USAFA admission questions

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Shawn, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. Shawn

    Shawn Member

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    I'm a high school junior seriously looking into a service academy, preferable the USAFA. A former classmate is now at the USAFA class of 2014. We've conversed several times and she's been especially helpful in outlining the admissions process. However, I need clarification on a few pointers she gave me.

    1. Send in the completed nomination forms to the VP, congressman, and both senators AND the completed forms for appointment at the same time. Since the application opens Apr 1st (correct me if I'm wrong), is it best to complete it that same month? I constantly hear "The earlier, the better". How EARLY is better?

    2. She recieved an appointment before a nomination. So that raises the question, how typical is that with appointees? From what I hear, recieving an appointment before a nomination is almost a garunteed nomination.

    3. Take the SAT/ACT as many times as possible (I've taken the SAT four times to date). I am able to "mix and match" scores (i.e a 680 mathematics on one test and a 700 critical reading on another test taken a seperate day). This much I know. However, a source of personal confusion is sending in score reports. Should I be sending score reports after every test I take? Do my score reports contain a record of EVERY test I have taken, or just the last test I took?

    Even though I've been preparing for a SA since my freshman year, this is all extremely confusing. Any help would be much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. Cms204

    Cms204 Member

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    1. Application opens April 1st so as long as you have it in by the third, that should be early enough. =)

    2. Extremely strong candidate often do recieve appointments before a nomination and most are expected to recieve one. However, the lions share of the candidates recieve a nomination first.

    3. Update your SAT score reports every time you make an improvement. You can choose to send individual scores (pick and choose), or you can send them all. College Board allows you to do both.

    A bit of advice from someone who learned the hard way. Take every SAT test available. Try the ACT once. Apply for nominations EARLY. Talk to the congressional staffers and BGOs once a week. Do some volunteer service. Anything you can put down on your record.

    Join every sport you can. Every club you can. Even though you might not be at every single meeting, it still helps and they don't know how much time you put in. Don't be dishonest, just do as many things as you can.

    Figure out if your family knows anyone influential. It sucks but life is all about who you know. Someone to help you get your foot in the door could make the difference.

    Apply to AFROTC. Just do it. It looks good on the application. And besides, you want to be an officer so why not do AFROTC?

    Apply to some safe schools.

    DODMERB. Start looking into it now. If you are on any medicines, check it out. You might want to see about taking yourself off of them now. Just look into it. Things like ADHD, thyroid, anything.

    I have a friend who served as a congressional paige down in DC, and he got a LOA and a Nomination before October. Look into doing things like that.

    Leadership activities. Take every single opportunity. If your able to be a part of your Student Government, do that.

    Last, I know it is a far ways away, but study for your interviews. Buy books about applying to the academies and read them, more than once. This is where talking to your liasons and staffers every week can make a big difference because they can tell you about the questions you will be asked in your interviews, at least I was. Prepare intelligent questions for them. The day after any meeting, call and thank them for their time. After any interview, call AND send a thank you letter.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011
  3. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    1. As a rule, earlier is better. However, each MoC/VP has a unique process. Some may have different openings and deadlines, so you need to check with each nomination source as to what they want. Also, there are some items that should be delayed if you know your stats will improve (CFA for example).

    2. Legally, that is impossible. Federal law requires a nomination for an appointment. Your friend probably received a "Letter of Assurance" which basically means, that once you have a nomination you will be appointed.
     
  4. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

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    Ok, here's my take having gone through this current admissions cycle:

    1) USAFA and USMA applications did not open really til after at the earliest the Summer Seminar's. You should have applied to the SS for USAFA already which will serve as your pre-candidate questionaire deal to start the application process. I was able to finish both my files over the summer by the end of July and I know that there are some kids who finished earlier.

    Big things to help with this - Talk to your teachers that you are planning on getting your rec's from before this year is over; you're going to need a science, english, and other subject teachers to write rec's for you.

    Also, get to know your registrar and guidance counselor for the verification of candidates activities and transcripts. To get your stuff done over the summer, you really need to be pro-active just due to the fact teachers like to take the summer off just like students. Your school, if you had a student already go through this admissions process, probably would be better on the transcript end just because hopefully they'd understand teh process a bit. I was the first from my school to apply to the academies in a very long time so it took a lot of explaining why finishing my app earlier was beneficial.

    In the end, the earlier you finish, the better it is for you since A. you can continue to update your file (getting to know your ALO and your admissions counselor @ USAFA is a good thing here) and B. it gets you in front of the board as many times as possible.

    For nomination forms, getting stuff done earlier is better because it shows interest and again, you can always update by calling the individuals' office with notable things. It can also help in getting more flexible dates for interviews instead of just trying to cram things done in a short span (a lot of congressional interviews are done in Oct-Nov timeframe).

    2. If you mean she received a LoA (letter of assurance), yes that can help with getting a nomination as congressional members will try and make sure candidates with a LoA get a nomination so that they get that full appointment. For USAFA, LoA's are much rare as compared to USMA or USNA. A big part that goes into it finishing your application early and being the top of the top. Its not something to count on; many, many appointees will not get a LoA and receive an appointment; some LoA receivers will nto receive an appointment

    3. Just send in all your score reports. USAFA will take the scores they want. Not sure on what every score report contains, sorry. I personally only took the SAT test once and was happy enough with my score that I didn't take it again.


