Partnering with your ALO?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by OR-MOM, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. OR-MOM

    OR-MOM Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2015
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    4
    What advice can you provide about partnering with your ALO throughout the application process? For instance, would it be "appropriate" to share your essays with your ALO before submitting them? Can you discuss the live interview process with your ALO prior to going through the interview? Thanks for insights and guidance!
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    While your ALO can definitely provide "Some" mentoring, you must remember. "Your ALO IS THE ACADEMY ADMISSIONS OFFICE". That's who your ALO works for. That's why they interview the applicants. The ALO doesn't have final say on if you DO RECEIVE an appointment; but your ALO can definitely deny you from getting an appointment. They are not your personal adviser. Mentor? Yes.

    I bring this up, because the ALO is not just watching over 1 applicant. In my case, by the time the process went through and I had actual "Qualified Candidates", I had between 12-15. I can not, and will not, look at your essays; and will not discuss the interview process with you, (Other than the generic info I give to all the candidates). I am not going to have any favoritism towards a candidate. Also, I won't be the one interpreting your essays, so I'm not going to give you any interpretations that may lead you to any false sense of confidence.

    But what I WILL do, as a mentor. I will make sure that ALL my applicants understand the application process. I will make sure you all know the online portal and all the information you will need. I will go through your resume, generically, to make sure you know what sections of the application certain accomplishments fall into and how you can maximize you application. Basically, I will make sure YOU have the tools needed so YOU can do the best YOU can on YOUR application. I will not do anything that even appears to give you an "ADVANTAGE". For you to have any "ADVANTAGE", means, I have given another one of my candidates a "DIS-ADVANTAGE". And I won't let that happen.

    Remember; this is YOU (Or your child's) application. An ALO isn't here to "GET YOU IN". We have more than enough qualified applicants. It's YOUR responsibility to be the best you can be. That's not my job.

    Also; remember, the majority of ALO's, even if it's they are active duty, are volunteers who have other REAL JOBS. Most ALO's don't have time to go over your application on a weekly basis or similar. I'd have to do that with 15 applicants. I do have a life. After I let applicants know what to expect in the application, the kinds of things they should include, and deadlines, that's it. I may send them a reminder if they are getting close to the deadlines. And honestly, I and other ALO's like Flieger, go way above and beyond what an ALO has to do. Technically, all an ALO has to do, is interview you, write up their findings, and submit it to the academy. Most do more than that, but we definitely aren't going to be your "Personal" academy/application counselor. We don't have the time to do that for all of our applicants, and mainly, as COLD as it sounds........ "It's time to GROW UP. We don't want someone that needs their hand held". Even if it's through the process.

    I know that isn't what was meant, but that's exactly what it is. Having an ALO review your essays, applications, test scores, etc. and help you find a way to improve on it. Sorry, not going to happen. I won't hold anyone's hand. I'll let applicants know that they have a LOT MORE in their resume than they probably think. I'll mentor them to dig DEEP into their experiences and not to be shy or humble. But I won't do anything that you need to do yourself, or anything that will give you an "Advantage". Not when an advantage means I'm giving a Disadvantage to one of my other applicants.

    Sorry if this sounds a little harsh. It's not meant to be. And while an ALO can be invaluable to helping you get through the process, our number one priority, is that we ARE ADMISSIONS. That's who we work for. Our job is to make sure the academy knows who our BEST applicant is. That the academy knows more about the applicant than what's just on their application. But we're not going to do any of the work for you. And I'm only speaking for the ALO's that have the time to give more attention to their applicants. Many ALO's only have the time to answer some basic application questions and interview you for the academy. Best of luck.
     
    dreamusafa likes this.
  3. OR-MOM

    OR-MOM Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2015
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    4
    christcorp - thank you very much for the honest, thorough and fast reply. Your response has made it very clear what the role of the ALO is and is not.
     
  4. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    No problem. But I do want to clarify for others who may not understand. Alo's are not uncaring robots who don't take an interest in their candidates. We are people who care greatly that our applicants put their best foot forward when applying. I'd love to see all my applicants get into the academy and be successful officers.

    I answer questions from applicants all the time about their application. E.g. Do you think this would be a good topic for an essay? I've got a free period in school, should I take another class? Does this count as leadership? Etc. most questions are about the process. E.g. I did such and such and it's not showing on my application. My teachers recommendations aren't showing up. How do I explain something on my application that doesn't have a specific section for it. I and most alo's will go out of their way to answer these and other questions for the applicant.

    The thing is, we won't do anything for one applicant that we can't or won't do for ALL of our applicants. We also won't do any part of their application or suggest changes to their application. If we did, then it wouldn't be THEIR true application. The academy wouldn't get a true representation of them. Just like we don't want a parent doing the application for their son/daughter. Just like a parent shouldn't do their child's homework for them. And if a child was given an assignment in school, they wouldn't ask the teacher to review it prior to them submitting it. E.g. Mrs jones, would you look over my test answers before I turn it in. Well, that's the same with the alo. It's like asking the academy review board to look over your application and allowing you to change it before final submission.

