Weak HS A Disadvantage?


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Aug 13, 2007
I read earlier on this forum about how a weak high school will be seen by the admissions panel and that choosing the easy classes is bad. Well I have a question... What if the only classes available were "easy". I am #1 rank of 113 in my class and I have a perfect 4.0. I have never received anything lower than an A, not even an A-. However, my school is very uncompetitive. I scored a 29 and a 30 on my ACTs as a junior, the #2 in my class [of 113] scored a 19 on the ACTs. The highest score in my class besides mine was a 25 [rank #4]. I played Football, Wrestling, Tennis for 4 years, I made NHS my Sophomore year. This year I am a highly active member of stuco, FFA Chapter President, and most likely NHS President. I attended Boys State where I became a Senator and I attended Student Council Nationals over the summer along with leadership camp and FFA state conference. My weaknesses besides the weak academics at my school are: No Yearbook [I applied, but I was "too busy with other goals" to be accepted], No Class Office [ran for 3 years, but lost], No Music [not offered], No Boy Scouts/JROTC [not available in the community]. Will I be looked at unfavorably because I came from a weaker community/school or will I be looked at good because I exceeded so far past my co-students? Thanks for your help.

Sr. Year Schedule:
Weight Training [2 period/w.r.] [3 years]
Physics [4 years of science]
Calc. 2 [4 years of math]
Honors College Prep English 4 [3 years of honors english+1 reg.]
Agriscience 3 [4 years of Agriculture for FFA]
American Government/Economics [3 Years of Civics/ 2 Spanish/ 1 Art]
Coming from a "weak" high school absolutely will NOT hurt you. Taking "weak" courses at a "strong" high school may hurt you but this clearly is not the case.

If your school doesn't offer AP courses do not fret. Admissions will get a profile of your school and see that you are one of the top students at your school. If for some reason, admissions doesn't not think your high school prepared you well enough, (perhaps you have low test scores - I am not sure how a 29 and 30 on the ACT's stack up) then you will be considered for a prep program. This is one of missions of the prep programs.

Now, accentuate the positive. Your academics are excellent. You have taken difficult courses including Calculus. This is a plus.
Leadership: NHS, FFA Chapter president also excellent as well as Boys State.
Athletics - As a 3 sport Varsity Athlete you have done well here as well.

Don't worry about what you don't have and certainly don't apologize for you you don't have on your resume. This is the danger in comparisons.
Emphasize what you have DONE!
Good luck to you!
An ACT score of 30 puts you at the equivalent of a 1340 on the SAT or at a 97th percentile. You have shown that you can excel, even if not given all of the opportunities that some other applicants have. The best way to find out how you will do in the application process is to apply. None of us can give you the whole answer as to whether you will be competitive enough.

It looks to me as though you'll do fine, though. Good luck!
Alright thanks for the confidence.. I wasn't really worried as much about the actual academy admissions as I was about the nominations. Let me see if this is correct based on what I've read on the rest of the forum: If I get LOAs but I don't secure a nomination I may still be able to secure a spot in a "bonus" pool of everyone in the nation? Also the CFA is pass/fail right? A "almost perfect" score doesn't add more than a "slightly above average score," it is simply a YES/NO test right?
Your MOC should certainly be aware of your situation and compensate accordingly. However, they do have pretty much of a free rein to do what they want. The MOC may select a total of 10 nominations for each of his annual vacancies. One will get the nomination. The other nine are eligible for the "bonus pool." Should the LOA not receive the primary, they will require a nomination, but will be eligible for the "pool." Air Force, like Navy, is very diligent in their LOA selections, and, should one receive an LOA, if they follow the guidelines and apply for every available nomination, even should they not receive the MOC primary, are really in a "not to worry", they will be taken care of, situation.
You still have fairly strong academics (most people finish out Calc 1 their senior year).

NHS and Boys State are good leadership possitions and your athletics look very good.

You still need to apply for all the Nominations you can and start your academy app.

29-30 is about average for ACTs here. I think our average is 29-31, or something like that.
Just echoing everyone else here I suppose. Honestly, you look fine, even if your school is weaker. As Just_A_Mom said, emphasize the good things and what you have accomplished. Taking pride in what you have done with less will be a good thing. Academics look fine, may have to work harder if you get here since it is difficult, but its doable.

As far as nomination go, unless your district has very competitive schools to potentially hurt your chance, I wouldn't worry about it. Chances are you MOCs will be able to see what you have done, especially if you interview.

Good luck and I hope things work out.
What role do ETS codes play in admissions? Don't they show statistics about the respective school?
What role do ETS codes play in admissions? Don't they show statistics about the respective school?

No, the school submits a form that shows its "statistics".

Item #1 on the USAFA on-line application is:

USAFA Form 148 - Request for Secondary School Transcript
(plus School Profile and Senior Year Schedule)

This form must be printed and given to your high school for them to complete.
And Admissions keeps a folder of past forms. They also use some of the high school ranking services. And, horror of horrors, how previous candidates from that high school have fared is taken into consideration. They keep an in-depth comprehensive file on every school to which they have data.
"And, horror of horrors, how previous candidates from that high school have fared is taken into consideration. They keep an in-depth comprehensive file on every school to which they have data."

You have got to be joking. Three years ago, my school had 6 academy appointments, this year none. I wonder how those 3 guys did at USMA.
You look pretty good to me

I'm an ALO and I think that your resume looks good. The Admissions Office will take your best scores to qualifiy you -SAT or ACT. And... you can keep improving your chances if you are willing to keep taking the tests. Several of my kids have taken the SAT and ACT five or six times. Admissions functions on a "rolling schedule" and they roll candidates from one selection meeting to the next as applications are updated.

Your activities are great. Also, remember that your app package is always a work in progress- be sure to keep sending any updated info to Admissions- new activities, honors, newspaper "mentions", etc. I tell my candidates that anything they can do to make themselves more of a person and less of a paper file to the Committee will increase their chances.

Also- apply for any nomination that you are eligible for. Don't bypass the Vice Presidential. Most students don't think they have a shot at that and would be very surprised at how that nom is awarded.

I would advise you to get your application totally completed and submitted - all pieces- ASAP. Application packages don't go to Selections until all parts are in. By doing it now, you will beat the rush that happens in Nov-Dec. It will also give you more opportunities to have your name seen by your admission counselor and the Committee.

Also-be sure to get to know your ALO right away.

Good luck!
Amy Nan, welcome to the site. It's nice to have an admissions officer from the Air Force side of things, and I hope you'll stay and enjoy your time here.

Jmanaz, Amy Nan has given you some very good advice without going into details, and that's a good thing. I'm sure she realizes that it's impossible for one of us to tell you what your chances of getting in are. It's our site's policy to stay away from such discussions insofar as saying "you have a good chance" or "you have a bad chance". We are always happy to offer advice on the admissions process and general candidate advice, but I want to make it clear that no one here can tell you what your chances of gaining acceptance into USAFA are, "weak high school" or not.

I'm saying this not simply for Jmanaz but for other members in similar situations. Again, we are able to help you on general terms to strengthen your admissions package, but as far as saying what you should or should not do in specific terms, that's up to you. I hope this information makes clear our site's policy on discussions of "chances" and applicant strengths and weaknesses.
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Thanks for all of your suggestions. I have done my interviews with the B&G officer and my NROTC coordinator. I am hoping for the best. Thanks again.