Hello, I joined this forum after reading the "Roller Coaster Ride" posting of another member. (If you haven't read it, please do!) Here is my "Thank You" post to that mom which tells a little bit about me, my family, and our daughter's dream... In 9th grade our daughter (now a junior) met a Ret. LtCol from the USAF at the Police Department where my husband is a Detective. Before dinner that night my husband took me aside and said 'stay calm... "K" has an announcement and you need to stay calm'...I held my breath until we all sat down when she boldly stated "I want to go to an Academy for Engineering". I was so proud... nauseated... but proud (a phenomenon I think only a parent can understand). She's an excellent student with an amazing work ethic; we've often told people she tricked us into having a second child because it was so "easy". ("Kid #2" is now a freshman in HS and is equally amazing but it took a little longer for her to, shall we say, "realize her potential", so... needless to say... there is no "Kid #3"). "Kid #1" (while coming to grips with the fact that she really isn't going to get taller and is at peace with her 5' tall 105 pound self) has maintained that dream. She has worked diligently as a student (leaving us in the dust about the time she hit Trig), become a leader, a passionate philanthropist, a strong athlete and has now been accepted into the USAFA SS (attending Session A)...Yay! Of course this, coupled with the letter about being a 'competitive candidate for appointment' from her questionnaire, was my "a-ha" moment that this really is happening. After obsessing over what all of this means and reading at least a thousand threads about USAFA Summer Seminar and USCGA AIM, I stumbled upon the "Roller Coaster" post. I immediately printed it out, high-lighted the "where's Waldo/Computer/Forget the Food" passage and posted it on the fridge (so all could see as they reach in for left overs) as validation that I was not crazy. Both my husband and I went to civilian Universities (to which she is also applying as we certainly acknowledge the competitiveness of Academies). This whole process is... well... quite the ride. I find that I have become part Mom, part Healthcare Administrator (which helps pay for the electricity going to said fridge) and now, part Agent. I am using each of these gazillion application steps as a cathartic exercise in the fact that my "baby" wants to serve. (FYI- "Step 42a" was becoming part of a forum... gulp). We won't know about AIM for another month. So thank you, Mom1315, for such an insightful piece- it certainly helps to know that this is a ride with many, many, many other passengers! And for anyone who takes the time to post, please know that somewhere there is a newbie on "Baby Step 1" like my family, reading them and finding comfort!