Help me understand how prep school admissions works

Discussion in 'Service Academy Preparatory Schools' started by JoeyM, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. JoeyM

    JoeyM Member

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    I've read literally nearly every thread in this forum on preparatory schools and I'm just a bit confused by their selections process still. I understand it is for active duty or reserve/athletes/minorities, but here's my issue. I know the goal is to increase ones academic preparation for the actual service academies, but how can they even consider certain individuals when those who actually DO need the academic help will not have their portal on the respective admissions website further be allowed to open.

    Many students are well rounded, but since they scored poorly, I sense they will never even be looked at. Can someone explain this to me? If someone WERE academically qualified then they wouldn't need prep school in a sense, correct? A 3x qualified individual shouldn't be attending prep school. If you've met the academic minimums, then clearly you are capable of attending a service academy. It makes me confused because I've heard of people being accepted with sat scores ranging from 300-500 in certain sections (not even qualified for academic minimums), but how did they advance when the application should, by default, have been closed on them? I'm not talking about active duty or reserves either, I'm specifically referring to civilians in highschool.

    One other thing, what else do they look at besides race? Do they consider parental income, single/married parent, the area which they live, school/education quality, other outside factors (for example, had to take care of sick mother with life threatening illness), etc. ? I feel like all this information is a mystery and still hasn't been set in stone.
     
  2. annalis

    annalis Member

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    Prep school appointees out of high school are typically athletes who were recruited but had very low scores and needed the year of prep. They do not appoint those with low scores and low athletics or community involvement.
     
  3. JoeyM

    JoeyM Member

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    I don't think you understand any of my question(s) in my original post.
     
  4. jbsail

    jbsail Member

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    Yes, those that need an extra year may get selected to prep. Admissions chooses who, and this depends on all the applications that they get to pick who goes.
     
  5. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    If you are a potential candidate, you should not be concerned over prep school and if you can be go there. You should be aiming for an appointment and nothing less, period. There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself for a prep school and literally, is totally not on your radar. The role of a prep school is IF your application is STRONG except for a weakness in some academic areas AND the Academy wants you AND feels that with some ball-busting academic study you can be brought up to speed to survive the buzz saw of the Academy academics, they MAY offer you a slot at a prep school. You don't apply to a prep school, you apply for an Academy appointment and the Admissions office makes the call. While they were originally set up to bring enlisted members up to speed after being out of high school for a number of years, they now include anybody that the Academy wants.

    It sounds like you have been listening to self appointed experts and rumors as the prep schools don't advertise their statistics very much as they exist only as a support system for the Academies. Having said that, there have been some pretty low SAT scores that have been sent there and they have a very pressing reason why the Academy wants them......and a it could easily be an All American throwing arm, or kid from the hills of Appalachia or downtown Compton who is smart, resourceful, has overcome great challenges, and shows academic promise but has crappy high school grades.

    There is a basic cut off of SAT/ACT scores that many but not all members of Congress have and also the Academies and in order to even apply you have to hit those BUT while those minimums are posted, they can be ignored by both the member of Congress and the Academy if they see that exceptional candidate. And they occasionally do. Another thing to remember is that just because a candidate squeaks over the minimums that the Academies post does NOT mean that they are automatically qualified academically for the Academy----they are just allowed in the pool of applicants.

    Yes, the Academies do look at all the characteristics in your last paragraph but really, don't sweat the prep school. That is not your target.
     
  6. JoeyM

    JoeyM Member

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    Thank you spud, that was a great response and just what I needed to hear.
     
  7. FlyBoy1993

    FlyBoy1993 Member

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    Our DS was 3Q'ed and scored very well academically.

    Problem: he didn't letter in a varsity sport, didn't crush his CFT, and weighed about 150# at 6'4".

    The year in prep school helped him tremendously in developing his PT scores and just allowing him to mature physically a little more. It was pretty cool at Christmas break and he tried on one of his shirts and was tighter than spandex on a sumo wrestler.

    We didn't know what to think of the prep schools at first, but I am a believer in what they provide.

    As others have said, don't focus on prep school, though. Continue to develop your whole candidate score. The rest will take care of itself.
     
  8. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    Sounds like FlyBoy1993 is talking about Civil Prep.
    I believe the OP is asking about the Service Academy prep schools like West Point's USMAPS.
     
  9. JoeyM

    JoeyM Member

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    Sorry if I wasn't clear in my original post, but I was referring to the academy prep schools in specific here (USAFA/USNA/USMA).
     
  10. FlyBoy1993

    FlyBoy1993 Member

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    Yep, my mistake. Thought it was just a general question.

    Your mission remains the same: Build your WCS, so they can't say, "No!":thumb:
     
  11. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    I'm not sure there is a single answer as to why one person is selected for a prep school and another is not.

    Certainly, some "Prepsters" are recruited athletes. But, there are NCAA rules about the number/percentage of those. Many are "varsity athletes" but that doesn't mean they were recruited, let alone "blue chip." When you consider that ~90% of SA appointees are varsity athletes, it isn't surprising that prep students mirror that percentage. Parental income doesn't factor into the decision regarding whether to offer prep -- it does impact parental contribution for civilian prep programs. Hardship might have an impact -- if it affected the candidate's ability to succeed academically. However, I'm not aware of it being a major factor.

    The bottom line is that candidates are a product of their environment and not everyone's environment is equivalent. Typically, a Prepster is someone with high SATs but lower grades or the converse. In some cases, it could be a student who has excelled in his/her environment but the candidate's school is terrible. So the person stands #1 in his/her class but, when you look at the school's stats, IT doesn't stack up nationally. Thus, the SA is concerned about that candidate's ability to succeed academically.

    Conversely, someone could have high SAT/ACT scores but not be doing well in school. This could be due to poor study skills, a school that doesn't challenge students, etc.

    It could also be a student that has great scores and great grades but the school doesn't offer AP courses or doesn't offer physics, etc. Thus, the student looks great but hasn't had the same opportunities as a student at a different school.

    In a perfect world, all candidates would have equal opportunities to excel academically. However, the world isn't perfect. SAs believe that some students have all of the attributes to be successful BUT need some extra academic prep to ensure the outcome is good. Hence the prep schools. Folks can disagree with this approach, but the "big 3" all take it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2014

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