High School Four Year Plan...???

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by melaniesdavis, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. melaniesdavis

    melaniesdavis Member

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    It's class registration time for my son's high school and I have a few questions about what he should do...
    • First, the Academy recommends one year of computer science. However, when I looked at the course description of the computer science course that cadets take the first year, it seems to be more of a computer primer-type course (rather than a programming course). So, should he take a year of computer programming? Or a year of what his high school calls "Computer Applications"?
    • Second, my sons' high school offers high school juniors the opportunity the spend 4 of the 7 periods in a day to take Private Pilot Ground School (their Senior year, they will then be able to complete the flying part on their own time, at a discount). So, which is more beneficial - the Private Pilot's License, or the 4 classes that he could take if he does not do the Ground School? My thoughts are that by not taking 4 classes that others are, his class rank could be affected...
    • Which type of classes should he focus on taking (science, engineering, etc)?
    • The high school only requires one semester of PE their Freshman and Sophomore year. Should he take a PE elective every year?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. urbonman6

    urbonman6 Member

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    In my opinion

    I think your son should take the computer programming class. More of what we do in the basic comp. sci. class is programming. As for the ground school class, I would recommend using that time to take the 4 classes instead of the ground school. Although it is nice to have some experience with a stick, it is by no means required or even really considered when applying. However, if his High School offers ground school through JROTC, then I would go for that. For the PE classes, I think it depends. If your son is involved enough in sports or could maintain a work out schedule on his own, he may not need the extra years of PE.
    I hope I answered your questions.
     
  3. USAFAHopefulMom

    USAFAHopefulMom Member

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    Here are a few recommendations based on things we were told as my son applied this year:

    His AFA admissions counselor told him any computer courses are OK--they want the cadets to have experience (word processing, excel, etc.) but
    don't require programming--whatever interests him should be fine.
    If 4 of 7 classes were devoted to PP ground school, I'd be worried about what core academic classes he was missing. 3 periods would allow
    lang arts, math, and science but nothing else--what about history, foreign lang, etc.? The AFA will look at the strength of academic
    courses taken (honors/AP/IB) vs. what his school offers to make sure he has been challenged. Most cadets do not have their pilots license
    even when they are accepted into UPT (flight school after the academy) so its not a requirement. I'd be afraid he was giving up too
    many academic courses by doing ground school during the school day.
    Classes he should focus on are math (thru calculus if possible), science (including chemistry, physics), lang arts, other academic subjects--as
    many honors/AP etc that he can handle or are offered. The academy will be tough, and everyone takes a core of math and science no
    matter the major.
    I don't think taking PE every year would be as beneficial as being involved in a sport junior and senior years. And working towards being a
    captain if possible to show leadership.

    Hopefully this helps. I'm sure others will offer their advice too. Basically, the more well-rounded (in activities, sports, leadership, etc.) as your son can be while taking a challenging course of study (and doing well in it) will help as he applies to the academy in the future. Good luck to him!
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2011
  4. jetset15

    jetset15 Member

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    Again, take all the Honors/IB/AP courses he can, but within reason. There's no reason to slam yourself with AP Chem, AP Euro, AP Spanish, AP English, and AP BC Calc and sacrifice your grades if your GPA would be better overall if you only took two or three of those. At the end of the day, all Bs and Cs in all Honors/APs doesn't look as good as all As and Bs in Honors/APs with a few regular courses thrown in.

    And make sure this is HIS decision. No one can push him to do this except himself -- it can't be a parent's/counselor's/coaches/war-vet grandparent's decision.

    Eighth grade is awfully early to be thinking so far ahead as senior year, let alone college, IMO. Let him get through the shock of Freshman Year and then see where he stands.

    Good Luck!
     
  5. USAFAHopefulMom

    USAFAHopefulMom Member

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    Sorry, I realize I read the original post in a hurry and thought your son was registering for his jr. year. My advice still holds, other than to get involved in sports as a freshman. Whether football, track, basketball, cross country, swimming or whatever, it will be helpful when applying to an academy, from the physical part, to teamwork, to leadership if a captain, etc.

    Jetset is right, he shouldn't take more honors or AP classes than he can handle but he shouldn't choose all regular courses either just so he gets easy A's on his report card. The academy will look at strength of schedule too.

    He's got plenty of time being an 8th grader, but its smart to think about it now rather than wait until jr./sr. years and scramble to get activities, sports, leadership opportunities etc. to fill out a resume.
     
