Just sharing

BuckeyeDad20

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
317
Hello, my DS hopes to attend either USNA or USAFA entering the class of 2024. Like most parents, I think my son should obviously receive an appointment and if the admissions office could spend some time with him, they would realize how awesome he is. However, that is not the process. In lieu of that, I search for affirmation from this forum and other information I can collect to help determine his chances. I admit, when I look, I am basically looking for anything that makes it seem more likely that he will get to make his dream come true.

I realize neither this forum, nor an ALO/Blue Gold Officer nor any other person can actually assuage my concerns. But what he and I both find helpful is hearing stories from men and women who have received appointments. Learning what activities they were involved with. What successes they had. GPA, test scores, etc. All of this info collectively helps provide some guidance to help manage expectations.

So, in the hopes of helping other parents and high school students, I am sharing details of my DS as he steps through this process. I am NOT asking folks to tell me his chances. I am not asking for anyone to make me feel better about his chances of getting in. I am purely stating the info so that others can use it as just one set of data. Then we will see if he gets in or not. Maybe it will ease someone’s mind. Maybe it will inspire others. Maybeit will show a deficiency. In any case, you will have some additional info to use how you wish.

Applicant Details:
Gender: Male
Race: White (non-Hispanic)
Height: 5’ 10
Weight: 178lbs
Family: My wife and I are both former USAF officers. My DS also has 3 uncles and 1 aunt that were USAF officers (two of which attended USAFA)

GPA: 4.0 unweighted (7 AP classes through Junior year, 6 AP classes scheduled for senior year)
Class Rank: 3/258
Desired Major: Aerospace Engineering

ACT:
March 2019: 32 composite
Scheduled for additional tests

Sports:
Football 1
Rugby 1, 2, 3
Track 3

Extracurriculars:
Mock Trial 1
Speech and Debate 1, 2, 3
NHS

Leadership:
Sophomore House Captain
Senior House Captain
Captain Speech and Debate 1, 2, 3, 4

Community Service:
Lots

Work:
Has worked part time during school year and full time summer since 8th grade

Other:
Pursuing his Private Pilot’s License, solo’d 2018, expects to complete Fall 2019

Attended Air Camp 2016
Attended USNA Summer Stem 2018
Attended USNA Summer Seminar 2019
Attended Buckeye Boys State 2019
Applied but not selected for USAFA Summer Seminar 2019

CFA results:
June 2019
BBall Throw: 75ft
Pull-ups: 10
Sit-ups: 60
Push Ups: 40
Shuttle Run: 9.18
Mile: 7:11

My thoughts:

DISCLAIMER:
I have no special knowledge or experience. My comments are purely based on what I have read online like many of you and my experience in the USAF (which is now 22 years old for whatever that is worth).

Academics:
Academically he is very strong. He has always been in Honors/AP classes.

He scored a 32 on his first ACT with zero prep. I expect he can boost/superscore it to 34 in the next two tests.

Athletics:
He is cursed with his parents DNA and is not very athletic nor tall. He played Varsity Rugby as a Junior so he probably just checks the box in this category as he is not a stand out talent nor does he play 3 varsity sports each year. But he has played a team sport at least every year and played two sports his Freshman and Junior years.

Extra-Curricular:
Speech & Debate is a big deal for him. He started the team and got a great teacher advisor. He has grown the team from 4 people his first year to an expected 20 to 25 this coming year.

Work:
Work is part-time during the school year and full time in the summer to fund his flight training. He is pursuing his PPL because he loves flying. I know the military trains its pilots and the PPL does not necessarily help him get in...however...USNA does ask if you have it (presumably for some reason). More importantly, it demonstrates a goal, commitment, and sacrifice. Most importantly, he is doing something he is passionate about. That being said, it is REALLY expensive, so do it because you love it, not because you think it gives you a leg up in this process. The benefits he gets from saying he has a PPL could be matched by someone else who is passionate about some other subject/project and also demonstrated similar traits so follow your passion.

Leadership:
Captain of Speech & Debate for all four years. Served as House Captain Sophomore year and again his Senior year (school divides student body into 6 Houses). Its a fairly big deal at his school. As a Senior he leads about 160 kids.

