USAFA decision

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by FEIMOM, Apr 18, 2016.

  1. FEIMOM

    FEIMOM Member

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    Hello... hoping for some input for my son. He has an appointment to USAFA after many, many years of preparation. I have stalked this forum for years and provided guidance along the way. He also has a Type 1 AFROTC scholarship. (yes, an enviable position to be in). For years, USAFA was the only school he would even consider, but now he is second guessing. Hoping for some input... my son is more academic than an athlete, and is fairly serious most of the time. He is not the type to have a lot of friends but earns the respect of his peers even if they aren't his best friends. He is a marathon runner and is in great shape, but he is not a jock by any means, and not interested in sports. He knows there will be mandatory sports and football games... that's not really the issue. He's questioning the culture of USAFA - can a more academic personality excel and be happy there? My take is that USAFA saw something in him - they knew he wasn't a varsity athlete (3 yrs xctry but not varsity or state) and yet he still received an appointment. We always said that if he didn't, then it wasn't meant to be because perhaps his personality wasn't suited. But, now he did - struggling with if it's meant to be. Other options are RPI or Missouri Science and Tech (and a few others that have mostly fallen out of consideration) FWIW, he wants to be an aerospace major and does not want to fly - more interested in space command. I'd appreciate some opinions. Thanks.
     
  2. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    If he runs marathons, he's an athlete. Academies though are not for the faint of heart. If he has doubts, he'd probably be better at a regular college. Just my opinion.
     
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  3. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Just like any school, there are groups for each person. It's a matter of finding 'their people' and the right things that trigger their drive, motivation and happiness. There are lots of academics, jocks, geeks, music folks, gamers, hooyah types and theater Cadets. The SAs have a diverse group of folks. It's a matter of finding the right balance and a group that fits you. I think this is the same for any college kid, just the SAs it's a little tougher being a 4/C finding that right mix while balancing it all. Academic types can do well at a SA, just like any other school, it's all about time management and balance.
     
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  4. USAFA83GradWife

    USAFA83GradWife Member

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    Maplerock is right, if he run marathons, he's an athlete and an athlete with an advantage given all the running they do in BCT.

    Not everyone at the SAs is an "athlete" as in IC. Sure, many play a sport at an intercollegiate level at the Academy but not all do. Some join athletic clubs. In fact there's a marathon club. For those that are not involved in IC/club sports, then there are intramural sports (basketball, volleyball, soccer, etc.) Being concerned about being an athlete shouldn't be the deciding factor. Be more concerned about being in shape.

    My DD is more the academic type (who stays in shape and validates the pft) and enjoys intermurals. She's found things to do that interest her: singing, composing, independent study, etc. And she's had the opportunity to try sailing club, volleyball club and taekwondo club.

    It's all about getting out and trying new things. Yes, they have to learn time management very quickly. But don't be the cadet that holes up in his room and studies all the time. Life, friends and opportunities pass you by much too quickly!

    For your reading pleasure: http://usafa.smartcatalogiq.com/en/...ar-Activities-Cadet-Clubs-and-Sponsor-Program

    Edit: Academics is extremely important at USAFA, btw. Many struggle that first year with grades. Something that is new to all of them!
     
  5. stkgator

    stkgator New Member

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    Has he applied to any other universities other than RPI and MST, especially one of the top aero/astro engineering schools (http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandr...torate-aerospace-aeronautical-astronautical)? Two other schools that I would suggest, especially for astronautical engineering would be Penn State and Univ of Colorado-Bolder.

    One of my younger sons, who is interested in attending MIT/GT/Stanford/CalTech or USAFA, recently asked me the same question. My response was that if is goal was to be a pilot, go to the Academy otherwise he should seriously think about one of the top rated universities - especially since he has a Type 1 ROTC scholarship. Don't get me wrong as I am not implying the Academy's astronautical engineering program is second-rate (I personally work with and have even have hired a few Academy astro grads), but if "academics" is his primary goal - one of these top schools can not be beat.
     
  6. FEIMOM

    FEIMOM Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Yes, he was accepted at TAMU, UC Boulder, Univ of MD, RPI, and MST. Turned down by GA tech.
     
