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Things to Know Before Saying “Yes”

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Twarog Photo It was right around this time last year that I officially committed to the Coast Guard Academy, and I’ll be entirely honest, this last year has been both the longest and the shortest of my life. My time in high school feels like a lifetime ago and yet it’s hard to believe that I took the oath on R-Day only seven months ago. As the Class of 2020 prepares to accept or decline their appointments in the coming months, I’d figure I’d share some insight into this place that I wish I’d known before coming in.


  • Have a good reason to want to come here. I’ll tell you right now, this place is very hard at times. Simply coming here because you won’t be shelling out any money for an education isn’t enough. You don’t necessarily have to want to be a career military officer (I honestly don’t foresee myself making a career with the Coast Guard), but you need a good reason to come here.
  • If you accept, you are going to question your decision. Even if you’ve wanted to come here since you were 10 years old, there are going to be days when you want to quit. For me, this hit me hard coming back from winter break. Even though I’ve wanted to come here since sophomore year in high school, for a couple of weeks, I was in a funk where I was very seriously considering transferring to another school. The reasons for this were complicated, but my point is that it’s normal to question your decision.
  • The Academy is a cycle of highs and lows. The lows are tough like I’ve already described, but the highs are indescribable… Since getting in, I’ve raced my first Olympic-distance triathlon, sailed on Eagle, become a volunteer firefighter, joined the U.S. Military Cycling Team, ate lunch with the Commandant of the Coast Guard and marched in NYC on Veterans Day. You will have opportunities here that you wouldn’t ever have other places.
  • The bond you share with your shipmates here can’t be simply summed up with the word “friendship”. You’ll form bonds that can’t be described. Even though you might be moving away from home, you’ll have a family at the Academy you can rely on.
  • Home won’t feel quite the same when you finally go back. This isn’t a bad thing by any stretch, it’s just…different. You’ll discover who you really consider to be your friends from back home. Part of this is because you don’t have social media your fourth class year, so you have to make an effort to stay in touch with your friends. Not only this, but people tend to drift in different directions once they head off to college. Your core values might not necessarily align with theirs as time progresses. Even beyond this, you might not necessarily be able to relate to a lot of what your friends are going through, and the opposite is certainly the case. That being said, the friendships that remain are going to last a lifetime.
  • My final insight/unsolicited piece of advice is HAVE FUN. Not only is this true at the Academy, but as you go into your final months of high school, enjoy them (responsibly) as much as you can. Go hiking, seek out random adventures, eat good food, travel whenever possible, laugh a lot, start a bucket list and cross off as many bullets as possible. Live life to its fullest.

Congrats to everyone who gets accepted into the Class of 2020, and if you have any questions feel more than free to reach out to me at my email (


More about Evan.


Excited for a Busy Spring Semester

(Academics, Athletics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo Coming back from winter break this year was nowhere near as difficult as freshman year. I was excited to see my friends again after three weeks apart, and ready for the spring semester to begin.


This semester I am taking 19 credit hours. Two of these are attributed to my professional rescuer class where we get our lifeguard certification. So far this class has been a lot of fun. While I have never been a certified lifeguard, I have had many summer jobs working at pools/lakes being a pool “attendant” or working with rental boats, so it is a unique opportunity for me to actually get the certification. We currently are learning different rescue techniques for drowning victims, and while the class may seem silly at times since no one is actually drowning, I know the skills we are learning are useful for our future careers in the Coast Guard. My most difficult class so far is Dynamics. Luckily, many of Mechanical Engineering major friends are in the class/my company in Chase Hall, so, when collaboration is allowed, we can help to answer each other’s questions and mutually benefit from the process. While academics is keeping me busy between Dynamics, Advanced Engineering Math, Material Science, Professional Rescuer, American Government, and Morals and Ethics, lots of extracurricular activities are starting up as well. Glee Club just returned from a trip to Massachusetts where we sang over MLK Weekend at a high school, retirement community, and local church. Lacrosse season starts in the beginning of February, and I am hoping for little to no snow/cold so we can practice outside without freezing too much, even though I know this is unlikely. Spring semester is bound to be a busy, exciting semester.


More about Hannah.


The Actor

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Not much going on around here… it’s been a pretty typical start to the semester with new classes, new divisions, etc.! Since there’s not a lot of news, I thought I’d rock the blogging boat a little bit and share some of the writing that I’ve talked about before. So, here is “The Actor” (an appropriate one as I start rehearsals for the fall musical!). Enjoy!


Eyes of glass illuminate a face locked in a dream.
A world, only a feet few beyond,
Seizes his soul and holds him.


