Variables...

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by marmacost, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. marmacost

    marmacost USAFA Class of 2014

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    It was suggested to me that I start a thread on the variables that play into ending up with an appointment or not. Because of these variables, nobody can really say for sure that a candidate will or will not recieve an appointment by just seeing their personal statistics. One such variable would be the competitiveness of where you live. For example, if you live in an area where your congressman has perhaps 30 to 40+ qualified applicants for a nomination to the service academy you wish to attend, you would be considered in a much more competitive area than someone who's congressman has spots left over on his nomination slate. This makes it harder to secure a nomination and therefore an appointment. This is just one of the variables that obviously plays into the end result of recieving an appointment or not. If you have any comments on this or just want to give some examples of variables some people may not have thought about that'd be great! :smile:
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Nominations is definitely one of the largest variables.

    1. Each congressman is only allowed to have up to 5 cadets that they've nominated and was given an appointment, at the academy at one time. So that is basically 1 appointee per year, with the occasional 2nd one in a particular year.
    2. While a person can have a nomination and be on the slate of 10 from a representative or senator, that can put you into a pool potentially of approximately 5000-6000 applicants nationally all with nominations that you have to compete with in the general pool.
    3. While those with military parents and such are entitled to a "Presidential" nomination, only 100 of those individuals can be given an appointment using that nomination. It is not uncommon to have 500 applicants with presidential nominations. (Thus, why it's important to seek as many nominations as you can get)
    4. And as you rightfully pointed out, your district/state could have a lot of people seeking a nomination, with very few slots available.
    5. Some representative prioritize their list of 10. (Their prerogative). With the limitation of how many they can have, if you aren't the #1 on that list, you then have to compete in the general pool of thousands nationally.
    6. And many other misc. nominations; some also authorized "X" amount of guaranteed appointments.

    Outside of the nomination arena, there's the academics. Initially, you aren't competing nationally, but each school is different. Variables in classes and school profile are very important. How does a 4.0gpa taking 1 AP class a semester compare to a 3.8gpa taking 5 AP classes a year. And, in order to remain fair and balanced, what about the student that goes to a school that doesn't have AP classes? Are/Should they be penalized. Obviously, if a student has AP classes available, but they CHOOSE not to take them, they can be penalized. What about the student who doesn't take any AP classes, but is in the IB program where all of their classes are advanced classes, but more importantly, except for 1-2 electives each semester, their entire schedule is already pre-selected. It's an "International" degree program. Children in Dallas, Cheyenne, New York, London, Tokyo, etc... are basically taking the same classes. Then throw in that some school WEIGHT these advanced IB/AP/Honors type classes to give them more value in GOPA compared to the student who only takes traditional classes. Then there's some schools that don't weight classes at all. A 4.0gpa in traditional classes looks the same as a 4.0gpa in the IB program or all AP classes. Then, there's the home schooled, magnet schools, private schools, prep-schools, etc.... As you can see, there are a lot of variables when trying to determine an applicant's FINAL ACADEMIC SCORE. (Which is a number score that maxes at about 805 points or close to that).

    Then there are the variables on leadership, athletics, volunteering, etc... The academy doesn't just look at the activities to check a box and say YES or NO S/He filled a square. They evaluate to determine if the activities appear to be part of the applicant's profile (Meaning something they are really into) or is it something they did to fill a square. 1-2 years in a club, compared to 4-5 years in a club. 6+ years of doing a sport, or 1-2 years only in 11th-12th grades. JUST a member of a club, or a LEADER of the club. In leadership roles, are they associated with their extra curricular activities, or more simply window dressing? Maybe the applicant had financial issues at home and spent most of their free time with a part-time job. Did they have leadership positions there? Maybe with athletics, their school was small and private, and they didn't really offer a lot of varsity type sports. Maybe the individual has to join city leagues or they were in non-traditional athletics such as martial arts, polo, etc...

    The biggest variable is that no one here is probably from your home town. We don't know your competition, your school district, what's available, where your fellow student go onto after high school, average SAT/ACT scores, etc.... Many of these things when negative, are not the applicant's fault. Most times, the applicant (Student) doesn't get to pick the school they go to, the curriculum they take, etc... That is why the academy requests a copy of your school's profile. So they can see what colleges/universities the average kid graduating high school goes to. If 95% of your high school's graduating college bound students go to State "U", and only 5% go on to big name, private, or out of state colleges; that speaks much differently than a school where 60% go to State "U" and the other 40% go on to big name, private, or out of state colleges.

