the sea... that's about it though.

Thoughts?

Don't mean to sound harsh, but I am quite surprised to see this post. You have been on the forum over a year with 88 posts, and you have not done your search and research? Seriously?

As the good CAPT and many always suggest, start with going to the official .edu sites, read all the pull downs to get familiar with their mission.
 

FutureCadet12

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Wondering if anyone has any personal experience in deciding between USNA and USCGA... what was the ultimate deciding factor for you?
 

LineInTheSand

USCGA 2006
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You will enjoy your life at the Naval Academy more than your life at the Coast Guard Academy because the Naval Academy is easier.

You will enjoy life in the Coast Guard more than life in the Navy because there are fewer Navy sailors in the Coast Guard.

BOOM. You're welcome.
 

AF6872

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As a USCGA graduate you will have the right to arrest which no other military academy graduate has. But you also have the duty to go out but you do not have to come back. You also have the ability to become a member of the Pterodactyls. Semper Piratus!
 
Last edited:

kinnem

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As a USCGA graduate you will have the right to arrest which no other military academy graduate has. But you also have the duty to go out but you don't have to come back. You also have the ability to become a member of the Pterdactyls. Semper Piratus!
Hah! Love the "misspelling"!
 

AF6872

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Never my strong point. Was told in MBA program to get a dictionary or a proof reader.
 

usna1985

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USCGA is a much smaller SA and the USCG a much smaller service. The missions upon graduation are very different. From USNA, you will serve on (generally) large combatant ships, drive subs, fly jets (in some cases helos or props but mostly different missions than USCG) or go into the USMC. I'll let LITS amplify, but USCG does drug interdiction, buoy maintenance, ice breaking, maritime support, rescue, etc. I suspect (but don't actually know) that you might get more immediate opportunities for leadership in the USCG because the ships/units tend to be smaller. But if your desire is to fly jets off carriers or be a SEAL, then USCG isn't going to be your thing.

I had to decide between the two SAs years ago. At that time (when combat opportunities in the USN were non-existent for women), I preferred the missions of USCG officers over what I could do in the USN. That said, I ultimately chose USNA because of its size -- for me personally, coming from a very small high school, I wanted a school where I didn't know everyone and that offered the opportunities in terms of majors, facilities, etc. of a larger school. But that was only my decision made by a 17-yr-old in a different world years ago. I don't regret it but also believe I could have been very happy in the USCG.
 

LineInTheSand

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Whoa whoa whoa... my CGA classmate was a Navy SEAL! (But I have no idea if that program is still active)...
 

mpk19

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From the research my son and I have done, both are great opportunities! Explore what you really want to do in your career, make a list of pros and cons and do what your heart and head tells you! You have the time to visit both and take advantage of the programs they offer for high school students. The requirements are similar so continue to excel in high school and your community to increase your chances of getting accepted to both. Good luck!
 

LineInTheSand

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I'll try to provide my more developed opinion (more developed than my first response) later today.
 

LineInTheSand

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USCGA is a much smaller SA and the USCG a much smaller service. The missions upon graduation are very different. From USNA, you will serve on (generally) large combatant ships, drive subs, fly jets (in some cases helos or props but mostly different missions than USCG) or go into the USMC. I'll let LITS amplify, but USCG does drug interdiction, buoy maintenance, ice breaking, maritime support, rescue, etc. I suspect (but don't actually know) that you might get more immediate opportunities for leadership in the USCG because the ships/units tend to be smaller. But if your desire is to fly jets off carriers or be a SEAL, then USCG isn't going to be your thing.

I had to decide between the two SAs years ago. At that time (when combat opportunities in the USN were non-existent for women), I preferred the missions of USCG officers over what I could do in the USN. That said, I ultimately chose USNA because of its size -- for me personally, coming from a very small high school, I wanted a school where I didn't know everyone and that offered the opportunities in terms of majors, facilities, etc. of a larger school. But that was only my decision made by a 17-yr-old in a different world years ago. I don't regret it but also believe I could have been very happy in the USCG.

Correct. On the aviation side the Coast Guard is much more limited. There are a few fixed wings (planes) to chose from and two kinds of helicopters. With the exception of the Coast Guard in Washington, D.C., and HITRON (Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron of our Jacksonville, Fla.), Coast Guard aviation is typically involved with Search and Rescue (SAR).

