Possibility of Appointment, and suggestions?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Noah, Jun 29, 2015.

  1. Noah

    Noah Member

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    I will be a sophomore in high school this august, and am trying to prepare myself to apply to the Air Force Academy. I am making this thread before I visit a recruiter to talk, just to get information from real people. Please feel free to point out what I've done wrong, and I'm going in the right direction.

    As previously stated, I will be a sophomore this coming year. My classes that I've signed up for are driver's ed, honors geometry, honors english II, AP government and politics, honors chemistry, marching band, symphonic band, and one other class which I am not aware of. I don't know what my eighth class is, because I tried doubling math classes and it didn't work out with both band classes. When I switched back, apparently they weren't allowed to show me my schedule.. One of my main concerns, is that my application will become uncompetitive, due to 8 classes throughout high school being taken up by some sort of band.

    The only reason that I turned down applying to a STEM school, was because of the high school band program, which I am now questioning. I was told that the best thing on an application to the academy would be going to a stem school, but I feel like my school's band will balance that. My high school's band program is very competitive, and a good size(around 130-140 people this year). We attend two rather large competitions, one being COC(Contest of Champions) at MTSU(Nashville, TN), and the other is Band Beat, hosted by Carolina Crown. I will provide links to see what these are at the end. I say all this, not to brag, but to present the option for leadership.

    Here, I'll explain what a drum major is for those who don't know, and explain how this ties into my application. I think that being the drum major(the person who conducts the marching band, also the highest student leadership position) would look better on an application to the academy than, say, ROTC or something by a mile. Or at least in my case, I think.. Let me know. As drum major, you are challenged to lead the band, represent the band, and be a leader. Not a sports team of 20-30, not a club of 15-20, over 130 people. Growing up around the band, I've been able to see what the drum major is like. Apart from having the responsibility of creating a conducting pattern special to your piece of music, you have to help everyone with their music, and drill. By this, I mean mainly helping out the underclassmen with what they're doing wrong in the drill, and just generally giving tips on music. And of course, all the normal characteristics of a leader apply here.

    Not doing boy scouts or ROTC, in my mind, is ok, because of marching band. It is physically, mentally, and intellectually demanding. While marching, you must stay completely flat(not bouncing your head when you walk) by not bending your knees as you walk, you must stand straight up to maximize lung capacity(and for good posture). You have to know exactly where to go, how many steps it will take to get there, how many counts(how much time) you have to get there, and all the while playing a challenging piece of music. As in all music, you must use dynamics, articulations, and so on.. Not to mention, you must work together as a team, to accomplish your goal, performing a show as flawless as possible. I've heard that being on a varsity sports team teaches you discipline.. In band, you have to stand outside in august, for at least 4 hours a day when you have after school practices. During these practices, you will stretch, do fundamentals(kind of like doing some basic plays, to get warmed up, in football or something) in a certain way, and in a set time. Also, you do it as a group, or in a 'block'. If this isn't teaching you discipline, I'm not sure what will. It teaches you to obey your captains, march better, and to work as a team.

    However, if this wasn't enough, I am going to tryout for Cross Country my junior year for a varsity sport. In addition, I will be on the robotics team from my sophomore year, forward. Next, I will be looking to apply to the NHS when I can, and will be getting a part time job when I become of age. Lastly, I will be looking to join the Civil Air Patrol before school starts in august, if possible. Are these extra curricular activities enough?

    I'm not sure if it's of any significance, but I'll share my test scores from my freshman year. I only decided to apply to the academy half-way through the semester, so those first normal level classes aren't really going to help me. If anything, they've set me back a semester.. However, I made all A's. Thinking it would be more of a challenge, I turned up the rigor by joining honors classes, after Christmas. Taking Honors Biology I & Honors Algebra I as my academics, I made it out with a 94 in math, and a 97 in science(after +3 points). On my EOCs(state given tests), I made a 99 on my algebra test, a 97 on the biology test, and a 97 on the health & wellness test. Band does things differently, but I ended the semester with all A's. Again, not sure if this is relevant, but thought I would throw it in there.