  6. RyWalk

    RyWalk Candidate-2015

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    I agree with Jetset that it is a bit early. Not that he shouldn't be thinking, but you don't have to force him into certain classes with only the Academy in mind. I didn't decide I wanted to apply until a couple months into my Senior year (this academic year). But I had it in mind before choosing my Junior year classes, which are the last grades colleges and the academy really care to see with initial applications.

    For planning out classes for high school I'd just keep a focus on being well-rounded and also on possible interests for college majors. I had an engineering interest through high school, so I ended up in AP Calc and AP Physics C in my Junior year, which I think makes my academics look strong since I passed both and the exams. But I didn't put all attention on engineering, I also took Chemistry, Biology, AP Environmental science, AP Psychology, AP Lang and Lit. Just remember that High School is a good time for a nice range of classes, you never know what jobs you'll end up with out after. I think I went into High School interested in Programming and graphic design, then changed it to aerospace around 10th grade, just for an example of how fickle we teens are. I also changed from primarily wanting ROTC and the AFA very often last year.

    I'm catching myself rambling so I'll say this about the PE electives. I think one PE class will suffice, i'm not sure about that school, but mine only has one PE class which would get repetitive. But taking an elective like Weight Lifting or Aerobics could just help improve fitness, but not necessarily stand out to the Academy. Sports teams after school definitely would look great though.

    And as for the pilot's license, there is another thread about that which points out that a license is not really necessary for the AFA. There is a place for it on applications, but I don't see it being a huge deal. Especially since it would take up most of his Junior year. As I said, the junior year is the last year they see for initial applications, so, in my opinion, it would be much better to take an academic focus and take some impressive Math, Science and English classes with a language too. That'll keep his head in the game for SATs and pulling out good grades at the end of that year is a big help
     
  7. RyWalk

    RyWalk Candidate-2015

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    I'll reword what I was saying a tad because this is correct too. He doesn't have to decide he's applying to the AFA yet, but having those extra curriculars and leadership experiences are a must. Even if he goes to a different college it'll look great. Look into Scouting, Sports, School Clubs, Honor Societies he may want to get involved in. These are essential for the well-rounded candidate
     
  8. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Priorities/goals tend to change quite a bit over high school. In my opinion, the best thing to do is keep your options open. What does that mean? It means the best grades in the hardest classes, at least one sport, and extracurriculars with leadership experience. If you have those, you will be well-set for admissions into almost any college in the nation.

    That said, make sure the things he does are things that actually interest him or serve a purpose he wants. For example, I was involved in scouting because I like it, not because Eagle would look good on my application. Yet, I also did tennis because I needed a sport to be competative (but I picked it because I had fun doing it, too).

    To reinforce the "things change" bit...
    I entered HS with no idea what I wanted to do. I later decided to become an electrical engineer and graduate from the University of Illinois. Then, a friend mentioned that he was applying to the Air Force Academy...:biggrin:
     
  9. melaniesdavis

    melaniesdavis Member

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    High School Four Year Plan... con't...

    I think I may have confused some... My son is a Freshman, registering for his Sophomore year. He is planning on graduating with Academic Honors, which requires the following:
    • 4 years of English and Math
    • 3 years of Social Studies, Science, and World Language
    • 1 year of PE and Fine Arts
    • 1 semester of Health, Career Info, and Computer Apps
    And one for the following:
    • 2 AP courses
    • 3 years dual level courses
    • 1 AP and 1.5 years Dual level (3 semesters)
    • Score 1200 critical reading/math score on SAT
    • Score 26 composite on ACT
    His first semester, he took:
    • Honors English
    • Geometry
    • Honors Biology
    • PE
    • Career Info
    • Spanish I
    • Intro to 2 & 3 Dimensional Art
    His semester grades were all A's, with one A+ and one A-.
    This semester he is taking:
    • Honors English
    • Geometry
    • Honors Biology
    • Computer Applications I
    • Technical Drawing I
    • Spanish I
    • Intro to 2 & 3 Dimensional Art
    Sophomore year he plans on the following:
    • Honors English
    • Algebra II
    • Chemistry I
    • PE (1 semester) / Health (1 semester)
    • Spanish II
    • AP European History
    • Earth and Space II (Dual Level course)
    Here's the tricky part... If he takes Ground School his Junior year, he only has time for 3 courses:
    • Honors English
    • AP U.S. History
    • Pre-Calculus
    His senior year, he can do the flying on his own time and is free to take up to 7 courses, but he would need only 5 periods to complete the requirements for Academic Honors:
    • AP English
    • Honors Economics (1 semester) / Government (1 semester)
    • AP Calculus
    • Spanish III
    • AP Physics
    He is involved in Student Council and Tennis. He plans to try out for baseball, as well. Sorry for the long / detailed post, but I would like your opinion on his plan and whether he should do the Ground School or fill in his Junior year with more AP / Dual level courses.

