Advice needed for DS

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by LB91, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. LB91

    LB91 Member

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    DS is a senior this year. All he has talked about from 9th-11th grade was attending the USAFA. This summer he got accepted and attended Summer Seminar. It's all he talked about for about 3 weeks after he got home.

    Over the summer, he started his application online, wrote his essays, practiced for the CFA and went for his DoDMERB physicals (passed). As of today, the different online forms for his application are complete - he just needs to click the submit button on each.

    The issue? He now says he doesn't want to apply to the academy. Not sure what has changed, and he doesn't give a specific reason, except he says he no longer wants to apply. We told him to consider submitting everything in case he changes his mind - I told him that he can always turn down the appointment if he receives one, but if he doesn't submit his forms, he won't have that option. I know he has time to submit, but the clock is ticking on his nomination packets, which he hasn't started.

    Any advice? Should we keep encouraging him or just let it go?
     
  2. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    Before deciding what you should do, I'd find out what happened to cause him to change his mind. Certainly if he doesn't want to attend the USAFA then you shouldn't make him apply, but I think you need to find out why he changed his mind.
     
  3. McCoy

    McCoy Member

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    I agree, I can't imagine why he'd change his mind? :confused::confused::confused::confused:
     
  4. lotsofbooks

    lotsofbooks Member

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    If he doesn't want to do the application, that's your answer. For my older d. I advised her to apply to two academies since it's so much work and the second academy isn't that much more difficult than doing the first one.

    After all that was over she wasn't interested in applying to regular colleges. I felt compelled to give her more options if she needed them. My husband and I did a lot of the leg work for the local U and a few others. She got in, and we had a spot for her in case she didn't finish the BCT. We got kind of attached to some of those colleges, looking over all the information.

    We observed that she had no interest in those colleges that we had worked so hard on the apps. (in those days the common app was free--it made it easier to do a more) It was important for us to make her feel she had another spot if she changed her mind and didn't want a SA. Never did want a different spot, she did think of taking a "gap year" but decided not to.

    Anyway, while she was at school someone on her "dorm floor" shot himself in the middle of the night and it was horrible for everyone. I also believe someone (maybe the same person) jumped out a window, but survived.

    My d. had a wonderful experience at the AFA. She thinks she emerged a better person along with the obvious-- getting the degree and the commission. She thinks her sister as well as many other people should go too. I keep telling her---"I don't want to send anyone who's going to jump out a window. "

    I hope she'll keep that in mind when she has her own children!
     
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Try and prepare a time where you can "SCHEDULE" a time to talk to him about this. Don't make it a "Parent/Son" topic. Let him know it's an "Adult/Adult" conversation. Let him know that you simply want to ensure that his knows ALL of his options and consequences with his choices. Also, that you simply want to know why he has had a change of heart. But don't let him try and explain himself to you at this time. This is simply a time to SCHEDULE a time to discuss it. Treat him like a co-worker or friend; NOT your son/baby boy. Schedule it on the weekend. "This coming weekend". "If he's interested in Football, maybe you can watch the Air Force vs Wyoming football game together and have your discussion afterward. Whatever/whenever the time, "SCHEDULE" it.

    Then, make yourself a list of questions and points you want to make. First point you want to make is that even if he applies, and even if he is accepted, he can TURN DOWN the academy. Not just up to the day he reports in June, but that he can change his mind at any time for the next 2 years of being at the academy. Until he starts school his junior year, he can change his mind. And it's not a wast, because Air Force is a premier university in the country, and just about every university in the country will accept his 2 years of credits. So it's a no lose situation to submit his application.

    Then, have questions lined up. Not only for YOUR concerns, but also so HE can HEAR HIMSELF say the answers.

    1. What do you want to do/be when you grow up?
    2. What kind of education will that require?
    3. What schools can provide such an education?
    4. Does the air force academy not offer such an education or job experience?
    5. Why have you changed you mind about applying to the air force academy?
    6. How do you plan on paying for your alternate means of education?

    Add some more questions. Even if you've asked these questions before, you need to ask it in a more formal, yet neutral environment. Not as a parent/son. Almost like a guidance counselor. Get him to provide answers and feedback. It could be "emotional" issues. A girlfriend issue. Watching the news and seeing clips of Afghanistan and reading of dead soldiers. Maybe another adult who spent time in the military and told him war stories. Try and find out the answers to your questions.

    Then, DON'T RESPOND immediately to the answers. It will appear like you're ganging up on him. Let him know that you appreciate him opening up to you. Let him know that you are impressed that he put a lot of thought to this issue and his future. Let him know that you are proud of him for discussing and confronting this issue like an adult.

