Monday, September 27, 2010


I got an aswer from the USAFA regarding the Personal Data Record. Apparently, they took the e-mail apart and different people were in charge of answering different questions, which is why very little was answered in the first response. I was just asked to give them my complete address and it would be updated for me. Thank you. Very prompt. I noticed I keep asking for help from these people (the Academy) and then being surprised when I get it. It is their job...

On the other hand, writing the complete content of your e-mail in the subject line is annoying and leaves me wondering why you sent me an e-mail with just your signature. It took me a few minutes turning it over to notice the instructions, hiding between e-mail addresses, dates, and times.

Next posts:
Lists of universities and how much else has to be done. There are going to be some long posts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Air Force ROTC

What´s missing?

Resume: mainly about math olympiads, essay contests and volunteer work. I´ve never held a job. (Technically, I helped my mother and aunt out in their restaurant (which they´ve since sold) every once in a while, but hardly enough to call a steady job).

Personal Statement: Why do I want to be an officer? What can I offer the US Air Force?

PFA: like the CFA, but a hell of a lot easier. For a top score:
42 push-ups in 1 minute (compare to 50 in two minutes for the USAFA)
51 crunches in 1 minutes (compare to 95 in two minutes for the USAFA)
1.5 mile run in 11:06 (compare to 1 mile run in 7:40 for the USAFA)

Interview: usually done in person, but this will probably be done by phone.

What´s done?
The online portion. You know, the standard name, SSN, military duty, drug use questionnaire. Along with a couple of questions about how I heard about it, doubtless to see what kind of recruitment is the most efficient.

Counselor Report: names, addresses, activities I´m in, grades and class rank.



The ones I´ve started, in order of completeness, are:

Air Force Academy

Air Force ROTC Scholarship

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (I´ve been misspelling it, it´s correct here)

Common Applications

The next few posts will be orderly lists of what has to be done for each, and me complaining about it. Enjoy.


My USAFA profile is still incomplete. Aside from the CFA (which will be turned in the first week of October), the other forms have no true justification. I'm still missing the Personal Data form and the transcript.

The USAFA Candidate Personal Data form asks for a permanent state or region. All listed belong to the US, with no hint of the chance that there might be people beyond its territories.

My transcript hasn't been added to my online profile yet, and I sent it nearly 3 weeks ago.

I'm asked for a notarized copy of my "Report of Citizen Born Abroad". If it has to be notarized through the Embassy, it's going to be a couple of annoying trips to the capital and lots of waiting in line. Or, it could be done by a notary public which might take 15 minutes. Either way, it's only if I'm offered an appointment. but if it has to be done by the Embassy I should start now.

En fin, I sent the Selections Office an e-mail asking about these three problems, and the reply only answered the two least important ones... and not even completely. The response:
-No mention of the permanent state or region.
-The transcript is there, but hasn't been updated.
-Send a copy of the report to [address].

You'll notice the only useful one is the second. I don't know who has to notarize the report. I can't submit the Personal Data form without a permanent address.

I tried calling the Counselor, but was told to leave a message and number and they would call back within two business days. I did, they haven't. (Granted, my cellphone was turned off during the 5 hour math test). I'm calling again today.

Monday, September 13, 2010

DoDMERB Resets the Password

I got a reply from DoDMERB.

I sent an e-mail before asking for my username, and received it, but apparently I had that right and the problem was with the password. Could you send me my password, or let me reset it? Thank you!"

"I will reset it for you."

These people have no words to spare, apparently.

NOTE: I just signed in and have to reset my password anyway. I have to change it at least every 90 days. It has to have weird punctuation, numbers, upper and lower case letters. No wonder I couldn´t remember the original one.

