Which Service Academy?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by serviceacademyg, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. serviceacademyg

    serviceacademyg Member

    Feb 23, 2018
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    I don’t come from a family with military history, so the decision of choosing which service academy I’ll end up going to is harder than some who have “always been an Army kid” or “always been a Navy kid.”

    I change my mind constantly, and over the course of the last six months, I have had strong desires to go to USMA, USAFA, and USNA. However, within a couple weeks, I would end up doubting my decision and would start to believe another academy would be better for me.

    As of right now, I want to become a pilot. (I am akin to helicopters but will gladly fly fighter jets too.) However, in the case that I don’t end up medically qualifying to become a pilot, or in the case that I decide I no longer want to pursue being a pilot, I want there to be a wide range of options I can choose from. From my current stand point, this rules USAFA out as it is the only branch where if you’re not a pilot, you’re most likely stuck to restricted/staff corps. I had thought USNA would be better for me since there were other options such as going SWO, Marine Corps, or Subs, but they don’t have many opportunities to go restricted/staff corps. It seems that USMA offers the ability to choose a branch whether you want to go restricted or unrestricted. Because of this, I had been solidly leaning on USNA for a while, but now I am starting to have my doubts about the Navy and am toying with the idea of going to USMA.

    I have received offers of appointments to all service academies except USMA and still have yet to hear back from them. I also want to make a decision as soon as possible (most likely by March 1st as a self-mandated “decision deadline”) so that my declined offers of appointments will become someone else’s accepted offer of appointment, and it seems selfish to hold onto them any longer (such as until May 1).

    I know I’ll be happy wherever I end up going because no matter what, I’d be doing something bigger than myself for others, but I want to make sure I have the least regrets coming out of the academy and going into the service.

    Any thoughts and/or suggestions? Welcoming all and any appropriate criticism as a wake up call if need be...
  2. klk2272023

    klk2272023 Member

    Dec 29, 2018
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    Your thought process is exactly what I went through! I want to be a sierra helicopter pilot, but I also wanted options in case I decide I do not want to fly anymore. So I did choose to accept my offer to USNA for the class of 2023. I felt that the Navy had more to offer with a large variety of career options. In one way we are different, however, is that I did not consider anything on the restricted line. So USNA was an easy decision for me from a career aspect. Additionally, if my memory is right, I believe that many of the restricted line careers go to midshipmen with medical issues that would lead them to not able to serve in unrestricted, making it very difficult for someone to be able to choose a career in restricted. So I think you may want to dig deep down and think about yourself in five years, regardless of flying: do you see yourself in the front line? Are you willing to do anything for you and your sailors/marines, even if it means the ultimate sacrifice? I think this question could help your decision with restricted vs. unrestricted, and also naturally place you at the right Academy. Also, I commend you for wanting to free up appointment slots for other candidates, but remember that this is your big life decision. If you cannot come up with an answer by March 1st, it is OK! Don't feel you need to rush to figure out which Academy, because it will determine your life for the next 9,20, or how many years you may be in the service. So take a breath and let it come to you naturally! I hope this helps and good luck!
    serviceacademyg and USN23 like this.
  3. justdoit19

    justdoit19 Member

    Apr 9, 2017
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    What I can speak to is the part about your self inflicted deadline. What I would say to my own child would be to stop that line of thinking. You have until the SA deadline to decide. Those are your appointments to do with what you like. Period. Each SA has already considered their offers given to take into account candidates who turn down their offer. You turning yours down doesn’t open up a spot for someone else. They have already worked that into their numbers. So dont feel as if you have to decide to allow someone else a chance. That’s just not correct regarding how it works. Those are yours to decide if you want them or not. So take all the time you need!! Up to the deadline!
    serviceacademyg and MidCakePa like this.
  4. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

    May 22, 2018
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    +1 to the feedback above. You’re thinking about this correctly — focusing on the active-duty portion and not just the college part.

    Aside from the career possibilities, consider the respective missions. They’re very different, and they lead to different cultures and lifestyles. And remember also that the needs of the service will always prevail. That’s why it’s so important that you’re all-in on that branch’s mission.

    And I’ll reiterate this point: You have until 11:59 pm on April 30 to make your decision. Use every minute you need. You’re not taking anyone’s spot.
  5. ThePatternisFull

    ThePatternisFull BGO

    Nov 24, 2014
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    Take a deep breath and slow down. You are not taking a spot from someone else. You earned the Appointments. Take your time and make the choice that fits you! DD had 3 Appointments. Sat down and listed the pluses and minuses of each and arrived at her decision.
    serviceacademyg and BBQ-Devil like this.
  6. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

    Nov 28, 2017
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    As a dad, I agree with the above advice - you are not taking anything away from anyone. You have put yourself into a wonderful position and you have earned the right to carefully evaluate. You may never have enough dependable data to feel assured in your decision - welcome to adulthood.
    serviceacademyg likes this.
  7. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

    Sep 27, 2008
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    You have gotten some excellent advice above.

    Think about the longest pole in your tent - what do you really, really want to have a shot at doing, and would regret not trying for? Is it flying helos? Then USNA is certainly a path to that. If you don’t get Navy air, are there some other warfare communities you would be okay with? It doesn’t have to be much more complicated at this stage.

    You will never, ever, be able to plan and execute every stage of your life years in advance. Having a general plan and remaining open to new paths are a good way to go. The famous quote about “Life is what happens while you are making other plans” is often used here on SAF.

    Taking a longer view, there are opportunities to transfer into restricted line and staff communities a bit further into your career, via the lateral transfer and redesignation boards. You usually have to have earned your warfare qualification in your current community, be an ace performer, and be between x and y years in service. Some RL paths or hybrid paths where you go URL then to RL are available out of USNA, and not just those who are DQ’ed from URL. You will get plenty of briefs on these things and have opportunities to talk to upper class about various paths, as well as meet officers on the Yard from a wide variety of communities. Your company officer may well be an enthusiastic pilot who loves her bird and can’t wait to roll back to a squadron and deploy, you may have a blast during a Navy air summer training cruise, and you don’t look left or right after that, you just bear down on the goal of Navy air. Or Marine air!

    I assume we don’t have to factor in USCGA and USMMA, even though I read your post as having appointments to “all SAs.” I think we are talking about the DOD SAs.

    Even if there are other paths and interests you want to pursue in life, you’ll have 60 or more years to do that. You won’t be teetering on the edge of the grave even if you do five and dive or a bit more. There are many threads here on SAF about people who start out in one part of the military and end up in another, or get out and pursue a wide variety of paths, far diverged from their major and their warfare specialty and their original goals.

    There was just a discussion on another thread about a skill a military officer has to develop - knowing that he or she will never have 100% of the desired information for a decision, and learning to trust gut, brain and experience to get on with it, adjust on the fly, and not get paralyzed by choices. Not making a decision or delaying a decision is also a decision.

    These are your appointments. Don’t worry about the “take someone’s slot” thing. That’s all factored into the accession model.

    Keep us posted!