Admissions Interaction?

Christcorp

10-Year Member
I guess I’m not sure of what type of “outreach and interaction” some people are looking for. For both my kids, one applied to Air Force and 4 other schools, and the other kid just applied to traditional schools. Other than the occasional email they sent to admissions ensuring they received certain paperwork sent; e.g act scores, recommendations, etc. they didn’t have any outreach or interaction. They applied to the schools/academy and waited for acceptance or rejection. If my son had a question, he asked his ALO and got an answer. Sometimes right away, sometimes the Alo needed a couple of days to get the answer.

What kind of “outreach” were we expecting? None actually. We didn’t expect admissions to call and try and sell us the academy or particular school. It was actually a very non-eventful process. And we didn’t really expect anything differently. A very basic business transaction. Kids researched the schools they were interested in, applied, verified applications, and waited. What more was there to expect? Nothing as far as we were concerned.

I will say that during the previous year, junior year of high school, our state MOCs had a parent student town hall type of meeting. Similar to when colleges come to the high school. Answered questions about the nomination process, Alo answered some questions, etc. that was it.

Now, if some want to complain that their Alo was not very good, didn’t help answer questions, didn’t follow up with the application process, etc. then that’s a valid gripe. Some alo’s are better than others and some are more involved. I know some alo’s like in my State, and others like a Flieger (on this forum) are very involved with their applicants. So I can understand if some people were disappointed with their Alo. I’m just not understanding this “outreach and interaction” people are expecting. Again, other than some email correspondence, my son didn’t get any “outreach” from Michigan State, Tulane, USC, Washington, or other schools. We researched schools, the kids applied to schools, couple of emails to verify everything was on track and answer some basic questions, and then we waited. As USAFAmom eluded to, what kind of “outreach” are you expecting? We sure weren’t expecting any “outreach”. We weren’t expecting a school to call us and try and sell us on anything. We weren’t expecting any touchy-feely interaction. We expected what we got, a basic business transaction.

Sorry if I’m minimizing the experience. I just can’t for the life of me understand what people were expecting. Ok, navy and army admissions were more involved with you. That’s nice. Maybe they are more desperate for qualified applicants. Maybe they have more personnel and time to expend on checking back with applicants. That’s all fine and dandy. But that’s not something I expected. And if that “outreach” is something you and/or your child needs to feel better about which academy to choose, then good for you. Choose one of those other academies. My son did his research and knew which academy, and more importantly, which branch of service he wanted. He didn’t need the academy to shmooze him or sell him on applying or accepting. But if some need the emotional feeling involved prior to applying and accepting, then that’s fine too. Go with what “feels” better. When I go to buy a new car, I don’t want a salesman trying to sell me anything. I research and know what I want. I go to the dealer, say what I want, what I’ll pay, and they say yes or no. If it’s no, I go to another dealership. I don’t buy a car from a dealer because they contact me, provide me coffee and scones. I buy because of their product, price, and the service they’ll provide after the fact.

If you need the more personal touch that one academy gives vs another, and it makes you feel better in applying there, then apply there. I wish you the best of luck. I hope you get an appointment and that you academy and military experience is everything you are hoping for. If you don’t need the emotional feeling of an academy or school outreaching and interacting with you, and you have researched which branch of service or civilian school meets your needs, then apply to those. And best of luck in whichever choices you make.
 

Soldiergriz

Husband, Dad, Soldier
^^ Wow.

Service Academy applicants have choices. The academies should put their best foot forward. Some feel USAFA has both feet back...

That is not my son's perception BTW.

Why do you care what other's perceptions are?

My advice...let it go; leaders at the USAFA will make adjustments if required.
 

17Lives

Member
While I agree with most of the things the Christcorp has said...if people want their toes tickled by an academy or any college then let them be.
 

Soldiergriz

Husband, Dad, Soldier
At a recent college fair: Perspective Applicant: "So sell me; why should I attend the AFA"? Response: "We don't sell the Academy, you sell yourself to us".
What would the AFA leadership say about this? My guess is the AFA representative at the above college fair is not operating consistent with the intent of the leadership. But, admittedly I have no idea.
 

17Lives

Member
I mean come on. They can’t cater to every single perspective applicant. Once again...they can’t tickle everyone’s toes.
 

Soldiergriz

Husband, Dad, Soldier
The kid is hypothetically standing right in front of them. Cater to them?

How about this:

Kid the AFA Rep doesn't really want to talk to: "Hey, I've never heard of the AFA. Sell it to me."

AFA Academy Rep: You want to be part of the greatest fighting force ever assembled? The US Air Force is un-matched. We have the best technology, the best Airmen, and the best leaders in the world. If you make the cut - you could be part of the team. Here's a card - we'd love to see you apply."

It's not hard.
 

Capri120

Parent
The kid is hypothetically standing right in front of them. Cater to them?

How about this:

Kid the AFA Rep doesn't really want to talk to: "Hey, I've never heard of the AFA. Sell it to me."

AFA Academy Rep: You want to be part of the greatest fighting force ever assembled? The US Air Force is un-matched. We have the best technology, the best Airmen, and the best leaders in the world. If you make the cut - you could be part of the team. Here's a card - we'd love to see you apply."

It's not hard.
I guess my problem, being from an older generation that addressed our "elders" with respect, I have a very hard time with the "sell me" attitude and the "hey" - very immature way to address someone of their position. This implies that the prospective applicant believes he/she is good enough to be accepted to any institution they want, in other words, this is an arrogant person, who feels they would be doing the AF a favor by attending the Academy.

