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MomGlows
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« on: Oct 17, 2005, 11:27 »

Hi,
My son, 17, senior in high school, decided a few months ago he wants to join the Navy. He contacted the recruiter.
We knew nothing about the Navy when we started the process, and had never heard of the nuke program until a couple of weeks ago. He took the asvab, 83 and they suggested he take the nuke test, got a 62. He looked into it a bit further and has decided that's what he wants to do.
He's a good kid, never any trouble no drugs/drinking. His GPA right now is a 3.86 I believe, but he does work for it. He takes calc, 2nd yr chem, but there are no advanced placement classes in his high school.
He's one of those likable kids, friends with all, hard worker. He had a summer job doing maintanance at a golf course (labor intensive) and did it with a smile, albeit a fake one at times. Got along with some of the jerks that worked there, never late. Good work ethic. PLayed on the high school golf team ( first hole in one at age 16!)

So I'm reading these threads, and all I'm finding is that the people in the nuke school now, or in the past have been the underachievers, seems to me because of boredom because they are/were so smart. Kids that didn't really have to study to get by.

We are questioning whether the nuke school may be too tough for our son. Granted, I can't see why the Navy would put so much time and money into someone they didn't think could do it, but he doesn't seem to be like those I'm reading about here.
He doesn't want to be an officer.He does not want to be a leader he says. He said he's joining because of duty and he wants to see things he might not see any other way. He said he'd be happy being a cook, but understands why he is obligated to use the gifts he was given to serve his country.

So, are we worrying for nothing? For those of you who have gone through the program, were there people there like him, good solid performer but not one of the 'genuises?'  

He wants to do it, but honestly at this point, I don't think he'd be devastated if forced to do something else. He's 17, he will realize the opportunity that has been offered him as he matures, and I know he will do his best to make it in the nuke program, but I don't want to see him set up for failure. We have guided him through the process, but let him make his own decisions without knowing our personal preferences. If he went to nuke school, and had to quit, what are his options then?

Any insight would be helpful, if only to ease a mom's worrying mind.
(he is not writing this because he does not know of our concern)
« Last Edit: Oct 17, 2005, 11:39 by MomGlows » Logged
ageoldtech
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« Reply #1 on: Oct 17, 2005, 12:00 »

MomGlows, my son is 18 years old, and on his 18th birthday decided that he wanted to join the Marine Corps. He did this own his own. This was 5 month ago, he has now changed his mind and does not want to go. It is too late for him, he has taken his oath. If he backs out now it will stay on his record. I guess what Im trying to say is your son is young, like mine; he may never be sure what he wants to do. One thing is for sure he can join the navy any old time. Does he have a scholarship to any university / trade school etc. My son may have made another decision had he took the time to review his options. Teens do make bad decisions, hind sight is 20/20.
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Shonkatoys
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« Reply #2 on: Oct 17, 2005, 12:06 »

I was a executive officer for a training company and found that most people with the GPA your son has can make it if they just put forth some effort.  I would also look at his ASVAB scores.  This will also indicate if he will make it or not.  If he has a few low scores but still barely makes it then I would worry a little more, I had some people I thought were trying but failed and noticed they had marginal ASVAB scores.  I was a Nuclear Officer in the army  but think this would apply to the navy as well.  The Army if you fail will reclass as to their needs and I would guess the Navy would too.  I had one guy reclassed as Grave registrations.  No one else failed in his class.  He also did not get his 5000 dollar bonus for passing the class.   Check to see if the navy has a bonus for passing the class.  this will be extra incentive to pass.  Sometimes the recruiter does not mention bonuses.  Check around and talk to more than one recruiter and always get anything in writing.  Make sure you get the best bonus for passing if available.  Some recruiters are smarter and care more than others.
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« Reply #3 on: Oct 17, 2005, 12:40 »

MomGlows, my son is 18 years old, and on his 18th birthday decided that he wanted to join the Marine Corps. He did this own his own. This was 5 month ago, he has now changed his mind and does not want to go. It is too late for him, he has taken his oath. If he backs out now it will stay on his record. I guess what Im trying to say is your son is young, like mine; he may never be sure what he wants to do. One thing is for sure he can join the navy any old time. Does he have a scholarship to any university / trade school etc. My son may have made another decision had he took the time to review his options. Teens do make bad decisions, hind sight is 20/20.


