Seeking Advice for Future Plan

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by dyhrbergj, Jul 7, 2016.

  1. dyhrbergj

    dyhrbergj New Member

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    Good evening everyone, I've poked around the website and I can say I already like the community so here I am asking about my future application to the United States Air Force Academy.

    This is more of a seeking advice post rather than a chance me post considering the answer is always going to be, "No one can say you'll get in, but do your best", and I fully support that but it wouldn't hurt to seek some advice from experienced others for what I have planned for my future.

    I will be starting my sophomore year as of August and I have a pretty busy schedule planned. Freshman year I achieved a 3.95 GPA unweighted and 11/323 class rank, but I had lack of extracurricular activities. Sophomore year I plan to change that and stick with it. I joined Civil Air Patrol a couple of months ago and its great, I love it. Also I found that if I rank up every 2 months then I will receive my Billy Mitchell award before I apply which is good. Now here are my classes for this upcoming year just so you can get an idea of what i'm working with.

    Sophomore year classes:
    CATCOM (A video production class for the schools daily news broadcast, if I become a producer I feel as if this can provide good leadership building skills)
    Robotics 1
    Pre-Calculus Honors
    Biology 1 Honors (I took Physics 1 Honors 9th grade year, so i'm doubled up on science this year)
    Chemistry 1 Honors
    Programming
    English 2 Honors
    Research 2

    Clubs/ Extracurricular Activities Planned:
    CATCOM (We meet after school to discuss packages and such)
    Civil Air Patrol
    National Honors Society

    Extra activities if I can manage my current plan:
    Robotics
    FBLA
    Cross-Country/Track

    My school program, (Center of Advanced Technologies), chooses my main academic classes to fit their needs so that's why I took Physics 1 early on.
    Also since I am becoming a sophomore and it's still early on, I can't predict a future GPA or SAT and ACT scores (I plan to take both), but obviously I plan to do well along with the PSAT i'm going to take this year.

    Now, my main concern is the lack of athletics, obviously it would help to have a sport on my back but with my current schedule planned, i'd rather manage what I have, than struggle with too much.
    And I know its possible, but very competitive to make it in without a sport but I was wondering if I couldn't manage, that I wouldn't be at too much of a disadvantage considering in order to rank up in Civil Air Patrol, you have to pass the CFA (Cadet Fitness Assessment), and that progressively gets tougher and tougher as you rank up, so that's why I'm here, any advice regarding the athletics would be nice but I will take anything I can get. I also plan on contacting my ALO soon and asking them the same thing, he shouldn't mind right? Even if I still have a ways to go? I figured it would be great to build a good relationship with him early on so the interview and just general contacting would be easier in the future.

    I don't see that many people with Civil Air Patrol on their application so I feel like that weighs out the late interaction with clubs and possibly not enough of them, but i'm definitely confident in my ability to achieve what I have planned and send in a decently competitive application when the time comes. If you made it this far, thanks for reading this incredibly long post (it's my first one, sorry if its bad haha) and taking this into consideration, I appreciate it.
     
  2. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Your main concern might be lack of a foreign language, going into your sophomore year. Skip the CATCOM and get that foreign language. Today. You can easily gain an appointment without CATCOM, no matter how high you go in that, but without the foreign language, your chances are greatly diminished.

    Very very many cadets are former CAP officers. It's not anything remarkable.

    Why do you not have a sport? I see the XC/track; are you already on the team, or just planning to be on the team? And don't do a sport just to have a sport; find a sport you love and really put yourself into it! It doesn't have to be a school sport. Try TKD, fencing !, tennis, MMA... find something.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2016
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  3. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 WPAFB

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    There is quite a bit on here about athletics, and ill refer you to Christcorp's sticky http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/index.php?threads/sports-and-your-academy-application.44076/ but I'll reiterate a couple things for you. First, having athletics on your application is about more than just being in shape. The CFA part of the applications shows how in shape you are. Being an athlete speaks to much more than that.

    I am not an admissions counselor, but the hard truth is that in my experience any cadets did everything that you have planned in high school AND excelled at a sport. CAP is great (I did it my junior/senior years) but it is certainly not a replacement for a sport.

    You said you are considering track/cross country, is running something you enjoy? If so even if it is a bit of a time commitment, it is worth it. I would say dial back the academic extracurriculars in favor of a sport.

    Everyone is different, but I always found that the more stuff I packed into my schedule (and I did Jazz band, marching band, CAP, AP classes and 2+ hours of tennis each day) the more productive I was with the time I had available. The skill of balancing a million things is one that every cadet has to master to succeed, why not work on it now?

    Hope that is helpful. The fact that you are thinking about it now is great. You have time. Good luck!
     
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  4. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    ^+1
    Time management is probably the best skill you can learn for a successful adulthood, no matter where you find yourself in ten, twenty, or fifty years.

    Get a job, get a sport, and get that foreign language now, while you can still get three years of it in.
     
