Home-schoolers and Class Rank

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Billberna, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Billberna

    Billberna Member

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    I have read often how significant the class rank is in considering a candidate - how it calculates into the GPA and how the ranking of the high school is a factor as well.

    So how are these factors applied to home-schooler candidates, where they are #1 in a class size of 1, and there may not be a database ranking their high school?
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp 5-Year Member

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    They aren't/

    But for those who want more detail...... everything is based off of averages and algorithms. If you had 10 tests and scored 95 on each; and I had 5 tests and scored 95 on each, we can still get a fair and equal average for both. Same with home schooled applicants. Class rank isn't the only thing that doesn't apply. IB Classes, AP Classes, Honors classes aren't available. Yet, the home schooled applicant isn't penalized for not taking those.

    Also; even for those that do attend traditional schools; NOT ALL SCHOOLS have class rank. Many don't.

    Just like anything else in the application process. Do the BEST with what's AVAILABLE to you, and you'll do fine. If classes, activities, sports, volunteer time, etc. are available to you, and you DON'T take advantage of them.... THEN THAT WILL hurt your application. But even home schooled kids have access to most everything traditional high school students have. Class rank, AP, IB might be some things, but the home schooled kid is still able to participate in sports, (Even in the public high school), then can get involved in clubs and numerous extra curricular activities. Just do the best you can with what you have to work with.
     
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  3. fencersmother

    fencersmother 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    Clearly, no one would expect a homeschooled candidate to have a "class rank." Likewise, if the candidate attended a school that didn't have sports, no one would expect him to "letter" on a school's football team.

    As a homeschooler: did you pursue options available to you that may not be available to a brick-n-mortal student such as college courses at the local U? Community involvement (working for a candidate, helping old ladies with their groceries, starting a business)? More adult focused activities than your average 16 year old can handle? (^ that business, working longer hours, starting a community fencing program, teaching English to immigrants at the local adult day care center, starting a band, photographing weddings, breeding hogs... the possibilities are endless). One of the keys will be proper documentation (it's a MUST and don't fudge it, easy to check, and no one likes a padded resume). Also, it is good if that documentation can come from someone other than Mother or Father.
     
  4. Billberna

    Billberna Member

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    My area of curiosity, and the main reason for my post, was mainly trying to understand the numerical algorithm they use for home-schoolers that effectively eliminates from the calculation a quantity that seems to be very important for non-home-schoolers. I just wonder how they compare a home-schooler against the others academically. How do those numbers crunch out?

    Not too worried about the rest - he has two AP courses under his belt (with 5s on exam), is taking 4 more AP courses now;
    has 9 transcripted college credits so far (with a 4.0), will have 9 more by graduation day;
    1480 SAT and 34 ACT.
    3 (going on 4) years varsity tennis for a local private school (co-captain last year);
    community service (teaching music at a local elementary school + church + leading at various music camps);
    Civil Air Patrol (squadron commander and several other awards/academies/encampment positions - working towards Spaatz);
    Boys State delegate;
    Assistant Concertmaster of local youth orchestra - 1 years, Concertmaster 2 years (including now); frequent concerto soloist in concerts;
    state violin solo and concerto winner;
    CFA good, but not great (below avg in two events)

    Oops - almost forgot to add - this year he has a part-time job grading English compositions for middle school/early high schoolers. He was picked by one of his online English teachers to do this job to help her with her extensive workload.

    Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017 at 10:14 AM
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  5. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    1st, allow me to pay you a complement for doing such a great job educating your son. :)

    To your question. Without a class rank, other objective scores will become more important. So being in the top 1% on a standardized test obviously helps. If he interviews well and is medically qualified, I suspect he will be very competitive. IMHO, getting 5's on the AP exams and A's in college courses is the perfect academic litmus test for admissions. They scrub the numbers in an attempt to figure if they can do well as the Academy/college coursework. He will obviously do well academically if he applies himself. IMHO, he should be turning his attention to getting his CFA's scores up. Also, I've met dozens of cadets over our 4 years. There is a constant theme that I notice and nearly 100% of them have polished communication skills. So when I hear of stellar resumes getting passed up, I assume they may have lacked interviewing skills.

