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cadet blogs

Application Advice

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo During my summer tour on Eagle, I had the opportunity to lead a tour of prospective applicants around as part of a recruiting mission. At the end of the tour, one of the parents asked me, “So what exactly do they look for on the applications? What should my son be doing to get ready to apply?” These are great questions. The application process is very long and comprehensive, and I believe there are four general parts to an application: the measurable aspects, the character, multitasking ability, and the intangible qualities of an applicant.


The measurable part of the process is easy to explain. First, GPA is a baseline measurement for an applicant. If you have a good GPA, you are more likely to get in. If you are applying now and need to raise your GPA a few points, try your best this year and send the Academy your report cards/progress reports. This shows that you can bring your grades up and you aren’t slacking during senior year. Also, it shows hard work and a determination to succeed.


The second measurable quality of an applicant is test scores (SAT/ACT). According to the USCGA website, “successful candidates usually scored an 1100 combined Critical Reading (Verbal) and Math on the SAT, or have an ACT Composite of at least 24”. If you find yourself slightly above or below these baseline scores, I recommend retaking the SAT or ACT. You may submit your highest scores on each section, and retaking the test usually results in higher scores. Having higher than average test scores will serve you well when applying.


The final measurable quality is the Physical Fitness Examination (PFE) score. I recommend seriously preparing for the PFE. It is the same test you take at least nine times at the Academy. In addition, the PFE carries weight in the application process. If you put the time in to prepare and do well, it will help you.


Your character plays a pivotal role in acceptance. The Academy is looking for future officers of the Coast Guard, and they want officers with good character. So how do you demonstrate your character? First, carefully consider who is writing your recommendations. The people that know you the best will be able to speak to your character, and show the Academy that you can be the type of officer they are looking for.


The most important tools you have to convey your character are your essays. The essays are challenging. They are very broad, open-ended topics, with very few words to convey what you want to say. Start writing your essays early, and make them unique to your experiences. Write multiple drafts, and have people review them. A great essay can make a huge difference. It shows that you have the ability to convey complex ideas in concise statements. If you can use your recommendations and essays to effectively show that you belong in the Coast Guard as an officer, you have a great advantage.


Another important quality to show on an application is time management ability. The easiest way to show what you’ve done is to create a resume that includes all of your work experience, volunteer service, and club/activity involvement. In the Coast Guard, in the Academy especially, good time management skills are paramount. The academic workload here is overwhelming by itself, but cadets are also tasked militarily and athletically. If you can show that you have the ability to effectively manage your time, you are showing that you can handle the pressure of performing at the Academy.


Finally, the most abstract factor the application process is the intangible qualities of an applicant. The “it” factor, as some people call it, is very important. People with high grades, high fitness, good time management, and even good leadership skills may not have the “it” factor. In my experience, the “it” factor is passion and perseverance. It is impossible to measure those qualities in a person, but through an interview, a phone call, or email correspondence, you can show your passion to be in the Coast Guard.


I do not believe that the Academy is only for smart people. In high school, I was never the smartest person in school. However, I was well rounded on my application. I spent hours working on it, revising my essays, and preparing for the PFE. I put forth my best effort to represent myself to the Academy, and it paid off.


If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Good luck with applications!


More about Hunter.


Round Two

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Wright Photo It’s crazy to be back. Sitting here in my 3/c shoes it’s hard to believe that just a year ago I was the scared freshman running around the halls frantically greeting every upper class I saw with a “Good evening, sir” at 6 a.m. in the morning… nothing I did was right. Or at least it seemed that way. Now, I know a few more things and definitely can enjoy this place a little more. This first week back is full of stuff; lectures, schedules, getting to know your division, and most of all getting back into the hectic Academy routine. Being a 3/c now means that I am the one the freshman come to for everything; I am next in their chain of command so all their silly questions come to me first… it makes me wonder if I was that clueless last year. My assumption is I was. :P


Each company of about 120 cadets is split up into departments and further divisions with four to eight cadets. Each division is in charge of a job for their company and each class has one to two members per division. So, my division has eight cadets, two from each class, and we are in charge of regimental tours (which I have heard is a fair amount of work). This week has focused on getting to know each other, especially me and my 4/c. Since there are two 3/c and two 4/c in my division we have kind of split it up so each 3/c takes responsibility for one of the 4/c. My 4/c is Meagen Witham from Virginia. I worked alongside her a lot this week with various tasks like putting up nametags for the company, getting signatures of everyone in our company, and cleaning for our formal room and wing. One thing I have learned is that she is a very hard worker, and I know this semester will go great.


All together I have to say being a 3/c is definitely a lot better than last year. I’m looking forward to helping the 4/c through this year as much as I can because I know how tough it is to be in their shoes, though I do have to say I’m happy to not be in them anymore. New company, new major, new roommate, new responsibilities, and definitely a new perspective of the Academy will make this year exciting and so much different than last year! I can’t wait to get started.


More about Jessica.