Ask a Doolie Anything!

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Missnj, Nov 4, 2014.

  1. Missnj

    Missnj Member

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    Hey guys! I'm a C4C this year, so feel free to ask any questions about the Academy you might have and I'll answer them the best I can. :)


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  2. baileydb

    baileydb Member

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    Hi, I have a couple questions for you. We always hear about basic, but not a whole lot is said about life as a doolie after basic. Do they ease up on you at all? Also, how much time off base are you allowed to have? I live in CO, about an hour north of the Academy. If I got in, would I be able to visit home much? What is one thing you wish you would have known going in?
     
  3. Missnj

    Missnj Member

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    Hi Bailey! First of all, congrats on deciding to apply!

    Life is much better after basic. Breakfast doesn't start until 0700 during the week, you don't get basic wake-ups anymore, and even though you're really not supposed to, you can sleep in and nap on the weekends. You'll have two or three classes every day as a freshman with training sessions once or twice a week, depending on what squad you're in. They're usually about an hour each, and even though they can be hard, it's a lot better than basic.

    You still have to greet upperclassmen in the hallway, and you're technically supposed to greet group and wing staff on the terrazzo, but I never see them. After the first few weeks of being here, most upperclassmen in your squad will say hi to you first in the hall first so you don't have to greet them. You should get your phone back right after basic, and your laptop comes pretty early, too.

    How much time you get off base depends on what kind of weekend it is and your current standing. We have what are called blue and silver weekends. On a blue weekend, you're allowed to go off base as long as you use the proper pass and sign out correctly, and if you're in good standing. On a silver weekend, it's harder to get off base because we have training on Friday and Saturday, or a football game. The kind of training varies--for my first silver weekend, we had a wing round robin, which was like three hours of basic, except fun. The next training weekend was a field day sort of thing with wheelbarrow races and such. Last time we just learned about SABC, LandNav, etc. But blue weekends are much more common than silver weekends, so you should get to go home pretty often.

    There are a couple things I wish I had known before getting in. The first is what a flutter kick is. It's like leglifts except with one leg at a time and very, very quickly. Those killed me the first couple of days. It would also be helpful to familiarize yourself with Air Force ranks (officers and enlisted) before coming in. The Seven Basic Responses are very good to know. Try to memorize a quote or two if you can. And get good at the front-leaning rest.

    What's most important to remember, though, is to not take anything too seriously. I would have been a lot happier during basic if I had relaxed a little. It's a high-stress environment, and if you can just remember that it's all a big game, and that your cadre are people too (they're my favorite people in squad right now), you'll do fine. Don't get down on yourself if they say something negative about you. It's all too see if you really want to be here or not.

    Oh, and develop good study skills. As an English major, I think math class is pretty hard.
     
    hannahcanales2 and SP4C3M4N like this.
  4. baileydb

    baileydb Member

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    Thanks for the help! It is always really neat to get to talk to actual real live cadets on this forum! I feel like I know the Academy pretty well for an applicant, having spent a week at SS, but there are still so many mysteries, and even after watching all the BCT videos on YouTube, I think there will still be a lot of surprises if I get to go there!
     
  5. Missnj

    Missnj Member

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    Sure thing! Good luck and happy training!


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  6. baileydb

    baileydb Member

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    Thanks! :D
     
  7. QBsdad

    QBsdad Member

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    My son is Blue Chipped to play football so we are waiting to hear on his early action if he'll be accepted. Do you have a feel for what life will be like for him as a student athlete if he gets in?
     
  8. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    It depends how he wants to prioritize his time.
     
  9. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Busy.

    He'll have 16-22 credit hours every semester, military duties, and a lot of time spent practicing/playing his sport. Time management skills will be critical. Quite a few IC athletes will struggle with maintaining their GPA or military duties. It's possible to do well in every area, but it takes a LOT of working smarter AND harder.
     
  10. QBsdad

    QBsdad Member

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    I am assuming there are people there to help him establish his time management skills? Working smarter and harder may be new to him I'm afraid. Any idea how much the "blue Chip" helps getting in?
     
  11. nolifepilot

    nolifepilot USAFA Cadet

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    My roommate is an IC here, he said prepare to have very little time to do anything besides what the Academy wants you to do. Most athletes are on 4-5-1, which means 4 classes the first semester, 5 the second semester, and one class during summer in place of an airmanship option. Speaking as a NARP, I don't see how it's possible for ICs to do all they do. It takes a lot of dedication and commitment. Often my roommate will get back right at ACQ (7:50 pm) while I have already had a few hours to get my homework done and to relax.

