Wondering about USNA (and afterwards)

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by teufelhund09, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. teufelhund09

    teufelhund09 5-Year Member

    Apr 18, 2008
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    First of all, I want to say 'hi' to all of you. This is my first post, and since I'm just a high school junior, I realized I had to do with my life. I dreamed about serving my country, and maybe having what it takes to get into a service academy, but I honestly don't know as much about USNA as I would like to beyond how tough it is to get in, how demanding the life is, etc.

    Which leads to my question: "If you get attend the Naval Academy (or any academy for that matter), and you decide the lifestyle isn't right for you, how do you get out?"

    Not that I would want to back out, of course! But, unfortunately, I have to consider questions like these, because from what I have heard, once you are in, then that is it. Plus, I have parents who always seem to have one question more than I have answers. Basically, it's four years of academy, then five years active service, with (possibly some more in reserve?). I don't think I will consider backing out if I got in, but I don't want to have ten plus years of my life wasted doing what my father has attempted to convince me is, from his few years of compulsory experience, utter Hell.

    Finally, even if you are happy with the service but want to get out to do something else after service was completed, what is a leaving military officer supposed to do? Do officers attend graduate school after their service, or do they defer active service for awhile? Are they then required to accept an MOS in the field they studied, or can they go into infantry with law degrees. As a cousin who attends UCLA law school told me, employment contacts are often made in graduate school, and I'm hoping pursuing a military career would not kill my chances of possibly becoming a lawyer like the rest of my family. In short, I want to know what people do after military service. Does chasing the dream of serving one's country mean sacrificing other employment opportunities?

    If you managed to stick with me throughout that dreary post, and remained conscious enough to make a reply, I appreciate it!
  2. VMINROTChopeful

    VMINROTChopeful 5-Year Member

    Jan 29, 2008
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    i went to an academy day this week where the service academy ppl were pretty clear that if you have any doubts, you should probably not do it. there are othere ways to test the water (rotc) for a service career.

    yes you might be able to go to law school and if you wanted to pursue it either take up a different career or JAG after lawschool, but there are a lot of ifs. the USNA is training you for URL position, so getting grad school or an RL position is always low probability.

    on the otherhand, pursue your dream! as a whole, my family is also very unsupportive of a service career, and yet i'm going after it. so i'd say you should go after what you want. there is time for law school later i guess, but perhaps usna1985 can talk to you about that since she did law school after she left the service.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2008
  3. mom3boys

    mom3boys 10-Year Member

    Nov 3, 2007
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    You can leave the academy any time your first two years with no obligation for service or financial reimbursement.
    Some academies offer law school, some do not. USMA has a program where it's possible to do law school after two years of active duty. I am fairly certain USNA does not have that, from what our BGO said. I do not know about the other academies.
    If you decide to leave the academy after you begin your 3rd year, you will owe them either a significant sum of money or time in the service as an enlisted person.

    Many of your questons can be answered at the academy websites. You might want to spend some time there looking around.
  4. Pima

    Pima 10-Year Member

    Nov 28, 2007
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    You are right to question everything right now b/c before you know it will be next March and you will have to make a decision.

    Here is my personal take/advice for your situation.

    Look into NROTC, because it might be a better fit. Most cadets who are successful at any SA IMO want to be at the SA, they want that type of military education and are not looking down the road and asking what if? Our DS wanted to go to the AFA for all the wrong reasons, when we finally cleared away all of the dirt we realized he wasn't going for an SA education, but thought that was his only way to get his ultimate dream (pilot slot). This is not the case, after he spoke to Maxwell ROTC and his college Rotc he found out that 95% of the graduates who are active in ROTC, medically qualified and carry at least a 3.0 gpa get their 1st choice (this has been the case for the last 5-10 yrs). With that knowledge he decided that hewould rather sped 4 yrs being a college kid and getting the degree he wanted more that 4 yrs of an SA. His motivation to attend was completely wrong and as much as I love him, it was always our fear that he didn't want the SA bad enough to endure the rigors, but he wanted to fly and that is not a good enough reason.

    I have stated this before, yes there is 5 and dive, but that is if all of the stars and moons align. So here is the example again...You graduate, go to whatever school you get selected for (pilot in our DS case)...you spend 2 yrs in training to become a pilot, and now that you have the shiny wings you must sign on for 8 yrs (this puts you now at 10 before you can say goodbye). At this point the military comes and offers you 0-4 appt., by accepting you owe 3 more(now at 13-14), add in a PCS and grad school at yr 12 and you owe 3 more (now at 15) At 15 you are up for 0-5, you owe 3 more and you are 18, at this point do you give up retirement pay?

    So if you want to be a lawyer, (and if the military sends you...it is incredibly competitive only @2% get accepted) you will owe back time and the scenario would be the same as above. Thus, your chances of being a civilian lawyer will be at the earliest @35 yrs old (turning down the 0-4 promotion)

    If you go on your own dime after your 5, than you will need to save all of your money to pay for it, and remember you will still spend 3 yrs in reserve.