  5. dyhrbergj

    dyhrbergj New Member

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    Thank you guys for the advice I really appreciate it, and I read the sticky before I made this post but I must've forgotten about what it said because I completely agree that a sport is more than just becoming fit like @USAFA10s reiterated, and it improves certain skills you otherwise wouldn't encounter without athletic participation. So that's why I have revised my plan, if you would like to check it out here it is:
    plan.PNG
    I don't know why but I never understood the importance of sports until now, I always just stayed on top of school and played a little something on the side every now and then so this is going to be my first introduction to competitive school sports. When the school year starts ill make sure to talk to my counselor about all this too because i'm sure they'll be able to help as well.

    I do have some questions though, because I understand that foreign language is required to graduate my high school and get into the Academy, but wouldn't just 2 years be enough? Obviously more is better but if i could replace that with something more challenging wouldn't it increase my chances? I already passed Spanish 1 and I made the mistake of not taking Spanish 2 this year but if I take it over the summer online or Junior year I should be eligible to graduate but why would I want more past 2? I just don't see it as that important to excel in as compared to maybe like an AP physics class or something.

    Speaking of increased chance though, would you potentially have a bigger chance of being accepted if you submit your application early and stay incredibly on top of your deadlines? Since they start handing out early appointments in November to the best of the best, and reassurance letters to people who will receive an appointment, if I am one of those few thousand that have everything done early would I have a better chance?
    Thanks again. :)
     
  6. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    The reason you want to have 3 or more years of a foreign language because part of your application will include how rigorous your course curriculum is compared to what the school offers and what your peers take. It is not just about your gpa. I.E. If 75% of the students take 3 or more years and you take only two than you are seen as taking a weaker curriculum. At my kids HS that had 3 tracks for degrees. 1 was the min. which had 2 yrs of foreign language. 1 was called college prep which had a min of 3 yrs. The last was the AICE/IB track and they needed 4 yrs of foreign language.
    ~ The same was true for math/science/english requirements.

    So in that example although your gpa could be higher than someone else in your school, admissions will see that your courses were not as rigorous as another student from the same school. Thus, you would not be as competitive as you would be had you taken at least 3 years. My kids all graduated with at least 4 yrs of foreign language and still took all AP classes. My DS2's sr yr was AP Phys., AP Stats, APUSH, APENG, AP Spanish and AP Gov, his easy class was PE (required in our state). My DD was an AICE (Cambridge program), she did not like sciences, so she finished with Physics, but had a total of 11 APs on her transcript. My DS1 had 11 APs too, plus he did jump start on top of that.
    ~ DS1 is now an O2 in the AF flying C130Js.

    My point is that not only should you do at least 3 yrs to be competitive for USAFA, but for your plan B, an AFROTC scholarship.

    I don't know your school profile, but if most of the kids at your school take at least 3, than you are hurting yourself because there will be students like my kids that took 4 year and still did APs. My kids attended 2 different HS in 2 different states. Each HS had a different track for when you could take APs. The younger 2 had an option to take AP, honors or standard when it came to science, math, social studies and English starting their junior year. I.E, as a junior they could take AP Chem, Honors Chem or Std. Chem. My eldest had to take Honors 1st and than he could take the AP class. making it harder to get the APs, but he still did because we made sure from his freshmen year he was plotted out to get there. None of my kids had any freebie classes, except for the mandated PE. Their electives were APs instead of classes like teen living, art or weight lifting, and sorry to say it, but impo you have a lot of freebie classes. Drop research 2 or programming or robotics 1 and take Spanish 2. Call the HS ASAP and ask them to drop 1 of these classes. It is def. not too late to change your classes.

    You need to understand that any SA is seen as an Ivy League education, and is as selective as an Ivy League regarding admissions. Many of the applicants will be applying to Ivies as their plan B. That is your competition. Sure you can get appointed with only 2 years, but you will see as you look around the chance me threads on the SA and ROTC threads that you would be the rare bird with only 2 years.
     
  7. dyhrbergj

    dyhrbergj New Member

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    I appreciate the advice but like you said, if it's for a more rigorous record, wouldn't I want to take something more challenging if I had the option? I can't drop research 2 or programming because they're both required classes by the magnet program i'm in considering its a technology program and research is more of an SAT/ACT prep class. My only electives are CATCOM and Robotics and they're both interesting and decently tough from what I've heard but once the school year starts I can talk to my counselor and see if I can switch out one of those classes and ask them as well. But i'm still hesitant on the decision considering 2 years is required to graduate my HS, but not required to enter the academy, it is only a recommendation to be "academically competitive for an appointment", and since it will be one of my only 2-3 electives, i'd prefer to take a more challenging course if its available. I understand that someone with 3 or more years would be more "academically competitive for an appointment" than me with 2, but if I have a more challenging elective, I would think that it would outweigh the foreign language. If I take what might be considered an easy class to others and my counselor, i'd be glad to switch that out for more foreign language experience. Your PAR is a major consideration, but so is your GPA AND Class Rank, which would both be affected by grades. I'm not really a fan of learning a new language which can sound silly but I read a few threads with parents stating that their kids never really used their foreign language, almost as if it was just an admissions token. So I feel like if I have the option to take a more rigorous course that I will use more frequently in everyday life and my job, ill take it, but if not, more Spanish will be my backup.