Is your son already actively in the Marines? If he's waiting in DEP he can back out anytime he wants.

Mike
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taterhead
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« Reply #4 on: Oct 17, 2005, 02:00 »


We are questioning whether the nuke school may be too tough for our son. Granted, I can't see why the Navy would put so much time and money into someone they didn't think could do it, but he doesn't seem to be like those I'm reading about here.

He doesn't want to be an officer.He does not want to be a leader he says.

So, are we worrying for nothing? For those of you who have gone through the program, were there people there like him, good solid performer but not one of the 'genuises?'  


Ok.

First, your son is smart enough.  Much of one's success in the Navy Nuclear Power School is dependent upon motivation.  That is a word you hear all the time in the Navy, and there is a good reason.  He passed the tests, he will most likely have no problem.  I would say that staying motivated is half the battle.  Its the lazy ones who generally ended up flunking out.  I am TERRIBLE at math, chemistry, and physics.  I am a humanities guy.  However, I was focused, and I did fine in the pipeline.  There were many like me. 

Second, to enlist because he doesn't want to lead is faulty reasoning.  Enlisted sailors lead enlisted sailors.  He WILL be put into a leadership role at some point in his career.  The faster he advances or more motivated he is, the more likely he will lead early in his career.  Take nothing away from the Officers, but they are not the first or even second line of leadership.  They do lead, but in a macro capacity.  Their responsibilities are different, sometimes more administrative.  Again, he will be put in charge of other sailors at some point in his career, possibly as early as boot camp.

« Last Edit: Oct 17, 2005, 02:01 by taterhead » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: Oct 17, 2005, 11:43 »

Momglows, I wholeheartedly agree with Taterhead. Sounds like a good kid & hard working. Work ethic is by far the most important assest for success in this career. Additionally, the fact that he tends to stay out of trouble and has integrity will go a long way.

Listen, I basically did 20-some years ago what your son is about to do. There are no guarantees; lots of forks in the road that if the wrong choice is made, failure can result. I was fortunate and I'm glad I stayed with a nuclear career, but who knows what would've happened had I not been so fortunate? There are many paths to success, and every one of those paths takes commitment & dedication; which your son apparently has. I guess my point is, even if for some reason he does not make it through the program, whatever other path he takes can also to lead to success.

I remember failing my first exam in Navy nuclear power school. I remember it being devastating at the time because I thought there was no way I'd make it. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me -- forced me to re-double my efforts. I protected my career by working my ass off. I still try to do that to this day. And it IS worth it.

And after all, let's face it -- we aren't talking about sending him off to MIT or Cal Tech. The Navy nuke power program is tough and fast-paced, but it doesn't require genius-level abilities. Practical sense is important too; Navy and commercial nukes do not want little Einsteins running power plants. He'll make it if he wants to.

Good luck to him and to you,
Matt
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« Reply #6 on: Oct 18, 2005, 06:28 »

I think the question is not can he pass, it is does he really want to be a Nuke.  I this field he will have a lot of responsibility.  He will lead people.  He will be under pressure.  He may have to make critical decisions.  We are still at war.  If he would be just as happy being a cook, maybe he should rethink what he is doing.  He needs to be committed 100%, and want to do it.  He wants to use this as an opportunity to see things he otherwise might not.  He may not see what he is expecting.

Can he pass the program?  It sounds like it.  Does he know what he is getting into?  I'm not so sure.  Get him on here and let him ask questions about the basic, about school, about the job.  Talk to people and make sure he is making an informed decision.
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« Reply #7 on: Oct 18, 2005, 07:24 »

So I'm reading these threads, and all I'm finding is that the people in the nuke school now, or in the past have been the underachievers, seems to me because of boredom because they are/were so smart. Kids that didn't really have to study to get by.

Perhaps the underachievers are more vocal, and the 'stand up & tow the line' guys are not as vocal.
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Rad Sponge
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« Reply #8 on: Oct 18, 2005, 07:31 »

Does he know what he if getting in to?

Like who does? How many of us knew exactly what being a nuke meant? For that matter, how many of us had a shred of a shred of a shred of a shred of a clue about the Navy for that matter?

I bet 7:1 most of us had no concept of what it all would mean.

Being a cook?

Then why join?  Rrole down to the local Chilis and get a job.

