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Rooms, Food, and Other Usual College Questions

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo High school teachers helping students through the college admissions process often tell students to take campus, food, living arrangements, and amenities into consideration before they apply. Now, this shouldn’t be the deciding factor for you if you are trying to decide to come to the CGA, but sure, it plays a part. Having done a year of college before coming to CGA, I can definitely give you a good comparison of the differences.

 

In terms of living arrangements, most cadet rooms are doubles. The rooms are relatively small, and must be kept in good order at all times. You can only room with the same gender and the same class (i.e., freshmen must room with freshmen). Also, you will be living “on campus” the whole time you are here. Things need to be stowed, folded, and clean just about at all time. We will have Formal Room and Wing inspections roughly once per month. You can only have two personal shelves with your effects on it, and one picture can be hung (24’x24’ max). When I did ROTC and lived in a dorm back in 2012, I could leave my room however I wanted—room inspections and constant order was not part of that military experience. We typically have a quick room inspection at least once daily.

 

The food here is actually much better compared to the colleges that I attended and visited long ago. At state college, most students will purchase a meal plan, which allows them to eat for a certain set number of meals per week. Food here at the CGA is made available in the cadet wardroom, or cafeteria. All cadets receive pay, and the expense for food is automatically deducted from cadet salary. Cadets are provided 21 meals per week, or what would typically exceed the largest meal plan at any other college. The food quality is actually very good for cafeteria food, and is much better than what I ate at state college, although sometimes it can be repetitive. Also, living here for four years on campus means that you cannot opt out of the meal plan.

 

Breakfast and lunch are typically family style, where every cadet (roughly 1,000) eats at the same time. Following formation in the morning and afternoon, all of the cadets head into the wardroom for the meal, sit down at the same time, and leave at the same time. Dinner is typically buffet style, which is what most college meals are like. The wardroom is open from 5:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and cadets can choose from roughly 3-4 different meal choices on any given evening.

 

More about William.

 

March Madness!

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo March madness! Regardless of basketball that is how I would describe my life right now. Everything is happening so quickly and the end of the year draws closer and closer. What a fun semester it has been so far. I just returned from spring break. This year a few of my close friends and I planned a trip to Barcelona, Spain. My travel buddy phrased it perfectly, “I’ve never been in a city with a heartbeat before.” It was phenomenal. We visited la Sagrada Familia, Montserrat, and saw the Barcelona versus PSG soccer game. La Sagrada Familia was one of the most impressive cathedrals I have ever seen, and it is still in the process of being built! By the time it is finished it will have been worked on for over 160 years. I could have stared at its intricacies for days and not seen it all. Montserrat is a monastery/convent up in the mountains right outside of Barcelona. You have to take a long winding road to get up to the top and from it you see the most beautiful views. We heard the boys’ school choir sing inside the cathedral. They are known around the world for their voices. The architecture, history, and beauty behind Montserrat took my breath away.

 

The Barcelona versus PSG soccer game is hard to put into words. Barcelona needed to beat PSG by five goals in order to advance within the league. No one thought they could pull it off. They scored the sixth goal in the last two minutes, and I have never in my life seen fans with such love of the sport and team. The whole city was on fire. Fans cheered the whole hour and a half walk back to the house we stayed at. Horns blared to a Barcelona chant throughout the streets. I knew at the end of that game that I had just witnessed a great moment in soccer history, and while amazed I felt unworthy of being able to be at that game when there are such huge, dedicated Barcelona fans out there. Still, what an awesome experience.

 

Anyway, back at the Coast Guard Academy the seniors have their billets for next year, the sophomores have their cadre sections, and now we are waiting on our summer assignments. I can’t wait to see where I’ll be headed next. School is busy but not too overwhelming right now, and I feel like I have finally got a manageable schedule. I cannot believe that I am almost into my senior year here. I still feel like a freshman occasionally, but I am ready to take on the leadership role next fall and really figure out what I want to do when I graduate and where I want to go.

 

More about Hannah.

 

Something to Consider

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Friedman Photo I’m pretty sure almost every blog starts this way, but time is flying by. As the corps returns from spring break, eyes are pointed toward summer training, and the increase in rank that comes with the Class of 2017 graduation and the Class of 2021 swearing in.

