How Competitive Am I?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by hdl160, Apr 16, 2017.

  1. hdl160

    hdl160 Member

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    I am a sophomore in high school and I am definitely going to apply to USAFA, USNA, USCGA, and USMA. I'm still not sure about USMMA.
    I am a varsity swimmer and will probably be a captain my senior year. I haven't taken the ACT/SAT yet, but I will this summer. As far as extracurriculars go, I teach swim lessons (I don't know if that's something you put on your application or not), I'm in key club, a church club (which I will have a leadership position in next year), and I'm in the process of starting a club.
    My GPA is a weighted 3.91 on a 4.0 scale, but my class rank is 78/197. Would you say that my high school is more competitive for GPA's? Do the academies take that into consideration? What ACT score should I shoot for to compensate for my mediocre class rank?
    I feel like right now the only thing I have going for me is my level of interest, which is VERY high. What can I do to make myself more competitive?
     
  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    When the time comes... apply for the corresponding ROTC programs as well, where there is one.
    Do something with your leadership positions and be able to talk about what you accomplished. Having a position but not doing anything with it is not leadership... it's marking time. Work hard on your physical fitness. Study what jobs are available for officers in each of the services so you can determine if you really want to apply to them all.... it's more that 4 years of college... it's at least 4 years active, and 4 reserves. Additional years for some positions like pilots. Get good grades and keep taking the ACT/SAT until you can no longer raise your score. Good luck.
     
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  3. Marco91199

    Marco91199 Member

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    Join a Civil Air Patrol Program. This will help you get into the Air Force Academy in particular, but it helps for any college and especially service academies. It's really fun and once you become an officer in this program, you will be super competitive. A friend of mine applied for the USAFA as a cadet 2ndLt and got in in the USAFA in march. Look into it at http://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/cap_home/youth/ TRUST ME, it will be your biggest strongpoint if you apply yourself.
     
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  4. Starchaser21

    Starchaser21 Member

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    I’m glad that you’re interested in improving your chances at getting accepted! At this point it’s a bit early to guess at your chances of getting into USAFA. Two years of preparation is a long time…I was not even interested in the service academies in my sophomore year of high school and did not start preparing until my junior year. So on the plus side, you have time to do a lot of things.

    About class rank – yes, the academies take into account how competitive your high school is. Having said that, work on your GPA. Take Honors/AP/IB courses, and plenty of them. If you can, take dual enrollment courses at a local college. Academics are 50-60% of getting accepted to an Academy (according to USAFA’s website), so definitely push yourself academically.

    On the same note, take the SAT/ACT as soon as possible. I recommend taking both – a lot of people naturally do better on one or the other. Then take them both again. Repeat as necessary. :) And what score should you be aiming for on the ACT? 36. This is not to say you need a perfect score to get into an Academy (you can look up average scores of appointees on the websites of each Academy), but rather that you should always strive for the best possible score. Unless you actually get a 36 (on all sections), I suggest that you take the ACT as many times as it is offered in your area. Most of the Academies super score (accept the highest score on each section, even if they’re from different tests), so it is to your advantage to take the test multiple times.

    Other ways to stand out academically:

    - Take a foreign language, and not just your standard 2 years of HS Spanish. If you’re into Spanish and enjoy it, great. Keep taking it. If not, I recommend taking one of the critical languages (Arabic, Chinese, and Russian). These are highly sought after by the military.

    - Do as much math as possible. Seriously, if you can get well into Calculus by the end of your senior year, that will position you well for the transition to USAFA’s (or any other Academy’s) math- and engineering-intensive program. Just make sure you’re getting A’s or high B’s…An A/B on Pre-calculus is better than a C/D in Calc 1.

    - Take computer programming, IT, or something similar. In my opinion, this is quite a bit less important than the previous two suggestions, but computer science is a great addition to any transcript if you are able to take it.

    - Dual Enrollment. I cannot stress this enough. Not only will DE challenge you academically and do wonders for your GPA (if you do well in your courses), but it will show USAFA that you are able to perform at the college level as a high school student. MAJOR plus.


    As for other things that will help you prepare…

    Marco91199 mentioned CAP – I definitely agree on that. Try to work into a leadership position in your squadron. Civil Air Patrol is all about showcasing leadership, which is (besides academics) probably the most important thing on an Academy application. Other great activities for showing/developing leadership include:

    - 4-H program
    - Toastmasters International (Speech/Debate club)
    - Tutoring
    - Community volunteer service (LOTS of it, for a variety of different organizations)
    - Captaining a sports team (like you mentioned)
    - Teaching anything (DEFINITELY put teaching swimming on your application!!! That is a fantastic and unique leadership credential!)
    - Student government
    - Junior ROTC
    - Starting a business/nonprofit organization/club (Also like you mentioned)
    - Anything else where you are responsible for getting things done/are in charge of other people

    Also, get a job. (If you don't already have one.) I highly recommend this! Individuals who are able to hold down a job while balancing school, athletics, and extracurriculars are the kind of people USAFA is looking for.

