Greetings and Happy New Year! I apologize for the large time gap between my blogs, but I got tied up with school work, extracurricular activities, and general life at the Naval Academy. As I begin my spring semester again back at my home Academy, I thought that it was only fitting that I reflect on my time in Annapolis, and offer some quick differences and similarities between the two academies that I have had the privilege to attend.
As mentioned in my August 2014 blog, I can’t state enough how welcoming the Brigade of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy was, and especially 16th Company. They accepted a new classmate with open arms and were quick to make me part of their daily lives, which I am extremely grateful for. I truly think that the connections that I made at USNA are as deep as the connections that I have made with some of my classmates here at CGA, and I don’t think that it is over-exaggerated to say that I have made several lifelong friends.
It’s amazing how similar life at the two academies is – they truly are closer to being the same than they are different. Both schools are obviously military, so they have similar things that come with that – formations, mandatory trainings and classes, inspections, military drill and reviews, etc. They also have similar restrictions on your personal life such as limited times that you can leave the campus. Both schools also put a strong emphasis on sports and physical fitness, and emphasis that is rarely found at any civilian college. They both also both foster strong friendships between classmates and are home to truly outstanding people.
However, for all the things that the academies do have in common, they also have several differences. Most of the differences I feel are brought about because of the different sizes and locations of the schools.
The Naval Academy is approximately four times larger in size, and with that size comes opportunities in academics and the community that I feel that the Coast Guard Academy cannot replicate. As example, it’s hard for us to go directly to medical school out of CGA, which is possible at Navy, because we are needed immediately in the Coast Guard fleet. The size also helps the Naval Academy have a larger presence in the surrounding community. However, a benefit of the Coast Guard Academy’s smaller size is that it allows you to truly know all your classmates, which is impossible at Navy. I feel that having stronger bonds with your classmates is one of the things I truly like about the Coast Guard Academy as compared to Navy.
The Naval Academy’s location in Annapolis, located less than an hour away from our nation’s capital, creates an influx of visitors, both civilian and military, that is unheard of at the Coast Guard Academy. There are multiple tourist groups that tour the Yard in Annapolis daily, while at the CGA there might be an occasional tour group once every couple of weeks. Additionally, it is a lot easier for higher level military officials to make the trip from D.C. to Annapolis than the sojourn up to New London, and for that reason you see more brass at Navy as compared to Coast Guard.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Navy. It was great to get a different perspective on the military and Academy life that would not have been offered to me if I did not take the opportunity. I will not soon forget marching on at the Army-Navy football game, dining out with 16th Company, nor the outstanding professors and friends that I made. That being said, I know in my heart that CGA is the school for me, and the Coast Guard is the military branch for me. Despite the colder weather, I am definitely happy to be among my classmates and friends back in New London this spring. As always, if you have any questions about the Coast Guard Academy, the Coast Guard, the military, or any other subject that you would value my insight, I invite you to email me at James.D.Engelhardt@uscga.edu. Until next time, Semper Paratus and Go Bears!
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