Leave for a year?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by serious, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. serious

    serious New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hello Everyone,

    As a C3C/sophomore I've seen a lot of what the academy has to offer and I'm thankful for all it's done for me. That being said, I'm NOT sure if the Air Force is right for me. I have an honest question that I can't seem to have answered by other cadets:

    Is there a way to take a year and go to a civilian college (on my own budget of course) to see if that would be a better fit for myself? I heard it used to happen and was called "stoploss" or convalescent leave but I'm not sure.

    If anyone has any information or knows of someone who did this (NOT on a religious mission) please let me know. Thank you so much!
     
  2. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2008
    Messages:
    2,852
    Likes Received:
    342
    There used to be a program called "Stop Out." It basically did precisely what you're describing. I don't know if it exists today.

    But you're at the academy...the folks there should be able to tell you.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  3. serious

    serious New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    thanks sir, just wanted to check with the outside world before asking around "officially" here...anyone else have more info/personal experience?
     
  4. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,237
    Likes Received:
    272
    I don't know, but if you feel like posting or PMing, there are several posters here who can really give some good advice (CC, Flieger, Bullet, and PIMA have a TON of experience).
     
  5. serious

    serious New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    thanks! i'll try them!
     
  6. dohdean

    dohdean Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    1
    I know of at least one cadet who has just returned from a year off. He is now a C2C -- he spent a year working in India and South America on various community projects leaving at the end of his Sophomore year and returning this summer to the Academy. I am unsure of his Squadron -- he lives in Vandy and is a member of Wings of Blue (he was a member of Wings of Green as a Sophomore and made Wings of Blue upon his return). I will send you his name privately.

    You do need to know that you will have to reapply, including obtaining a new congressional nomination. The cadet that I know had to submit all of his congressional paperwork before he left the summer after Sophomore year to be sure that it would be in on time -- he had to make special arrangements for his congressional nomination interviews because he was overseas when those interviews were conducted. He can explain all of this to you. I also know that because of the force reductions, etc. he did not hear until late April of this year that he was being readmitted.

    I do not now how many other cadets are at the Academy who have used this program. There are a number of Mormon students who have gone on Mission trips but I do not know how many others have used the year off. I do know that the cadet mentioned above started looking into this process early in Sophomore year. You are smart to get started on this now.
     
  7. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,804
    Likes Received:
    941
    The one thing I would be concerned with is the ability to get back in since the AFA has publicly announced how severely they are cutting the yr groups back. This would put you in the yr group that saw apptmts go from 1650 down to 1350.

    The other issue is the 2 cadets that you know did the time out for community service, in the Mormon religion it is required to do this at a certain point in your life. It appears the poster is not leaving to do a "gap year", but instead trying to determine is the AF is a proper fit for them.

    I admire them for doing this, but as a parent, I am sure you don't want to hear this...take the 1st semester and really ponder this issue. Was there something last yr. that turned you off in particular? Because LY was just that LY.

    There will be assignments in the AF that you hate and will make you want to leave, but because of commitments owed you can't, and so you go to the next assignment dragging your feet waiting to push the eject button. However, you get there and you find yourself loving life in the military again. I am telling you that from experience.

    Now, if it is that the deeper you get in, the more you find yourself questioning why you are doing all of this because nothing seems to be setting you on fire, and the only reason you are staying is because of parents, friendships made, and fear of the unknown, it maybe time to take the leap.

    The cliche is the grass always seems to be greener on the other side, now to add my extra, but when you get to other side it is not grass at all it is poison ivy! You would have known that if you didn't just look at the color, but looked at the actual weed.

    Take this semester, think about it. You are not the 1st C3C to feel this way and surely won't be the last. A friend of ours DS came to them as a C4C spring break and said I want out. The parents said we will support any decision, but we ask that you go back for fall semester. He did. He will be commissioned May 2012 from the AFA. He is happy that he stayed and listened to his folks, because C3C is not C4C.

    Good luck.
     
  8. serious

    serious New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    thank you, that's my whole problem: yeah first year sucked BUT now i would be making this decision for the right reasons, i.e. not because "oh this place is no fun" but because i want to figure out what's right for me. the whole decision between leave/stay is a lot tougher than leave for a year and see/stay
     
  9. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    4,505
    Likes Received:
    454
    Can't speak to USAFA but, to my knowledge, USNA doesn't have this program.