Your boy will do just fine. He has to learn over the next year how to be independent, good with money, personally responsible for getting up on time, getting to all appointments 15-20 minutes early, keeping clothes cleaned-pressed, shoes shined, etc. All the stuff most American kids are clueless of.

All the nuke stuff is easy, its been done before, like over 100,000 Nuke school graduates to date, the system is designed for graduation, just insert brain and motivation. I say this is 25% of the total program.

The other 75% is the "welcome to adulthood" stuff. Little sonny boy will not have you and Daddy and sissie and bro etc etc. He will have himself.

True your son is entering a great system of support, but he will have to meet his leadership more than half-way, like 2/3 way at best, sometimes all the way if he really wants something.

So basically over the next year:

1. Set up banking accounts (Checking, Savings, etc) w/ direct deposit (have to have dirert deposit)

2. Set up a system of saving (Savings Bonds, learn about TSP at tsp.gov)

3. Teach him to balance a check book

4. Teach him to use credit wisely

5. Teach him how to maintain a household (Remember, he will have to have his own place during prototype)

6. I would visit Charleston, SC during the summer. See if you can arrange a tour through the Nuke Recruiter. Scout out the area.

7. Remind him that underage drinking and illegal drug use is the fastest way to fail out of nuke school and be chipping paint off the side of an old Oiler in the middle of the Persian Gulf soon after that little sip or hit of Xctasy OR a quick trip to a dishonarable discharge and f-ing up the rest of his life.

8. Remind him that there are many slutty, sleazey, hometown, dropout, single momma, good time, find-a-man, trashy, ho-bags all over Charleston and densely populated around a base full of young men guaranteed bonuses, healthcare, housing, food, diapers, childcare, maternity care, and oh yeah, A FAT PAYCHECK with embedded tax breaks. Don't think the local population is unsure of what nukes make.

This is NOT like sending your boy to college. He will be up well before the crack of dawn most days and will not be done studying until after the sun has long gone down.

I would say the family support was essential for me getting through. Because I had f'd up in college, I wanted to prove my worth to my parents, so I called them after every test to tell them how well I did (or poor-math sucked and so did physics 1-2). But they encouraged me and I got through.

Good luck






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shayne
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« Reply #9 on: Oct 18, 2005, 08:05 »

Perhaps the underachievers are more vocal, and the 'stand up & tow the line' guys are not as vocal.

Very true.  As of the year 2000, there have been over 100,000 nukes pass through the program.   Many of them were not underachievers.  Many of us spent hours at school studying and getting help from the instructors to make it through the program and were quite successful in the fleet as nuclear operators. 

Although your son may find it challenging, I'm sure as you describe him, he should have the right attitude, ethics, and study habits to make it though the program. 
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« Reply #10 on: Oct 18, 2005, 03:23 »

have him shoot for ELT, (RP and Chem) then lead. Ive worked with dozens of them and they seem to move ahead in the nuke power world. some are real sphinteroids but thats life.
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« Reply #11 on: Oct 19, 2005, 08:13 »

Sounds like some good advice so far.  I was one of the under achievers you were talking about (1.88 HS GPA).  I took all of the college prep courses in HS but simply let myself get distracted... that was 20 years ago.
 
I had a 94 in the ASVAB and a 52 on the NFQT test and did well in the nuclear pipeline. The minimum for the NFQT was a 49 at the time and my score wasn't exactly impressing anyone. I was a class leader in 'A' school, Nuclear Power School and later selected as a Staff Instructor for ~3 years at prototype.  It was less to do with knowledge and ability as it was for drive and motivation. This career requires many countless hours of studying that still occurs to this day.  I learned something about myself as your son will learn as well.  I learned I performed well under-pressure and the nuke program was just right for me.
 
I took full advantage of the nuclear navy and only stayed in for 6 years.  I felt staying longer than my minimum obligation wasn't to my benefit.
 
I've spent the balance of my nuclear career at two different commercial power plants operations department and obtained both a BWR and PWR SRO License (not sure how much you know about our community... just ask if you have questions)..
 
The opportunities are limitless and I do not regret my decisions.
 
Also, I was involved in hiring Navy Nukes for entry level jobs in operations and hired based on drive, motivation and attitude and paid less attention to how smart they were.  A Navy nuke is by definition smart enough.
 
