Encouragement is Overdue on these Forums... The Odds Are Much Better Than You Think!!

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by F15DOC, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    You know what my perception of this crazy competitive world of service academy applications is?
    Well, if you read these forums you/yours are going to quickly feel inferior and unworthy.
    But let me tell you that perception isn't reality and it isn't the truth.
    So don't let it dampen your dreams and aspirations.

    I have been browsing these forums for several years as my son has continued to express a strong desire to attend a service academy. More recently I have been posting some questions and inquiries.

    What I have concluded is that all it takes is HEART AND DETERMINATION!

    It appears that the key to gaining admission to the USNA/USAFA/USMA/USCGA is to not get yourself disqualified and to persist on with the onerous application process!

    I was able to piece together various sources and the true acceptance rates to all the academies isn't as bad as it first appears...
    Of course, you need to be a good student, have leadership experience, team sports skills, pass the medical exam and pass the CFA, but if you do those things... your odds are pretty dang good!

    Here is what I mean, I will use USAFA 2017 numbers as my example, however USNA, USCGA and USMA percentages are similar:

    The first cut comes from those that start the application inquiry process, and then for whatever reason they just stop.
    Maybe it just seems too hard to complete the application (this group definitely wouldn't make it), perhaps it is because they look at the "average admitted cadet profile" and think they can't compete either academically or physically, perhaps they realize they have a medical condition that will DQ them...

    Whatever the cause, the number drops significantly:
    12,917 Inquiries
    9,706 Applicants
    6967 Candidate Pool


    So if you simply fill out the application and get yourself listed in the academy system, you are likely going to be labeled as a "Candidate" (there are some minimum caveats to this)

    And here is the kicker, the number drops even more:
    2277 Qualified Candidates.
    1475 Offers of Admission
    1168 Admitted


    That's right, so of all the huge numbers you see talked about regarding how many applicants there are and how tough it is to gain acceptance, the reality is, if you (the candidate) or your son/daughter (if you are the parent reading this) gets the stuff done that is reasonable to get done, the odds of acceptance is 1475/2277 = 65%!!

    Now to further increase your odds, how many of those qualified candidates apply to more than 1 service academy? Of course, I don't have that number, but I would be willing to guess that nearly all apply to at least 2, and many will apply to 3!

    So what does this all mean to you and yours?

    It means get your part done and you have a good shot at getting accepted!!

    Of course, gaining admission to a Service Academy is based upon getting everything done, but it doesn't mean you have to be a Rockstar like everyone seems to think and openly express on these forums. You have to be well rounded and DILIGENT!

    Look, there are only so many "key positions" in your life. How many people can be ASB President or Team Captain of their football team or Valedictorian of their class? Well the simple answer is not that many, and you don't have to be that golden child in order to be an outstanding cadet and military officer and leader.

    Be a good student with good academics, this doesn't mean you have to be 3.8gpa or score 32 or 34 composite on your ACT! Be an athlete, compete in team sports, this doesn't mean you have to be the "best player" on the team or the "Team Captain". You should be involved in leadership activities in your school or community, this doesn't mean you have to be "ASB President". What surprises me is how many kids with great numbers and great background post on here "what are my chances" and they continually get told "Do better" when you all know dang well they are going to get accepted. Many of these kids that post on here are simply amazing and yet they don't get the ATTA BOY encouragement they deserve. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with pushing to "do better" but for crying out loud these kids are amazing and we all know it. How many times have I seen an ACT composite of 32 and people say "take it again, try to increase your Math".... Really?!! These are great candidates!

    I say keep encouraging them, but give them the real numbers, and encourage them to simply get all the parts of the application done so they fall in that "Qualified Candidate" pool. If they get there and they are applying to several academies, they are going to find a home!!

    Enough of my rant, don't read too much into it, I just think these kids are amazing and the numbers are deceiving if not more carefully broken down.
     
  2. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    hahahahah....yeah, that's ALL, just some heart and some determination. OK.

    When there is one nomination open and 300 kids are vying for it, I think one might need a tad more than just those two admirable qualities.
     
