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cadet blogs

Not Every Cadet Gets a Direct Appointment

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Quintero Photo It has come to my attention that a lot of people are interested in prep school (the Scholars program). If the Academy didn’t give you an appointment (accepted you) there is a slight chance you may be given the opportunity to attend one of the two prep schools either at Marion or Georgia.


Should you not get a scholarship for the scholars program, you always have the option to be a “self-prep”. Self-preps are a rare breed of individuals that enroll themselves in a prep school and pay the tuition out of pocket with the hopes of getting good grades, reapplying to the Academy and earning their appointment. My roommate at prep school, who is now one of my best friends, was a self-prep. The reality is that it could be financially demanding and full of uncertainty because you don’t know if you will get an appointment. What self-preps usually do is apply to different academies with the hopes of one accepting them. For example, my buddy applied to the Naval Academy, Merchant Marine Academy and CGA. He got into MMA and CGA and ultimately chose CGA. Self-preps will usually take the same courses as the other preps and will also do the same extracurricular activities and physical training. If I had to guess, I would say at least four self-preps are accepted every year.


You don’t always have to attend a military prep school after high school to earn your appointment. I’ve seen people take all different routes. Some decide to attend a community college or state school for a year or two and find out if college is not for them and then apply to the Academy. You just have to make sure that you take challenging courses and perform well. Another route you could take is to go enlisted and then apply for the Academy after serving a few years. OCS (Officer Candidate School) is also always an option.



More about Carlos.


Week 3: Rapid Relief

(The Cadet Experience, Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Sherman Photo Week three went even faster than week two (and I said that was fast)—not to mention that due to the holiday (Memorial Day), we only had a four day week. The week was spent mostly preparing to take over my collateral duties from the lieutenant junior grade (LTJG) who was departing at the end of the week for a new unit. There were a few other side projects here and there, but I mostly worked on preparing the memos (letters of designation) that would formalize the record of my duties. Most of the memos were easy and straight forward, but the one I worked on for the communications officer relief was a bit more involved. I had to become familiar with the work being done and what needed to be done by the communications division onboard the ship as well as know the status of required drills and inspections.


Like many projects, the majority of the work ended up taking place on Friday, the last day that the officer was here. It was a whirlwind but everything got completed on time. I still have much to learn about my responsibilities but thankfully the members of the crew in the division are willing to help. I know enough to stand as their division officer, which is a pretty exciting experience. It just so happens that there is a gap between the departure of one officer and the arrival of her replacement, so in the interim, I get to fill in! It doesn’t always happen like that for other 1/c cadets on other cutters. What a great preview of the year to come and my first few years as an officer!


A highlight for this week was on Wednesday when Andy and I joined members of the cutter’s law enforcement team at their boarding officer training. They were reviewing the handcuffing and escort techniques we learned in Personal Defense II at school. It was great to see that we were learning the same techniques they teach in the fleet. There were some escorts that we hadn’t learned yet, and the instructors had a few tips for making the ones we had learned more effective. We basically had several personal instructors, which was a much better learning environment than a large class at school.


And as usual, I’ll conclude with a leadership lesson for this week. Again, it’s difficult to pin one thing down. I think the lesson that I learned that stood out to me the most was not quite one about leadership, but more about being a good manager. This week showed me some best practices for passing off assignments and duties to successors. Most importantly, I realized that during this relief process I should start preparing for the next relief process when I pass off the responsibilities. In this case, of course, that will be in a few weeks, but something to remember for next year is that with my collateral duties, I should keep good notes about what I did and when and how so that I can remember the details and intricacies of the duty right off the bat and not here and there. A well-organized collateral binder is super helpful, as I found out this week.


That’s all for now, but I’ll be writing again before I know it!


(I didn’t like that we got to go out to lunch in civvies when the rest of the crew was working hard, it was hot, and they didn’t get libo…sigh, military)



More about Justin.