Importance of school profile?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by m1ndfr34k117, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. m1ndfr34k117

    m1ndfr34k117 m1ndfr34k117

    Joined:
    May 13, 2010
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've read that the academies look at the profile of the school one attends and weights that in the application process. To be blunt, my school's horrible in terms of mean test scores and other academic areas. I make a 4.0 with AP/honors courses and I'm ranked 13/~500, so will all of this be for nothing since my school isn't very good? I don't think it's fair that someone gets points deducted because other students don't pay attention in class and score well. We follow the same curriculum as everyone else and I've gotten a "Pass+" (highest grade awarded) on all of my state assessments.

    Basically, I just want to know if all of my hard work will count for nothing since my school isn't considered to be a good one. Others have said that academies no longer do this; is that true?

    Thanks for the help! :)
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    I don't know who said the academies no longer look at the school profile; but for air force at least, they most certainly do. And contrary to what you believe, one of the reasons is exactly for people like you.

    Do you realize how many "School Districts" there are in the country? I live in the least populated state in the entire country. Wyoming. There isn't one state with fewer people. Yet, we probably have close to 50 school districts in our state alone. Each school district will have some differences in what/how they teach. There are more than 18,000 high schools in the united states. Some have just regular classes available. Some have honor classes. Some have AP classes. Some are fortunate and have the IB (International Baccalaureate) program. Some have lots of sports. Some have very little. Some are home schooled. Some have a lot of students who go on to college; some have very few. How do you think the academy determines how you actually did in high school? How do you think any college determines that?

    The number one thing the academy looks at in the profile is "What classes are available". Then,,, they look at: "What classes did you take". Then they look at how well you did in those classes. If your school doesn't have the IB program, currently less than 1000 schools offer it, you aren't penalized for that. If you don't have AP classes and therefor can't take them, you aren't penalized.

    However: While an individual won't be penalized for what isn't available to them, they are definitely rewarded for going above and beyond. You are rewarded if you do take AP classes or the IB program. If these aren't available, most school district offer classes for higher students at the community college. Many during their normal high school time and taken instead of certain high school classes. You are definitely rewarded for this.

    That's also why the ACT and/or SAT is so important. It is the one constant nationally. And it's not uncommon to see someone with a 3.95 gpa get 25/26 composite on their ACT or 500-550 on their SAT. Or for the 3.5gpa student to get 32-33 ACT and 700+ on their SAT's. Obviously, when the academy sees a "validation" trend such as the person who has the 3.9-4.0gpa unweighted, and they also have the 30+ ACT and/or 675+ SAT, they probably are a very good student. And the ACT/SAT are things that any student, from any school in the country, can do well on if they prepare.

    As much as I hate to place blame, one of the main reasons many students don't do as well academically as some others, isn't because of their school; it's because of their parents. A student's success in high school is totally related to their parent's involvement. Which has to start the first day of Kindergarten and continue every day until graduating high school. Mind you I said "many" students. There are some that will kick butt academically and they didn't need any assistance from anyone. And there are some that simply aren't going to be the 3.95-4.0gpa #1 in their class no matter how much assistance and support they get.

    I bring this up, because part of the school profile ALO/Admissions looks at is: How many individuals from your school have applied to the academies? How many have actually received appointments? Part of the "Diversity" factor is: Are you the first in your family to attempt going to college? Do you come from a school where few if any every attend college.

    So while you might think your school sucks, and you are at a disadvantage, the whole reason for the school profile, is to assist people just like you be compared with students who come from schools that are the best in the country. The paid private schools where everyone has opportunities for any and all classes. Where they have every sport imaginable. But you have to do your part. (I say this part for the freshman, sophomores who still have time to control their academic future). You need to make up for your school's shortcomings by kicking butt on the ACT/SAT. NO, a 26 ACT composite is NOT good enough. It's definitely within minimum standards, but you're probably never going to receive an appointment with those scores. If you've taken the hardest classes at your school, and you're acing those classes, see about taking a summer class in math or sciences at the local community college. When I interview and the academy reviews applications, they want to see the person who challenges themselves and excels. The academies have been doing this for a very long time. They have a pretty good idea how you stand academically. Sorry for the novel, but the school profile is a very important piece of the puzzle to determine an applicant's true academic achievements and capabilities. And if the official school profile is no longer used at some point, there will be some other method of comparing apples with oranges and not winding up with a fuel injector. Basically; a 4.0gpa student means nothing to us unless we know the baseline in which that 4.0gpa was measured.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  3. m1ndfr34k117