    You sound like you're in a similar position I was in last year. Its great you found these boards, and remember, any cadets you can talk to to ask for advice and your ALO are great people to help you in this process as well.
     
  5. Shawn

    Shawn Member

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    Thanks, your tips for the SAT/ACT and the interviews are extremely helpful. I just contacted my liason for the first time tonight. You pretty much cemented everything I've read and been told.
     
  6. Shawn

    Shawn Member

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    Thanks raimius and casey. Question about the teacher recs: How many do I need? From which teachers? I've never once heard about teacher recs so this is all new to me.
     
  7. AVT

    AVT USAFA 2015

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    My roommate from SS received an early appointment without a LOA as he already had a JROTC nom, yet he was qualified to receive a LOA.

    You will need 3 teachers to fill out an online evaulation form from your junior or senior year. One must be an English teacher, another a Math teacher, and finally a teacher of a subject of your choice. You can also submit up to three letters of recommendations from individuals of your choice, but they can not be the same people who completed the evaluation form.
     
  8. USAF52

    USAF52 Member

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    A couple of caveats based on advice from Cms204. Before joining each and every sport and club available, look closely at the activities you are already in and try and expand your participation. If you are in a club, try and become the president your senior year, or some other officer. Show some leadership within the activites you are already in. If you are a scout, push towards getting that Eagle scout award. If you are JV in a sport, keep working at it so hopefully you can become varsity and maybe a captain next year.

    The reasons I say this are twofold:
    1. The academy wants to see leadership and sustained involvement in
    activities, not just a little of this and a little of that. Anyone can go to
    a meeting once a month, but what did you contribute to the activity?
    How did you show leadership, since the academy wants to see if you
    have what it takes to be an officer some day?

    2. You will have an interview with an ALO (liaison officer) at some point
    in the process. They have been doing this long enough and are smart
    enough to get into the nitty gritty of your resume and will discover if
    you've been doing things of merit or just added an activity to pad your
    resume. My son's interview with his ALO lasted an hour and a
    half, so believe me, every item on his resume was dissected.

    That being said, start thinking about things you are already doing so you don't forget to add them to your list of activities. If you coordinated a food drive for the local food pantry, even if you only did that once, include that. If you volunteered every year since 8th grade to help with the local Red Cross blood drive, include that. Activities don't all have to be official school clubs. And really think about the activities you've been involved with, so you can easily discuss them with your ALO, and be able to point out ways that you have taken charge as well as what you've learned from the activity.

    Concerning the teacher recommendations, they have to be from teachers you had junior or senior year; Math and English are required, third is open for you to choose, although science or an AP teacher would be good--hopefully showing you can handle the course work at the academy. Until you get the online application, though, which is different than the pre-candidate application, you can't do anything about the teacher recs other than asking them if they will do it for you. When you get the online application, there will be a spot for you to insert the e-mail addresses of the 3 teachers you chose--the academy will then e-mail the link to the teachers for them to do an online evaluation. My son asked his teachers from his junior year so that the process could be completed in the summer before his senior year. He was afraid that if he waited until his senior class teachers got to know him in order to do an evaluation, it would be later than he wanted to complete his application.

    Good luck, it sounds like you are in a good position since you've been thinking about this for a while!
     
  9. JMC0759

    JMC0759 S-USMMA '12 D-USAFA '15

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    " You will have an interview with an ALO (liaison officer) at some point
    in the process. They have been doing this long enough and are smart
    enough to get into the nitty gritty of your resume and will discover if
    you've been doing things of merit or just added an activity to pad your
    resume. My son's interview with his ALO lasted an hour and a
    half, so believe me, every item on his resume was dissected. "


    Well stated. We experienced the same thing. At my DD's ALO interview she was asked about EVERY entry on her resume. The ALO went through her resume LINE BY LINE and wanted to know what everything meant. Don't pad your resume with filler. We were given some advice very early in the admissions process, keep the resume "short and sweet." We kept her resume on one sheet of paper. It worked for us, but it may not work for everybody and we had an LOA in November. :thumb:
     
  10. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

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    JMC0759, that's the same advice I was given just about writing a resume in general - keep it to one sheet of paper to a max and make sure you're not putting junk to put junk on it. My ALO had a copy of my resume and wrote stuff down as he went through, marking more information as we talked. I don't remember how long it was, but it was probably more intense of an interview then my nomination interviews.
     
  11. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Your experience with your ALO may vary. Mine was fairly informal. We met several times for lengthy discussions. The first time was the "getting to know the candidate" bit and was done by phone. We met again for the actual interview and kept going for almost 2 hours. After I was accepted, we had a 3+ hour chat at my house about what to expect at the academy. He also participated in my school's senior awards ceremony. My ALO offered a lot of insight and helped quite a bit. Don't be afraid to utilize them as knowledge bases and advisors.
     

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