Brand new here and looking to help my son prepare

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by medicdk33, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. medicdk33

    medicdk33 New Member

    Dec 29, 2014
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    I have a 13 year old young man who has set his sights on the academy. I want to help him use the next 5 years to be as well prepared as possible. Any advice is welcomed!!

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  2. MJP

    MJP Member

    Aug 22, 2014
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    Take a look in the nominations or appointments threads and you can get an idea of the kind of statistics/profiles the kids have posted.

    Take math and science courses and get good grades

    Participate and be a leader in:
    Sports at the varisty level if possible or club
    Service organizations/clubs/church-volunteer groups
    School and extracurricular clubs
    Get a part-time job
    Civil Air patrol

    etc etc etc.....

    Good you want to get started early
  3. shellz

    shellz 5-Year Member

    Mar 27, 2008
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    Just make sure he considers and investigates all options...civilian, ROTC, academies. The academies are a crap shoot for most applicants. And, also consider that he may change his mind. He is open to that possibility and support him in finding his passions. Don't just do jrotc for the resume. Don't just participate in activities as resume builders.

    Good luck and try to enjoy today. Focusing 5 years out can be very stressful. Work on this month, this year, etc. and the rest will fall into place. :thumb:
  4. MedB

    MedB Parent

    Dec 26, 2012
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    Some good advice already above (and elsewhere here on SAF). Teens do change their mind and options are always important. But one thing became clear to us along the way...

    The myriad of decisions my kids (and their parents!) made to be competitive as SA candidates, also set them up for success in general on any number of alternate paths.

    So aim high of course and no matter where they wind up they will be better off for having reached for the top rung.
  5. Spud

    Spud BGO 5-Year Member

    Dec 27, 2011
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    The best source for info I have found is the book "The Air Force Academy Candidate Book" by Ross. There are printings with the author listed as "Smallwood" and "Smallwood and Ross" and all are good with varying degrees of info. No other book I have ever read is worth the money. The author(s) also have corresponding books for USNA and USMA should your young tiger change his interests too.
  6. Christcorp

    Christcorp 5-Year Member

    May 21, 2008
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    The only input I'd like to make at this point of the questioning is: Too many people think there is some sort of "Checklist" on how to get to the academy. You'll hear about taking math and science classes; participating in sports; leadership positions; etc... All of this is true and definitely required, but what I'd like to emphasize; especially being your child still has enough time to make choices; is:

    Once determined this is the direction they want to go, they can't be satisfied with trying to "Meet the standards". The "Standards" to get into the academies is practically useless, because more than 90% of all those who actually receive an appointment will EXCEED the MINIMUM STANDARDS to a very high degree.

    So my suggestion is that your child have the attitude to be the BEST in EVERYTHING; and at the very least, do the BEST that THEY CAN DO.

    Examples: Don't just take math and science classes; take the MOST CHALLENGING CLASSES the school has to offer. E.g. AP Classes; the IB Program, etc... Don't just be "ON" a sports team. Strive to be a starter; get a varsity letter; be ranked all-state or all-conference. Don't just be "IN" clubs. Work up to be the President of the club; Class Officer, etc.. Volunteer hundreds of hours throughout high school years to the community, needy, etc...

    Yes, there are MINIMUM standards, such as a 25 ACT and similar. But the class AVERAGE of individuals who actually receive an appointment to the academy have a 30 or better ACT. They have a 3.86 or better GPA. They didn't just take "Regular" classes. They were in the IB program or took AP classes. They were a "Class Officer". They played multiple varsity sports. They were team captain. They were "All-State". etc... Obviously not ALL cadets, but a lot more than not. The point is, never aim to "MEET" the standards. Aim to "EXCEED" the standards. Because your child is going to be competing against others who have exceeded the standards. In the beginning of the application process, there will be more than 12,000 individuals who are interested in attending the academy. That number will drop to about 6000 who "MEET" the requirements. That number will drop down again to around 2500-3000 who are "Competitive" and qualified. Of those 2500-3000, approximately 1100-1200 will actually be "Offered an Appointment". Never be satisfied with the "Minimum Standards". Always strive to EXCEED. Best of luck.
  7. FutureCadet58

    FutureCadet58 Member

    Dec 16, 2014
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    The best advice I can give someone is never, never, never quit. I'm about finished with the process myself, and an appointment is looking very good for me. With that being said, I never really thought it was possible.

    Your son is going to mature greatly during the process, I can promise you that. There might also be a lot of changes in his goals, just make sure he doesn't quit because he will get a little discouraged at times. I started out the process wanting the naval academy, soon it was West Point, West Point, West Point. That's all I really wanted. But, as the process progressed I ended up with a good nomination to the Air Force Academy, and I couldn't be happier. My point is, it's a long, winding road. There are days where he will feel more confident than ever, and there are days where he might wake up and feel like he can't do it. But if he wants it, and does everything he can to make it happen, he has a very good chance. In my opinion, anyone who even applies is a winner, and I connect with any academy candidate when I meet them in person. I have to say, even if something bad happens and I don't make it to the academy (granted, I would be devastated) but I do know that it definitely made me into a better person, and I am proud that I went as far as I did. I commend your son for starting upon a path that most kids his age wouldn't even dare think about. You are going to see how fast time goes by when he is sitting waiting in the congressional office for his interview, trust me it comes fast.

