Admissions Interaction?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Oscar Whiskey, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. JDB

    JDB Member

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    Thanks for the feedback Wishful. If you re-read my post, you will find that nowhere does it indicate DS allowed dealings with admissions counselors make a career decision for him. I'm sure you thought engaging in hyperbole would help you make a point, inaccurate though it was.

    As I said in my earlier post, I'm not trying to irritate the fine people on this site who help guide the applicants on their journeys. I do want to provide honest feedback about an issue that appears to be affecting several applicants on this site. I would hope that folks like Christcorp would take it as feedback and not criticism.
     
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  2. JDB

    JDB Member

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    @usafamom16, I am not trying to be disrespectful. It appears that you see my posts as merely a criticism of USAFA and its counselors/ALOs, for that I apologize. Please re-read my post. USAFA's own Instruction Guide directs candidates to contact his/her ALO mentor to gain insight into life at the academy and careers in the Air Force. Those same things you claim candidates should use guide them in deciding which military branch is a best fit. Yet it seems that USAFA has not made it clear to at least some of its ALOs what its own expectations of them are. Again it is not a criticism of you personally or the other fine people who volunteer as ALOs, but of the process USAFA has put in place.
     
  3. Wishful

    Wishful "Land of the free, because of the brave..." 5-Year Member

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    Post re-read.
     
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  4. JDB

    JDB Member

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    "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 should have been clear. Re-read using critical thinking abilities. The above are two very different statements.
     
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  5. tx2022

    tx2022 Member

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    i will try to point out the differences as a candidate. USCGA beside regular emails from admissions. They have active duty officers email you with their contact info so you can ask questions about life in the coast guard and they will discuss their time at the academy. USNA not much feedback from admissions but B@G officers stay in contact as have the regional officer. I have been invited to several functions where active duty and retired officers will meet and discuss and answer questions about different jobs etc. USMA very similar to USNA. All three have overnight visit opportunities as well as having current cadets/mids meet with you over Thanksgiving break to answer academy questions. USAFA nothing. I am not the only one who feels this way. I keep in contact with several candidates I have met visiting academies and they all feel the same way. When I bring this up on here it is almost like certain people will not listen to an opportunity I believe that USAFA has to improve. Instead it becomes a personal attack of it is somehow of failing on my part to feel this way. Or if you don’t like it enjoy Navy. Instead of being responsive to someone who is trying to find out as much information as possible to make an informed decision.
     
  6. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    This is not a response to any one individual or post. But I want to say something that I KNOW is going to be "MISUNDERSTOOD". So realize now; whatever you think of what I'm about to say, RETHINK IT a few times before responding.

    Many people make reference to the academies selecting the "BEST QUALIFIED APPLICANTS". The truth is, the academy is NOT trying to select the "Best Qualified Applicants". They are trying to select the "Best Qualified CLASS". There is a BIG DIFFERENCE.

    If they only wanted the "BEST QUALIFIED APPLICANTS", then it quite feasible that there would be numerous states that didn't have ANY appointees. It's possible; based on academic opportunities, that almost all of the appointees would come from private or more well to do public high schools. It's possible that the entire class "Could" potentially be 95% male or 95% white or any other scenario you want to hypothesize.

    The truth is; federal LAW states that EACH STATE (Because ALL STATES CITIZENS PAY TAXES) will be represented EQUALLY at the service academies. Hence, why each senator and representative will generally have 10 nominees and 1 APPOINTEE from that list of nominees. That is LAW; and the academy has NO SAY SO in that regard. And that usually accounts for approximately 535 appointees. Almost HALF.

    As for the remaining 50% of of appointees, the academy wants the SAME THING for the CLASS; that they are looking for in the INDIVIDUAL. WELL ROUNDED!!! Leadership, diversity of experiences and background, etc. The academy, except for academics, is mainly RUN and CONTROLLED by the cadets themselves. They LEARN FROM EACH OTHER!!! And people learn from their own experiences, and the experiences of others. You wouldn't grow to be the leader the air force needs, if ALL the other cadets were the same as you; same gender; same race; same state; same upbringing; same family environment; etc. Just like the academy wants the applicants to be WELL ROUNDED; they want the ENTIRE CLASS to be "WELL ROUNDED".