A barrier stands, a wall unbroken.
Lights shine through the impenetrable invisibility,
Catch the glass,
Ignite the spirit that crosses the ground,
Slips back into him
Bringing new life to share.


Who is this man
Who wears a suit of personality
Sewn by hand in recitation,
Pinned into shape with actions and motion?


Colors bleed from the wall
And soak the stage,
Darkness recedes,
Flaming words and sparks leap from his eyes -
They melt the barrier.


He rises.


Fixed upon him, shapeless faces outside of his world
Grope for a flicker of the man hidden
Beneath the actor.


More about Abby.


A Winter Wonderland 2016

(Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo The Dark Ages, as they are commonly called, are upon us. Despite the limited daylight, I’ve been finding things to keep myself entertained during the cold months here at the CGA. This Friday night, Hotel Company, which is charged with Regimental Morale, has hired professional comedians to give stand-up routines in Leamy Hall. The comedians were previously featured on The Tonight Show and America’s Got Talent. Hockey games, basketball games, and morale events are myriad and there to give cadets something to do during down time. This coming week, the Corps of Cadets is heading to a downtown New London theater to watch a private pre-screening of the new major motion picture, The Finest Hours. This should be great—a chance to see the first movie about the Coast Guard since The Guardian, of which has produced many Aston Kutcher jokes and stereotypes about the Coast Guard. Maybe when I tell people that I’m in the Coast Guard they will ask me if I’ve seen The Finest Hours rather than The Guardian


In an effort to keep myself busy, I’ve been working out in Billard Hall’s renovated cardio gym. The newly renovated gym has a deluxe TRX layout, which reminds me of a grown-up jungle gym. I also recently signed up for a half marathon in March in West Haven, Connecticut! I’ve been running in Billard just about every day to prepare for the race.


More about William.


ORCA Explained

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Seaman Photo Hello! I recently had a prospective cadet email me with some questions about the Operations Research and Computer Analysis (ORCA) major, so I thought I would share part of my answer with anyone else who is wondering about it.


There are many classes specific to this major (mostly math). The major-specific classes I have taken so far are Multivariable Calculus; Linear Algebra; Differential Equations; Discrete Math; Linear Optimization; Probability Theory; Networks and Nonlinear Optimization; and Computer Modeling Languages. And I'm currently taking Information Systems, Mathematical Statistics, and Probability Models. I realize that might just sound like a bunch of words, but email me if you are interested in knowing what some of those classes are all about and I can go into more depth.


Aside from the major-specific classes, there are quite a few general requirements everyone must take throughout the four years. Major-related courses start your 3/c or sophomore year but a lot of times you can still switch majors during 3/c year because certain programs have a little overlap (many of the majors have to take Differential Equations, for example). Your 4/c or freshman year, everyone takes the same classes (Calculus 1 and 2, Chemistry 1 and 2, History, English, etc.). The purpose of that is to develop well-rounded people because, as officers, even if we are doing engineering jobs, the stuff we learned in English will help us in the fleet whether it is writing evaluations or something else. In addition, it allows you to see your strengths and helps with picking a major that is a good fit for you. Your 3/c year is when your classes are tailored to your major and then 2/c year is when you are really taking fun major-related classes. We also have to take general requirements throughout the four years. Those are classes like Physics, Navigation, Morals and Ethics, Criminal Justice, Government, and Maritime Law Enforcement. Everyone has to take Chemistry and Physics because every degree the Academy offers is a Bachelor of Science.


As far as ORCA goes, it is essentially all about using math and computers to make things more efficient, even with limited resources. Therefore, we take math optimization classes and learn how to program with Java to be able to solve certain problems that are brought to us. This major is very Coast Guard applicable since the Coast Guard performs so many missions, but also does not receive very many funds to do them. So an operations researcher would use their background in math and computers to schedule employees and distribute billets; allot aircraft to different stations; and find the shortest amount of time it would take a cutter to reach 10 buoys that need to be tended and go back to home port (important to save crew morale and fuel). In short, the application of the major is to find ways to maximize mission effectiveness and efficiency through logistics.


Your first billet after graduating is not major-specific; it can be attending flight school, serving as a student engineer or deck watch officer on a cutter, or working at a sector. Your billets afterward are really when you would start using your major. Also, the majority of officers go to grad school as well, so you could do a multitude of jobs in the Coast Guard or private sector depending on what your master’s is in.


I really hope this was helpful in answering any questions you might have had about ORCA. As always, if you have more questions, do not hesitate to email me.


More about Rachel.