Tips for Freshmen?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by toboldlygo, Dec 4, 2018 at 12:34 AM.

  1. toboldlygo

    toboldlygo New Member

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    Hello everyone! I am a 14 year old female whose dream school is USAFA. As it is my dream school, I was wondering does anyone have advice to give that you wish you had know and/or hasn't been repeated over and over again on this forum? I usually spend free time stalking this forum and the academy admissions website.

    (Don't worry, I do not have tunnel vision concerning the Academy. I simply wish to attend it, but my end goal is to serve my country, more specifically, as a commissioned officer in the Air Force. My other plans are to go to the same college my sister currently attends and do AFROTC, hopefully to study something in the astro, physics, or applied math fields; I'm not too interested in being a pilot currently.
    Also, I am on the varsity cheer team at my school, do classical dance outside of school, and work out consistently, so I would say I'm pretty athletic.
    I am taking all the highest/honors courses available and am taking AP Computer Science Principles this year. I plan to take Algebra II/Trigonometry over the summer because I had taken it in middle school, but wasn't able to make it to the PreCalc class because I switched schools. I would like to take the SAT around sophomore year.
    I am in Civil Air Patrol and just got my first promotion and will promote as quickly as possible. I've been playing piano for the past ten years, so hopefully that counts as some sort of consistency; I really do enjoy it and I don't want to drop it. I also attend clubs at school: Students Partner with Veterans Club/Organization, Chinese Culture Club as I am Chinese American, and the Aeronautics Association. I do not have any leadership roles in these as I am a freshman who transferred, but I plan to run for elections soon.
    I volunteer regularly and my goal is to have at least 100 volunteering hours.
    I'm a bit iffy about my rank within my school, but as I live in a really academically competitive area, Silicon Valley, my hope is that they'll overlook that.)

    Thank you so much for reading all of this if you did. I hope I don't come off as rude or annoying, but I would like to know anything that might help me through high school and hopefully make it into my dream school without having you all repeat everything that's already been discussed in other threads. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018 at 12:46 AM
  2. skiergirl24

    skiergirl24 Member

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    Train for the CFA right now.
     
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  3. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    @toboldlygo, if you’re not interested in becoming a pilot, why the Air Force? You say USAFA is your dream school, but is the AF your dream branch?

    Nothing wrong necessarily with being a non-pilot in the AF. There are many critical jobs that don’t require sitting in a cockpit. But if you read this forum enough, you’ll pick up that the AF is very much the pilots’ world, and everyone else just lives in it.

    Since you’re only 14, and you seem genuinely interested in becoming a commissioned officer, take the time to explore other branches and determine which roles might fit you best. Remember that while an SA is four years of your life, active duty is five years or more. Think long-term career, not short-term college.
     
  4. cbaum2022

    cbaum2022 New Member

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    If your end goal is to get into a SA or any competitive school, keep doing what you're doing and strive to be the best you can be. My advice would be to thoroughly explore all of your options and pursue what you're passionate about, not to just do a bunch of stuff in order to pad your resume. When I applied I sort of had a 3 pronged approach to my application: academics, leadership, and athletics.

    Academics-
    I took every AP class available to me and made sure to do as well as possible. Not only will this give you a good idea of what you may want to eventually major in but it also prepares you for the rigors of a college workload and how to manage your time. It also gives you an idea of what you are and aren't good at so that you can work on your weaknesses early on. I made sure to mention all of this during my interviews.

    Leadership-
    The saying "Leadership is action, not position" is 100000% true. Within your daily life, look for opportunities to lead by example and help others that need it. This can be as simple as taking the initiative to help others that may be struggling in your Comp Sci class, the point is that taking this initiative will build good habits and (hopefully) lead you to care about your peers. I would also recommend trying some sort of team sport, tons of opportunities to practice peer leadership. These specific instances will be good to point out during interviews.

    Athletics-
    As previously mentioned, it's a great way to gain practical leadership experience and learn how to manage your time. Not only this, it is going to develop you physically and build a great work ethic if you pursue your sport at the high school level.

