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Toro

How to improve your chances

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There's been a general trend here of guys asking "How can I improve my chances?" and getting responses like "This has been discussed, do a search." I'm the first one to pass out a UTFSF card, but the way the info is arranged sporadically throughout a number of threads and jammed in the middle of a bunch of stats, I admit it's tough to search for and find. I’ve tried to merge the posts into one jumbo thread, but it was so random and scattered it didn’t make much sense, so I’m going to start a new thread with stolen and linked info from the old threads (click on each subject for a link to a separate thread on that subject). This is intended primarily for pilot slot applicants, but feel free to add info on how to improve your chances for ROTC/OTS/USAFA. After you read Brabus' post on evaluating your chances for a pilot slot and before you ask how to improve your chances, read through this thread. This is NOT for posting stats and chances, it's for generic methods of improvement.

Flying hours – Not necessary and a lot of hours may actually work against you (un-learning civilian flying to follow the Air Force way), but a small number of hours could be beneficial to give you a general feel for flying and concept of the principles. Additionally, it shows that you’re motivated enough to get out there and get some training yourself.

GPA/degree: Your GPA is huge, the associated degree is not. A technical degree will help you get into ROTC or help you if you want to be a test pilot down the line, but a 4.0 English major does not weigh higher than an engineering 4.0 major. High school GPA does not matter.

AFOQT scores: You have the option to re-take, but the second test will be your score. If you score worse the second time around, you take a hit. The only question I have is whether there is a cut-off at which you would recommend re-taking the test?

Citizenship – Get it. You cannot commission into the military if you are not a US citizen.

Fitness: Improve it. Your Physical Fitness Test score weighs into your PCSM score.

Commander’s Ranking: This can be huge, not only for your OM, but in terms of what your commander may decide to help you out with.

Extracurricular: This will help you for the ‘whole person’ concept, but where you’ll really make your money is in volunteering, primarily in Det activities. Also reference the commander’s ranking thread.

Ethnic background – Doesn’t matter. Affirmative action won’t help you and prejudice won’t work against you. “If you can fly a jet, I dont care if youre purple-skinned or Klingon. There is no gender bias. There is no racial bias. There is SKILLS bias.”

That's what I've got it, discussion is open for additional recommendations and questions.

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Great idea Toro, and I hope this gets going.

I have one question for you though. Is the information about your physical fitness test score weighing into your PCSM score true? I assume you're talking with respect to ROTC, but even then...? I was under the impression that it was only your pilot subsection, your TBAS score, and your logged flight hours (if applicable). Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Thank you,

donkey

Edited by donkey

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Donkey, you're correct. However, PFT will most likely affect your CC ranking.

but a 4.0 English major does not weigh higher than an engineering 4.0 major

I thought this might be a bit confusing, so just to clarify, I think it's more clearly read as, "An engineering 4.0 major does not weigh higher than a 4.0 English major." The usual assumption I see regarding this question is that an engineering degree will help your chances at a slot...NO, engineering degrees will not help you get a slot and in most cases will actually hurt you (considering the majority of us would probably have a lower GPA in engineering than we would in Business, Poli Sci, etc). Bottom line: Major in a field/topic you enjoy and find interesting...you'll naturally do better since you like the topic. Unless you want to go to TPS or be an engineer in the Air Force/on the outside, I see no reason to go for an E major if you want to be a pilot.

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Guest IncompletePete

One thing that might be worth noting, Toro, is that if you have dual citizenship, you'll have to relinquish your other nationality in order to join.

Edited by IncompletePete

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There are a few important points to add specifically for OTS applicants looking for a pilot slot:

When applying for a pilot slot through OTS you are applying for both a commission and the pilot slot at the same time.

Physical fitness does not factor into PCSM score for OTS applicants because you do not take the physical fitness assessment until you are at OTS. [That being said, becoming and staying physically fit is one way to set yourself up for success at OTS and beyond.]

OTS applicants do not have a commanders' rating per se. Active duty applicants will have an interview with their commander and civilian applicants with have an interview with an Air Force officer, typically arranged by their recruiter. Additionally, applicants submit letters of recommendation for board review.

Flight hours and certificates tend to have a higher weight for OTS pilot slot applications than other commissioning sources. A few flight hours (as few as 5-10) can greatly increase your PCSM score. Many applicants (read: your competition) have private pilots' licenses.

Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT) scores and Pilot Candidate Selection Method (PCSM) scores have a higher weight for OTS applications than other commissioning sources. This is likely due to the lack of a commanders' ranking or PFA scores for incorporation into selection.

OTS selection boards heavily emphasize the "whole person concept" mentioned above. One shining area on your application does not guarantee you a pilot slot; one weak area on your application does not deny you one either.

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Guest F16crewdwgg

When you go for OTS... whether it be Active duty or guard/reserve... Do they give you a PFT before you enter? or how does that weigh in with OTS??