    Alo's care greatly about their candidates. We want them all to succeed. We love getting up during senior awards night and presenting them a "Full ride scholarship" to a top 10 school in front of their family, teachers, and friends. And we will do anything we can, to make sure the applicant can complete their application showing their best foot. But there's a line between explaining how and what the application has in it.

    Hopefully for some, this explains that the alo is not an uncaring robot representing the academy. But rather, someone there to make sure you know what needs to be done and that you know what the academy is looking for in a cadet. It's up to you, the candidate, to present yourself in a way that shows the academy that you are who they are looking for. Use your parents, friends, teachers, coaches, h.s. Counsellors, etc. to help you formulate what you want to write and include. But make sure the final product is yours. Best of luck.
     
  5. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2008
    Messages:
    2,852
    Likes Received:
    343
    Mike is dead-on accurate and there's not much more I can add. I'm there for my candidates, I will answer questions, "guide" the candidate in such a way that THEY will make all the decisions; I won't make a decision for them. In the same way as Mike described, while I might listen to your comments on what you think you're going to write, I won't parse the documents for you; this is the candidates work, and that's what the academy wants to see, not the words of a guy that graduated from USAFA when most candidates parents were in grade school.

    I could go on and on but Mike (as usual) has put it so well...

    I will leave you with this thought..."my" candidates are "mine." I work closely with them as a mentor, I won't do their work, I won't make a decision for them, I will help educate them in the ways of making decisions if they are unsure. And when they succeed (and success doesn't necessarily mean an academy appointment) I will rejoice with them as a parent would!!

    At the end of the day, when I sit back and reflect...it's fun to think about....

    "That 9th grade kid that came up to Captain Steve and said: I want to go to the academy and I hear you can help...when can we start getting busy?" That "kid" is now 34 years old, a West Point graduate, decorated combat veteran, an early promoted Major of Aviation, with a wife and son.
    "That 10th grade girl that thought she wanted to fly jets..." but instead chose West Point and graduated #8 in her class of over 1,000! She completed helicopter training and went on to fly UH-60 Blackhawks with her husband.
    "That 9th grade kid that wanted to go to USAFA..." He ended up with a Type 1 ROTC scholarship, went to a prestigious military college, did so well he was selected to attend a year at the Australian military academy, and is now a combat intelligence officer.
    And the...and the....and the....

    These are my kids...they are "my" ALO's and B&GO's, and USMA rep's, and even USCGA and USMMA recruiters (Yes, I've had them or have them at all the 5 SA's). They help keep me current, which helps me help folks here in the forums, and it's a lot of fun to hear of the adventures they have!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
    FalconsRock likes this.
  6. OR-MOM

    OR-MOM Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2015
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    4
    Mike - thanks again for the additional information and color you provided on the ALO's role. Steve, thank you as well for jumping in and sharing your perspective and the joy you receive from seeing "your candidates" succeed. I can only imagine how fulfilling that must feel and certainly well-deserved given your time, head and heart commitment to the job.

    I will take advantage of both of your experience to ask another question, although much more specific this time and not about working with the ALO...the resume portion of the application requests the applicant to include awards, leadership, extracurricular, etc...from 10th grade to present. Do you believe that including a significant leadership role and award from the summer in between 9th and 10th grade would qualify as 10th grade (the student is no longer a 9th grader....)? And, do you believe it is acceptable to include items that will occur in 12th grade, such as a captain position on a team, even if it hasn't yet happened but the coach has committed the role to you? Thanks much again!!!
     
  7. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    Yes on all accounts that you mentioned. The academy isn't trying to hog tie an applicant on what they can include on the application. But it is important to follow instructions, directions, and to make the accomplishment significant. Without the academy admitting its position on political correctness, it's trying to discourage feel good "participation" type awards. We all know that everyone receiving an award for participating in something, diminishes the accomplishments of those who have excelled. No matter how good the intentions. And the academy, just like an employer or any other top end school, is trying to find applicants who excel beyond the others.

    So, if what your son/daughter wants to include in the application is past the 9th grade, and it's a significant accomplishment that demonstrates the characteristics that the academy is looking for in a cadet, then by all means include it.
     
    OR-MOM likes this.
  8. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2008
    Messages:
    2,852
    Likes Received:
    343
    I'll shorten my answer re: Mike: YES!!!!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83

    (See you at the USMA v USAFA game brother!)
     
    OR-MOM likes this.
  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    :D

    Me, give a short answer? Yea, right. :angel:
     
    fencersmother likes this.
  10. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2007
    Messages:
    2,580
    Likes Received:
    800
    OR-Mom,

    As far as "leadership" and "awards" go: Yes! they want to know that your son or daughter was "Student of the Year!" captain of the football team, founder of his own company just sold to Google for $1 million. You can probably leave off that Johnny was just promoted to second chair in the trumpet section of the school pep band, or that Susie was the chief sign maker for the cheerleader car wash.
     
    OR-MOM likes this.

Share This Page