  7. LFry94

    LFry94 USAFA C1C '17

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    I went into the academy with only 1 year of XC under my belt. That was the only sport I had done up to that point. The academy is centered primarily around academics when it comes to class ranking and excelling. He will do fine so long as he truly wishes to join, and the decision wasn't made for him.
     
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  8. Blueblood1

    Blueblood1 Member

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  9. flying8764

    flying8764 Member

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    My son was awarded a USAFA appointment and also NROTC at a highly ranked and sought after college for NROTC, Purdue. He had an extremely difficult time choosing. His major is AE and he wants to fly. Has his private pilots now and his goal is a military pilot. He was denied by the USNA, his first love and choice. He will not re apply to USNA next year and doesn't see the benefit as the SA and NROTC would get him to the same spot in the end and he would have to re peat his first year if he did re apply. Purdue has been his dream college. Either way I told him his decision was a win win and at the end of the day no one cares what you chose and you are the one who has to live it, do it and complete it. Not me. Not your friends. Not the nay sayers who say what they want. YOU!

    I first have to say my son has always had a passion for the Navy fleet and what the Navy stands for. He did not have that same passion for AF, however we went out for the visit and spent a lot of time with the right people. I hooked him up with a retired AF flight instructor who showed us the USAFA airport, it's planes and met the flying team and soaring coach at our visit. This is a protected area and no one can access without someone who has the clearances. The dorms nice and huge, the AE labs to die for and the grounds gorgeous. There were times he was dead set on going, then he would get confused cause all he saw was a SA. If it was the USNA, a no brainer. So after a few days away and sending him back to Purdue within the same week after our return so it was fresh, he talked to the NROTC group, toured the dorms, the grounds, the AE program with a one on one for the 2nd time. We had our first visit last year. He was told by the NROTC that only 10% of all kids who applied to NROTC were chose this year and that Purdue is highly ranked so do not take this opportunity lightly. We are here to help you succeed and will do all the paperwork and requirements to get to your goals with you-so the unit is a huge factor in his decision. He returned after that visit feeling much better about his choices and that he was making the right choice. His goal as I said is to fly. USAFA has many excellent opportunities to do that however they are not Navy and USAFA cannot offer a history of 100% success getting cadets into the pilot program. Of course that is if he is medically and visually qualified. His passion lies in Navy. The last thing I want for my son who has worked hard to be in this spot is to go into something half hearted and wonder what if. We even investigated cross commissioning and it was almost nearly impossible and just didn't feel like the right thing to do for him after all the USAFA would have given him. The USAFA retired pilot even flat out said this to him and to go with your heart.

    My son realizes what a tremendous honor it is to be selected in to any service academy. He weighed the pros and cons of each USAFA and NROTC at Purdue. Both have exceptional academics in AE. NROTC at Purdue like the USAFA still has its professors teach the class and not TAs, they also have tutors hired just for their cadets. The classes are small and the labs fantastic. They have the same fleet of planes and better than the USAFA did for their flying team. He could still be on the flying team in his free time at Purdue and is trying out and realizes the rigors of his academics, flying, commitment to NROTC and Sunday cleaning the stadium are all now part of this choice. He realizes he will have a lot of outside influences impacting his decisions-drugs, alcohol, parties, girls etc. that he may not have had at the SA and he understands the consequences of those mistakes or distractions and how to use his time management skills wisely he has acquired. The other is NROTC at Purdue is extremely professional and organized, he just didn't feel that at the USAFA for cadets who wanted to be pilots and as I said Purdue has an excellent NROTC program, leaders and unit so that does matter.