Overall:
I think he is competitive. Certainly there are aspects of his profile he would like to improve. He has been working out everyday over the summer and will be taking the CFA again soon to help improve that area. Overall, as I have been preaching to him, whether he gets in or not, he is making choices and putting in work that will benefit him wherever his future takes him and he has a bright future.
 

the number

Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2019
Messages
20
Looks like he is right where he needs to be. A couple more points on his ACT would be incredible. Time off his mile and a couple more pull-ups would be good also. Sounds like he will do well in the interviews with his debate and speech background.

I can say this with confidence. There have been kids that were less qualified that have gotten in. There have also been kids just as qualified that have not gotten in.
 

davejean90

5-Year Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
213
Your DS looks good, but one thing we can't really tell here is what the competition is like. You are never really competing against everybody, but instead a group that is formed based on where you live, your demographics, and other factors that we may not know. Your DS is a white male and assuming since you and your wife are former officers, you are probably from a reasonably affluent area. The most common applicant to the academies are white males from an affluent area, so you are competing in a large group that has access to resources in order to improve ACT/SAT test scores and good school systems. Because there are a lot of his kind to choose from, the standards are going to be higher than the academy averages. So he should definitely retake the ACT until he runs out of time or gets a 36. The biggest thing I see him standing out is the debate team. The academies will love the fact that he started a debate team from scratch that he is now the president/captain. In my opinion he needs to stress that anytime he can whether that be in essays or interviews. Have some bullet points prepared on what were that challenges he faced in starting the team and what he did to overcome them. This will hopefully set himself apart from a potentially crowded field.
 

Christcorp

10-Year Member
Joined
May 21, 2008
Messages
5,393
BuckeyeDad, I can't give you any information that can help you assess your child's chances. All I can do is explain why pretty much NO ONE will give you any type of information to assess chances. It's a simple matter of mathematics.

1. Of the approximately 10,000 initial applicants, about half of them are qualified to attend the academies. Unfortunately, that's not enough to assess chances.
2. At the very least, you MUST have a nomination. At the very most, there could be around 6,000 individuals with a nomination. 535 representatives and senators with 10 nominations each. And a number of Military and other nomination slots.
3. On a high year, only approximately 1,200 individuals WILL receive an appointment. But TWICE that many will be easily "Qualified".
4. Of those 535 representatives and senators with 10 nomination each; generally speaking, each one of those reps/senators are GUARANTEED at least 1 person on their nomination list to receive an appointment. That's because a) ALL states/citizens pay taxes, which pays for the academies, and as such each state should be equally represented. b) The academies believe (rightfully) in a diversified cadet corp. These cadets are going to be military leaders, leading enlisted personnel from EVERY STATE and Territory in the USA. The enlisted corp is TOTALLY diverse. The Officer corp NEEDS to have that same exposure and experience at the academy to make them BETTER officers and leaders. And one of the greatest diversification is WHERE in the country you're born and raised. Having individuals from ALL 50 states and territories is a GREAT START to PROPER diversification.
5. So, out of 1,200 appointments, 535 reps/senator + the other military, rotc, etc. nomination appointments will be given. That means that there will only be about 500 appointment out of the "General Pool". That's not very many left to compete with.
6. This means, that some of those who DON'T receive an appointment, COULD very possibly have a better score than someone who did receive an appointment based on the Federally Mandated 650 +/- appointments.
7. Now..... Here's the HARDEST PART....... Take ALL of the information that you provided for your child, and get us ALL of the SAME information, for ALL of the applicants. Until you can see ALL of the information for all applicants, you have no idea where you/your child stands. Maybe your child is EASILY the #1 slot on their representative's nomination list. The other 9 nominees have much lower GPA and other credentials. On the other hand. Maybe your child is in the AVERAGE of that representative's nomination list. BUT.... they are higher than many others across the country.

So, in the end, an applicant (With a nomination) either gets an appointment because s/he is the BEST of the 10 people on that congressional or state senator's nomination list; or they are in the TOP 100 of all Military Dependent Nomination list; or they are the best of the best in the other nomination categories; or they compete NATIONALLY with the other 3000 +/- applicants for the final 500 +/- slots.

