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An Open Letter to Kings Point Applicants A short time back, a high ...

An Open Letter to Kings Point Applicants A short time back, a high ...

maritime law to a limited extent, working at power plants, in shipyards, in design firms, and pretty much anything related to shipping and ships. This is where the six different majors come into play (three offer a Marine Transportation path, and three offer a Marine Engineering path.) As I said, each will prepare you by default to be a ship’s officer, but each has an extra side path which will give you added education in your chosen area of specialty. If you are gung-ho about going to sea, you will have plenty of time in your freshman year to weigh the benefits of each major before picking one. If you are more interested in a specific career, definitely look closer at what is available at KP before going. Every student will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree and a Coast Guard license. Other than a maritime career, your other option at graduation is to go active duty military. This is one of the things that make KP a totally unique place. If accepted, you can graduate as a commissioned officer in any of the Armed Services; Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard. Entering NOAA is also an option. KP is as far as I know the only school in the nation where that is possible. Lots of students go the military path; in fact, 35% of my class went active. Obligations After Graduation You might have noticed while investigating the USMMA that it is a Federal Service Academy. This is true; it is one of five Service Academies administered by the Federal government, along with West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force and Coast Guard Academies. Kings Point falls under the direction of the Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration (MARAD), and is funded by congressional budget. So, this means that the majority of your education at KP is paid for, excluding some minor student fees each year (although I believe these are being phased out). Tuition, room and board and stuff are all paid for by federal funding. This is a major advantage since you can get a great education for practically free, or certainly much less than you might spend at a private or state university. BUT, because Uncle Sam paid your way, you owe him some time after graduation. No matter what you do after you graduate, you will be required to maintain your ship’s officer license for a minimum of six years, which means re-testing for it at least once. If you choose to go active duty in the military, your time in active service fulfills your service requirements. If you opt for a maritime career, it is a little more complicated. No matter what, you owe a minimum of eight years in the Reserves of your choice (or the National Guard), and you will also be obligated to pursue a career in the maritime industry (and use that great education.) The standard path is to join the Navy Reserve, and unless you pursue another option, you will automatically become a Navy Reserve Officer upon graduation. In the Navy Reserve, you will become a part of the Strategic Sealift Officer Program – more on that later. As for your maritime career, if you find work on ships and use your Coast Guard issued license, this satisfies your commitment. If you want to work shoreside or, basically, any job that is not on a boat, you have to get specific permission from the Maritime Administration and prove that your career serves the nation in a maritime-related capacity. If you want to go to graduate school, you will need to get a similar permission. The exact requirements are more specific, but that’s the basics. Meeting them is not very difficult, certainly easier than paying off massive student loans. The time you will be required to give yearly to the Reserves is fairly minimal, and will not hold back your civilian career. If you choose to stay in the services beyond the minimum requirements, you could also be eligible for a retirement pension! An important note: The standard path in the Navy Reserves will incorporate you into a special group designed to make best use for the Navy of your specialized skills and knowledge as a licensed mariner. This branch of the Reserves is the Strategic Sealift Ready Reserve Group, and is now administered by the Military Sealift Command, a civilian part of the Navy that provides among many things underway support to US ships and to military installations around the globe. The major purpose behind the Strategic Sealift program, your post graduation obligations, and in fact the very founding ideas that Kings Point was created on, is to have a network of well qualified and

skilled mariners, who, in times of war or grave national emergency, can be activated to man US government or contracted supply ships, and safely deliver materials to war zones or disaster areas. For those who are already set to go to KP, your obligations will be explained to you in detail in the beginning of your first year, and you will have your next few years at KP to explore the several options. Personally, I wanted to pursue a career at sea after graduation, so I have chosen to participate in the Navy Reserves. I have had no difficulties meeting the participation requirements, and hope to be much more active in the future. The Life at Sea So those are the most important points to know before committing to an education at the USMMA. With all this talk about going to sea and working on ships, I guess you’d want to know what it’s like. In truth there is not quite as much romance to it that has been attributed to the sea over the years by lots of famous stories and writers. It is mostly a job like any other; you have a position with a certain set of responsibilities, you get a paycheck, you have a boss; there are risks to the job and times when the market is bad and times when it is good. But what makes the difference between a career on land, and a career at sea, is that your office floats. A ship on the ocean is a wildly dynamic and challenging environment, where sailors can often see both peril and beauty within a day’s time. It is not a job for everyone – the maritime lifestyle takes a unique personality that is rugged and adaptable, requiring the ability to work and bond closely with a small and often diverse crew, to be ready and alert to respond to any problems on the ship day or night, willing to follow orders from superiors, and to pull your weight to get the ship where it needs to go. Living on a ship does in many ways involve a sort of alternative lifestyle. The modern mariner is often a world traveler, a master of several different skills and trades, and has a very odd work schedule, alternating between living on and off the ship. While on the ship, everyone works every day, generally in shifts, so someone is always up and monitoring everything. Depending on the job, people might live aboard for several days, weeks, or up to months at a time, and are relieved for vacation by another person, who fills in the job until the other guy returns. Vacations can be long too, up to several months between working periods. Going back and forth between living on and off the ship often means a lot of travelling and flying to wherever work is. That’s not a bad deal, though, considering you never have to make that daily drive to work. Since there is no need to commute every day, while off the ship some people live near ports, while others might live in unique and obscure places. Some people spend all their off time travelling the world. Some may even have personal businesses they run while at home. Anyone working on a ship can expect to get dirty, and to often get wet; the work environment is one of the most dangerous you can get yourself into, but I suppose that is all part of the adventure. If you can deal with the work, you can expect to make some good money for it. Mariners can often bring in some healthy salaries, made better when you consider that while on the ship your needs are provided for. Life aboard the majority of vessels, however, is not like ‘Deadliest Catch.’ The accommodations on modern ships can be quite comfortable, with all the amenities of home, and often with delicious and plentiful food, three squares served daily. Internet access may be limited or unavailable; cell phones will not work out at sea, and calls made from foreign countries can often cost heavily. Because of the long times absent from home, it may take careful planning to keep your affairs arranged. Most companies now offer ship email addresses for the crew, so keeping in touch with family and friends on shore is easily possible. What is it Like at KP?? SO, to get to the question you probably want an answer for, what is KP really like? The best way to describe it that I can think of is a military school wrapped around a technical college, sitting next to the water. Every midshipman (student) is involved in the Regiment, sort of a full-time, high-charged ROTC program. Everyone lives on campus together in co-ed barracks (dorms), and the entire student body (the

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