I would tell your son that joining the nuclear navy is what you make of it but it sounds like your son would make a good nuke.
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« Reply #12 on: Oct 20, 2005, 03:05 »

There are a lot of reasons that smart kids can be underachievers, and not all of them are bad in themselves.
I know that I was an underachiever in High School because I got bored and lazy.  I didn't have to try hard to get by.  To me, getting by was good enough.  I never even attempted to pull off a 3.86 and take calculus - never mind AP (which didn't exist then anyway).
I didn't try because I had no delusions of ever getting into a college.  College was for people who could afford to pay for it, those who could excel at sports, or those who were so academically talented (nothing to do with being intelligent or even with being hard workers) that they could get academic scholarships.  Being smarter than average didn't give me the flair for outstanding school performance, it just made it possible for me to pass tests without studying.
The Navy nuke program was good for me because it was challenging but not impossible.  It was the first time I was ever motivated to give my best effort to studying and learning.  For the first time, getting by was not my ultimate goal.  Lots of other guys in my class struggled.  Some of them passed, and some failed.  Others never had to try at all.  They passed with barely any effort.  Essentially, they continued where I left off as an underachiever.
Maybe the term "underachiever" is too derogatory.  In my opinion, it is someone who does anything with ease.  I guess I just figure that when something is easy, and you don't challenge yourself with something more difficult, you are an underachiever.  Of course, by that definition anyone who retires after his first hundred million could fall into the category.  By the same token, your son does not fit the description.  He is doing well, and he is doing it by putting in some effort.  He sounds like the guy I wished that I was.
So, when I say that the Navy nuke program is for intelligent underachievers, I don't mean it is a refuge for losers.  I mean it is a good opportunity for those who have the ability to succeed at college but (for whatever reason) don't get into one.
By the way, the fact that your son works at getting good grades is not an indication that he is of mediocre intelligence.  The correlation between grades and cognitive ability is not linear.  Some very smart people struggle to pass courses that some average folks sail right through.  There is a level of talent involved in this school thing - and that's probably more important than either effort or intelligence.  After all, school is supposed to prepare you for life - and people should do what they do well.

Anyway, if he's a smart kid, knows how to study, wants to do this Navy nuke thing, and they want him in it... he's got a really good chance of coming out on top.
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« Reply #13 on: Oct 20, 2005, 04:35 »

Oh yeah I almost forgot,

Living with fellow sailors could be a risky endeavor.

So in terms of living on his own:

1. After you set him straight financially...
2. Go over leases and lease-break clauses. Most apartment businesses around Goose Creek, SC have oodles of experience with Sailors and have full knowledge of military rights to break leases without penalty given official orders out of town.
3. He of course will need first, last, security deposit, renters insurance (VERY IMPORTANT), so I suggest he save his cash during A-School and Power School and find a nice place ALL TO HIS OWN.
4. Also keep in mind that the less crap he owns the better, so I suggest finding a furnished place. I was able to move from Orlando to Goose Creek (student) to Staff student to King's Bay all in my little Ford Ranger. It was a blessing in disguise because WHY WASTE PRECIOUS LEAVE BETWEEN DUTY STATIONS TO MOVE, especially if you are single and just finished school.
5. I also suggest having no more than I roommate and that roommate should hopefully be someone he has known since Boot Camp or A-School and trusts and has similar values. Why?

Well, us current and former nuke students are/were under tremendous pressure and when under pressure we act and behave in ways sometimes contrary to common sense normality and completely illogically  (I can't explain it, but trust me). So, sometimes these bright people do really dumb stuff like have underage drinking parties, invite over people other than nukes, etc etc and can really get into trouble. So I suggest your boy have is own place with a deadbolt on his own bedroom door and renters insurance et al AND have no more than one roommate. I prefer SOLO.

But, having roommates means having people to wake your ass up if you oversleep and back you up in other ways, so there are good things too. During Proto I had 2 roomies who were very decent people. During ELT school I was in my own place and as a SPU I had my own place.

If he wants to party, go to someone else's place. Easy.

Then, after he saves up all kinds of cash and prizes, graduates, and goes to his first duty station....

Well, we can get to that.



« Last Edit: Oct 20, 2005, 09:19 by Nuclear NASCAR » Logged
MomGlows
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« Reply #14 on: Oct 21, 2005, 10:11 »

Wow, thanks for all the adivice. I was a little leery of posting, wasn't sure how an ol' worried mom would be welcomed  Smiley
Couple of things in response to comments made (I saw the ones that were pulled, but can't remember them, sorry):
I only used the word 'underachiever' because I read quite a few threads here and it seems many considered themselves underachievers in high school. Believe me, I know what you mean. It was not meant to be derogatory.