 

The Admissions Office is starting to send out appointments so I’d like to offer some food for thought to those agonizing about what to do as your future seems to hang over you now more than ever.

 

 

  1. If you are wait-listed and want to come here do NOT give up hope. I was wait-listed for the prep school program. After emailing my Admissions Officer at least once every other week, I was able to gain entry into the CGAS program and now I am about to recommit and become a 2/c. The wait list is just that, a wait list, not a denial. If you want to be here, this, more than ever, is your time to show it.
  2. Know why you want to be here. This may seem obvious, but even the most driven of people will be tested during their time at the Academy. If you are going here solely for the “free” college or because your parents want you to, odds are you will not make it to graduation. I put free in quotation marks because you give up a lot of freedom coming here, but if this is your dream and you want to be in the Coast Guard it is a worthwhile sacrifice.
  3. Choose the Academy because of the service, not the service because of the Academy. If you are choosing between academies remember that you will spend four years at the Academy, and at least five years in the service of that Academy. Know about the branch you are joining, not just the Academy. If you just want to go to the Coast Guard Academy but not serve in the Coast Guard you’re going to be in a difficult spot.

 

I know there is a lot to think about, but you’re about to make a big choice, a bigger one than you probably even realize. When I accepted my appointment, I knew I wanted to be in the military and I wanted to serve in the Coast Guard because I believe in the humanitarian aspect of our missions. This is a simple reason, but believing in the mission, and the amazing people at the Academy, is what helped push me through the hard days that are there by design.

 

If you have received an appointment, congratulations, it is not easy and it is something you should be proud of. If you are wait-listed, do not give up. I’m proof you can make it to the Academy and be successful. If you were not admitted, also don’t give up. If you want to be here go to another school, talk to your Admissions Officer at the Academy about what kind of classes to take and make you an even better candidate for the next application cycle. There are A LOT of cadets at the Academy who already have degrees and came to the Academy after the fact.

 

If you have any questions about the Academy or my limited knowledge of the operational Coast Guard, please feel free to email me Jill.M.Friedman@uscga.edu. I hope I have helped in your decision process. The great Class of 2019 can’t wait to meet you all!

 

More about Jill.

 

New Year, Last Semester

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Hill Photo Happy New Year, am I right? Okay, I was so not looking forward to getting back to reality after an awesome vacation with the family back home in South Florida, but I came back loaded down with: a positive mindset, warm Under Armour gear, inspirational books, and decorations to remind me of home. I love my new room and roommate—it’s on third deck instead of fourth (less stairs!) and its warmer and in a more central location to my company dayroom, or main hang-out room.

 

Upcoming events for me this semester:

 

  • I am worried about passing boards (what 4/c have to pass to become 3/c – It is essentially a test on all the information from the Running Light)
  • Excited for six weeks on USCGC Eagle (Please 1st phase and Bermuda) and two weeks in the fleet this summer
  • Trying Crossfit Club because I eat too many cheddar bunnies not to…thanks new roomie :)

 

In other news, to keep spirits up during the “dark ages” of winter in Connecticut, I have found strength, hope, and guidance from teachers and mentors. Officers who went through the CGA themselves, keep saying, “It gets better” and that life in the fleet is something to look forward to. Oh, and LT Parker’s pet Husky, Aries is adorable. I am also resolved to read my textbook so that I am prepared ahead of time for class. Thus far, I have understood all of the Calculus II, Physics and Statics Engineering and Design material covered, so that’s a plus.

 

Comment on the weather: at first, seeing all the snow was a little scary, but it is beautiful and I am adapting. My Southern tank-top-no-shoe-wearing self is learning how to dress for the cold and brave the storms. OOO RAH Coast Guard! (hah)

 

After this first, decidedly not stress-less week of second semester, it was great to unwind and get closer to new friends over a long weekend.

 

Just keep trucking and live in the moment.

 

Thanks for reading (or skimming)!
4/c Kelly Hill

 

More about Kelly.

 

Winter Recap

(Academics, Athletics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Silliman Photo So, I am currently in Annapolis training with the sailing team on our spring training trip. Seeing the immense size of the Naval Academy certainly makes us comprehend how different the Coast Guard Academy really is. Being in Annapolis for the first time and seeing the large, Greco-Roman buildings of the Naval Academy certainly was a culture shock for me in comparing it to the small New England Coast Guard Academy campus with its federal-style architecture. I still would not want to be anywhere else.

