PS Offer... Need advice!

Discussion in 'Service Academy Preparatory Schools' started by PossiblePreppie2015, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. PossiblePreppie2015

    PossiblePreppie2015 New Member

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    Long time stalker....

    I posted this on the USAFA thread, but then saw this thread and thought you guys could offer words of wisdom!!

    After deferral in January and months (and months) of waiting, our DD got an offer of PS in her portal this morning. She has a lot of mixed emotions that I would like to get some advice on dealing with as we can't be the first ones to face this challenge. I certainly do NOT want to come across as ungrateful for the opportunity. I have found a wealth of information from this forum already and thought I would get some honest advice for an honest concern.

    DD had a really strong application with the exception of an ACT score that just couldn't break 25. Top 5% in her class, APs, 30 college credits, great service hours, varsity letter, stellar CFA.... so we knew the ACT might an insurmountable barrier to Appointment, but we continued to hope...

    We are going to sit down tonight as a family to discuss next steps. She was accepted to her plan B school (a great institution with a great AFROTC program) so I believe the struggle is between her pride and her options. As parents we believe this is a "no brainer", and that choosing to decline this opportunity is something that she will regret later, but we also understand that she is disappointed especially with having 2 friends that were directly appointed last year and many from her Summer Seminar group already receiving Appt this year. That, coupled with so many posts that talk about it being for ‘blue chip athletes' (which she is not) that don’t meet academic requirements or that prep school's academics are a repeat of HS which is hard to swallow when she has a 99% average in AP Calc and has 30 college credits from dual enrollment classes.

    Her goal since 8th grade has been to be an Officer in the Air Force and her dream was to accomplish that through the Academy. Even if she had to go through ROTC at her Plan B, her goal has been unchanged.

    So I come to you in earnest, oh wise ones of the forum. I need some advice for the Pros and Cons list for the conversation tonight; as an adult it is easy to point out that pride can destroy opportunity... but when you have an amazing kid who's never let pride get in the way before it's hard not to feel guilty for pushing that point now.

    Thank you in advance for any support, advice, words of wisdom....
     
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  2. CAmom2015

    CAmom2015 Member

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    PossiblePreppie2015, as a mom of 2 kids who had to reapply for an appointment to the Naval Academy and who chose to attend a prep program as a free agent, I can only say that the extra year at prep is a wonderful opportunity for your DD to grow in her preparedness for the academy. Although mine attended a private prep which is a bit different than the AF prep, the benefits are similar. We would have been thrilled to have had the chance to have been chosen for NAPS or Foundation, but that wasn't offered to our kids. Your DD has a great opportunity to spend a year getting ready for her dream! She is guaranteed admission as long as she does well in the program. When she does attend USAFA, she will be a treasured roommate as the new plebes with no prep are a bit lost about everything new. The prep plebes already are "pros" at folding socks, making beds, putting on the uniforms correctly etc. Many posters have referred to this opportunity as the "golden ticket" in the past on this forum. Aside from receiving an appointment, this is the next best thing! The appointment will come for the class of 2020. I would not worry about the program being geared for the athletes who need additional support academically. She can be the preppie who will be able to ace the academics and help the others who need it. See it as an opportunity to be a leader where she is strong. Choosing AFROTC instead Prep will offer no guarantees. The only benefit of going ROTC is that she could take classes that she might be able to validate out of her plebe year. The risk is still there that she will not be appointed next year, as many on the forum have experienced.
     
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  3. PossiblePreppie2015

    PossiblePreppie2015 New Member

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    Thank you CAmom2015... I am so glad that I started this thread. I know there are a million already on here but sifting through was getting difficult and it is always reassuring when it's "your kid's" story people are responding to. I have gotten several replies (all like yours) on the USAFA thread and as I said there... the advice is invaluable and having a sounding board from those who understand the process has kept me from going crazy! You cannot know how much I appreciate the words of wisdom. She is a smart girl and I feel like this morning was a bit of an overwhelming "this is really happening" moment (her plan B acceptance came in December...). I am going to print out my thread and let her take some time and read the replies and then we will sit down to listen to what she has to say. I am confident she will take the Prep offer, I guess I just needed some reassurance from those who have been there. Again, your words mean more than you know... (actually, I guess you do know!). :)
     
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  4. Islandmom4

    Islandmom4 Member

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    We went through the exact same thing this year. DD got her BFE for NAPS in January. She is not a recruited athlete and has amazing stats (just like everyone else who applies). She took about 24 hours to be upset over not receiving a direct appointment, then she fully embraced this amazing opportunity. And 3 others in her graduating class of 120 received direct appointments as well (USNA, USAFA, and USCGA).
    We are not sure why she got NAPS, but it is a "golden ticket" for the class of 2020. At the end of the day, regardless of a direct appt or an indirect appt, in 5 years she will be in the Navy. What is one more year if the goal is serving your country?
    Other than the fact that Rhode Island is frigid compared to the southeast, she is happy and excited. (Haha)
    Give your daughter a chance to adjust to the change in plans, and I'm sure she will become excited as well. And by the way, congratulations!!
     