    m1ndfr34k117 m1ndfr34k117

    Joined:
    May 13, 2010
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you for the response! I certainly have a much better understanding of the school profiling now. That being said, what penalties does one get for not taking the hardest class? For example, AP Calculus is offered, but I can't take it unless I double up on math classes; my teacher has already said that he won't sign off on ANYONE to do that. I thought about doing a community college course, but doesn't that cost money? I'd LOVE to do that, but I don't have the financial means. Can the school assist in that?

    As far as everything else goes, I've taken the most difficult English classes and humanities classes; these include honors English 9 and 10, AP Eng. Literature and AP English Composition, AP World History, AP US History, AP US Government, and AP Macroeconomics.
    For math, I've taken honors Algebra. I, honors Algebra II, honors geometry, and honors pre-cal/trig. As you can see, no calculus.
    Scientifically, I've taken honors biology, honors chemistry, honors physics, and AP physics. Then I have three years of Spanish.

    I've made all A's. I personally think that's a pretty descent class load, but obviously I haven't taken AP Calc., AP Statistics, or AP Chem. I can't take AP Chem or Calc. and AP statistics seems stupid; by that, I mean I would take chem or calc. over statistics if I had the option. Will not taking those three classes be a detriment to me? I simply don't have the schedule for AP Chem. or statistics, and unless I can get some financial help, AP Calc. isn't possible either.

    As for the whole diversity thing, I'll be the first in my immediate and mostly distance family (exception of 1 person that I can think of) to attend college out of high school. My dad, now 34, attending a community college a few years ago. Other than that, no college in my family. My school typically sends...~300 people to college? I could be WAY off, but that's what I would hypothesize. Is any of this okay?

    I'm signing up for every SAT and ACT from now until December 2013, so I'm hoping that I can get a good score out of it as long as I study and prepare hard, which I am.

    Thanks for your assistance and sorry for the very unstructured response. I'm making it up as I go along here, but again, THANK YOU! :D
     
  4. AFrpaso

    AFrpaso USAFA '17

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2012
    Messages:
    635
    Likes Received:
    169
    I don't mean to be rude or crass, but I think you might be OVER planning. It seems like you are obsessing over this option. What happens if you don't make the cut after all this work? Think about it, cultivate other options and then take the most sensible one. Remember, you have multiple opportunities to go.

    In my case, I thought about service academies when I was in high school but it turned out that I wasn't competitive. So I went to community college for a year, I qualified for their honors program. I was able to get scholarships to pay for what little cost that school had incurred. Then I decided to check the AFROTC route and guess what? They weren't offering any scholarships at the time. I didn't have to guts to take out federal loans and even if I did they wouldn't get me through the expenses for the remaining three years of a university. What next? I walked into a local recruiters office and started the enlistment process. A couple months later I shipped off to basic where I graduated with honors. Next I left tech school as a distinguished graduate with leadership experience (kinda like a RA). Once I got to my permanent duty station I immediately started looking into the educational opportunities. That's when I found the AFA brochure staring me in the face, just like it had been 3 years before in high school, but now under the LEAD program (a program to send Airman to the AFA). Now my application is complete and apparently very competitive according to my ALO (a Lt Col). I have the support of my commander and many other officers and enlisted personnel. I haven't heard back from the AFA yet, but if I don't make it then I won't let it hold me back.

    My point is that no matter what happens you need to be resilient, look at other options and be prepared to take a step back before you can take a step forward.
     
