What type of candidates are the USAFA Prep Schools looking for?


New Member
Nov 29, 2017
I've been reading that USAFA Preparatory School typically accepts candidates who have weaker scores in academics, but excel in the other factors such as extra curriculars on their application. I would just like some confirmation whether or not this is true.
The official statement from https://www.academyadmissions.com/the-experience/prep-school/prep-school-admissions/ indicates "Every year, more candidates seek admission to the United States Air Force Academy than there are available appointments. Many applicants with promising potential will not be offered appointment to the Academy. From this pool, Academy admissions will select some applicants who will be offered appointment to the Prep School."

Since there is a reasonable probably that cadet candidates will enter USAFA the following year, USAFA will be looking at the same factors for cadet candidates than they do for cadets. Some of the factors used in the whole candidate scoring are located at https://www.academyadmissions.com/admissions/advice-to-applicants/all-applicants/.
We have a young man from our area who is now in his second year at the academy who went to the prep school at the academy. According to him , he had above average grades and was a good athlete, but not recruited. He told us he was at the prep school with active enlisted Air Force cadets who were identified as good Academy candidates but did have to show they could handle the academics. Others there were recruited athletes who needed to work on academics. He didn’t seem to fit either of those categories so I can’t say how they decide. Our DS did not get in on his first attempt, though his stats mirrored many on this forum. We hoped for a Falcon Scholarship but did not happen. He self prepped for a year at MMI in Alabama, got his pilots license, and was accepted on his second attempt. I will say he did not hear about his acceptance until April this year, so definitely have a plan B, don’t be too disappointed if you have to reapply. It wound up being the best unanswered prayer. :)
They're looking for people that can run the 40 yard dash in 4.6 seconds, bench press 350 pounds, dunk a basketball, etc.

And some kids that show promise in leadership, extracurriculars, 1st generation college students, and such, that fall below the academic levels or scores of a regular appointee.
I read sometime ago that a competitive candidate could go to USAFA Prep School without a nomination, if trúe how? DD completed application to USAFA, is medically qualified, passed CFA, 4.0 GPA, attended Girls State, 3 sports athlete, etc. Received competitive alternate nomination to USNA and USMA, but no nomination for USAFA.
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USAFA Candidates who do not receive a nomination to the Academy are still considered for an appointment to USAFA Prep School. There is no application process for applying to the prep school, any qualified USAFA applicant can be considered for prep school. That is my understanding on how the process works.
Even if you are not admitted to the USAFA Prep School you can still attend a civilian prep school. That is, on your own dime.
Even if you are not admitted to the USAFA Prep School you can still attend a civilian prep school. That is, on your own dime.

Anyone considering "self-prep" (for any of the SAs) should do EXTENSIVE research and some soul-searching. There are quite a few prep schools, some of which are affiliated with one or more SAs and some which are not. When prep schools tout their SA admissions numbers, those affiliated with SAs MAY include students who are sponsored by a SA. Those folks are guaranteed admission if they successfully complete the program so including those numbers in the total is misleading in terms of the likelihood of self-prep success. The key is to ask for "self prep" numbers -- how many students who are NOT sponsored by a SA are successful in obtaining an appointment. If you're a self-prep, that's the only number that matters to you. Some schools are pretty successful at getting self-prep students into SAs; others are not.

Also consider whether you need the help that a prep school can provide. This can include study skills, living and studying independently, and/or additional work in courses you'll be taking at a SA. If your record was very strong and you were largely a victim of the numbers game on your first go-round, you may be better off at a 4-year college. If you have poor test scores or your grades were low, a prep school may be your best option. You may also want to look into whether the prep school offers college credit (a few do, mot don't). That way, if you aren't successful in applying to a SA, you haven't "wasted" a year.

Each situation is different. Self-prep works for some and not for others. Definitely do your research and, if possible, discuss your situation with your ALO/BGO, etc.