Every enlisted member of the Coast Guard ends up at A school at some point during their career. For the lucky few, this might be soon after you’ve gotten out of boot camp. However, for the majority of members you’ve been watching your name slowly creep up the list, waiting for your turn to approach. It’s no doubt that you’ll want to do well at A school so I’ve got a few tips as someone who has been in your shoes.
First, relax. This isn’t boot camp. Sure you’ll have some advisors that make you feel like you are back in basic for the first first few weeks, but this is mostly to scare off the screw ups. If you’re not one of them then keep reading.
Next, don’t be a screw off! No one wants to babysit you. Your instructors and advisors expect you to take A school seriously. It’s fine to have fun with your classmates on the weekends but be responsible. Most of your instructors have lives outside of TRACEN and they don’t want to come in and deal with juvenile problems. This isn’t high school and I can promise you that the tough guy act your advisor puts on during the first couple of weeks will not be an act anymore if you make him or her babysit you.
Participate in extra credit and community service on and off base. Not only will this help in your standing when it comes to getting the next unit you want, but down the road when you grow out of your diapers you’ll be writing resumes and trying to tell employers how freaking awesome you are. Trust me, these little efforts work wonders down the road. “During a rigorous 13 week military specialty school, I volunteered 4 hours a week with the local food pantry, bolstering military relations with the surrounding community and harboring a safe environment for the less fortunate”. Not bad hu?
Speaking of extra credit, strive to be number one in your class. I get it, not everyone can be Joshua James but the closer you are the better picks you get when it’s time to keep yourself out of BFE. And besides, you’re really either in Petaluma CA or Yorktown VA. What the hell else do you have to do besides study. You went there to learn a craft, now STFU and study.
So do you remember being in high school thinking “man I can’t wait to get out into the real world and leave all this drama behind”? Well you are in the real world buttercup. It’s a small Coast Guard. You don’t think your instructors know someone at the next unit you are going to? Think again. I’m not saying be a stick in the mud. By all means, have fun. Be excited. Try, fail, try again. But do so with some forethought. This isn’t just a training ground for your trade, it’s an opportunity to learn more about yourself and learn how to work with others in small environments and stressful situations.
Yes I said stressful. A school is not designed to be a walk in the park. It is designed to push you. It is designed to make you work through real life problems, between individuals and operational circumstances. Think about it; do you want some jack ass who’s completely FUBAR, knows nothing and is taking up a rack with you in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, claiming to be ready to respond when shit hits the fan? Remember you are your own response team. There is no fire and rescue down the road when a main space bursts into flames. You can’t call the plumber when the shit system breaks and the toilets won’t flush or all communications go down and it’s three in the morning in the pitch black ocean night and you are the only two trained to fix the system. You want the week weeded out.
The ocean is no place for the meek. It is a vast empty hole where lives are taken and only names are recovered.
So if you make it to ‘A’ school you are going to want a kick-ass T-shirt. That’s where we come in. Born Ready Apparel is a veteran owned and veteran operated business. Made for Coasties, by Coasties. Our artist has close to two decades in the apparel business and spent time in Hollywood doing consulting work. Don’t let Seaman “Gooblots” paste together some crappy design. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out any of our 100% made in America shirts and designs at www.bornreadyapparel.com.
-Your friendly neighborhood bilge rat
What are your thoughts? Got anything to add or an awesome story to tell? Leave it in the comments below.