Improving my chances.

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by pixiestudent, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. pixiestudent

    pixiestudent New Member

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    I plan to go through the process of applying to the Academy and know it's something I want very badly and am willing to work for, but consistently feel the need to double guess myself and whether or not I'll make it through. Although I don't plan on pursuing any activities for the sole purpose of adding them to my application, I'm definitely open to any suggestions.

    -GPA: 3.9 UW
    -Rank: 17/265 (top 10%) at a fairly decent public school
    -ACT Composite: 32
    -AP Lang & Comp, AP Literature, AP Physics 1 & 2, AP Chemistry, AP Studio Art. Also self-studied AP Psych and AP World.
    -For foreign languages, I took a year of French during freshman year, but have since been self-studying Russian and Arabic.
    -My math credit worries me sometimes; I'll be taking pre-calculus my senior year, would it be better to try working with the school and test out of it in order to take AP Calc senior year?
    -Sports: Cross-country, Soccer, Off-road cycling competitions (outside of school)
    -Other ECs: Volunteering with the Humane Society, Volunteering with an organization that trains service dogs, NHS, Visual Arts Club, Robotics club, Civil Air Patrol, Drama, (primarily backstage & set design for musical productions), started/president of Film Club, Yearbook
     
  2. DS4Duty

    DS4Duty Member

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    You are on the right path. Definitely take all the math classes available in high school. Maths seem to be the top academic subject for USAF. Take SAT exam too. Take both ACT/SAT exams as many time as you can afford since USAF super-scores. In your ECs, apply for top positions such as president, captain, vice/assistant, etc. Leadership experiences will make you stand out. For recommendation letters, get to know your English, Math, Science and PE teachers. Each MOC office has different requirements for rec letters (for my DS, one MOC source asked for Physics and English; the PE teacher oversaw his CFA). Last but not least, start your cardio/physical training to get ready for the CFA test (hardest for my DS was the pull-up).

    There are many threads on "how to better your chance" in this forum. It has been a great resource. This is how I helped prepare my DS for USAF class 2020 and he was one of the first wave (non-LOA) of appointments. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2016
  3. goforspaatz

    goforspaatz USAFA c/o 2020

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    ^^ agreed. Especially about the pull-ups!

    Russian and Arabic are both challenging languages. Self-study is great, but see if you can find a way to get a stamp of "officiality" on it. If it's not on the transcript, how is USAFA going to know you're studying it? (Hint: also mention this to your ALO). Can you take a college class in the language? Some colleges let you take a test that gives equivalency to passing the class.
     
  4. Daretodream

    Daretodream Member

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    You will find there is no magic answer on what you need to get an appointment. Just reading this board you will see a lot of very talented and qualified candidates who don't get in the first time. On the other hand there are those who do so stay confident and have a plan to build your application and a solid plan B if you don't get the appointment.

    My advice is to shoot for exceeding everywhere you can. I believe the median numbers for last year was a 3.7-3.8 unweighted GPA and 32 ACT. Add beating the minimum requirements on the CFA and hitting some of the known ECs like Boys/Girls State, Summer Seminars, CAP, Eagle Scout, varsity team captain,etc.

    Finally, complete the application as early as possible. Get the medical clearance and network with your ALO and MOC. These give you the best chance for an appointment.
     
  5. wildblueyonder

    wildblueyonder USAFA '19

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    Most languages I know of have some type of international standardized proficiency test (often with different levels). If you can take a test like this and pass a certain level, your language experience will be looked upon by USAFA as more "official" than self-study alone. Just something to consider. Good luck to you!
     
    goforspaatz likes this.
  6. navyafgirl

    navyafgirl Member

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    How did you take AP Physics 1 and 2 if you're only going to be in pre calc as a senior??
     
  7. Sneak

    Sneak Member

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    AP physics 1 and 2 are both algebra-based, AP physics C is calculus-based.

    How he managed to fit both of those in by just junior year is a bit of a different story.
     