    Remember; as USAFAMOM16 said; and has been said so many times previously, the academy is building LEADERS. These leaders will be leading an Enlisted Corp that IS DIVERSE. They come from EVERY BACKGROUND imaginable. Inner city; suburbs; farms; ranch; single parent; traditional parent; first generation citizen; military brat; living overseas; home schooled; private school; public school; black; white; hispanic; asian; male; woman; straight; gay; and the list GOES ON!!! They need an officer corp that understands that diversity. You can't LEARN that diversity in a book or in a class room. But you CAN and DO learn it from either living in those environments, or by interacting, relating, and communicating with others who have lived in those environments. At the academy; working as a team; men learn about women; blacks learn about whites; christians learn about atheists; gay learns about straight; urban learns about rural; etc.

    So remember....... The academy is NOT LOOKING for BEST QUALIFIED CANDIDATES. They are looking for the BEST QUALIFIED CLASS!!!!!

    (Trust me. If the academy didn't care about the best qualified CLASS; and only cared about the best qualified APPLICANT; the marketing of the academy would be MUCH LESS than you think it is now.)

    (FWIW: Most Universities that can be "SELECTIVE", also strives for a Diverse Qualified Class. There's a LOT of 35-36 ACT / 4.0 GPA students who DON'T get accepted to prestigious universities each year).
     
  7. Wishful

    Wishful "Land of the free, because of the brave..." 5-Year Member

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    I’ve never re-read a post as many times as yours but please review to see if I got it right:

    · You’ve concluded that USAFA receives more qualified candidates than USMA and USNA.

    · Thus USAFA has no need to be responsive to inquiries from qualified candidates

    · USAFA does not do overnight visits, that’s a bad idea & you think they should

    · You agree with Usafamom2016 that candidates should not need "hand holding and weekly contact"

    · But Usafamom2016 views are very different from the complete lack of interaction your DS experienced (DS only had negative interactions with Admissions so there wasn’t really a complete lack of, just all were unhelpful/bad)

    · Your DS’s experiences were not as described in the 2017 USAFA Instructions to Candidates Guide

    · Your DS is well qualified but USAFA’s early ordering of his DODMERB results sent a mixed signal (when compared to the previously mentioned negative experiences)

    · The explanations of USAFA's Admissions program given to you don’t make sense

    · Your DS changed the order of the SA’s he wishes to attend largely due to his dealings with USAFA Admissions

    · DS received a nomination to his first choice SA


    Thinking as critically as I can, I conclude that you don’t like USAFA’s Admissions policies regarding candidate recruitment, though you understand they don’t necessarily need to change. You want USAFA to do overnight visits. Your DS’s dealings with Admissions were unhelpful, mixed signals were sent, so much so that along with the aforementioned, he re-ordered his nom’s requests. You agree with that decision as well as the reason(s) why he made it.

    I still disagree with what appears to me to be his decision to pick a branch of the armed forces to join (“in no small part”) based on Admissions personnel & an early order of DODMERB results (?). You don’t. And I still feel that if he continues to assign what appears to me to be a large value to interactions with employees in the lower echelon of a bureaucracy, he will be very disappointed. You don’t think your DS did so. I have to ask, if someone were to pick a branch based on Admissions interactions, hypothetically, would you agree with that decision along with the reasoning?


    Also since he won’t be attending the AFA, some additional questions:

    1. What region (part of the country) is he in?

    2. What did he need & didn’t get from Admissions?

    3. Other than the admissions process, what were the other reasons he used in the re-ordering of his SA requests.

    Hope you answer the questions above. After that, all that’s left is to wish your DS the best of luck, which I do.
     
  8. Soldiergriz

    Soldiergriz Husband, Dad, Soldier

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    These exceptionally qualified candidates have earned the right to make choices based on whatever criteria they want to use. Service to the Nation comes in many flavors. Most of these candidates will change their minds many times. They will even change their minds after they get to an academy. They thought they wanted to fly world-class aircraft, but then decided subs were the way to go...

