Prep School vs Civilian Prep School

JRS92078

Member
Can someone explain to me the difference between the Prep Schools? From my understanding, there is a Prep School at the USAFA Academy (or just right outside the USAFA grounds)
 

AFrpaso

USAFA Alumnus
5-Year Member
The official USAFA Prep School is on the base and is administrated by USAFA personnel. Only USAFA Admissions can offer an appointment to the USAFA Prep School. From my understanding, the other prep schools are not directly affiliated with USAFA. You can attend those as a free-agent or under a Falcon Scholarship.

I would argue that you are more likely the get an appointment if you attend the official USAFA Prep School as opposed to a civilian prep school.
 

USMA 1994

Member
Originally, the prep schools were set up to help active duty soldiers get the academic background they needed to successfully complete the academy's academic program. Over time, this has evolved into also helping athletes as well as diversity candidates improve academically. Typically, appointments to the prep school are for candidates who are not fully qualified. If the candidate meets all of the requirements of the year at prep, they have a 99.9% chance of appointment the next year.

Civilian prep schools are private institutions. They have no official ties to the academy. The academy does have a "scholarship" program that is offered to about 50 qualified candidates each year. These sponsored candidates would also have a very high chance of receiving an appointment as long as they do well.

My personal opinion is a offer to the prep school or a falcon scholarship are "golden tickets" to an appointment the next year. Without the scholarship, you should pick a civilian college, participate in ROTC and do well academically.
 

pstine

Member
Last year I didn't finish my application to the Academy so now I'm at a 4-year college in AFROTC and it is my own version of a prep school. What I like about this is that if I don't get into the Academy this year, I will already be 1 year into my AFROTC detachment and I can still commission. Also, if I do get into the Academy, I have already taken calc and compsci etc along with developing officer skills in AFROTC. There are multiple paths to the same goal and you can figure out which is best for you.
 

USMA 1994

Member
Last year I didn't finish my application to the Academy so now I'm at a 4-year college in AFROTC and it is my own version of a prep school. What I like about this is that if I don't get into the Academy this year, I will already be 1 year into my AFROTC detachment and I can still commission. Also, if I do get into the Academy, I have already taken calc and compsci etc along with developing officer skills in AFROTC. There are multiple paths to the same goal and you can figure out which is best for you.
@pstine hits the nail on the head.
 

Billberna

Member
Typically, appointments to the prep school are for candidates who are not fully qualified.
So are you saying that prep school students are selected from candidates who are not qualified - 3Q - for USAFA? Or are they qualified, but just have one item/score/number that is on the low side? And how do Falcon Scholars compare to this?

I have always wondered if you can be overqualified for both the prep school and for Falcon scholarships, and yet fail to get an appointment. It is almost as if you are better off being not fully qualified (???) I don't understand the criteria for both of these options. Can anybody shed some light on this?
 

Skipper07

Member
Originally, the prep schools were set up to help active duty soldiers get the academic background they needed to successfully complete the academy's academic program. Over time, this has evolved into also helping athletes as well as diversity candidates improve academically. Typically, appointments to the prep school are for candidates who are not fully qualified. If the candidate meets all of the requirements of the year at prep, they have a 99.9% chance of appointment the next year.
Bill- I think he means that prep school is for those who are strong physically and in leadership roles, but are missing critical classes like calculus or have low test scores. Taking calculus for the first time at the academies would be VERY rough. Prep school is an opportunity to prove yourself, improve, and EARN your appointment.

For example, a young man from the public school near me was admitted to NAPS this year. I know he was a football player and a leader. However, he may not have challenged himself academically (Just my take of the situation, I do not actually know why he was admitted). USNA is giving him a chance to prove himself.
 

Billberna

Member
Not to go off on a tangent, but the academy admissions website does not even list calculus as a recommended course. Quoting directly from the admissions website:

"To be academically competitive for an appointment to the Academy, we recommend completion of the following high school courses:
  • four years of English (with a college preparatory class in writing)
  • four years of math (strong background in geometry, algebra, trigonometry and pre-calculus)
  • four years of science (lab-based and should include biology, chemistry and physics)
  • three years of social studies (to include a course in U.S. History)
  • two years of a modern foreign language
  • one year of computer study"
 
^ Navy's page says the same, too.

But. Ds's admissions counselor, Blue & Gold Officer and our Congressman all said they want to see Calculus if possible.
 

USMA 1994

Member
Prep school appointments are for those not qualified in one of the 3Qs and typically it is the academic Q. Falcon scholarships have more leeway and typically are awarded to candidates that have something the academy wants and they do not have a place to slot them this year. The 3Q evaluation is subjective by the admission officers and admission committee. While it may say we recommend, an individual that does not have a strong academic background including Calculus may be listed at risk.

