Leadership Options?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by usafa2022, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. usafa2022

    usafa2022 Member

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    I am currently a high school freshman planning to apply to USAFA in a couple of years, and I'm not sure if I will have enough leadership credentials by the time I apply.

    Right now I am a Boy Scout working on Eagle, having been a patrol leader twice and my troop's assistant senior patrol leader once, along with another term as a "scribe" and another as a quartermaster. I am also in my school's marching/concert band and play first-chair baritone, and it looks like I will probably be a marching section leader junior or senior year. Also, I run C-team cross country and JV track (XC doesn't have a captain, track I'm not sure about yet), so there are opportunities there too (if I can only get my race times down a little ;)

    My question is simply: is this enough? Seems a little unimpressive compared to some of the resumes you find with cadets. I have read a lot on these forums about the CAP and I am interested in joining, but the earliest I can see myself doing that would be sometime next summer heading into my sophomore year, possibly too late to advance much? Leadership in XC/track really depends on race times so that is a big "if" as well.

    I understand that as a freshman I still have plenty of time to improve, but I want to have a plan laid out to make sure I have all the advantages I can get when it's time to apply. Does anyone know of any leadership roles USAFA likes to see that I could ostensibly do in the next two years or so?
     
  2. frenzymando

    frenzymando Banned

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    Do Boys State(junior year), join National Honor Society, and try to get a Varsity letter(preferably with a team sport). If your school has like a wrestling team or a football team(football will probably conflict with band), I would try that too if you have any interest in either sport. They will prepare you physically(strength wise, you should already have conditioning down pat from cross country and track). If you don't have interest in either of those sports you should work out on your own(push ups, sit ups, lifting weights, etc). If your school has a JROTC program it would benefit you to join that also. And most importantly, keep your grades up. Start studying for the SAT/ACT too, Junior year might seem decades away but it sneaks up on you. You don't have to be smart to do well on the SAT/ACT, all you have to do is study for them and you will be fine. My PSAT went from a 175 my sophomore year to a 211 my junior year not because I got a ton smarter in that 1 year, but because I studied hard that one year. EC's and physical fitness are important, but academics are even more important.

    Quality is more important than quantity. Excelling in 2 or 3 things is better than simply participating in 20 things.
     
  3. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Don't sell your BSA experience short. The road to Eagle was the best leadership experience I had, as a high school student.
    If you have the time and energy, sure do more. Volunteer, organize things, try to be a team captain, etc. More high-quality experience is better.
     
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  4. wildblueyonder

    wildblueyonder USAFA '19

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    "Is this enough?" Maybe not, if you were applying right now. However, I can tell you with confidence that your resume is way more impressive than mine was in 9th Grade. You are off to an awesome start. ;) Keep up the good work and I have no doubt that you will be a great candidate when the time comes!


    My advice is as follows:

    1. Start taking the SAT/ACT now. It's early, I know, but I took the SAT three times beginning in my freshman year, and improved on my score each time. An astronomical percentage (~30%, I think?) of an applicant's whole candidate score (essentially a rating by the AFA) depends on his/her standardized test scores.

    2. Join CAP/JROTC and preferably both. They offer great leadership opportunities, and if you join now, you will go far. (I joined CAP in my junior year and still managed to achieve staff roles in my squadron by 12th grade; joining earlier is even better. Just be sure to promote regularly.) Additionally, these two activities will teach you useful military skills such as shining shoes and ironing uniforms. Also, consider participating in Boys State. I don't know a whole lot about the program myself, but I have heard it's a good resume credential to have when applying to USAFA.

    3. Most importantly, do everything possible to maximize your grades and class rank. Take Honors, AP, and dual enrollment classes. Earn the highest grades you can. You have plenty of time to really max out the academic portion of the application. Take advantage of it. :thumb:

    I hope this helps! Best of luck to you as you begin the journey! :welcome1:
     
  5. baileydb

    baileydb Member

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    I can answer for the CAP part. Personally, CAP is my passion! I love it so much and I really recommend you join! Joining in your sophomore year is NOT too late! I joined halfway through sophomore year; now, two years later, I look back on my time as a CAP cadet, and I feel like I have gained a lot of leadership experience. In those short two years, I have been in several staff positions, including Flight Sgt, First Sgt, and Flight Commander; in fact, I am in charge of lots of people who have been there far longer than I! Not saying this to brag at all- I just want to point out that in CAP, if you work hard and promote regularly, and FIGHT for staff positions, you can do it. CAP squadrons tend to be pretty small, so often times they are scrambling to fill staff positions, which works well for cadets who really want to gain leadership experience. My biggest advice as far as CAP goes: a) PROMOTE on time! VERY important! b) Get to know the officers/senior NCOs. You learn a lot from them, and being on their good side doesn't hurt when you're competing for a staff position.
     
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  6. RogersCO'19

    RogersCO'19 Member

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    Leadership opportunities are everywhere! You just gotta take the bull by the horn. I started JROTC my junior year and we have like 200 cadets so starting late anddddd having limited leadership positions was an uphill battle but I said let's do it. Make yourself at and out, like the reason my Instructors gave me a lot of leadership is because I noticed we didn't have a unit crest so I created one, filled out the paper work and took it to my instructor. Now our crests our on the way. Do things that make you look like a strong leader even if the odds are against you.