    If a candidate evaluates an academy based on interactions with admissions - I won't judge them; they want to serve.

    How do you think Blue-chip athletes are recruited? Do you think those athletes don't note how the coaches make them feel?

    USAFA should do better...they are giving the very best qualified future officers easy choices.
     
  9. America Works

    America Works Member

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    My experience with USAFA has been mixed. Occasionally, I receive emails from a 2nd Lt. offering to answer any questions I might have about the academy. Moreover, I can email or call my admissions counsellor when I have questions about my app. But beyond that, my interaction with USAFA has been limited. Most of my questions are answered through personal research or this forum. It's impersonal, but I prefer it this way. It requires more effort to stay motivated, but I like the challenge.
     
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  10. JDB

    JDB Member

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    Christcorp: Thank you for always providing solid advice and information in this forum. I know this discussion hits close to home for you and you could have been defensive in your answers. Instead you patiently tried to communicate your view on this topic and never took the discussion as a personal affront.

    I think this horse is dead, so I'll try take as few whacks at it as possible. Your explanation about SA's trying to select the Best Qualified Class makes sense. In a nutshell, the SAs must balance Class "mix" against individual applicants. In trying to put that thought process into the context of this thread, do you mean that under represented segments might receive higher levels of attention during the application process? By contrast, if an applicant doesn't fall into an under represented segment or geographically challenged area he/she might not receive that same level of attention. I suppose that each SA will have different class mix needs and different areas of concern, so an individual might be highly recruited at one SA and less so at another.

    Wishfull: Although there is a fair amount of sarcasm in your post, I appreciate that you re-read my posts. Your summary isn't spot on, but it gets more right than wrong.

    As for DS's decision to change his SA rankings with his MOC, I actually would have preferred that he not change it, but it was not my decision to make. I understood the reasons he made the change, and they did have merit.

    You again contemplate, "his decision to pick a branch of the armed forces to join" based on the admissions process. Do you believe that candidates should only be able to apply to one SA? If a candidate doesn't receive an appointment from his 1st and 2nd picks but does receive it from his 3rd pick, should he decline because that branch is his 3rd choice? I think that a candidate can legitimately see himself being happy at more than one SA and branch of service.

    Additionally you wrote, "Also since he won’t be attending the AFA..." That statement may not necessarily true. If DS can secure a nomination from a different source and subsequently earn an appointment to both USAFA and another SA, he will have to choose between the two. I can't say that I know which SA he would choose at that point.

    1. What region (part of the country) is he in? Texas

    2. What did he need & didn’t get from Admissions? 3. Other than the admissions process, what were the other reasons he used in the re-ordering of his SA requests.
    Question 2 is more of a gotcha question, addressing 3 really answers both. Imagine being a 17 year old high school kid going through the application and nomination process. One SA is proactive, invites you to events, has former cadets contact you to discuss the SA and life after graduation, sends letters indicating that you are a highly qualified candidate, and invites you to an overnight stay with a current cadet. The other SA is radio silent, it doesn't initiate contact at all, and it doesn't return calls or emails with any consistency. We all want to be where we are wanted. One SA made it abundantly clear that DS was wanted, one SA gave no indication that it had any interest in him. He changed his SA ranking order at his MOC because he felt that he had a great chance at an appointment from one SA, but had no feel what-so-ever about the other. He made this decision with his eyes wide open, and he felt confident that it was the right choice.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
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  11. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    "under represented segments might receive higher levels of attention during the application process"

    JDB; you bring up a very valid; and many times asked point. I would suggest that you don't try and make everything appear to be Apples vs Apples. Every applicant brings to the table (Their application) unique aspects and perspectives. Different areas in which they excel or stand out over others from a different perspective. Some are race and gender; some are academics; some are athletics; some are from living in an inner city urban area; some living on a farm/ranch; some growing up overseas; some being the first person in their family attending college; some from a single parent family; some adopted; some home schooled; etc.

