What I wish I'd known

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by AZ2021applicant, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. AZ2021applicant

    AZ2021applicant Member

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    Neither of my parents attended an academy or served in the military. I'd always wanted to attend an academy, and this application was a bit of a learning process. I'm sure that others have made and will make the same dumb errors I did, so here's a list of things to keep in mind for future applicants. (BTW I was offered a Falcon Scholarship and will be re-applying next year)

    - Get everything done early. I cannot stress this enough. My congressman's office lost my packet TWICE, and one of my senators misplaced my packet the day before they were due. I early had a heart attack until they found it that night. Yes, this is probably some kind of astronomically rare occurrence, but it does happen.

    - Make sure you keep a copy of everything for your own records. This goes for letters of recommendation, essays, cover letters, EVERYTHING. Seriously, it'll save you tons of time. Many of the senators/congressmen require almost identical packets.

    - Your ALO/BGO/FFR is invaluable. They can make the difference in your application. Email them early and often, as sometimes they can be slow to respond. They have lives of their own. They aren't going to drop what they're doing to interview you the day before your packet is due. Keep in mind that every email, phone call or text message influences how they think of you. You want them to see that the academies NEED kids like you. Show them that you are polite and respectful, and make sure you follow proper english conventions in every communication.

    - MAKE SURE YOU ARE APPLYING FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. There's no need to waste your time or anyone else's if you don't have the right reasons in your heart. "Free college" is not the right reason. You must be motivated to serve your country and possibly lay down your life so that others can have the freedoms you've had.

    - When it comes time to interview with your MOC's and academy representatives: dress up. Slacks and a button up won't make you stand out. Go for a suit. Have a good handshake. Know the Honor Code, know what majors you're interested in, know what you want to do in the military. You don't just need to impress your interviewers. You need to make sure they can't in good conscience put someone else's name higher on a list somewhere.

    - DODMERB is a complicated process. That phone in your pocket doesn't just text and go on the internet. A phone call can take care of a problem in an afternoon instead of several days. I needed to get a remedial because I had an inhaler for allergies when I was younger. The children's hospital where I went for this was VERY difficult to deal with. They assured me that they would fax my results to DODMERB that afternoon. I turned 18 about a week after I went in for the remedial. When I called DODMERB, they had never received my results. When I called the children's hospital, they told me my records had been sealed, as I was no longer legally a child. It took about 2 hours of calls to get the whole situation sorted out. I can only imagine how difficult that would have been over email.

    - The CFA. I practiced push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and the basketball throw. I ran cross country and can easily run a 5:00 mile. I made one pretty huge error: I never actually did the whole CFA in order with timing. I could rep out ~14 pull-ups fresh. In my actual CFA, I only got to 11, my mile was in the 6:30's, and my push ups were about 15 fewer than I had expected. Practice each event on its own to perfect your form and the timing to get max reps. Then put it all together to get a good idea of how you'll do.

    - Your essays are important, especially to the MOCs. Sometimes the difference between the #1 guy and #10 guy is a few points in the WCS. Your essay offers a chance to show why YOU deserve to have a spot at an academy.

    - The MOCs can make or break you. You want to get as many nominations as possible, and be as high on each list as you can be. They can usually only send 1 per year, so you really need to be the most competitive on your list.

    - ROTC has slots set aside each year. If you can't get a nomination from a MOC because you live in a very competitive district, you may want to keep that in mind.

    - Most importantly, take care of everything as soon as it pops up. I am of firm belief that the Academy and ALO's prefer students who respond quickly.

    I'm sure there is other stuff I've missed here that are common or easy to make mistakes, and good to know bits of knowledge, but this is what I could think of.
     
  2. xcmum

    xcmum Member

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    AZ2021- Thank you for sharing your experience for upcoming applicants. Many times hearing these kinds of things from one's peers sinks in more than hearing it from us 'old fogey' people.
     
  3. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator 10-Year Member

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    Looking for an ALO job?

    VERY well said!!!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  4. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    Well done, AZ! Peer-to-peer coaching like this (the Navy calls it "giving great gouge") bodes well for you. Taking the time to share with others - nice to see.
     
  5. Blessedmom

    Blessedmom Member

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    My son applied little late oct/nov of senior year. We were new to SA so we didn't know to apply early. My only issue with applying early like April of junior year is grades and activities. For a student who might not have stellar grades or have majority of AP classes senior year it might be best to apply after first semester senior grades?
     
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  6. AZ2021applicant

    AZ2021applicant Member

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    NO! The Academy will request transcripts as they become available. Apply as early as you can! They won't make any decisions until your application is complete, so it benefits you to get it done early. Later transcripts will still show the lack of AP's earlier in high school. Don't discount your own successes in high school. You don't know what admissions is looking for. You can update your grades and activity record as you get further into the application process.
     
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  7. eljay60

    eljay60 AFROTC parent, former ANC in USAR

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    This is a fantastic post - thanks for sharing! Everything you said is spot-on with what DS and I found.
     
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