I graduate from USAFA in 30 days, and I took that Defining Issues Test. You want to know why the results were, shall I say, depressing? Because cadets can be assholes. We are incredibly sharp young men and women and some how the Academy finds interesting ways to survey, test, and brief us with extreme frequency. Many of us also feel that permanent party babies us. So when we're ordered to show up to a lecture hall, sit down, take a test, and that we are not allowed to leave until almost an hour later, we intentionally fill in the bubble sheet wrong or just christmas-tree it. I showed up to the room and thought, "Alright, I'll power through this thing in 20 minutes, turn it in, and then go get ready for class," and then the instructors said no one could leave until 1320 when the test started at 1230. My classmates and I certainly felt that our time was being wasted. Maybe we are wrong for being so cynical, but when we deal with things like that on a regular basis, what do you expect? Most of us are too short-sighted to see our sarcastic "revenge on the system" just hurts our school.
I'm a 22-year old senior. A few months ago I was doing dorm inspection at taps and caught some younger cadets drinking in the dorms. I've done my fair share of shenanigans over the last four years, and a few years ago I would have just sat on that fact and kept it to myself. Instead, I turned them in (one of the hardest things I've done in my life; luckily they are being retained on probation). I was surprised to find out many other seniors would have made the same decision I did.
I was hanging out with a friend and his girlfriend one time and she was talking about how he never lies or even tells little fibs. I nodded in agreement. Most cadets personally take the honor code seriously, but publicly bash it because it's the "cool" thing to do. Why? We are super smart and like to rebel. We see and hear about our friends at civilian schools and all the fun they are having and we kick ourselves and ask why we came to the zoo. But most people really do like it here. I have had an incredible experience over the last four years. I have gone abroad, I have practiced leadership, and I have made awesome friends.
I leave my room unlocked all the time with my stuff out on my desk. Do I worry anyone is going to walk away with my stuff? Absolutely not. Most cadets are the same way. We are people of integrity out here; don't let a few bad apples make the rest of us look bad. Folks always want to focus on the negative aspect. If you really want to know about the Academy, find a random cadet and have an honest conversation with them. They will tell you the truth. Am I excited to toss my hat up on May 23 and put this place in my rear-view mirror? Hell yeah I am, but that does not mean I did not learn anything.
The Academy experience is exceptional. Do we put up with a lot of bullshit here? Yes, but the juice is worth the squeeze.
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