I am brand new to this forum, had a few questions about the AFA.

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by LHam, Mar 8, 2017.

  1. LHam

    LHam New Member

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    I am a sophomore 10th grade, and am currently homeschooling due to moving locations during the school year, the only acceptation is I take advanced carpentry at my local high school. There is nothing I want more than to be in the Air Force Academy, when I first heard about the Academy I was in 6th or 7th grade and I have been completely focused on the USAFA since that point. In my freshman year of high school I had a 4.0 GPA for the first semester and a 3.8 second semester, with my average grade being a 92-94%. But sadly I never received credit because I moved out of state a month before the school year was over and technically never finished my classes. (Sorry if I am rambling on). Anyway I was wondering with my circumstances, what can I do to increase my chances of getting in to the AFA or maybe even the USNA. I will do anything I have to get in, I am worried I don't have as high of a chance because my gap in education from when I moved out of state.

    Some information about myself, like extra curricular stuff etc. (What can I add to help myself?):
    -Both parents are USAF Veterans, my father serving 20 years
    -Born on Navy base in Japan
    -Lived a large portion of my life on base and around the world
    -Was in Civil Air Patrol for a bit, may join again.
    -Got a Varsity letter Freshman year (wrestling)
    -Above average physical shape, could definitely improve though
    -A student, occasional B's
    -Highly Proficient in science and engineering
    -Above average in Math
    -Would love to start learning Arabic but have not done much to make it happen, so currently just a thought
    -Good leadership qualities, was 1 out of 2 people in my grade during 8th grade to go to MLW (Maryland Leadership Workshop) for a reduced price, have since been working on my social skills and leadership.
    -Not great in English and Foreign Language, but am above average
    -Advanced Carpenter for my age, furniture, small construction type of stuff
    -About to join a new 4-H club a farmer on my road is starting
    -I am a small scale meat and egg farmer.
    -Terrified of heights believe it or not, but love to fly.
    -Will be training to get my Airframe and Power plant (A&P) certification for the next 3 years (starting junior year) at a tech school and will then become an official Aircraft Maintenance Technician by age 18, and have an associates degree worth in college credits.


    Now, with all that being said, what is really all that important, what should I add or maybe not focus on as much. I worry because even though I know I am skilled when it comes to engineering, math, science I have minimal evidence on paper to show them since I am a homeschooler. I am pretty good at tests so I will most likely do good on the SAT and ACT, but I'm not sure if it will be enough to make up for the fact I am a homeschooler and do not go to a traditional high school.

    My biggest request for advice is how should I prepare, what is most important and because I will be at a tech school until 2020, one year after I graduate from my senior year. How much will an A&P certification help me get into the USAFA, I would love to be an Aircraft Maintenance Officer or a Pilot. Also I know that getting in is difficult and competitive, but how competitive?

    This thread is very long and I would be ecstatic if someone gave me a serious response, I organized my questions to make them easier to answer, most important on top to least important.

    1. What can I do to dramatically increase my chances based on my experience
    2. Will getting a A&P certification increase my chances (this tech school is sponsored by NASA and Snap-On and has some high tech stuff)
    3. Does being a homeschooler with an educational gap (between end of freshman and beginning of sophomore) decrease my chances and make me look bad.
    4. When should I start making moves to get into the academy, or how to get noticed by them.

    Holy crap this post is big, I MASSIVLY thank you if you read the whole thing and decide to respond.

    (edited for some grammatical errors)
     
  2. Wishful

    Wishful "Land of the free, because of the brave..." 5-Year Member

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    First of all welcome! I am a parent so will defer to other posters to answer your questions. I will recommend that you use the search function of the forum as well as the USAFA website which will provide a lot of info. Also I recommend that you reach out to your ALO. Good luck!
     
  3. fencersmother

    fencersmother 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    Hello LHam,

    My twin homeschooled sons both were USAFA grads so I can speak to some of your issues.

