Evaluate my chances?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Fleur, May 28, 2011.

  1. Fleur

    Fleur 5-Year Member

    May 28, 2011
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    Hi, first of all thank you for taking the time to look here :smile:

    My name is Zach, and currently I'm a high school junior in Washington state. I intend on applying for the USAFA, but I'm a little worried about my chances of being a appoint-able candidate.

    I'll start with the good:
    • I volunteer every other weekend at the UW Medical Center in Seattle, and I have a little over 80 volunteer hours there. I should have 100 hours or more by the time summer rolls around.
    • I've been highly active in the YMCA, and I've been going on several-week-long kayaking trips into Canada and back out of one of their camps in the San Juans every year for the past 5 years.
    • I'm going to be an intern at said YMCA camp this summer, where I'll earn exactly 570 volunteer/community service hours.
    • I'm enrolled in the Running Start program, which allows me to take a full college courseload at a local accredited 2-year college. I will be graduating with my diploma and a general AA degree.
    • I participated in Key Club, Track/Field, and Cross Country at my high school during my freshman and sophomore years (2009-2010), and I'm currently in National Honors Society.
    • I scored a 2030 on the SAT when I took it a few months ago with poor preparation, and I'm planning on retaking it near the end of the summer with hopes that I can get a >2200 after extensive preparation.
    • I have family who are friends and attend church with my congressional representative, Dave Reichert.
    • I have not tested my Basketball Throw, but I can do 14 Pull-Ups in 2 minutes, my Shuttle Run is approximately 8.2 seconds, I can do 87 Modified Sit-Ups in 2 minutes, 65 Push-Ups in 2 minutes, and my 1-Mile Run is right around 5:50 right now. I've only been practicing these tests with my family, but I believe that if I continue to work as hard as I've been working, I should be able to do better.
    • I am not medically disqualified in any way from the Academy, although my vision is 20/60 in each eye with a refractive error of -1.25 in my right eye and -1.5 in my left. From what I understand, this can be corrected surgically to at least 20/20 in both eyes with no refractive error, although I would be best off waiting for surgery until I can do it with the approval of the USAF.

    And then my shortcomings:
    • While I finished my sophomore year with a 3.925 GPA, taking a full college courseload caused it to take a significant hit. As of now, it's a 3.782, but this quarter has not yet finished and when it does I believe it will be around a 3.7 +/- 0.05. Driving 50 minutes each way to school every day and the hard rigor of my classes, as well as my relative lack of preparation and organization contributed to this, but there's no excusing it, really.
    • There is very little military service in my family's history. One of my uncles was a Marine in Vietnam, but that's all that I'm aware of...

    I'm really hoping that my comparatively high SAT score will be able to at least somewhat make up for the hit that my GPA has taken. Also, the deadline for the pre-applicant questionnaire is December 31 and I'll have finished next year's Fall quarter by then, so I may be able to bring my GPA back up to a (very) low 3.8. This is still lower than I would prefer, and I'm really hoping that the rigor of the curriculum will be appreciated by the Academy admissions...

    I've also been told to consider getting a Private Pilot's License before the deadline so that I can have that to my name as well. Would it be to my advantage to do this?

    In addition, in the sports that I participated in, I was not a Varsity athlete. I've actually improved considerably, athletically, since I started taking college classes, since I've had more time in the day to work out. I didn't like my coaches at all, and while I would've continued with the sports regardless this year, my schedule conflicted with it. I've gotten to love paddlesports, and I'm thinking about seeing if there's a local crew/rowing team that I could join.

    While I think my best shot at a nomination would be from my congressman, Dave Reichert, I also plan on applying for nominations from Washington's senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as Vice President Joe Biden. Is it possible to get more than one nomination, and would this be an advantage?

    Moreover, do you think that I would be a competitive applicant for the US Air Force Academy? If I could get an offer for the Prep School, I'd be more than happy with that...