  3. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    Sarcasm? Shocking! Belittling one line out of another persons post? Shocking!! :jump1:
     
  4. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Don't disagree that reading on this forum some of the very high speed kids could be disheartening for a kid who falls more on the averages. For those who have been on the forum for awhile I think most folks do a good job of encouraging kids to apply and see where the cards may fall. But at first glance, sure it could certainly be intimidating reading some of the profiles. Looking at things from those who post appointments for each class and class acceptance size, it is roughly 10% or so of each class who posts on here. So that is a small sample size. Figure there are many others who aren't posting, but just reading. I think for anyone lurking or starting this process its key to remember each applicant is unique and brings different strengths to the table. None of the SAs want robots or the same exact kid. I have interviewed and talked with kids with 35/36 ACTs who I would never want at a SA, because they couldn't speak to another human, not to mention eventually lead others.

    One question on your numbers...

    Is a qualified candidate someone who is just 3Q or is that saying they also have a nomination? That piece is missing from the equation to really look at numbers. 3Q + no nom = no offer of appointment. A kid applying from Northern Virginia or Hampton Roads probably is looking at a much harder road than a kid from South Dakota. Its just statistics with the number and quality of candidates from certain competitive areas. USNAbgo08 on the USNA side has always done a great job presenting the numbers with a full breakdown of stats similar to what you have done here.
     
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  5. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    NavyHoops you are right about that.

    Fully Qualified (I believe) does not mean they have a Nomination.
    So that cut from 6967 Candidate Pool to 2277 Qualified Candidates is based upon getting everything done and meeting minimum standards.
    Here is a quote from a page about the USMA

    1. Principal with numbered alternates: The MOC "nominates" one candidate as his/her principal nominee. The other nominees are in ranked order - first alternate, second alternate, third alternate, etc. If the principal is qualified, that person gets "appointed" to West Point and that MOC is charged with that appointment which counts against the MOC's quota. The principal nominee may be actually a weaker candidate than some of the other alternates. But if that person is qualified - as determined by West Point's objective Whole Candidate Scores - that person is in. If the principal does not qualify for any reason (academic, medical, recent robbery of a 7-11), the next numbered alternate gets a crack at admission, and so on. The principal and numbered alternate method is not used very much any more.

    300:1?
    Well it doesn't appear that 3:1 (6967:2277) is anywhere near 300:1
    Now I am sure there is huge difference regionally, but if you average the nomination process it should be less than 3:1, right?
    And that also leaves out the fact that a large number of "Candidates" do not complete their package, do not become "Fully Qualified" and do not even interview for a nom.

    So you make a very good point, as you always do on this board. You are certainly one of the fairest, level headed posters on this forum :)
     
  6. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    This is not a slam. Just hear me out. Let's put a couple things into perspective. F15DOC, you are sort of right about the odds. Especially when speaking to applicants on this forum. But the reality is, in any given year, there's less than 100 posters on this forum applying for that year. That's less than 1% of the 10,000-12,000 initial applicants.

    Also, those who seek out forums such as this one, are usually much more motivated for an academy appointment than the vast majority. Also, not to make this forum appear arrogant, but the information, hints, advice, etc. received here is 10 fold more info than the majority of applicants will receive. Thus, the acceptance rate of this forum posters applying is much higher than the general populous.

    Having said that, this year I had close to 15 applicants. 3 changed their mind and applied to ROTC. Of the remaining 12, all were academically qualified with leadership and sports. 1 failed the DODMRB and was disqualified. 1 failed the CFA, even after the academy gave them a second chance at it. That candidate was uber qualified otherwise. That left 10 candidates. Of that, 1 couldn't get qualified because of a low ACT score. Of the remaining 9, only 1 received an appointment. 1 other received a prep school slot. The remaining 7, although totally qualified academically, physically, medically, and plenty of leadership, sports, ec, etc. did not receive an appointment. And they all had nominations.

    So while you may think that there eventually is only about 2200 qualified candidates and about 50% will receive an appointment, it's not that simple. I've argued a few times with the academy about some of their statistics. Anyone who has taken stats knows that how you use the data can influence the results. I will definitely argue, and never change my mind, that there are more than 2200+ "qualified" candidates. Basically, that's the top number that they will offer appointments to with slack for those who turn it down.