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  5. wannafly18

    wannafly18 Wannafly18

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    Dear PossiblePreppie2015,
    Another prep school appointee inquired about the same topic and here is my response to the request for insight:

    Hello,

    I'm happy to see your message. First, please, PLEASE! PLEASE! encourage your daughter to take advantage of the Prep School offer. It will put her at an advantage compared to many direct appointees. This is not to say that a direct appointment is somehow lacking; it's an amazing accomplishment. However, Prep School has a lot to offer. Here is a list of a few things she can look forward to:

    · She will be physically fit to excel on the PFT since while many appointees assume that their varsity sports are enough to prepare them, the PFT and even the fitness test for appointment, doesn’t come close to level of fitness one would need to rank competitively amongst her peers. Remember, all cadets are top athletes on multiple sports. Enter the academy, and one is amongst the “average”, then.

    · The classes are rigorous. The blending of Academy culture and military leadership are embedded in the coursework. This means that the level of quality in terms of academic expectations goes beyond content knowledge. Again, most of the preppies are AP scholars who were at the top of their class in high school. Imagine the competition when you are one of many “excellent” students in the class…

    · Attention to detail and time management is especially important at the prep school. I can say that my daughter was the president of academic clubs, team captain for her varsity soccer team, and the founder of her own nonprofit organization. She thought she was stellar at time management and attention to detail, but the prep school’s expectations a much higher because the permanent staff recognize that the cadets need to “up” their skills and so there is a learning curve.

    · The prep school allows for preppies to take math and English classes on the “Hill” during the second semester if they excel in those subjects at the prep school during first semester. My daughter was not selected for classes on the Hill, but the fact that she could compete for the opportunity gave her something to work towards. In the end, she earned excellent grades in her courses and so she felt proud of her academic standing. Also, some of the preppies who take courses on the Hill report that prep school courses are slightly more demanding and so those cadets are not struggling and will receive credit for their math and English courses which will put them a few courses ahead.

    · The camaraderie makes a difference. My daughter is an only child. She had to adjust to thinking about others. She has matured immensely and she is able to get along and solve conflict effectively.

    · One of the things preppies enjoy is interacting with cadets from the Hill. Because of football games and other activities, they get the opportunity to talk to cadets who’ve survived BCT and beyond. The cadets on the Hill are an amazing resource. They provide information on things to prepare for and also they share how they survived basic and fourth-class year. They talk about what it’s like to be a cadet in terms of the challenges. They also share some of the highlights that come with making it through the first year such as Recognition Day and such. The cadets do not tell horror stories nor do they try and dissuade future cadets. More so, they encourage preppies to take advantage of every opportunity given to them at the prep school because the academy is extremely rigorous.

    Those are a few things that my daughter cannot say enough about. When she was home for spring break, she talked about how she could not believe how she could’ve been so disappointed about getting a prep school offer, but now she is grateful for the chance to prepare for the Hill.

    I should mention that you’ve probably read or heard numerous opinions about prep school and how some cadets see it as somehow a failure to earn a prep appointment. There are other conversations about Affirmative Action and athletes. I would encourage you and your daughter to not buy into to those opinions. The prep school is earned. The preppies were high performers at their high schools. The thing is all hopeful cadets are amazingly talented and so the cadets who get a direct appointment scored higher on the “whole student” formula. This means the direct appointees somehow had an edge that made the academy believe that they could handle a direct appointment.

    At the same time, the academy saw potential in the preppies they selected. Maybe the preppies had perfect SAT scores and were first in their class, but did not attend a highly competitive high school compared to direct appointees. Perhaps a prep appointee had amazing leadership experience and top grades, but was lacking in fitness. Who knows? All I am saying is that earning a prep school appointment is an honor and nothing less.

