So you’ve decided to make something of yourself and chosen to pursue a career at sea. After much deliberation, you have weeded out attending a “regular” college, instead opting to go with a Maritime Academy. But getting to that point is no easy task and there are a number of things to consider. To help with your decisions, here’s a few pointers from gCaptain forum member, Jetryder223, who recently completed his first year at an academy.
First – know this up front – this is not for everyone. Think long and hard on whether you want to put up with the regimental BS as well as the academic rigors to achieve your career goals. I often envy my friends at regular schools and their freedoms. Need to pick something up at Walmart? You need an off campus pass. Had a late night and want to sleep in? Nope, up at 0530 every weekday to man dorm cleaning stations.
If that level of first year micro-management does not bother you – proceed.
Applying and getting accepted at a State Academy is not too difficult. Any B student with a reasonable SAT score will be considered. The application essay and personal interview probably carry more weight. Dress decent, show up on time, sit up straight, firm handshake and good eye contact are important. Be prepared to answer the question – “Why do you want to attend an academy?” They are looking for young adults who are passionate about maritime and will stick through the program. Do well on the essay and interview and you may get in even if you are less than a “B” student. Oh, if you are female or a minority, they will accept you before you even fill out an application. No joke, most cadets are white males and the Academies are under a lot of pressure to improve diversity.
Two weeks of quasi-military fun and games. I think the anticipation of academy orientation is worse than actually living it. It’s not that bad, certainly nothing like what my buddy who spent 12 weeks at Paris Island had to endure. If you are in reasonably good physical condition, you should not have a problem with the PT. All the memorization while sleep deprived was my biggest challenge. You will get screamed at for something – but everyone does. Don’t take it personally. At the end of 2 weeks, you will have learned a lot about yourself, your classmates and made some good friends along the way. Only 2% of the incoming class quit the school during orientation.
Pretty much what you’d get at any college. Class, labs, homework, quizzes, papers, mid-terms and finals. Study groups and extra help is available if needed. Math seems to be most cadets biggest academic challenge. Take as much high school math as you can and learn it well – you will be glad you did.
It sucks, especially as a MUG. If you are a license major (Deck or Engine) you are required to be in the regiment. This is a Coast Guard requirement and applies to all schools. What it entails is a wearing a uniform, adhering to a reporting structure and putting up with previously mentioned micro-management. Inspections (self and room) provide an opportunity to get assigned extra duty picking up cigarette butts in the parking lot for not meeting expectations (serves a purpose I’m told – before you can give an order, you need to know how to accept an order). Every morning at 0730, you get to march out the parade field, listen to any announcements for 2 minutes, then march back to your room and shake the rain and snow off your clothes. Besides that, you perform endless maintenance and watches on the Academy ship. This is probably the biggest gripe of all. Nothing like pulling the midnight to 0400 watch only to have an exam later that morning. Or trying to complete a big paper when all your free time is sucked up by compulsory ship maintenance.
Social Life and Parties
Forgetaboutit. No such thing.
You need a car or some means to escape on weekends.
Graduating. Good job placement. Good starting pay.
For me, this is where I belong. Despite all the regimental BS, I’m learning a lot and on track for a career on the water. I’ll be returning in the fall to begin year 2.
Your mileage may vary.
Join the discussion on this topic in the gCaptain forum, HERE.