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Swab Summer & School Survival

Emma Deery

So, you’re considering attending the United States Coast Guard Academy. Step one? Swab Summer.

For the sake of you and I both, I won’t get too in-depth about those 8 weeks. I highly recommend checking out other cadets’ blogs (specifically Junna Castel’s- that’s what I read in preparation for my Swab Summer!) Another great resource is Erin Edwards on YouTube.

The biggest advice I can give anyone is to start your prep early. Physical fitness is no joke during Swab Summer; you’ll be running back and forth all day, and even if your day isn’t as physically intense as most, you’ll still be on your feet from 0530 to 2200. If you have never visited campus before, I have one word for you: hills. To save yourself (and your shins) any extra aches and pains, I recommend hopping on a treadmill and doing some cardio at an incline. Nothing crazy long or high, but enough to get your body adjusted if you only ever run on flat surfaces.

If you’re traveling far from home, you likely won’t be home until Thanksgiving or even Winter Break. Those 8 weeks with little to no contact can make you real homesick. Spend as much time with family and friends as possible, give your pets some extra love and attention, maybe even keep something with you to remind you of home.

One topic that was widely debated among my class before S-Day was whether you should study indoc before arrival. If you want to be a step ahead for Day 01, have the mission down by heart, but other than that, save the Running Light for your Swab Summer experience. The entire point of Swab Summer is to stress you out to see how you will react under pressure. Reporting in with every single word memorized verbatim will do nothing but hurt you: if the cadre figure it out, they’ll make you memorize something entirely different.

On August 14th, we were finally finished. Believe me when I say that the days are long, but the weeks fly by. As enthusiastic as we were to complete Swab Summer, you never truly notice how much structure it gave you until you have barely any at all. Going from having every minute of your day specifically blocked out to the freedom of your first year in college was quite an adjustment. Keep in mind that as a cadet, you won’t have nearly as much free time as your civilian friends. Military training, sports practice, and academics will quickly fill your schedule, leaving you to scramble for what little time you have and figure out how to best utilize it. Time management plays a major role in your success: as a cadet, as an officer, and even within your life outside of the Coast Guard.

Classes are going well so far: as a 4/c you mainly start with general education classes like Calc I and Chem I. Once you get to your 3/c year, classes get more major-specific. I’ve gotten better at managing my time, but there is always room for improvement.

Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions or want to know more about how my summer was feel free to reach out!

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