Something to think about

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Mikeandcris, Jun 16, 2010.

  1. Mikeandcris

    Mikeandcris Parents of 2014 Grad and F-15 Pilot

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    I mentioned to a friend that 1,300 cadets enter the Academy, and about 1,000 graduate. I expected him to say, "wow, it must be tough." However, he said, that's a very high graduation rate compared to other colleges. I did some research and found quotes like the following: According to American College Testing (ACT), one in every four students leaves college before completing sophomore year. What's more, nearly half of all freshmen will either drop out before getting their degree or complete their college education elsewhere

    We all know that comparing the Academy to a "regular college"is like comparing apples and oranges, and comparing cadets to "regular students" is similarly difficult; however, it is worth noting that the Academy has a high graduation rate when compared to other colleges. I state this because many incoming cadets will likely, at one or more times in the next few months, say to themselves, "I wish I went to "regular" college." To that I say, your chances of succeeding elsewhere are less than if you stay at the Academy. All things being equal, your best chance for success is with the Academy. (Of course I realize individuals may have other factors at play....I'm just speaking generally.) To the incoming class, good luck, stick with it, keep your sense of humor, and you'll succeed.
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    In an attempt to put some of these apples and oranges together to get fruit salad, there are a few things that need to be considered when speaking about the academies.

    1. Cadets who make it into one of the academies, putting money, quotas, and slots aside, most times would qualify and be accepted to ivy league level schools. Thus, these "College Students" aren't your average 2.5gpa w/18ACT going to state "U". (Nothing wrong with State U, don't read into this).

    2. Cadets are generally a more motivated college student. They went through a lot of hell to get to the academy, and a lot of hell once here. Those who quit or are let go, generally do so because the academy just isn't for them. Some are for academics. This is common. 95% of cadets have absolutely no idea what they were getting into when they first got here.

    3. If you want to compare apples to apples, then you'd have to ONLY look at all the 3.7 gpa, 26ACT, top 10% ranked in high school, etc... students at a civilian school. If you look at those students ONLY, you'll find that they TOO stick it out, and out of about 1300 of them, MORE than 1000 will graduate. So academy numbers are actually a lower graduation rate, if you compared a cadet to an academically equal civilian student.

    4. Also, 60% of civilian college students who DO GRADUATE, do so in 6 years. Cadets only have 4 years.

    Are cadets and ROTC students a step above the average college student? Hell yes. If a person argues that the academies are easier, and more students graduate than in a civilian college, you could be a smart a** (LIKE ME) and say: "More cadets graduate than civilian students, because cadets are smarter". OR, you could be polite, and simply remind them, that if they ONLY looked at the students in the civilian school who is in the honors classes, and came to the college/university with an average gpa of 3.86 and an average ACT of 29, and looked at their graduate rate, that they'd find the academy graduates about the same or even less. Why? Because smarter kids tend to be more motivated. Motivated students don't quit, they stick it out. This is true in civilian schools as well as the academies. Think about it. If starting in kindergarten, you ONLY kept students in a particular class that was a "B" or higher GPA, you could probably run the stats come senior year graduation, and find that you had a graduation rate of about 99%. Compared to the 65-75% national average. Later.... Mike.....
     
  3. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Wellll, yes and no. Some would, but we might be stretching it with "most."
     
  4. Mikeandcris

    Mikeandcris Parents of 2014 Grad and F-15 Pilot

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    I agree

    I agree with you Christcorp on each of your points. The average cadet is heads and shoulders above the average college student of all but the very top (e.g. Ivy League) schools. And certainly students of cadet-caliber would be extremely successful where ever they went college, thus the apples and oranges comparison. But I also think that there is a group effect at play. A group of highly successful students, such as Academy students, contribute to each members success. The group "raises the bar" for each member. If you place that same student in a pool of lesser qualified students, he or she may not achieve the same level of success that they would have if surrounded by better students. If the Yankees played only against minor league teams, they wouldn't be as good at the end of the season as they would be if they played other MLB teams, right?
     
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    You are totally correct mikeandchris. The personality of the academies, and the concept of teamwork, definitely contribute to their success.