    All the best!
     
  6. madhttr

    madhttr AROTC Dad

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    Congratulations on a job well-done and good luck from a fellow homeschooling parent. We have twins so we had a valedictorian and a salutatorian. Or one that was at the top of her class and one at the bottom :)

    It may be too late in your case as it was in ours, but for any other homeschoolers that may read this, homeschoolers can qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the PSAT. This is often encouraged or coordinated by schools, so it may be overlooked by homeschoolers. I'm not sure how it figures into academy admissions, but we missed out on some matching scholarship money that is automatically awarded by some colleges to National Merit Scholars.

    http://www.nationalmerit.org/s/1758/interior.aspx?sid=1758&gid=2&pgid=424
     
  7. jl123

    jl123 Member

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    I assume USAFA uses the same or similar methodology as USMA to calculate a class rank for those without a formal class rank.

    USMA calculates a class rank from SAT/ACT test scores. The 34 ACT score would give him a very high class rank.
     
  8. Billberna

    Billberna Member

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    Oops, forgot to mention - he is a National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalist. Need to modify my post - haha.
     
  9. Billberna

    Billberna Member

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    This is interesting, and exactly the sort of thing I was wondering about.
     
  10. Billberna

    Billberna Member

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    Thanks, Mn-Dad-2016, this is very encouraging to me. He is a practiced public speaker and interviewer, so that is in his favor. He submitted the CFA three weeks ago so nothing much he can do about that now. But I don't understand the meaning of one sentence you wrote above - You wrote: "They scrub the numbers in an attempt to figure if they can do well as the Academy/college coursework." Can you explain what you mean by that? Thank you.
     
  11. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    Disclaimer: I have no internal knowledge of USAFA's admissions process. But all colleges need a way to rack and stack college students. USAFA of course calculates a score and a students class rank is part of that algorithm. At the end of the day, admissions desire is to figure out how well the applicant would perform academically. Certainly, class rank helps predict that score. Our son was #1 out of 6xx HS students. That of course helped. But his ACT score was 32 (from memory) after taking it about 9 times. So our sons class rank gave admissions a pretty good idea of how he would do. And academically speaking, since your son is in the top 1% of all standardized test takers called an ACT, well, that along with A's in college courses and 5's on AP exams takes care of them wondering how me might do too. ;) Now, if he is in the middle of the pack (ACT wise), I might be a little more worried of not having a class rank. But even then, I'm not so sure it matters. The bottom line is a 34 will catch their eye. So will those 5's and A's college course work. So will the top performance with band, co-captain, etc etc. You get my point.

    So my "scubbing the numbers" phrase was only meant to say USAFA has their approach to rack and stack. IMHO, he is an outlier (a good thing). Later if he is admitted, those scores as well as initial testing of subject matter at USAFA will generate a score called an “Academic Composite Score” (a score given by admissions predicting success). That number is used to pick the people invited into the Scholars program. Those who test out of a lot of classes on day 1 probably are going to do very well at USAFA. It's obvious that the ACS score is incredibly accurate. If he is accepted and if it is offered the Scholars program (about 50 per class), GO FOR IT! IMHO, that program is amazing!! It's why knowing what I know, I would pick USAFA over any single college in the world. The caliber of education and mentoring is 2nd to none. It's a crazy good education taught by (in my sons opinion) incredibly bright instructors. I digress....
     
  12. Billberna

    Billberna Member

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    Thanks for the explanation, MN-Dad, and congrats on your cadet making it into the Scholar's program. He (or she) must be an outlier among outliers! (I consider anybody who gets admitted to USAFA to be an outlier).
     
  13. vineyardm

    vineyardm 5-Year Member

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    I can't speak reliably to the USAFA 'algorithms'....but I can discuss USNA - and I would bet that they are similar.