    But I stress it again, never, never, never quit. If he doesn't quit and he does what he knows he has to, he has just as good a shot as anybody. Best of luck to you and your son. Happy New Year! :thumb:

    Oh, and start looking into "Boys State" as early as possible. You go at the end of Junior Year if you get selected by the legion post in your town. It was the BEST experience that has happened to me on my journey to an academy, and it helped me greatly.
  8. In-the-Know

    In-the-Know Member

    Jul 31, 2013
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    1. Go to and sign up to be a Future Falcon in the start my application block.

    2. Review the website

    3. Contact the Admissions Liaison Officer responsible for your local high school

    4. Take the right curriculum in middle and high school to be academically competitive

    5. Become a leader

    6. Develop the habits of lifetime fitness

    7. Attend a local Academy Day sponsored by your congressperson or senator

    8. Attend a USAFA recruiting event in a town near you

    9. Plan a family vacation to USAFA at a time when you will be able to get a good idea of what its all about

    10. Don't do drugs or drink

    11. Explore all college options and commissioning sources

    There is more your son can do as the time comes closer. However, if he (not you) still has the passion to apply in his junior year, he will know what to do. You should then be the guide on the side.
  9. Centurion210

    Centurion210 Member

    May 23, 2014
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    Hi there! I'm a high school senior right now, and here is what I have to add. This advice applies to the service academies as well as all the other schools your son will apply to, and just high school in general. I would recommend that your son looks into academic teams at your high school along with the things already posted (something like debate, mock trial, model UN, Academic Team, Quizbowl, etc.). It will get your son around a group of intelligent individuals motivated towards college. The upperclassmen on the teams provide great insight into the college application process. Also, have your son develop a relationship with his counselor at high school. They become instrumental in his senior year as they wield wide powers over the college application process. They also give fantastic advice about academics.
    Best of luck!
    P.S. make sure he keeps his mind open. I know too many kids who have their sights set on a certain school and, for one reason or another, it doesn't work out. Have backup plans, and backup plans for backup plans.
  10. FutureCadet58

    FutureCadet58 Member

    Dec 16, 2014
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    That's some great advice. ( I am a senior too ). Getting involved in the right crowd will do great things for him. Having a plan A, B, C and even a plan D is important.
  11. melindayching

    melindayching 5-Year Member

    Jun 27, 2011
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    I probably had the opposite experience with my kid..she didn't think of USAFA as an option until her junior year in high school. She was well situated for an appointment, even though she was not consciously prepping, because all of the classes, activities and sports that she pursued as a high school student she did because she truly had passion and drive for them, not because they would look good on a resume to any college. So I give you props for wanting to help your kid, but just remember to make sure that he pursues activities for the "right" reasons, i.e. because he truly has the interest and passion for them. Chances are then he will excel and achieve leadership in those activities, which are things that the admissions folks will look for.
    Good's a long ride to USAFA. Alot can happen along the way and your son is lucky to have your support and encouragement in whatever he strives for!
    Midwest likes this.
  12. TotheTop

    TotheTop Member

    Dec 20, 2014
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    I'm an '09 graduate from West Point and I didn't even know the place existed until my Junior year of high school haha. The best advice I can give is play a lot of sports and get good grades. I wouldn't outright recommend taking really hard classes unless you can handle them because a bad GPA=bad class rank. You should definitely look into getting him some leadership opportunities early too.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2014
  13. momkoll

    momkoll New Member

    Jan 26, 2014
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    Relax... He's only 13. Love him, feed him good food, encourage him to follow his passions.

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  14. raimius

    raimius 10-Year Member

    Jun 9, 2006
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    Basically, do well at academics, leadership, and athletics.

    This will do a few things--
    1. Set him up well for admission into an academy
    2. Set him up well for admission at most other universities (aka keep his options open)
    3. Provide a solid background for a wide variety of life experiences and paths.

    He may or may not change his plans completely! As a freshman in high school, I was starting to plan out my civilian electrical engineering I'm an AF helicopter pilot with a history degree!
  15. fencersmother

    fencersmother 5-Year Member Founding Member

    Oct 10, 2007
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    Chill, Mom!

    Read what Christcorp said, then let the kid LIVE! :)

    Encourage him to do his best, in everything, always. That way, he'll be the best 17 or 18 year old he can be in four or five years.

    Most important for you and him: make sure HE is the one who wants the Academy, and make sure he knows that USAFA is a path to serving, not an end in itself.

    Now, go get a sabre and let the kid fence! or take up skiing, or tennis, or baseball.

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