Admissions Interaction?

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

  1. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    Goals normally are easier to achieve when you pick the right path. ;) It's ONE reason why some people fight to get into a specific school. For others, it doesn't matter So one size doesn't fit all. But picking the best PATH time after time can pay off.
     
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  2. Billberna

    Billberna Member

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    Our MOCs required the recommendation letters be included in a mail-in packet we sent to their office. The letters had to be sealed with the writer's signature across the back of the envelope. We asked each letter writer to provide an open copy to us, and 4 or 5 sealed envelopes containing identical letters with their signatures across the back. We asked about 6 people DS knew for letters in this way. In the end, we chose the best ones and enclosed them with the packets ourselves. It worked well for USAFA and did not require us to disturb the letter writers again. We have applied to 4 other colleges so far and none of them have required letters of recommendation.
     
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  3. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    End goals normally are easier to achieve when you pick the right path. ;) It's ONE reason why some people fight to get into specific schools and do their very best in that school of choice. For others, it doesn't matter. So one size doesn't fit all. But picking the best PATH time after time can pay off allowing peoples actual GOALS to be modified. That happens because often, even more doors open to those who picked the best PATH and they decide to take a different path.

    That said, it was my sons goal to get into either WP of USAFA. It was his goal to do the best that he could. And later his goal changed some and his goal changed to get into medical school. Now it is his goal to get the specialty that he wants in the military that has only a couple of slots per year. All of his past goals hopefully will help enough to help with his path.

    About 1/2 of the people who get accepted into the Academy don't know what their end goal is (or it changes). The good news is having a degree in one of the Academies will open some doors. So personally, I see the value of where you go to college. YMMV. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  4. JDB

    JDB Member

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    Christcorp, generally I read your posts and nod my head in agreement, but I've got to tell you that I'm scratching my head on this one.

    You said, "There is nothing wrong with having a better feel for navy over Air Force." As the dad of an applicant, I believe that is an accurate statement. However, if I were an advocate (such as yourself) for USAFA, that would be very troubling to me. Why are so many individuals on this thread be indicating that the USAFA admission process is changing their perception of the academy... not for the better? Additionally, why are so many indicating that the other SAs are doing a much better job "selling" their academy and their service branch to the candidates?

    You could say, as you have, as long as USAFA has more qualified applicants than it has slots, it can conduct its programs as it sees fit. Fair enough, but if that is the prevailing attitude at USAFA, it has to be impacting its recruiting efforts.

    This notion that the admissions process should have little or no bearing on the candidates is naïve, in my humble opinion. The argument that candidates should look at the service branch - not the service academy admissions process - reminds me of a card sharp telling his audience to watch one hand while the other hand changes the cards. When you say, "don’t let the admissions process; good OR bad make the decision for you," or "In that case, let the emotions of the academy admissions process sway your decisions," there's a disingenuous and condescending tone to it.

    Finally, you say, "The academy SHOULD NOT be your goal." That's preposterous. Of course gaining admittance to an SA is a goal, and it's a lofty, worthy goal, at that. It's a goal that most of these young adults have been striving to achieve for years. As with any goal, once attained, it becomes the platform for reaching your next goal. Through out the process objectives and aspirations change, so goals are reassessed and revised.

    Now, apparently In-The-Know (as a representative for the USAFA admissions office?) has published a combination {How are we doing? Survey/FYI Service announcement/Make sure you complete these steps} post. Is this an acknowledgement that there is an issue? Given the push back that several USAFA representatives gave earlier in this thread, I suppose that's potentially a good thing for the class of 2023.