 

At the end of winter break after a trip to the U.K. with my family, I flew to San Antonio to attend a conference among other Catholic college students called SEEK. We were part of a group of over 13,000 students including some from other service academies. It was truly a life changing experience, and with the spring semester ready to meet me with the end of the conference, I wish the conference never ended.

 

With the season pass I had to Killington, I took to the slopes for Martin Luther King weekend with a group of 15 cadets, and it was a blast. After that I only managed to get in another three days on my pass, those times going to Sunapee with my family. It was a great season over all, and with the increased liberty of 2/c year, next year will be even better.

 

The sailing team hit the water for the first time last week and we are now well under way for the spring season. The team is a little smaller now, but hopefully we will all get some good racing in.

 

One of my favorite classes this semester has been Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design. This has introduced me to all the crazy machines of the Academy’s power lab, which has enabled me to begin building a contraption known as a finger engine. I cannot wait to see the finished project.

 

The school year is slowly making its way toward the end. This summer will be a lot different from the last one, but it will be fun in its own ways. I just hope its gets warm a little faster this year.

 

More about Derek.

 

Liberty, Liberty, Liberty

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo A question I get very often from my friends outside the Academy as well as prospective cadets and parents is “when do they let you out?” Well, I decided to discuss this topic to break it down for prospective cadets. For starters, cadets have a summer break, Thanksgiving break, winter break, and spring break. Cadets (everyone except for the freshmen who are in Swab Summer) receive three weeks of leave during the summer following or sometime between training.

 

All cadets go home for almost a week for thanksgiving, and each cadet receives two weeks of leave for winter break. Cadets also receive one week or more for spring break in early March. Otherwise, if you ever need to go home for a family emergency, the Academy does an awesome job getting cadets this special leave when they need it.

 

For normal weekends, there is a graduated liberty system, and more privileges come with each successive year at the Academy. Freshmen, or 4/c cadets, can take off from Saturday at 12 p.m., or 1200, and need to return Sunday morning before midnight. Their liberty resumes on Sunday at 8a.m., or 0800 and they need to be back by 1800, or 6 p.m.

 

3/c cadets, or sophomores, have the same liberty as 4/c cadets, but they are granted liberty on Friday nights as well. They need to return by Friday night at midnight.

 

2/c cadets have Friday liberty as well, but are also allowed to take “short weekends.” This means they have an overnight pass from Saturday until Sunday night at 1900, or 7 p.m.

 

1/c cadets have the same privileges as 2/c cadets, but are also granted Thursday night liberty from 1600, or 4 p.m., until 2200, or 10 p.m. Cadets who have a command position, that is a significant military leadership position, are also allotted the same Thursday night liberty times but on Wednesday nights as well. When it has been determined that 1/c have met and exceeded the standard during the spring semester, 1/c cadets are granted gangway, when we can take off so long as we do not have a formation, class, or military obligation. 1/c cadets are also allowed to maintain and own cars on base.

 

So, I hope I was able shed some light on the leave and liberty process here at the Academy—don’t worry, they do let us out and there is a lot to do here in the area!

 

More about William.

 

Mentors at the Academy

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo The purpose of today’s blog post is going to be about the mentors I have met here at the Coast Guard Academy. I didn’t fully realize until this year how crucial it is to have great role models to look up to, but I believe the mentors you meet along the way at the CGA are some of the most critical influences in our journey as cadets.

 

In regard to my own personal mentors, I have some mentors that I have met through created programs here and some I have met on my own. Earlier this year, I signed up to be part of the cadet mentoring program where you are paired with a civilian or military mentor from the Academy community. I got lucky enough to be partnered with a woman from the Institute for Leadership that had gone through the Academy and was part of the same singing group that I am part of today. Our biweekly meetings have enabled us both to foster a strong mentor-mentee relationship, and the advice I receive from her about leadership, school, personal life, and more are incredibly helpful. After every discussion I have with her, I leave feeling less stressed and more ready for what is to come in my future in the Coast Guard. The mentors I have met through the Link in the Chain Program as well always offer words of wisdom and a huge amount of knowledge about the Coast Guard and leadership as an officer.

