Current parent of 9th grader - admissions questions

HCopter

Member
Hello new poster here!

My DD is a current 9th grader and hopes to be part of the USCGA Class of 2024!

I know it's still early but....

It seems one element somewhat outside the candidate's control is submissions of letters of recommendation, because that is done directly from the teachers/counselor (and PFE administrator), is this correct? Does the USCGA use a specific form that the teachers/guidance counselors have to fill out, and they are only given this link after the application is submitted? Should they free-form a letter prior to this if they know you will be asking them? This question is for AIM application as well.

PFE- is there a “starting date”? How early is too early a testing date by a coach for a score to be accepted? I'm thinking a good time to test is anytime between start of Junior year thru AIM (if she gets in!) and early fall Senior year....

SAT/ACT – if these are superscored, is there any harm in automatically sending them to the USCGA college code at the time you take the tests? Would a low score ever count against you? Of course this assumes you hit excellent scores on other attempts. DD is taking admission partner’s advice (from attending a local service academy day) and plans to test multiple times. Should she sign up for the writing component every time? Does that part matter and how much?

I’ve tried to go back through the posts, so SORRY if I am asking something that has already been answered (and please point out those threads if that is the case!).
 

Alaskan

Member
Hello new poster here!

My DD is a current 9th grader and hopes to be part of the USCGA Class of 2024!

I know it's still early but....

It seems one element somewhat outside the candidate's control is submissions of letters of recommendation, because that is done directly from the teachers/counselor (and PFE administrator), is this correct? Does the USCGA use a specific form that the teachers/guidance counselors have to fill out, and they are only given this link after the application is submitted? Should they free-form a letter prior to this if they know you will be asking them? This question is for AIM application as well.

PFE- is there a “starting date”? How early is too early a testing date by a coach for a score to be accepted? I'm thinking a good time to test is anytime between start of Junior year thru AIM (if she gets in!) and early fall Senior year....

SAT/ACT – if these are superscored, is there any harm in automatically sending them to the USCGA college code at the time you take the tests? Would a low score ever count against you? Of course this assumes you hit excellent scores on other attempts. DD is taking admission partner’s advice (from attending a local service academy day) and plans to test multiple times. Should she sign up for the writing component every time? Does that part matter and how much?

I’ve tried to go back through the posts, so SORRY if I am asking something that has already been answered (and please point out those threads if that is the case!).
Test early and often. Get familiar with teachers who like you and that you trust. Play sports. Volunteer. Take tough courses. Work a job. DS took the P-SAT and I believe that score may have went on the AIM application. He also has taken the SAT three times and the ACT twice, all scores he sent to USCGA. DS also applied to USNA and USAFA but USCGA was #1 choice after visiting. I recommend applying to the different summer programs etc and visiting if you can.
 

HCopter

Member
Thank you Alaskan! Your comments are excellent. I see you did send all scores to USCGA so that answers my question there. Will absolutely take your advice to test early and often! English/math teachers and the guidance counselor are known, the only other is the 3rd recommendation for the other service academies, so there is some strategic choice to be made there. My other daughter got great advice from her guidance counselor, who steered her away from a wonderful teacher who really liked my daughter but apparently was notorious for not writing as well as some of the other teachers. DD will have to figure this all out and make a decision who to ask, and ask early! Thank you again. This forum is awesome. So glad to find it!
 

TennisDad

CGA Admissions Partner
5-Year Member
I'll take a slightly different tack. Your DD is roughly 2 years out from applying to AIM and even further from applying to the Academy. Relax - your DD has plenty of time. The most important thing at this point is to make sure she takes an honors/AP track heavy in math and sciences and does well in school.

My son didn't decide to apply to CGA until the late September his Senior year in HS. He didn't attend AIM and hadn't done any specific training for the PFE.

Regarding recommendation letters from English and Math teachers, please note they must be current teachers or from the last year. So for the Academy application, they would have to be teachers from your DD's Junior year.
 