    Again Christcorp, you are a trusted resource on this site, and I usually find your posts very helpful. I apologize if this post has a tough tone to it. I truly believe that USAFA is one of the finest institutions in the nation and want it to maintain that distinction.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
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  5. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    Here is my point of view... The 1st 1,000 offers to USAFA are known as the A team. The 2nd 1000 batch are the B squad. Furthermore, after the B squad, we just tapped 100% of the qualified candidates (about 2500 per year are qualified with the standards set into place). After that, were are done or we have to loosen the standards. In other words, there is a reason for picking the 1st batch of 1000. Moreover, if the pool grows to a 10,000 applicants or 4X more that we currently are qualified to attend USAFA, then the top 1,000 picks will be even more competitive.

    Now I realize there are procedures in place that make it so every state has representation and other criteria that is beyond a rack-and-stack approach. But if you grab the B team in every state and every diverse category, then you still didn't capture the "best and the brightest" in the bunch. So to suggest admissions doesn't have to work hard is preposterous. I will be the farm that they want to attract more people to get better selection and that is a major goal of theirs. They might be learning that they need to tweak their culture some.

    We all can do better at what we do for a living so I am not throwing stones. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  6. JDB

    JDB Member

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    Hopefully I haven't made myself persona non grata with the USAFA regulars; it certainly is not my intention.

    MN-Dad-2016, thank you for your post, it is very enlightening. You made a statement in your post that put a wrinkle on my brain. In discussing the process of your DS making his decision on which appointment to accept, you wrote, " 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'." In hindsight, with your DS doing so well at USAFA, and thereafter, it certainly seems like he made the right decision. That said, at that moment, what made USAFA the "rational" decision, and why would West Point have been an "auto-pilot" decision?

    Since I might be radioactive on this thread right now, I will understand if you are reticent to answer. But if you are willing to provide some additional information, I am very interested in getting your perspective.
     
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  7. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American 5-Year Member

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    The academies request sealed envelopes so the writer can give an honest opinion. When writing a private recommendation, one is more apt to give an honest opinion.
    To ask for open copies of what was requested to be a sealed letter of recommendation seems to be a way to manipulate toward a positive opinion.
    To ask for more letters than needed in order to cull the less flattering ones seems to be gaming the system.
     
  8. Billberna

    Billberna Member

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    You can call it gaming the system if you want, but it turns out that most key adults in our DS' life are immigrants from Eastern Europe with a partial command of written English. This is due to the area we live in and the extracurrics he has been pursuing. One adult, a music teacher our DS has worked with one- on- one for years, said his English was so bad that he wanted us to write a letter and he would sign it. Of course we could never do such a thing - THAT would be dishonest. So we got no letter from him, and he would have been perfect. There are a surprising number of adults who are insecure in their ability to write a coherent letter, and others who are long and rambling. In the end, we sent along the letters that were "short and sweet" so as not to bore the officers. Apart from grammar and brevity, I cannot remember one letter being more favorable than another. Gaming the system was the last thing on our mind. At the end of the day, it was irrelevant as our nominating MOC had us scan and send in letters by email and did not require them to be sealed or sent in the mail. We didn't get a nomination from either senator (the ones who wanted the sealed envelopes).
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
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  9. ufedug8r

    ufedug8r Member

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    Interesting reads on the post. I would have to say that our experience overall with the USAFA admissions process has been very positive. My son’s application is done with nominations in, and now we are waiting patiently. He started this process a little over a year ago and he was very proactive in reaching out to every possible avenue- had great ALO experience- multiple calls to answer questions and provide guidance over the past year; and his ALO interview went smoothly via video chat. Although there were some hiccups with medical, they were handled quickly. Then as he approached other college apps, he thought- these are cake! I can tell you we didn’t wait around for any calls- son reached out as often as he needed to with positive responses from ALOs and USAFA admissions counselor- usually within 24 hours. We are thankful!
     
  10. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    MN-Dad; not sure I understand something you wrote. It appears to me (could be my misunderstanding), you imply that the academy is making 2000+ offers to the academy. Prior to 2008-2009 the academy sent out a lot more offers at once. They would offer between 1500-1750. Approximately 400-500 would turn down the academy. Usually for their 1st choice school. They've changed that procedure; mainly because of the high unemployment that was starting and too many were accepting and fewer were declining. So they started more of offering in smaller blocks. This way they wouldn't offer more appointments than they could take in. So when the appointments are made, I have no reservation that the academy is getting highly qualified appointees/candidates.