    NONE of these are BETTER than ANOTHER. They are DIFFERENT. And that's the ultimate goal in "DIVERSITY". That's the corner stone for a well rounded class. Too many people automatically associate "DIVERSITY" to mean race or sex. When looking at "Under Represented", the academy looks at the BIG PICTURE. It might mean that a certain race is "Under represented". But it could also mean that "Rural Kids" (Farm/Ranch) might be under represented. In today's military, it could be gays are under represented.

    The word "Under Represented" can mean so many things, and the "GROUP(s)" that are under represented, could change year to year. So yes, an under represented group COULD receive a higher level of attention. That is part of the process is developing the "BEST QUALIFIED CLASS". But rest assured, that these individuals are still "Qualified". And OVERWHELMINGLY they are "MORE THAN QUALIFIED". Again; the average high school GPA of appointees is 3.86 in advanced classes and an ACT of 30-31. And the academy definitely does not DUMB DOWN their classes. It serves the academy no good to allow cadets to attend the academy if they can't make it academically, graduate, and become commissioned officers. Hence, the stereotype of "Dumb Jocks" getting to the academy ONLY because they are good at sports. There are no basket weaving classes or degrees in Frisbee at the academy. And ALL cadets take multiple engineering classes; no matter what their major is.

    So, when some feel that "More Qualified" applicants aren't being accepted in place of a "Less Qualified" applicant; you have to understand and define what makes someone "MORE QUALIFIED". It isn't JUST their gpa and ACT scores. It's the "Whole Person". It's their experiences, their leadership, their overcoming of adversity; their ability to work as part of a team; etc. Remember; these are the future leaders of airmen who are diverse in every area imaginable. And the growth and maturity that our cadets go through in their 4 years at the academy is enhanced by the practical experiences of the relationships they have with their classmates. And unlike a traditional college, the relationships cadets build with each other most times last a lifetime.
     
  12. justdoit19

    justdoit19 Member

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    Very interesting reading this today!! DS has had a lot of outreach from USNA. Just returned from a weekend visit he was invited to. Has had a lot of contact with them since junior year (compared to AFA). He feels like he has a good feel for the NA community. Feels good about the Navy. All through getting to know them as much as he has through the outreach he has experienced. Has applied to AFA and NA. We are not a military family (have an uncle who went through AFROTC is as much as there is in our family) so cannot add any of that perspective.

    Prior to reading this thread, we simply thought "NA is interested in him, AFA is not" (simplified...). Simple as that! I understand what posters are saying about the lack of interaction with AFA PERHAPS making them a 2nd choice (assuming a choice actually presents itself at some point). DS has had none from AFA, lots from NA.

    Right or wrong, DS has a feel for NA, and doesn't for AFA. Will that affect his choice should he be fortunate enough to have one? That remains to be seen. But it would be hard to say no to someplace he FEELS good about. The experiences and interactions he has had. People he has met. Knowledge he does have about how it works. That will at least subconsciously have a small impact on his decision I would think.

    My takeaway from reading here is that the lack of AFA interaction DOESN'T mean that they aren't as interested in him. This forum is a wonderful source of information!
     
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  13. tx2022

    tx2022 Member

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    Coincidently, I just recently had my MOC interviews. As we were wrapping up, the USAFA rep asked "I know you have an LOA so I want you to be as honest as possible. Your answer has no impact on our decision. I need to know for our benefit. Can you tell me about your experience with admissions and compare it to the other academies. I explained my interaction more politically correct than I have on this forum. He then apologized and said I don't know what has happened this year, but he has had 100% negative feedback. He said I know it wont help you but the Director of Admissions is interested. He said we have tried somethings that has definitely not worked. He then said I hope you don't base your educational and career choices on our shortcoming in admissions.

    I don't know his role, but obviously more than just a few of us on here have expressed the shortcoming.
     