How about the person tries this approach..."Sir/Ma'am, I have not heard of the AFA. Could you please provide me more information."
 

Soldiergriz

Husband, Dad, Soldier
^^^^Would be much better, and perhaps a much better future AF Officer.

Nonetheless, it's not hard for the AFA or US Military in general to put their best foot forward. It also makes no sense for the AFA to rest on their success attracting superb candidates. Like I've said before - those superb candidates have choices.
 

Soldiergriz

Husband, Dad, Soldier
Meh. On a scale of things to worry about, this thread on the internet doesn't even register. Gotta keep it in perspective. :)
 

Christcorp

10-Year Member
I've been to quite a few college fair "Type" of events. I've done quite a few academy presentations at high schools. There's usually enough signs, fliers, brochures, etc. available. "Most" students walk up; grab a brochure or similar; say "Hi, how's it going"? And the chit chat begins from there. I ask if they have any questions. They might; or might not. Some kids are just interested in getting the "Freebies" like pens, key rings, bumper stickers, etc. Some are truly interested.

But I will be 100% honest. I can't remember EVER trying to "SELL" the air force academy to ANY KID or PARENT. Matter of fact, I usually spoke directly with school teachers and/or guidance counselors. Provided them with the info about the academy, and they presented it as an option to their kids. "Usually", (Except for a college fair), I don't talk to kids until I was assigned as their ALO. By that point, they were obviously interested because they started the application process. If they haden't, I wouldn't have been assigned as their ALO.

But 99% of the time, individuals I speak with about the academy usually have searched me out. They did some research. Occasionally I have to explain the difference between applying to the academy and "Enlisting" in the military. But most times, I don't. And as for "Selling" the academy? No way. No need to. I always had more extremely qualified individuals interested than the number of appointments that were going to be given out. Many of these kids, who didn't get an appointment, I helped with other college options. e.g. ROTC, Applying to civilian colleges/universities, technical schools, etc. And these aren't dumb kids with no chance of an academy appointment. I can easily count quite a few who went on to schools like Georgetown, Yale, Purdue, Georgia Tech, UCLA, Colorado State University, and many other good schools.

Bottom line: I was never in a position where I couldn't get high quality students to apply to the academy. The hardest part was trying to keep their spirits up while letting them know that they might not receive an appointment. And as arrogant as it may sound, the academies don't have to "SELL" themselves to perspective applicants. There are more than enough applicants who are very highly qualified. More than we'd ever appoint.

CAVEAT: There are times where a certain group/type of applicant may not be as highly represented at the academy as we'd like; so we may go a bit more out of our way to ensure that group/demographic of individuals is aware of the benefits to applying/accepting an academy appointment. No, not talking about affirmative action or similar. Simply trying to spread the word to groups that might not normally consider the academies. In my case; I would make an extra effort to inform American Indians who don't normally attend the same public school system as most other kids. We have some very small towns; (Population of 100-200). I might visit those areas or get the email address of the local school. Some outreach for home schooled kids. etc. But in all these cases; I still didn't try and "SELL" the academies to anyone. Simply educated them, their teachers, guidance counselors, parents, etc. on the academy as an option; and the process if they had any interested kids.
 

usn907

Member
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.
I was assigned an admissions counselor and an ALO; the ALO has been very helpful and willing to answer all of my questions. The admissions counselor is very difficult to get ahold of, and when I do get her on the phone, she seems very confused, hurried, and unwilling to answer questions. However, the admissions counselor has a much higher volume of students than my ALO does, so it’s understandable.
A 2nd Lt Academy grad has sent out emails to myself and a group of students to whom she has been assigned; however, despite her emails that include all of her contact information, she has never responded to emails or calls. For example, she emailed us asking if we had any questions about the CFA. I replied with a direct question, never received a response. This happened multiple times. Once again, she’s likely very busy/has a high volume of students/is focusing on her job etc. I’ve found that the most useful help/advice I’ve gotten has come from my ALO and a few Academy grads in my community who have been more than willing to answer any questions.
Sorry for the long reply! Good luck to your DS.
 

usn907

Member
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.
I think that the justification for this is that the English & Math ones you’re referring to are “evaluations” rather than recommendations. Instead of a character letter endorsing the candidate, it’s merely an evaluation of skills in different areas. However, I don’t think it would be difficult to turn an evaluation of skills into a shameless endorsement of the applicant, so I do see where you’re coming from. For my app, I asked two of my professors to do the academic evaluations, as I felt they could confidently and accurately evaluate my skills in these areas. For my letters of rec (optional) I requested that my transcript and academic performance be left out of it, so that it wouldn’t be redundant and also so that my character could be showcased.
 

usn907

Member
We asked each letter writer to provide an open copy to us
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.
I can certainly see both sides of this. I was conflicted here, because I’m a very detail oriented person and would like to know what is said even if it isn’t a superstar letter of rec. However, I wanted my evaluators to feel comfortable being 100% forthright and honest, so I did not request a copy. One of my recommenders provided their completed letter for me to review, the other did not. I feel that you are already given the freedom to choose your recommenders - if you choose those who you confidently believe will truthfully and accurately recommend you, there shouldn’t be a need to see the letter. However, I can certainly understand the desire to.
 
I appreciate the discussion we had here. An update to DS's situation: Recieved Appointment to USMA in Dec, Recieved offer of USAFA Prep School Feb. Supplying him with the facts and perspectives he needs to make his decision. Either way we can still say - "BEAT NAVY!"
 
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