    JDB; you said: "You said, "There is nothing wrong with having a better feel for navy over Air Force." As the dad of an applicant, I believe that is an accurate statement. However, if I were an advocate (such as yourself) for USAFA, that would be very troubling to me. Why are so many individuals on this thread be indicating that the USAFA admission process is changing their perception of the academy... not for the better? Additionally, why are so many indicating that the other SAs are doing a much better job "selling" their academy and their service branch to the candidates?"

    Well, it doesn't bother me. First; of all, a handful of people in a thread is only anecdotal. It's not representative of the thousands of applicants. Second; this forum probably only represents about 1% of all the applicants. Next, applicants on this forum are much more informed and educated; therefor, their expectations are a lot higher than those who aren't on the forum. The academies will advertise and market their respective academies the way they feel it needs to. And the way they do it will change considerably over the years. Just like civilian universities will cater differently to the students they are trying to get. The academy isn't the only school I've helped kids get into. I've seen a lot of schools where a 3.9-4.0 gpa / 35 ACT student did NOT get into; yet a 3.7-3.8 gpa student 30 ACT DID get into. And that wasn't anecdotal. All schools have their objectives on what they are looking for in a class profile. The academies are the same. In another year or two, this SAME DISCUSSION will be going on again, but it will be for different reasons. It will be something different that air force or the army or navy are doing differently. And it will continue to change. Just like you don't hear too much about the coast guard and merchant marine academies. The size of their classes are so small, that they know they'll have more than enough highly qualified applications to build the class profile they are looking for. Coast guard only has about 250 per class, merchant marine is a little larger with 350-400 per class. Obviously, how they advertise, market, recruit, etc. for cadets is going to be different.

    If you look through this ENTIRE FORUM (Not just the Air Force Academy Section); and look back over the last 10 years; you can find plenty of posts and threads in all the forums complaining about ALO/MALO, admissions office, the admissions process, the academy, etc. This is why it doesn't bother me. We aren't discussing anything new. Some will say the process is simple and great. Some will say it sucks. Some will say their ALO and admissions office have been the greatest. Some will say they suck. Some will say that one academy is better than another; someone else will say the opposite.

    Goals is a word that generally gets debated. Many say that attending one of the academies is their goal; one of their goals; etc. That's fine. It can be a short term goal. And we all know that what a 17-18 year old wants on day one at the academy or in a traditional university is going to probably change at least 100 times before they graduate. But I will continue to emphasize that the academies are not a traditional school in the sense that you can attend for a semester or two; change your major 2-3 times; drop out for a couple semesters; start up again; etc. Of all the kids that attend a traditional university; LESS than 40% will get a degree in 4 years. LESS than 60% will get a degree in 6 years. Why do I bring this up? Because at the academy, it's ALL OR NOTHING IN 4 years. After that; you have another 5 year commitment MINIMUM. So that's a 9 year minimum commitment to the military. That's a lot of time to commit to something you don't know anything; or little about.