    When my daughter was deciding between her ROTC scholarship for Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, and University of Maryland with a STEM Fellowship, she surmised that she had the grades to be admitted into those schools and so if things didn’t turn out, she had options. However, she recognized that a post-secondary year, fully funded, and rigorous, would make for a top freshman in any university class. By that, I mean that at the prep school she would have taken two science courses and two math courses each quarter—along with an English course and so she’d strengthen her academic skills along the way. Imagine entering a civilian university having been challenged to such an extent. Imagine the benefits that come with learning how to manage time and present oneself as a professional. She concluded that prep school was a win-win.

    At the same time, remind your daughter that earning a direct appointment is extremely competitive, since there are around 10,000 completed applications for 1,200 or so slots to compete for. Earning a prep school appointment means winning one of 240 slots out of the remaining 8,000 or so applicants who did not win a direct appointment. The odds are far slimmer to win a prep appointment and so your daughter is a top student of whom the academy sees great potential.

    Finally, I might sound like a cheerleader for the prep school, but I do not think prep school is perfect. However, I am a university professor and having been in higher education for over 20 years, I know the power of a good academic program. To that end, when my daughter and I were searching for colleges, I was explicit about having her think about college differently. Where we usually think of college as this place where we hand over our money and we have faith that our children get a solid education, we forget that college means more than that. As a faculty member in higher education, I believe that students and parents should ask themselves, "What can this school do for ME?" By that I mean, what academic and professional opportunities do colleges offer? Will my child get to engage in research, internships, challenging courses? Will my daughter learn solid "soft" skills in order to demonstrate a stellar professional disposition? I reminded her that at the end of the day, one can be the smartest, fastest, whatever, but if people sense that they cannot work with you, they do not hire you. In looking at it from that perspective, a college education is more than a degree quest. The perceived status of a direct appointment seems important at first, but if the ultimate goal is to become an officer, stay the course and make it happen by accepting opportunities that lead to the ultimate goal.

    I hope this helps.

    wannafly18, Yesterday at 6:50 PM Report
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  6. tug_boat

    tug_boat Member

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    Im a big fan of civil prep and understand exactly what you’re going through. Your DD will be better prepared for academics at AFA. Your DD has no idea the degree of difficulty she will be presented once in the academy. The academic challenge will and does buckle some of the best and brightest. By attending a prep your DD will be better equipped to handle these challenges. I would give the good folks of NWP or Northwestern Prep in Crestline, Ca a call and talk with them. They have a lot of Falcon kids go through their doors and have done very well at all. They focus more on academics and on average students brings up their scores by 20 to 30 points.


    Let your DD have her pity party. Set a limit of a couple of days and get back into setting new goals.


    Push Hard, Press Forward
     
  7. PossiblePreppie2015

    PossiblePreppie2015 New Member

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    Thank you all for your words of wisdom... In retrospect I believe I misinterpreted her reaction and this 'roller coaster' had me panicking prematurely... although there was some understandable initial disappointment, her tenuous reaction wasn't about pride, it was a combination of disbelief and fear. Disbelief because she said she kept waiting for a portal update saying "oops, we made a mistake, sorry you didn't make it", and then fear of not being good enough. She is very happy (as are we) that she has an opportunity to become even stronger with the help of the Prep School and we are all sure that this will build her confidence for the rigors of the Academy!

    Again, thank you so much for your insight... it certainly helps make the blind curves on this roller coaster ride a little less "blind".
     
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  8. LesakUSAFA

    LesakUSAFA Member

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    I am in the same boat this coming year. I am #1/193 in my class with the highest honors classes, AP, and Dual Credit classes available. I am also an Illinois State Scholar. However, my ACT scores are similar to yours as I was unable to raise my reading score above the minimum. My scores are as follows: 27E, 33M, 22R, 33S. Because I could not reach the minimum reading score, I am practically unable to receive direct appointment. I am hoping for a prep school slot, but nothing is for certain.
     
  9. Blondie1

    Blondie1 Member

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    Those that go prep school (esp NAPS--USNA) enter plebe summer with an advantage over those with a direct appointment. DS appreciated having a NAPS roommate plebe Summer. Know several parents that are very thankful their current plebe/youngster went through NAPS. It really all depends on what your DD wants. Remember in the end they all end up commissioned as officers in the military. The academy is only 4 years--it's the lifetime afterwards that she needs to focus on.
     
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  10. Longliverockthewho

    Longliverockthewho Member

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    Prep school or civil prep offers really should be viewed as great opportunities. I have 1 at USAFA right now who roomed with a preppie and a civil prep and both of whom have done well. They were great help for SAMIs and other military order issues. I have another with a Coast Guard appointment and AROTC /AFROTC scholarships who is waiting to hear from other academies. Quite frankly I would prefer he gets a Civil Prep offer rather than a direct appointment to USMA/USAFA to give him the extra year adjustment.
     
