Hello. I am currently keenly interested in the USAFA. I have been told by several of my military family members that it is an exellent choice for me but I am a little bit unsure. I am a sophomore in high school, third in my class, and I play sports. I want to be in the air force, whether or not I go to the academy. I would do ROTC if I did not go to the academy. What is it like during and after the academy?
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Congratulations on doing so well in school. It is important if you decide to go either route that you have good grades to help your acceptance and help get school paid for.
I am actually in the Air Force myself and did ROTC, but I know enough people that went to the academy that I might be able to provide some insight for you. Both routes can get you to the same place, which is commissioned as a Lieutenant no matter the job. The Academy is much more military and provide a lot more structure and discipline. You have to do military formations, you eat at the chow hall, there are study hours, lights out, you can't go off base during school days etc. Some of that sounds bad, but it is really perspective. There are also a lot of opportunities you get being at the academy versus doing ROTC. You can fly gliders during the summer, you can jump out of airplanes, train new cadets, travel to different bases etc. People who went to the academy have a tight bond with others and can share stories no matter their age difference. A good amount of Academy guys had a great time even with all the rules and received a great education.
ROTC gives you more freedom and a regular college life. You still have some of the requirements, physical fitness early in the morning, leadership lab, academic class, plus all your normal school course load. However, you are free to live like a college kid and check out all the college hot spots any night of the week. ROTC provides opportunities during the summer to do special programs as well.
So really, it depends if you like the structure in the academy or you want to live a normal college life and then join the Air Force when you are finished. EIther option is great and both have their pros and cons. Honestly, it is personal preference and both will provide a great experience. The best part if either way you will have a job after school and meet great friends