    My love and passion for math and science has driven to want to pursue a career in computer science or computer engineering, and I can't really see anything better to put forth my skills. Please let me know if I am even competitive, if I were to apply right now, and what I have done wrong or right.


    Thanks,

    - Noah
     
  2. AFrpaso

    AFrpaso USAFA '17

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    Some things.

    1. If you want to go to the Academy, don't bother visiting an AF Recruiting office, that is for joining the enlisted corps.
    2. Your school profile will be collected by USAFA and aid in their decision making process (as which HS a student attends is typically not up to them).
    3. I'm not sure if you're trying to say that you are a Drum Major or have been just watching/helping them? Actually being the Drum Major as you become an upperclassman would be good.
    4. Careful directly comparing band to (J)ROTC or CAP or Boy Scouts. All programs have excellent opportunities to demonstrate high levels of leadership. Don't explain that band is BETTER than ROTC, just why band is a good place to gain leadership experience.
    5. Never ask if anything is "enough". Do as much as you can, as well as you can. Don't spread yourself too thin. Apply yourself to what you enjoy instead of "checking a box" for the application.
    6. Take the SAT/ACT as many times as possible.
    7. You would not apply right now, as you haven't even started Sophomore year of HS yet let alone take the SAT/ACT etc. You apply as a junior in HS if you are planning on attending directly following HS. There is not enough information to say if you are competitive, but it seems like you are on the right path.

    Continue to do well in school and kill the SAT/ACT, academics are essential. Get some community service under your belt. Prepare yourself for the CFA.

    Do some more research on the application process on your own. Visit the admissions website and read as much as you can. Use the search function of this forum for any specific questions you may have. I guarantee that 90% of the time your question has been asked and answered here before.

    Lastly, good luck.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2015
    Midwest likes this.
  3. frenzymando

    frenzymando Banned

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    How do you know you will become drum major?

    Why are you waiting till junior year to start doing a sport? Why not do JV this year and then varsity for junior year? You might not be able to just show up and be a varsity level athlete from day one.
     
  4. Noah

    Noah Member

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    I see what it sounds like.. I didn't mean for it to sound like it's better than rotc or boy scouts.. I just thought that it would be an equal substitute.

    As for act/sat/etc. , I plan on taking and retaking those until I get a grade which I am comfortable sending in my application, like you said to do. When I said " If I was to take it now", I was just speaking metaphorically. I know I can't take it now.

    Lastly, why would it not be a good idea to talk to a recruiter? Or an ALO(I think that's the name of it)? For some real person advice? Also, I'm considering enlisting if I do not get accepted into the academy.. That may explain the recruiter thing


    Thanks,

    - Noah
     
  5. Noah

    Noah Member

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    While I am not certain about the drum major deal, I have a fairly decent chance. I could go through and tell you all the details, but I'll sum it up. Basically, I do not foresee any current members of the band trying out. That leaves the freshman for assistant DM, and me. The current assistant DM is in my grade, being the only one I thought would try out. Having more experience, I think I have a fairly good shot at making it. Also, the directors know my family. They know that I am committed, and when given a task or project, I will complete it to my greatest ability.

    Thanks,

    - Noah
     
  6. AFrpaso

    AFrpaso USAFA '17

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    ALO =/= Recruiter

    I'm going to be as straight as I can with you, a recruiter is not your friend. Many enlisted personnel will talk about how their recruiter "screwed" them/had an obvious "agenda"/needed to meet AF recruiting quotas and were very persuasive for interested and qualified people to get committed as soon as possible. By all means, contact one if you are considering enlisting.

    ALO is completely different and is assigned to you once you complete the pre-candidate questionnaire (or after you are deemed a candidate, not sure which).

    If you do not get accepted to USAFA, why not pursue ROTC at a civilian school?

    As I said before, it seems like you are on the right track.
     
  7. Noah

    Noah Member

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    Actually, when my brother enlisted into the navy, they managed to get an extra year out of him.. So, I know what you mean about the recruiter. All I wanted was to talk, if he/she had information. Also don't know if this is relevant, but I think I'm taking a trip to the academy to visit next year. If we are able to go, I will learn lots more information there, correct?