I´m in. My profile says: "Qualified". Exactly like the USAFA page whose password I do remember.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Liaison Officer Interview

I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax
I can't sleep 'cause my bed's on fire
Don't touch me I'm a real live wire
-Psycho Killer - Talking Heads

The formal interview with The Major (my Liaison Officer) was today. I messed up the time zones, I thought I was an hour behind when it was actually 2, which put the interview at 7 am. I was awake at 5:40. It lasted about 2 hours, with a brief interruption thanks to my almost uncharged cellphone.

The Major called my cellphone, which I wasn't expecting. In fact, I was going to turn the thing off to avoid interruptions. Even worse, halfway through one of my answers, the damn thing's battery died. Halfway through the interview. I had to look frantically through my e-mail to find his number and call him back (on the normal phone).

Some of the questions were, as he put it, canned questions, others were his own. TM means The Major made it up, C means it's canned. It's easy to tell the difference, and the ones he made up give more insight into the candidate than the others, which were the kind of questions anyone would expect in a similar interiew.

How would your best friend describe you (TM)?
She thinks I'm insane, I warn her it's contagious. Actually, I didn't really answer that one, but I sent her a message asking her to describe me, and I'll e-mail her answer to The Major. One answered back: "Independent, friendly, like to accomplish the goals she sets herself. Eccentric." The others haven't answered (at 9am on a Sunday, they probably aren't awake)

What do you think being an officer means (C)?
Responsibility, being in charge of other people, giving orders and having them followed. If anyone messes up, it's your fault as much as (if not more than) theirs.

What's your strongest point (C)?
Math, writing. I like to write. I like math. My future, though, is definitely in engineering.

What's your weakest point (C)?
Definitely the physical.

What's something you really regret and how would you re-do it if you could (TM)?
My answer: not taking advantage of summer vacations to study, work out, do something useful.

This is true, but a truer answer is: We had a really hard physics test. Students were saying they'd be happy if they got over a 50 (pass grade is 70, scale 0-100). I said I probably got an 80. One of the smarter students laughed, a lot. Then told everyone else what I'd said and they laughed. He got the test back, graded with something like a 50. I got my test back: 85. I gloated, and might have rubbed it into his face. He congratulated me sincerely. I felt like a complete and utter rat for gloating. I wish I could go back and be less petty. On the other hand, he's beaten me on every test since then. Serves me right.

I considered giving this answer, but for some reason didn't feel like I should. It's a bit hard to explain, and inconsequential.

He told me a bit about his job. He was deployed and described that, as well as what it's like to be in the Air Force. Apparently, only something like 5 other candidates are applying from Central and South America. I bet we're all vying for the coveted Vice-Presidential nomination. Almost related: he usually talks to the candidates in person up to 5 or 6 times before the actual interview. This is the only time I've actually spoken to The Major.

He also told me about an interesting web site: Air Force Times, and he'll send me some more links later, which I'll post as I get.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

College Spam

When I registered for the SAT, I let Universities and Scholarships programs have access to my scores. This resulted in quite a few e-mails, and one physical package, from some of the colleges. Here's a list of them, in order of contact:
  • Rutgers University
  • Saint Louis University - Madrid Campus
  • Westminster College
  • Loyola University New Orleans (2)
  • Suffolk University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (5)
  • The University of Chicago (2)
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Florida International University (2)
  • Wheaton College
  • Franklin College Switzerland
  • Colgate University
  • University of Pennsylvania (I think I contacted them, first)
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Harvard

Allow me to be completely honest. The names I recognize are Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Rensselaer. No others. I read the list aloud to my father, and he seemed incredulous, and far to optimistic about my chances of acceptance. Any US university seems like a long shot from here.

It also seems like any admissions process is going to be an incredible pain. The Harvard offer came in the mail, along with the Common Application form. Along with yet another Teacher Evaluation form. This means I'm going to have to sit down with my English teacher, translate the form, give them to teachers that like me, and translate their answers. Then, if I ask for letters of recommendation (and I'd better, if I want to be considered) guess who'll have to help translate those as well? Yup, me.

