Have you ever dreamed of sailing the seas and exploring the world? Do you have a passion for the maritime industry and a desire to become a licensed officer on a ship? If so, you might consider applying to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy (GLMA), the only freshwater maritime academy in the United States.
Located in Traverse City, Michigan, on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, the GLMA offers a unique and challenging education that prepares graduates for careers in the merchant marine, both on the Great Lakes and the oceans. In this article, I will share with you some of the history, features, and benefits of this prestigious institution, as well as some tips on how to get admitted.
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History of Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Michigan
The GLMA was established in 1969 as a maritime military college to train men and women to be licensed mariners on ships of unlimited tonnage or horsepower, including research vessels, cruise ships, freighters, tankers, and more. It is one of six state-operated maritime academies in the United States and the only one on fresh water. The academy is affiliated with Northwestern Michigan College, a public community college that offers a variety of academic programs and degrees.
The academy has undergone several changes and improvements over the years, such as the arrival of the 224-foot training ship, a former Navy vessel, now named the T/S State of Michigan, in 2002, the construction of a new facility and harbor in 2003-2005, and the addition of a bachelor’s degree in maritime technology in 2010. The academy also has a strong alumni network that supports the current cadets and the school’s mission.
How to Get Admission into Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Michigan
Getting into the GLMA is not a walk in the park. It is a highly competitive and selective process that requires a lot of preparation and dedication. The academy only accepts about 60 new cadets out of hundreds of applicants each year. To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Be at least 17 years old and not older than 25 by July 1 of the year of admission
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent
- Have a minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale
- Have a minimum ACT score of 21 or SAT score of 1060
- Pass a physical examination and a drug test
- Obtain a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Obtain a nomination from a U.S. senator or representative, a state governor, or the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
The nomination requirement is one of the most challenging aspects of the admission process. You must contact the offices of your potential nominators and request an application. You must also submit a personal statement, letters of recommendation, transcripts, test scores, and other documents to support your candidacy. The nominators will then review your application and select the best candidates to nominate. You can apply for multiple nominations, but you only need one to be considered for admission. The deadline for nomination applications is usually in October or November of the year before admission.
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If you receive a nomination, you will be invited to complete the GLMA application, including an essay, a resume, and a $35 fee. You will also be scheduled for an interview with the academy’s staff in person or via video conference. The interview is an opportunity for you to showcase your personality, motivation, and suitability for the academy. You should dress professionally, be prepared to answer questions about yourself, your goals, and your interest in the maritime industry, and ask questions about the academy and the program. The deadline for the GLMA application is usually in January of the year of admission.
The admission committee will review your application and interview results and decide by March. You will receive a letter informing you of your acceptance, rejection, or waitlist status. If accepted, you must confirm your enrollment by May 1 and pay a $500 deposit. You will also have to complete additional steps, such as obtaining a U.S. passport, a merchant mariner credential, and a student visa (if applicable). You will also have to attend a mandatory orientation session in June, where you will meet your classmates, instructors, and staff and learn about the academy’s rules, regulations, and expectations.
As you can see, the admission process is quite rigorous and demanding, but it is also rewarding and worthwhile. If you are passionate about pursuing a maritime career and have the academic and personal qualities to succeed, you should give it a shot. Here are some tips to help you prepare and increase your chances of getting admitted:
- Start early. The earlier you start preparing, the better. You should research the academy and the industry, contact your potential nominators, take the required tests, and gather the necessary documents as soon as possible. This will give you more time to polish your application and avoid delays or mistakes.
- Study hard. The academy seeks academically strong candidates who can handle the challenging curriculum and the demanding schedule. It would be best to strive to maintain a high GPA and improve your test scores. You should also take courses relevant to the maritime field, such as math, science, and engineering.
- Get involved. The academy also seeks well-rounded candidates with leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. You should participate in extracurricular activities demonstrating your interests, talents, and abilities. You should also seek out opportunities to volunteer, work, or intern in the maritime industry or related fields, such as boating, sailing, or environmental conservation.
- Be yourself. The academy is looking for candidates with a genuine passion for the maritime industry and a clear vision of their career goals. You should be honest, confident, and enthusiastic in your application and interview. You should also showcase your personality, values, and achievements and explain why you want to attend the academy and what you can contribute to the school and the community.
Tuition Fees at Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Michigan
The tuition and fees for the GLMA vary depending on your residency status and the program you choose. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the tuition and fees for Michigan residents were $11,870 per year for the deck officer program and $12,870 per year for the engineering officer program. For non-residents, the tuition and fees were $17,870 per year for the deck officer program and $18,870 per year for the engineering officer program. These amounts do not include other expenses, such as books, supplies, uniforms, room and board, and travel.
The GLMA offers several financial aid options to help students cover the cost of attendance, such as scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study. Some scholarships are merit-based, while others are need-based or specific to the maritime field. The academy itself offers some of the scholarships. In contrast, external organizations offer others, such as the Propeller Club, the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association, and the American Merchant Marine Veterans.
The academy also participates in the Federal Student Aid (FSA) program, which provides various aid forms to eligible students, such as the Pell Grant, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Direct Loan, and the Parent PLUS Loan. To apply for financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the GLMA Financial Aid Application by the deadline.
Great Lakes Maritime Academy Rankings
The GLMA is widely recognized as one of the best maritime academies in the nation and the world. It has been ranked among the top 10 maritime colleges by several publications and websites, such as the Maritime Executive, the Marine Insight, and the Seaman Portal. The Higher Learning Commission and the International Maritime Organization have also accredited it. The academy’s graduates have a high employment rate and earning potential in the maritime industry. According to the academy’s website, the average starting salary for a GLMA graduate is $70,000 per year, and the average salary after five years is $120,000 per year.
The GLMA offers two academic programs: the deck officer program and the engineering officer program. Both are four-year bachelor’s degree programs combining classroom instruction, laboratory training, simulation exercises, and sea time. Both programs also require cadets to complete general education courses and electives from Northwestern Michigan College. The programs are designed to prepare cadets for the U.S. Coast Guard license examination and the maritime industry standards.
The deck officer program prepares cadets to be ship officers who manage the vessel’s navigation, operation, and safety. The program teaches seamanship, ship handling, navigation, cargo operations, maritime law, and maritime security. The program has two tracks: the Great Lakes track and the Oceans track. The Great Lakes track covers the specific rules and regulations of the Great Lakes region, while the Oceans track covers the global aspects of the maritime industry. Cadets who finish the program get a Bachelor of Science degree in Maritime Technology and a U.S. Coast Guard license as a Third Mate or a First Class Pilot of Great Lakes and Oceans.
The engineering officer program trains cadets to become engineers or mechanics on ships, responsible for the maintenance, repair, and operation of the ship’s engine and mechanical systems. The program covers thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, electrical systems, diesel engines, and steam.