How can I improve my chances?


New Member
Sep 28, 2021
Hello everyone! I am currently a sophomore in high school and I was wondering if anyone had insight on how I can improve. I did not have a good freshman year at all, barely passed (COVID hit me like a truck), so I'm trying to rebuild.

Academically, I maintain a 3.8-3.9 GPA, I take three honors courses (ELA 2 H, Algebra 2/Trig H, Chem H) and no AP courses although I'm hoping to change that very soon. I've enrolled in my local city college pursuing a certificate of achievement in cyber security as a way to compensate for my lack of AP courses while also fulfilling the computer studies requirement (that counts right-?). I'm doing pretty strong in Mathematics, Science, and English although I'm not the best of the best. I just transferred schools mid-semester so I'm working on joining the track team and sticking with it, even though it's not a team sport I just really really want to run track.

Character-wise, I volunteer at the Battleship Iowa once a month (I would love to do more but I live a bit far :/), at my local airport (stand in the terminal, point to the gate), and in my community (we do cleanups for elderly folks). At school, I joined the stage crew club and key club. I'm also really active in Civil Air Patrol, I just completed one year as Bravo Flight Sergeant, 6 months as First Sergeant, and now moving as Alpha Flight Commander hopefully Cadet Commander following. I try to be as consistent as I can with everything as I personally value consistency over doing a little of everything.

I see a lot of other applicants doing so much more than me and better, so I suppose I feel like I can be doing better... I suppose it's an insecurity of mine. Anyways, am I on the right track? If I can do better, please let me know I'd love to hear any response! Best of luck!

Show improvement is the key. Your freshman year won’t matter if you show you’ve learned how to improve and overcome.

Looks like you’ve got a little leadership, I’d maybe focus on getting more of that in different areas. It will give you opportunities and experiences you can leverage as an applicant in the future.

Don’t forget the fitness side of things. Never too early to start on that as well. Good luck.
Quality over quantity. Some kids can do more because their time allows it. I personally had JROTC- leadership position, stellar explorers and doing community service.
XC and Track Captain
Spanish Club Captain
Jiu jitsu ( only 3 days a week at night)
AP physics
+5 other classes.
That was my senior year. It's alot right? Sure but it took me 3 years to get to that level of time management.

Had another guy who did all this work all four years. Yep great time management there. He got into USNA. But if I were to do that, yea no. I 💯% wouldn't have done as well in school or XC or JROTC.

So why did usafa take a chance on me even though I didn't have as much for most of my highschool career? Quality> quantity. Simple. Find a few things and put your love and time into them. Once you have that schedule it's good to expand a bit and try new things.

If you can add more things to your schedule and you enjoy them ( not just for college). Try to do it. Maybe you learn you can't handle more when you try. It's ok, part of learning time management.

Oh and don't worry about others. USAFA is going to pick who they pick. You can't make someone else application worse only yours better. Control what you can, scream quickly about what you can't for like 5 min then move on. Good luck you got this
One addition for you is to prepare for the SAT or ACT. Ideally you will take the first one sometime next fall. You may want to try both as some students find one 'easier' than the other. Kahn Academy has a very good tool to help you prepare. Feel free to reach out to me directly if you have other questions in this area. Good luck with your preparation!
Excellent, really great advice from all above posters. +1000 to SAT/ACT, showing leadership, and girls/boys state, and love reading FlyFalcon's experiences and journey so far!

Joining/participating in varied activities as a freshman/sophomore are good things. You are taking the opportunity to try different things, be interested, be interesting, and then later inspire interest for others. It's a good thing to follow/participate in order to set the foundation for which ones you target and fully engage/lead, and which ones fall off or are single line items. Even with individual sports, you can lead team efforts. My older DD was also on her feeder high school swim team, and was so engaged, she was indexed for that high school. Not just captioned, but accidentally INDEXED in their yearbook!

Quantity shows ability to lots of different things and that you have interest in lots of things.
Quality shows leadership, full engagement, substantial achievement, and that you are an interesting person.