  8. navyafgirl

    navyafgirl Member

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    Hmm I'm pretty sure one has to be already done with algebra to take AP physics 1 and 2. If he/she isn't taking pre calc till senior year that means he/she was just learning algebra 2 junior year... Seems odd
     
  9. MABlue

    MABlue Member

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    Just about all physics, even very basic mechanics, requires trigonometry, so OP probably does know at least some precalculus
     
  10. Sneak

    Sneak Member

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    Taking algebra 2/trig junior year and pre calc senior year is pretty much standard procedure, but a good number of people are a year ahead as well. But youyou are right that getting to physics 2 without taking pre calc is a little odd.
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I think the OP has left the building, but if they are lurking or if there is another poster thinking about this than I think they need to see some flaws in the OPs academic path.

    To add onto goforspaatz's point. I might be remembering this incorrectly, but don't they require at least 2 years of foreign language? If those languages do not have an official stamp somewhere on the transcripts, than they only have 1 foreign language according to USAFA. I am not sure you would be considered academically competitive with only 1 unless you take the second during your senior yr., regardless how good your other stats are standing.
    ~Def. agree talk to an ALO about this aspect. Maybe you can do a course on line with your local Community college (i.e. Russian or Arabic 101). This way it would be an easy A and you can get on an official transcript

    I would think that the HS would not jump on board with you for testing out. For two reasons.
    1. If they open that door than they must open that option to every single student in the school. Granted it might only be you this year, but what about next year? Do they go through this with 25 or 50 kids? If so than that means they now to reassign the pre-calc teachers to become AP Calc teachers because now they have more AP kids.
    ~ My DD is a HS teacher and I know for her to teach AP she must be certified as an AP teacher. Teachers have to pay for those certifications, and from a time mgmt aspect, they usually do it during the summer. Thus, the teachers can't apply for that AP position until sometime in the summer, and the school can't wait until that time to hire on a teacher if they now know in the spring that they need at least 2 more classes for AP since they opened the door to jump pre-calc.
    2. As in any Math or Science course, you need the foundation to be successful at the next level. Unless you plan to use this summer self studying pre-calc, I personally believe you will enter Calc behind the 8 ball even if they allow you to test out.
    ~ My 3 kids were AF brats and went to 3 different HS in 2 states. To the best of my knowledge the only way to get into AP Calc was 1 of 2 ways. They either took pre-calc or stds. and differentials the yr. prior. Even my youngest that took AP Stats over AP Calc had to have 1 of those 2 classes under their belt.

    Finally, I cannot stress this enough your academic rigor will matter for both your plan A (USAFA) and B (AFROTC scholarship).
    1. For USAFA you will need a nomination, and the lack of foreign language on your transcript can hurt you, even if you are self taught. Many of your peers will have 3-4 yrs. on their transcript including AP foreign language.
    ~ My DS not only had 4 yrs French (1 being AP), but he also had 2 yrs of Latin on his transcript, someone like him would be your competition for that nomination. Yes, his stats were almost identical, except he had a 33 or 34 ACT best sitting and @1400 SAT best sitting, 1490 (super). Just saying, this process is complicated and to get that appointment you need the nomination first,
    2. Another big difference is going to be that for the scholarship they will NOT consider any class you take as a senior. The only new aspect they will accept is a new BEST sitting for your ACT/SAT (key word best, not superscore) Hence, right now your class rigor will only include Alg II and 1 foreign language from an academic profile perspective. Again, I may be wrong, but I believe to be deemed academically competitive you must have 2 foreign languages on your transcript, and if you cannot get them to accept self-taught as part of the PAR, the road may have already taken a detour (needing a waiver) for foreign language. Trust me, you don't want to go through the waiver process for anything.
    ~ USAFA and HQ AFROTC boards do not talk when it comes to selection. There are many that get a scholarship and not an appointment, just like there are many that get an appointment, but not a scholarship.
    ~~ USAFA starts out geo-centric (i.e Congressman/Senator) and than goes to a national level. AFROTC starts and ends on a national level. They could not care less if all of the recipients are from California and no other state is represented, not true for USAFA.

    The one thing that they both have in common is the selection rate, which is @16%.

    I am not trying to be Debbie Downer, just trying to illustrate what might be holes in your package.
     
    ARS14 likes this.
  12. pixiestudent

    pixiestudent New Member

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    Still here! Just busy with some projects for school so I haven't been able to reply much. Thank you everyone for your really valuable feedback! No worries about being a Debbie Downer, Pima, your post was really helpful.
     

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