    But debating these numbers aren't even important. What is important is that the reality is, only 1 of 9 qualified candidates I had, received an appointment. I don't think anyone here is trying to discourage anyone from applying and getting an appointment. And as for a poster feeling inferior or unworthy because others are mentioning the high standards, that's their problem. I can't worry about that. I always tell applicants here and in person the facts. Those are...... The average gpa of an incoming cadet was 3.86. Fact. Average ACT score is 29-30. Fact. 86% lettered in varsity sports. Fact. Does this mean that a 3.4 gpa can't receive an appointment, or a 26 ACT? Of course not. But if you look at the class profile for many years past, you'll see what the average incoming cadet achieved. X amount did boy/girl state, etc.

    I will never discourage anyone from applying, and I never have. But I'm also not going to blow sunshine up their rear end to make them "feel good". Nothing bothers me more than reading posts about "what are my chances"? Or "are these grades, scores, etc. good enough". I tell everyone the same thing. Until your ACT scores are 36, and/or your SAT scores are 2400, and your gpa is a 4.0 unweighted taking the most difficult classes available, and you have 200+ hours of volunteer time, sports, leadership, clubs, and max your CFA, then it's not high enough yet. Obviously there are limitations and a point where you can't go any more. E.g. CFA doesn't change after practicing for months. Your gpa won't go up any more from where it's at. Etc.

    I'll never discourage an applicant from applying. But I also won't let them believe that getting an appointment is as easy as applying to the university of wyoming or brookdale community college either. I have a responsibility to the academy, to the taxpayer, and to those who served before me, with me, and after me, to try and get the best applicant an appointment to the academy and to be a commissioned officer serving our country. If an applicant isn't motivated by the high standards being presented, and they are only trying to do "good enough" to get in, and they get discouraged thinking they aren't good enough and aren't motivated to try harder, then maybe they aren't ready for the academy. Maybe that's why in the other thread, there are supposedly so many who are dropping out during BCT. Heart and determination are definitely needed. That's needed to pursue any goal. But that's not enough. I know a lot of applicants and candidates who were totally qualified and wanted the academy as long as they could remember, who had all the heart and determination you could imagine, and they still didn't receive an appointment.
     
  7. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    Mike (Christcorp),
    Wow, that was well stated and I think spot on with every point you make (as usual).
    So I still have to ask, if the USAFA is reporting 2277 fully qualified and 1475 offers...?
    You think they dramatically under report their fully qualified and it is more in 9:1 range such as 10K+ fully qualified for the 1475 offers?
    How does that jive with your personal experience of 1/9 fully qualified candidates actually getting an offer?
     
  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    As I stated, I don't put 100% faith in the number the academy spits out each year. E.g. 2277 qualified candidates.

    I understand that nominations and many other things play into the equation. But think about a couple of things. 1st: There are 535 senators and representative in house/senate. 10 names each, that's 5350 nominations. Take 15% off for duplication, (I'm being generous), that leaves about 4547. Add about another 200 presidentials and other nominations that didn't get one of the MOC. That's around 4700 nominees.

    Most individuals who get a MOC nomination, wouldn't have gotten one if they didn't have the academics and other attributes the academy is looking for. Usually, the only time a nominee receives a nomination, yet, they weren't "Qualified", is usually a DODMRB or CFA issue. Usually, the 21ACT applicant isn't getting a nomination. Nominations are pretty competitive. But for the hell of it, we'll take out another 10% who are disqualified for DODMRB or CFA. That leaves about 4300.

    That number; 4000-4300; in "MY OPINION", is closer to the amount of "QUALIFIED APPLICANTS".

    Now, even as someone who works for admissions as an ALO, I am not privy to all of the data. If you notice, the academy, just like other schools, presents the stats that represent the goal they are looking for.

    E.g. If you look at reports for "Most Competitive" universities, they'll use the 12,000 number, and say that the academy only admits around 10-11%. That's a better number when comparing to 6.3% acceptance rate at Yale or 5.8% acceptance at harvard. VS claiming a 50% acceptance rate of "QUALIFIED APPLICANTS". Most universities, even the public ones, have a hard time with such high acceptance rates. But, if you want to sound really encouraging, and make more people apply, because they think they have a GREAT CHANCE, then the 50% is a great number to advertise.

