Grad school and UPT

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by JohnUSAFA, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. JohnUSAFA

    JohnUSAFA USAFA 2015 Appointee

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've been heavily considering the option of becoming a pilot once I graduate from USAFA (provided I get the appointment), if I'm correct, UPT will take place almost directly after graduation, and I then I become a pilot.

    If I want to get a graduate degree after USAFA, would becoming a pilot interfere with that?
     
  2. eagle36

    eagle36 USAFA Alumnus

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    0
    yes and no. it depends on what you're looking for. Many people who head to pilot training start taking classes online on their own during "casual" (the time when you're at your base before training begins). Otherwise, most pilots take classes at night sometime during their career.

    Now if you mean heading to a graduate school directly after, then it's a bit more complicated. If you recieve a pilot slot, there are only a couple ways you can still do grad school and keep your pilot slot. If you complete for a national scholarship (such as the JFK, Rhodes, Marshall, Rand, or the Rice/MIT fellowship) and recieve it they will still keep your slot for you when you graduate. The other way is to compete and recieve the Graduate Studies Program (GSP scholarship) through USAFA. That scholarship (what I'm doing) sends you to the Air Force Institute of Technology for 18 months to earn your degree. When I graduate in March 2012, I will then head to pilot training. The catch with the GSP is that you agree to return to USAFA at somepoint during your career to teach.
     
  3. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,295
    Likes Received:
    129
    And under my program (RAND), I do three years at RAND getting my PhD then head to pilot training (IFS first of course).

    Some things to consider. While I'm not an expert, I think I'll get this mostly right. Pima/Bullet will probably comment better, but I'll give the sparknotes version.

    I won't graduate pilot training until I'm a junior captain. Most pilots have been in their major platform for about 2-3 years at that point. I will still be relatively inexperienced as a senior captain making my chance of going to weapons school pretty darn low. Weapons school is a big deal and is a big point for distinguishing the fast-burners and promotions.

    In general, you will have less flight time than your peers. But, you'll have a good graduate degree under your belt. How will promotion boards view this? Hard to say. I'd lean to them favoring time in your job over school.

    I can't tell you that doing grad school first before UPT will definitely hurt or help your career, honestly that's up to your own work. But, you will have a steeper curve to catch up to and there will be many who also will disapprove of taking that path in promotion boards. There are those at the top ranks who went graduate school early and then promoted from there. I see more who deferred graduate time till later after learning their job. It really depends on where your priorities lie!
     
  4. aggie83

    aggie83 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    Messages:
    373
    Likes Received:
    5
    Guess I was wrong but I thought if you graduated in the top 10% (or may be 15%) of your USAFA class, that you could go to graduate school before UPT and that your spot would be held?
     
  5. falconchic88

    falconchic88 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Messages:
    864
    Likes Received:
    176
    aggie, not sure if that is still the case or not, but that use to be how it worked. DH was top 15% (was called a "blue chip scholar" at the time) and he could have gone to grad school right after graduation and then to UPT, or he also had the option of waiting until after UPT and meeting his first gate, then getting his masters. I would be interested to hear if they are still doing this.

    They also used to mask the education level on promotion/school selection boards up to Lt Col board, if they are still doing this, Hornetguy makes a good point about waiting until after upt to get post grad degree if weapons school is a goal. You just don't want to end up like DH, who waited, then decided to leave active duty to fly for the airlines, continued with reserves, but never did get that masters....now he's on active duty orders but may not get selected for Senior Service school in residence because of his lack of a masters.
     
  6. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,295
    Likes Received:
    129
    There is no guarantee for grad school. Usually the top 10% are the people with the GPAs to get it (not surprising right?). Anyone, to my knowledge, who receives a grad spot will have UPT held for them. To clarify, the only people allowed to go direct to grad school as their ASSIGNMENT are those receiving some form of scholarship (MIT/Rice Lincoln/Draper labs, RAND, UK scholarships, GSP, Med school HPSP, etc.). So, their assignments are held till grad school ends. Some exceptions exist. The only one I know for sure is OSI - they will not hold a spot (at least not for 3 years!).
     
  7. jassen2

    jassen2 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2009
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Graduate Studies Program

    eagle,

    Is the Graduate Studies Program major-related or rank-related or both ? And should it be related to your AFSC at all ? Thanks.
     
  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,795
    Likes Received:
    930
    Hornet is correct, attending grad school depending the length of the school, it can diminish your chances for programs like TPS or WIC, because you will not have as much time as other fliers. Traditionally they look for a mid O3 to attend these schools.

    The other thing to realize is that you most likely be the class leader for the students, since this purely based on DOR. The only person that would beat out your DOR would be a FAIP. Now, that doesn't seem like a big deal to be the class leader, but just remember if some student screws up, you will know about it and also have to deal with it. Class leaders are traditionally the liaison between the operational members and the students. It really is more of PIMA issue than anything else.