 

I have other mentors that have not been assigned through a program but that have developed over my time here. Various singing directors, teachers, and academy faculty and staff are always there to offer a helping hand, a listening ear, or advice for when I’m struggling with a decision. All of these people have helped me to grow into, I believe, a better leader. Their positive example encourages me to be that listener for someone else, such as an underclass within my department or a peer. Overall, I don’t know how I would make it through the challenges of this school without the amazing people I have witnessed setting the example for me every day.

 

More about Hannah.

 

How Much This Place Has Changed Me

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Beckert Photo Recently, the 4th class at the Academy, myself included, experienced an annual tradition called 101st night, where we become ‘swabs’ again for a few hours and it’s mainly compromised of a lot of yelling and a few push-ups. However, it was a sharp contrast to Swab Summer, when I felt like I drifted through the days terrified of everyone. This time I knew my cadre, and it was almost fun to get yelled at by them. As the school year continues, I realize how much this place has changed me. This time last year, I thought I had my entire life plan figured out, but after a tumultuous few months, I’ve changed my major, began a new sport, and found some new friends that I consider family at this point. I guess it’s all just part of the Academy experience though, discovering what you’re actually good at.

 

This fall, I started as a coxswain for the crew team, which if you’ve met me makes a lot of sense considering my size and love of being in charge. I’ve found it presents a unique set of challenges, as I never realized how difficult it truly was to be in charge of a boat with up to eight girls, and controlling everything that happens during a race. It’s a pretty good opportunity to develop some leadership skills that will come in handy in my future career.

 

I switched my major to Electrical Engineering fairly recently, figuring well, if I am going to be having a difficult next few years, may as well go for the major that I know will challenge and interest me in turn. So, in conclusion, the year is going pretty smoothly, just studying for boards and dreaming of carry-on at this point. And as always, if you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email at Clara.L.Beckert@uscga.edu.

 

More about Clara.

 

Bright New Things

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Lorence Photo The beginning of the new year brought a lot of bright new things for me. New classes, teachers, and I am settling into the swing of things at the Academy. I have had to make a few tough decisions these past few weeks, which led to this blog being neglected. I am deciding on if I want to change my major, and if so, to what? If you have read my previous entries you will know I am currently a Naval Architecture and Marine Science, but with my last semester being as bumpy as it was dealing with calculus and physics, I decided it would beneficial to change to a major with less of a focus on math. The name of the game for me is graduating and getting my commission.

 

The 4/c lately have been stuck in what is known as the “Dark Ages,” which is based more on the weather than anything, and if you’re from the north you know what I mean. After the winter holidays the cold starts to get to people and honestly it is not a super fun time to deal with alone. This leads me to reason #12,432 for why the Academy is great. You have a huge support network, and if you need to talk to anyone they will be willing to help. I feel that this is the reason people are willing to go to the Academy for four years. It is not an easy journey, but you make friends that will last your entire life, and you will grow closer to them than you did with any previous friends.

 

On a lighter note, the rifle team has been doing extremely well, and I am proud to say I am part of the team. (I am currently writing this section while riding back from a match against MIT.) We defeated MIT and took the Beanpot Trophy which was a great time! I placed first for small bore rifle the second day and did well overall. I have had to miss a few matches lately because of medical reasons, such as the match at TCU, which would have been an amazing experience but there are so many more opportunities to do great things in the future!

 

If you have any questions for me about Academy life, or really anything my email is Dylan.M.Lorence@uscga.edu.

Go Books, Go Rifles, and always, Go Bears.

 

More about Dylan.

 

Flight 101

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo One month until Billet Night! I am so excited to find out where I’ll be for my next two years serving the Coast Guard as an ensign. I put in for flight training as my first choice, so I am finishing up the tail end of a long application process. I’ve been very fortunate to learn a lot about Coast Guard aviation throughout the experience, so even if I don’t get it straight out of the Academy, I’m looking forward to taking another shot at it later down the road!