    My opinion only..... The 6000-7000 "Candidate Pool" you mention is very accurate. Of those, about 25% won't get nominations. Remaining 4500-4750. Take off the medical, CFA, and other "Disqualifications", and I believe the number of truly "Qualified Candidates" is around 4000-4300. But again, I can't give you proof on that. Thus, selecting 1200 out of that pool, is an acceptance rate of about 25-28%. Just my $0.039239493 (inflation0
     
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  9. MombaBomba

    MombaBomba Member

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    I think both 15Doc and Christcorp have valid points and are right. This forum can be extraordinarily negative and critical to the point where it appears discouraging. But on the other hand, applauding and lauding current accomplishments isn't good either, as it might not be enough. So where is the line?

    I think some of the "discouragement" perception can be in how inquiries are answered. The wording/tone can definitely influence the "emotional interpretation" of the response. But also, some people can't handle being told "no matter how good you are, there is someone better than you or someone doing whatever it takes to be better than you."

    Also, I can see where people start to become curt. There are many involved and dedicated people on here who are constantly willing to take the time out to answer basically the same questions over and over and over again. They do this for years. I am sure at some point they may want to pull their hair out and go "ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! Why can't they just read some of the other threads with similar subjects first, and go from there." I admire their commitment and dedication to help people achieve their dreams and to educate others.

    Then I get the whole angst of the teenage poster. They are in high school, working hard, worried about their future. They hear about how hard it is, and being a teenager, doubt does trickle in. The teen years are the poster child for insecurity! So they come on and ask 'do I have what it takes?" Others, who discover it later in life and hope they have done enough ask "am I even competitive enough? what should I do? will they even consider someone as weak as me?" Most of these kids are not filled with confidence. If they were, they would not be on here asking, but bragging!

    I can say flat out that I am so glad my son didn't come here to read these forums and that I did not join till much later in the application process. Everything I read seemed to be more and more discouraging. It got to the point where I started researching and posting positives (percentage to get in if have nomination etc..). Those posts were as much for me as they were for others. I did not want to become a negative Nelly about my son's pursuit of his dream.

    All the data presented by the USAFA in literature and on-line were researched and analyzed at home by my son and by us, his parents. We knew it was going to be hard and a stretch. We also knew there were no guarantees. He was at the average in some and above average in others. He had both leadership and sports, though in an unconventional way. We believed he had a shot (until I started reading here, and then I wondered if we were deluding ourselves).

    So here it is. It is hard to get into the USAFA. The academic, leadership and physical requirements are all high. Acceptance is made more difficult by the nomination process. One could make a case that the nomination requirement is unfair. Some states have a herd of applicants while others have only a small partially filled stable. But nominations, at least in our state, have similar requirements as the USAFA. So the stronger one is for the USAFA, the better a chance for a nomination. The key is don't blow the nomination interview.

    The question isn't whether or not the kid is strong enough academically, leadership wise or physically as there are USAFA published minimums, averages and maximums out there. That is easy enough to determine just by looking them up. The question is how strong is your nomination pool? Those numbers aren't published anywhere that I know of. Your ALO is the only person who would be able to tell you how you compare historically to your nomination pool's applicants. The only real answer is to keep on working at growing and improving yourself. Don't give up because your resume may not resemble the picture perfect applicant nor the "traditional school/varsity sport" applicant. But do find ways to improve yourself such that you are stronger or more "appealing" (don't like that word, but can't think of another at the moment) as an applicant with the "traditional resume."
     
