The Importance of "Plan B"

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by mom3boys, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    As the rising seniors are beginning to work toward their service academy appointments, I want to remind them to have a solid back up plan. Even if they are appointed, it may not be for them. There are always some new cadets/mids/etc..that get to the SA and realize it is not what they want. What happens if you quit and it's July or August and you have no plan? Although it's good to feel like you will not quit and don't need a plan, it's also advisable to have a "just in case" scenario worked out. There are kids who never thought they wanted anything but USXA, but once there, totally change their mind. I have heard from parents recently who have said, "he's coming home...and to what?? No job, no back up school...what is he going to do??" This is tough on the whole family...so while working toward the appointment, please work on your plan B as well...you just never know.
     
  2. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Food for thought from "The ALO" perspective.

    One of the FIRST questions I ask a "candidate" is this:

    "So...if you do NOT receive an appointment, what are you going to do?"

    I want to know for several reasons. First, if the answer is: "Uh...well, probably go to XXXX U and figure it out from there..." Then I begin to question why they're interested in the academy? Do they really want to be an officer or is it the allure of the place, the "Ooooh...I could be a fighter pilot (only about 12% of us with wings ever get that) or ???

    BECAUSE someone that wants to serve; to be an officer, will know that you can get to the SAME PLACE in the service via ROTC and that they give out scholarships...but to get one, you must at least apply for one!

    And second...how serious are they? Because given the realities of the situation, MOST folks (and I know they're pretty incredible people) will NOT receive appointments. So what's the backup plan?? If there isn't one there...or at least thought about...

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  3. AFAMOM08

    AFAMOM08 Member

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    A back up to a back up is also good. Our son had an appoinment to USAFA and a AFROTC scholarship but was DQ'd after a sports injury and did not get his waiver until 12 days before inprocessing day. We paid his deposit for housing at his back up school just in case. You never know what is going to happen between appointment time and inprocessing time. :thumb:
     
  4. dohdean

    dohdean Member

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    Back up plan

    My daughter's ALO asked her very similar questions and gave her very similar advice. Her ALO encouraged her to apply to ROTC and to civilian schools; he asked her (as did the Congressional staff at her Nomination interviews) to explain her back up plan -- they expected her to have an alternate plan in case she did not receive a Nomination/Appointment. The applications were a lot of work but gave her back up options in the event she didn't receive an Appointment or got injured or sick and was precluded from starting at the Academy. She had to decline the ROTC scholarships that were offered (she received both Air Force and Army ROTC scholarship offers) once she accepted her Appointment to USAFA; but we went ahead and paid the deposit at a civilian school in the event something happened before InProcessing that precluded her from starting. Fortunately, nothing bad happened and she is at Basic Training. But those back up plans were worth the work and would have given her a solid college to attend this fall if something had happened.
     
  5. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Approach Plan B as insurance. This is a contingency plan. Stuff happens.
    Even if you son/daughter gets an LOA or Early Admission it is very prudent to have a Plan B - here's why:

    Kids leave during the first summer and first year for a variety of reasons - some of which are beyond their control and most of which are beyond your control.

    Most colleges want either a full semester or a full year (30 credits) in order to transfer. If they don't have enough credits they will enroll as a freshman.

    If a student was accepted to a school and turned down the acceptance it is a lot easier to get enrolled than if they had never applied.

    For instance, if your child doesn't complete the first semester, in many cases they can get enrolled for the second semester if they had applied and been accepted. If they have never applied and the deadline for application has passed then you may be out of luck.
     
  6. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    --- DEVIL'S ADVOCATE ON ---

    Sometimes having a fall-back (Plan B) makes it easier to quit when the going gets tough.

    A plebe/swab without one may be more motivated to "tough it out" while the plebe/swab with a guarantee to State U may see it as the "out" they have been looking for when they are having a rough day.

    --- DEVIL'S ADVOCATE OFF ---
     
  7. jennyp

    jennyp Parent

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    Back up plan until I-Day

    We, too, paid a dorm deposit, enrolled for a freshman orientation, etc at Back Up Plan University. Before we left for I-Day at USNA, son typed letters to housing, corps of cadets at BUPU, admissions, scholarships and financial aid.....dated those letters July 7. They said he was respectfully declining admission/scholarships/freshman orientation session/etc. because he was at USNA.

    He made it to and through I-Day without some weird injury or medical DQ, so the letters are in the mail!

    Met a kid from our town wh started at USAFA last summer only to become ill, spend 17 days in hospital and ultimately have his gall bladder out. They sent him home; (he attended community college ) and told him a spot would be waiting for him this year.

    I guess if zanerdude gets sick, he will have to do community college as well since BUPU is no longer in the queue...........

    There was a thread about this last year on either this or the other forum, which convinced us to do it as we did. I agree with luigi that keeping that back up plan may encourage jr to jump ship when the going gets tough. And I bet it already is tough!

    But I do think it is sound planning until they are safely tucked in at the SA
    for the summer!
     