He is joining the Navy because he wants to, not because he has no other option. He has a 2 yr scholarship to the local community college, where he could go until he decided what he wanted to do, and then there is enough $ set aside for 2 yrs to finsih a degree. In fact I told the recruiter that though the educational benefits were nice, and he would most likely take advantage of them, they were not really a part of his decision.

I made the comment about him not minding being a cook because his main motivation is to join the Navy. The nuke thing was presented to him after he made that decision. He essentially is still a kid and hadn't really thought ahead 6-8 yrs. His father and I talked to him and explained why he has to. And why 'we' thought he should work at something where he could contribute his talents. Though he makes a pretty good lasagne LOL. He has thought about this as much as a normal 17 yr old can, but it's true as one poster said, he really doesn't know what he's getting into. He has to rely on what others tell him and then sort through it all. He did sign the papers  a couple of days ago, so he is in the nuke program now. Will he succeed? Of course as his parent I hope so. But it seems even if he doesn't, they will retrain him for something else rather than just make him a janitor. However, I am in no way suggesting janitors are not important in the grand scheme of things. every position is part of the team. We just don't want him to waste the brain he was given. Hope that makes sense.

I realize, and he will eventually, that if he stays in the Navy he will be a leader, maybe sooner than later. It's just that I read posts here from parents/kids whose goal is to become an officer. Well, that's not my son's goal. I'm going to show him these posts, I think the one that said he WILL end up being a leader will open his eyes a bit. Hopefully he will like what he sees.

The post with the practical advice was very helpful. It's all stuff we  work on, but admittedly we're going to have to speed up the process a bit. Our other two kids stayed at home during their first 2 yrs of college, so we could help them step by step.

He's finding out the more people that find out about his plans, the more people there are to talk to. We live about 10 miles from DavisBesse so there are lots of retirees and folks still employed there. Everyone seems to know someone who works there, and most of them seem to have been in the Navy. I even called them and talked to the HR gal about employment opportunities, requirements. She said they are looking for operators now, and someone with 4 yrs in the military with nuke experience would be qualified. By the end of the first year, they are making almost as much as my husband does out at the refinery. We've always felt it's our job to send the kids off with the ability to take care of themselves, not the ability to be millioniares. That they have to do themselves.

Obviously we are a blue collar family, so our son has seen what can be gained from hard work. We'll see how far that takes him.

He's still in DEP so we have a while before he leaves. I know it will go by much too quickly.
I have a feeling he will be here reading  when he gets the opportunity, thanks for taking the time to help us, both here and in private.



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« Reply #15 on: Oct 21, 2005, 01:32 »

Just FYI, for a little while, your son will be a glorified janitor.  The Navy doesn't hire people just for this purpose, so while he is new at his command he will become very intimate with cleaning.  Just a fact of life that all of us have to go through untill we are qualified.  This does not depend on what rate he is or if he is a nuke or not.  It also will start the moment he gets to boot camp and will last at least untill he gets to his ship about 2 years later.  This doesn't mean he won't be doing his job also though.  It's just an added responsibility, and if they have trouble getting him his security clearance, it could be his job for a while.  But just keep in mind that its not permanent.

MM2
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« Reply #16 on: Oct 21, 2005, 06:06 »

LOL

 MM2,  I remember when I was an MM2 and saying to a fellow sailor as I was cleaning the bathroom on my ship, " I work on and operate a multi-million dollar reactor and within the span of 5 minutes go right into cleaning a urinal in berthing".

Brings back fond memories.
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« Reply #17 on: Oct 22, 2005, 09:31 »

MomGlows, what town do you live in? I'm from that area.

I'm ex Navy, did 6 years as a Machinist's Mate the last two of which I was an ELT. Since then I'm worked as a Non Licensed Operator, Reactor Operator, Control Tom Supervisor. Shift Manager and a part time instructor (All at a BWR) Now I'm working towards becoming a Shift Manager at a PWR.

I owe every bit of it to the Nuke Power program, it's well worth the effort.

If you or your son would liked to talk about it a bit more PM me, or email me, I'll send you my phone number.

Mike
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