    I would think that the SAs would generally discourage programs along the lines you describe. One of the big things about a SA is that virtually all of the class goes through the same experiences together. Other than medical turn backs (rare), academic turn backs (VERY rare) and maybe Mormon missions, almost everyone sticks together for the 4 yrs.

    My recommendation is to go through your 3/C year b/c you can do so and leave at the end and owe nothing to the USAF. If you're still having doubts as you approach your 2/C year, it might not be right for you.
     
  10. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    This is just my perspective, and might not even answer the poster's question. And I can actually do it briefly. There seems to be more here than what the poster has written. If the academy was simply a school, I'd be all on board with possibly taking a year off to compare it to a civilian school. But the academy isnt just a school. its the military. And 1,2, or more years away at a regular school is not going to help you decide if the military is right for you. Only time at the academy or military can help do that.

    My suggestion: do your c3c year at the academy. If you can deal with it, then the military may be for you. If it still sucks, then quit and transfer to another school. Because you and the military aren't compatible. The classes may be a bit harder, but that can't be what sucks. So it must be the military lifestyle that sucks. Well, that continues on after graduation.

    The academy isn't just a school. If you truly want to serve in the military, then you'll put up with it. If its more about school, then you won't be able to put up with it. Rotc is a compromise, but that really wouldn't be much of an option this far in the game. You have to decide why you are at the academy. School or the military. Do your c3c year, then make a final decision. Taking a year off to go to a civilian school won't help. School is only a couple years. Serving in the military is more. Civilians school can't help you with that. Sorry, guess I couldn't do it briefly. Lol. Mike.
     
  11. eagle36

    eagle36 USAFA Alumnus

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    0
    My suggestion would be talk to your AOC. I know of a couple people from my class you left, although I'm not sure how they spun it. I know one went to France for a year and studied there (nothing religious), and she came back and graduated a year behind with 2011. I am pretty sure I knew another person who also left for a year for something non-religious, but then decided not to come back. My best advice though is to talk to your AOC about it and have him/her work it up the chain to see what you need to do.
     
  12. serious

    serious New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    thanks eagle, i'll ask around...mike, with all due respect, the civilian college would not JUST be about school but about the whole other side of the coin. It would allow me to see the opportunities out there and the positives/negatives of that path without having to give up the academy
     
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,804
    Likes Received:
    941
    Mike,

    I am not sure I would agree about ROTC as a rising jr, which would make him a C300 (Rotc does it opposite...sr yr is 400). I would assume that the CoC would be able to work out his OML to be high enough to compete. Let's be real he isn't coming from Timbucktoo CC, he would have shown leadership ability at the AFA, so that would help him.

    The problem that may exist is how to score the SFT. Maybe they would use his BCT results as the equivalent.

    Yes, he would not have a scholarship, but he could do loans. They are eligible for 7500 as jrs and srs.

    Serious,

    Whittle it away 1 by 1. Right now it appears from your last post, that you are questioning if the AF is a right fit, not if the AFA is the right fit.

    Ask what is it that is giving you trepidation?

    Commitment time... 4 yrs seems a long time to lead this life style. Trust me when Bullet got in I thought LTC's were soooo old, and before I knew it, we were one of them. It flies by.

    Career choices... you will sort that out. There is 1 poster I know who changed his desires yrly. Our friends DS at USNA, has also changed yrly, I can't keep up with them...he has gone from SWO to Sub to Pilot, he is entering his sr yr now.

    Lifestyle...once AD you are no longer in that bubble as much as you were at the AFA. Yes, a majority of your friends will be AD, but as young O1's you will socialize off base, and become friends, or even marry a townie.

    All of the above. Than you have your answer and now you do need to decide if you leave for a yr will you miss it at all.

    The last Mom thing I am going to say is believe it or not, rejoining the real world is not as easy as you think in college. Your friends have gone on just like you and made college friends. Entering a college as a rising jr., is like entering a new HS with 6000 kids in the school from out of state as a rising jr. They grew up with each other for the past 2 yrs. They have their social circles.