    This was off the cuff and I'm sure I left out a lot but you sound like you're definitely headed in the right direction. I would also caution you to have fun in high school while you have the chance. For my freshman and sophomore year, I was incredibly concerned about my grades and sports, leaving me genuinely unhappy. I learned as time went on that I needed a break every once in a while so I didn't burn out. I also took myself a little less seriously, loosened up, and focused a little more on being the person I wanted to be (a good, genuine person). Because of that, the latter half of my high school experience was incredible and I wouldn't trade those friends and experiences for the world. Make sure you make those memories because once that time passes, you can never get it back.

    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain
     
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  5. Wishful

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

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    It's great that you are planning your future after HS & I echo all of @cbaum2022's post esp. having fun in HS.
    • Be very wary about what you do on social media. Only post things you would like to see replayed if you were on the witness stand & your entire family was in the courtroom. If I were you I'd disconnect, but I'm an old geezer.
    • Try to attain leadership roles in CAP. This is an excellent opportunity to show leadership ability.
    • Research & keep-up with the latest AFA classes profile in order to see what the AFA looks for.
    • The Rand report link gives insight into the WCS process along with a % breakdown of it.
    • Get one of the "How to get into USAFA"-type of books. I like the one authored by Sue Ross.

    You need plans. Again, @cbaum's post post shows the way:

    • Your Academic Plan:
    • Needs a manager, someone who has your best interest & the ability to plot your course by avoiding the minefields. I am talking about your Guidance Counselor! What, did you think I was going to say your mother?? LOL. Mom's the best but your GC is often an overlooked/underused resource. They can get you into the best teacher's class, the one your learning style matches up the best with, the teacher who's not burnt out yet, etc. For ex: If last year's Math teacher was bad, your next one has to be the best as you have to overcome last year's.
    • How about this: After determining your weakest academic subject, meet with your GC & request the best teacher for that subject. Tell them that you're willing to build your entire class schedule around that teacher/class. Next semester/year, do the same for all 4 years. AP classes have no real fallback plan if you do poorly/don't understand the material. Be proactive, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Avoid the weak teachers if possible.
    • Don't fall behind. Take advantage of after-school extra help. This is also an underused resource. You may be pleasantly surprised there as you may be the only student present so it's a one-on-one instruction for 40" or so.
    • SAT vs. ACT?? Find which test works for you. Get one of those Kaplan-type of SAT/ACT review books which have 9 or so exams & practice, practice, practice taking those tests by subject & in real time. You will probably see 1-2 practice questions on your real exams. Plural as you will probably take & retake several.
    • Idea: After you're comfortable with SAT questions (or essays, math, or reading comp) volunteer to help other students with theirs, maybe at a school not as good as yours. This allows you to practice while helping someone else (volunteer hours). If no program available, start your own on your own, or with friends (leadership).
    • USAFA will not overlook your class rank but Admissions takes several factors into account.

    • Your Athletic Plan:
    • HS should be fun so join the teams you like. AFA likes team sports, not a deal breaker but Capt. or Co-Capt is always a good look.
    • As @skiergirl24 stated so succinctly, plan to ace the CFA. You have 3 years to do it so start now.
    • Pull-ups for females are a..."challenge" (as in, "We don't have problems, only challenges!") that takes a lot of effort & determination to achieve. Being able to perform just 1 will make you stand out. Aerobic, upper body & core strength is what's all about.
    • YouTube for the bball throw. Good Luck!!

    http://www.neoafapa.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/2021_-_Demographic_Profiles.224160126.pdf
    https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR744.html
     
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  6. toboldlygo

    toboldlygo New Member

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    Definitely going to do that! I used to be pretty unfit and unathletic (at the end of middle school my mile time was around 11:30) but since then, I’ve been improving so much. I now have a 8:15 mile and I’m definitely going to keep on working on everything else too!
     
  7. toboldlygo

    toboldlygo New Member

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    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I’ve definitely thought about that as everyone else I’ve talked to who has any sort of connection to the AF seems to be centered around flying. However, I’ve really been interested in spacecraft as well as astronomy and physics, so I concluded that the Air Force is the best option to go for that. However, if I am wrong about my conclusion, please let me know! Other service academies are also an option for me.
     