You comment about being over-qualified may hold some truth. I have seen a candidate ranked #1 on a MOC's slate fail to get an appointment because the MOC identified a different principal nominee. They were told that they were "too smart" for prep school.

There are many things outside your candidate's control. Just do your best with the things your son or daughter can control and things will work out. Make sure they have a Plan B and C.
 

shock-n-awe

Member
Prep school appointments are for those not qualified in one of the 3Qs and typically it is the academic Q. Falcon scholarships have more leeway and typically are awarded to candidates that have something the academy wants and they do not have a place to slot them this year. The 3Q evaluation is subjective by the admission officers and admission committee. While it may say we recommend, an individual that does not have a strong academic background including Calculus may be listed at risk.

You comment about being over-qualified may hold some truth. I have seen a candidate ranked #1 on a MOC's slate fail to get an appointment because the MOC identified a different principal nominee. They were told that they were "too smart" for prep school.

There are many things outside your candidate's control. Just do your best with the things your son or daughter can control and things will work out. Make sure they have a Plan B and C.
I would agree, and I will add DS experience to give additional perspective to how Falcon scholarships may be awarded in some cases IMHO.
DS had a number of great opportunities, and I don't believe he needed a year of prep based on his stats (although it would only help him mature etc. and would've been embraced). He was offered a Falcon scholarship in July (crazy late). He had applied to USAFA but never received a NOM. I believe they were using the scholarship to get him in the door without having a NOM this year, expecting the NOM and appointment for next year class of 2022. I can't imagine any other reason. It's amazing how late the offer came , but she needed a commitment essentially on the spot.
DS was already at Beast, so it was respectfully and gratefully declined. We are aware that a Falcon scholarship is a golden ticket, and hopefully those people who are fortunate to be offered one in the future see it as such and not as a let down.
It means that regardless of your stats/ situation, they want you!
 

AFrpaso

USAFA Alumnus
5-Year Member
The math department at the Academy prefer to have a freshman with a mastery of algebra and trig over a freshman who has seen calculus before but has "okay" fundamental skills.
 

RoyOrbison

NWP '17, USAFA '22
If you are looking into prep schools, Northwestern Prep is the way to go. The Durbecks have taught me more in the past few months than I learned my senior year of high school. Truly amazing mentors and an excellent school. Good luck!
 

2021mom

Member
Not to go off on a tangent, but the academy admissions website does not even list calculus as a recommended course. Quoting directly from the admissions website:

"To be academically competitive for an appointment to the Academy, we recommend completion of the following high school courses:

  • ...
  • four years of math (strong background in geometry, algebra, trigonometry and pre-calculus
    "
Bill, while calculus may not be required by the Academy, this is indeed a competition to win an appointment. For a high school senior from a competitive area and a non-military family (only qualifies for a MOC nom), meeting the minimums is not enough to win the nom slate and get an appointment. It only takes ONE other applicant on your slate to out shine you. And there may be college applicants on your slate that you are competing against.

My DS was advised to take the most challenging classes available to him, including calculus. He took 10 AP courses, including AP Calc AB & BC.

I have seen it stated on this forum that the Academy will consider what courses are available to a student. So if calculus or AP or IB courses are not offered, you will not be penalized. In our area and congressional district, however, every public high school offers calculus and you cannot get into our state university's engineering program without it. It's simply too competitive. Students in our area can expect to be competing against other students who have taken calc and it'd be a disadvantage to not have taken it as well.
 

JRS92078

Member
Thank you so much to everyone who commented. This information is indeed very helpful. My DS just came back from his Official Visit at USAFA and absolutely loved it. He is definitely deficient academically and being considered for the Prep School at USAFA. He is very strong in all other areas and extra Strong in one particular area. Everyone he spoke to at USAFA told him how absolutely lucky he was to be even considered this early for the Prep School. Those in the Prep School loved it and those who came in through the Prep School how absolutely more prepared they were for the Academy. We found out while on his visit that he was given an interview with our Congressman, even though they previously told him he would not get a Nomination. Our district is very competitive. They asked him to send in additional information, even though he had already included it in his initial packet he sent. He immediately went and got everything again that was requested of him and overnighted it straight away.. 3 days later got the letter for the interview. I told him not to worry to relax and complete the application process. Do your absolute best in your interview play every card you have even knowing they told you will not get a NOM. If you don't get the GOLDEN TICKET to the Prep School you go via traditional universities 3 have already accepted him and he visited with their ROTC programs while on his visits there as well.
 
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