    Thanks,

    - Noah
     
  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    In a nutshell; recruiters (For enlisted recruits), know almost nothing at all about the academy or about becoming a commissioned officer. Going to speak to one is totally a waste of your time and will simply confuse you. Their goal is to get individuals to enlist. They will even tell you that if you don't have the money for a great college, and if your ACT/SAT's are stellar, that you really should ENLIST in the military. That once you're in, you can then apply for the academy or even ROTC and you'd have a better chance. While technically, you can apply to the academy or ROTC as an enlisted, (People do it every year), the only way I'd even recommend that to someone would be if their ACT's were less than 25 and their GPA was less than a 3.4. And then, only if you didn't have the ability to go to a traditional university if you weren't accepted into the academy. In other words, the academy would be your first choice, traditional university is Plan "B", and only then, if you couldn't get into college, should you consider enlisting as a back door way into the academy. But again, a traditional recruited doesn't have any idea worth listening to about the air force academy or about becoming a commissioned officer.
     
  9. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I also would say to remember that recruiters performance reviews are based on making their quotas. They have their own agenda by getting you to go enlisted.

    The only time I would go to a recruiter (besides what Mike stated) is if you want to go OCS.

    As far as your profile. What would be a concern for me is academically the rigor of your curriculum due to 3 electives (Drivers Ed, and 2 bands) might be seen weaker than your peers. I get that Drivers ED may be required, but still I see no foreign language. Many candidates will have at least 3 years foreign language. In our district it is mandatory to have at least 2 for HS graduation, but most colleges want 3. Ivies would prefer even more. USAFA is seen by many as Ivy level. They may only require 2 or maybe none, but that doesn't mean that is what the average level is for those accepted/appointed.
    ~ USAFA will ask your school to submit a profile. That means they will see/compare your curriculum rigor to your peers. You won't get a ding if Drivers ED is a requirement because every student must take that class. In VA, it replaces Gym for that year. In NC, where our DS1 attended, it was an elective to take Gym. You only needed 1 year of Gym. DS did not take PE after his 9th grade. The rest was filled with electives, such as he took 2 different foreign languages simultaneously. His rank took a hit because he didn't have that easy A for PE, but colleges and USAFA recognized that his rigor was advanced courses...no easy A's for his curriculum.
    ~~ They will look at grade scale, class rank, how they determine class rank (cgpa/wcgpa), how many kids take APs, how many offered, pre-reqs needed.

    Is Marching Band year round? At our kids school it is only in the fall. If that is case I would find a spring sport that you will enjoy and stick with for the next few years.

    Off topic, but on topic, 95% of SA candidates will apply for ROTC scholarships. AFROTC scholarship process is different. Your ECs that are evaluated include only through the end of your junior year. USAFA will include fall Senior year. By holding off playing a sport for another year can hurt you for the scholarship.

    Always have plan B, C, D, etc. being put into action at the same time you are going for plan A.

    I am not saying that Marching Band will hurt you. I am positive many do get in with no official sport, but it is typically not the majority. Marching band is not considered a sport as far as I am aware of when it comes to checking the box.

    I am saying, that academically you might rethink how many band classes you take during the year.

    ~ I also can't see how they can double up on your Math this early on. Later on, yes, such as taking Stats and Calc at the same, but Geometry and AlgII/trig requires the foundation of geometry. My kids school would not allow double Math as a sophomore. Same with taking Trig and Calc. Typically the school requires the pre-req of Trig for Calc.

    Do what makes you happy because an unhappy student doing it just to fill the squares for college tends to do poorly overall.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2015
  10. Noah

    Noah Member

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    Marching band is in the fall, and concert bannd is in the spring. I did consider dropping concert band, but that would make me lose seniority, and could possibly give others who take both classes a step up. In other words, yes, it is about how well you can conduct and lead the band, but it is also about who is the most experienced musician.

    At my school, sophomores can double math. In fact, both geometry and alg.II were on my schedule. A friend of mine, who took algebra in 8th grade, is taking alg.II and AP statistics his sophomore year. I think they only let you double up if they see that you can handle it.
     
