Admissions Interaction?

Hi! A question for other potential AFA 2022 candidates. DS is pursuing USAFA, USCGA, & USMA. His West Point and Coastie admissions officers assigned him a junior officer who are both very hands on. They call him or email weekly. They’ve guided him through the application process. Checked up on him Etc. West Point also gave him an LOA. USAFA on the other hand gave him an LT who left (PCS’d). DS called to see who is his new LT is and the person who picked up the phone sounded confused and didn’t understand the concept of an LT working with the candidate. My question to this group is have you had a similar experience? Is USAFA hands off? Or has DS fallen through the cracks? His entire application is complete.
 

justdoit19

Member
DS's AFA experience was very, very hands off. We received an email from admissions, addressing in advance common questions. And also told in bold, red and underlined to NOT contact back unless he could not find the answer first in the email. Everything he did and submitted was without guidance from AFA. So he never reached out as the email was very detailed. The only other contact was after everything was completed, and that was the ALO reaching out for his interview. AFA was also the only interview he did between academies, and ROTC, that was not in person.
 

USMA 1994

Member
In the old days, academy graduates showed up at their first schooling site after they were out of leave and were given some "meaningless job" until their initial training started. In the more recent past, these new graduates are staying at the academy to do these types of jobs until their class start date. This is likely who was the LT that PCSd. Our AFA experience was similar, a new LT reached out early and then it was crickets until an ALO reached out. If you keep working to the things on the portal, your DS/DD should be fine. If the application is complete, it is just a waiting came for all nominations to be received and they start resolving each slate.
 

JRS92078

Member
My DS has had little to no contact with USAFA, unless he had a question or needed assistance. He reached had to reach out to them twice regarding the same issue. Which they were super helpful in resolving.
 
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Thanks for the replies. OK, I'm glad to know it's just the way their process now works. So it is a waiting game. DS' application is complete, all MOC interviews are complete. ALO interview, CFA, DODMERB complete.
 

tx2022

Member
In my opinion USAFA has missed the mark with their new admissions process. It is very impersonal. In my experience the other academies do a much better job of answering questions and being helpful. This year I believe is the first year for the ALO reduced role, in my opinion it doesn't work well. I also requested an overnight visit to help in the decision making process and was told they aren't available only day tours. The other academies were glad to set one up.
 

RedDragon

5-Year Member
I can attest to a more hands off approach from USAFA admissions. DS#1 applied to both USAFA and USNA...lots of contact with UsNA but nada from USAFA throughout the whole process. Flash forward 4 years and he is a firstie at USAFA with a pilot slot and finishing semester 7 with one more to go. DS#2 also applied to USAFA, USMA, and Coast Guard like your son. He had lots of contact with the officers at USMA and Coast Guard(proactive contact from officers at both)and not one email with USAFA admissions after completing his app. He was fortunate to receive appointments to all three and is now at USMA. Different experiences but I truly believe all of the service academy admissions groups know what they are doing.
 

RedDragon

5-Year Member
In my opinion USAFA has missed the mark with their new admissions process. It is very impersonal. In my experience the other academies do a much better job of answering questions and being helpful. This year I believe is the first year for the ALO reduced role, in my opinion it doesn't work well. I also requested an overnight visit to help in the decision making process and was told they aren't available only day tours. The other academies were glad to set one up.
I agree with you on USAFAs position on overnight visits...did not know about the reduced role of the ALO. The ALO for my two kids was very helpful with the process.
 

SRJ

Member
I had amazing experiences with USMA. They were constantly checking on me and making sure I had much help as possible with the application process. My regional commander even contacted me and helped me lots. USAFA on the other hand has been awful in my honest opinion... they never addressed my questions, and responded to my emails in a way that clearly showed they barely even bothered to read them. My ALO changed three times...

USNA was not the best either. Better than USAFA, though.
 

JDB

Member
DS has had a similar experience as those noted above. Original USAFA ALO never returned a call or answered an email. DS did complete his interview with the second ALO. He said the individual was very impressive, but was really only focused on getting the interview done, not necessarily helping him successfully navigate this process. His USAFA counselor has answered a couple of emails, but she didn't answer all of his questions, nor did she fully answer the questions she did address.

His West Point FFR, Personal Representative (Yah, that's what they called him in the SOE), and counselor have all been proactive and responsive. It has truly been a night and day difference in how these two service academies have interacted with DS.

I suppose that the question is: Does USAFA do this by design or is it because of a lack of resources?
 