    First - there is no real 'algorithm' where all the data gets inputted and out comes a number and they select the top numbers. They evaluate CANDIDATES - real people. There is probably a lot of 'fudge factors' that get applied. A candidate with high scores for GPA, SATs, etc. - might lose out an offer of appointment to a candidate with a lesser scores - if a review of the records show that the 2nd candidate took tougher courses, had more ECIs, had more sports, etc. They try to evaluate the 'whole person'. Extra 'points' might be assigned to someone who has very good record (but not a great record) - but that record was achieved while overcoming extremely tough and adverse situations. [ ]

    Home school candidates are very tough to accurately assess unless they were very pro-active to do things that would make it easy to compare their record with other candidates. (Remember - SAT scores are a small part of the 'whole person' evaluation. GPA - not a very reliable indicator because home school parents assign grades, many public schools have widely varying policies on awarding grades, etc.) HERE - I have some good background on this topic. One of my sons was home schooled - and was USNA Class of 2008 (and was in the top 10%). Also, I am a Blue and Gold Officer for USNA, and I have interviewed candidates that were home schooled....and I have seen great...and lousy candidates.

    My son took "Running Start" in his 11th and 12th grade years. So his last 2 years of high school was done at a Junior College, and his GPA there would be far more meaningful than any home-school transcripts. He was able to demonstrate the ability to take college courses at a college pace (while many of the AP courses taught in High School are college material spoon fed at a much slower pace...). By the time he submitted his application, he had completed tough courses that a normal 'plebe' takes in their first year, and he was taking Calculus based Physics (taken by 2nd year MIDS). He participated in sports (football) at the nearby high school. He had plenty of ECIs. (Even so, the Area Coordinator (AC) had to put in a 'good word' with the Admissions Office when he was applying for the Summer Session after 11th grade; the initial 'record' for that initial 'quick look' wasn't 'impressive' - but the AC had met and chatted with him several times at various candidate information events...and she was impressed with what she saw in him.)

    Some of the Home Schooled candidates I have met were used to working at their own pace, on their own areas of interest. (A 'un schooling' home schooler might be a bad candidate unless they have transitioned to fit within a high pace college level class.) If the home schooler doesn't have significant involvement in activities involving other people, leadership opportunities - there will be lingering questions as to whether or not the person will fit in and be a part of a team, will be willing to be a follower...and later a leader.

    For a 12th grade 'home schooler' ...it might be too late to do all the needed things to be competitive, but for an 11th grader or lower...now it the time to target doing the challenging things to improve the record. (AND - the biggest recommendation is to take Junior College classes.) For a senior...try to get into the local junior college for Winter Quarter or Spring Semester....and use the grades there when potentially re-applying for the following year (unless the person does succeed in getting an Appointment).
     
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  14. vineyardm

    vineyardm 5-Year Member

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    Looking at the specifics here...depending on which AP courses he has - looks fairly good! (The type/quality of AP and/or actual college courses at a junior college will be a big determiner of the value of those courses. Higher value for STEM AP/College courses, lower value for non-STEM.)

    His leadership stuff looks great...CAP is a good ECI, and it definitely has 'leadership' all over it (especially the Cadet Commander of Squadron, and doing encampments...); see if he can get that Spaatz - and if so - pass it to the Academy Admissions as an update on his application as soon as he gets it.
    Great SAT and ACT scores.
    He can re-take and re-submit the CFA test if he is not happy with them. (Hint...if he re-takes the CFA and has it submitted, it shows perseverance and a desire to improve!)

    Mike
    BGO, USNA

     
  15. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    What you mentioned is what any competitive college looks at. i.e. the "whole person". Or as some schools call it "holistic admissions" process.

    But USAFA does use an algorithm. In fact, they generate (their words https://www.academyadmissions.com/admissions/the-application-process/selection-criteria/ ) quantitative admissions factors which are reviewed by the panel to obtain a Weighted Composite Score. The WCS is calculated from an applicants Academic Composite and Extracurricular Composite score. So like any school, they need an objective metric to rack and stack (sort) and then stare and the whole person. So there is a number that is generated for each candidate. That can only happen by using an algorithm. But people don't need to worry that they missed a "point" because it is also subjective. As you say, they look at the whole person in conjunction with an objective score.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017 at 9:04 PM
  16. bookreader

    bookreader Member

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    I will say that my daughter was good friends with a cadet at CGA who was homeschooled and he commented that there were many cadets who were homeschooled at CGA. So they clearly are comfortable with evaluating homeschooled students.