    You should be making strides now to improve your curriculum, especially English and get that foreign language in! Get busy wrestling (did you quit?) as one letter as a 14 year old freshman isn't gonna count for much, if anything.

    So, you have your work cut out for you. If you (and your parents or whomever coordinates your homeschool program) would like to PM me after you have the correct number of posts, please do so.

    Homeschoolers have been very successful at USAFA, indeed at ALL US Service Academies, and make fine officers after graduation. Generally speaking, they are self-motivated, industrious, and flexible, in addition to smart and savvy.

    Your small farm is interesting, and if you are able to actually run it as a small business, you may have an opportunity there to make yourself stand out. But do not neglect academics to sell eggs.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  4. Wishful

    Wishful "Land of the free, because of the brave..." 5-Year Member

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    fencersmother likes this.
  5. LHam

    LHam New Member

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    That is awesome that both of them made it in. I completed one season of wrestling then moved out of state shortly after, have not begun wrestling again. If you don't mind me asking, what were some basic things your sons were doing their Junior and Senior year? I do make money off of selling meat and eggs, not much but I will be expanding this spring, shouldn't get in the way too much, although it is quite laborious in the summer.
     
  6. LHam

    LHam New Member

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  7. fencersmother

    fencersmother 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    LHam,

    Twins were enrolled in two local U's for those courses which are harder to teach at home (Physics, Chemistry), sixteen credits per semester with a full high school curriculum.
    They fenced 4 nights/week from 7-9:30ish pm and 9-noon on Saturdays, and had about one out-of-town tournament per month (since we live in a fencing backwater), which last all day, for both weekend days.
    Each had a part-time job every week, one at the local restaurant dishwasher, one teaching guitar and mandolin at local music emporium (and 10 hrs/week as cashier, and worked as receptionist at church 5 hrs/wk for 3 years). One of them also worked at the grocery store as cashier for 18 months. Washing dishes paid better and had better hours.
    Each walked (or ran) a 2 mile (approx.) paper route every single blessed morning for five years from 5:30-7:30 am, from their eleventh birthday, with about 30-45 customers each. They did it together and would challenge each other physically or mentally as they delivered.
    They led a full and active social life (clubs, parties, camp outs, an Eastern Euro song/dancing ensemble and had their own rock band "Metal in a Microwave" {not something on which to base one's career. :) }). They were not involved in scouts or boys state or AP/IB. Besides fencing, they started a soccer league in their junior year.
    As juniors, they both took the exam and were appointed national fencing referees, and were both nationally rated fencers, in multiple weapons.

    LHam, if you can really make a go of your small business, do so! Do it professionally, and keep all your records. Have a mission statement, and learn to operate it as a small business owner. This activity will show your potential for leadership (esp if you get employees (who aren't related)), and your ability to plan, activate, motivate, etc).

    and if you can't be on a school team, find, IMMEDIATELY, some sport in which you can engage. Don't just do it to do it - find one you love and really embrace it. Get back into CAP or find some other club asap (4H is good but you are going to have to do more than just show up). Basically, I am suggesting you do more than just "punch your ticket" at a club or sport. Find something you LOVE (tutoring, building this furniture, etc., ) and join or form a club; the same with a sport.

    No more whining about your circumstances ("we moved" or "I am interested in...."). Make the best of what you can, and I mean that.

    No excuses. Just get moving.
     
    seacadetmum, LHam, TrentL41 and 2 others like this.
  8. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator 10-Year Member

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    LHam....read Fencersmother's post...

    Then think about it...

    Then re-read it...

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  9. LHam

    LHam New Member

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    Thanks! I got in contact with my ALO yesterday morning, and have since asked a variety of questions.

    Definitely need to get out of my current mentality and make the best out of the situation I am in.