    Also remember it will delay your payback time. Although it runs concurrent with your committment, it will mean that your UPT commitment will be delayed. Your commitment for UPT does not start until you are winged, which takes about a yr to complete. Thus, if you go straight to grad school for 1-3 yrs, you will not really be able to separate until the 10 yr marker at earliest. (1 yr for grad, 1 yr for UPT +8 pay back) A program like Hornet's and he is looking at 12 before he can bolt, which in essence probably wouldn't happen because he would have already had the ability to take the big check (bonus) several yrs earlier and now would have an additional commitment of that anyway.

    Many people will tell you that in the AF timing is a big player in your career and you need to time things out. Some people as they get up there, know they are eligible for in residence PME, will actually time their PCS's to give them the best chance for selection. That school becomes a big issue when you come up for O5 as falconchic has stated.

    Flip side, I would say out of the last 10 yrs of Bullet's career, I can only name a handful of squadron commanders that were not patch wearers....however, all of them had 1 thing in common, they all went to AFit (used to be called STAR) immediately after graduating and prior to UPT.

    How does this give them a leg up? Easy, for every incoming base, the commander will get your OPR. By the time you arrive on base, they know your military history, and what this says to them, is this officer graduated high enough to attend this program...thus, a future leader. Anytime you get to do an in residence program it helps your career, unless as Hornet said, you screw the pooch.

    You have to ask yourself what is your future goal, a flier who leads (WIC/TPS path) or a leader who flies (grad school).

    The positive of going to grad school immediately and not later down the road is that it will not mess up your gate months for flight pay. Some people who have stepped out of the cockpit for grad school, literally count the months out to make sure they make their gate months. Bullet literally made it by 2 months out of the 11 yr gate.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  9. aggie83

    aggie83 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    Messages:
    373
    Likes Received:
    5
    No offense, but unless you know all the acronyms in the above post, it is impossible to understand and follow for non-military parents.
     
  10. Boozebin

    Boozebin Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2010
    Messages:
    647
    Likes Received:
    313
  11. yfx4

    yfx4 Dad of a former Candidate

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2010
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
  12. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2009
    Messages:
    1,481
    Likes Received:
    0
    Being in the Army evidently doesn't help either! :rolleyes:

    The people who can follow that probably already know all that information since they've been in the AF for many years. FAIP, "patch", PME, AFit, OPR - nope, you lost me! :confused:

    Edited to add I checked the secret decoder ring and still only found 2 of the 5 I'd mentioned. Sometimes writing in layman's terms might make it a lot clearer to everyone, especially the OP who I'm guessing doesn't have any military experience yet!
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,795
    Likes Received:
    930
    Okay, my bad. Sorry, if I offended people by speaking in acronyms.


    This is an AFA forum, so things like FAIP for UPT are common terms.

    FAIP: First Assignment Instructor Pilot.

    ~~~If you are not going into the AF UPT world than this acronym would be as others have felt...mind boggling.

    However, we were discussing a cadet who is looking at UPT and AFIT. Thus, my intention was to address that issue, and I took the leap he/she knows what a FAIP is.

    "Patch":

    Means WIC. Weapons Instructor Course, it was known yrs ago as FWIC, Fighter, but the program changed and now it is no longer a FIGHTER only school.

    Again in the flying world "patch" wearers means WIC, but I do get how non-military do not get the tern "patch". That was my bad.

    PME= Professional Military Education. This will start to occur as an O-3 and never stop with each rank/promotion.

    AFIT = AF Institute of Technology, which is their AF grad school program.

    Again, we are talking Grad school in the AF world, so I took a leap that on this thread people understood for AFA grads it would mean AFIT...shoot me!

    OPR= Officer Performance Review

    Now with that all being said, I will not apologize if this went up and over your head, since, IMHO you are putting the cart before the horse. If these letters/acronyms mean gibberish to you, than you should spend your time getting the best grades possible to be competitive in this arena. If they make sense to you, than now is the time you step back and look at this opportunity from a career aspect.

    I said it before, and will say it again...

    You must decide do you want the be the best flier that is a leader or the best leader that is a flier...nothing else matters, nothing else should matter.

    Answer that question and you will know the path to follow. There really is a difference. I won't speak for cadets that I know who were given this option, except to say it wasn't easy decision or option.

    If you are only a candidate, throw this thought of grad school in the circular filing cabinet. Life is going to change over the next 4 yrs. You need to not only graduate, but graduate at the top and fight for these positions. Right now as a candidate all you should think about is getting in and graduating. 3 yrs from now, this can become an issue, but until then your only concern should be the BFE!

    Honestly don't live your life plotting a course, because if you do you will miss out on the greatest gifts of life.

    My best thoughts and wishes!