    My son who was homeschooled, is currently a cadet at USMA. He did much of what @vineyardm suggested - took many classes at our local community college and also had a well documented recorded of his high school activities and achievements.
     
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  17. lotsofbooks

    lotsofbooks 5-Year Member

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    Wow , nice walk down memory lane for me! Both my girls were pretty much HS'd, they both took a few classes at our local HS, they both competed on the sports teams which was really fun for them. Both of them told me later they never really took deadlines seriously until they attended school with others. They attended local homeschool classes with homework and both did well (and they did their homework) so I was surprised to hear that they still needed work with deadlines after all that. D-1 absolutely loved the AFA, loved to be on teams, is very social , she loves the AF, and is hoping to return to USAFA some day as a 'counselor' who lives in the squadron (not sure what the actual title is). At the first phone call home during the first summer she said this was the best summer camp she had ever attended, she was always a super active kid -- .. She found her people and her life . She loved the regionalism of the other cadets, coming from all parts of the country with different accents. She is 31 years and she gets mostly perfect on the fitness scores still. She was trying to make some of the air force sports teams like the marathon team or maybe triathlon team but I discouraged her from running so much mileage continually at such a young age. On my mom's side we all love to run and we don't really have any injuries but I feel one shouldn't push their luck so you can continue to do it all your life. She gets up early and runs her dog before work. She always had great observation skills and attention to detail, she inspects different bases, and I sort of feel sorry for them, not much gets by her sharp eyes! She has lost some absolutely dear AFA friends from crashes or IED's. (maybe 10 since graduation?) and I feel really bad for her. She said that is the worst for her... Other than that she loves her work , loves her uniform, and is hoping to stay in as long as possible. (you never know of course) She is a language specialist (not her main career field) and she takes online classes to keep up her language. She told me that she has an easy time with the online classes (she finished her Masters online) as she learned how to learn independently as a homeschooler. I had used Craigslist to find tutors, and so now she usually looks for a local language tutor whenever she changes bases . Both girls attribute their very wide variety of interests and love of education to their homeschooled background.

    D-2 looked up to her sister, and was super interested in following in the same footsteps. She wasn't quite as athletic but she is fairly smart and hard working so I thought it might be OK for her if she was interested. ie, She only missed 2 questions on the SAT I think . She loved Sea Cadets and moved up the ranks quickly to the top. The adults told me she could quell 50 boys with one look....!When she was phone interviewed for summer seminar the interviewer was pretty mean to her, and told her she was just trying to be like her sister . (I didn't hear the details but he made her cry so guess he wasn't very nice to her) So that was that, and that ended her interest. It was for the best... She did Running Start and was a senior in standing by age 18 (and on the dean's list) . She is 23 and just got 3 degrees, (2 BS's- CS, Physics) and one BA Math and has just two quarters to finish up her MS in CS along with working. . She was on the college boxing team much to our horror. Her summer internships in her field pay shockingly well just for student jobs. She works with the Cloud and she loves it. She loves her work each day .. Some of the companies allow dogs at work, and she loves that.. . I asked her if she had any regrets not going into the military and she said the work wouldn't be right for her as she really loves what she does. She did say that her eclectic background made her very rounded and happy, compared to her other co workers in tech, she said many of them are very socially awkward ... It sounds like the majority of them have a hard time even carrying on a conversation. Both girls are happy, and both of them have thanked me many times for all the time I invested in them doing the homeschooling and told me that it gave them more time to develop more interests which both continue to this day... Thanks for letting me reminisce..
    the homeschool is long over (yay!) but the development gave them just so much..... in different ways...
     
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  18. fencersmother

    fencersmother 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    Ahhh, it's ten years out for us now, and I still have shelves of homeschool materials just waiting for the grandkids (oldest just 3) to come over here and start Saxon Math.

    I never worried about the algo's or any other rubrics USAFA used to evaluate my kids. Their SATs were great, had tons of good athletic experience, both had 20 hr per week jobs, lots of leadership stuff. If you're homeschool program was like ours (10 credits/semester at age 16 at local U, plus full-time high school at home), your kids will have no trouble academically.
     
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