    There are numerous areas of the application process that you are graded on. I.e. they do not write down your 3.8gpa. Based on many of the things I've posted, they calculate that gpa, how it's weighted, combined with SAT/ACT scores, mixed with class ranking, difficulty of the classes, classes available, classes taken, etc.... and they give you an academic score. They then do the same thing with athletics, leadership, extra-curricular, volunteering, etc.... And they give you calculated scores. It is this final score of all these calculated scores, that they use to determine if you will receive an appointment or not.

    Of course, there's also some variables that many people don't want to mention, think about, or admit. The military tries very hard to be representative of the country. That is one reason that EACH Congressional representative is allowed to have up to 5 qualified cadets from their district at the academy at one time. Representatives are based on population. By giving each representative the same amount of slots, you allow an equal diversity, percentage wise, from all 50 states. But gender, ethnic background, race, etc... also plays a factor. In a perfectly merit based only scenario, it is possible to have 1300-1400 applicants receive appointments, who were all men. Or all white. Or at least an overwhelming percentage. So; the academy also looks at under-represented individuals. These aren't always race or gender. Maybe they only have 1 person at the academy from Vermont. They might allow a couple more qualified candidates from vermont in. It could simply be that they haven't had any applications from Vermont for a couple of years. My son's ALO didn't have ANY applicants for this newest class of 2013. Last year she had quite a few. So, the diversity factor also plays into this.

    The academy website lists all the minimums for entrance into the academy. It's easy enough to find the most recent entering class's profile as far as Average gpa, sat/act, extra curricular, sports, and other information. Between this information, you can accurately tell how you compare to the current average cadets. That still doesn't mean you'll get in, but it gives you an idea if you have to work harder at improving a certain area. But you might be there with the 3.90gpa; but in your district, there are 2 others with higher gpa's, a little better SAT/ACT, etc... and the rep puts them at #1 on their slate of nominees. And being they ranked them, the academy will take their #1 if they are physically/medically/etc... qualified. And if your rep already has 5 cadets at the academy, and because of other variables; you could possibly not get an appointment even from the general pool. But you simply don't know.

    Some of the scoring on an individual is subjective. It's simply the board's decision based on their past experiences with applications. Maybe a lot of what I wrote is vague. Maybe it didn't answer any questions. The only advice I can give anyone is to do their best and make their goal the max. Your goal each semester is to get an "A" in every class. It's to get a 2400 on the SAT and a 36 on the ACT. It's to be the best in all your activities. Then, whether you receive an appointment or not, you can walk away knowing you did your best. And that in return will give you rewards in the other schools you applied to. And for what it's worth, just about every college/university in the country that has to "Select/Approve" student applications and has a limited amount of freshman they can allow in; go through a similar process as the academies. The only difference is that they don't set aside "X" amount of slots for each representative, presidential, ROTC, prior enlisted, etc... But they do look at what state you're from, gender, race,, classes taken vs classes available, class rank, leadership, athletics, extra curricular, etc.... Hope some of this helps and makes sense. Best of luck. Mike......
     
  3. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    I think what you describe is really rare. 30-40 interested candidates in a congressional district is not common, unless it is in a military area. In a military area many kids are eligible for the Presidential nomination so it evens out.
    There are reasons why candidates who "look qualified" on paper fail to qualify or fail to receive an appointment.
    Remember all candidates must also be medically qualified, physically qualified and meet height/weight standards. These criteria will eliminate some each year.
    Then there are the "intangibles", like the interview and visiting. Don't under estimate making an impression in the interview. Above all, the academies are looking for future officers. They also want kids who want to be there.

    While each year we hear about the kid with the 750/750 SAT's who failed to get admitted - remember it's not all about the scores. The academies use the whole person points and generally the candidiate with the highest scores get it. There are 1250-1300 available slots but only 435 US Reps and 100 US Senator. Many, many slots are available for those who don't make the top cut.
    In a slate of 10 candidates, the Academy might appoint all of them or none of them.
     
  4. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Greetings to all from the returned from overseas ALO!!! :smile:

    I could write on this topic in a length that (forgive me Mike) would make a definitive post from CC seem woefully short by comparison! :shake:

    You just can't "predict" from the "variables" that are applied. I've been an ALO for 15 years...I am VERY versed on "what it takes" and yet, I can't tell you that "candidate A" will be appointed and "candidate B" will not...etc...etc...