    Thank you for again for your time!
  2. hornetguy

    hornetguy 10-Year Member

    Jun 9, 2006
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    I always laugh when I see candidates with clearly glowing resumes asking how their "lowly" stats could get them in. LOL
  3. Fleur

    Fleur 5-Year Member

    May 28, 2011
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    Thanks, heh, but I've gotten mixed opinions. Just looking for some clarification here, y'know? I definitely couldn't see myself getting into Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, etc... and I know that the academies are about as selective (though a big part of not seeing myself at an Ivy is how expensive they are...)

    That and I tend to underestimate myself when I'm looking at admissions. It's ... intimidating :frown:
  4. AFAYahoo

    AFAYahoo 5-Year Member

    Apr 12, 2011
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    First of all, don't wait until grades come out in December to submit the pre-candidate questionnaire. There is so much more to do/submit once the Academy deems you a potential candidate that you will be under the gun to get it all done by the final deadline in February. Obviously its doable, but why stress yourself out if you know you want to apply? You can always update your file at the AFA once fall semester grades come out--your school will send in an official transcript. And actually you can update your file at any time with any new activities/awards/etc. by contacting your admissions counselor at the Academy (which you'll be assigned once you're deemed a candidate).

    There is nothing wrong with a GPA in the 3.7/3.8 range--the bigger question is what kind of classes did you take to get that? Were they Honors classes in math and science or heavy on the electives? When you apply, one of the things your school will have to send in with your transcript is a school profile. If your school offers honors/AP classes and you didn't take any (or vice versa you took everything offered) they will take that into consideration. The AFA is a tough school where everyone takes a lot of math and science so they want to know you can handle the courseload.

    Activities--Leadership positions are very impt., so try and do that in something you've been involved in already. Maybe at the YMCA as an intern? You don't really say what exactly you'll be doing. Maybe do something more in NHS? The academy would rather see a lot of involvement in a few activities (and not just showing up for a monthly meeting) than skipping around from activity to activity and not contributing much.

    Sports--Its too bad you didn't continue with some of your HS sports--continuity, teamwork, growth in a sport, becoming a team captain are all things that are looked at. Did you kayak more than just the week long trips you took in the summer? If you could find a crew team, that may be helpful--at least you're extending the sport you've already been involved in. Also, for the CFA, you can't practice each part of the workout individually and expect to get the same results when you do it one event after the other, timed very specifically. By the time you get to the mile run in the CFA, you are feeling tired so you won't get your normal mile time. Start practicing it now the way you will have to do it when it counts, and definitely work on the basketball throw as its one of the more difficult parts to master. It takes a lot of work on the technique for many people.

    Your family's lack of military service won't hurt you so don't worry about that. Also, getting a pilot's license doesn't make you a shoe-in. Its just one more activity. It is time consuming and expensive, and if it will take away from your studies/other activities you're already involved in, then those parts could suffer. My son doesn't have a minute of flying time and will head off to be part of the Class of 2015 in a few weeks. Even when cadets finish their 4 yrs. at the Academy and head to pilot training, many many many of them don't have their pilots license.

    Definitely apply for every nomination you can get. Having more than one gives you more slates to be considered on as the Academy is choosing the class for 2016. You can do a search on these forums (there is a Nominations category) and find lots of explanations about the process.

    Don't assume that you're medically qualified--the process you will go through and the questionnaire you will have to complete is involved and they ask about things back until the day you were born--allergies, broken bones, surgeries, skin conditions, mental health, etc. Its very thorough, and all the more reason to start the process now by completing the Precandidate questionnaire. You can't take the physical until they deem you a potential candidate, and the review process can take a while if they have any question about something in your medical history. My son had to document a partially dislocated shoulder, treatment, and prove that he was able to withstand the physical requirements--took over 3 months to be cleared. And definitely don't do anything surgically to your eyes. There is a forum specifically about medical issues (DoDMERB) so you could search through it also.

    Lastly, you won't be a candidate if you don't apply, so begin that process now. I don't think you'll be a candidate for prep school because your SAT scores/GPA are too high--prep school is for those candidates that need a little more time working on academics to prepare them for the rigors of the Academy.

