The Ides of March are upon us but, let’s be honest, USNA doesn’t really acknowledge the old Roman calendar. That being said, the middle of March is the epicenter for two big spots on the academic year calendar.
First, everyone involved is eyeing up Spring Break. For the Plebes, it’s the end of their first Dark Ages and, as my son used to say, “a chance to be human.” By the time he hit Spring Break as a Plebe, most all of his doubts had abated, but some were still lingering. I remember looking for signs one way or the other and being convinced he was in the right spot, though I wouldn’t be 100% certain until he was among the masses changing “Plebes No More!” after the Herndon Climb.
Spring Break always struck me as a big “your experience is the right experience” moment, too. Aside from two days attempting a camping trip Plebe Year only to be interrupted by a massive snowstorm, our Mid spent most of his Spring Breaks at home. He didn’t make a lot of plans and mostly enjoyed the time away from the grind, hanging out, relaxing, sleeping late, working out, playing Madden on the Playstation, and eating lots of good food (good as in good-tasting, not necessarily good for you).
We tried not to take that for granted because I heard of many Mids who didn’t even stop at home during Spring Break, instead jetting off to Colorado ski trips or beaches or other locations, spending the time with friends. Either one is fine because every Mid is different. Some need that downtime to recharge. Others get re-energized by breaking the bonds of the Academy to have their own adventures. Every Mid has their own thing.
Before we get to Spring Break, however, there’s a little matter for the Plebes to handle. They pick their academic majors. Cue ominous music … dun-dun-DUN!
Now picking a major at any college is important, but of course, things are a bit different at the Naval Academy. Research on the Department of Education’s website reveals that about one-third of college students change their academic majors at least once and 10 percent change it more than once. While changing a major has happened at USNA, it hasn’t happened very often and I can assure you that fewer than one-third of the Class of 2025 will change their major before they commission.
Another huge difference in selecting a major at USNA versus doing so at a civilian college is that at the Naval Academy, you major doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your major. My son earned a degree in cyber operations and will soon be a submarine officer. One of his roommates also went subs after a double major in economics and some other non-submarine-related area. Of course, his other roommate went pilot after graduating with an aeronautical engineering degree. There are SWOs with history degrees, pilot selects with English degrees, and Marine ground selects with political science degrees.
On the inside, it makes sense, but I can imagine that, on the outside, it appears a bit cockeyed. But then again, so does much of what have come to accept as parents of Midshipmen.
So whatever your Spring Break holds or whatever major your Plebe chooses, don’t worry. Parents of kids at civilian college may not understand, but your USNA family certainly does. And hang on tight because before you know it, we’ll be heading straight for the Herndon Climb, Commissioning Week, and summer training blocks.
The tide keeps rolling …
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Speaking of rolling … I’m excited about the upcoming Herndon Climb (of course) and the podcast I’m working on to commemorate the event. If it comes together as planned, I think it’s going to be really special! Stay tuned! Until then, here’s last year’s episode just for fun.