  8. toboldlygo

    toboldlygo New Member

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    Wow thank you so much for the in-depth response! I am definitely going to be taking this advice. I may or may not have planned out my entire four years of high school (social life where are you haha) over the summer and I made sure to include as many APs as possible. For athletics, I think I’m doing pretty well as cheer is 1. a varsity sport and 2. includes a lot of teamwork (stunting, conditioning, etc.) and getting kicked in the face by my flyer. I do also need to work a lot on not burning out, though. I have a pretty busy schedule at the moment, especially with finals coming up, and I’m not sure I can handle this for 3.5 more years, much less for college. So I’m probably going to focus more on the experiences. Also, thank you for the tips on everyday leadership! I had never thought about that before so that is very helpful. Also, were your grades in high school all As? I’m a bit nervous, as some of my classes are at 89s.
     
  9. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    @toboldlygo, you’re a high-school freshman so you have plenty of time to figure things out. And you also have time to change your mind. Keep researching not just the SAs but also their active-duty components.

    It’s your call, obviously, but just wanted to point out the curious nature of your preference. If spacecraft interest you, and by that I presume you mean space travel, then you don’t need to be a pilot to do so. But being a pilot probably helps a lot. USMA and USNA both offer physics as majors. USNA offers an aerospace engineering major, USMA offers a space science major.

    But more important than your major is the type of profession you’ll pursue upon graduation. Make sure there are at least two or three that are appealing to you at whichever SA you attend. You may get exactly what you want, but the needs of that service may ultimately win out.
     
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  10. OldRetSWO

    OldRetSWO USNA 78/parent 11/BGO for >25yrs 5-Year Member

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    The Aero major at USNA offers an Astro concentration and is a very strong space engineering track. A former teammate who is a veteran of multiple shuttle missions is one of the profs.
     
  11. skiergirl24

    skiergirl24 Member

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    Make sure to practice the test early in the correct order of events to get a feel for where you stand. If you start training now and work diligently over the next couple years, you should be able to max the test once your senior year rolls around and you need to take it officially. Work especially on trying to get at least one pullup, and get your mile time down too. Good luck!
     
  12. toboldlygo

    toboldlygo New Member

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    Wow thank you so much for the in-depth response! I am definitely going to be taking this advice. I may or may not have planned out my entire four years of high school (social life where are you haha) over the summer and I made sure to include as many APs as possible. For athletics, I think I’m doing pretty well as cheer is 1. a varsity sport and 2. includes a lot of teamwork (stunting, conditioning, etc.) and getting kicked in the face by my flyer. I do also need to work a lot on not burning out, though. I have a pretty busy schedule at the moment, especially with finals coming up, and I’m not sure I can handle this for 3.5 more years, much less for college. So I’m probably going to clear out my schedule a bit so I don’t die in, like, sophomore year of high school haha. Thanks so much for this information and I’m going to use these tips for sure!
     
  13. toboldlygo

    toboldlygo New Member

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    Thanks so much! I have pretty good core and leg strength, but I’m a bit worried about arm strength, especially pull ups. (This may be a really weird question but) I’m rapidly losing weight for whatever reason (stress? not sure haha) so do you think pull ups are easier when you weigh less?
     
  14. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Yes, but there are ways to train yourself to do pullups regardless of weight. Google 'Stew Smith pull ups' and you'll find plenty of suggestions. You might start with 'Going 0 to 20 reps'. The first is always the toughest. The rest get easier from there. Yo might also try some cross training. My kid went to the local climbing wall as a way to work on the muscle set that does pull ups. Doing pull ups every day on a pull up bar hanging in your doorway is helpful too.
     
  15. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    @toboldlygo, if you’re overweight, then losing pounds will make pull-ups easier. Know also that pull-ups aren’t about arms as much as they are about back muscles — especially lats — and grip strength. Cross-training and balanced weight-training (meaning working all parts, not just the pull-up parts) will go a long way.