How to better prep myself for USAFA Apps(Specifically EXTRAC'S?)

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by craiyan2, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. craiyan2

    craiyan2 Member

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    I just want to start off by saying, I'm new to this forum, so I'm not sure if I'm accidentally posting to the wrong category and messing up a thousand years worth of tradition or something.

    Anyways, I'm currently a sophomore at the end of his year who just started caring about performance in highschool and his resulting future. In the recent months I've had profound obsession over going to service academy, and specifically USAFA where I want to train to become a pilot.....but my grades,and extracurriculars aren't so good

    3.48 Unweighted
    3.9 Weighted
    SAT grade- Just took a practice one, I think I did good on it.

    I'm a lead varsity debater on my team, in which we participate in national tournaments. I've done cross country and track. I am a participant in Model UN and Robotics. Besides that, I have no outstanding quality that could redeem my grades or apparent vapidity.

    My main questions are focused on ec's - How do I better distinguish myself through my extracurriculars? What clubs/programs can I join? What can I do in the summer(two months of doing nothing usually)?

    PS- No JROTC programs at my school

    Thanks everyone.
     
  2. kjc_25

    kjc_25 Member

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    Definitely focus on getting that gpa up into the high 3.8/9 range. Take weighted classes, that will help a lot. The academies like to see an upward trend in grades so get serious about making them improve. Without good grades, you have no shot no matter how many extracurriculars you do. (Except for prep, but you aren't asking about prep.)
    Your extracurriculars look good, track and cross country are great sports and the academy loves athletes. One thing I would tell you is not to spread yourself too thin. Focus on a few key activities and gain leadership positions in those. Do what you enjoy and excel at it. That's one thing I wish I would have done for my application. During the summer I would suggest getting a job. It shows maturity and responsibility and besides, I'm sure your parents would love to have you chipping in for gas and other things.
    Does your school have NHS? I would suggest getting involved in that. Also, Girls/ Boys state is a good thing to do summer after your junior year. Try to do some service projects and work in your community, the academy likes to see that.
    The main thing is to make yourself stand out among the other applicants. The academy gets thousands of good students and athletes, what can you do to set yourself apart from the pack? Find your unique passions, we can't tell you exactly what to do on here.
     
  3. 20ta

    20ta Member

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    While I don't suggest joining clubs just to get into USAFA, here are some recommendations to look into:

    -National Honor Society and other community service-oriented clubs, most schools have them, try your best to get in and try to become an officer eventually
    -Civil Air Patrol, similar to AFJROTC with a few differences, look up online.
    -Apply to Boys State during your Junior year (I think you will enjoy it especially since you are on the debate team)

    And I would like to say that you don't need to have an outstanding quality or super unique extracurricular to get into USAFA. Just join things that you care about and become a leader in them. So like you said in your OP (Model UN, Debate, and Robotics). I too was on my school's debate team, so I suggest that you work really hard and try to be an officer or even captain. Also debate is looked upon favorably to the Academies so keep it up!

    One thing that will help your application tremendously is working as hard as possible to get a 4.0 (or as close as possible) in your remaining two years because it will increase your overall GPA and more importantly it will help to sell the idea that you have in your own words "started caring."
     
  4. craiyan2

    craiyan2 Member

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    Thank you so much for your replies. I've definitely put more effort into getting my grades up.

    As for NHS- I'm on track to be in it next year

    I am really interested in Civil Air Patrol. What programs and training do they offer? Are their certain rankings or community hours that service brings?
     
  5. goforspaatz

    goforspaatz USAFA c/o 2020

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    CAP is a weekly approximately 2-hour long program. As a sophomore, it will be difficult to get the Mitchell award in time to use on applications, but you do get leadership positions if you advance quickly and work hard. It is the USAF Auxiliary, you learn a lot of leadership, aerospace/STEM, and military-related topics. Go to www.gocivilairpatrol.com/how_to_join/ for details. Feel free to private message (PM) me when you have more posts.

    Edit: as far as programs, you have the opportunity to fly in a Cessna (free flights and cheap flying lessons), do Encampment (look it up), NCSAs (www.ncsas.com), CyberPatriot cyber defense competition, drill team, color/honor guard, emergency services training, and much more.
     
  6. CivilAirPatrolCadet

    CivilAirPatrolCadet AFROTC Non-Tech Scholarship Recipient

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    Thanks @goforspaatz You definitely summed up CAP activities available. The Mitchell is looked very favorably by SAs (about the same as Eagle scout is what I've heard. Eagle scouts, please don't get your tail in a knot.) The camaraderie, teamwork, and leadership is incredible. There is no way to sum up the way you will feel about CAP if you work at it. I love it! That being said, it might be possible to get your Mitchell before USAFA application is due. I earned mine the end of Oct. after promoting constantly (every 56 days) from the middle of sophomore year. I took a two month break at chief, otherwise it was 56 days...more tests...56 days...
     
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  7. Daretodream

    Daretodream Member

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    I will give you the same advice I gave my DS (Class of 2020). Focus on what you can control and build your best resume. The rest will take care of itself. You already know the SAs look for the well-rounded applicant so work to be at least in the median range for everything.

    My DS was in the low median of unweighted GPA (3.7-3.8) but took a rigorous course load including multiple AP foriegn languages. He excelled on the AP national exams with scores of 4 and 5 and his high school was highly rated nationally. He also scored well above the median on the ACT so there is an area where you can make up ground.

    In school he lettered in tennis and was an officer on the French Club and member of the National Honor Society and member of several academic competition teams. Outside of school he was active in CAP including earning the Billy Mitchell Award and participating on the Cyber Patriot teams. He did not go to Boys State because it conflicted with going to USAFA and USNA SSs. He scored above the median on the CFA. All of these helped him.
     
  8. Blueblood1

    Blueblood1 Member

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    If you have volunteer or service opportunities where you can lead (or even better identify a problem or need in tour community and implement a means to address it) that would show leadership and initiative. It may also distinguish you from other candidates.

    Do not underestimate SAT and ACT scores -- they really are the great equalizer. If you show stellar academic performance from here on out and do very well on your SAT/ACTs, it can make up for some of the underperformance.

    Having said that, my DD's grades were sub 4.0 (on 5.0) scale. She did do fantastic on her ACT and she had three varsity letters in team sports and was captain on two teams. It is not just grades. Admissions really does look at a lot of things and the whole application.

    Show improvement, and do as well as you possibly can from here on out.

    Good luck.
     

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