    Scout; read what I posted. I said: putting money, quotas, and slots aside, most would qualify for the ivy league level schools. If you look at those schools and their qualifications, most cadets meet those qualifications. I never said they WOULD all be able to go to those schools. Just like the air force academy. There is an average of around 10,000 who initially apply or are interested in the air force academy. Approximately 6500 are considered eligible. But obviously, because of slots and other factors, they can't take all of them. They take around 1300. But those 1300, with an average class gpa of 3.86 and an average ACT of 29, could meet the qualifications for most of the high end schools. Remember, the averages means there are some with 3.5 gpa's and some with 4.0. Some with 26ACT and some with 35ACT.

    Point being, our students, as well as the students at MIT, Stanford, Yale, Brown, UCLA, Northwestern, etc... probably have a higher graduation rate, than the national average. That's because these are smarter kids, with more motivation. They have had this "Don't Quit" attitude their whole lives; or they never would have been able to achieve the level they have.
     
  6. vampsoul

    vampsoul Candidate

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  7. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Mmmmhmmmm.

    Obviously I read what you posted, as I quoted it as well. I don't think anyone here is unfamiliar with the bell curve and what a "middle 50" percentile means as far as outliers go.

    The issue, again, is that you keep saying "most." In reality we can say "many" but not "most." The percentile scores alone preclude us from saying "most."
     
  8. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    I believe that many of the "elite" colleges boast very high graduation rates. They are tough to get into and most of these kids are smart enough to realize their opportunities when they come their way.

    But, the Service Academies are different. At Harvard, you can be any kind of slob you want, get drunk every night, etc., and still graduate (maybe even cum laud). You can go to Amherst, or Penn, and take two gym classes, get all As and get out with your degree. And many of the students at these fine institutions do not have even volunteer work, let alone part time jobs. Average academic loads are around 16 credits, and many enjoy the pleasure of semester/year abroad which doesn't count into their GPAs.

    The Service Academy kids carry 20+ credits (Twin B had 27 this past semester, including 4 "technical + lab" courses), have jobs within their squadrons, are either intercollegiate athletes (at the Div I level, far different than Div III) or participate in required intramurals. Required rise-and-shine, Saturday responsibilities, and lights-out. They also have room inspection, uniform requirements, and if they are 4-digs or freshman, the list gets longer and longer.

    Go ahead: tell a Harvard or Yale or MIT or Duke or Stanford student he has to go to have lights out at 10:45, or that he can leave campus 5 times a year, or that he must recite the menus for the day at 5:30 a.m. Tell him if he must return from leave by 19:00 for formation. Tell him he'll have required duties all summer long, and he'll have to go whether he gets his first choice, second choice, or no choice. Then tell him he has to be out, with a 2.0 or greater, in four years. Now, tell him he's going to live in a dorm with 3 to a room for two years, with the bathroom down the hall, and that he can't leave the room unless dressed in the proper uniform! Tell him he'll have room-check every night. Tell him he's required to attend the football games. Lastly, tell him that his entire first summer, he'll not have access to his computer, ipod, phone, or even acne medications or contact lenses.

    The young men and women at America's Service Academies are not just among our nation's best academically, they represent the spirit of strength, perseverence, pride, sacrifice, determination, and patriotism which can be found in no other place in our country, or in the world. These kids are our best! (No offense to ROTC, OCS, OTS, etc; I'm just up on my soap box now! ;) ).
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Well scout, I guess I just don't get what you're trying to say. You can go to yale with a 28 ACT. You can go to yale with a 3.80gpa. I guess what I'm trying to say is that most people who get accepted to the academies could get accepted to the high tier schools in america.

    Will they? most WOULDN'T. Just like most WON'T don't accepted to the academies. There's so many variables to get accepted to a school. I simply said that based on the minimum requirements to get into some of these schools, most of the cadets who received an appointment, would have met the minimum requirements to go to one of these upper tier schools. Would they in reality have gotten accepted, no probably not. But I stand by my position that most cadets accepted to the academies would have met the minimum requirements to the upper tier schools.
     
  10. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Well, it seems to me that Scout, you might be splitting hairs here. Do "most" applicants get accepted to any upper-tier institution? No, that would make them more like State U, where most qualified applicants get accepted. At the Ivies, at other elite colleges, and at America's Service Academies, most applicants are not accepted, even if they are qualified.