    The folks of course missed you this past yr while you were gone, so they probably let you some more slack than when you were in HS (room be clean, dishes in the sink, staying out, sleeping in, etc). However, don't assume that it won't be hard re-jiving with them either. Reason why, is now you are back under the roof and rules full time. It isn't that they will be harsh because you left, it is because it is their house and rules and as their child, that isn't going to change just because you are 20. At least in my house it doesn't. That creates the bickering and re-learning the parent-child relationship, but now it is parent-adult child. Both sides have to work at it. It's a parent thing...you'll understand someday too... don't :rocket: me.
     
  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    In other words, you want to serve, only if the grass is greener on that path, and you don't want to give up the academy as a fall back option. No, I do understand. That's why I suggest doing you c3c year. Then decide if serving in the military is right for you. You can't make that decision based on the better of 2 evils or economics. You either want to serve in the military or you don't. If you still find the academy sucks, but you believe that you still want the military and to serve, then go to a civilian school and try to get commissioned via Rotc or ots.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2011
  15. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,804
    Likes Received:
    941
    Serious,

    I am sure prior to signing on for the AFA, you went through a pro/con list. Pull that back out. See if they are still your issues, or if you need to make a new list.

    I have to say one part of your post made me giggle.

    Have you looked into the job market out there for new grads? It ain't pretty! There are kids graduating from top notch schools and not getting jobs.

    Yes, it is great to be in college, have a schedule where you only go to class T-TH, and can have 4 days off, but that only lasts for when you are in college. Sooner or later the real world will knock at your door.

    Right now, our DS is a rising Sr in AFROTC, this past spring his friends have come to him asking if it is too late to join ROTC because they are seeing the writing on the wall for jobs. These were the same people he became friends with as freshman and joked about the fact that he was only going to make a small sum compared to them when they graduate, but while he was getting up at 5 to do PT they had the luxury to sleep in. They are now running scared, even those with parents that footed the bill, they know how bad the economy is currently an expected to be through 2013.

    What is their plan now...ride it out until 2014 by getting a Masters. What will that mean for you? It will mean the employer has a choice hire you with an undergrad or them with a grad. See where I am going with this?

    If you don't, than look at why the AF is doing RIFs, SERBS and lowering promotion rates so they can kick them out faster. That is on top of canceling OCS boards, and AFROTC IS scholarships. They have enough manpower to meet their needs, and people are joining/staying because the economy is in the tanks.

    Again, the grass might be green, but it might not be grass at all.

    Your worst of worst problems is your yr group not only for the civilian employment aspect, but from the military.

    If it really is an issue of the other opportunities out there, unless it is something so insanely unique, those career opportunities are also in the military. Honestly, I can think of only 1 opportunity out there that can't be found in the military...FASHION DESIGN :shake: Of course every female in the military wishes they would have that career code so they can finally get the fit right for women :wink: Otherwise, name a career field and I can bet there is a career there.

    Finance...there
    Teaching ... there
    Medical...there
    Law...there
    Homeland...there
    Govt...there
    Intel...there
    Weather...there
    IT...there
    Engineering...there

    Now maybe not to your aspirations, but let's be real, do you think if you came straight out of school and went to Raytheon, Lockheed, Booze Allen, L3 you would not be the pogey boy/girl for these companies too? You will not start as project manager for any of them.

    Instead, you do your 4 yrs AD, you get that security clearance, you get that operational experience and management experience; you will probably slide in above them because your resume is better.

    I am not trying to sway you at all, I am trying to illustrate that the flip side of the coin is not necessarily the side that wins.

    OBTW,

    I know you meant no offense with the
    BUT you have to expect some will find it offensive because you are saying you want to cover your arse JIC. AFROTC cadets that got the TWE don't have the option. They leave AFROTC and they are for all sakes gone, heck if they want to change their major for EE to Business they could lose their scholarship, most will, and thus, for 4 yrs they suck it in and bear it to keep the scholarship. There is no stepping out for a yr. and jumping back in. On top of that they are now fighting for SFT, where it is @ a 50-50 chance of selection. No SFT, no commissioning. Their AF dreams can end next spring, plus they may have the burden of now trying to figure out how to pay for college without a scholarship. For them it doesn't end there, come jr. yr. they have to fight for a UPT slot. Granted the % have been good, put the fact is if you want UPT out of the AFA you get UPT, you want UPT out of ROTC it is not guaranteed, it is a board and about 3 mos waiting and worrying....was my PFA high enough, was my AFOQT good enough, my TBAS strong enough, my gpa, commander's rec, etc. etc.