 

The flight school billets are highly selective. The congressionally permitted maximum number of cadets the flight training program can accept is 10% of the total class membership; the actual percentage is lower than that, and will change from year to year based on the Coast Guard’s needs for afloat and sector ensigns. The process for applying to flight school has morphed a few times since I’ve been a cadet, but for my class (and likely for the next few classes after us), it started in earnest at the beginning of first class year. Basically, there are four steps to getting to flight school as an Academy graduate:

 

  1. Pass the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB). The ASTB is a pilot aptitude test that evaluates your basic physics, mathematics, mechanical, reading comprehension, hand-eye coordination, task management, and spatial skills. You are allowed to take the exam up to three times in your lifetime. It takes kind of a long time to describe in a blog… I would suggest researching this exam online a bit and getting some study materials to help you prepare. Look for “Military Flight Aptitude Tests” and “ASTB-E” on Google and Amazon!
  2. Write a memo, which is similar to a short essay, about why you want to attend flight school and how you have prepared yourself to do so. This is where you’ll get the chance to talk about any special skills or qualifications you have, like a private pilot’s license, and any unique experiences and activities that have helped you determine that aviation is what you want to do (summer assignments at CATP and air stations, flight team competitions, career aspirations, etc.) Get lots of feedback from aviator officers on your memo; the editing I received from pilots helped me improve my memo so much from my original draft to my final one!
  3. Prepare for your flight board. You’ll sit in an interview with a few active duty aviators from the local area, and they’ll ask you for some more details regarding your memo. It’s good to have a few stories to explain how you got interested in aviation, people who inspired you, and to have an idea of your personal strengths and weaknesses. And ultimately, they are just looking to see if you have a pleasant personality. Be polite, be positive, and be yourself!
  4. Finally, if you are selected to the final pool of candidates, pass your flight physical. A lot goes into this with eye exams, anthropometrics, EKGs, fasting labs, etc., so get it done as quickly as possible!

If you are interested in flight, start learning about it now! Take civilian flight lessons, talk to aviators, read books and study for your ASTB and, most of all, just get excited for a cool career path!

 

More about Abby.

 

We Are in Control of Our Happiness - VIDEO

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Gilliam Photo At the Coast Guard Academy, we are being challenged in every respect from school to military obligations, and everything in between. While the Coast Guard Academy's overall goal is to prepare us for the fleet, there are still rules and regulations here that can create a hindrance to cadet life, but the Coast Guard also teaches us that we have the power to evoke change, and use our voice. With all the challenges we face here, we are never alone and have a support system of family and teachers and officers/enlisted who care about our success, and are working toward a greater purpose. From the outside, as the Princeton Review pointed out, we may not seem like the happiest college students but we are, without a doubt, some of the most influential.

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More about Courtney.

 

CASA and SHARP Summit Conference

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Tousignant Photo I had the opportunity to attend the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Summit at West Point this fall as a Cadets Against Sexual Assault (CASA) representative. This opportunity allowed me to gauge the Academy’s program against the other military academies while also discussing ways that military institutions as a whole can improve on sexual-related issues. The USCGA has a much higher percentage of cadets who are able to take restricted reports from victims than at the U.S. Military Academy. There are approximately 163 interested/ trained cadets with 100% of them being volunteers at the USCGA. In contrast, there are about 36 cadets designated to take restricted reports at the USMA. The Superintendent of West Point stressed the importance of finding the medium between gender avoidance and sexual harassment/assault. The goal of the Superintendent is to have every assault reported. His proposal for accomplishing this is to change the behavior of cadets so that culture changes. This starts with discussing healthy relationships and the dangers of the collegiate “hook-up” culture.

 

At the Coast Guard Academy, CASA members have come together to promote healthy relationships so that our Academy upholds the highest standards of respect for one another. CASA gives several awareness trainings throughout the academic year. This year we have joined the “It’s On Us” campaign to take a pledge as a corps against sexual assault. The past couple years we have had a huge Take Back the Night event in April (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) to again bring awareness to this issue and also promote looking out for one another. With regard to sexual assault, I personally feel very safe at this Academy and would choose it above all the other service academies. Throughout my four years here, I have not heard so much as even a sexual slander, and I whole heartedly believe that we are the model institution for gender equality.

 

More about Jackie.

 

2/c Cadre Summer - VIDEO

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Horacek Photo This video describes some of the amazing opportunities that we have during the summer at CGA, specifically 2/c Cadre Summer. I know that when I was applying, I was concerned that with only three weeks of leave, there would not be much of a break between school years, but I can assure you that is not the case!

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