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cadet blogs

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Staying Civil

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Sakowicz Photo Once when I was in middle school, I told my father I couldn't do math because I was a girl. Girls weren’t made to be as smart as boys, and we sure couldn’t do math. My Dad was livid! He refused to allow me to believe that, and spent the following hour informing me that a woman could do anything, especially math and assisted me in finishing my homework. I spent the next six years sprinting through science and math classes eager to learn and prove my value, I was good, I could do it, and I knew it.

 

Flash forward to finals at the end of 4/c year, I walk out of my Calculus II final in tears, praying for a high enough grade to squeak by so I would not have to come back for summer school. I sit down at my computer with relief, only to log on and open up an email from my Calculus II teacher addressed to myself and my company officer. I had passed my final, but I had only passed the class by the skin of my teeth. The email on my grade could be boiled down to one heart wrenching statement.

 

"Suggest you consider a major other that engineering with the effort you’re putting in now."

 

I was destroyed, I had only just switched my major to civil engineering and it was all I wanted to do, it spoke to me. This email haunted me through my third class summer, followed me through every watch on Eagle and Dauntless, and on the train ride back home. The second my Mother picked me up from the train station I begged her to bring me to the bookstore. I bought a Calculus for Dummies book and got down to work. Every day I watched how-to calculus video and pushed my way through every problem in that book. There were four weeks until I started Multivariable Calculus and I was going to go into that class guns blazing.

 

It took almost losing what I wanted to realize how hard you have to work to have it and stay at the Academy. I took that email statement with me to class every day, it no longer haunted me; it was my motivation, my driving force. I worked hard on homework, went for extra help if I needed it, and crushed every test that came across my desk. Like Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy.”

 

I can only now reflect on how important these events were, to have led me to my current station, a female Civil Engineering student, having passed the FE standing on the edge of graduation knowing that only 100% effort will get you what you want, no matter who or what you are.

 

More about Emily.