    Life after basic is amazingly chill compared to basic itself. That first Sunday morning after moving into the new dorms and the first day after basic ended was unbelievable; getting to wake up calmly by yourself with no one harassing you is a great feeling. During the school year, I'd say pretty much everyone has their own things going on so the focus is definitely not on you. Missnj is right, I've never seen any wing staff on the t-zo, and everyone in squad treats each other like family. We're still treated like freshmen, just in that we're expected to follow the standards and rules and everything else, but everyone is really calm and really cares about each other. That being said, it really varies between squads for literally everything else. My squad hasn't ever restricted us, the only time we haven't been allowed to go off base on the weekends is when all of the doolies are restricted (like for the sabre still being gone). This is different from some squads (10 and 22 for example) whose freshmen can't leave until Christmas. It might change next year, but this year we only have 10 basic passes to use. 1 basic pass=1 day out until Taps. However, we've been awarded discretionary passes pretty often, and those you can use for an entire weekend without worry. Also, if you send up paperwork ahead of time, you don't have to use a pass at all. I'd say the chances of you being able to go home every blue weekend, and even after training on silver weekends, is very, very high.

    I was like you, I had attended SS and watched literally every video I could find on USAFA. I wish I had known how different the school year was compared to basic, it would have encouraged me a lot more. I would definitely recommend coming out here and shadowing a cadet for a day or something similar. Besides that, just be ready for anything to happen and don't take everything seriously; basic is the most fun that I never want to have to experience ever again, but the bonds and memories you make are amazing and I wouldn't trade that for anything.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2014
  12. baileydb

    baileydb Member

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    That is good to hear! At summer seminar, we had "doolie for a day". The yelling and stuff wasn't too bad. I feel like I can take that...but physically, I was SLAUGHTERED! And they told us they didn't even take it that hard on us! Do you get used to basic? And by that I mean, does there come a point where you just don't really care that you are getting yelled at or "beaten" or any of that other awful stuff? Do you get used to the lack of sleep? Does your body get used to the PT? I am so excited to hear from USAFA whether or not I got in, but I know the about ten minutes after I find out, reality will kick in and I'll be shaking in boots when I think about basic. I remember even at SS, lying there in bed the day before doolie for a day, thinking "what have I gotten myself into?!?" and regretting every life decision that led me to be there. Of course, that was my midnight delirium, laying there imagining the horrors to come (which really wasn't bad at all; I think they took it really easy on us). But I don't want to be like that every day at basic. Also, which part of BCT was easiest, 1st or 2nd? From what I have seen and heard, it sounds like the cadre ease up on you a bit there, even though you have some tough and challenging things there. Is that true? Thank you guys so much for taking the time to answer my questions; I am sure you are very busy. It really is awesome to hear from cadets, though. For so long I have idealized USAFA cadets and I am so excited thinking I might actually get to BE one!:biggrin:
     
  13. Runner2020

    Runner2020 Member

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    You said they'll be between 2-4 classes a day. Does the Academy work on a block schedule, with half your classes one day, and the other half one the second day, or do you have the same classes every day? How long are classes, or does it vary?
     
  14. melindayching

    melindayching Member

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    Dear QBsdad: If "working smarter and harder may be new" to your son, then he is in for a very tough time unless he starts to work on his study habits and time management NOW before he gets there, especially as an athlete. My kid is an athlete, has been in training for her sport since she was about 10, 6 days a week, 4 hours a day. She had to learn how to fit in homework and extracurriculars at school in between all that training. She has been working smart and hard for years and has been tired since 7th grade! :) But when she entered the Academy as an athlete she had a school schedule that scheduled her classes so that she could work out and still make dinner at Mitch's and start homework by 7, which in her high school life was unheard of. She goes in for EI (extra instruction) on her one day off a week from practice and tries very hard to never fall behind, because you can never catch up. And during competition season, it is a huge challenge to keep up as weekends are completely taken up with traveling and competing. The Academy says it provides athletes with academic support, and they do, but it is ALL up to the cadet. Help is always there and professors are great about being in touch and being available, but the cadet has to make it a point to show his/her own commitment and reach out themselves. No one is there to teach you time management or study skills. It is assumed that you already have them when you get there.
    Congrats to your son on wanting to attend, but at this point make sure he knows that his commitment is not just for football, but for the whole deal. It is not easy for athletes, but my kid is glad she is still able to pursue her sport and compete on behalf of USAFA.
    As far as being a "blue chip", my kid was not one, but I understand that each sport is given a certain number of them, so that if the athlete meets the requirements of USAFA and receive a nomination (and they may even get some preference on the nom) they will get an appointment. So it's a good thing...congratulations to him! Without blue chip status, the athlete has to compete against all other applicants to get an appointment.
     