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  10. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    You guys are good, and MombaBomba I think we are in the same place you were at this point in the application process, just trying to see where the truth lies. Our ALO is a straight shooter, and being a fellow USAF rated officer we are at ease with each other, the "impression" I get is that my son is a strong candidate for USAFA and USNA, maybe the best thing to do is simply ask if similar profiled kids in our district are currently in the academies.
    It is amazing the patience the long time moderators and posters have on here, the same questions, the same concerns, the same anxieties...
    God bless em, but lets keep giving these amazing young people our encouragement! :)
     
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  11. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Something else to realize. Many of the terms like candidate, has changed meanings slightly over the years. It use to be if you had a nomination, you were automatically placed in the "Candidate" category. Now, it's more at the discretion of the academy. And the term "Qualified Candidate" can be interpreted differently between the academy and the layman. Remember, there's another word, Competitive" that also factors in. A 26ACT meets the minimum standards, but are you competitive? A 3.2gpa meets the minimum standards, but are you competitive? In my opinion, this is where some of the ambiguity comes in when you see a number like 2277 as qualified candidate. Does that include all applicants who are qualified??? Remember, in the past, you could be considered in the candidate stage if you had a nomination, OR, if the academy considered you "Competitive". Maybe the 4000-4300 are qualified candidates and the 2277 are qualified candidates the academy considers "Competitive". Hence, why the average gpa is 3.86 and the average ACT is 29-30. That's a lot higher than the minimum standards, which make you "Qualified".
     
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  12. Badge250

    Badge250 Member

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    I can definitely see both sides of this discussion. I can see how some comments/discussions are discouraging, however, I do not think anyone is on here to discourage young people on purpose. I think the key to a successful forum is being able to challenge individuals while also encouraging them but one of the hardest things to do on a forum is being able to challenge individuals while also encouraging them. So I definitely get what F15Doc is saying. I also hope we can have a forum that continues to challenge individuals to be more and do more than they ever thought they could. If they get an appointment, they will definitely be pushed beyond what they thought they could.

    CC has given a great perspective on "chances of getting in". Like so many other times, I can only speak to my DS's experience. His ALO told us with great excitement and pride (and a little surprised too) that she had gotten 1 person into the academy each of her last 5 years as an ALO in our area of Ohio. Although Ohio is not always listed at the top of the competitive states, it does seem somewhat competitive from my perspective. I am not sure how many applicants she had each of those 5 years, but the answer was: "1" got in each year.

    So, F15Doc, I take what you said to heart and hope I can continue to find ways to challenge all the applicants on here to shoot for that 36 on the ACT and a 4.0 in their classes while encouraging them by letting them know to stay positive and believe and never give up!
     
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  13. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    Generally speaking, candidates apply because they think they have a shot. That normally means they are athletic and smart. Therefore on average, the stats of the students that apply to the SA's are smarter and more athletic. By definition, that weeds out a lot of people from bothering to apply. For instance all of the hard work and determination in the world won't make an average HS football player be a D1 athlete. Well I guess Rudy got 1 play at Notre Dame. Good old Rudy learned that there is a gene pool element involved. The same applies to a person who studies intensely their whole life. It doesn't mean they are going to be smart enough to meet the standards.

    Furthermore a Brainiac who is the number 1 candidate at Harvard may fall short at a SA because she/he is lacking social or athletic skills. Others get DQed for medical reasons. All reasons why hard work and determination most times isn't always enough in competitive schools. Speaking of Harvard, 35,000 people apply because it is easy to apply. It's not so easy to apply to the SA because there are many more hoops to jump through.

    But hard work and determination influences everything you accomplish in life!

    With that said, when you are a high achiever the statistics may not matter. The top kids at all of the selective universities had great options at highly competitive schools all across the land. We all know you cannot take 2,000 Harvard kids who get admitted and divide by 35,000 applicants to calculate the odds. My point is you could triple the applicants at Harvard and more often than not, the same students are going to get in.
     
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  14. time2

    time2 Member

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    I think most regulars on here try to be helpful and provide a good perspective to those now applying. Getting 3Q is about much more then simply submitting the required forms in a timely manner. Everyone will NOT be 3Q and you need that plus a NOM to be in the RUNNING for an appointment. You can twirl the stats any number of ways to try and determine your odds, but these are meant to be challenging places to get accepted to and remember the endgame is military service with at least a 5 yr commitment. Your competition for an appointment are among the best/brightest of any give year's h.s. graduating class.

    Someone looking for a 'free education' or who wants to attend a SA since it will make their resume look more appealing in the public sector are frankly applying for the wrong reasons. I think it is far better we help them see that now rather then start at the SA and realize they have made a BIG mistake.