    Trying to "second guess" the system and determine a probability of appointment based upon a list of achievements, etc., while fun and perhaps encouraging, isn't really going to tell you anything definitive.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  5. bulldog31

    bulldog31 Member

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    Nomination questions

    Can you explain the nomination process a little more? One of the MOCs my son is scheduled to meet with lists 5 appointees sent to the Academy for 2013. Seems that would mean there will be no noms from that office for 2014but the staffer said something vague about that not being the way it actually works. I dont understand I guess.....
     
  6. fruitytooties

    fruitytooties Member

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    so... how much do they select out of this huge national pool? Do they simply just look at merit or do they factor other things in?
     
  7. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Bulldog; in a very short (Hee hee steve) and vague way of explaining it; think of the 1 per year or 5 total for the Representative, as being AUTOMATICS. Consider the OTHERS on the list, that move to the "POOL" as Not-Automatics, and NOT charged towards the representative's quota of a max of 5.

    Fruity; approximately half of the appointments (actually 2/3 because there will be usually 1700 appointments, and only 1300-1400 will actually accept) will come from the national pool. BASIC BREAKDOWN (I may be off by a couple here or there, but for illustration, this is good enough):

    453 Representatives: 453 appointments (Automatic - For lack of better term)
    100 presidentials: 100 appointments (Many more eligible, but only 100 accepted)
    150 Misc: ROTC, LOA, Prior enlisted, prep school, VP, Athletic, etc...

    That is approximately 700 appointments. That leaves about 1000 more appointments that will be offered from the general pool. Of the total 1700, only about 1300-1400 will ACCEPT the appointment and enter BCT.

    As far as those 1000 being based on "Merit", that depends on how you describe "MERIT". By this time, they all have scores. The scores took into consideration all of the categories that you are rated on. GPA, TESTS, Athletic, Volunteer, leadership, etc.... Now, are these final 1000 based on their total score SOLELY, or are other factors such as under-representation considered? That's hard to say. I say yes, other factors besides total "POINTS" are considered. But I can't prove that. Plus, that can change every year. I.e. maybe in the last year 2 students from the same district/state (a c4c and c3c) decided to leave the academy. They may want to add another appointee from that district/state. My son's class of 2012, had 9 appointments from the state of Wyoming. We only have 1 Representative. We had 3 from the prep-school. That still leaves 6. 1 was a presidential. That leaves 5. Can be complicated. Maybe it's an under-representation in the areas that no one ever wants to talk about, such as gender, race, background, etc... Does a female who is 100% qualified, equal in pretty much all areas to all others, in the general pool, have a slightly higher chance of acceptance over a male? Probably/Possibly. But these are areas we might as well not talk about, because we're not ever going to get a definitive answer on it. Possibly/Probably, these "Non-Tangible" variables may have already been addressed and factored into the individual's FINAL score. Thus, selecting the final 1000 appointments is as simple as lining up all the scores.

    Hope that sort of answers something. But on this topic, we are treading areas that can't really be debated or discussed. We might as well discuss Area 51 and alien/ufo coverups. later... mike....
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
  8. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    He's correct!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  9. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Hi!

    Mike points it out pretty well but let me give you a "real life" example.

    In 2004/5 Senator Jon Kyle of AZ had 2 openings for appt to USAFA. So we interviewed his applicants and he nominated 20 students to compete for those two openings.

    So...when all the racking and stacking was done, two of his nominee's were offered appointments to USAFA!!! The other 18 were put into the "qualified alternates" (think National) pool of candidates.

    From that national pool, 12 more of his nominee's were appointed to USAFA!!! YES, REALLY!

    He ended up with 14 appointments that cycle but only 2 "counted" toward his total of 5 at the AFA!!!

    He called everyone personally and then wrote all the ALO's a VERY NICE letter thanking us for our help!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  10. fruitytooties

    fruitytooties Member

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    whew that makes me feel so much better, i guess i was freaking out that only 1 of the 10 nominees only get appointment.

    Thanks!
     
  11. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Actually this is not quite correct. There are NO special nominations for Athletes, LOA's or those in prep school. Those candidates must receive a nomination in order to receive an appointment.

