February 13, 2016, by Jason Southard, U.S. Coast Guard Academy sports information director – If you are interested in finding out if the U.S. Coast Guard Academy is the right college to attend, you should consider attending the Academy Introduction Mission known as AIM.
AIM is the nation’s most realistic service academy summer program as it challenges and inspires rising high school seniors interested in serving their country and exploring technical degree programs. During six action packed days, you’ll immerse yourself in Coast Guard tradition and Academy life with cadet leaders.
Several current Coast Guard cadet-athletes reflected on their time at AIM and all agreed the program is a true representation of what life is like at the Coast Guard Academy.
“I would recommend AIM to a prospective cadet to have them have a taste before they buy the whole thing, meaning if they are thinking about applying to the Academy they should know what they are getting into before actually committing,” said Cadet Fourth Class Anita Green, a member of the women’s cross country and track and field team. “It’s not easy, it’s not always fun, however it is rewarding.”
Cadet Fourth Class Garrett Magill, a member of the men’s soccer team, credits AIM with his desire to attend the Academy.
“I wasn’t sure if the military lifestyle was for me,” said Magill. “I don’t come from a military family, so AIM was my first real exposure to the life of a cadet. I was nervous about swab summer, but after going through AIM I had assured myself that I could finish swab summer. It was the major spark that fueled my desire to be a part of the corps of cadets.”
“AIM was an awesome experience and it is safe to say that if I was never an AIMster I probably wouldn’t be a cadet right now,” said Magill. “For a high school student, figuring out which college to attend is the most important decision they will be forced to make. Being a part of the AIM program will open your eyes to all the academy has to offer, and ultimately it will help you narrow down your college decision.”
Cadet Fourth Class Anthony Wyler, a member of the men’s lacrosse team recalls his most memorable AIM moment.
“We had to design and build robotic boats to perform a variety of different tasks,” said Wyler. “I thought it was such a neat experience having to perform a task with people that I have never met before, yet to come together as a group and create a robot. AIM gave me a very accurate preview of the hardships that I would experience during swab summer. I was able to better prepare myself for the challenges prior to the summer, which gave me an advantage over some of my shipmates. It is very beneficial to understand what the academy is about before applying.”
Attending AIM is intense. Students rate AIM as the most realistic and most rewarding of the service academy summer programs.
You rise early, you study, compete and create. You test your mind, body and spirit as you build lasting friendships with students from around the nation.
“Although the yelling, screaming, and pushups were all memorable, my most memorable moment from AIM was when we were able to speak with the cadre about their experiences in the Coast Guard, why they chose to come to the Academy and why they were AIM cadre specifically,” said Cadet Fourth Class Celia Marzinsky, a member of the women’s swimming team. “One of my cadre told me that the Academy was his only chance to get a college education and that if he had not gotten in he would have enlisted. In that moment I thought of how lucky I am to even have a chance to visit the Academy let alone get an appointment.”
Green agreed recalling her most memorable moment as getting chance to interact with the cadre.
“I still have a lot of vivid memories from AIM, however my most memorable AIM moment is when we sat down and we got a chance to actually interact with the cadre for the first time. We got to know more about them, why they choose this academy over other academies or other civilian colleges, what they loved most about the academy and their most fondest memories while they’ve been here. It opened my eyes to the academy and made me change my views about applying.”
AIM surely gets you prepared for Swab Summer, a seven-week traditional military indoctrination. It is designed to help young civilian students transition into the lifestyle of Coast Guard Academy cadets. The training process starts with general military skills and physical conditioning. The training continues with seamanship, swimming and academics. Through the process, students develop self-discipline, military bearing and esprit de corps (the spirit of the corps). They also begin to understand the Coast Guard’s Core Values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.
“My AIM section was an enormously accurate representation of Swab Summer than I would have expected; we got ITed, (incentive training) we ran everywhere, we “played” follower the leader, we took the PFE (physical fitness exam), we played ICs (inner company sports) and we especially got yelled at,” said Green. “So, by doing AIM I was prepared for the stress of Swab Summer, I expected everything they throw at us which was extremely helpful, however Swab Summer was by no mean “easy” because of AIM, but it did mentally prepare me for what was to come for a total of seven weeks.”
“When I arrived on R-day I felt as if I had a leg up on everyone else,” said Magill. “I knew what to expect, and because of AIM I came into the summer confident and excited for the challenges that were sure to come.”
Applications for AIM are now open until April 1, 2016. To learn more and apply to AIM visit the AIM section of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s website.