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USCGA vs. civilian college

gman223223gman223223 Registered User Posts: 33 Junior Member
I got accepted into the coast guard academy. It seems like an excellent opportunity but I don't know it is for me. Here is what I think:

Coast guard academy:
Small class sizes
Professors focused on teaching

Not much free time
Not intended major ( I want to be a material science major, I chose to be a orca major at the academy)

Replies to: USCGA vs. civilian college

  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 29,312 Senior Member
    Material Science and Operations Research are quite different from each other. If you are serious about Material Science, then the USCGA is almost certainly not for you. The grades and test scores that got you into USCGA would probably get you serious merit money at a number of institutions. If money is an issue for you, spend some time looking through the threads at the top of the Financial Aid Forum, and check out the merit-aid lists.
  • LakeWashingtonLakeWashington Registered User Posts: 9,312 Senior Member
    Absolutely agree with TopTier. The academy is VERY DIFFERENT from a civilian college. It's an excellent education that demands complete commitment, 24/7. No half measures. Cadets can change their minds during summer training prior to the actual start of classes, but it sounds like you are not sold on the USCGA anyway.
  • NoVADad99NoVADad99 Registered User Posts: 2,291 Senior Member
    To echo the two posters above me, do not attend USCGA if you are not ready for the commitment. Don't take the place of someone else more committed.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,726 Super Moderator
    I personally don't think the majors matter that much. At 17-18, it's hard to be completely serious about any one major area of study - you haven't taken any classes in it, and you don't really know anything about it. In addition, materials science is a pretty uncommon major to begin with at undergraduate institutions. (Although I do wonder that if you are interested in materials science, why not go for mechanical engineering at the USCGA, which is the closest alternative? Operations research and computer analysis is an interesting, lucrative, in-demand field, but quite different from engineering and materials science.) Of course if your dream is to become a world-renowned materials scientist then you probably should choose a college where you can study that (or at least physics, chemistry, or some other engineering field). But if you were just interested in it as a possibility but other things interest you just as much, then I think it matters not what you pick.

    The question is - do you want to be an officer in the Coast Guard? For at least 5 years of active duty, if not a career? If the idea of living the very regimented lifestyle of a cadet at a military academy - and then going on to serve as an officer in the military - doesn't inspire passion in you, don't do it. You don't have to give your whole life to the Coast Guard, as your initial contract is only 5 years (of active duty) unless you get selected for some kind of special duty with a longer commitment. (Flight school and graduate school are two choices that can incur a longer commitment.)

    If you want to go to college to have free time and the traditional, stereotypical college experience - do NOT go to the Coast Guard Academy! It's well-known that the lifestyle there is very different. There are MANY more restrictions on what you can do with your time, and infractions that would be relatively minor elsewhere can get you in serious trouble there. I know that at the other service academies you are subject to the Military Code of Justice, and that's probably true at the CGA too.
  • TopTierTopTier Registered User Posts: 2,766 Senior Member
    I'd respectfully like to clarify two points in @juillet‌ 's foregoing post (#5):
    1. Service Academy cadets and midshipmen are, in fact, subject the UCMJ (the Coast Guard, as a matter of two distinct statutes, is an armed force operating under the UCMJ, notwithstanding the fact that it currently is part of DHS, not DoD).
    2. Most regular officers who leave active duty do not resign their commissions or leave their service; rather, they accept reserve commissions (and, at their own volition, may be active or inactive reservists). Therefore, even if they do not "wear a uniform" for many years, these reserve officers (USCGRs, in this case) continue to "serve at the pleasure of the President" and are subject to involuntary recall to active duty (under various circumstances). I emphasize this because post #5 suggests, "You don't have to give your whole life to the Coast Guard," which is essentially true. However, if one does not resign his commission (and, consequentially, remains in the service as a reserve officer) he is ALWAYS subject to lawful orders (until he dies).
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