    Even some of those who are 120% convinced this is the place for them, realize just how challenging it is once they get started.

    In the time I have participated, the vast majority of regulars always seem very supportive of those who are applying, so I don't follow your original premise. People are more than willing to provide their input to those who have taken the initiative to do some of their own research before asking the most basic of questions.
     
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  15. waiting game

    waiting game Member

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    I might have missed this in some of the longer replies. My understanding is that a MOC who has an open slot at an SA will get a kid in there as long as he/she meets the minimum qualifications. So a significant issue in appointment is the state/district you live in and how many slots are available. Sadly a less qualified candidate from a state with a smaller applicant/interest pool (like mine) will likely win an appointment over a much more highly qualified candidate from say, California. Literally, the year DS applied, he got a call from the Congressman's office asking if he was interested an "extra" nomination (to West Point) because he had just FOUR interested candidates vying for the spot.
     
  16. time2

    time2 Member

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    You can receive a NOM (issued by your MOC) and still not get an appointment (issued by SA). Where a NOM is issued may NOT be where the SA eventually chooses to charge it.
     
  17. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    It really comes down to this: If you don't apply and complete the application process, you will 100% not be admitted. If you complete the process, there are options (not just direct admission but USAFAPS, Falcon Foundation, etc.).

    Everything else is fluff.

    And everything on this forum is here for candidates to peruse. There is good information, sometimes bad. There are people who antagonize, there are endless victims, there are eternally optimistic posters, and there are lurkers. Come in, sift through it, ask a question, and if you get upset - move on and keep applying because no poster on here can stop you. Plenty can give solid advice though.
     
  18. Blueblood1

    Blueblood1 Member

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    For what it is worth:
    1. If you do not apply, you will not get in. Ben Franklin could have added that to "Death and Taxes" as to the only certainties in life.
    2. Acceptance is not as daunting as some would make it seem -- albeit for reasons that I think differ from yours.
    3. The numbers are very deceptive because a whole bunch of highly qualified kids do not even start the process as the military is not for them; some figure this out because of the (intentionally) laborious process; some are highly competitive, but do not get a nomination.
    4. "Qualified" also involves a preliminary determination as to acceptance: If you have a 2.0 and a 22 on the ACT, you are not getting in and will be summarily classified as not qualified.
    5. At the end of the day, the Academy accepts some of the "best of the best", and is as selective as any Ivy, Stanford, MIT, Cal-Tech, etc. However, although you can pick come general parameters and averages, you can never really predict which individual student is going to get accepted to any of those schools in any given year. Diversity, skills, experiences backgrounds all go into awarding those final spots at any selective school, and their emphasis changes from year to year.

    Back to Point 2 - as selective as SA's are, there are other avenues -- and this is where "will and determination" come in. If you do not get a direct appointment, are you willing to go to Prep School? If you do not get invited to Prep, are you willing to go to a JC or start another college and apply the following year? If you do not get in in the second year, are you willing to enlist and apply as an AD candidate? These factors way on admission decisions, and spots are designated for ADs and Preppies. The ADs also have other nomination sources available if that was the problem in the first place. If the answer is "no" to the above questions, then maybe the Academy is not the right fit anyway -- there is a certain level of commitment, expectation and desire to serve that is required, or you simply will noted well, or survive BCT or the Academy. That's OK -- it is not right for everyone and it is better to make that determination early on.

    Back to Point 1: If the answer is yes, you are willing to keep trying and have that commitment -- absolutely apply, and if you do not get in the first time, do everything you can to strengthen your resume and keep on trying the various channels to an eventual appointment.
     
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  19. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    On the TV show "Who wants to be a millionaire" they say the questions are only easy IF you know the answer. Getting into an academy is easy... IF you receive an appointment. I know of several ultra qualified candidates that did not receive appointments. Some with quals that would amaze you. Anyone that thinks all it takes is effort and perseverance is fooling themself.
     
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  20. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    Yeah...I mean, I like to think I had plenty of heart and determination all along, but it still took me two tries to get in.
     
    Boozebin, fencersmother and Pima like this.

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