  8. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    I'm w/ JennyP...it's just smart to have a plan. I know of a kid who 2 days into USMA decided it wasn't for him. It's all he ever said he wanted; he has no back up. When he comes back home, what are his options?

    Last year we played roulette; son was accepted to State U, but we didn't pay the hundreds in deposits; if he had gotten injured, I guess we would have begged and pleaded for a spot (and probably been turned down). As it was, he called admissions, explained why he was turning them down, and asked they give his spot to his best friend, who had been wait listed (they said no).

    Life doesn't always work out like we hope/plan. I say go for the dream, but have a plan B.
     
  9. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    Did that happen this summer?
     
  10. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Luigi - that's the theory but I don't know how well it works. If a kid really wants to leave they will leave.

    mom3boys - I know of two different kids in two years (one this year and one last year) at two different academies who had no back up plan.
    They both had early admission in the fall and ceased their college search then. One lasted 4 days the other lasted a few hours.
    The kid from last year went home in July, the parent and GC got on the phone and a very good and selective State university in another state accepted the student. There was some begging and pleading and strings pulled but they got it done.

    I have also known kids who were turned back and went home without a college to attend.
    Apply to your favorite safety school. If you reject the offer of admission and change your mind or get hurt or whatever they will be thrilled to have you.
     
  11. mnolan

    mnolan Parent

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    Back up plan

    Luigi does have a point though......I have examples that aren't exactly the same, but still relevant.

    I teach at a public university (almost 30 years) in aviation, which is a tough industry to break into....lots of ups and downs, bad pay, lousy hours, etc....you gotta stick with it during tough times or you don't make it. (sounds like the USCGA sometimes!:smile:)

    More and more students (and their parents), come in as freshman each year, with elaborate "backup" plans in case their primary one doesn't "work out"....and more and more students end up using their backup plans. Parents seem to want a "sure thing" nowadays, and there isn't such a thing! The first time the parents hear bad news about the industry, their student doesn't get straight A's their first semester, or their kid runs into a problem with their training (and everyone has problems at some point), they revert right to their "backup" plan and leave.

    I don't mind having an idea of a plan, but some parents get so worked up about it (and this is transferred to their kids), that the backup plan ends up becoming reality. It's gotten to where we can almost tell who isn't going to last a year, simply by their (and/or their parents) constant mention and over emphasis on their backup plan.....they just aren't that committed and they jump at the first problem.

    In our case at the Academy, we figured that if swab summer didn't work out, (medical or some other issue), my daughter would come home, try to get into the local college and if that didn't work, enroll in the local community college, then use freshman year to sort things out. If that had happened, would it have delayed her eventual graduation? Maybe....but that wasn't our biggest worry...what's one more year? If she had decided to leave during the year, (and she never did consider leaving), she would have re-applied to some of the colleges who had admitted her previously, and I am sure she would have gotten readmitted.

    It's interesting that in the last two years I have had two former academy students (one AFA and one USMMA), leave their respective academies at the two year point, and transfer into our program and into one of my classes. When they hear I have a daughter at a service academy they like to talk to me about their experiences. And although they are both doing well here and like it, both now regret their decision to leave and wish they had stuck it out.

    So I generally have to go with Luigi on this one.....have a generic backup plan in place......but don't go overboard.
     
  12. dohdean

    dohdean Member

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    This issue is very much on my mind as the Basics at USAFA finish up the first part of BCT and get ready to head to Jack's Valley next Monday. According to postings by parents on other parent support sites, at least one Basic at USAFA has suffered an injury requiring surgery and is headed home. Another Basic has suffered an injury that may require surgery and his parents are waiting on pins and needles to see if they receive the call saying that their son is headed home for surgery. I completely agree with Luigi on the possibility that a back up plan -- particularly one too heavily emphasized by parents -- might lead to an early and/or unnecessary withdrawal. But I still think it is a good idea to have some kind of a back up plan -- in the event that your Candidate, Appointee or Basic (depending on where they are in the process) sustains an injury or illness that prevents them from starting/finishing Basic or worse ends their career because it is an injury or illness that is permanently disqualifying. As the parent of a Basic, I pray every day that my daughter will make it through Basic without a serious illness or injury -- otherwise at this point I am sure that she will complete Basic and start the academic year on August 6.
     
  13. mnolan

    mnolan Parent

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    back up plan

    Your point is well taken, but keep in mind that statistically, the chances of someone being permanently sent home from an SA due to an injury is really pretty small. We have all heard of cases, but the service academies as a whole took in a couple of thousand new students this fall.... (and by the way, the same problems occur at normal colleges as well! We have kids hurt themselves fooling around or on athletic teams before school even starts and they have to dis enroll). Usually, if a cadet's injury is healable (sp?), the cadet will be allowed to re-enroll at the SA the next year. But even if it is not, keep in mind that the SA kids are intelligent, motivated, athletic kids...just the type colleges are looking for. So if it happens that they end up disenrolling medically, it might be more of a bump in the road than a catastrophe.