    Indeed, I would venture to say that for most high-tier colleges, the simply "qualified" are given a pass. and there are many students with a significant "hook" who get into these schools without 2400 SATs, 4.0+ GPAs, etc. Athletes come immediately to mind, though certain musicians, URMs, and kids from geographically underrepresented areas come to mind as examples of this. (There was a kid accepted to Harvard last year from South Dakota who had "only" 2040 on his SAT; it was his geographical hook which got him in.)

    With kids at the SAs, they have complete packages academically, athletically, with demonstrated leadership ability.

    I see Christcorp's point and agree with his assessment.
     
  11. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    This is really not worth an argument, and as such there is not a hint of rancor or malice in my point.

    If we re-read, very carefully, the initial statement...

    So right off, we're not talking about the greater pool of applicants. We're talking about the ~1300 who are accepted. So any talk of "most applicants to any top college aren't accepted" is moot. We're talking only about the pool of those accepted, from which we can draw some very accurate demographic data.

    Secondly, my statement was very exact: we cannot say "most." We can say "many" but we cannot definitively say "most." That was my point.

    Moreover, arguments concerning what one person might achieve (entry into Yale with a 28 ACT) are not of any value when we are discussing the majority. That's sort of like saying the plural of "anecdote" is "data."

    Let's look at two schools in question. I'll make this personal, because I am WP grad and my sweet baby sister is a Yale alumnus. I once tried to argue your viewpoint with her, and discovered for myself that it was tough to make the data fit my belief! :smile::yllol:

    So here's the "middle 50" of both schools, which gives us a good idea because it throws out the outliers.

    SAT (25-75th Percentile)

    Total: 2080-2370
    Critical Reading: 700-790
    Math: 690-790
    Writing: 690-790

    So only 24% or less of the Yale student body scored less than a 2080 composite.

    Now, let's look at the hallowed halls of Castle Greyskull (I've chosen WP because I don't want anyone to think I'm picking on USAFA, where, coincidentally my baby brother went).

    SAT (25-75th Percentile)

    Total: 1650-2040
    Critical Reading: 570-680
    Math: 530-680

    So this means that, of those of us at Woo Poo U., 75% achieved a composite SAT score that would place us at or below the 23rd or 24th percentile of the typical Yale class. So, it's hard to make the argument that "most" of us could have gotten into Yale when most of us actually test out far below Yale's narrow spread of scores for admitted students. Many of us? Probably. Most, probably not.

    Why is this important? Well, for one, because it allowed my baby sister to rib me pretty well.

    No, really, there is a reason. The reason I point this out not only to be factually accurate in our statements (no good comes from thinking we're better than we are academically), but also to illustrate that those universities and the service academies draw from often disparate groups of students.

    There are probably a lot of young folks on here who, in their heart of hearts, are thinking "man, I don't think I could have made it into Harvard or Yale." Good. The Ivies, for all their worth, do not do nearly the job of evaluating students as a WHOLE PERSON that our service academies do. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who had to take an in-depth physical to go to Yale. No one needs a nod from a Senator to get accepted into Princeton.

    So, could "most" get accepted at the Ivies? Probably not, but that is to the detriment of the Ivies because of a very heavy focus on academic performance. In the end, those who go to the academies may not, as a MAJORITY, (myself included) have been Ivy League material because of what the Ivies look for.

    As a nation, we are better off because the Ivies do us the favor of not evaluating their students on a whole-person concept that is nearly as in-depth as the academies, because it leaves so many outstanding well-rounded people to fill the ranks of our nation's military leadership. And that is why so many of them graduate...because the academies do such an outstanding job of finding not just the BEST people, but the RIGHT people too.

    An SAT score never got anyone out of a firefight, anyway :biggrin:
     
  12. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    I disagree. The two biggest factors in graduating are financial and change of major.
    A students financial ability to get through college is the largest factor determining graduation rate. The Ivy's and other very very selective colleges have very large endowments which allow them to subsidize quite heavily the education of low/middle income students. If your family income is under $70000 then you get to Dartmouth for free. The same student would have a difficult time financing their education at a New England State University.
    Both the "Ivy's" (and other college who meet 'full need') and the service academies remove this obstacle from the equation.


    As far as getting into the "Ivy's" - ScoutPilot is right; they are far more academically selective than the service academies. The tippy top service academy candidates can compete at both but the majority of candidate who are appointed would not gain acceptance to HYP. They can (and probably did) gain acceptance to some very, very good schools but don't confuse Duke with Harvard.
    Any kid who gains acceptance to HYP and is a varsity athlete and has some leadership and can pass the dodmerb physical would probably easily gain an appointment to the service academy of their choice. Vice versa - not so much.
     