    Like I said, I know you didn't mean it, but you said you wanted to see the flip side of the coin. There is one of your flipsides that AFROTC cadets endure.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2011
  16. greentrees

    greentrees Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Messages:
    244
    Likes Received:
    28
    The summer after C3C year is Ops, where you go to an AF base somewhere for 3 weeks and see what the real AF does. You will shadow other junior officers in jobs as well as see how the enlisted folks really help you do your job. You can apply to do Deployed Ops, which means 4 weeks in a deployed location (sandbox); again you'll shadow people and see different missions/roles of AF officers.

    Upon graduation from AFA you owe 5 years, not 4 like ROTC.
    Nothing wrong with doing the 5 and dive route should you choose to get out after your commitment is over.
     
  17. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,295
    Likes Received:
    129
    Just need to pitch the perspectives issue. CC and Pima come from a different mind set, but eagle and I were classmates. (And raimius).

    I can tell you that I knew several in my class who did this, and other classes. In fact, the France scenario eagle gave is a mutual friend.

    I can't recall a single one of us cadet judging or looking upon someone unfavorably who did this. In fact, those that returned I gave kowtows to since they broadened their horizon to find what they were meant for. Often they came back as better cadets for the experience. And those that did not come back, kowtows for realizing it wasn't for them. That was the typical response from the rest of us.

    I had a close squadron friend who debated what you are as we started C3C year. He applied and was accepted to other schools in his home state. In the end two things happened. Having the option available eased his mind and USAFA didn't feel like a trap any more. Second, as we all got closer as upperclassmen, he found it was a ton better than 4 dig year and no longer wanted to leave. He's loving pilot training at Vance right now. :)

    I'll echo eagle, talk to your AOC. If you choose to do this, their input on your forms also impacts your ability to return. Talk to your AOC, explain why you are doing it. Chances are, they will support you completely and help you through the process. They want you to succeed.
     
  18. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,804
    Likes Received:
    941
    hornet,

    If it appears I implied that the cadre at the AFA would look down upon him. I apologize.

    My intention was to show how many that got the TWE, are banging their craniums wanting that option to have the choice. For many that option never existed. No judgement either way

    Without a doubt, I do come from a different mindset. This is meant in honesty.

    PM Hornet, Eagle36, and Raimius if you don't feel comfortable talking to your AOC. They are all great people, and your peer group regarding your age. Even if you talk to the AOC, still post and listen to Hornet. Eagle and Raimius because they only graduated in 10. They still have a fresh memory of standing in your boots.

    Sometimes what you need is to hear that you are not unique in how you feel coming from people who you are now walking in their shoes a few yrs later.
     
  19. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,295
    Likes Received:
    129
    I often have discussions with people who become irritated at people wanting to leave or who do leave.

    But the reality is that the 18-23 year old men and women who enter undergo dramatic changes at the Academies. Some that thought it was the end all do a 180 and vice versa. There is a reason the Academies have high attrition, but leadership has no problem with it. Better to let a cadet decide in 2 years if the life is right for them than commit on day 1.

    And some of those with the TWE would do the same thing as well. How many can say they knew EXACTLY what they wanted at 18?
     
  20. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    I agree 100%. That's why I suggested all along, that the OP do his C3C year. He's still in a position to change his mind and leave. He doesn't lose college credit. He can transfer wherever he wants to. I just don't like the idea of a year sabbatical to see which side of the fence has greener grass. Now; if it's a year off to do mission work, other religious work, volunteering, family emergency having to take over parental duties for siblings, etc... (I can think of a lot of reasons); that's fine. But going to a civilian school for a year in between is only going to tell you if you like civilian school better than academy school. There's no military comparison. We're talking about military service. I don't know how going to a civilian school for a year in the middle of your academy time is going to give you a better perspective on whether or not you want to serve in the military.

    FWIW: I have never had a problem with a person who quits during BCT, or a cadet who quits in their first 2 years. I think it's a great program. You are correct that an 18-20 year old can't always know what they want to be when they grow up. I'm talking about the "Have my cake and eat it too" system. Do 2 years at the academy; Not commit; be allowed to go to a civilian school; then decide if you want to finish at the civilian school or the academy. Or; decide which one has the best job opportunities. I think after 2 years at the academy, the cadet has enough knowledge at whether or not s/he wants to finish at the academy and serve; or get out an go to a civilian school and move on with their life.
     

Share This Page