  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    Just do it, and others. There is nothing wrong with having a better feel for navy over Air Force. Or army over coast guard or merchant marine over the others. Just realize and emphasize to yourself and your kids that the goal isn’t to make a “career” out of the academy. The academies are simply a path to getting a degree, a commission, and becoming an officer/leader in the military. ALL of the academies provide a stellar education. The question an applicant must ask themselves is what branch of the military fits them best for the 5, 10, 15, or 20 years AFTER they graduate and get commissioned.

    The way the Air Force academy replies and relates to applicants is not indicative of what the REAL Air Force will be like for the next 5-20 years after. Just like the navy, army, coast guard and merchant marine academies aren’t representative of the REAL military in those branches.

    I know first impressions can be very influential to your decisions. But in the end, you need to look at which branch of service you want to serve in. For some, it doesn’t matter. In that case, let the emotions of the academy admissions process sway your decisions. But if you have a particular interest in a certain branch of the military, don’t let the admissions process; good OR bad make the decision for you. Once at the academy, they are all the same as they’ve always been (prior to any admissions process changes or feelings). And active duty military, any branch, is the real deal. No matter what academy or rotc unit you attended.

    In other words, look at your goals. Look at the big picture and long range goals. The academy SHOULD NOT be your goal. It’s simply “A PATH” to get you towards your goals.
     
  15. In-the-Know

    In-the-Know 5-Year Member

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    Everyone on this post has made very good points.

    For clarity, please be precise in your answer:

    1. Did you have a positive/neutral/negative experience with the Admissions Counselor?
    2. Did you have a positive/neutral/negative experience with the ALO?
    3. Did you have a positive/neutral/negative experience with the Admissions Adviser (2nd Lt right out of the Academy)?

    FYI:

    1. USAFA is very aware of the process change this year and is seeking feedback
    2. Most calls to Admissions Counselors are from parents not candidates. Internal motivation and drive are very important to USAFA. "Excessive" parental interaction and "no" candidate interaction are a red flag.
    3. USAFA does realize the need to recruit and assist candidates. Showing the love is important but realize resources are limited.
    4. Across the nation there are approximately 653 students per high school counselor.
    5. Most high school students do not have the same "college knowledge" and resources as those on this forum (parental guidance, financial, social, you name it).
    6. There is not a single Admissions strategy. For the majority of candidates it is too early to show the love and doing so would set false expectations.
    7. Nominations are not due until 31 Jan and not enough applications are complete to determine who will be picked in a nominating slate.

    Advice if you want USAFA:

    1. Finish your application pronto!
    2. Apply to all of your nominating sources
    3. Candidates: Call your Admissions Counselor with questions whose answers are not obvious in the "Instructions to Candidates".
    4. Contact your mentor ALOs and keep USAFA advised if he or she is unresponsive. The mentor ALOs role is to promote and discuss USAFA. However, it is the Admissions Counselor's role to advise candidates on the application process.
    5. Be patient. Every application is read by a faculty or staff member at USAFA. The numbers help us determine good candidates, but the essays, teacher evaluations, recommendations, and ALO evaluations spot the great ones. This takes time.
     
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  16. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    I read the thread from the beginning till end and In-The-Know's statement "showing the love" resonated with me.

    My feedback is a little dated because DS was a 2016 grad. I mention this next because I think it matters and I will explain later: DS graduated 1st in his class back in 2016 at USAFA. It seems the West Point ALO saw something special in the interview/stats because it was a full court press to recruit him. The WP ALO was proactive, educational, like having him meet past and current MN current cadets while they were on their breaks. Additionally, WP admissions was very involved with helping us get in contact with the "powers that be" with a medical waiver process. My exclusive direct involvement as a parent with WP or USAFA was to help get that medical waiver. I had to figure out what they wanted (NOT easy) and coordinate a cardiologist appointment at the Mayo to prove another diagnosis was a poor one. But I was flying blind not knowing what they wanted as the bureaucracy ran deep with easy questions. Anyways, I am glad I helped drive this process because I spoke with a lot of confused people on both academies and had at least 40+ hours over weeks to figured out the puzzle (the diagnosis was an odd one and in the end, a topic made up by a UofMN cardiologist). I did have plenty of emails and phone calls with USAFA in charge of his waiver and the contract was a gem to work with.

