Hannah Meisner

Alexandria, VA
Major: Electrical Engineering
Hanna Meisner

I applied for the class of 2022 at CGA and was waitlisted; so, I decided the Coast Guard wasn’t for me. I enrolled in a small civilian engineering school in Indiana. I had an Air Force ROTC scholarship that I used while I was there. The Air Force appealed to me because of its technological focus. I had every intention on graduating from there and commissioning into the Air Force.

It wasn’t until late October in my first year that I started having doubts. It was sort of an epiphany… I literally just woke up one morning and decided I needed to reapply to the Coast Guard Academy. I realized I was likely going to be working in an office for the Air Force for my entire career. I decided that if I was going to join the military, I wanted a bit of an adventure while I was still young. The humanitarian mission set of the Coast Guard really appealed to me, as well; and I decided my values aligned better with the Coast Guard.

Switching from a civilian college to a military one required quite the adjustment. When I arrived at civilian college I was overwhelmed with the amount of freedom I had. I could go where I wanted, when I wanted, and tailor my schedule to fit me. My first year at the Coast Guard Academy was pretty much the exact opposite of that; it was the most regimented environment I had ever lived in. The benefit of this, however, is it makes it much harder to get left behind. I had loads of friends in civilian college who would skip class, sleep all day, and make poor decisions when it came to managing their academics. The military lifestyle at CGA makes it much harder to do that. Especially your first year, there are so many people constantly checking in on you to make sure you’re on top of things. Instructors here are responsive and involved, as well, more so than a civilian school. There’s also just more maturity from cadets in general, compared to civilian students, because so much is expected of you. There’s a distinct bond formed between cadets, as well, from going through a very niche, shared experience together.

My advice to other transfer students would be to retain as much as you can from your civilian classes in order to validate classes at CGA. I would also say to check your ego at the gates when you get here. I think I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder when I came in as a Swab and that only made my life harder. So, expect that things will be very different from life at civilian college, but know that there are so many people looking out for you and invested in your success, in a way that you can only get at a small service academy like CGA.