  11. Willow475

    Willow475 Member

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    If her dream is truly to go to the Academy then she will take the Prep School offer. My daughter attended NAPS before going to the Naval Academy and she too was sure she would be a direct entry. She was a recruited athlete with great grades. She never even thought twice about not accepting the NAPS appointment. She has a massive amount of pride..she broke every record at her high school for her sport and broke several state and regional records..did it hurt...yes..did it stop her...NO...because she knew if she made it through NAPS she was heading to USNA the next year!!
    I also have a son in AROTC..one other thing to consider..if she did take the NROTC scholarship she is not guaranteed active duty when she graduates. The Service Academies are the only place that you will absolutely go active when you commission. Not sure what her long term plans are, but if she wants to go active the Academy is the place to be.
    One last point...any type of ROTC is a FAR FAR cry from the Service Academies. I see this first hand with my son and daughter. My son is having a college experience with some Army thrown in.his AROTC program is incredible and I believe one of the best in the country, but that doesnt change what it is...my daughter is in the Navy being prepared to become an officer..it is NOT COLLEGE just because you take super hard classes..It is the military.
    And remember...many people on these boards would kill to be lamenting over this choice! Good luck!!
     
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  12. AROTC Parent

    AROTC Parent Member

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    Willow - I will defer to a Navy or AF ROTC 'expert' for confirmation but i understand active duty is the only option from NROTC and AFROTC. Army ROTC is the only one that allows (or forces) service in the reserves after ROTC. Reserve service from NROTC or AFROTC is not likely.
     
  13. Willow475

    Willow475 Member

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    Thanks for the clarification! Must only be an Army thing
     
  14. KP2020Dad

    KP2020Dad DS - USMMA '20

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    It seems you know the correct course for your DD. My DS is at USMMA's prep school and it was 100% the correct decision for him. Yes, some of his classes are not harder than the IB courses he took his senior year, but that is okay. It has given him time to adjust to a regimented lifestyle that he will encounter at the academy. No one knows the correct course for your DD, but if her "dream" is to go to the USAFA, then there is only one choice. As far as her "pride"...she should be extremely proud of herself. Receiving a congressional nomination is a major accomplishment. Receiving a prep slot shouldn't be looked at as a failure, there are thousands of kids who would die for that spot. I know she is disappointed, but after a little time, she will realize what is really important to her. Good luck.
     
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  15. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Take it, take it, and take it joyously - prep school is a superb route for gaining maturity away from home, being academically honed razor sharp, refining time management and independence skills. No one - with any sense or maturity - gives a flying whatever who went to prep or not. Prepsters roll into SAs with all the HS bits and pieces long shucked away, ready to rock, roll and excel.

    As a USNA BattO and mid-sponsor since 1996, we have not had one prepster struggle academically or otherwise at USNA. They all succeeded and did well in or out of uniform. We had one sponsor daughter who was a HS star, was offered civilian prep - admitted it stung at first, but she realized that was self-inflicted. She excelled at USNA, raves about how prep school was the best thing ever for her, is doing superbly in her naval career and is presently a naval aide to a very, very senior DOD civilian appointee. She also noted her civprep friends were an instant support network during USNA PS and beyond.

    We HAVE had plenty of right-outta-HS mids who were stars back at home but found themselves in over their head. It was painful to watch 17 year olds who had ruled their HS world back in May crash and burn academically, or have performance and conduct issues, by the time first semester wrapped up.

    And did I say no one cares about the path taken? Truly. I do understand that feelings are magnified during HS senior year as comparisons are being made. It's hard to get out that polished response when asked "where are you going?" If she wants to go to USNA and is being offered the golden opportunity of prep, tell her to allow herself a 5-minute pity party and then celebrate that she is wanted by USNA, enough that they will invest in her and wait for her. Setting feelings aside, if NROTC is a better fit, that's fine too. Ask her to project where she will be 2 years from now: what scenario brings the big grin to her face?

    My advice applies to any SA - have skimmed the thread on iPhone and admit to bring a little fogged about who is quoting whom and what particular turn the thread has taken right now.
     
  16. tug_boat

    tug_boat Member

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    Spot on advice from Capt MJ

    Push Hard, Press Forward
     
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  17. CC7

    CC7 Member

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    Oh goodness, please don't turn down the prep school because you think it will not be challenging......Everyone gets their but kicked....regardless of your academics. No walk in the park for ANYONE.
     

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