USMA 1994

Member
We applied to all three and I think the real difference is who is assigned as the "admission's" counselor. USNA and USAFA seem to have civilians doing most of the work and their are a few officers overseeing the process. USMA has an group of officers who run the entire program. The advantage of this is that you have high performing individuals who were selected doing a job that they requested and they only do it for 2-3 years. The job is hard and I do not see how someone could stay highly motivated over 5 or 10 years. This is a similar approach that is used in the service and most major corporation. You can be the best platoon leader in your Brigade, but after four years you would lose some of your motivation and not be as nearly as effective as you were at 18 months.

I am not insulting DoD civilians as most are just as dedicated as their military counterparts but their are major advantages to they way USMA does it.

In terms of FFR/ALO/BGO, it really is a roll of the dice. Most of us are volunteers who have other job and family commitments. Sometimes we have time to spend time and help candidates while other times we only have a few minutes to spare.
 

Christcorp

10-Year Member
As long as the academy(ies) have MORE QUALIFIED applicants than they need to appoint, they will conduct their programs as they see fit. If an academy needs/wants more applicants that fit certain criteria; e.g. location, gender, race, etc. they will put more efforts into those areas. If they don't need as many, they won't.

Hypothesis: Air Force academy has more than enough QUALIFIED applicants/appointees than they need; therefor they don't exert much effort into offering visits, overnight visits, admissions staff involvement, etc.

Just like any job, school, product, service, etc. if the need for "Customers" increases; the effort of "Sales" will increase.
 

tx2022

Member
Your assuming they didn't make a mistake this year by changing their admission process. They definitely have and will always have more "qualified" candidates than open spots. The ones I believe they are at risk of losing are the top tier candidates that have choices.
 

Wishful

"Land of the free, because of the brave..."
5-Year Member
The only change in USAFA's Admissions process that I am aware of is that the ALO interview is conducted by an ALO from a different region than the one the candidate is from & that interview is conducted over Skype. I don't think Admissions can help with any DoDMERB issues, only they can.
 

Christcorp

10-Year Member
Your assuming they didn't make a mistake this year by changing their admission process. They definitely have and will always have more "qualified" candidates than open spots. The ones I believe they are at risk of losing are the top tier candidates that have choices.
Trust me; I don't "Assume" anything.

I also know that the academy is a "Top Tier School". It is not your local state university. In my opinion, anyone who receives an appointment to the academy, has "Choices" of other schools. Choices way beyond their local university or community college. Many applicants don't realize it, but they DO have choices.

The AVERAGE ACT score in the country is a "21". 55% of ACT testers scored a 25 or Less. An AVERAGE ACT score won't even get you the time of day applying to the academy.

All 1200 appointees initially offered an appointment could turn it down; and the next 1200 would STILL be appointees who had a "CHOICE" for college. Academy appointees; and MOST applicants; are not "Average Students". MOST of them have choices. Including schools like Ivy League; MIT; other big tech universities; and other prestigious private universities. Unfortunately, many academy applicants don't think high enough of themselves. I can't tell you how many ONLY HAVE their state university or Community College as a backup if they don't get an appointment to the academy. And it's NOT ALWAYS because of money. "Although, many wrongly think they can't afford a good university". That's the fault of many high school counselors and parents who are ignorant and don't understand how easy it is to go to college without going into debt.

But I digress.
1. All 1200 Appointees to the academy had "OTHER CHOICES"
2 The next 1200 in line who DIDN'T RECEIVE an appointment had "OTHER CHOICES".
3. Academy appointees are NOT AVERAGE COLLEGE STUDENTS
4. The minimum standards for qualifying to the academy is almost a MOOT STANDARD, because the vast majority of appointees SURPASS the minimum standards. E.g. AVERAGE HS GPA of appointee is 3.86 (In advance classes); average ACT score of appointee is 30-31.
5. The academy will not have any problem having "TOP TIER CANDIDATES" apply to the academy. They may not always be the demographic that the academy wants; but they will always have Top Tier Applicants to choose from.
 

Usafamom2016

5-Year Member
I have a slightly different take on this subject. The Academy is looking for future officers, independent-minded leaders who can take on a task and not only run with it but lead and excel. The USAFA application is exactly one of those tasks. Why would an applicant need hand holding and weekly contact to guide them through the process? I am amazed at people asking who their congressional representative is or their admissions office contact. This information is right on their portal, they just need to look. Perhaps this is your first test to see if you are the right material for the Academy.