    Good luck!
  5. matt123456

    matt123456 5-Year Member

    Jan 4, 2011
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    I can ALWAYS tell when someone is over confident. Whenever someone puts more than the tenths place on their GPA. EX. 2.5896
  6. urbonman6

    urbonman6 5-Year Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    The only guarantee is: If you don't apply, you won't get in.
  7. Christcorp

    Christcorp 5-Year Member

    May 21, 2008
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    urbon is so correct. Hate to tell you, but with very few exceptions, there is no magical application score that guarantees you an appointment. I, as well as others, have seen 4.0gpa and 2100 SAT applicants NOT receive an appointment. We've also seen 3.7gpa and 1800 SAT applicants RECEIVE an appointment. Except for some applicants, there are basically 2 people you have to compete with. a) The other applicants in your district and state; b) The national pool of individuals who didn't receive an appointment from the "a)" category I just mentioned.

    The only candidates that seem to make it EVERY YEAR, are those that are obviously the best in all categories. This is usually around, or less, than 10% of the applicants. This is the #1 ranked student in their class; ALL AP or IB classes; 4.0 gpa unweighted; 2-3 varsity sports; captain of one of those sports; class officer; did boy/girl state; member and leader of a couple clubs; 100+ volunteer hours; nails the CFA; etc.... And while this applicant also isn't guaranteed, very few have been turned down if they are medically qualified. And there are quite a few of them that have been on this forum, currently and in the past. These are the ones who get some of the LOA's or early appointments if they already have a nomination early like a presidential, ROTC, etc...

    But that's only about 10%. Everyone else, no matter how good or bad a person thinks their application seems, it only matters when COMPARED TO THEIR COMPETITION!!! And that is something no one here can ever tell you about.

    As someone who's been through the process a few times, "Not for myself", and who has an understanding of how the system works, I can give you certain advice.

    1. As urbon said; unless you apply, you can't receive an appointment. So no matter what; if you really have a passion for the academies, you need to apply. Don't worry what you think your chances are. Now; if you only want the academy as a means of a free education that simply requires a few years of military service as payback, then only you can decide if it will be worth your time to apply. Applying to the academy is not something you can do in a weekend. The fastest I've seen it done by a couple of individuals, has been in the 30-45 days area. And that's if you've prepared well ahead of time and are committed.

    2. Whether you apply to the academy or not, you need to apply to at least 4-5 colleges/universities. And I'm talking about early admissions in September/October. If you think you're good enough generally to get into a military academy, then you're good enough to get into the biggest and best schools in the country. Apply to them!!!

    3. Do NOT worry about finances when applying to these other colleges/universities. Too many people have been told in college forums and by their parents/family/friends, to apply to one MAIN school, and then have a backup school lined up. That's old school thinking. Today's colleges/universities are just like the academies. They want diversity and they want well rounded students. If you get accepted to a college/university; including names like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Stanford, etc... there are plenty of ways to get the money to these schools. You DON'T think finances first and then apply. You apply and get accepted first, THEN you deal with the money.

    4. Become as diverse and well rounded as you can. Diversity is NOT just being a minority or female. Being from Virginia and going to Georgetown University isn't really diverse; but being from South Dakota and going to Georgetown University is very diverse. Make your self stand out. Take the hardest classes you can succeed in; get involved in as many activities that you ENJOY, and excel in them. Especially in leadership positions. Brag about yourself in the application. BUT DON'T LIE!!! Mention that you work part time to help support your mom and brothers/sisters if this is true. Mention that you're the first person in your family to ever TRY AND ATTEND College if this is true. This applies for the military academies as well as civilian colleges and universities.

