Course Validation

Peter2025

2025 hopeful
Joined
Mar 2, 2021
Messages
126
Hello,
I will be graduating HS with a lot of dual-enrollment credits (45 I believe). I have taken calculus based physics 2 and calculus 3 among many others. Would it be beneficial to me to validate as much as I could, or would it be better to retake the courses since they'll be easier the second time around?
 

shiner

USAFA Grad, Faculty 3yrs, ALO 7yrs, DS USMMA '24
10-Year Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2010
Messages
676
This is a personal opinion question and the strategy depends on your goals. Do you have aspirations for post grad scholarships or something where your academic GPA is going to be super important? I ask because under that lens, retaking something you are strong in should yield a strong A and boost the GPA.

Conversely, if having a reduced course load is important - seek to validate. A reduced course load could open you up to a double major and or a minor - if those are appealing. Even if those are not important, having fewer credit hours on your plate is a nice situation to be in. When others are dealing with 7 and 8 classes, you may only have 5. This gives more time to study for what you do have, focus on military leadership roles, focus on athletic pursuits, or just have free time to golf or do airmanship programs - you name it.

It really comes down to how these validations will give you time back in your day, or choosing not to validate to boost the GPA.

Just one opinion and I am excited to see what considerations others will point out.
 

BuckeyeDad20

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
266
Depends on what "better" means to you. If you want to take more classes/dual major, then validating can make that more possible. If you want to take things a little slower, have an easier time your first year, make sure your foundation is strong then maybe you don't validate.

My son validated several. Calc III at USAFA was fine for him even though it was mostly new material. He did not validate Physics, it was repeat of HS and not a problem. Second Semester he is taking Differential Equations, Aero Thermo and his Physics is covering new material for him. He is doing well, but it is significantly more difficult, it is requiring more effort and he is feeling the pain... He is not ready to tap out, but he is resetting his expectations of free time and the chance to hang with guys in his squad.

So its really up to you to decide what you are shooting for and what you are willing to do to get there. If you are not passionate about your academic path, it will be 3x harder no matter what your major is. Your math placement tests should be a good guide for your math classes. You will have to decide about the others.

My son is going for a dual-major so freeing up slots in his schedule was the motivation. Too early to tell if it was the right call yet.
 

Peter2025

2025 hopeful
Joined
Mar 2, 2021
Messages
126
This is a personal opinion question and the strategy depends on your goals. Do you have aspirations for post grad scholarships or something where your academic GPA is going to be super important? I ask because under that lens, retaking something you are strong in should yield a strong A and boost the GPA.

Conversely, if having a reduced course load is important - seek to validate. A reduced course load could open you up to a double major and or a minor - if those are appealing. Even if those are not important, having fewer credit hours on your plate is a nice situation to be in. When others are dealing with 7 and 8 classes, you may only have 5. This gives more time to study for what you do have, focus on military leadership roles, focus on athletic pursuits, or just have free time to golf or do airmanship programs - you name it.

It really comes down to how these validations will give you time back in your day, or choosing not to validate to boost the GPA.

Just one opinion and I am excited to see what considerations others will point out.
Thank you for the reply. I had heard that if you validate courses, you still have to take another class in its place to maintain the same load as other cadets. Is this not true?
 

shiner

USAFA Grad, Faculty 3yrs, ALO 7yrs, DS USMMA '24
10-Year Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2010
Messages
676
Students are not allowed to go below the minimum course load of 15 (as I recall) hours. As you progress, that will go up and at times I was sitting on 24-26 hours depending on PE and other misc courses. The validation benefit would be felt less in the first year, but would allow reductions in future years. Each degree program is different, so there is no standard of what others are taking -- hence why they draw the line at minimum course load.
 

HCopter

Member
Joined
May 16, 2017
Messages
490
@Peter2025 , it's impossible to make specific recommendations for you, because we don't know your actual ability or major/minors along with other activities you will be engaged in at USAFA. So consider this thread for different strategies like Shiner says, or just examples like BuckeyeDad20 's Ds or my DD.

For another data point, my DD will attempt non-STEM double majors. She validated as much as she could to free up her schedule. The added wrinkle is Academy Scholars Program, and she has almost no wiggle room due to validating or starting with more advanced sections, so she has to take almost every available Scholars section left, and that drives her schedule as well. For her, she is in the camp of wanting graduate school and/or positioning for national scholarships. She enjoyed Japanese, but it came down to 4 years what will you do with your time? And she thought, I can always learn Japanese, but with my 47 months i'd rather double major.

I think it's entirely OK to not know what you want to major in coming in, and keeping an open mind for everything USAFA has to offer. My experience is there's a lot of parent pysche out going on - parents telling other parents cool sounding majors and jobs that i've heard of. The important thing is that you make as informed a decision as you can, you win some and lose some when it comes to scheduling/teachers/preferences, and remember that there are 30 or so majors because they are all needs of the Air Force.
 

brewmeist

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2018
Messages
530
My son (USNA) validated as much as he could and is very glad he did. It will open up many oppourtunities to him his final two years. As far as it being 'easier,' i have heard counless stories of people not validating for that very reason. They ended up doing horrible in retaking those classes. Possibly due to not pushing themselves like they were always used to doing... Whatever the reason is, it has happened quite often.
 
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Aviator25

Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
194
My son (USNA) validated as much as he could and is very glad he did. It will open up many oppourtunities to him his final two years. As far as it being 'easier,' i have heard counless stories of people not validating for that very reason. The ended up doing horrible in retaking those classes. Possibly due to not pushing themselves like they were always used to doing... Whatever the reason is, it has happened quite often.
Would you mind elaborating on what you mean by opportunities opening up to him his last two years?
 

brewmeist

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2018
Messages
530
Would you mind elaborating on what you mean by opportunities opening up to him his last two years?
He will be able to attend grad school on the Navy's dime his Firstie year (of course he will owe service years. There is no such thing as a free lunch). There's also research opportunities, Trident program...
 

Aviator25

Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
194
He will be able to attend grad school on the Navy's dime his Firstie year (of course he will owe service years. There is no such thing as a free lunch). There's also research opportunities, Trident program...
If you don't mind me asking, is that the program to get a Master's degree at Johns Hopkins University? If so, does it extend longer than the 4 years at USNA, or do most people finish the Master's program by the time they graduate USNA?
 

brewmeist

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2018
Messages
530
Johns Hopkins, U of MD, Georgetown, maybe some others. They generally finish their first-class year.
 

Aviator25

Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
194
Johns Hopkins, U of MD, Georgetown, maybe some others. They generally finish their first-class year.
If you don't me asking, are there only select master's programs that Midshipmen who have this opportunity get to choose from (ex. limited by needs of the Navy as far as the area of study), or can they choose whatever they want?
 

brewmeist

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2018
Messages
530
If you don't me asking, are there only select master's programs that Midshipmen who have this opportunity get to choose from (ex. limited by needs of the Navy as far as the area of study), or can they choose whatever they want?
I truly do not know. Here is a link that may help:
 
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