    The USAFA did tell the kids at our appointee tour visit over and over your first year will completely suck and you will want to quit every day but that is why we put you through that so you know how to make decisions under pressure as you learn to lead. I believe ROTC will do the same just maybe not to the exact same level and maybe he will need to teach his classmates how to shine their boots etc he has already learned from CAP that most kids won't know at ROTC and will definitely know at a SA. The other is where does he want to be when he graduates and someday will be leading and flying less as he ranks up. Purdue is not a shabby degree and sought after, maybe not the same caliber what a SA would but I have seen a co worker who went to the USAFA who hasn't done much with that and it hasn't open up many doors or created a higher salary as I would have thought. I also read that the CEO of Boeing went to ISU as a AE and Neil Armstrong went to Purdue as NROTC majoring in AE.....what it comes down to I told my son is opportunity is what you make of it. I hope you have seen that as where you are now making this win win choice vs your friends and class mates. But also my son asked if I would be upset he didn't pick the USAFA. I told him we have worked for this your whole life together (I am a single mom), and I know your heart, I hear the passion and excitement when you speak of the Navy. I know you have weighed the pros and cons, talked to people and researched this to the highest degree good, bad and ugly for both sides. But if your heart is not in it I do not want you there and I would be unhappy if you were not happy. I support your choice, I am proud of you for researching it all maturely and handed him a slip of paper I wrote on about a month ago when this decision weighing started that said 4-8-2016 you will chose Purdue. He hugged me and said thanks Mom. Gold wings for this kid all the way! Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
  10. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Both choices are good. Go with his gut.
    I didn't know if USAFA would work out, but I knew I had to try, or I would regret it. I'd advise that same test for him. "Which of these do I know I have to try?"
     
  11. wildblueyonder

    wildblueyonder USAFA '19

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    This phrase describes me very well (I am definitely in the nerdy range of the cadet spectrum) and I love it here. :D

    There are plenty of ways for "academic personalities" to fit in; their strengths line up well with the needs of their classmates and squadron. Everyone needs help with homework at some point, so having an academic personality actually represents a great opportunity to help others.
     
  12. parktrack

    parktrack New Member

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    I would suggest that he looks at where he wants to be 10 or 20 years down the road after his college days and chose the path that best fits that goal. I don't think he would be wrong in choosing either path. At the end of the day it has to be what he feels is right or what his "gut" tells him. The best thing is that he has solid options to choose from and many don't have either opportunity. Good luck!
     
  13. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    I understand your passion. Your post though read to me like you have been dead set against USAFA for your son. Of course you think it's his decision, and you let him make it. He knows though, that you prefer Navy, and/or NROTC. Being a single mom is tough, I'm sure, and perhaps you each need that flexibility that ROTC would afford.

    My own personal opinion is that your son is infatuated with Navy. USAFA grads have a better chance of winging than USNA's. What can a Navy pilot do that one from AF can't? Land on a carrier?

    Good luck to you both.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
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  14. stkgator

    stkgator New Member

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    FEIMOM: responded to your PM.
     
  15. Mom of ethan

    Mom of ethan Member

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    My son also wants AE. He got into the Purdue program but has chosen USAFA. He is not a varsity athlete.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  16. FEIMOM

    FEIMOM Member

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    Thank you for all of the feedback. I really do see him doing well there once he finds his place, but not my decision, I know.
     
  17. FEIMOM

    FEIMOM Member

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    DS accepted his appointment last night after very carefully weighing all of his options. Very excited for him as we begin this roller coaster ride. Thanks to all of the posters that provided so much information and insight over the last couple of years. He has told me for quite a while now that it's better for him to go to I day solo but we are busy making plans for parents weekend and possibly for A day.
     
  18. Wild Blue Yonder

    Wild Blue Yonder Member

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    Congratulations to your DS!
    Tell him to get hooked up with the marathon club as soon as possible. They're involved with many local distance events, they also travel to several prestigious marathons every year. Marine Corp and Boston are the big ones. The families in the DC and Boston areas that sponsor the USAFA runners are very generous and are truly amazing. Just an awesome experience for the cadets.
    Also, try to make it to A-day if you can, you will only get to spend a few hours with him, but after surviving BCT your presence will be appreciated.
    A LOT of catching up will happen during parents weekend, definitely take advantage of that.
    Good luck to your DS!
    WBY
     
  19. FEIMOM

    FEIMOM Member

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    Thanks... will do. Running is a really good outlet for him so I think it will be important to make it a priority during the school year to deal with the stress.
     
  20. 6KDogwhistle

    6KDogwhistle Member

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    Huge congrats to all! Quite an achievement for all of you studs & studettes!!!:groupwave:
     

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