    It doesn't matter to me or the academy selection board if the academy is something you've dreamed about your entire life. This year, there were about 12,700 applications to the air force academy. 1125 roughly were given appointments. That's LESS THAN 10%. What makes YOU SO DIFFERENT??? We have a military, made up predominantly of enlisted forces, that are SO DIVERSE, that you couldn't list them all. First generation, first to graduate high school, worked 2-3 part time jobs during high school, single parent, no parents (orphans), from the farmlands, inner cities, black, white, female, male, hispanic, asian, Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, Vermont, etc... If you can name something unique or special about a person, the enlisted force of the military HAS THAT INDIVIDUAL!!! We want an officer corp that is just as diverse. Why??? EMPATHY!!! If you don't understand or can't appreciate where a subordinate is coming from, how can you most efficiently lead them? Not saying holding their hands and giving them the mommy/daddy touch. But the truth is that no one does anything that is 100% selfless. Deep down inside, what we do, somehow benefits ourselves. So the best way to lead, is to understand better those that you are leading. So having a 4400 diverse cadet corp at the academy, allows the individual cadet to BECOME more diverse in their experiences. Thus, making them a better leader among the diverse enlisted corp that they will be leading.

    So; whether it's the academy or a civilian college/university, or even a job application.... Not only do you need to describe your accomplishments and accolades as far as your grades, tests, etc... go, but you need to be as diverse as possible and make that known. Various clubs, volunteering, what makes you different from your competition, have you taken the hardest challenges available to you, have you overcome adversity, etc...?

    Anyway; these are my suggestions. Take them or leave them. But as I urbon and many others have mentioned, you can't get an appointment if you don't apply. And no matter how good or bad your application appears, as long as it meets the minimum standards, you have a chance. How good of a chance? No idea. Why? Because I don't know who your COMPETITION IS!!! Best of luck to you. Mike....
  8. flyerdreamer

    flyerdreamer USAFA alumnus and parent 5-Year Member

    Mar 21, 2011
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    I second this.

    PRECISELY. Diversity isn't as much what you look like anymore as it is WHO you ARE. I've spoken at more than a few schools where kids weren't intending to apply because they thought they didn't "fit the mold." The US Military wants to break the mold. They want to open up the officer corps to all, to, like CCorps said, be able to relate to the most diverse enlisted corps to date.

    I can't (re)emphasize this enough. :thumb::thumb::thumb:
  9. fencersmother

    fencersmother 5-Year Member Founding Member

    Oct 10, 2007
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    I would echo all the things said here and add my own tidbits:

    * Pay strict attention to details in the application process, especially to DATES.

    *Get some leadership experience ASAP. Volunteering is nice and all, but you haven't mentioned any real leadership, as far as I can see

    * Don't make any assumptions about your medical status, or how your scores are good or bad (including your athletic scores). THEY determine how you stack up - not you.

    *Get into the best shape possible.

    *What coursework are you taking at the comm col? Psychology isn't really going to be of much assistance, though their Honors Physics might hold you in good stead. (my kids graduated high school with 40+ local U credits) Take the toughest courses you can!
  10. Strike Eagle

    Strike Eagle USAFA Cadet 2015 5-Year Member

    Jan 13, 2011
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    Are you freakin' kidding me?

    Anyway, I don't think you'll get prep school with the college background and "low" GPA (and by low I mean high). Also, keep working through that CFA, never assume your scores will be good enough. It looks ok now, but strive to hit those maximums. Every point counts.

    It's good to apply to every nomination source that you can, also, it puts you on more slates that you can potentially receive an appointment from. Also, make sure you get started on the USAFA application early, which it seems like you are already doing. Your DoDMERB could take a long time if you happen to get a remedial, so you don't want to let that delay anything.

    Everyone else gave good advice, remember to send in those "optional but highly recommended" letters of recommendations and make sure you find good teachers to do your evaluations. You will also have an interview with your ALO, so knock that out of the park, along with your writing samples you will submit online. Get those reviewed by someone to make sure they are top notch. Remember, every point counts.

    You are definitely an appointable candidate, but competition will be fierce this year with the drop in appointments. Don't forget to use ROTC as a backup if you are truly dedicated to commission as an officer and serve this great nation.
    Last edited: May 29, 2011
  11. xeonv2

    xeonv2 USAFA '15 5-Year Member

    Dec 28, 2010
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    Hi Fleur,

    I'm currently in Seattle attending UW so good to see someone from the area. The posters above have essentially summed everything up! But if you ever need specific information just pm me and I would love to help you. By the way if you need AFROTC info let me know as well :thumb:

    Good luck and stay on course! :smile:

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