By Tammie Adams
Officially accepting a college offer can be intimidating when one is admitted to several competitive academic institutions. Upon receiving an appointment to the Air Force Academy, some applicants know without a doubt they will accept if given the chance. Other applicants would like some more questions answered before they embark upon one of the most important chapters of their life.
For this reason, the Air Force Academy Admissions Office implements a program called Appointee Orientation for appointees and their family members in order to paint a clear and realistic picture of cadet life. Every year, Admissions conducts three separate two-day sessions in April and concluded the second session Tuesday.
“Many times, parents play a significant role in helping their children determine which college to attend, so we feel the orientation is just as important for the family members as it is for the appointee,” said Larry Jones, acting director of admissions. “We want to answer everybody’s questions even though the ultimate decision should rest with the appointee.”
Attendees spend most of the first day in Arnold Hall, where various vendors are set up to answer questions, refreshments and lunch are served, and numerous briefings are given by senior leadership.
The orientation is set up with several question and answer opportunities. Representatives from the Association of Graduates, parents clubs, cadet clubs, cadet sponsorship, cadet pay, medical staff and Admissions staff are available to answer questions. In addition, guests are welcome to ask the senior leaders questions after each briefing. During lunch time, senior staff, squadron representatives, cadets and Admissions staff eat with the appointees to answer questions.
“We want to eliminate any mystery and show appointees an all-encompassing picture of the Academy,” Mr. Jones said. “Our goal is to acquaint appointees with the mission, operation, facilities and faculty of the Academy.”
When the evening of the first day rolls around, appointees are paired up with cadets who will escort them to dinner in Mitchell Hall, provide a tour of the cadet area, and give them an opportunity to experience dorm life until the following morning. At that point, the appointees eat breakfast with their cadets and attend classes in Fairchild Hall.
One appointee, Jacob Nicholson from Hayesville, N.C., was also accepted to Clemson University and West Point and has not yet accepted his Academy appointment. He desires to study engineering and said he now feels ready to make an informed college choice.
“My favorite part of the orientation was eating meals with the cadets because it gave me a chance
to see how cadets live and act in a more casual
setting,” he said.
While appointees spend the day with cadets and attend classes, the parents receive a tour of the cadet area. The tour gives parents a firsthand look at Sijan Hall, one of the two cadet dormitories; Mitchell Hall, the dining facility; Fairchild Hall, the main academic building; and the McDermott Library. At the end of the day, the parents and appointees are reunited.
Jennifer James, an appointee from Woodinville, Wash., can’t remember all the questions she wanted answered before she got here because she had too many but said that the orientation answered all of them.
“I had fun with my cadet and her roommate,” she said. “They made a big effort to make sure I had fun and that I was fully informed.”
Statistically, about 50 percent of those offered appointments attend the orientation each year.