  11. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    Noah, I am going to caution you about making too much out of your band participation. While I think many of the points you make are valid, there are some that are a big leap - particularly to those who don't have the experience of being in a marching band. These comments are probably over the top.

    I have been involved in music my entire life. I have been in competitive marching bands, concert bands, ensembles, all-state band, college bands of all types, church choirs, etc. I get it. Excellence in music requires personal discipline, commitment, extensive time, and focus. Band offers leadership positions and experiences. Being elected as a Drum Major (if you ever are) is a great honor. But you are stretching to make the comparison to the other extra-curricular activities like varsity sports, Scouting, etc.

    Seek to be well-rounded. I am sure that the vast majority of applicants to the USAFA have a varsity sport under their belt. If you are thinking about it for Junior year - why not next year?

    Seek leadership positions in all you do. Bands have squad leaders, section leaders, etc - its not just the Drum Major. Leadership opportunities can also come from volunteer activities, clubs, work, summer jobs, church events, etc.

    Focus on academics. You question whether 8 classes of band will work against you - good question. If it prevents you from taking the most rigorous classes your HS offers it might very well work against you. That is one thing that participation in sports allows - a full academic portfolio and then practice/ games outside of school.

    Get a job. You don't need to be "of age." You could teach private music lessons, cut lawns, etc. There are plenty of ways to work at your age

    Good luck. It is great that you are thinking of these things now. I am sure the picture will become clearer as time progresses.
     
  12. Noah

    Noah Member

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    I tried Boy Scouts when I was younger, and maybe it was just my group, but the only thing we did was crossword puzzles. After maybe a month or two, I quit. Is the Civil Air Patrol a good thing, since I wasn't planning on doing rotc or boy scouts?
     
  13. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Noah, you are rising sophomore. If your dream is any SA, you should take a foreign language THIS YEAR and continue through your senior year. You must also show something in your package besides band. CAP is excellent; do you have a squadron near you? Don't waste the summer. Go this week to their meeting. Your uninspired tenure with the Scouts has obviously left a bad taste in your mouth; skip the scouts. Can you get a p.t. job? Where is your volunteer time? Why don't you have a sport? Even one outside of school?

    You obviously have a great love of band, and as a former DM, sax and percussionist, I do get that. Don't think for one moment, however, that your physical conditioning for band rivals that of a football player, a basketball player, hockey, water polo, gymnastics... or fencer.

    My suggestion is: drop a band (and the drivers ed if you can). Fill in with at least one foreign language (why are you waiting???), and some other challenging academic coursework. Take the most difficult courses offered at your high school, or under a dual enrollment plan, if available.

    While the scores you quote seem good, I do not know your class rank, or the rigor of your high school. USAFA will look at these things, and more. Have you been ramping up your physical conditioning? How fast can you run a mile? sit ups? (check out the CFA - if you've not got a sport, you may have a hard time).

    DO NOT TALK TO A RECRUITER.
     
  14. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    This is meant with kindness, so please don't get upset by this post.

    1. CAP sucks if you are only doing it to fill the square. Do it because you desire to be part of CAP. They will see very quickly if it is filling a square of commitment.
    ~ I suggest you research it more. It could be that if you want to stay in Band, you can't do CAP due to time confliction.
    2. You are too late for Boy Scouts for it to matter impo.
    ~ Eagle Scout takes years.
    3. JROTC is not ROTC.
    ~ There is a plus to take JROTC in HS. Some JROTC units also can get a ROTC nomination for their cadets in HS. It is not a high chance, but still another chance before you hit the national pool.

    JMPO, but I feel you want to stay with Marching Band. That is great.
    ~ I am with USMC and fencer on this.

    Now, as a parent, I would say, have you investigated USAFA regarding if they recruit band candidates? If they don't than it is time to ask yourself would you rather be on the Marching Band at Texas A&M, AFROTC scholarship and recruited or at USAFA as a cadet not in the band?

    That is life in the ADAF. Sometimes you have to decide which matters more when offered 2 different options.