    Thanks!
     
  10. NMMI PREP DIRECTOR

    NMMI PREP DIRECTOR Member

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    melaniesdavis,

    If you read raimius' post once, please go back and re-read it. These are wise words. I agree with most in that ground school can wait.

    You make no mention of your son's medical condition. You don't know yet whether DoDMERB will medically qualify him for flight.

    Raimius also mentions being an Eagle Scout. If you knew the qualifications that one has to go through to reach that "rank", you would understand why the academies offer appointments to so many of them (and why Eagle Scouts apply to the academies).

    I would encourage him in the physical fitness area also. His CFA scores are important. Give the PE teacher a copy of the CFA instructions and see if the PE classes will help prepare him for the test.

    If your school offers any type of JrROTC I would also encourage him to be involved. He may not like the "military" aspect of it - or he may absolutely "love" it. He won't know until he tries it.

    Whatever the outcome, as others have said (Jetset15, RyWalk), going to an academy needs to be your son's goal - his decision. Every year I lose a few cadets who are only trying to please their parents and not follow their own dreams.
     
  11. melaniesdavis

    melaniesdavis Member

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    Thanks to all!

    I really do appreciate everyone's responses!

    I do understand that this needs to be his decision. I convey that same thing to him over and over. This is something that he wants to pursue.

    As for his medical conditions, he will need to apply for a medical waiver to be accepted by the Academy - we already know this. However, the people that I have spoken to say that it is very possible that he could qualify for a waiver (no guarantee). Now, what I am not sure about is whether requiring a waiver to enter the Academy will disqualify him from being a Pilot.

    Do you think there is still time for him to pursue the Eagle Scout option at this point?

    There is a Naval JrROTC program at his high school. We did consider this last year. However, after speaking with many people (including students), we decided against it due to the fact that it seems to be a place for "problem" kids. Several of the girls involved in the program become pregnant every year... I did not think that would be a good environment for my son. It's unfortunate, but the way it is...

    Again, thanks for you input!
     
  12. CandidateInSD

    CandidateInSD Parent

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    ROTC is a great program, what you put in you get out. My son has 4 years of ROTC under his belt and has had many great adventures while also learning about the military lifestyle. He is applying to Annapolis this year, has a GPA of 4.2 ((predominantly AP courses)) and is very disciplined in his bearing. I can't stress to you enough that it's not where the "troubled" kids go, every organization has it's share of great and not so great participants.
     
  13. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    With medical issues, it is hard to tell. I required waivers for allergies to get into the academy, and a waiver for eyesight for my flight physical. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't. It is VERY situationally/case dependent. Mr. Mullen on the DoDMERB forum would have the best info on specific issues.

    As to scouting, joining at the end of freshman year would put your son in a major time crunch. Some of the higher ranks in scouting have "time in rank" requirements. He would need to be a fast mover, as you MUST have all Eagle requirements completed and submitted by your 18th birthday. I started just before my 14th birthday and submitted my final paperwork 3 days before my 18th birthday. Now, I took some time on a couple things (really pushing the deadline at the end), but 4 years is still in the average range for making Eagle.
     
  14. d.mcknight

    d.mcknight Member

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    I have to echo this from a student's prospective. I'm in my 4th year of JROTC as well. I absolutely love it and its definitely gotten me where I am today. Sure we have the problem kids here in there. Some of our cadets do get in trouble. In fact two just got in some major trouble with the school and they'll be going in front of a cadet board where we'll decided what their status in ROTC should be. HOWEVER, not all the kids in the program are bad. Last year our unit sent 3 cadets to academies. Plus, for cadets who have been in the program for all 4 years, there is a graduation rate of 98%. Just because there are so many opportunities for help. But unfortunately, sometimes the bad parts of something overshadow the good parts. Just my two cents....
     

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