*Note: if you're wondering how wise this is, letting the student translate these, the English teacher goes over them, makes corrections, strikes out the "Coolest student ever, saved the world from an alien invasion" comments I add, and authorizes them

As for Scholarships, all I've gotten is an e-mail from QuestBridge, which helps low income students pay for a college education. It has a pretty prestigious list of universities to which it's related.

Something else I discovered: the form for the Vice-Presidential nomination asks me to pick my region from a list. That list also neglects mention of South and Central America, along with Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, etc. Apparently, US citizens living abroad are out of luck. And no, there's no "Citizen Abroad" option, either. I think I've said this before, but that's a huge oversight.

Friday, September 10, 2010

DoDMERB Response

Ok, I feel like I owe DoDMERB an apology. Last post I mentioned I sent them an e-mail and that I didn´t expect a useful asnwer. I got the answer 1 1/2 days later. A brief but excellent:

Hi ******

Your username is Ambermutt.


Wow, thank you.

Update: Drat. I tried to sign in again, and apparently the problem is not with the username (which is exactly what I thought it was), it´s with the password. I´m going to feel like an idiot sending another e-mail saying "Hi, me again. I messed up before, the problem is with the password. Could you send that, too?". How incredibly irresponsible, but damn it, I´m sure of the password!

Monday, September 6, 2010

DoDMERB Medical Report

I just checked my profile on the USAFA page, and info from my medical is in. "Qualified".

I can get more details on the DoDMERB page, but I forgot my name. This is usually hard for me to do becuase I use the same name on everything. Unsafe, I know, but it keeps things like this from happening. What´s worse is that I know exactly what the password is, but I can´t for the life of me remember the name. That´s what happens when I don´t use Ambermutt.

I just sent the Webmaster an e-mail asking if there´s any way to get the name, or delete the old account and create a new one. From this years experience trying to get answers from any institution through e-mails, I don´t expect an answer anytime useful.

The good thing is that I don´t need waivers or remedials, so I don´t actually need to see that page.

Profiles and Statistics

My Liason Officer sent me the Year of 2014 Class Profile. Here are the more interesting numbers:

Applicants and Nominees (This one really puts things into perspective, what's horrible is the comparison between Qualified Candidates and Offers of Admission)

Candidate Pool

Qualified Candidates

Offers of Admission

New U.S. Cadets 1269
New International Students 17
Turnbacks Returning 8

College Board Scores (SAT)
(for comparison: My math was 650, my Reading was 740, my Writing was 580. I don't know how they get to Verbal, but if it's a normal average, then mine is 660. These scores are ok, but I'll need better to make up for my CFA. Yeah, I know it doesn't work that way (a bad CFA is reason enough to disqualify you) but I need something to make me look good.)

The first number is the Mid 50% Range

Mean: 640

Mean: 666

Geographical distribution was pretty cool, aside from all 50 states and Territory of Guam, there were people from: Brunei, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, Jordan, South Korea, Lebanon, Pakistan, Peru, Romania, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia and Uganda. Count them, that fits exactly the International Student count. One from each country.

High School Honors and Activities
(these numbers are pretty impressive, specially the Athletic Letter Awards. I think I only fit in the Class President category).

Class President

Class Vice-President



National Honor Society

Boys’/Girls’ State or Nation Representative

Yearbook/Newspaper (Editor or Business Mgr)

Yearbook/Newspaper (Other Staff Mbr)

Debate Team

Dramatic Production

Band or Orchestra

Chorus/Glee Club

Boy/Girl Scouts

Eagle Scout/Gold Award


Civil Air Patrol

Academic Bowl Team

Athletic Letter Awards (1 or More/Any Sport)

Football 22%
Basketball 11%
Baseball 9%
Track 27%
Swimming 11%
Soccer 13%

Average GPA (mine is something like 3.65 or thereabouts.)

There's more information, like ACT scores (which doesn't affect me in the least) and Sons and Daughters of Alumni (again, irrelevant, but 14 students had parents that attended the same academy).