    In no means am I trying to be negative, I am just trying to lay out the whole path, so that you can see it. Just like we did for DS, because the last thing you or your parents or the SA wants is someone there for the wrong reasons and beliefs...not saying you have the wrong intentions, just saying that after you weigh all of the negatives against the positives and still say yes, than you will do great! However, if you say I know I can make it through because this is my best way to get XXX slot, then that is the wrong reason. You will always be an officer first, the daily job is always 2nd You need to go where you will be happy because there is no guarantee that the military will still release you at 5...only in 01 did they place in stop-loss for a while (we had several friends that had jobs lined up only to have to decline because of stop-loss). There is also no guarantee that you will get the slot you want, thus, it all goes back to being an officer first :smile:

    Now go throw everything I said in the circular filing cabinet, because I am sure you will do just fine without any and all of our opinions!
  5. time2

    time2 10-Year Member

    Jul 17, 2007
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    ^^^ I think the above is great input and provides you something to think about. There is no one right answer that will apply to everyone. Part of the purpose of these forum sites (when they work well), is for a wide range of people with different backgrounds and experiences to offer their OPINION and perspective based on what they have seen. Is your experience going to be exactly the same as the next person who posts, NO.......but......it does provide you the kind of background you need to ultimately make the best decision for you.

    Talk to as many recent grads and current mids as you can in an effort to make the right decision for you when you consider all of your alternatives as well as knowing what motivates you to follow this path. Certainly better to ask these questions now, then 1 month or 1 year into a program you decide isn't for you.
  6. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

    Jun 9, 2006
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    I'm a USNA grad and a civilian lawyer. Here's the deal based on what I know; I believe my information is current but if it's not, feel free to correct me.

    You cannot directly access law school from USNA. Whether male or female, if you are physically qualified to be a line officer, that's what you'll be. Ships, subs (for males), pilot or NFO, Marines and a few special warfare billets. If you're NPQ, you can go supply, intel, crypto, etc. Your service commitment is at least 5 years (longer for pilots).

    If you want to be a lawyer, there are two ways you can go about it after USNA. The first is to do it through the Navy (I apologize but I don't know how it works for the USMC). You must START law school no later than the anniversary of your 6th year on active duty. This is NOT waiverable. Because you graduate in May, you must start law school by the 5th year after you graduate from USNA.

    That means, by at least your 4th year, you must start your applications. That means you need to be taking your LSAT prior to that. So, you need to figure out pretty quickly that you want to be an attorney and start working on it. Depending on your military job and duty station, that could be much more difficult than it sounds.

    You apply to whatever law schools you want to at your expense. At the same time, you apply to the Navy law program (it has a name but I've forgotten what it's called). IF you are accepted to the Navy law program -- it is VERY competitive -- the Navy will decide which of the law schools to which you were accepted you can attend. The Navy pays for your tuition and books and pays you as an officer. I believe that, from that salary, you must cover your room and board. Upon graduation from law school, you attend JAG school. After that, you are 99.9% likely to be assigned to a carrier. You incur a 6 year obligation (2 years for each year in law school). That is in addition to your 5 year USNA obligation and time at law school doesn't count as payback for your USNA obligation. Thus, by the time you are finished with your obligation, you will be 36-38 years old and can then become a civilian lawyer.

    The alternative path (the one I took) is to complete your USNA obligation or more (I did 8+ years), leave the Navy and attend law school on your own. You are then a civilian lawyer. I know many people who have done this. You could be a practicing lawyer by roughly age 30.

    My personal view is that having a military background (or any significant work experience, for that matter) makes you a better lawyer than someone who went immediately from college to law school. That's not to say that people who go "straight through" aren't great lawyers -- just that having some "seasoning" helps in dealing with clients, crises, etc. The military is a perfect transition.

    However, you should only attend USNA if you want to be a Naval Officer first and foremost. When I went to and graduated from USNA, I had no idea I would ever become an attorney. That desire came later. If YOUR desire is first and foremost to be an attorney or even a Navy JAG, there are easier ways to do it -- and, IMO, better ways, than going to USNA.

    Happy to discuss in greater depth via PM.
  7. cfam386

    cfam386 5-Year Member

    Feb 20, 2008
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    I'll echo what everyone else said, and give you some advice based on my personal experience. Like many of the current and potential mids on this site, I had decided early on that USNA was where I wanted to spend my college years. If I had shown up on I-day questioning whether the Academy was the right place for me, I probably wouldn't have made it through plebe summer and plebe year. This place has its highs and lows, and wanting to be here is what makes it possible to push through those lows.

    Please don't think I'm being condescending, but service academies really aren't for everyone. If you decide you really do want this type of college experience, then by all means go for it! Otherwise, I would really suggest ROTC, as it will give you the chance to get exposure to the military lifestyle and still leave you with potential fallback plans if you decide it's not for you. If you have specific questions about the lifestyle here, feel free to shoot me a pm.