    I also wanted to bring up Civil Air Patrol again.
    I still believe that it would help a good amount considering that only about 10% of appointee's/cadets were in CAP according to the Nov 2014 edition of the New Cadet's Guide and just past demographic profiles.
    Class of 2019 (Outside source):
    http://paulryan.house.gov/uploadedfiles/usafa_class_of_2019.pdf
    Class of 2018 (USAFA):
    https://www.usafa.org/Documents/FalconFoundation/Demographic Profile of the Class of 2018.pdf
    Class of 2017 (USAFA):
    http://www.usafa.org/Documents/FalconFoundation/Profile CL 2017.pdf

    So I don't think it's NOT anything remarkable if I receive my officer ranks, but I also don't think its the golden ticket. :)
     
  8. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 WPAFB

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    CAP is great, beyond just the application, it can give you a chance to see if this "Air Force thing" (as my parents used to refer to it before getting behind me) is something you want to do. Just realize the typical USAFA cadet has something similar in their background.

    I will defer to those who have been active on this site over the years (I pop in and out) on the foreign language importance but I'll give you my story on that because I had similar feelings. First, my high school had very few APs available in the first place. I took German my first three years (it was by far my easiest class most semesters) and senior year I decided enough was enough and took microelectronics instead (basically the class involved building a metal detector from scratch). Everyone said it would look like I quit but I felt I was wasting my time. When I got to USAFA, my language learning aptitude was too high to continue German so they stuck me in Russian...

    Anyway the point is, in my opinion there are much better classes in high school. The SAs see foreign language as important though, and learning a strategic one (Chinese, Russian, Arabic) is even better. Does your school offer any of these? Alternatively, language is something easily done on your own but that would take commitment because you would have to show through an assessment of some sort that you did in fact learn it. I find online courses/tapes/listening to books in a foreign language/ changing random words on my browser to foreign ones much easier and more enjoyable than a class
     
  9. VeryProudParentOfSix

    VeryProudParentOfSix Member

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    From from what I understand, receiving the Billy Mitchell award is equivalent to an Eagle Scout. It's notunique, however, it is a plus.

    My DS only took 2 years of high school Spanish because his schedule was impacted. He took four years of Laboratory science and 2 years of computer science. Since he was in concert band and his school only offered 6 classes, he could only fit 2 years of Spanish into his schedule and that's including summer school for 2 summers.

    If you are looking for leadership opportunities, CAP has many available to you. Once my DS achieved. Certain rank, he applied to be on staff at every CAP activity that was available.

    Good luck!
     
  10. dyhrbergj

    dyhrbergj New Member

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    Thank you for all of the responses, I apologize for not being able to get back earlier but I will take all of the help and can get and just thanks again. :)
     
  11. Daretodream

    Daretodream Member

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    I will give you the same advice I gave my DS when he first expressed an interest in USAFA. Look at the requirements and recommendations along with the median scores of the last few classes. It gives you a great gauge on what it takes to be a strong candidate for admission. Look for areas where you are currently short and make plans to address them. I think the foreign language call-out is a perfect example. USAFA wants a couple of years of one. My son took four years of Spanish (AP included) and three years of French (AP included). It was about going over and beyond to set yourself apart.

    CAP is great, but it is more than just about promotion and the Mitchell. Set yourself apart from some other CAP applicants as most will achieve the Mitchell award. Join the Cyberpatriot team, or take leadership roles, or apply for the summer camps with specialties. My DS achieved the Mitchell, but did not hold high leadership positions. He did compete for three years on successful Cyberpatriot teams and attended the PowerFlight Academy where he did his first solo. These were somewhat unique accomplishments that set him apart from many others.

    As for sports, it is required but find something you love to do. My son only played tennis in high school and lettered but was far from a star on the team. He also fenced in a local club. Find your niche. You will likely not accel in every area, but try to excel in as many as possible.

    Finally, start taking the ACT/SAT. My DS started taking the test in the 8th grade. He took it once a year through his junior year. The usual median is around 31. Try to go a point or two over the median.

    Finally, the internet has created a new age where you can look and research USAFA to get a real feel for BCT and the Academy. Look at it and make sure it is for you. I also highly recommend Summer Seminar. Apply during your junior year and attend in the summer. It is a great way to see the Academy from the inside. My DS attended USAFA and USNA SSs. BTW, he is in BCT in the Class of 2020 right now. Good luck to you.
     
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