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When you go for OTS... whether it be Active duty or guard/reserve... Do they give you a PFT before you enter? or how does that weigh in with OTS??

No PFT before you enter. You have 1 baseline and 3 diagnostic PFTs while at OTS. There's an official PFA at the end of the course that you must pass to graduate.

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Guest F16crewdwgg
No PFT before you enter. You have 1 baseline and 3 diagnostic PFTs while at OTS. There's an official PFA at the end of the course that you must pass to graduate.

So physical fitness plays no role in getting accepted to OTS, prior to leaving..? Just clarifying..

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Toro, I understand that having a PPL or more won't guarantee you a pilot spot, but it's just something else to put on the package that shows you want to fly. How would a good amount of flight time work against you?

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So physical fitness plays no role in getting accepted to OTS, prior to leaving..? Just clarifying..

Correct...you need only pass a FC1 and commissioning physical. I suppose if you were tubbo and obviously out of shape, the interviewer could rate you down for "appearance" or something, but that's about it. This is for off-the-street civilians. Not sure how it works for AD enlisted -- I imagine fitness would be reflected in performance reports and your commander's rating.

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So physical fitness plays no role in getting accepted to OTS, prior to leaving..? Just clarifying..

Physical fitness plays no part in your selection for OTS. Your height and weight are measured at MEPS before shipping out and that's about it for physical fitness prior to OTS. With that said, physical fitness plays a large role at OTS. If you are out of shape your OTS will likely be more miserable than that of your flightmates'.

Toro, I understand that having a PPL or more won't guarantee you a pilot spot, but it's just something else to put on the package that shows you want to fly. How would a good amount of flight time work against you?

While your question is not specifically addressed to me, I'd like to address it from the still-in-UPT perspective. My classmates in UPT have previous flight experience ranging from zero flight hours all the way through CFII/MEI/commercial with 1000+ hours. Those with prior flight time are doing very well in the program thus far. Please note that many without prior flight time are doing well also.

The secret to success for those with prior flight time is to keep their mouth shut and their minds open. Their flight experience makes them more comfortable in the airplane and they quick adapt to the new sight pictures, control feel, and the like. The open mind comes into play when learning systems, procedures, maneuvers, and all things related to becoming an Air Force pilot. Brain dump any previous way of doing business because the AF way is the way now. Those than cannot let go of previous procedures ("At XYZ flight school we did a stall this way...") will have the most difficulty.

Prior flight time has a large impact on your selection if you are going the OTS route.

That's an observation from snapshot from my small slice of UPT. I'm also interested to hear what Toro thinks about the success of those with prior civilian time after UPT and beyond.

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Toro, I understand that having a PPL or more won't guarantee you a pilot spot, but it's just something else to put on the package that shows you want to fly. How would a good amount of flight time work against you?

I think hours definitely help to a certain point. I had 3 guys in my class...950 hrs, 1500 hrs, 2500 hrs. The first guy did well and went 38s with me (I had 160 hrs) and the last two guys struggled and were in the bottom 1/3 of the class by track select. The reason this happened is because of their attitude. They thought they knew a shitload about flying and thus didn't have to put as much effort in. They also had an extremely difficult time getting rid of their civilian habits/way of doing things, unlearning civilian rules for mil ones, etc. I'm not saying you can't have a lot of hours and still go into UPT w/ a good attitude and have no problems (like the dude w/ 950 hrs did), but many of the high time guys struggle for the reasons mentioned above. Just in my opinion, I say anything more than 200 hrs is really not going to help you at all.

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I can understand where a person with high flight time believe they know all and were taught the "civilian" way, but I don't think at least having a private pilot's license would be detrimental. I have about 19 hours and hoping to finish up my PPL before the end of the year. Thank you for the responses!

Edited by Mav09

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I absolutely think getting a PPL and somewhere around 80-200 hrs is very helpful...any more and you're wasting your money/possibly hurting yourself (i.e. negative transfer at UPT).

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Guest Brian434
I absolutely think getting a PPL and somewhere around 80-200 hrs is very helpful...any more and you're wasting your money/possibly hurting yourself (i.e. negative transfer at UPT).

I am interested in going to UPT. Now I have up through CFI CFII and MEL. I don't think it will hurt too bad for the following reason. I agree with other post that someone's ability to learn has most to do with attitude. I know that learning should NEVER stop in avaition or anything else in life. I've flown with private pilots, and students that thought they knew all there was. I would think that knowing there is more to learn and it always has value would be better than approaching it thinking you know it all. Four years enlisted taught me this... there is always someone that knows more than you and the best way to do your job is with your mouth shut (no negative attitudes). Any one more thing about the flight civilian ratings... when I retire at age 45-50 I will still have a valid commercial license.

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Guest Fuse
Is this actually true? I can't see them not weighing your GPA at all.

Quoted from the most recent 09 BOT guide.

Changes for FY2009

- Changes the GPA standards for all officer programs, by deleting a minimum GPA requirement, accept for the TDSP program. Focus in placed on AFOQT scores.

