New to this journey

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by JDB, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. JDB

    JDB Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    27
    Hello Everyone:

    I'm the father of a rising junior, he announced to me a few months ago that he wanted to seriously look into attending The Air Force Academy. As he researched the USAFA, he also became very interested in West Point and The Naval Academy. All three have outstanding engineering schools, which really started my son's interest in the Air Force Academy.

    As a bit of a back story, DS has wanted to attend Texas A&M since middle school, and he decided that he wanted to earn a Petroleum Engineering Degree when he was a freshman in high school. To that end, he has taken a STEM curriculum path at his High School. He has taken all the Pre-AP classes (AP are not allowed until JR year) that his high school offers, and he will start taking AP and Dual Credit this coming year. He has maintained a 3.92 unweighted GPA and ranks in the top 15 out of about 300 in his class. He will graduate having taken all the courses recommended/required by the service academies, plus 4 years of Spanish and 4 years of engineering.

    He also lettered in two sports as a sophomore and should do at least that in his JR and SR years. Where he is currently worried is on demonstrated leadership roles, ACT/SAT, and the CFA. His only club membership is the National Honors Society. He has volunteer hours, but needs to gain more and diversify where he volunteers. To address those concerns, he will try join some additional clubs this year and run for office in them; he has also begun taking SAT practice courses and will take his first test in October; additionally, he has started training for the CFA.

    DS has located contact information for the Air Force and West Point liaison officers assigned to our district. He is worried about making contact before he is comfortable that he can answer questions that might be posed. We have discussed the fact that the Service Academies do not exist to train engineers; their main purpose is to train leaders of men who will then become military officers. He has begun to wrap his head around that concept and, I think, has come to relish it.

    We also know that our congressional district, located in North Texas, is a perennially extremely competitive district. DS will have to put together an exceptionally impressive application file to get through the nomination process.

    I will welcome and appreciate any thoughts, recommendations, or critiques. It is our hope that two years from now we can say that DS is starting his military career because of the help provided by members of this forum.

    Thanks again for your insight,
    JDB
     
    seacadetmum and dreamusafa like this.
  2. Dadof2

    Dadof2 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2016
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    138
    Congratulations on having a motivated son. As you've probably seen already on this forum, there is no magic formula anyone has figured out for what the SA's are looking for. Sounds like your DS is off to a good start taking challenging STEM courses. Varsity sports is big too, and he is off to a good start there. Being a captain in one of those varsity sports would be a big plus.

    You'll hear a lot of people on this forum say it isn't necessarily diversity in ECA's and don't join a bunch of clubs you have no interest in just to increase ECA's. He should find something he enjoys and is passionate about and seek leadership opportunities in that area.

    As I said earlier, no one knows the magic formula other than the basics - do very well in STEM courses, take other challenging courses and doing extremely well in those, be active in varsity sports (captain if possible), work on physical fitness training to the CFA standards, seek leadership roles in any area of interest. Study and take SAT/ACT until he is happy with the scores. He should also be living a life of honesty and integrity and generally staying out of trouble. He needs to be prepared to articulate why he wants to go to a SA and lead as an officer in the military.

    Finally, if being an officer in the military is truly his goal, think about SMC's, apply for ROTC scholarships and have solid plans B, C, D, etc. There is no shame in not getting into a SA and there are other ways to fulfill his goal. There are tons of stories on this forum of outstanding candidates who do not get in. Make sure he owns the process of researching SA's/ROTC and applying for them. He will learn a lot along the way and if he pushes through the lengthy process on his own, you will be that much more confident that he really wants it and is doing it for all the right reasons.

    Good luck to your DS
     
    JDB likes this.
  3. time2

    time2 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    Messages:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    265
    There are many routes to an appointment so don't get overly tied up in stats, percentages and stories of what someone else accomplished. Each SA posts stats about the typical makeup of their incoming class to give you a sense of the things that matter.

    Since most of the same questions get asked annually on here, be sure to search older threads for answers to the most basic ones. No one here can tell your son his 'chance' for appointment, but that never seems to keep people from trying. Be sure to separate what is factual from opinion and conjecture. Don't hang on every word posted as what may have been true 3 yrs ago is no longer current/accurate. If you can separate the wheat from the chaff, you will be ale to find a lot of good information.
     