HCopter

Member
Thank you TennisDad! Will take take your advice not to worry so much! Excellent to know it will be her junior year english/math teachers. It's ironic the only thing I don't worry about is her courseload/selections. She's well on track for APs and high level courses, the only thing I can do is recommend she think about which ones would be most strategic for preparing for USCGA.
 

Alaskan

Member
Thank you TennisDad! Will take take your advice not to worry so much! Excellent to know it will be her junior year english/math teachers. It's ironic the only thing I don't worry about is her courseload/selections. She's well on track for APs and high level courses, the only thing I can do is recommend she think about which ones would be most strategic for preparing for USCGA.
I think it's great to be planning now for a couple years ahead! Get started volunteering and building up that resume. It's highly competitive and many who would wait until "late September of senior year" wouldn't have the success of TennisDad's DS.
 

HCopter

Member
I think it's great to be planning now for a couple years ahead! Get started volunteering and building up that resume. It's highly competitive and many who would wait until "late September of senior year" wouldn't have the success of TennisDad's DS.
Thank you Alaskan! Yes, DD is volunteering alot, and just got promoted to lead summer ambassador (Art Museum). Last week she got to interview, evaluate, and recommend the final selections of the new summer volunteers. She is going to train them in June. It's a really nice change for her to do something related to Art. I was worried if Art Museum volunteering would "count" for a service academy, but it seems the weight is more on the leadership roles and depth of engagement/progression/impact created, regardless of where you are volunteering.
 

Alaskan

Member
Thank you Alaskan! Yes, DD is volunteering alot, and just got promoted to lead summer ambassador (Art Museum). Last week she got to interview, evaluate, and recommend the final selections of the new summer volunteers. She is going to train them in June. It's a really nice change for her to do something related to Art. I was worried if Art Museum volunteering would "count" for a service academy, but it seems the weight is more on the leadership roles and depth of engagement/progression/impact created, regardless of where you are volunteering.
I think they like people who bring different interests and talents to the table. Sounds like an excellent volunteer opportunity.
 

TennisDad

CGA Admissions Partner
5-Year Member
I think it's great to be planning now for a couple years ahead! Get started volunteering and building up that resume. It's highly competitive and many who would wait until "late September of senior year" wouldn't have the success of TennisDad's DS.
The point I was trying to make was that the decision to apply was not made until September of his Senior year; not that he "waited" until that point. He did the same thing during the three previous years that most kids that go to college do - did well in school, played sports, played a musical instrument at a very high level, volunteered, and was a pain-in-the-neck teenager on occasion.

We visited a number of colleges his Junior year. In spite of the fact that his grandfather graduated from Annapolis, service academies weren't even on his radar. Something changed when he started his Senior year, and at that point he decided he wanted to apply to the CGA. He applied Early Action and was accepted. I am thankful every day for his appointment and know that we are incredibly fortunate.

Yes, the Academy is highly competitive. Yes, there is a lot of advice on this forum on what you need to do to maximize DS or DD's chances of getting in the Academy. However, you will not find Objee or anyone else from Admissions offering that advice. It's tough to admit, but it's a bit of a crap shoot. Go read Alaska66's post about admissions being like a jigsaw puzzle. If you're lucky, you are one of the pieces that fits that year's puzzle. However, there are going to be four or five pieces that are nearly identical, and just as good looking, but they just don't quite fit. And the puzzle changes every year - the needs of the academy and the needs of the service are semper gumby.

If you think that it's important that DS or DD do all that is mentioned on these forums in order to help them get in the Academy, go for it. I'm just trying to point out that there is an alternative path. Remember that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
 
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rjb

5-Year Member
Yes, the Academy is highly competitive. Yes, there is a lot of advice on this forum on what you need to do to maximize DS or DD's chances of getting in the Academy. However, you will not find Objee or anyone else from Admissions offering that advice. It's tough to admit, but it's a bit of a crap shoot. Go read Alaska66's post about admissions being like a jigsaw puzzle. If you're lucky, you are one of the pieces that fits that year's puzzle. However, there are going to be four or five pieces that are nearly identical, and just as good looking, but they just don't quite fit. And the puzzle changes every year - the needs of the academy and the needs of the service are semper gumby.
Every year there are postings by applicants or parents looking for some silver bullet or magic formula to gain admission. As TennisDad suggests, they simply do not exist. You simply need to present the best possible package to admissions for consideration and hope that your package fits one of the pieces for that year's admissions puzzle.
 