    Anybody else who has issues with me for my acronyms or explaining in AF terms please feel free to pm me. My intention of the military is shown on my tag ..."This has to be the central fact of our lives: gratitude for the men and women who make this great life possible, who wear the uniform and cover it with glory." ~ Ben Stein

    If you ever think I give a rats butt about one service over another, or one career field over another, than you will never get me. I love the AF, but I love every single solitary person who put their arse on the line to defend me and my family. Unfortunately, I have started to come to the belief that the branches have lost sight of this fact, and it is all about defending the branch. To me it is becoming apparent that serving our country means less that posturing like a peacock on which branch is the best.

    That is the saddest thing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  14. agolson

    agolson Eagle43

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    1
    I couldn't agree with you more!:thumb:
     
  15. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,236
    Likes Received:
    272
    All too often that is true. Fortunately, I've met a few who have worked well with other services when it counted. When it counts, individual servicemembers seem to make things work. I've met some AC-130 pilots who did a lot to help out guys in contact (one almost got the boot for ignoring orders to return to base). Another interesting one was the KC-10 that blew some insurgents off a rooftop during a "show of force" mission. The army guys in the building across the street were pretty happy!

    I think most of the service posturing is done by people who don't commonly interact with other services, and people who spend the majority of their time in an office environment.
    There was a heck of a lot of finger pointing after Robert's Ridge, after the fact. From what I can tell, things got really FUBARed organizationally. The people in the area did what they could to fix things (which they did pretty well, in most cases). Sadly, each service seems to have tried to shift the blame for the operation's problems.
     
  16. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2006
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    508
    Pima,

    Keep in mind that this forum is for people who are learning about the Academy. It is perfectly normal for them to be confused by all the acronyms. If the acronyms mean gibberish to some of the readers, then it is up to us to teach them what they mean. If you are going to be offended when people ask you to clarify, then why bother posting in the first place?

    Also, there is nothing wrong with appointees and hopefuls asking questions about grad school. Believe it or not, some of the choices made during the 4 degree year do have an impact on whether you will be considered for a grad school slot right out of the Academy. I have seen it first hand.

    Lastly, you are absolutely right in your comment about the "MY Branch is better" theme that has grown lately on here. I don't care for it at all.

    Stealth_81
     
  17. eagle36

    eagle36 USAFA Alumnus

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    0
    jassen2,

    Yes, the GSP (Graduate Studies Program) is both major- and rank-related, but has nothing to do with AFSC (with one exception).

    While '09 had only 3 slots, 2010 had 18. The intent is to attend AFIT, then the Naval Post-Graduate, then a civilian school if the others do not offer it. For 2010, however, they would only send students to AFIT. This limited which majors could give slots. For example, since AFIT doesn't have English or FAS, those departments did not get a slot. However, majors like Operations Research (what I have) who normally compete with Math, Management, CompSci, and Econ, received its own slot. So it varies year to year, but yes, each department who receives a slot can pick one person from their department to award the GSP.

    Now, for each department, they can choose their person however they would like. When I initially applied through Management and Economics, they both had us submit a package which included a letter stating why we were interested, a career plan, and then our numbers (rank, GPA, etc). They then rack-and-stacked us. However, the OR one decided to go strictly off of overall class rank. Thankfully for me, the people ahead of me both turned down the GSP in favor of national scholarships (one's now at Harvard and the other at MIT).

    Now AFSCs don't really matter for this. The intent is to provide future faculty with various backgrounds, so it does not come into play. The exception as hornet hinted at is possibly OSI. They may not be willing to let you defer your training for a couple years to get a degree. Now that being said, a lot of the people with the GSP are pilots simply because they have more limited slots. Here at AFIT, there are quite a few of my 2010 classmates. Most are here because of their AFSC (61s and 62s, or scientists and engineers), and therefore are on different scholarships than those of us with the GSP.
     
  18. jassen2

    jassen2 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2009
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    GSP info

    Eagle, thanks for the info on the GSP. If you don't mind, I have some follow-up questions:
    1. When do you get to teach at the Academy ? Is it right after your graduate studies ?
    2. In addition to teaching, is there any additional ADSC ? Will it be concurrent with your 5-year initial commitment ?
    3. What is a cadet's chance for GSP ? Does he need to be in the top 5% ? (or 10% or 15%)


    I got some questions on OR but I'll start a new thread for that.

    Thanks again.
     
  19. eagle36

    eagle36 USAFA Alumnus

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    0
    no prob.

    1) just at somepoint. some teachers come back right before they retire, while one of my teachers senior year was a 2006 grad. so it really depends on what fits your career and when they need you.

    2) i forget the standard commitment, but it's the same as other grad schools. if i remember, its something like 2 years for every 1 year of school, but its concurrent with your commitment for graduating. in my case (as with hornet's), our UPT commitment overshadows the other anyway, so someone else will have to give you the exact.

    3) it really varies depending on the year with how many slots are available and how many people want it. There were many DGs (top 10%) with them, but i also know people who got them who were not DGs (although I don't know their exact ranks).
     

Share This Page