    Then; get him to agree to one more meeting. Preferably at least 2 days later, but not too long. Tell him you need a day or two to digest his position and perspective. Let him know you'd like to chat once more in case you have additional questions. Continue treating him as an adult. This decision is an ADULT DECISION.... It's not a decision that a "Child" makes.

    Then, when you chat again in a couple days, you'll either have more questions based on his prior responses, or you won't. See if he's changed at all. See if he understands the positives to applying and being able to say no at any time in the next 2+ years. Make sure he understands the importance of continuing with his educational plans. Then, he either wants to think more about the academy, or possibly apply and play it by ear, or he doesn't want anything more to do with it. WHATEVER HIS DECISION. Let him know how proud you are that he thought it through maturely and not spontaneously like a child would. And if he chooses to not pursue the application, remind him that when he's choosing a college/university, he might want to consider one that has an ROTC program in case he has a change of mind. Or, that after graduating college, non-military oriented, that he could still apply to go to OTS. (It's like enlisting, except for people with a college degree and want to be an officer). Let him know that there are still some military options if he changes his mind later.

    Best of luck to you. Mike....
     
  6. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    I'd definitely ask him if he is even still interested in becoming an Air Force officer? Maybe he just wants to attend a civilian college and doesn't want the lifestyle that comes with the USAFA. Perhaps the AFROTC or OCS might be a better path if he is still interested in becoming a professional AF officer.
     
  7. Gasdoc

    Gasdoc Member

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    This is a tough one...at the core is what caused him to falter at this point in the process. Keep in mind that if he's not doing this for himself, if he's personally not "all in," then attending a service academy can be a bad choice. It's just to much work if your heart is not in it. Don't get me wrong, for the right kid, it can be a great place, but every cadet needs to have the self-determination to carry them through some tough times. To experience the highs they have to cope with the lows, and in that regard there is really no comparison to other colleges or universities. The United States Air Force Academy is an amazing institution, but it shouldn't be confused with a college. There are more differences than similarities, and that includes the rigor of the academic programs.
     
  8. Farleigh85

    Farleigh85 Member

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    I guess if it were my son, I would inquire about Plan "B" and help him prepare for that. I would also remind him that he still has about five years to reconsider. If he was interested once, there is always a chance that he might become interested again. I wouldn't press him toward it now if he is set against it, and I would try hard not to make him feel like he was disappointing me by not applying this year. But that's me.
     
  9. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Our DS was kind of like your DS.

    All summer long it was AFA 1st, and then the following 4. This existed for the entire fall. He got all 3 MOC noms, and a Presidential. His father and I had just assumed he would go to the AFA if given the apptmt.

    In early Feb. he received his acceptance to UMDCP Scholars. We started to see the struggle in him. We sat him down and asked why the AFA? NOTICE, we asked why the AFA, not why not the AFA.

    His answer:
    1. Best chance of UPT
    2. Free education.

    We responded if you could get UPT and the cost was not an issue where would you go?

    He said UMDCP. 2 days later Bullet drove DS 6 hours each way to meet with the AFROTC commander at UMDCP, 1 hour later they were at the Bursar's paying the deposit. He removed his name from the nom list that Monday, which was weeks before the files closed.

    People were shocked that we allowed our son to do this. We never thought twice. His reasons for going AFROTC scholarship made sense for our DS.
    Here were his reasons:

    1. He wanted to enjoy college life because he intends to do 20 yrs AD. He felt this was the last chance to be XYZ, the student, the kid.

    2. He had spent the 1st 18 yrs of his life as an ADAF child. His whole life was tied to the AF, and he never experienced what it was like to be a civilian, not Lt. Col XYZ's son.

    3. We were incredibly hard on him during those months...again something we were criticized for up and down this board by some posters. We made him exercise every day, regardless of work and school or the weather. Stinks to run in the rain at 5:30 a.m., but he did it. We made him make his bed and have his room tip top shape, if not, when he was at school I went in and dumped everything on the floor (exclusion was Fri-Sun). We made him sit at the dinner table at attention, 7 inches away, and chew only 7 bites. We made him recite the school lunch menu for the next 3 days. To us we gave him just a small taste of C4C yr. Our belief was if you are going to get an attitude about this with us, guess what life will suck for you next yr. He understood it was done with love.

    It may have been unorthodox, but did make him think if he was ready for this life.

    4. His college program was what he wanted. He scored a 720 on his Math SAT, was in Calc, and AP Physics, but absolutely hated it. We showed him the core curriculum required at AFA, and he didn't want to spend four yrs taking more Math and Science classes. His program at UMDCP was his dream Govt and Intl. Politics, and would allow him to intern on the Hill.

    5. He admitted he was not ready to move across the country. (we are on the east coast). He had attended 9 public schools in his academic life, and he just wanted to lay his roots down near home because again he knew in 4 yrs he would belong to the AF, and for now, 90 minutes away was about far enough.