On another note, I am a civilian ALO. I reach out to each applicant as they come to me and frequently get no reply at all. I have had to contact applicants multiple times just to get them to respond to set up an interview. That said, I do miss the in person interaction of the interview. The Admissions Office decided to try something different this year with the remote interviewing. It will be interesting to get feedback after this cycle and see if they stick with it.
 

tx2022

Member
I think we are looking at this from different perspectives. I am blessed to have an appointment to USCGA and 2 LOA’s including USAFA. I have also been accepted to 2 Ivy’s. My desire is to attend a service acedmy and serve my country. My point is if they are actually competing for candidates, they are doing it wrong in my opinion. I also think to believe that any decision an institution makes is infallible is wrong thinking. The only contact I have had from USAFA is to set up my interview and the email when I received my LOA. When young students are trying to make the most important decision of their life I think USAFA is doing a disservice to itself to make the admissions process so impersonal compared to other academies.
 

JDB

Member
As long as the academy(ies) have MORE QUALIFIED applicants than they need to appoint, they will conduct their programs as they see fit. If an academy needs/wants more applicants that fit certain criteria; e.g. location, gender, race, etc. they will put more efforts into those areas. If they don't need as many, they won't.

Hypothesis: Air Force academy has more than enough QUALIFIED applicants/appointees than they need; therefor they don't exert much effort into offering visits, overnight visits, admissions staff involvement, etc.

Just like any job, school, product, service, etc. if the need for "Customers" increases; the effort of "Sales" will increase.

Christcorp, I've read many of your posts in the past and always found them insightful. Reading between the lines of your post above, USAFA is receiving higher numbers of more qualified candidates than both USMA and USNA. As a result, USAFA has no need to be responsive to inquiries from qualified candidates or provide avenues such as overnights to qualified candidates who are trying to decide if USAFA is the best choice for them. That, in my layman's opinion, does not seem like a sound strategy for acquiring the best candidates, especially from a finite pool with significant overlap between academies.

Usafamom2016 asserts that candidates should not need "hand holding and weekly contact" to navigate this process. I can't say that I disagree, but there is a large chasm between her take on the subject and the complete lack of interaction DS experienced. I would think that somewhere in between would be a reasonable expectation. The lack of contact flies directly in the face of the 2017 USAFA Instructions to Candidates Guide which every candidate was required to download prior to starting his/her application. It, in fact, states:
1.) "Keep in touch with your Air Force Academy Admissions Counselor to ensure that your file is complete and current."
2.) "Contact your ALO mentor for insight into life at the Academy and Careers in the Air Force."

Just to confirm, DS is a desirable candidate who's GPA and test scores are higher than the averages listed by Christcorp in his post. DS also has a solid resume beyond the academic portion. USAFA ordered his DoDMERB early in the process and he is qualified. It seems to me USAFA is sending mixed signals in it's interactions with candidates.

I understand that Christcorp and Usafamom2016 are aware of behind the scene mechanics to which most of us are not privy. However, the explanations that have been offered about USAFA's apparent strategy for using its ALO/counselors to get the highest quality cadets just don't seem to make sense. I'm not trying to be antagonistic, but I will tell you that DS did change his SA rankings with our Congressman, in no small part, because of the perceptions he had formed during his interactions (or lack of) with his liaisons and counselors. What made that change more impactful is that our congressman will not double nominate; DS did get the nomination to his first choice.
 

Wishful

"Land of the free, because of the brave..."
5-Year Member
If his dealings with one or two of USAFA's Admissions Lt's/counselors made a career decision for him, he should be prepared for many unpleasant experiences in the military/workforce.
 

Usafamom2016

5-Year Member
If his dealings with one or two of USAFA's Admissions Lt's/counselors made a career decision for him, he should be prepared for many unpleasant experiences in the military/workforce.
I completely agree. The SA is only 4 years but the service is longer. You should choose the branch you want to serve in. The admissions process is but a very small part of this and shouldn’t be the deciding factor between branches in any way. If less contact with an ALO makes you change your rankings, enjoy Navy.
There are thousands of applicants and many hundreds of volunteer ALOs. The connection will be very different based on the ALO and the applicant both. Some will be very strong and others perhaps not. That’s the nature of human interaction. To make sweeping generalizations based on a few interactions (this forum is a very small percentage of applicants) is unfair and disrespectful of those of us who work hard with the candidates.
 
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