Jmoney457

Banned
I feel like the person I was finishing high school was so radically different from when I started as a freshman, it's probably more likely that she'll eventually decide she wants nothing to do with the military than stay on this straight line track to the USCGA, or any other academy. If you had told me 4 years ago that I would be attending an academy (not USCGA), I would've told you you were crazy. Goals and ambitions change over time, although that's far from saying that having this current goal is not a good thing.
 

HCopter

Member
Excellent advice from TennisDad, rjb, Jmoney457, USCGMaster!

You are all reaffirming what I am reading over these threads. TennisDad & Jmoney457 commented that what DD has her heart set on now may completely change over time. But I also understand those few students, of which I was one, that knew exactly where they wanted to go as a freshman, and that desire never waivered. So our plan is I will support her in any way, and if she changes her mind or ultimately does not get an appointment, the key is that she is well prepared for any college.

rjb and USCG Master, excellent thoughts to reiterate how you don't know what the puzzles needed are, and that your package will very likely look like many others. Clearly no guarantees or magic formula, I didn't intend this to be an "Am I competitive thread" (although those are my favorite to read!). The advice I give DD is to pursue it wholeheartedly. There will be disappointments in life, but never let them devastate you, nor do you ever want to look back and think "could've, would've, should've". The things in your control - do them with deliberateness and sound strategy.

Which brings me to the last question that hasn't really been addressed regarding the PFE - any examples of how you or your DS/DDs approached when to test would be appreciated. Other than doing it at AIM (f you are selected), it seems if you are doing it on "home turf and timing", it seems wise to also consider other sports seasons, activities, and time of year (certainly not in the middle of the summer and 20 minutes after a BBQ). Who was it that posted "max, max, relax"? That is excellent advice!
 

Jmoney457

Banned
Excellent advice from TennisDad, rjb, Jmoney457, USCGMaster!

You are all reaffirming what I am reading over these threads. TennisDad & Jmoney457 commented that what DD has her heart set on now may completely change over time. But I also understand those few students, of which I was one, that knew exactly where they wanted to go as a freshman, and that desire never waivered. So our plan is I will support her in any way, and if she changes her mind or ultimately does not get an appointment, the key is that she is well prepared for any college.

rjb and USCG Master, excellent thoughts to reiterate how you don't know what the puzzles needed are, and that your package will very likely look like many others. Clearly no guarantees or magic formula, I didn't intend this to be an "Am I competitive thread" (although those are my favorite to read!). The advice I give DD is to pursue it wholeheartedly. There will be disappointments in life, but never let them devastate you, nor do you ever want to look back and think "could've, would've, should've". The things in your control - do them with deliberateness and sound strategy.

Which brings me to the last question that hasn't really been addressed regarding the PFE - any examples of how you or your DS/DDs approached when to test would be appreciated. Other than doing it at AIM (f you are selected), it seems if you are doing it on "home turf and timing", it seems wise to also consider other sports seasons, activities, and time of year (certainly not in the middle of the summer and 20 minutes after a BBQ). Who was it that posted "max, max, relax"? That is excellent advice!
The pfe is really common sense...take it with adequate rest, well hydrated, and not after a heavy meal or on a full stomach. You should prepare by doing the activities on the pfe, not by bench press at the gym although that can supplement. 2 sec push ups are great, crunches, and running preferably with someone faster than yourself to pace you.
 

alaska66

USCGA Admissions Partner
5-Year Member
Excellent advice from TennisDad, rjb, Jmoney457, USCGMaster!

