Last week at a welcome aboard event I was asked by an incoming Plebe Candidate (Class of 2015) what I could tell him to help him get through his first year at USMMA. There's often lots of advice, most of it good advice in my opinion in this forum, on these sorts of subjects but to me the best piece of advice I can think of is "eat the elephant one bite at a time." When you are 18 and want to go out in the world a year or even 11 months seems like a long time. The fact your first year at USMMA is really a series of phases and in those phases the atmosphere, focus and mood changes. I look at each year at KP as having 8 phases, when you as incoming Plebes are having those hard moments - and everyone has them "WTH did I come here? Life here "stinks"? Who is that "jerk" with that big red cup in his hand with his arm around my girlfriend in that picture on facebook at "state u"? etc. It helps to realize it's not another 11 months until life changes for you but maybe 8 weeks or less. So here's the USMMA Calendar in Jasperdog's 8 phases (oh this helps for us parents too): Phase 1 – “Reporting Aboard; Indoc through “Parent’s aka Acceptance Day Weekend” – 7/7 through 9/5/2011 (~8 weeks) USMMA at it’s second best and it’s worst for Plebe Candidates. The worst part: You will likely realize just how different your next four years, especially this first year will be from the upcoming four years will be from your high school friends who are going to “normal/regular colleges” will be. The second best part, well to some degree the same as above, and aside from the heat and humidity the campus, especially the waterfront is really beautiful this time of year. Also you will start to realize just how great the opportunities after graduation will start to be for you and that you are a part of the Kings Point family, even if a big part of that familial aspect of the institution is “misery loves company” for plebes. Finally you will start to understand why all Kings Pointers punk and pull pranks on their friends. Phase 2 – Parents day until end of first trimester (9/5 – 10/30/2011; ~8 weeks). Once the second and third class A splits go to sea and the B splits return; everyone in the regiment resident on campus, except your Class (2015) has been to sea for at least some of their training. This is the first sort of “exhale” from the culture and attitude that has been very regimentally focused; also over the upcoming week (10/30 – 11/7 or 8) you will see some of your classmates who had academic issues depart. This all causes the focus and the priorities to be clearly grounded and fully understood by all: 1) Academics first and foremost; 2) Staying sane and doing whatever it takes to do so for you given you really do understand the pressure of the accelerated academic year, which usually means, your sports or extracurriculars second; and 3) The Regimental Aspects of life at USMMA third since i) you’ve had this stuff down since the end of Indoc and it’s not hard and ii) everyone tells you they rarely if ever even had to wear Kahkis on their real ship in the real industry, with some exceptions for guys who only sailed MSC. More on the later phases later but here they are: Phase 3- Start of second tri through Christmas break: (11/3/2011 through 12/20/2011) (7 weeks) More of the same but you and most of your class (2015) know what it will take to get through this lace and you are determined to do so. Phase 4 – New years through end of second trimester finals also known as the dark days of winter (1/3 – 3/13) (10 weeks) It’s dark, it’s cold, you are sick of cleaning toilets, etc. – hang in there, find something to stay sane with; Southerners find a way (route) to walk to get to class that doesn’t involve marching where the cold, biting wind off the Sound doesn’t sting your face. Also help those guys having Academic trouble, and understand as much pressure as you might be dealing with, they are dealing with more. Oh and don’t worry about “recognition” – as the guys from Brooklyn say, just “fuggeddaboutit” right now, some sick upper classmen will just taunt you with it. Phase 5 – End of Second Trimester through “Recognition” could be two or three weeks could be most more but likely ~ 3/14 through the last week or so of April (~6 weeks) – Really a time to sit back and understand that flicker you see at the end of the tunnel that is plebe year is really probably a light and not a train. In other words while you probably can’t wait for recognition and plebedom to come to an end, you can quietly accept that it will soon. Just don’t give those who break your chops about that sort of stuff any more satisfaction that they are not plebes like you. For those that will be going B split focus on making sure your GPA at the end of this first year gives you some cushion as Sea years usually aren’t where your GPA goes up… Phase 6 – Recognition until the end of License Exams (April 29 through June 1st) (~6 weeks) So now the tides are turned. That Regimental Officer who drove you crazy since Indoc, where’s he lately. Oh yeah pulling hair out and studying for license. Those cool first class zombo’s all confident and laid back who you watched these past few months with envy, yep they’re pulling their hair out too – hey it’s only the rest of their lives they’re worried about. You, your fourth classman, sure it’s the lowest on the USMMA “totem pole” but guess what – compared to some of those guys right now, life is pretty good. Phase 7 – End of License to “June/Kings Point Weekend” ) (2 weeks – 6/1 to 6/14) – Enjoy life, pass finals and watch out for Class of 2013 Regcocks, but just don’t do anything too stupid, and if you do, try not to get caught… Phase 8 – June Weekend (4 days) 6/15 – 6/19; Class of 2015 you made it through year one in 7 easy, reasonable phases; Class of 2012 – WOW you’re thinking “What a long strange trip it’s been…” or something like that; me – I’m hoping 6/17/2012 will be the happiest Father’s Day of my life and 6/18/2012 will be the fourth major milestone in our family’s history that happens at USMMA. Buckle up and enjoy the ride folks, it's always exciting and strangely, often fun.