National Outdoor Leadership School

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by JLamb4, Nov 29, 2015.

  1. JLamb4

    JLamb4 Member

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    I know extracurricular and leadership items are a big part of the application and competitiveness, and I was wondering if anyone has heard of or completed a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Course?
     
  2. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    NOLS is good stuff, the Naval Academy actually sends mids out on programs as official summer leadership programs. If you're interested, do one of their programs, they certainly won't hurt your application.
     
  3. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    It will not necessarily help either. The NOLS is a profit making enterprise with "Leadership" in their name and they will take anyone who can write a check for their fee. They have a good program but it does not demonstrate your leadership like volunteer things such as captain of a sports team, student council, 4H, a summer job leading a work crew, establishing a sports club, becoming an Eagle Scout, and so on. NOLS demonstrates your attendance, not documented performance. Just like taking flying lessons, because it costs a generous amount and is not available to all candidates, it really cannot be allowed to give any big boost to an application. If you would like to do their program, have the money, and would do it even if you were not applying to an SA, then by all means go for it as you will have a great time.
     
  4. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    ^all fair points, good clarification Spud
     
  5. JLamb4

    JLamb4 Member

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    Sorry I didn't clarify. I have already graduated from a NOLS course. They grade the student's performance across a number of categories with an overall grade (these courses can count for college credit depending on your final grade). I graduated with an "A" grade, and on top of that, I received a letter from the NOLS director saying I was a NOLS Merit Scholar, and was awarded "graduation with honors." Then, they basically offered me a job to come work for them.

    I am an eagle scout as well... I'm hoping that these two items are heavy hitters in my application?

    Thanks
     
  6. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Not on any admit board but I would think Eagle Scout might have more weight... though "heavy hitter?" You know how many applicants are Eagle Scouts? Private Pilots? Class Presidents? Yes, good credential, but don't let it go to your head.
     
  7. time2

    time2 Member

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    There are a number of 'leadership' programs that are frequently mentioned on here you can attend that have no enrollment criteria other then paying their fee. I doubt any of the SA's count these as 'leadership'. Paying to hear speeches about leadership or go on guided tours isn't they type of thing they are looking for.

    While there is nothing wrong in attending such paid programs, they won't be of any benefit in your SA application.

    Established programs like Boys/Girls state ARE recognized by the SA's due to the selection criteria and past history.
     
  8. AJC

    AJC Member

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    My son participated in a 30 day Yukon expedition with NOLS when he was 16. It was far from a "guided tour". During his NROTC-MO interview the Captain took note of it, asked several questions about it. Commented there probably were easier ways to spend time during the summer, said it showed motivation.
     
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  9. JestFutureFalcon

    JestFutureFalcon Member

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    I went on this one cadet leadership course @ South Carolina citadel with a handful of JROTC cadets (there was a $200 fee) and my ALO was pretty interested about it in my interview. Basically, we were getting tortured with pt in the mornings, leadership activities throughout the day (such as your common ropes course, a marine obstacle course, etc.), and leadership classes in the early evening for a week in the southern summer heat. It was completely run by JROTC cadets from units around the east coast, with our SASIs and ASIs overlooking how things were run. I'm not sure how that compares to the leadership course you went to, but I'm hoping it played a nice part in my application.
     
  10. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    I don't disagree with you in general, but there is a service academy that actually does count NOLS as an official summer training for its mids...
     
  11. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    USNA does offer it for Mids to serve as instructors. I actually think they have to pay some amount of money to do the training.

    I agree on the leadership comments on here. Just going to something and participating, especially if there is a fee involved, probably won't add any or a very small amount of points to a WCS. It does add to possible answers for things such as ALO/BGO/MOC interviews to discuss experiences. So it may not add points to the WCS directly, it may help out to write a solid essay or be a good topic for an interview where you can gain points discussing how you were pushed mentally, physically and how you responded to tough environments.
     
  12. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    I was an instructor for NOLS in the late '90s. I would like to clarify a few of your specific claims, Spud, and some of the more general ones on this thread. NOLS does not take "anyone who can write a check for their fee." There are medical clearances, not dissimilar from the service academies, and behavioral hurdles: that is, they are clear it's not boot camp or reform school. People need to be in shape already. And NOLS does indeed demonstrate one's leadership, as all participants, no matter how young or old, must lead the crew on a day's mission (or part of a day), including delegating tasks like map-reading and route selection, cooking dinner and choosing a latrine site, negotiating conflict, and decision-making. Finally, NOLS can (but does not unless requested) provide documentation and characterization of someone's participation. I recall that, most often, this was for the courts, as a few people were court-ordered for attendance (they still had to meet criteria for medical and behavioral - no, we did not know ahead of time who these people were, only afterward, when I was asked to complete a report). I also clearly remember at least three instances in my three years as an instructor when I was requested to document someone's attendance for their SA application - one USAFA and one USNA, don't remember where the third was from. I do not recall the details, whether it was an official report or simply requested for one's BGO/ALO, etc. To the OP, it may be worth a call to Admissions to inquire about whether/how to report your completion of NOLS.

    I can't speak to, and won't offer an opinion about, how admissions at any SA views participation in NOLS. But the criteria, selection, and what-I-got-out-of-it seems at least as valuable as, say, Girls' or Boys' State, which are viewed favorably by SA admissions.
     
  13. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    They do have to pay, but from my understanding, the mids are participants in the courses, not instructors. I can ask for further clarification in my company but that's what I've heard so far. It doesn't count as a leadership credit as far as I know, but as another summer training.
     
  14. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Well, here's something that comes to my mind:
    NOLS may be tough for a week or two, or a month, but other than that, is there real, demonstrated commitment? Does this short term program really show leadership?

    Seems to me to be like a tough-mudder summer camp, which is not to say it is not physically demanding. I just can't equate it with Eagle Scout which is earned over a period of many YEARS.
     
  15. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    No one is equating it with Eagle Scout or Boys State or leading a team building an orphanage in the Philippines.

    AJC and LongAgo, with first hand experience, seem to think it is a good way for a high schooler to spend time during a summer vacation. All of my info is second hand, from friends of mine 40 years ago and from friends of my DS's. They learned skills they'll use the rest of their lives and will teach their kids.

    According to my USAF pilot brother, NOLS was as tough as anything he did in the survival school or jungle survival school he attended before his tour in Vietnam.

    Does everything a kid does in his/her high school years have to fit some else's punch list? What about doing something he/she has passion for, particularly if they pay for some or all of it?
     

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