  15. nolifepilot

    nolifepilot USAFA Cadet

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    You do get used to parts of basics, other parts not so much haha. I know that neither myself or anyone in my flight ever got used to the wakeups. You get better at it to the point where you don't think about them anymore, but each one was as stressful as the one before it. As for the lack of sleep, nooooooo. Basic is the most tired you will ever be. I was talking with one of my cadre at lunch the other day and he said they put us to sleep at 9, then 930, then 10, then 1030 each week. You wake up at 430 each morning, but I could never tell that we were getting more sleep. Briefings are hell because no matter what you do, you will fall asleep. This is where wingmen come in handy haha. I remember that I fell asleep while marching and I woke up behind my chair in Mitch's once. Your body will do crazy things. There does come a point that you grow accustomed to everything that's happening. You know when the beatings will come, and most likely what they will consist of, but no matter how good you are, there will come a point each beating where you probably won't be able to do anything more. At that point, all the cadre want to see is that you are trying to do more and that you aren't just giving up. As for lying there at night, you can read how I felt that first week here: http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/showthread.php?p=383241#post383241
    I think the general consensus is that second beast was better. You go out to the rodeo and when you get back, you have an entirely new set of cadre and 2nd BCT has begun. Everyone was terrified, but we reallllly liked our new cadre. They were tougher, stricter, and expected so much more out of us, but they were also so much more motivating. Their mentality in first bct is more of a "you suck, why are you here, go home, just quit" but 2nd bct is more of a "you can do this, we'll help you, come on push yourself." The mentalities are just totally different. 2nd bct is also in Jack's Valley, which is pretty fun in itself. Instead of just rooming with one person, you're with half your flight now. Going into Jack's, I knew my roommate and maybe the kids in my alcove and that was probably it, just because we hadn't had much time to socialize or anything before that. Jack's Valley is just a huge bonding experience. It's totally physical, there is almost no academics from what I can remember, which was awesome because briefings were by far the worst part of 1st bct. It was by far the most fun of basic that I had. Just get ready for the train...

    USAFA works on an M-Day, T-Day schedule. These don't correlate to Mondays or Tuesdays or anything. You'll have certain classes M-days, and certain classes T-days, and only on those days. There are 40 lessons total, which makes up 80 days. We have M-31 tomorrow, which means T-31 Thursday, and then M-32 Friday. There are 7 periods in a day, the first starting at 7:30 and ending at 8:23, with the last starting at 2:30 and ending 3:23. Most science, PE, and airmanship classes are two periods I think. So for example, on M-days, I have Japanese 2nd period, English 6th period, and I am free to do as I please on my off periods. Then T-days, I have Japanese 2nd period, Chemistry 3rd and 4th, Engineering 6th period, and Calculus 7th period. T-Days are not fun...
     
  16. Runner2020

    Runner2020 Member

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    Awesome, thank you for the response! That makes a lot more sense. Did you happen to go to Summer Seminar?


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  17. QBsdad

    QBsdad Member

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    Thanks so much for that insight. He's one of those kids that high school has come easy for. He has top marks and always completes his assignments but he doesn't spend hours every night doing homework so yes it will be a whole new challenge for him. I have verified with admissions his application is coded with the blue chip designation and he met the EA requirements back in September so we are hoping he gets an appointment.
     
  18. nolifepilot

    nolifepilot USAFA Cadet

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    I did, both Navy's and USAFA's. Doolie for a Day was pretty fun, but it was about 1/4 of the intensity of actual basic. It was a good look into how it would be though.
     
  19. afacademychic

    afacademychic Member

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    I also attended summer seminar, and thought I had an idea of what basic would be like. I didn't. While SS gives you a small glimpse into basic life, it is very toned down and just a taste. Your basic experience will also be dependent on the cadre you receive. The videos online and the stories you hear do not prepare you for that first day, but it makes the experience better to not know. If I had known everything coming in, I would have been anticipating the whole time. It isn't all bad either. There are some seriously funny and liberating experiences during basic that I'll never get again, especially during 2nd beast. The most common thing you'll hear is the reason you came and the reason you stay are different. I didn't understand until about two weeks in. Even during the school year, your reason for sticking it out changes. Try to find the fun and appreciate the small things wherever you can. Be prepared for anything and never give up. Good luck!
     
  20. baileydb

    baileydb Member

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    What do you think the odds of getting accepted are if you did SS?
     

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