    JDB likes this.
  4. 2018mom

    2018mom Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2013
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    22
    JDB - My husband and I are both Aggies and our two oldest graduated from A&M, but our youngest wanted to attend USAFA since he was 9. He wanted to be a chemical engineer, but USAFA doesn't offer chemical engineering so he happily declared Mechanical Engineering. (I don't believe any of the academies have Petroleum Engineering, so that may be a factor for your son.) I MADE my son apply to Texas A&M as his backup school and I held on to his spot at A&M until his acceptance day at USAFA. Bottom line, have him apply both places as well as any other back up plans and let him lead the application process. If you read the stats of all the applicants on here, it will drive you insane with how accomplished and smart everyone is, but if he doesn't apply, he will never know. Also A&M is a pretty great backup plan and he can't go wrong if he ends up there.
     
    JDB likes this.
  5. JDB

    JDB Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    27
    Dadof2:

    Thank you for your guidance. These are just the type of insights that I was hoping to receive.

    I will counsel him to choose ECA's carefully. We actually figured out that he had completed a large amount of ECA/volunteer hours this spring and summer doing just what you recommended....something he truly loves. He took on an assistant coach role for a 13U, AAA baseball team this year. The players loved having him there, and as a bonus he also took on a true leadership function with the team. He never even thought of it as an extra curricular or community service because he enjoyed it so much.

    We have talked about the codes of conduct for the academies and that honesty, integrity, and service are not hollow words; they are commitments. That said, like the vast majority of the young adults who are seeking appointments, he's a really good kid who stays out of trouble and generally makes us proud parents.

    We will continue to maintain plans B-D, but it is becoming more and more apparent that a service academy is his first choice. I will advise him to research the ROTC scholarships and continue to counsel him about the commitment he is making.

    Thanks again Dadof2.

    JDB
     
  6. JDB

    JDB Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    27
    Time2:

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my query. Based on reading a significant number of posts and subsequent answers, we knew that asking about "chances" was an exercise in futility. Even though he has yet to start his Junior year, my DS feels like he is behind the eight ball. Based on past experience with him, that is often when he does his best work... we'll see.

    I will definitely read posts with a discriminating eye. Although I have to say that there are several individuals on this site who, based on my short time reading posts, deserve great deference every time they post.

    Thanks again Time2.

    JDB
     
  7. JDB

    JDB Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    27
    Hello 2018mom:

    Thank you for the information and your suggestions about back up plans. My son has recently talked to petroleum engineers and many have suggested mechanical or chemical engineering rather than petroleum. Their reasoning was that both disciplines could translate to a position within the energy complex, but both are more general and flexible. DS had already begun to rethink petroleum engineering as a major in favor of the mechanical or chemical when he started researching the USAFA. If memory serves, I think that he said the Naval Academy offered chemical and West Point offered mechanical, or vice versa. I've slept since that discussion, so it might very well all be wrong.

    We will definitely take your advice to heart and keep A&M in the mix. Of course, The Corps of Cadets is big on campus, so there is potential for ROTC funding at A&M.

    You are absolutely spot on about the applicants and their stats. The vast majority of young adults who apply for admission to these academies are outstanding individuals. Congratulations to your son to being one the few to be accepted. You and he should be very proud of his accomplishment.

    P.S.
    When I wrote that DS decided to major in petroleum engineering when he was a freshman in high school, I also knew that none of the service academies offered it. I thought that was extraneous information that didn't really add to the discussion. Little did I know that there would be folks on this forum who would immediately see the discrepancy. LOL, I will know in the future, no detail is too small.

    Thanks again 2018mom.

    JDB
     
  8. KP2020Dad

    KP2020Dad DS - USMMA '20

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2015
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    57
    Have you looked into the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy? Half of their academic program is engineering, with one track specializing in Offshore Engineering. One benefit of USMMA is there is no "active" military obligation, just reserve. Just something to keep in mind. Good luck.
     
    Wishful, JDB and AROTC-dad like this.
  9. JDB

    JDB Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    27
    Hello KP2020Dad:

    Thank you for your suggestion about the USMMA. My son has looked at potentially applying to Kings Point. However, shipping and the maritime industry are not careers that he is interested in pursuing. Although graduates can be commissioned in any of the three branches of the military, it's not guaranteed like the big three. He may still consider USMMA, but it does not appear to be the best fit for him, at this point.

    I have also seen some threads on this board which indicate that Kings Point is having to address some issues relating to its accreditation. That throws up some red flags about the direction of the academy.

    DS will continue to research the academies and make sure that he is prepared, as much as he can be, to make the best decision about his applications. He has two front runners now and they are running neck to neck. That said, he also knows that earning an appointment is difficult, so plans B, C, and D have to be kept in the mix.