    I am expanding the small farm, I am going to work on a financial report, mission statement, etc. Also applying for a job down the road, and my neighbor is starting a new 4-H club at his sugaring plant I maybe able to grab an executive position. I have also saved up money for more power tools to build furniture, which can aid financially.

    Anyways thanks again, definitely the best advice I have gotten so far!
     
  10. raimius

    raimius 10-Year Member

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    You are going to need to find measurable ways to demonstrate your abilities.

    Academics are the biggest factor in admissions. Doing very well on your ACT/SAT is critical. College or other graded/certified education classes would also help. Founding or managing a business is a good thing, as it shows leadership and commitment.

    Organized sports also helps.
     
  11. Starchaser21

    Starchaser21 Member

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    Hello LHam,

    First of all, I think it’s awesome that you have been interested in USAFA for so long – not many people know since 6th grade where they want to go to college!

    I can definitely appreciate the complexities of being a homeschooled student applying to USAFA, as I have been homeschooled since first grade. It can be more difficult to get transcripts etc. just the way the academy wants them. But being homeschooled is not by any means a disadvantage in pursuing an appointment to USAFA.

    When I looked at your list of “credentials”, I was surprised to see a lot of things that are a bit unrelated included in the list. Where you were born, “was in Civil Air Patrol, may join again”, “would love to start learning Arabic”, “during 8th grade…”, and…“Terrified of heights”? I understand that you included a lot of these just to give background information, and that’s fine. But realize that most of those won’t be helpful on your path to USAFA. For example, in the Academy applications, what you did before ninth grade is not even considered. In fact, I recall that most of the activity-reporting sections instructed that only activities in 10th grade or after should be recorded. It seems like you have a lot of things you “used to do” or “want to do”, and not a lot that you are doing.

    I’m not saying this to be harsh. But it is important that you realize that just being interested in or “above average” in a bunch of things is not enough.

    The good news is that you do have time. I did not become interested in USAFA until just before the start of my junior year of HS, and I pretty much scrambled to get a plan together as to how I could take my small boring resume and turn it into something good. And it did work, although I’d have felt more confident about the application if I had started earlier.

    Right now you’re in a good position to start preparing yourself for an Academy, and it’s great that you’ve reached out for advice. Here is what I would suggest.

    Step one: Make a plan. Arrange all your activities/credentials etc. into three “tiers” based on their importance to USAFA, and prioritize accordingly.

    Tier 1: Obviously, this is the “can’t-do-without” category. The only thing in this tier is academics, which are alone 50-60% of your Academy application, according to the USAFA admissions page. Spend as much time as you have to in order to make your academic record stellar.

    I’m not sure how to address the tech school thing…if the question is “can I still apply to USAFA a year after I’m done HS?”, then yes. You can apply any time between ages 17-23. Here is my advice on what to do with school – since I don’t know much about this tech school, I’ll tell you what I do know about academics.

    Take dual enrollment classes. Especially if you are homeschooled, this is a major plus. It shows that you can not only perform above a HS level, but you can also do well in a formal classroom environment.

    Take the SAT/ACT early, and take them often. Do not assume that you will do well based on your performance on other tests; standardized tests are very different from “normal” tests.

    If at all possible, START TAKING ARABIC. I started studying Arabic in 11th grade, and I’m in College Arabic 4 (via dual enrollment) currently. So I can relate to you there. :) Hard critical languages (Arabic, Chinese, and Russian) are highly valued by the military, and it is a MAJOR plus to have a background in one of these when you apply to a service academy.

    It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of academics in an Academy application. Having said that, don’t get discouraged if you have a few B’s. It is perfectly possible to get a couple of B’s and still have a great academic record.

    Tier 2: Major extracurricular activities which demonstrate a high level of leadership, responsibility, and commitment. For me, Tier 2 was getting my black belt in Taekwondo, tutoring math, my Moral Leadership Officer position in Civil Air Patrol, my job, and two scholarships I got to study Arabic. If you still wrestle, maybe that would be included for you.

