I recommend visiting. See for yourself, talk to some cadets and get a feel for the place.Hello,
Just a curious high school junior who has only ever thought about applying to the USMA, USNA, or USAFA before...
What makes the Coast Guard Academy unique following graduation? Basically, why Coast Guard?
My DD was the opposite of you. We visited other academies too, but my DD was ONLY interested in the USCGA, none of the other ones. She was not even remotely interested in the other SA's. Many people around her kept encouraging her to apply to the other ones too for the name and the "brag factor," but that wears off quickly. No one from high school would care in a year or two where you went to college. You have to really like what you'll be doing AFTER graduation. She was pretty certain of USCG job satisfaction compared to the other branches. USCG is the only branch that allows women to hold every position that a man can hold. There are no limitations for CG women. As a girl, this was important for DD.
DD was also not interested in a branch that had to deal with taking the lives of others (combat). CG saves lives-it's the direct opposite of taking lives away with its search & rescue mission. Even with drug or migrant interdiction, we heard that they are trained not to shoot the people but to aim at the boat's engine. CG's mission also included protecting the marine environment. She liked how humanitarian CG was. She also likes the idea of protecting her own homeland rather than going out to fight people in other countries. AND, let's face it. If possible, we don't want our children going off to war and getting killed either. Although USCG may participate in a war, their missions will be very different from the other branches, and there's less of a chance for them to get killed.
From a totally practical aspect, we also heard that she'd always be stationed near water and many are big cities, which meant she'd be near good food! (New York, LA, Florida, San Diego, Hawaii...) This is not something we were originally concerned about, but one of the officers told us about how important food becomes when you realize you're stuck with horrible food day after day. His army friends were envious of the CG for always being near good food. Lol In fact, so many CG officers told us that officers in other branches always come up to them saying they just weren't too familiar with the USCGA when they were applying to colleges, they were only interested in the big names and prestige, etc. etc. etc. and if they had known what they know now,they'd go coast guard instead. So...... it really pays off to do your homework, lots of it, before you apply to the academies and know what you're getting into.
When visiting the academies, we all felt that USCGA had more of a family feel than the others, and we were told it's the same once you get out too. Everyone knows someone who knows someone. We know that military as a whole has a bond, but USCG really felt like a tight family. Other academies gave us sterile or depressing feel. The admissions just didn't seem interested in the individuals. (Won't say which was which) of course, everyone's experience may be different, so we can't speak for others. I think the best thing to do is to do some research on each of the branch, but also to actually visit the academies too. Being impressed and feeling like you belong there are two separate things.