    But as discussed from 10 others on this post, it seemed the culture of the USAFA was to be more distant. The USAFA ALO was arms length to give any feedback. As in my son was bugging him to get any warm and fuzzies and none was given. He didn't get any feedback that he was a target cadet which was the direct opposite from the WP ALO. he was a matter of fact, (very) nice ALO that showed zero love.

    Next "lack of love" interaction. The medical waiver process took long (around February). If it matters, his waver would have been impossible to obtain if I wasn't close to the whole processes. That said, WP gave an early LOA. So we booked a ticket mid May before the needed date to decide. While I might have my days off some because it was long ago, at the 11th hour USAFA said they had a slot for him. They had his waiver for at least a couple of months. Around the 1st week in May when he got the offer, he explained to USAFA that he wanted to wait for 1 week before he committed because he had two month old plane tickets to visit WP. The WP meeting was literally the following week so the total delay would be 3 to 4 days. USAFA said no. They wanted him to make his decision by the deadline or they would move onto the next person; no exception. In other words, USAFA was not willing to wait 4 days longer on a fellow Academy.

    He still chose USAFA. Frankly, I was biased on where he went. I had to hold him back from "feeling the love" from West Point and to make a rational decision and ignoring "the lack of love". If I didn't have my bias and he went in auto-pilot, he would be a WP grad. Meanwhile for other potential cadets, coaches of athletes (rightly) are "showing the love". They fly them in (while we paid), and show that they care. Furthermore, I bet the #1 football recruit would get an extra 3 days to visit another academy choice. But not the future #1 graduate. IMHO, I agree with some people assessment that USAFA is losing out on some top students.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
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  17. Wishful

    Wishful "Land of the free, because of the brave..." 5-Year Member

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    I understand that the policy now is to submit 4 with an option for 1 more (bringing the total to 5) letters of recommendation. Some of these may have a different title but essentially they are the same thing. That seems excessive. Two, (English & Math) with optional third would cover it. Less running around for the candidate, less hounding of HS teachers (where I assume one of the major delays in the app process is), less reading for Admissions staff. Don't know what the other academies require in this regard.
     
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  18. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    That's a huge mistake. As I have mentioned before, our son is off to medical school. He got phone calls (plural), texts and emails from the Dean at the Mayo; ranked as the lowest (2%) acceptance rate in the world. He also got phone calls and emails to a lesser degree from Stanford Medical School too (2.5% acceptance rate). In the end, he went to Harvard (3.5% acceptance rate). Harvard actively recruits and rolls out the red carpet for their 1st choices and not as much for the group on standby. They fight extremely hard for their choices as they should! Obviously, those medical schools are looking for the "whole package" too all wanting to build the best team possibly that is diverse in experience. And they are fighting for the same group of diverse, top qualified students just as USAFA is fighting for the top students that want to attend WP or the Naval Academy.

    I hope your hypothesis is wrong because "The best and the brightest" of the best and brightest want to feel the love. If I was in admissions, I'd be gunning for those students.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
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  19. Wishful

    Wishful "Land of the free, because of the brave..." 5-Year Member

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    I can see no reason beneficial to the AFA (other than to say a file is closed) to allow a one week extension (totally agree that the football player would've gotten one).
     
  20. TexasSoccerMom

    TexasSoccerMom Member

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    Good point! It is a lot to ask of teachers/coaches. Especially because these same students are requesting recommendation letters for all their nominations. Teachers/coaches can no longer just write a letter of recommendation and the applicant can scan it and send it to multiple places. Teachers/coaches now have to get online and complete each academy, university, congressman's online form and submit it. It's much more time consuming for teachers/staff/coaches. Several of son's teachers were quite overwhelmed and getting annoyed with all these recommendations. One teacher even told son that she filled in the online form that basically asked everything she already put in her letter that she did for him a month ago.

    Fortunately they were all gracious and complied on our sons behalf.
     
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