    So; while your goals on what type of major or job you want to work in can and will change many times, it is SO IMPORTANT that you truly understand the different branches of the military, their missions, their environments, etc. and how they relate to your long term goals. If you don't have any long term goals in mind; at least enough to cover the minimum 9 year commitment you will have to a particular branch of the military, then I have no reservations in saying you may want to re-think what it is you are wanting from the academy. Many simply want the FREE EDUCATION. Most who do; especially on this forum; won't admit it, but it's true. Fortunately, most applicants, especially those on the forums, have a better understanding of the academies, the military, and how it will help them achieve their goals. There is nothing wrong with those that say they "JUST WANT TO SERVE" and they don't care which academy or which branch of the military they serve in. Ok; I'll buy that. I say that somewhat facetiously because most 17-18 year old kids have no idea what the military really is or what it means to serve. It's good that they want to; but at least admit to yourself that you have almost no idea of what you're getting yourself into. Those who admit that to themselves, usually do quite well at the academy and in the military. Those with preconceived ideas of what to expect, usually are disappointed and don't do as well. Individuals should have some long range goals in mind for their future. At least a path they want to follow. Hopefully they will apply to the academy and commit to the branch of the military that will help them reach those long range goals. If a person doesn't have any long range goals; at all...... then maybe they should consider first if the academy is even right for them. This isn't unique to just the academies. I've seen a lot of individuals who have no idea AT ALL what they want after high school. They THINK they will "Figure it Out" in college. Well; many of those students will waste a lot of money (Usually their parents); they won't finish their degree initially; and they wind up dropping out and doing something else. Basically wasting 2-4 years and a lot of money. The first thing I ask an individual when they ask me for help in going to college, is: what do you want to get out of this college degree and experience. If they don't know, then I recommend that they spend their first year out of high school working in a job and taking classes at their community college or online. Those who do this, usually have a much better perspective on what they want with their future by the time they start attending college the year after. This is also true for many who attend the prep school prior to the academy. Many are enlisted personnel; some are those who didn't get an appointment initially. That year at the prep school gives them the time needed to figure out the direction they want to go; some long range goals; and what they want to commit to.
     
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  11. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    CC. Look at the total pool of qualified applicants as defined by USAFA. From memory, it's around 2,500 total. My point was you before you run out of qualified applicants, you basically have 2 rounds (1,100-1,200 OFFERS in each batch). That's why I called them the A and B squad because it ends there. If you look at the ubber competitive universities (and keeping up with the analogy of sporting teams), those universities could support an A squad, 2 B quads, 3 C squads and 5 house teams. :D It's why I poo-pooed your hypothesis. If I am a better person, USAFA admissions has a limited bandwidth and they assumed they already had the "love" dialed in. My free advice to admissions is they should apply "love" to other target students. They certainly feel it once they get there; the exceptional Scholars program is one fine example. But it's pretty easy to get some statistics. Ask #1-50 ranked students to see if they "felt the love" during their application process. I predict all of the D-1 athletes felt wanted (as they should have) and the remaining group not-so-much. If I was In-The-Know, that's how I would gather my data.

    If it matters, two colleges inside of the UofMN had their Deans call our DS. They also had their department underlings follow-up and after he explained his military objective. The College of Biological Science had an ROTC student call him to tell him how great the UofMN was and why. They entire University has 67,000 students and they still chase some students of interest and have programs in place to identify them.
     
  12. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    JDB. No need to apologize for having an opinion. You are tiptoeing too much. :)

    There is no question that there were several smarter students than our DS at USAFA. But there is an art to balancing stress, the physical element and a massive unstructured workload. It's how an A caliber HS student can struggle at a SA. I've come to learn that this balancing act is one of his strengths. So I think his skill set would have played out equally well at any of the Academies.

    Our DS was attracted to his perceived (probably real) additional dedication with the WP cadets as well as the institutions stellar reputation. For him, the more punishing the lifestyle (living in the dirt), the better. So it was less of a desire to "serve" and more to experience a radically different college life. Later, seeing the world and enjoying the intensity along the way is what he is yearning for. That equals a rush in his mind. If he is being honest, dodging debt at a tier 1 college AND getting paid didn't hurt.;) But to "serve" was 3rd on his list. My counter balance was admittedly selfish. Let's just say I have one son and I looked at the statistics. I hesitated to type that last sentence so I'll leave it at that.:oops: So my job was to help him understand exactly what he was really signing up for. It was always his decision and I did my very best to present both trade-offs as realistically as I could so that he didn't feel my personal bias.