    Tier 3: Anything and everything else. Such as: other volunteer work, smaller leadership positions, recreational sports, etc.

    Obviously, all the tiers are important. You won’t get in on just your Tier 1 credentials, any more than you would on just Tier 2. USAFA wants the “whole person.” But, the Tier system (created by my wise parents in order to help me focus on the important stuff :)) is designed to be a constant reminder of where your priorities are. If you have to make a priority decision, Tier 1 comes before Tier 2 comes before Tier 3.

    Figure out what activities you’re going to start in each tier. Then go start them!

    Here’s some recommendations if you want specific activity ideas. Most of these are based on my personal experience, so there’s obviously a LOT more than this.

    - Martial arts
    - Volunteering/working as a tutor
    - Civil Air Patrol
    - Toastmasters Speech Club (You have to be 18 to officially join, but you can attend and participate as a minor. This will also help you prepare for interviews.)
    - Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity
    - 4-H club involvement
    - Any kind of employment


    Step 2: Stay in contact with your ALO.

    Do not hesitate to reach out to him/her if you have questions, but find a way to update him/her or stay in touch on a pretty regular basis. The ALO is your contact point with USAFA - show him/her how dedicated you are. Repeatedly.

    Step 3: Stick to your plan.

    By now you may be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, Starchaser, I know the drill.” But believe it or not, Step 3 is the hardest step by far. You will run into dozens of distractions. Your motives for applying to an Academy may be questioned by well-meaning friends or even family. You may be told “You know, it’s really hard to get into USAFA…” or “You’ll definitely get in!” Pay no attention to either. Work hard and keep your eyes fixed on the goal.

    Step 4: Apply!

    Start early! I recommend applying to Summer Seminar, if only to get your preliminary application submitted. Don’t worry if you don’t get in. I didn’t.

    Starting no later than spring of your junior year, make a timeline of ALL the deadlines that you have. Start working on those nomination applications! Apply for all of the nominations you’re eligible for. Try to submit your applications early.

    Basically, jump through all the hoops you’re asked to jump through, and plan farther ahead than you think you need to. You’ll be glad you did.

    Step 5: Send updates…then wait, hope, and pray!


    If you read through this, I’m very impressed. ;) I know this post probably sounds a bit overwhelming, but all of this is what helped me get an appointment to USAFA. It is possible, and you can do it!

    If you have any questions/want any more advice/want to talk about the Academies/want to talk about Arabic!/etc., please PM me. You seem really enthusiastic about USAFA, and I would be thrilled to help you in any way I can.

    Starchaser21
     
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  12. LHam

    LHam New Member

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    Thank you for the advice! I am actively working on a lot of the things you provided information about, certainly by no means am I on track, but I'm getting there quickly!

    I did put some unrelated stuff like were I was born and lived etc. I though that maybe be a positive to getting into the USAFA because I was in a Military environment from day 1.

    Haha, yeah I do say "would love to..." "probably should..." "I think I might..." "Above average...", too much , and I have realized that just acknowledging I might do something that may benefit me, doesn't do any good unless I am actively participating in what I need to do.

    I have been sending messages back and fourth with my ALO, also been getting very resourceful information from this forum (obviously).

    I have at least doubled my knowledge on the USAFA within the last week, I am very grateful. Very encouraging experience thus far.

    Thanks, LHam
     
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  13. brovol

    brovol Member

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    OP, Fencersmother is probably a specialist for your situation, and seems always eager to help. I would PM her and give her details along the way as you pursue this.
     
  14. brovol

    brovol Member

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    In our school district homeschoolers can play on the HS sports teams if they take even just one class. It can even be a gym class. You may want to consider that, as team sports, and varsity sports in particular, are helpful in terms of getting admitted. ACT/SAT scores are huge, and I think even more important for a homeschooler, as you wont have a class standing, so they will use your ACT/SAT to estimate one. Work hard on that, and take the test as many times as possible.