    I know this doesn't help when it is your kid at stake (we went through the same worrying with my daughter last summer as well). Keep you fingers crossed....hope for the best, and realize that it will probably all work out in the end (even if we give ourselves ulcers in the process!) :smile:
     
  14. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Very true mnolan - Parents should not get themselves worked up over the injury or illness factor. It is not within your realm of control. At most if not all academies over 90% of kids make it through the summer. The academies have made an investment in your child and they WANT them to stay, if at all possible.


    Furthermore - I can see if a child has a viable alternative and calls home complaining, how easy it would be for Mom and Dad to encourage them to pack it in and go home.
    But...... if a child REALLY wants to leave, they will and Mom and Dad will be powerless to stop it. Which is how it should be.

    My suggestion to apply to one school as an insurance policy was just that - stick it in your back pocket and forget about it. I never intended for Mom and Dad to pull it out when their New Cadet calls home complaining.

    Insurance is to cover a rare but catastrophic event - hopefully it's never used but it could be helpful to have.
    That said - if there is no back up, it's not the end of the world. Both of the kids I know of managed to get into good schools. It's possible to get into a school if you come home in the summer or fall, it just may not be a school you would have picked otherwise.
     
  15. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    IMO, there are two types of "backup plans" -- (1) applying to civilian colleges to begin with, and (2) accepting/putting in a deposit for a civilian college once you accept at a SA.

    The former is a must. There are no guarantees that you'll get an appointment, so you want to ensure you're applying to at least one civilian college that seems a sure thing. Also, SAs frown upon people who don't have this form of "Plan B." Seriously.

    Whether you should also put down a deposit on a civilian college is debatable. The upsides are that (1) if something unexpected (e.g., injury) occurs, you aren't scrambling, and (2) if the SA doesn't work out, you have an alternative. The downsides are (1) the cost, (2) you're giving yourself an "easy out" if things don't work out at the SA, and (3) 95%+ of folks don't need it.

    Also, recognize that, if something unexpected happens, you can always do a year at your local CC and then apply/transfer to a 4-yr school. It's not the end of the world. One of my roommates quite right after plebe summer and did that. Ended up very successful in life.
     
  16. time2

    time2 Member

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    I agree with USNA1985. Generally, on these forums, discussions about 'backup plans' have related to what to do BEFORE you get accepted and/or start attending an academy. I think it is excellent advice to have a plan B BEFORE getting your appointment since you just never know how that goes, doubt that few can take exception to that.

    Having a backup plan AFTER you start the academy is an entirely different issue and more of a personal decision. I don't see there is any one right answer for that and am sure we could endlessly debate the wisdom of pursuing.
     
  17. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    PANIC! :biggrin:
     
  18. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Right. What I am saying is that if a student ONLY adopts plan (1) - where he/she applies to a civilian college AND gets accepted - EVEN if he/she doesn't put a deposit down, it's alot easier to go back and say "take me" than if an application had not been made at all.
    For example, a student applies to College "A" and gets accepted. They turn down the acceptance but call them in July and explain the situation - they will most likely be enrolled, even late (of course housing may be an issue) and if a deposit was not made.
    This is a "dirty little secret" than most folks don't know about. They think if they didn't make the deposit their chance of attendance is gone. Not necessarily.
    Since their entire application packet is on file the process of enrolling is greatly expedited. This can be especially important if they leave during or after the first or second semester.

    By having had a backup BEFORE getting to the academy can be useful in more ways than one should it be needed down the road.
     
  19. jennyp

    jennyp Parent

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    Good info, JAM. We have mailed our letters declining back up school this week. I agree it is only a year, and a year at CC would be ok. Son felt strongly about having Texas A&M as a back-up and happily, the dorm deposit, freshman orientation deposit are both refundable. We were very up front with scholarship/financial aid office and they told us if we let them know in July, there would be plenty of tine to reroute his scholarships to other deserving students. I kind of gathered, allthough they did not say it in so many words, that some applicants who accept spots, scholarships, etc just fail to show up. Makes me wonder what the world is coming to!

    Reading the fine print, we learned that for dorm deposit, etc to be refunded, the notification needed to be in writing. So, he typed up four letters for the various depts at TAMU, signed and stamped 'em before we set out for
    Annapolis.

    The whole back up plan was more of a pain for me than him. He put his heart and soul into the USNA application, congressioinal and senatorial apps for noms, etc. He left the other to me! The TAMU app was due in January and he was not notified by our Senator until Jan 20. Once he took the oath at USNA, we sent those letters off to Texas A&M.
     
  20. Mindy G

    Mindy G Member

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    We did not have an official back up plan but had the phone #'s and letters of accpetance of all the other schools he had been accpeted to. He did not want to take a spot that someone else may have really wanted. Figured we would beg,plead if the worst happened. So far we are lucky and he is OK. He did however apply to 8 schools and ROTC.
     

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