Manly Advice about starting a journey at the Air Force Academy

I am a long time fan of artofmanliness.com and have read the articles with deep consideration always trying to improve myself to become a better man in society. I just graduated high school in May and even though alot of the things do not apply to me yet I hope to remember all the lessons I learned on this website when I have kids and a family of my own and better establish myself as a man in society. Im starting this post to see if anyone on the form has advice that I can take with me to the Academy. It will be a challenging year I know, and its going to flat out suck...no two ways about it. Yet, in the end I know it will be good. If anyone has any good advice or quotes to motivate me and remind me to keep going when times get tough and stressful that would be great!

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I can't offer advice so much as I can express my respect for your accomplishment and decision to to to the USAFA. Bring with you the knowledge that there are many, many perfect strangers out there who are grateful for your service.
Keep your lips buttoned, and do what you're told. They're gonna be playing mind games the whole time...remember that. You sound like a thinker, and like someone who wants to do well. Those who want to do well, usually will. Good luck to you, airman.
I forgot...bone up on your military history. It will help with various discussions. Slim, Stonewall, Patton, etc...read everything you can about them. Keegan is an excellent miltary analyst, also.
Thanks for the advice. What did you mean Keegan is an excellent military analyst?
Don't know if that's the right term...read his books. You'll see what I mean.
Haha...I see...well I was only wondering because my first name is Keegan and it threw me for a loop with the 3rd person, but I understand there is no someone else called Keegan. It is a very rare name and a rarely come across someone with the same name.
John Keegan.
Get ready for a life change. You won't be the same person at the end of BCT that you were at inprocessing. Just keep in mind that there are going to be approx 1,400 guys/gals that are used to be being the top dog (HS valedictorian, class president, etc), and not everyone can be that anymore. Lots of people have a hard time dealing with the realization that they are no longer in the top half or even top 2/3 of the general population. There's no real practical advice I can give you to prepare other than be in good shape when you get there (and it's a little too late for that...doesn't basic start in the next week or so?). When people say "keep you mouth shut and try to blend in as best you can" or something along those lines--remember that that institution is looking for leaders, not wallflowers. It is a great leadership laboratory where cadets get actual experience leading their peers, but if you're not one of chosen few who actually step up to the challenge, you're one of the subjects that someone else gets to practice leadership on. Don't be afraid to take chances...if you screw up, sure, you'll pay. If you don't take chances, you're not taking full advantage of all that place has to offer. If you need motivation to keep you from quitting, just take a look at the upperclassmen that have made it to their senior year--many of them will not be nearly as smart, athletic, socially adept, etc, as you are or you think they should be. I used to tell myself, "there's no way I can quit if that douchebag over there can make it" Same thing goes with skydiving, survival training, SERE, pilot training, and every other challenge you'll face. Good luck!

Maj Scott Russell
Class of 99

PS. I didn't mean to slight Jospeh Rogers...there are lots of ways that USAFA does not conform to conventional wisdom or even common sense.
GO ARMY - BEAT THE ZOOMIES!!!
As Scott Russell said, "Just keep in mind that there are going to be approx 1,400 guys/gals that are used to be being the top dog (HS valedictorian, class president, etc), and not everyone can be that anymore." I've never gone to the AFA, in fact, I'm just now considering enlisting into the Air Force since I tried the college thing first and it hasn't gone too well so far. But from what Major Russell has said the AFA sounds a lot like the book Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, maybe you should check it out? All my JROTC friends loved that book in High School and I only just read it a year ago (at 21).
Keegan;

Congratulations on the work you put in to getting an appointment. Right ahead of you is what I think has been the best four years of my life.

BCT is rough, sometimes, but allow me to echo what others have said--it's a mind game. It's all a mind game. Keep that in focus, and you should do all right. Remember, too, that the entire six week program is designed to make you stupid. You might have heard some "stupid Basic" stories and said "I'll never do that," but it's harder than it looks to keep your wits about you. Take the time wherever you can to center yourself whenever you can, and keep it all in perspective.

But after BCT, ah, that's when the fun starts. Here are a few suggestions:

*Go to Club Day, and not just for the free food. Extracurriculars are especially important four degree year, as they get you off base and with a group of people from all classes that you can learn from in a slightly less regimented setting. Allow me to suggest the Mock Trial team. Matthew Ross is going to do a great job next year. Any extracurricular, though, especially those connected with the Dean of Faculty, are awesome. They give you a chance to meet not only cadets, but faculty--and those faculty will eventually write your recommendations to get you the Air Force job you want.

*Take a language, and take it seriously. Even if you end up a technical major, the language programs are excellent and can help get you amazing opportunities for foreign exchange.

*During BCT, don't sleep through the placement tests. The more credits you validate, the better off you'll be firstie year, and all the way along.

*Don't be afraid to volunteer for projects, service, and extracurriculars. Don't overwork yourself, but be on the lookout for awesome opportunities--they exist in every nook and cranny of that place, and so many of them are overlooked.

*Case in point: pay attention to the posters at the elevators in the academic building. They're meant for teachers to see, but generally they won't mind cadets coming as well. There are incredible brown bag lectures on all kinds of interesting topics.

*Read Cal Newport's blog (calnewport.com/blog) and his books. Now. Seriously. While not all of his suggestions apply for our military lifestyle, the ones that do will change the way you look at the Academy--and, hopefully, keep you from making some of the mistakes I did. Many cadets fall into the laundry list fallacy and pile on activity after activity in an attempt to look like academic and leadership all-stars, but in reality it is the activities that make someone go "cool..." that are more important.

From one Silver cadet to another, take it easy, have fun, and use these four years to become the man you want to be. The Academy won't do it for you, but it will give you all the tools. You've just got to reach out and grab them.

2LT Parker Hicks
Zemke Class of 2009

P.S.> Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any specific questions or want more details on some of what I've said (or cool people to look out for while you're there). parker@parkerdhicks.com.
First off, congratulations on your appointment. I wanted to join the military but bum feet and a nasty injury at the end of high school (I was being young and stupid; stupid being the operative term here) ended that idea. All I can say is eyes and ears open and mouth closed, unless you're asking a question. They will play mind games but you sound like someone who can deal with that easily enough. Read up on military history, from ancient times to the present. That'll help a lot. Do the best that you can. You'll find you can do things you didn't think you could and when you come out at the other end, you'll be ready to start what I think will be a great career. Good luck.

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