    Right now I again will stress, academically this needs to be your priority. No LOA, equates to relying on the Whole Candidate Score for your MOC. The MOC may not nominate you over another candidate because you have only 2 years of foreign language. Course curriculum might be weaker than everyone else. MOC slate is 10 candidates. That includes the Senators.
    ~ I would research right now the Nomination forum on this site. See if you can find your state and review the stats of those posters.

    You have a ton of time on your hands. RESEARCH. RESEARCH, RESEARCH.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2015
  15. Noah

    Noah Member

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    I could try to get my schedule changed, but I think it's pretty much set in stone. When making my schedule, I didn't think that 3 years of a foreign language would be of importance, just 2 years. Also, I am not allowed to drop drivers ed, because of my parents. Dropping a band class could be an option, but I am hesitant. I'll talk to the director at our next summer rehearsal.

    As for my class rank, etc., I've tried getting my class rank. Apparently, they only do that for seniors. I could try to find out where my school stands, if you like.

    Lastly, I have been conditioning myself, somewhat. So far, I can do 60 pushups(not timed), 80 crunches in a minute, about 60 sit ups(minute), and can run a mile in around 7:30. The reason that I was thinking of postponing trying out for cross country, is that I think I started practicing a little late(also, not enough). I could either wait until next year, or try out for track in the spring.

    Thanks for your help,

    - Noah
     
  16. vballmom

    vballmom New Member

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    I don't think that dropping band is necessary, but adding a sport is definitely something to consider. My class of 2018 DS was in the band throughout high school but also participated in a club and high school sport throughout. Do what interests you, take challenging classes, get ready for the ACT/SAT, and get prepared physically. Best wishes!
     
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  17. ParkMom

    ParkMom Member

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    Hi Noah. My DS is a firstie, active in the Drum and Bugle Corp. He was also in multiple band classes, along with String (orchestra) class. He was able to fit all this in by manipulating his schedule using all available loopholes. Does your school offer a Pass/Fail option? We use that for the music class, which helps with the weighted average scale. Our HS allows students to not take a lunch period and fill those 'periods' with additional classes - mostly music classes where the instructor understands a snack (within reason). Another option was to take a student aide slot with a music teacher and be a 'student' in the class. Of course, with this set up, you will never be Valedictorian or Salutatorian, but you can pad your schedule with classes that important to you personally. If you know a high ranking student who is also in the music department, he/she may know some scheduling loopholes you can use. DS was able to finish in the top 25 grads out of a class of over 400. My DS did 'play' varsity soccer his senior year, but it was a strong program (nationally ranked for a period) and did not get a lot of playing time. He was on the team because he loved the game and it did show with his commitment and hustle when he did play. If track is a Spring sport in your school, try that, especially if you continue running on your own now. There may not be a lot of competition for the distance events, which would in turn prepare you for Cross Country. Keep up the academic load and study for your testing. Good luck!
     
  18. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    +1 vballmom!

    Noah,

    May I ask how you perceive USAFA as a college from a matriculation rate? Do you see it as comparable to your In State college, or Ivy?

    The fact is USAFA and every SA has @16-18% selection rate. Academically they are on par with Ivies.
    ~ Do you think if you applied to Notre Dame with only 2 years of foreign language, you would be competitive for admissions?

    It is called a Whole Candidate Score for a reason.

    Your PAR (Prior Academic Score) will equate to 60% of your WCS. Marching Band is very little. Maybe 10%. PAR includes your academic profile and SAT/ACT. Your MOC may say:
    Great on this kid for being Drum Major and competing nationally, but this other kid took every AP offered, their electives were academics., and played Gymnastics while also being a cheerleader.

    Just me, but I right now think you need to understand how the WCS works.

    OBTW, have you used Naviance to see how you rack and stack academically within your HS for your plan B schools?
     
  19. Noah

    Noah Member

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    Thanks for the information, I'll be sure to ask about it asap.
     
  20. Noah

    Noah Member

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    Are you asking how I view the USAFA? I do see it as one of the most prestigious academies, and I recognize that it is extremely difficult to get into. I've read about the requirements, but wasn't aware that taking 3 foreign languages was what people did. I assume if things work out right, I'd be able to take 2 in one year(I.E., french I fall semester, french II spring)

    I will look into Naviance now.
     

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