I added a link to the typical year class PROFILE at the air force academy. This doesn't list EVERY activity that applicants are involved in; but the highest percentage ones. It will demonstrate how complicated selections can me. It's not just the person with the highest scores. Also; don't take this class profile as 100% complete. It leaves out a LOT of information. For instance; it shows 2600 qualified candidates. This is misleading. There's actually many more. This is the END which includes those with nominations and other factors. There's a LOT of individuals who get a nomination, but don't receive an appointment because they aren't QUALIFIED. Maybe academically. Maybe medically or physically. Also, it shows the ACT, SAT, and GPA scores of applicants. But it doesn't tell you how many took IB, or AP, or Honor's type classes vs regular classes. But what is good to know is: If you look in the application material at the MINIMUM STANDARDS.... You will find that the overwhelming MAJORITY of actual APPOINTMENTS GIVEN to the academy; the applicant was WAY ABOVE the Minimum Standards. E.g. GPA average in HS is 3,85. That's much higher than the minimum required. Mean average ACT and SAT scores are also much higher than the minimum required.

Anyway; sorry I couldn't give you the answer that you wanted, but I think it's important for you to know WHY your question can't be answered. Also, how complicated the process is.

Best of luck'
Mike

http://www.neoafapa.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/2021_-_Demographic_Profiles.224160126.pdf
 

Dr. Strange Love

Time Traveller — Blues Man — DD USNA 2024
Joined
Feb 7, 2019
Messages
1,351
.
It always surprises me to see proficiency in at least 1 musical instrument missing from these Candidate profile posts. Playing a musical instrument is very prevalent among high achievers, at least in the circles we walk in. Most kids we know started off playing piano by 5 or 6, and continued on in MS/HS band and/or Orchestra as well and can play multiple instruments. Playing an instrument is Not nerdy. I will say though that my wife and me came from families where everyone played instruments, and my wife is classically trained on the piano, so our kids knew nothing else, and are very proficient likewise. My father was a Naval Officer. He played Accordion and Piano, and developed many musical ties through gigging and entertaining while in the Navy.

I don't know why it seems like it is so lacking.
.
 

Christcorp

10-Year Member
Joined
May 21, 2008
Messages
5,393
Dr SL. If you look at the profile of the academy, approximately 20% on yearly average of cadets, were involved in Band/Orchestra in high school. 13-15% were involved in Drama. 10% involved in Chorus. And the profile doesn't list everything. But you'll find that the CLASS of cadets have a very diverse background. That's very important. Not that ALL cadets have the SAME background.
 

BuckeyeDad20

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
317
.
It always surprises me to see proficiency in at least 1 musical instrument missing from these Candidate profile posts. Playing a musical instrument is very prevalent among high achievers, at least in the circles we walk in. Most kids we know started off playing piano by 5 or 6, and continued on in MS/HS band and/or Orchestra as well and can play multiple instruments. Playing an instrument is Not nerdy. I will say though that my wife and me came from families where everyone played instruments, and my wife is classically trained on the piano, so our kids knew nothing else, and are very proficient likewise. My father was a Naval Officer. He played Accordion and Piano, and developed many musical ties through gigging and entertaining while in the Navy.

I don't know why it seems like it is so lacking.
.

I hear you. I think this is a function of his parents. Neither my wife nor I play an instrument so it wasn't something he was exposed to as a child nor something that we focused on to be honest. Not because we don't appreciate it, but rather a short-sightedness on our part since we don't play an instrument. He played instruments in school growing up but never became passionate about it - again, had we encouraged it more, this may have been different. Trust me, as I look back, I see how we shaped him, both good and bad. More music in his life would have been a good thing, but as you know we all prioritize differently. Because of my engineering background, we did much more math, science, building projects, etc. Always try to expose him to different avenues of life, but also try to give him time to explore the world himself.
 

Heatherg21

USNA mom Bacon Lover Dog Lover
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
3,799
Dr. SL, if it helps you to know music is alive and well, our current 4 SA Applicant DS played in band from 5thgrade through 10th. Trumpet, sax and french horn (had to switch to French Horn after he broke his arm and was in a cast for 6 months). He also plays electric and acoustic guitar and baritone ukulele and tinkers with keyboard. He writes songs and has played for small sums as a soloist and with 2 bands. It is always fun for me to hear the incredibly varied music he listens to and attempts to play. From Merle Haggard to his new favorite Spanish 80's style rock, to classics from the 40's and then he bounces to CCR. If I only had 1/10th of his natural aptitude with music I would be happy.
 
Last edited:

BuckeyeDad20

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
317
Just for you Doc

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justdoit19

Proud parent of an ANG, USNA X2, and a MidSib
5-Year Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2017
Messages
6,281
Public school budget cuts took band out of middle school in our area...tons of outcry, on deaf ears. No more trumpet for our boys as their after school afternoons were athletics.
 