    BUT JROTC and Cap aren't the only forms of leadership, they are just convenient because they are made to produce leaders! Find leadership in volunteerism and kill two birds in one stone. Create you're own club! The odds are in your hands.

    BUT! You already seem like your going places. As a freshman all I had was good grades and a high GPA. Like that's it. So you're doing good. Just keep working hard and take these other amazing peoples beautifully helpful advice!
     
  7. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Leadership opportunities come not just through school/scouts, how about finding a summer job, keeping it through till you graduate, maybe getting a promotion? Can you work on a campaign in the upcoming election cycle? Can you head up a bible study at your church? Can you put in 20+ hours a week at a volunteer activity in your community? (Literacy, habitat for humanity, animal friends, local air base/ANG...)

    The key is to take the toughest coursework offered in your school (or at the local ComCol, or Uni), work diligently at a sport, find a passion and stick to it, and keep yourself out of trouble (more of a problem when you are a bit older and your peers are pressuring you).

    Best of luck! Get to work!
     
  8. usafa2022

    usafa2022 Member

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    Volunteering as a civvie in your spare time at ANG bases is something I'm not familiar with, but I would jump at the chance to work with them. Do they actually take civilian volunteers, maybe just for like a one-time job or something?
     
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  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Whatever you do..... please don't try and "Fill in Squares". If you do, you most likely won't do as well in the activities you are involved in. I'd rather see an individual involved "Heavily" in 3 activities that they've excelled in and has taken on leadership roles in those activities; than to see someone involved in 5-6 activities simply as a participant. Currently you say you're a freshman in scouts and working on Eagle. Does that mean you're currently a Life Scout or Star? Obviously, making eagle shows a LONG TERM Commitment. While there's nothing wrong with JrROTC and CAP, simply participating in them doesn't really help your application. Especially in the "Leadership" category. Now; if you think you can make it into leadership roles in those activities within the next 2 years, then more power to you. But most importantly; if you're going to get involved in JrROTC, CAP, Marching Band, Spanish Club, etc... then make sure you're doing those activities because you WANT TO. Not because you are trying to fill in a square. That is so obvious when it happens. Can't tell you how many individuals I've seen who NEVER played a sport in their life, and in their Senior year of high school they join the football, basketball, and soccer teams; just so it looks good on their college application. Many schools don't have tryouts, so if you come out for the team, you're on it. You may NEVER get to play, but you're on the team. But those of us who look at applications, resumes, and interview academy and college applicants, find out pretty quickly if it's something you WANTED to do or if you were simply trying to fill in some squares on an application. Just like you can't make it from tenderfoot to eagle scout in 1-2 years, you can't become a real team player in Football, basketball, baseball...... or a leader in JrROTC or CAP in 2 years either. So unless you simply WANT to be a part of those activities, don't worry about it.

    It appears that you are very involved in Scouts, Band, and Sports. That is excellent. Stick with those; work your way up the ranks and be the highest level leader you can in them. Then, look into some of the short term leadership opportunities such as Boy's state, Class officer, leader of a project/fundraiser/etc. That is quite good with that. Do what you like and what you're good at; and excel at it. When my son applied for the academy, he didn't do any JrROTC, CAP, or Scouts. He grew up as a brat (Military kid), so he really didn't need or want that type of social life. But he was involved in 3-4 sports per year since elementary school. Was selected to boy's state. Was a class officer in high school. Was in the IB International baccalaureate program; which requires hundreds of hours of volunteer time. He was also involved in a number of clubs. Those are all the areas he got his leadership experience from. The important thing is; they were areas he WANTED to be in. If he had been in scouts, JrRotc, or Cap, he simply would have been a "Participant". It just wasn't his thing. So it would not have helped his application at all.

    I give you the same advice I gave him and every other applicant I've spoken with. Be involved in whatever you WANT TO BE involved in. Excel at it. Go to the highest level you can achieve in it. The rest will work itself out. Don't try and "Fill in the Squares". It won't work. You DO NOT get any extra points for various activities. Example: JrROTC or Scouts don't give you "MORE POINTS" then being the leader of the marching band or captain of the soccer team. It's simply "ANOTHER" activity. You don't have to be involved in "Certain" activities to get leadership experience.
     
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  10. RogersCO'19

    RogersCO'19 Member

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    I agree with christcorp all the way. I was able to excell in JROTC in the two short years I've been in but it was only due to the fact that I love the program and I put countless hours into it. If you do four years you get rank and usually a position based on the size of the class but the leadership doesn't show for much if you don't make it shine. My whole junior year was pretty much dedicated to jtotc and so I broke the barriers in my batallion but it was because I wanted to and not because I just wanted to get the class credit. I wanted to impact my batallion so I'd make a change. So I totally agree with christcorp. Find the sport, or program that you want to dive in and not just get your feet wet. I feel these interviewers and panelist can see through us if we are trying to beef our packets up so do what you want and do it well.
     

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