Just Starting

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Mary, Mar 1, 2010.

  1. Mary

    Mary New Member

    Mar 1, 2010
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    Good Morning:

    My daughter is a junior and we are just starting the process of applying to service academies. We are planning on attending the Service Academies Night in San Antonio on March 7th. I am hoping for some advice from those of you who are just finishing the process.

    Thanks and congratulation to all of you who were successful!
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    May 21, 2008
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    Welcome aboard Mary. The one thing this forum is lacking, is a Sticky on the application process, procedures, and recommendations. There's been a lot of excellent advice given by many knowledgeable people here. Current cadets, current applicants, appointees, alumni, ALO's, and Parents of. Maybe I'll make the effort before the application process starts to come up with a check-list and advice from many of the excellent posts so many people have contributed. Then it can become a sticky. But for now, to help you out, the best thing is for you to ask specific questions, and we can help answer those for you. I will post a couple of generic suggestions to get you started in the right direction; but please ask specific questions if you have some.

    SUGGESTIONS: Except for #1, the others are in no particular order.

    1. Make sure that it is the applicant's desire/dream to apply and attend a military academy, and not the idea of a school counselor, parent, family history/legacy, etc... If it isn't the applicant's #1 choice of schools and initial career paths, then the academy and military service might not be the best choice for them.

    2. Determine what goals you want for your future and determine how best the military academies can help you achieve those goals. The academies aren't a goal, they are one of many means of reaching your goals.

    3. Be in the right mind-set for attending a service academy. I.e. Wanting to be a pilot, special ops, or whatever job is a great objective. However, you must realize that because of capabilities, limitations, quotas, opening, etc... a specific job might not be available to you upon graduating from the academy. Make sure that serving your country is your #1 priority, and that you are alright with possibly having to choose your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th career opportunity. If not, the academy and military service might not be right for you.

    4. Realize that the military, in all it's facets, is about something larger than yourself. It's all about team work, sacrifice, and doing what's best for the team, the military, your family/neighbors, and the country. Not what's necessarily best for you.

    5. An academy education is very glamorous; however it is very difficult. Educationally, it ranks with the likes of Ivy League schools as well as other schools like Stanford and many other high end colleges. It's pseudo nickname is: The Little Engineering School in the Rockies. While there are a lot of other majors besides engineering, ALL cadets will receive a bachelor of science degree, which means they ALL take math, science, and engineering courses. Even the "History" major.

    6. The application process is a multi-staged process that requires the cooperation and input from a lot of people. These include teachers, counselors, your ALO, parents, friends, representatives, senators, etc... If you organize yourself, and these others properly, you can complete the process quickly and painlessly. If you procrastinate or don't maintain control over the process, the process will overwhelm you and you will become frustrated and possibly lose motivation. It can not be completed in a weekend like a normal college application. But you also don't need it to take 6-8 months either.

    7. Finally; at the very least, your commitment is 9 years minimum. 4 of the academy and 5 on active duty service. That's not including any inactive reserve time. At the very youngest, you will be approximately 27 years old when your commitment is basically done. I say this not to discourage you, but rather to encourage you. You will come out of the academy and air force as a well trained and educated individual. You will have doors opened for you that very few other opportunities can provide. You've heard that if you work hard, you can achieve anything. This can easily be one of the hardest things you have ever attempted. But it will also probably be one of the most rewarding that you'll ever experience. But realize, there will be approximately 10,000 initial applicants for the air force academy. When the dust settles, there will be 1300-1400 walking into basic training and HOPEFULLY becoming cadets. (About the type of odds that American Idol has. LOL). Point is; even if you are the best of the best, you NEED to have backup plans. Besides the academy, apply to numerous other colleges and universities. Then, apply for ROTC scholarships to those schools. There are going to be a lot of well qualified individuals who don't receive an appointment. Only because of the numbers. The academy can only take in 1300-1400 students. So if you're good enough for the academy, then you're good enough for many other fine schools. Apply to all of them that you want.

    Best of luck, and definitely ask us specific questions. Mike.....
  3. PDub

    PDub Prospective

    Dec 1, 2008
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    Great advice CC. Brings back some deja vu, and so true.

    Mary, before you assist your daughter on embarking the application process, make sure, like CC said, that she's doing it for the right reasons. Then try to find out what cadet life is like, and have your daughter do her best to visualize herself in those situations. Expect to be treated like the scum of the earth and participate in the most challenging situations that you have ever encountered, but at the same time realize that you'll be proud of your accomplishments along the way and that some of your friends will sacrifice a lot to help out others.
  4. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

    Oct 10, 2007
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    I'll echo everything Mike said above plus add this:

    Daughter must be self-motivated, a true self-starter, because no one can do this for her. Mom and Dad, if you still have to push to do homework, remind daughter to complete task X, this is the time to admit it. With all the paperwork and preparation to attend any Service Academy, no one in family will have any hair left if your child doesn't want it enough to push for it herself.

    One other thing to keep in mind, while the Academy is "free," there are definite "costs" involved. OK, so you're not out $45K a year for tuition, but Little Susie or Little Johnny aren't going to Happy Valley U here either. It is not "normal" college and their first time at home, they'll realize right away how different their experience is from their high school peers'.

    Lots to learn here.

    Good luck!

    Ask away!
  5. goldfarb1

    goldfarb1 Candidate

    Dec 23, 2009
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    ^^^What everyone else said.

    If she is motivated and this is what she wants I'm 99% positive she will end up at an academy one way or another.

    I live in GA and we have an academy day too. I attended one back in May and this was the first time I realized how many parents want to go to SA's rather than the kids. I would say about a third of the kids there would rather have been sleeping in on that Saturday morning. On the other hand don't step too far away from the process. Its a tough balance.

    My parents basically said if you want a service academy, go get it...but we aren't going to get too involved in the application process. I am finishing up my last summer seminar app for CGA, and have so far done everything on my own. I actually prefer it this way because I have that much more of a vested interest in the process.

    Good luck!

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