    The Nominations break out roughly as follows:
    435 - US Reps - 1 each avg per year
    100 US Senators - 1 each avg per year
    1 - VP avg per year
    1 - DC resident avg per year
    4 - US territories avg per year
    100 - Presidential per year
    85 - Active duty per year
    85 - Reserves per year
    20 - ROTC per year
    50 - Superintendent per year
    150 - SECRETARY AF PER YEAR IN ORDER OF MERIT FROM QUALIFIED ALTERNATES FROM THOSE WHO WERE NOMINATED BY THEIR US REP OR SENATOR

    This brings to a total of about 1030. However, the AD and reserve are generally not filled. The US Reps allotments also may not be filled.
    IF the 265 allotment of presidentials, AD and reserves is not filled the Secretary may fill the vacancies by nominating for appointment other candidates from any of these sources who were found best qualified on examination for admission and not otherwise nominated.

    After all of that if the class is not filled then the class may be filled by selecting qualified candidates designated as alternates and from those who competed for a nomination and were found qualified by the board. 3/4 of these must be from qualified alternates from those who competed for a MOC or VP nomination. The remainder will be from those who hold any other competitive nomination.

    This illustrates why it is so important for every candidate to compete for a nomination from their MOC's, how an MOC can have multiple appointments in a given year and how it's possible to win an appointment with an alternate nomination.

    By law the Academy is required to appoint in order of merit from an unranked MOC slate of candidates.
     
  12. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    JAM; I never said that they didn't need nominations. I did not say that these were "Special" nominations. I was simply pointing out, that there were OTHER appointments coming that didn't count towards the representative's quotas. Yes, they still have to get nominations.
     
  13. CadCandMateus

    CadCandMateus Recent Grad

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    I need a summarized version of what Christcorp said!


    ;)
     
  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Summarized Version:

    There is no way in hell you can tell by your stats, what your "Chances" are of getting an appointment.

    Best of Luck..... Mike..... :smile:
     
  15. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Careful there..... don't make it sound like it's random. It is not and most appointments are based on Merit. Merit being a point system that awards point for Academic, Leadership and Athletic activities, your ability to qualify physically and medically. There is no way the academies are going to every make publish the point system - nor should they. If they did they would have a crop of posers applying. Kids who just go through the motions to do stuff.
    The fact is the academies are looking for a certain type of candidate. They want kids who take Calculus in high school for the challenge - not the application. They want athletes - not kids who try out for a sport for their application. They want kids who are leaders in their schools and/or communities. Not kids who run for Class President so they can put it on their application. They want future Officers.
    The problem with posting stats is that most kids don't post the complete picture of themselves.
    Even though there are 10-15000 applicants to a service academy - once you are "fully qualified" by admissions your chances of an appointment jump to about 80%.
    I will even go out on a limb and say that kids who are fully qualified but not selected who show interest, apply a second time during college in which they take courses recommended by admissions, take ROTC and perform well - the appointment rate will be close to 100%.
     
  16. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Well, fortunately CadCandMateus and most others reading this thread understand humor.
     
  17. Drew_22

    Drew_22 USAFA Cadet

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    I like all the info that I'am getting. How in depth it is to get in to the Academy. Like CC said and alot of another people, there is ALOT that goes into it. Not just a 4.0 or 3.9 GPA or whatever. When people say how are my stats compared to the others? The real question should be how are my stats compared to myself? Is that the best that I can possibly do? I know that has worked for me. Because I just worried about myself. Your area plays a major role too. You could have a 3.9 but for all you know everyone your competing with has 4.0's and all these leadership positions. You never know. I got invited to an Air Force Academy thing and hopefully I can get a look at what my competition is :)
     
  18. marmacost

    marmacost USAFA Class of 2014

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    Is it a kind of informational seminar? If so, I attended one in New Mexico on the day of the Air Force-New Mexico State game and it was really informational. You should definitely go! Also hopefully there will be a few cadets and recent grads there as they had some really interesting things to say as well as members of the admissions staff who are always helpful. :smile:
     
  19. CadCandMateus

    CadCandMateus Recent Grad

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    hahah, awesome! thanks !

    thudgate this saturday, yes? this time i think i'll be able to stop by.
     
  20. Jarhead

    Jarhead Member

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    A little off topic can someone tell me the height requirement I cant seem to find it.
     

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