Community college before USAFA?


5-Year Member
Sep 17, 2017
Hey everyone, I am a junior in high school and just had a thought, out of curiosity... I know it is a little early to think about this, but I was just curious... here is my situation -
I plan to apply USAFA and have my heart 100% set on the Air Force. My first choice is of course USAFA, but no matter what happens, my priority is becoming an officer, whether it’s through the academy, ROTC, or OTS.

I know that nothing is ever certain when applying to USAFA. I do consider myself a pretty highly qualified candidate, but if for whatever reason I don’t get an appointment, would a year of community college and then reapplying to USAFA be a bad idea? I am an IB student and with my IB diploma and good scores on my tests, I would be able to earn my associates degree in only one year, of course with a bit of a heavy course load... Would it look bad on my application if I went to community college to earn my associates (rather than a 4 year college) and reapplied to USAFA, or would having that associates look good on my application? Or would it be better to enroll in ROTC at a 4 yr college and try to reapply? Have other cadets been appointed to the academy who previously went to community college, is this even possible?

I know I am only junior in HS and haven’t even begun my application yet, but it’s never too early to ask questions and think about the future! Any help or comment is greatly appreciated :)
One of my best friends here, who is a firstie and about to graduate and go to pilot training, took a year of community college before applying and getting accepted here (it was his 1st try). I also have a friend who earned her associates before coming here while in high school and I think that reflected pretty positively on her application. I think if you're taking hard courses and holding down a job or otherwise remaining active in the community, you should be alright. Would it look better to go somewhere else? I can't speak to that. Just know that community college is a potential route. If you don't get accepted first try, I would recommend acting on your Plan B as if USAFA is permanently off the table (i.e. if you never get accepted to USAFA would you be content graduating from community college and continuing on whatever career path that leads to?). I know fairly recently a poster said their DS didn't get accepted to USAFA, went to ROTC, and decided that's where he belonged anyway. So if push comes to shove, are you choosing community college as a stop gap measure as you hope for something better, or will you truly be content while you're there? IMO that's what matters most.
If your academics are dragging down your Whole Candidate Score, then yes, a year of good grades at a community college would help. If you are doing well in an IB program, and do well on the ACT/SAT, I doubt that would be the thing hurting your application.

That said, getting an Associates in a year may be useful for other reasons (CC generally being much cheaper than state or private universities). If you transferred most of the gen. ed. classes into a state/private U., you could focus more on your majors classes and ROTC.

...all that said, do what you can now to be the best candidate you can. Worry about the things you can actually control.
Apply to the academy and ROTC to go straight to one of those programs. You might get accepted and/or win a scholarship to one. In any case it will give you far more experience in the process if you need to re-apply after a year of community college.