USAFretired1996

10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
224
A lot of former AF officers including grads in your family. My ’16 son didn’t get an appointment to the ’15 class but did receive a Falcon Foundation Scholarship. One of his Falcon cohorts and ’16 classmates is the grandson of a retired AF 4-star (’60 grad) and son of a Reserve AF 2-star (’83 grad). I only point this out because I’m not sure how much weight being an officer or grad adds to the equation. Since he didn’t receive an appointment on his initial application, I’m guessing not much.
 
Joined
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Messages
516
The PPL is a really good thing to have at a service academy. It opens up the opportunity for you to join flight teams or clubs and also shows that you are committed to pursuing aviation.
 

Korab

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Nov 8, 2017
Messages
943
A lot of former AF officers including grads in your family. My ’16 son didn’t get an appointment to the ’15 class but did receive a Falcon Foundation Scholarship. One of his Falcon cohorts and ’16 classmates is the grandson of a retired AF 4-star (’60 grad) and son of a Reserve AF 2-star (’83 grad). I only point this out because I’m not sure how much weight being an officer or grad adds to the equation. Since he didn’t receive an appointment on his initial application, I’m guessing not much.
Unless you saw his application, you have no idea what role legacy played. Maybe the only reason he got the Falcon Scholarship was because of the legacy.
 

THParent

Founder - Service Academy Bacon Forums (SABF)
Joined
Oct 15, 2017
Messages
6,064
@BuckeyeDad20 - I applaud the use of "assuage" in a sentence.
I also applaud that he went to USNA not once, but twice (for summer stem and summer seminar). ;)

@Dr. Strange Love - My DS plays the Alto and Tenor Saxophone quite well. As I recall, he never put that down on his application to USNA. Doh!
 

USAFretired1996

10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
224
Unless you saw his application, you have no idea what role legacy played. Maybe the only reason he got the Falcon Scholarship was because of the legacy.

We know one thing for certain – that pedigree didn’t result in a ’15 appointment.
 

BuckeyeDad20

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
317
Here is an update:

DS re-took his CFA yesterday:

CFA results:
June 2019
BBall Throw: 75ft
Pull-ups: 10
Sit-ups: 60
Push Ups: 40
Shuttle Run: 9.18
Mile: 7:11

August 2019 Results
BB Throw: 76ft
Pull-ups: 15
Situps: 90
Push Ups: 52
Shuttle Run 9.1
Mile: 6:10

He is pretty happy with the results and are in line with his workouts. BB throw wasn't practiced much and his distance seems ok so he didn't spend much time on form. Shuttle-Run another event that would benefit from form but he didn't practice. He was a little disappointed in his pushups but its about where he has been tracking. His mile run improvement was pretty big and he was wiped afterward but he left nothing on the track...except his lunch.

These scores aren't going to usher him in, but based on USAFA website, I don't think they will keep him out either. While they don't turn heads, I think it is fair to describe them as competitive.


Btw, can we not edit prior posts? I was hoping to just update the original.
 

BuckeyeDad20

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
317
A lot of former AF officers including grads in your family. My ’16 son didn’t get an appointment to the ’15 class but did receive a Falcon Foundation Scholarship. One of his Falcon cohorts and ’16 classmates is the grandson of a retired AF 4-star (’60 grad) and son of a Reserve AF 2-star (’83 grad). I only point this out because I’m not sure how much weight being an officer or grad adds to the equation. Since he didn’t receive an appointment on his initial application, I’m guessing not much.
Unless you saw his application, you have no idea what role legacy played. Maybe the only reason he got the Falcon Scholarship was because of the legacy.


I don't think his pedigree is going to matter. Truth is we all got out at 4 or 5 years so its not like our name is known in the USAF. However, I do think it could help in interviews. He has a good understanding of USAF life. He has talked to his uncles who attended USAFA and has had many first hand accounts about the experience. He has spoken to my former classmates in the USAF so he has spoken with engineers, pilots, nurses, and intel officers. He knows the meaning of the phrase "The needs of the AF come first." My wife and were stationed apart for a time so realizes that there are sacrifices and you don't always get the assignment you want. While he wants to fly, he also knows that the academies graduate military officers not pilots. So, if he chooses to, he can use the family background as context for his dreams. That he has a pretty good idea of what he is getting himself into. But like everything else, other candidates will have different strengths so this is by no means a silver bullet, but it can help him build a story to explain his passion if he chooses.
 
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