    Thanks again KP2020Dad.

    JDB
     
  10. seacadetmum

    seacadetmum Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    11
    @JDB I don't know if this is his cup of tea but our Sea Cadet squadron meets at JRB in Fort Worth once a month for drill. It would give him some leadership experience, especially if he's aggressive about promoting (getting coursework in and testing on time). I know there are mixed opinions about SC on here but I have found it is looked upon well in our competitive district. Lone Star is currently the #1 squadron in the nation and we love having new people.

    (I'm one of the recruiting/Indoc instructors so if you have any questions let me know.)
     
    JDB likes this.
  11. brovol

    brovol Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    555
    I recommend that any candidate for the academies get a copy of one of the Academy Candidate Books by Sue Ross. There is one for USAFA, USMA, and USNA, but each has the same information, so any of the books will work for any and all of the academies. Honestly, it is excellent, and covers I think everything. My son applied to all three academies, and recieved appointments to USMA, and USAFA, and was wait listed at USNA. He used the books throughout the process, and we discovered throughout that the information was spot on.

    There is no substitute though for high performance on the ACT/SAT, and a high class rank, as well as a good CFA score. I believe that the ACT/SAT scores are the single most important factor, and math and English are the most important sub scores. Although I agree that there isn't a magic formula, there are well understood factors which make up the whole candidate score, and all of the academies generally follow a similar scoring methodology.

    I can tell you that this year will fly by, and before you know it you could be hugging your child and driving away from West Point, Colorado Springs, or Annapolis thinking, holy moly, what just happened. I have had the privilege of talking to many parents of 2020 West Point Plebes during R-day and A-day weekends, and we all agree that the application process flew by, and became so insignificant as compared to what our kids were actually experiencing now. It is incredible.

    Good luck!
     
    JDB likes this.
  12. Wishful

    Wishful Parent

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2012
    Messages:
    341
    Likes Received:
    114
    Consider having him register for the summer seminars that the service academies host. Info is on their websites.
     
    JDB likes this.
  13. JDB

    JDB Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    27
    Hello Seacadetmum:

    Thank you for your suggestion about the Sea Cadets. I don't know much about the program, but I am curious as to why there are mixed opinions about it? I will have DS do the research to see if it might be of interest to him. We are southeast of the metroplex, so the Joint Reserve Base is about an hour and a half drive from us. He has also been told to look into The Civil Air Patrol. There are CAP squadrons within 30 minutes of us, and CAP may align with DS's interests a little better. I would be interested in knowing if there are similar mixed opinions about CAP.

    His big issue is going to be time constraints. He has been engaged with two-a-day practices for football since the beginning of August, and the season starts in a week. He will also play in a fall baseball league (at the Head Coach's "request") with his high school varsity team. Academically, he has three AP classes and two dual credit college courses. Four of those classes required him to complete course work over the summer to be ready for the first day of class. I'm not saying that he will have no free time, but it will be limited. As a result, he will have to maximize that time over the course of this year. I'm not sure if either of those programs would be the best use of time.

    Thanks again Seacadetmum. If it's alright, we may PM you for additional information.

    JDB
     
    seacadetmum likes this.
  14. JDB

    JDB Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    27
    Hello Brovol:

    Congratulations to you and your son. He must be an impressive young man, to earn multiple appointments.

    Funny that you should bring up the Candidate Book series. I read a comment on another thread that recommend the AFA Candidate Book, and I immediately ordered it. It's sitting next to the computer right now. I struggled with giving it to DS before I read it, so I told him that he'd better read it quickly or he might find it missing. When I finally got a chance, about a week later, to read it; he had highlighted sections throughout the book. The first highlight was on page one and read, "The first thing you should know about the Air Force Academy is that it is designed to train young men and women to serve as career officers in the United States Air Force." Hmmm, we've had that discussion before. I'm sure that almost every page of the book will be dog eared by the time he's done.

    DS will take his first SAT in October. He has several apps on his phone and Ipad that are specifically made to improve a student's SAT scores. His school has told us that they are working on a training program, but it has yet to be rolled out. DS has talked to some buddies about getting a study group together. That might be a better option. Bottom line, he knows that the SAT/ACT scores are extremely important. Now he's just got to go out there and perform at a high level.

    If everything goes just right, maybe in a couple of years DS might "get" to experience the rigors of plebe/doolie year. At this point though, that seems like such a long way from today.