  5. m1ndfr34k117

    m1ndfr34k117 m1ndfr34k117

    Joined:
    May 13, 2010
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    AFrpaso, thanks for your response! It's very motivational and informative!

    I've already began looking into back up plans. I'm applying to four out of the five service academies and I'm applying for all ROTC scholarships. If I don't get accepted to an Academy this year, I'm applying next year. And the year after that, and so on until I'm either ineligible or I get in. Either way, I'm comitted and nothing is going to stop me from entering the military other than an act of God or medical reasons. :)
     
  6. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2008
    Messages:
    2,852
    Likes Received:
    342
    CCorp is 100% on target with his explanation!!!! :thumb:

    NOTHING I can add to it.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  7. usafamomma

    usafamomma Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2011
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    0
    m1ndfr34k117, I just really like your login name. How did you come up with m1ndfr34k117? It is quite unusual. Also, best of luck to you :))
     
  8. GoSox

    GoSox Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    48
    These posts contain lots of good advice, so I won't repeat them. Just two points: (1) don't over stress about your course selection -- it looks fairly rigorous and you have to work within the boundaries of your schedule; and (2) the single best way you can help yourself is to scratch and claw for every single point possible on the ACT and SAT. Buy a test prep book or a bunch of 'em (look on Amazon, you can get them second-hand for a few bucks), carry it around with you, and when you have 15 minutes free you should be doing practice questions or looking at vocab flashcards. The SAT/ACT is how you will tell the SAs that "although my school is not as competitive as some of the other schools in the USA, I can hack it at the academies -- my board scores prove it."

    Good luck!
     
  9. juliusc16

    juliusc16 Candidate Appointee

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    0
    "I can't take AP Chem or Calc. and AP statistics seems stupid; by that, I mean I would take chem or calc. over statistics if I had the option. Will not taking those three classes be a detriment to me?

    I chose AP Stats over precal... and out of the 8 students in that class, I'm either the highest or second highest with an 88...Not necessarily the coursework, but my teacher has a heavy accent (I want to say from Zimbabwe) and he kinda (okay, can't) teach very well.
     
  10. juliusc16

    juliusc16 Candidate Appointee

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    0
    same boat man (but didnt apply for nrotc) Goodluck!
     
  11. YorkieMom75

    YorkieMom75 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2012
    Messages:
    163
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the Explanation

    Thanks for your lengthy explanation. I appreciate the time you give to inform those of us who are waiting and don't understand the entire process. As a military family we moved a lot, and my son who is a USAFA 2016 Candidate went to 6 different schools since Kindergarten. In addition to that, he was also in a German school for two years, and I home schooled him during that time. Add that to the school district variable, and the equation gets even more complicated.

    Thank you especially for pointing out the importance of the influence of parents. Encouragement and support has always been important in our family, as well as setting the example to serve our Nation.
     
  12. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    The academies get a lot of different types of students applying. Home schooled; private schools; inner city public school; suburban public; religious schools; military brats and children of other families where they move around a lot. That's why the school profile is important.

    Forums like this one however tend to attract much more motivated students and parents. When I mention the role of parents; which I didn't have such support 30+ years ago; that normally isn't that big of an issue on forums like this. Again; those who have the initiative to search out forums and other resources to assist in getting to the academies or a good college, usually aren't the families where the kid is simply expected to just pass their classes and nothing more is required.

    Forums like this can also be very misleading. If you look at how many posters on this forum; or any forum; are actually applicants for this coming year, I think you'd find less than 50-100. Now; considering that there WILL be more than 12,000 applicants this year, that is roughly 1/2 of 1% who visit the forums. It's also misleading, because of the motivation and generally higher qualification of those who visit the forums, there's the perception of a higher acceptance rate among forum members.