Afloat there are three general ship missions, although these is quite a bit overlap. Red hull cutters break ice. Black hull cutters are mostly engaged in Aids to Navigation (ATON) which usna1985 called "buoy maintenance." White hulls do everything else.... SAR, drug interdiction, migrant ops, homeland security, etc. These cutters range from 87' Marine Protector class cutters to the 420' Healy class cutter.

You WILL get more leadership opportunities early in your career in the Coast Guard. You also have more jobs (collateral duties) and responsibility. I didn't realize how much more until I went to a Navy school and discovered what my classmates, Navy junior officers, had to do.

BUT the Coast Guard is smaller... as are the units. You could have a commander or captain (although the captain would likely be transferring out shortly) on a 210' Reliance class cutter moored up next to a 500+' destroyer with the same ranked commanding officer.

While you will have more responsibility earlier on, you'll never be the CO of a aircraft carrier. With the exception of a few flag officers and captains, you'll never been in charge of thousands and thousands of people.

But the Coast Guard is pretty good at what it does, and it's a small, tight group. And the Coast Guard Academy (and alumni network) is even tighter.

Where could the Coast Guard improve? Well, it could have better funding and better ships, but the Coast Guard doesn't always help itself out in this department. It tends to run its ships to pieces. There isn't a defense contracting presence pushing Congressman for the Coast Guard the same way you might see in the more expensive, bigger services.

In the end, I'm happy I went to the Coast Guard Academy. I'm served in the Coast Guard. And I'm happy I've moved on to other opportunities.
 

alaska66

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DD graduated high school in 2015. She had early LOAs and appointments from both USCGA and USNA. Her decision to go USCGA was based on several things. The missions of the Coast Guard, the opportunity for leadership opportunities upon commissioning that LITS described above, and the chance to one day be based back in Alaska. In regards to the two academies, she preferred the smaller size of USCGA, as it was similar to the size of her high school. She liked that she could participate in both her sports at the varsity collegiate level, and also continue her musical interests. Currently, she is a 3/c at USCGA, and has mentioned on several occasions that she is very happy with her decision.

My suggestion for future applicants is to make a pros/cons list of any service you are considering, as was mentioned above. List jobs, bases, etc., in order of best to worst (a simple google search can provide most of this information). Compare the lists, and consider you may end up with what's at the bottom of the list due to "needs of the service". Many times this is all most people need to see which service fits best with their dreams and desires.

Good luck on your journey!
 
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I was faced with the same situation last year deciding between the two, and I'll admit that it was a much harder decision than I thought it would be. Since a kid I had always wanted Naval but after looking at Coast Guard and being recruited for football there, the two became very close. Considering that I was also interested in a lot of small-boat/interdiction type missions, USCGA was pretty much neck-to-neck with USNA. The deciding factor for me was visiting each campus, which is what I would recommend you do. While USCGA was great to me, there was just something about the feel of USNA that for me personally I couldn't beat. Plus, considering I still wasn't very sure what I wanted to do after commissioning, the amount of options at USNA appealed to me and because of that I am a plebe there now. Biggest thing, consider their missions and what you personally want to do. After that, I say again that I think you should visit each and get a personal feel (do AIM and NASS as well if you can) and have that help you decide. It was a big factor for me. But whatever you choose, they are both phenomenal institutions.
 

usna1985

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I fully agree that visiting both -- and a CVW if at all possible at both -- is very important. There is a different feel to each SA and I think most people find themselves more "at home" at one or the other. Also, try to talk to officers from each service to understand a bit more what you'll be doing for your first few years and beyond. For example, what is it like to do drug interdiction or ice breaking? What is it like to be the damage control officer or First Lieutenant? What is your career progression likely to be for at least the first few tours? Why did the person stay in or get out?

I personally wouldn't worry as much about where you might be stationed, other than in a general sense (i.e., the USN has major bases in Norfolk and San Diego so chances are you'll spend a fair amount of time at one or both of them at some point in your career). At least in the USN, assignments are based on so many different variables, not the least of which is needs of the Navy. So, for example, I wouldn't pick the USN b/c you want to be stationed in Pearl Harbor because that either (1) could never happen or (2) if you "force" it to happen, it could wreck your long-term career b/c it could be the wrong job at the wrong time.

Focus on size of the SAs and the services and their very different missions. As the above poster said, they are both terrific schools and services.
 

LineInTheSand

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Absolutely visit both.

Visiting CGA helped me make my decision.

I think USNA has the nicest campus of the five service academies (and Annapolis ain't too bad either).
 
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