    Thank you for your insights, Brovol.

    JDB
     
    seacadetmum likes this.
  15. JDB

    JDB Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    27
    QUOTE="Wishful, post: 502404, member: 17469"]Consider having him register for the summer seminars that the service academies host. Info is on their websites.[/QUOTE]

    Hello Wishful:

    Thank you for your advice. He will apply in December when the application process opens for 2017. He also plans on trying to attend Boys State, so we need to make sure the two dates don't overlap.

    Thanks again Wishful.

    JDB
     
  16. brovol

    brovol Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    555
    I will add another conclusion that I made last year, comparing the ACT to the SAT. I believe that, because the ACT has four separately scored sections, as compared to two with the SAT, the ACT is a better option with superscoring.

    Even if the candidate doesn't improve on overall composite score, and maybe has a bad day with the test, there is a chance one or two subscores will improve, thus increasing the candidates superscore. This is true with the SAT as well, but there are only two scored sections with SAT, and thus more chances with the ACT, if you are following what I'm saying. Also, a candidate can focus on studying for a certain category with the ACT.

    My son never got higher than a 31 composite score, but got the following subscores:. M34, e31, s34, and r30, so his superscore was a 32+. He insists the reading score of 34 was a gift from God, as he never came close to that on any other test, and didn't even think he did well on it the day he got the 34. Moreover, although I don't remember what the other scores were, he didn't do well on that ACT test other than on science. Whereas, his math 34 was earned when he really just studied hard for the math section, which he is strong in. This is far more likely to happen with the ACT than the SAT.

    Either way, the test can be beat.
     
    JDB likes this.
  17. seacadetmum

    seacadetmum Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    11
    There have been discussions that some interviewers are not familiar with Sea Cadets or CAP so the question comes up if it helps any to be involved. I think any activity that gives them leadership experience is a plus. My daughter is actually a League Cadet right now because she's younger, it's a little lighter than SC but she loves it. The difference between my child back in March and the one I have now could not be more different. This is a kid that had NO interest in being a leader and constantly looked for the easy way out of everything. After her RT this summer she asked to increase her course load to all preAP classes and dropped student aide to join the robotics class.
    Some may argue but I think Sea Cadets is more intense than CAP, most of our instructors are active or retired military. The PT instructors are active US marines and treat the cadets similar to how they treat real recruits. My daughter thought "drop and pick it up" was fun until they did it for 15 minutes with high knees and burpees thrown in. I think the Sea Cadets also get more interesting advanced trainings to go to that are offered twice a year. Mine is looking forward to "baby SEAL camp" next year after being invited during RT this summer. They train with actual SEALS making sand cookies, ect. It's very light compared to even the SEAL Sea Cadet training but should be fun.
     
    JDB likes this.
  18. JMC0759

    JMC0759 S-USMMA '12 D-USAFA '15

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    275
    Likes Received:
    21
    The AFA and Kings Point both have very active parents clubs in North Texas. Reach out to them. Both clubs are on FB and there are many parents that can help answer your questions. PM me if you need any other contact info. I'm sure it's the same for USNA and USMA.
     
    JDB likes this.
  19. JDB

    JDB Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    27
    Thanks Brovol, I had heard that many folks think the ACT is more straight forward and a little easier to manage. DS's high school counselor recommended taking the SAT first, but he really didn't say why. The way that you have explained your strategy for the ACT it is extremely helpful. We will definitely take your advice and try to use the super scoring to maximize his score. Thank you for the heads up.

    There is an ACT test date in December. We will get him signed up for it and complete some prep work before he takes it. This may be some of the best advice he has received regarding the SAT/ACT testing.

    Thanks again,

    JDB
     
  20. JDB

    JDB Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    27
    Hello Seacadetmum:

    DS is in a scramble to be ready for class to start next week and had his second football scrimmage last night. As a result he hasn't done any research on the Sea Cadets and may not until next weekend. I was curious and did a little research; it seems like there is a lot of on line course work along with the summer sessions. If he sees it as something that he wants to pursue, he will still have the issue of time constraints. He will have to get into this school year and find a rhythm before he can figure out how much free time will be available.

    Sounds like your DD is really going to be prepared for this process. I'm very impressed that she has already begun to seriously think about her future and it includes service to her country. Well done Mum.

    Thanks again for providing the information about the Sea Cadets. Once DS gets a chance to research the program, we may contact you for additional information. We appreciate your taking the time to answer our questions.

    Regards,

    JDB
     

Share This Page