    I personally believe that forums like this one; and there are others; provide a lot of assistance in helping applicants produce the best possible application to the academy that they can. I think it gives them a leg up on applicants who don't visit the forums. But each applicant is unique. Each has unique competition at their district and state level. I think the forums help applicants prepare better. Prepare a better application, resume, MOC and ALO/BGO/MALO interview, etc... But in the end, it's the candidate's application that will or won't get them an appointment. But it should be realized too; any individual who feels that they are high enough caliber to get into a military academy, is definitely high enough quality to get into the best schools in the country. And yes, I'm talking about the ivy league; west coast ivy's; and many other prestigious schools. Every academy applicant should be also applying to at least 5 other schools; with at least 2-3 of them being the best schools in the country. If you apply; and get accepted; you can find funding. But if you don't apply, you can't get accepted. Don't think finances can stop you. And don't let that become an excuse for not applying. Bottom line: If you don't think you're good enough to get into the "Big Name Schools", then you have no business applying to the academies. They too are "Big Name Schools" with as difficult if not more so requirements for entrance. Best of luck to everyone. Mike....
     
  13. m1ndfr34k117

    m1ndfr34k117 m1ndfr34k117

    Joined:
    May 13, 2010
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    When I came up with it, around age 10, I was a big fan of a show called Mindfreak. It was about an illusionist named Chris Angel and that was the name of his show. At the same time, I've always liked the number 117. Thus, I combined the two and replaced some letters with numbers (i.e. replace i with 1) and we have m1ndfr34k117! :)

    As to all of the other posters, thank you so much! I don't think I've ever had this much return from a thread before. I definitely understand the process better now so again, thank you. I am taking the SAT and ACT a lot between now and December so I'm hoping that, with the studying I do, I can do well on them to make up for my school. As for the schedule I have, it is rigorous, but it could potentially be more rigorous. At the same time, I struggle to maintain my 4.0 and I'm not sure I'm willing to slip towards a 3.9. I understand that a 3.9 is still competitive, but I like the number 4 just a little bit better. I'm going to talk to my counselor tomorrow to see about taking trigonometry over the summer so that I can take AP Calculus my senior year. If that happens, I will have the most demanding course load available with the exception of doubling up with AP Chem. and AP Physics, which I simply can't do due to scheduling. (And NO ONE in my school has had a single A in AP Chem. all year; it's essentially a guaranteed 3.9 for me then, as I know many chem students who are much smarter than myself.) I'm going to focus on AP Physics and even then, there will be only one student in the school who will have a more demanding course load. (He's the only one to double up with AP science classes in recent history.)

    Again, thanks for the help!
     
  14. sarahkatherine

    sarahkatherine New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    It is my understanding that the academies aren't going to "deduct points" if you don't attend a nice school but your straight As won't be worth nearly as much as if you went to a prestigious high school. It goes both ways-I go to a very competitive high school where you are essentially considered unintelligent if your SAT score is anywhere below 1800. Therefore my class rank is going to be worse than one who goes to a high school that is not competitive and offers little AP classes. From my perspective, this is unfair because my class rank is being compared to someone's who is attending an easy school and is getting straight A's because they are taking all standard classes. I am in no way saying this person is you but in general, I think the school that you attend should be very much factored into the application process.
     
  15. eagleone

    eagleone Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    0
    It's not fair!

    If life were fair, I would have hair.... :wink:
     
  16. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    What you are saying isn't quite right. The school profile isn't so much about how prestigious your school is, as the academies, universities, and colleges want to know what your school has to offer for classes. My son's high school is a local public school. It isn't prestigious. But it offers the entire IB program from 9th-12th grade. It offers most all of the AP classes. The school profile shows what classes are offered and what classes you are taking. It also looks at the quality of teachers and the school district by seeing how many students go on to college.

    Class rank says something about you, but it's not the #1 factor. And while your school might consider someone unintelligent if their SAT's are below 1800, (I assume you are combining all 3 tests and saying each test is less than 600 on average), this is simply your school's attitude. And personally; SAT test scores below 600 aren't that great. Not when competing for an academy appointment or admissions to an Ivy League, west coast ivy, or other high end university. The average scores for academy cadets is in the 640-660 area.