- Deletes the requirement for a GPA worksheet.

(Accept vs. Except? Who makes these docs?!)

Edited by Fuse

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Quoted from the most recent 09 BOT guide.

(Accept vs. Except? Who makes these docs?!)

As mentioned in the previous thread can we get a link or something to this, this sounds to good to be true for me, and I reckon would piss off alot of the guys that stayed in their room all through college to get a good GPA

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Guest Fuse
As mentioned in the previous thread can we get a link or something to this, this sounds to good to be true for me, and I reckon would piss off alot of the guys that stayed in their room all through college to get a good GPA

What? My quote or a simple search isn't good enough? =)

http://www.class0702.com/docs/FY09_BOT.doc

In addition to the quote I posted above, you can find it in Section A2.3.4.1

A2.3.4.1. In Item 24, GPA worksheet and calculations are no longer required. Only list the names of institutions the applicant has attended. All other blocks in item 24, should be listed as N/A

And why would you be pissed you got a great GPA? If you're in will you have a good-enough attitude?

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What? My quote or a simple search isn't good enough? =)

http://www.class0702.com/docs/FY09_BOT.doc

In addition to the quote I posted above, you can find it in Section A2.3.4.1

And why would you be pissed you got a great GPA? If you're in will you have a good-enough attitude?

Im not talking about in regards to me, I would consider myself extremely lucky if they stop considering GPA (haven't read it yet) since mine is not the greatest and I am doing the best I can to make up for starting off bad. (Im out of college but still taking classes just to bring my GPA back up). I just can foresee some people would be pretty unhappy that they put some much work into their GPA when they could of been having more fun doing other things, im sure someone will complain, but I am obviously not in that boat.

Edited after reading document...

Q2: Should I submit an application on an applicant with a low GPA and/or test scores?

A: Maybe. Recruiters should proceed carefully when GPA and AFOQT scores are low, because chances of selection decrease. To be potentially competitive, an applicant must have exceptional strengths in work experience, leadership, and communications skills, along with other leadership traits. For GPA waiver consideration, the applicant must have an AFOQT composite score of at least 150. The AFOQT composite score is the total score comprised from summing the AA, V, and Q sub-composite AFOQT scores.

P. 37

so its still taken into consideration, albeit apparently not rated as heavily.. from what I'm reading into.. Well time to go volunteer at the homeless shelter :)

Edited by Bishop

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The difference is that before, GPA had a specific scoring block on the selection criteria...an objective score (specific number of "points" in the equation) as part of the overall rater's score for the individual, and the appplication directive required a 3.0 minimum or a GPA waiver. Now the GPA block is not used (removed from the rater's score sheet) and there is no GPA minimum in most cases. However, the transcripts are still part of the application package and the board members can still review your academic record, therefore the GPA can still be a part of the rater's overall assessment of your level of effort, work ethic, etc. in the "whole person" evaluation. How each rater uses that info is unknown, and how the board managers brief the raters on that point before scoring begins is also unknown.

Edited by HiFlyer

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The difference is that before, GPA had a specific scoring block on the selection criteria...an objective score (specific number of "points" in the equation) as part of the overall rater's score for the individual, and the application directive required a 3.0 minimum or a GPA waiver. Now the GPA block is not used (removed from the rater's score sheet) and there is no GPA minimum in most cases. However, the transcripts are still part of the application package and the board members can still review your academic record, therefore the GPA can still be a part of the rater's overall assessment of your level of effort, work ethic, etc. in the "whole person" evaluation. How each rater uses that info is unknown, and how the board managers brief the raters on that point before scoring begins is also unknown.

Sorry im still questioning this, its just been pounded in my head so long that GPA is extremely important to the REQUIREMENTS portion, that it is hard to ease out of that idea. My thought process was when the GPA worksheet was in use, it stated black and clear EVERY class you have ever taken, so I quite honestly got a bad start to school and got a few bad grades, however USAF doesn't have a "grade forgiveness" policy. So I buckled down and pulled my GPA back up to a 2.8 by the time I had graduated (2.89 according to the USAF GPA sheet, a 3. something according to my university. So i figured I would continue taking classes at the local community college to improve my GPA as far as the AF was concerned, as well as to keep myself competitive for grad school. So I guess now it just seems the extra efforts I put in after my degree might be lost in the eyes of USAF, but it will still help out (hopefully) to grad school admissions.

So does the new change now entail just looking at what the grades were overall are they just gonna look at the school GPA, or what? what GPA will they look at as an assistant in determining who gets picked up? does anyone have any real experience going through with the new changes yet?

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Bump,

I guess my thought on reading this is it might actually be worse, now instead of just seeing the GPA, the guys looking at my transcript will see every class I took and they can look over my whole college career, why did you fail algebra? and take it twice, why did you withdraw from so many classes? Hopefully they would take into thought that that was early on (around 5 years ago and I finished school pretty strong to try to make up for my slacker days)

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