    He loved it at USAFA. I honestly don't think he could have had any better opportunities to learn, study abroad, parachute (WOB), box, etc. Once at USAFA, he could not say enough great things about leadership, (yes) the food, the friendships, and especially the small group education. But occasionally, he still questions if WP would have been a better fit.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  13. Oscar Whiskey

    Oscar Whiskey Member

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    Hello All,
    When I first posted this question it was because it was my observation that the USMA Admissions team seemed more engaged than USAFA's. Having served for 20+ years, my first concern was that DS's application had fallen through the cracks (that sometimes happens in the best of systems). Over the past few weeks I see that is not the case. It looks like all the SAs have different engagement strategies with candidates. Since DS has completed all steps for the USAFA application and MOC nominations, we are in wait and see mode. His decision to persue an SA and his preferences of SAs have been wholly his own. As a USAFA alum I may be a bit biased, but it is his life and that is what I continually remind him becuase once our candidates get to basic only thier will, heart and grit will get them through it and the next 4 years. Let alone thier time in active duty. But I digress. The original personal point of the post was to gauge if USAFA's approach to engagement was the same as the other SA's the answer to that is a definite "No." It has been interesting and informative to read everyone's opinion on the pros and cons of the USAFA approach. I hope that USAFA admissions reads this thread and takes these opinions into consideration as they continually improve thier processes.
     
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  14. Wishful

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

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    Those who feel strongly about the AFA's admissions failings can't make their criticisms known to USAFA as they have applications in play this year & possibly for several years after. Don't know how an anonymous letter would be received either but may be worth a try. Anyone have any other ideas?
     
  15. Oscar Whiskey

    Oscar Whiskey Member

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    So I've been monitoring the Appointment Thread and it looks like the Amissions Department is busy sending out LOAs and appointments!
     
  16. Oscar Whiskey

    Oscar Whiskey Member

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    DS’s USAFA portal shows he received a nomination from his Congressman.
     
  17. Billberna

    Billberna Member

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    Congratulations to your DS, Oscar Whiskey! That's a critical step. We haven't seen the change to our portal yet, but we're glad to hear of your nomination.
     
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  18. USAFAMOM21

    USAFAMOM21 Member

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    I totally agree. As I sit here and read this thread, I keep asking myself why so many young people have to be coaxed to attend one service academy over another? I have a daughter who is currently a Doolie at USAFA and was a recruited blue chip athlete. Now I have another daughter going through the process who, although she is an amazing student athlete is not a recruited athlete. She has reached out to ask questions when needed but we never EXPECTED them to beg her to come to USAFA. She has many other options but will make the decision based on what is best for her future. I am feeling like this is just another example of the extremely entitled generation. Am I missing something?
     
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  19. Wishful

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

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    I think that the positive interactions experienced with the 2 service academies are at one end of the scale while the USAFA experience is at the other. Naturally, people are wondering why.
     
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  20. justdoit19

    justdoit19 Member

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    I agree with wishful. Our experience isn’t that we are expecting to be begged....just finding it odd that they are completely opposite ends of the spectrum. And can only deduce as to why: due to the culture of the organization. One seems welcoming and inclusive, the other seems distant and exclusive. That may or may not be the case, but absent interaction from usafa, and wonderful outreach and interaction from usna.....it’s a legit conclusion, however right or wrong that conclusion actually is.

    It’s not hand holding. It’s not coddling. Into not touchy feely. It’s not entitled. At least in our case. It’s just very different ways of outreach. Yes, kids need to decide what career they want to be the deciding factor. But they are also choosing where they are going to be spending their next 4 years. Choosing their “team”. And it needs to be a good ‘fit’ for them. Absent outreach it’s very difficult to make any conclusions about the culture of the ‘team’. Which in itself leads to a conclusion about that organization. The problem with that, IMO, is that the conclusion therefore is perhaps flawed/Incorrect.

    I can say that the interactions DS had with both academies did affect (at least in a small part) his rankings on his nomination applications. And he holds noms to usna, non to usafa. So at least at this point, there has been a direct effect on him.