    It sounds like you are already involved in a few leadership things. Keep it up, and take on more responsibilities whenever possible! You can ALWAYS improve as a leader. However, don’t do stuff you hate just because it “looks good.” Find the things that you enjoy (for the most part) AND that help you become a better leader.

    As far as athletics go, it sounds like you’re doing pretty well. Stay in shape, train hard, don’t get hurt, etc. Train for the CFA – it’s like the SAT, weird at first but not terribly difficult.

    Other miscellaneous advice:

    - Be calm, confident, and humble. Don’t doubt your abilities, but always remember that there are thousands of other future USAFA/USNA/USCGA/USMA applicants out there, many of whom have better grades, SAT/ACT scores, and leadership/athletic credentials than you. An arrogant attitude will definitely show through in your ALO/BGO/Congressional interviews, so stay humble. At the same time, be proud of your achievements and don’t be afraid to showcase them.

    - Keep truckin’ away. It can be hard to keep plodding along at school and all of your activities week after week. Try to think of the long-term payoff of what you’re doing now – it WILL be worth the hard work. Don’t get discouraged if people tell you “You won’t make it” and don’t get overconfident if everyone says “Of course you'll get in!” Just keep working hard and ignore all unsolicited advice. :)

    - Apply early. Submit your preliminary applications for Summer Seminar programs, but don’t worry if you don’t get in. Start applying for nominations in the summer before your senior year, or even earlier. Plan out the application process and DO NOT leave anything until the last minute.

    - Last but not least, have a Plan B. And a Plan C. And maybe a Plan D. You will be asked about this in interviews, and besides, you don’t want to try to reapply to USAFA/USNA/etc. after taking a gap year from academics. So make sure you have all your ducks…or colleges…in a row.

    I hope this helps a little. Stay positive and motivated! Feel free to PM me any time, I’m always happy to talk USAFA. :) Best of luck to you!
     
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  5. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    While I agree with the spirit of this remark and think it can provide valuable leadership experience, there is no one thing that will get you into an academy. They look at the whole person which says, in general, you better be pretty well rounded.
     
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  6. brovol

    brovol Member

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    32. Get a 32 or higher on you ACT, with math and English being at that number. Will it get you in? Not sure; but if you had a 32 ACT with everything else you have described , and I had to bet whether you got a spot into one of the academies, I would guess yes. I have no insight though, so there is that; but you asked for a score, and I didn't think anyone would give you one, so I took a stab.

    ....now I will guess the combined points for next years super bowl.
     
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  7. SAHopeful2021

    SAHopeful2021 Member

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    The academies take into account your class profile. When they see your rank, which is not the best, they will see that with your GPA, you come from a highly competitive graduating class. I wouldn't be too worried about that, but strive to push it towards the 4.0 as it is clearly within reach. I would recommend taking physics and calculus so you're prepared for core classes. Take those SATs ASAP!!! I made the mistake of waiting until the Fall of my junior year to start cracking down on it and it took me until the January test of this past year to reach my goal score. It will look better to have your score higher early on as it can help with scholarships and early admissions for civilian schools and nominations. Focus on getting leadership positions and what you can do to impact the people you're in charge of. It's a fan favorite to ask a question about that. Lastly, run. :)
     
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  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    I'm coming in late to this conversation, but I'm confused about something. If your weighted gpa is 3.91 out of 4.0, and your class rank is 79 of 197, then that tells me that 118 individuals have a gpa that is HIGHER than 3.9. That does NOT sound like a competitive school to me. Sounds like a school where getting an "A" is a very easy thing to do. MORE than half the class obviously has an "A". Am I missing something?
     
  9. brovol

    brovol Member

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    It's all relative. Either a lot of outstanding students, or easy peasy teachers. But the schools provide a profile to the academies, and they will look at what kids at the schools end up doing after graduation in terms of colleges, and SAT/ACT scores to determine competitiveness of that school. The Academy will gather a perspective.
     
  10. hdl160

    hdl160 Member

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    I am in the top 40% of my class. So for example, if you were 1/197 you would be valedictorian and if you were 197/197 you would be last. I don't know if that's how most schools do it but that's what my report card says.
     
  11. brovol

    brovol Member

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    Christcorp understands that. But there aren't many schools where you could have a 3.9 gpa and only be top 40%. Most schools you would be at least top 15%
     
  12. fencersmother

    fencersmother 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    I, too, wonder about that... 3.9/4.0 and you're in the middle 50 percentile? Hm. Not exactly even close to the bell-curve one might expect.