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Our DS was actively recruited by UP, Princeton, Stanford, Harvard and ND. Princeton is not on the standard aps, when he received their application (27 + pages long) he turned to me and said "even if I was accepted I would never go, so should I waste my time?" I reviewed the application and was waiting to see them ask for our blood type, it was that intense. Ivies also do interviews, they are the closest to the SA's in this manner than any other college out there. They do look at the Whole candidate, the only difference is physical ability does not play into the equation. Every SA gives you points for your CFA...Princeton, Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc, could not care if you can do a pull up!

    That being said, I agree they find the right people. For example, how many enlisted people would get accepted to an IVY? The military gets the fact that it has a unique mission and not everything is about being book smart!

    There is a difference between traditional colleges and the SA's. The SA is not going to allow you to graduate in 5 yrs. They don't horse around when it comes to caring your weight. Traditional colleges will allow you to keep on extending.

    If I cared enough about the graduation rate I would surf the net and find the actual graduation rates of Ivies compared to the SA's, but one thing we should stress here is that 25% of every incoming SA class on average will not graduate. I don't want parents, or applicants/candidates placing themselves into the falsehood, that once in you will graduate in 4 yrs as a newly minted 2nd Lt.

    My last thing, which has always been my biggest pet peeve, why does the SA's recruit athletes? Sorry, I just don't get it? To me this should not exist, especially when you look at their school profile, what is it 80%+ that played some type of varsity sport? I know for a fact that the AFA recruits cheerleaders, excuse me, but to me that is insane. If someone can explain why they recruit, then please do. I honestly can't grasp the fact that if you are recruited you get a pass compared to the other candidates. The school is not like ACC or BIG 10, these schools recruit for $$$ from alumni and TV rights.
     
  14. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Yes, I remember my Yale interview. I seem to recall that much more intense questions were asked during my nomination interviews. Schools like that want to know why they should invest in you. A service academy wants to know why the nation should invest in you.
     
  15. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Scout, that is such a good line! And so very very true. It is our Nation making the investment in the person at an SA.

    Pima, at least for my kids, the recruiting process at AFA was radically different that the process at other schools. Some wanted our financials before they would consider my kids; they have only a certain amount of money and don't want to spend it where a Stafford Loan might take care of "need." One school never asked what their grades or scores were like! Another school made it clear from the get-go that if they didn't perform, there'd be absolutely no athletic money.

    At AFA, all of the discussion up front was about grades, scores, other activities and sports, etc. Of course, all of that was provided on the recruiting form filed as a junior.

    I assume the process is somewhat different for football, hockey -revenue sports.
     
  16. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    One thing WE SHOULD ALL STRESS IS: NOT EVERY MOC will interview. DS only interviewed with 1 of his 3 MOCS, the other 2 selected their slate on paper only. He got every MOC nom.

    Additionally, MOC interviews are typically a committee, whereas, Ivies are more like an ALO interview. DS had 9 people for his Sen. interview, all of them throwing different questions...i.e:

    1. I see you were National Champ in TKD, but now you are a Lifeguard...why? Answer, because my Dad got reassigned and there is no competitive team in Goldsboro for me.

    2. I see you are a part of Habitat for Humanity, what have you learned from this? That no matter where the military sends you, you are a part of the community.

    3. I see you have a B in AP Calc, but you score in the strong 700's for the SAT M, and 36 on the ACT why the difference? I get it but, at school it is more like busy work.

    4. What was the last book you read that the school did not assign to you? Tim Russert, Wisdom of Our Fathers.

    He of course had the traditional questions of why you, what are your plans, etc. His ALO was great and because he spent so much time with his candidates he actually helped him more than anyone could imagine.

    His ALO met with him weekly to edit his essays ALL summer long, He took him to Daedalion Dinners at the Club. He called him weekly regarding the next steps. He did mock interviews. He explained the steps in the process. The best thing he did was hold our hands. He even interviewed us on why the AFA for our DS. He wanted to make sure that we were supporting him for him and not the GLORY as the parent of an SA cadet.

