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A Bustling Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Gurtler Photo Another summer here and gone, leaving me to wonder how it ended so soon. However, the more I reflect on the past three months, I realize it’s not a question of how the summer flew by so fast, but rather a question of how it was humanly possible to fit in as much as my classmates and I did in three months.

 

My summer began with three weeks of leave in Wisconsin, where I visited with friends and family and celebrated my younger brother’s high school graduation. When I returned back to the Academy, I found myself immediately swept up into a busy week-by-week schedule. My initial week back was spent at the shooting range, qualifying with a Sig Sauer pistol. The following week consisted of classes focused on the ‘Rules of the Road.’ Fortunately, I passed the test that culminated all of the ROTR information we had learned throughout the week so I did not have to worry about retaking it during CAP Week. My third week back was a week dedicated to preparing to be a cadre. 2015 participated in a mock R-Day, as well as numerous trainings on how to handle certain situations as a cadre. This was all in preparation of what was to come the following week…

 

My three weeks as cadre were the three most exhausting but rewarding weeks of my life. As a cadre, I worked to be stern but fair. I learned early on that if I did not hold them accountable for their actions, little would be learned by them and by me. At the same time, I strived to be a mentor – someone that they could come to not just during the summer training period but during the academic school year as well. Granted, I did yell a time or two, and I may have forced Hotel Company to do a little intensive physical training, but I did this out of respect for my swabs. I wanted nothing but for them to succeed. When Hotel swabs received their shoulder boards I wanted them to know they had earned them. Additionally, my brother was a swab in Bravo Company this past summer. Words cannot describe how proud I am of him, and it only furthers my bond with 2017.

 

My summer concluded with one week spent at Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina, one week working on T-Boats, and two weeks aboard a 44-foot sailing vessel that stopped at a number of different ports including Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Newport, Rhode Island.

 

See what I mean when I say I was busy?! Bottom line is that I experienced so much this summer with my class. I am thankful for my fellow cadre and for my swabs for allowing me to learn from my highs and lows and teaching me so much about leadership, followership, and myself along the way. This summer has left me contemplating the possibility of applying for next summer’s command staff. I would love to be a part of 2018’s R-Day experience…

 



More about Victoria.

 

Application Advice

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo During my summer tour on Eagle, I had the opportunity to lead a tour of prospective applicants around as part of a recruiting mission. At the end of the tour, one of the parents asked me, “So what exactly do they look for on the applications? What should my son be doing to get ready to apply?” These are great questions. The application process is very long and comprehensive, and I believe there are four general parts to an application: the measurable aspects, the character, multitasking ability, and the intangible qualities of an applicant.

 

The measurable part of the process is easy to explain. First, GPA is a baseline measurement for an applicant. If you have a good GPA, you are more likely to get in. If you are applying now and need to raise your GPA a few points, try your best this year and send the Academy your report cards/progress reports. This shows that you can bring your grades up and you aren’t slacking during senior year. Also, it shows hard work and a determination to succeed.

 

The second measurable quality of an applicant is test scores (SAT/ACT). According to the USCGA website, “successful candidates usually scored an 1100 combined Critical Reading (Verbal) and Math on the SAT, or have an ACT Composite of at least 24”. If you find yourself slightly above or below these baseline scores, I recommend retaking the SAT or ACT. You may submit your highest scores on each section, and retaking the test usually results in higher scores. Having higher than average test scores will serve you well when applying.

 

The final measurable quality is the Physical Fitness Examination (PFE) score. I recommend seriously preparing for the PFE. It is the same test you take at least nine times at the Academy. In addition, the PFE carries weight in the application process. If you put the time in to prepare and do well, it will help you.

 

Your character plays a pivotal role in acceptance. The Academy is looking for future officers of the Coast Guard, and they want officers with good character. So how do you demonstrate your character? First, carefully consider who is writing your recommendations. The people that know you the best will be able to speak to your character, and show the Academy that you can be the type of officer they are looking for.

 

The most important tools you have to convey your character are your essays. The essays are challenging. They are very broad, open-ended topics, with very few words to convey what you want to say. Start writing your essays early, and make them unique to your experiences. Write multiple drafts, and have people review them. A great essay can make a huge difference. It shows that you have the ability to convey complex ideas in concise statements. If you can use your recommendations and essays to effectively show that you belong in the Coast Guard as an officer, you have a great advantage.

 

Another important quality to show on an application is time management ability. The easiest way to show what you’ve done is to create a resume that includes all of your work experience, volunteer service, and club/activity involvement. In the Coast Guard, in the Academy especially, good time management skills are paramount. The academic workload here is overwhelming by itself, but cadets are also tasked militarily and athletically. If you can show that you have the ability to effectively manage your time, you are showing that you can handle the pressure of performing at the Academy.

 

Finally, the most abstract factor the application process is the intangible qualities of an applicant. The “it” factor, as some people call it, is very important. People with high grades, high fitness, good time management, and even good leadership skills may not have the “it” factor. In my experience, the “it” factor is passion and perseverance. It is impossible to measure those qualities in a person, but through an interview, a phone call, or email correspondence, you can show your passion to be in the Coast Guard.

 

I do not believe that the Academy is only for smart people. In high school, I was never the smartest person in school. However, I was well rounded on my application. I spent hours working on it, revising my essays, and preparing for the PFE. I put forth my best effort to represent myself to the Academy, and it paid off.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Hunter.D.Stowes@uscga.edu. Good luck with applications!

 



More about Hunter.