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cadet blogs

The Academy Difference

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2013) Permanent link   All Posts
 Alexa Ward Finally, Thanksgiving is here! It’s time to head back to the ones I’m thankful for and leave the place I’m thankful to be at. Unfortunately, it’s also the time when I go home and get to see the other type of college experience.

Here at the Academy, we have innumerable trainings on our core values: Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty. November is when we generally put these values to use for the first time. When we go home, it’s difficult to look at our friends and say, “Yeah, I only get to leave campus three days a week. I don’t get to pick my own clothes, and I have to go to all my classes everyday.” Surrounded by a thousand people who live the exact same way that we do, it’s hard to imagine people who can skip their classes without getting demerits, or who drink underage without the possibility of an honor offense. But when we go home, many of us for the first time at Thanksgiving, these are the people we compare ourselves to.

Last year, my biggest challenge was identifying with my friends, people I’d known since elementary school. We all tried to explain our various college experiences, but anyone who wasn’t attending a military academy did not seem to understand any of what I had done throughout the year. Everything they told me about their colleges seemed so trivial and unimportant compared to what I did at the Academy. If they had utterly filthy rooms, it was a small slap on the wrist or nothing at all. If I had a few items left out in the open, it was eight demerits that would bring down my military score.

Probably the most difficult thing to do, though, is making that decision to get back on the plane. It’s so difficult to leave behind not only my family, but also my comfortable couch (the bed got moved out) and the delicious food available at all hours. But I always make it back.

Everyone has their own reasons for choosing the Academy, so when you come here, you have to hold on to whatever motivates you to return. And when you leave behind a warm and loving home, it isn’t always as easy as it seems.

As always, you can ask me questions at

More about Alexa.