    The SAT/ACT is one of the few constants. It doesn't matter if you come from an inner city PS105 type school; home schooled; or a uniform wearing new england private school. The SAT/ACT is the same test nationally. Everyone has the same chance of doing well or poorly on the SAT/ACT. You don't need to have taken AP Physics/Chem/Calc or IB classes to do well on it. But you are concentrating too much on the "Class Rank". Trust me; it isn't as important as you are saying. If you've got a 3.8gpa in the IB degree program or you're taking ALL AP classes; then that means more than a 4.0gpa in non-honor/AP/IB classes. The person who IS PENALIZED is the person who does have Honors/AP/IP classes available, and they DON'T TAKE THEM. Check out the standard application for some of the high end universities. Some of the first questions asked are: Does you school offer AP/IB type classes... If yes, did you take them..... If you didn't take them (WHY)?

    So that is why the school profile is important. Not because the academy cares if you went to some "Prestigious" school. That doesn't mean anything. They want to know what classes are available; what classes you took; and the quality of the teachers (determined by how many students go on to college, and WHAT COLLEGE they got into).
     
  17. YorkieMom75

    YorkieMom75 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2012
    Messages:
    163
    Likes Received:
    0
    KACT vs SAT

    As an educator, I'm just wondering if the SAT and ACT are really viewed equally, since the SAT measures aptitude or potential and the ACT measures achievement or what you currently know. Or is it that ACT is compared to national norms for ACT and SAT scores compared to SAT norms (separate tests, not really compared to each other)? If so, how does the board reconcile candidates who are all close in other quals, but some took ACT and some took SAT? My son only took ACTs since that's the most commonly taken test for our part of the country.

    Also, does the ACT composite matter more or the individual ACT scores? Thanks.
     
  18. AFAYahoo

    AFAYahoo Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2011
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yorkiemom, I'm not sure how the AFA views candidates if they only take the ACT or SAT

    But concerning the ACT, since the candidate status page only lists the individual scores and not the composite, we took that to mean that the AFA considers the individual scores most impt. Science and Math scores are impt indicators since all cadets will take plenty of calc, chem, etc no matter the major. Maybe they are also looking to see if there is a wide range making up the composite (a 25 in Math vs. a 34 in English for example) or whether there is consistency across the subjects. ACT/SAT scores are just one part of the academic score (part of that whole candidate score) that each candidate will get.
     
  19. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,800
    Likes Received:
    932
    I have to say that our DS took both AP Stats and APCALC. He pulled an A in Calc without opening the book. Struggled to finally pull a B (school is 7 pt scale, so an 84 is a C) in Stats.

    Stats is not as easy as people want to believe, even if they have a strong mathematical background.

    JMPO now through it in the circular filing cabinet.

    Regarding the SAT or ACT, I don't think they place more or less weight regarding the test. I say this because they convert the ACT score to the SAT and take which ever is higher.

    Additionally on the east coast most kids do not take the ACT, in some areas so few take it you can do a walk in on that day, whereas the SAT books out immediately.

    DS would have never taken the ACT, but 4 yrs ago Notre Dame required the ACT not the SAT for application purposes. Ironically, since he took both, the higher score for him was his ACT, SAT was 1390 out of 1600 and the ACT conversion was 1450.

    IMPO don't concern yourself with if they do or don't give more weight. Take both because you don't know if you will do better on one over the other until you take them.

    Remember also that AFROTC scholarships are are determined not on superscores like the AFA, but best sitting. Thus, another reason to take both because you will be able to determine if one test works better for you than another.
     
  20. Romad

    Romad Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2010
    Messages:
    486
    Likes Received:
    1
    My son took both several times (starting as a sophomore to get used to it) and he kept at it until he had a decent superscore for USAFA and a decent single sitting for ROTC. While taking the test several times might seem as though you're gaming the system, it's encouraged by the Academy and AFROTC. He also did better on the ACT (which most people take here) than the SAT. Take them both, figure which one suits you better then STUDY!

    (and Pima is right about stats - BioStats nearly killed this old horse... :eek:)

    Best

    :biggrin:
     

Share This Page