    I must state this now, so everyone knows, in the end our DS took the full ride AFROTC scholarship. HE DID THE UNTHINKABLE...he removed his name from the slate weeks (a month) before results. It came about in a weird way, but the fact is as much as our DS wants the AF for a career, as a dependent child when push came to shove he wanted to have a "normal" non-military life for college while still having his foot in the AF. We got it, he wanted to be a kid for a while, but at the same time he wanted to start building his AF career.

    For some of you, your children will get an apptmt, some will do plan B (ROTC), as a spouse whose DH was DG 3 times, ACC awards, AF recognized, please understand that the most important thing is they do what they want to do. It is hard, trust me I know, when they take 180 degree turn, but you have turn with them.

    My suggestion to all of you is to take this summer and fall as parents to be the hard arses. That means:

    1. Wake their butts up an 6 a.m and make them run, work out..if they kvetch, ask them what do you think next summer will be like? If they still kvetch and say, but that's next summer, ask them how badly do they want it? Our DS never kvetched and honestly he ran every day without me getting on him.
    2. Make them sit at the dinner table 7" out and chew 7 bites before swallowing, that includes not looking down at the table and pouring milk without looking down. After a couple of days he was fun to watch at dinner....1,2,3,4,5,6,7 swallow...
    3. Make them recite 3 current event articles at dinner...Dad did you know that Chavez announced XYZ.

    Is this harsh and over the top...MAYBE, but what it does is make your child and yourself realize that there is more to the SA than the glory of the apptmt. It gets them to taste 1/100 of what BCT will be. If it infuriates them, tell them suck it up, because right now this is the kiddie roller coaster. If they suck it up without question, come I-Day book you know they will be okay. Also by doing the current events you will help them for their MOC interview.

    My other suggestion is look at your child's collegiate goals. Yes, they have a degree in History or Econ, but take the time and look at the actual curriculum that they will take at the AFA. Have to say it that was the factor for our DS. He is a govt major in Scholars at his college, just finished interning for a Senator. He saw that he would be forced to take engineering classes all 4 yrs, and even with his ability, he decided that 4 yrs of Calc, Physics, Engineering was not worth it.

    I am NOT dissing any SA. I STRONGLY stand behind all of them. I BELIEVE they are well worth our tax dollars! I am JUST trying to state that candidates take a hard look before they arrive on I-DAY, maybe if more did take a look, and get over the allure of the SA apptmt. the rate of 75% graduating would be higher.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  17. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    :confused: Apparently I missed when the discussion took this random turn.
     
  18. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    You stated your Yale interview in comparison to your MOC interview, I stated my child's experience regarding questions asked during the nom process. Not sure how you are stating random turn. I also stated that it should be important we acknowledge not EVERY MOC will interview.

    I did also take the liberty to expound upon the fact that the SA's are more than academics, that cadets will live a unique life, and candidates/parents of candidates should acknowledge that fact.

    Was the random turn that you can't follow acknowledging getting an apptmt and surviving? I.E. 25% do not get an SA commission? Thus, I gave my personal tips on how to decipher if the child wants the SA or the glory of the SA....again PERSONAL from a parent who has gone through college apps. knowing that being accepted to Harvard does not mean you have to take 4 yrs of Math and Science for a History degree, but at the AFA you do.

    I would hate to see a candidate who is qualified accept an apptmt without understanding the intricasies that the SA's have. Would you want a candidate to accept an apptmt without understanding BCT or that summer vacation isn't the traditional 12 weeks sleeping in?


    The thread is something to think about...shouldn't they also think about researching the curriculum.

    I am anecdotal in my own experience, but I do believe it is important to not white wash. It is important that every candidate walks in with the good, bad and ugly. It is important that parents understand how stressful it can be on their children. It is important to acknowledge come every MAY the trials and tribulations the cadets endured over 4 yrs. It may be difficult to grasp, but what I am saying is that these cadets are out the door amazing and we need to acknowledge the road they walked.
     
  19. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    As I was fixin' supper tonight, I was thinking about this thread and thought about turning it around, on it's head, so to speak.

    How many HYP (Harv, Yale, Princeton) students could make it into AFA, West Point, or Annapolis? Not very many is my guess, primarily because they simply couldn't handle the athletics, the total competitive nature of a service academy.
     
  20. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Don't make them do that...cadre won't. The 7 chew rule has not been in effect for a while.
     

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