You are all reaffirming what I am reading over these threads. TennisDad & Jmoney457 commented that what DD has her heart set on now may completely change over time. But I also understand those few students, of which I was one, that knew exactly where they wanted to go as a freshman, and that desire never waivered. So our plan is I will support her in any way, and if she changes her mind or ultimately does not get an appointment, the key is that she is well prepared for any college.

rjb and USCG Master, excellent thoughts to reiterate how you don't know what the puzzles needed are, and that your package will very likely look like many others. Clearly no guarantees or magic formula, I didn't intend this to be an "Am I competitive thread" (although those are my favorite to read!). The advice I give DD is to pursue it wholeheartedly. There will be disappointments in life, but never let them devastate you, nor do you ever want to look back and think "could've, would've, should've". The things in your control - do them with deliberateness and sound strategy.

Which brings me to the last question that hasn't really been addressed regarding the PFE - any examples of how you or your DS/DDs approached when to test would be appreciated. Other than doing it at AIM (f you are selected), it seems if you are doing it on "home turf and timing", it seems wise to also consider other sports seasons, activities, and time of year (certainly not in the middle of the summer and 20 minutes after a BBQ). Who was it that posted "max, max, relax"? That is excellent advice!
The PFE's scoring is based on 300 points. Here's the link to the test and scoring http://www.cga.edu/admissions2.aspx?id=80
As I've posted before, it is known at the Academy as "max, max, relax" as higher scores are accomplished most easily by being able to max push-ups and sit-ups, as the scoring for the run requires quite an improvement in times to gain more points.

Regarding the PFE test, your DD can certainly begin training at any time. Many applicants will train in push-ups, sit-ups, and running, but fail to ever practice them in succession, as the PFE dictates. They are then surprised as to how fatigued they become in the testing scenario.

If your daughter is chosen for AIM, she will have the opportunity to take the PFE and have that score included in her application. Many applicants score well at AIM due to having the competitive surroundings of other AIMsters. If she does not attend AIM, or feels she can improve her score, she will take the PFE test on her own. When the application opens for admission, your daughter will submit information regarding her PFE administrator, and the results of her PFE will then be submitted online by the administrator. The timing of taking the PFE will be dependent upon whether your daughter applies early action or regular admission. It is best to schedule the PFE early in the application process in case illness or injury requires it to be re-scheduled. Many applicants wait to complete the PFE until right before the application deadline, adding much unnecessary stress.

Best of luck to your DD on her high school career!
 

ZutAlors!

Member
I am just a 16 year old who has been learning through this process, so since I have learned a lot from this forum I will add in my $.50. You are smart to get an early start, no matter what your DD chooses in the future - the prep she does now will help her in all she may choose, and may create future opportunities that you can't see now. Some students begin taking the ACT and SAT as sophomores to get familiar with the tests, and take them three or four times - since the academies superscore there's no downside (other than preparing and paying for them.) One point I would add is to create tangible achievements -- she should organize the volunteer selection process and create an orientation guide for new volunteers, or an online tutorial, something concrete. Then get your supervisor to write you a rec letter right when you finish so that their memory and motivation is at its best. Have them write an original "to whom it may concern" rec letter, put it on their letterhead, in an envelope and sign it across the seal. If you can get five photocopies of those in signed envelopes, and keep them on hand, you can use them when you need them. I ask my recommenders to create a master letter in their files they can update for me. I send a nice thank you note, with home made cookies, to let them know I appreciate their time. Also never underestimate the value of getting things done early. Apply on the first day that AIM applications open. Apply to the academy the first day the application opens. You can back-time certain things -- for example, you can look at past years' application essay topics and start working on yours ahead of time. Write it, then review with your English teacher, then re-write it. I'm just a junior in high school, but I'm proud and excited to be going to NASS, SLE and AIM this summer. And this is what I have learned through my experience, I hop you will find it helpful. Good luck to you and your child!
 
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