    I am sharing this because as you can see he had no one reason, it was multiple reasons. Your DS could be like ours, it could be a lot of reasons. It might be one, it might be ten, but tell him. I don't care if you go to the AFA or you don't. My job as a parent is to do everything in my life so you don't say 1 or 10 yrs from now...WHAT IF? You need to explain to me the reason why you won't say What If?

    OBTW Bullet JR has no regrets in his choice. He doesn't ask what if? That is the most important thing to his father and I. All 3 of us agree, had he gone to the AFA we aren't sure he would have made it through or if he would have been happy there.

    For many this sounds off the wall, but for us that was our path.

    FWIW, We also informed the det commander that he was applying to the AFA. The commander told our DS, that if he decided anytime during his college career he wanted to go to the AFA he would sponsor him. For the past 3 yrs., the commander has called in our DS in Sept (did it this past week) and asked him personally will you be applying for the AFA. DS has turned down his offer 3x. Fairleigh is correct, it is not an all or nothing issue, there is still options in the future, just make sure if he goes AFROTC he informs the command at the earliest opportunity.
     
  10. LB91

    LB91 Member

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    Thanks for all the good advice.

    So far he hasn't given a reason why - other than "I don't think I want to anymore". All the application work is done, he just needs to submit it. He still has interest in serving his country in the AF and has applied for an AFROTC scholarship.

    His ALO happened to call last night, but he didn't share any info on the conversation, so I'm not sure what they discussed. But we'll definitely schedule a conversation for this weekend.
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Start from there. This is just an off the cuff thought, but I am guessing 1 of 2 things.

    1. Fear of the unknown.

    2. Second thoughts

    ~ All of his friends are discussing where they are applying to, and for guys a lot also comes down to silly things like sports (nationally ranked team) and social life.

    What is running through his mind is that while they are hanging out and ordering pizza after the game, his weekend passes may be tied to if they win.

    He is a kid, they traditionally do not have long term vision. BCT is a daunting thought to anyone, including parents, he got a mini taste at SLS. The thought that his life will be at the mercy of the AFA is frightening for a 17 yo. It is just so much easier to take the ROTC route and have both worlds.

    It is important you decipher this through his own words. Is he opting this route out of fear? Maybe, he is afraid he won't get the noms or the appt. Maybe, he feels that he is just not ready to give 24/7, but he is ready to commit. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying I am willing to commit, but just not at the level needed for AFA.

    Listen to the under tone of the conversation. Something as simple as him saying yesterday, I hate my SR schedule. I hate Physics, is a clue. They do not call the AFA "the Little Engineering School in the Rockies" for no reason.

    Look at what he is applying for with his Plan B colleges. Is he applying for an engineering degree?

    Is he applying without your motivation for other colleges? Do they have something in common? I.E. Location, major, AFROTC dets?

    There will be little clues. In your case this cliche may be appropriate...don't be jumping over the nickels to pick up the pennies. In other words, you maybe missing the most important aspects regarding why he has a change of tune, because all you care about is that he changed his tune.
     
  12. dadkone

    dadkone Member

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    An Offer

    Your son should send in his application. If the AFA then makes an offer he can at that time make a considered response to either accept or deny. At the present time, he actually may be reluctant to put himself in a position where his dream of admission to AFA may be shattered by a rejection. He avoids that situation by not submitting his application; however, he also will never know if he could have been accepted. The axiom, "to thine own self be true", comes into play -- What's it going to be?
     
  13. LB91

    LB91 Member

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    He has been looking at other colleges - both public and private; with and without AFROTC dets. The major factor in common has been major - he wants to study physics (astrophysics in particular). His only comment regarding location has been "nothing in a big city".

    I've printed off all your responses to prepare for our meeting this weekend - so many things for us to think about and discuss.
     
  14. futureAFA

    futureAFA Member

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    I wouldn’t say sports are a silly thing, because for many people it is a major, and serious part of their lives. Given I may misinterpret what you are saying, because you say how weekend passes depend on winning and losing a football game.
     
  15. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    When I say sports, I mean not playing them, but going to the game...i.e. attending an ACC, PAC, BIG university.

    Some kids want that type of life, they want the big school where they can be a number. Some kids don't care about that aspect at all.

    I think because he wants astro physics, and not in a big city, AFA seems like a good match for him. It really might nothing more than fear.

    Do you come from a competitive area? Maybe he is afraid not of the AFA, but the nom process. Maybe he feels he won't get the nom, and that is why he isn't moving on from there.
     
  16. LB91

    LB91 Member

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    I don't think our area is super competitive (MN).

    I'm beginning to think fear is a factor - just not sure of what. Hopefully he'll open up about it when we talk this weekend.
     

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