LTC Brechin, USAF, Ret.
Local Help: Your Admissions Officer's Role for USAFA, USNA and USMA
Updated: Mar 11
Each ALO, BGO & FFR are local resources for academy candidates to use
As an AF Admissions Officer (ALO), I played a number of roles representing the U.S. Air Force Academy. I mentored, I interviewed, I advised, and I awarded USAFA appointments at high school award ceremonies. I enjoyed the role of ALO very much.
Each of the three major U.S. service academies (i.e., the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy) use a local contact to assist and interview candidates applying for their individual schools. As a candidate, it is in your best interest to meet this individual early in the application process.
Let's discuss the 'role' of each admissions officer for USAFA, USMA and USNA.
The current Admissions Liaison Officer role (as opposed to when I was an ALO) is split into two halves. One role is referred to as a "mentor" ALO, and the second role is called an "evaluator" ALO. As a mentor, an ALO serves a local area and schools. He or she supports students as needed throughout the entire application process. You, as a candidate, should reach out to the M-ALO early in the application process, around April of your senior year. I will discuss more about your approach later in this blog. The other role of an ALO is as an interviewer of AFA candidates. However, the candidate and E-ALO will never be co-located in the same area or even the same state. The aim is to remove any preconceived impression or bias prior to the interview. Your E-ALO will be assigned when you complete the AFA Candidate Kit. Typically, she will conduct the interview over a video link, like Zoom or FaceTime. An ALO is often an Air Force Reserve Officer, but she can also be a retired officer and will often be an Air Force Academy graduate.
The U.S. Military Academy's Field Force Representative (FFR) serves the same role as an ALO; however, the FFR is often a retired graduate, a volunteer associated with USMA or similar. You may find your FFR is the parent of a USMA graduate who lives in your area. The FFR serves both roles as a mentor and an interviewer. The latter is not specifically required by USMA, but I highly recommend that you meet your FFR in person during the application process.
The Blue and Gold Officer (BGO) is the admissions officer for the U.S. Naval Academy. The BGO is most often a separated or retired Naval or Marine officer who graduated from USNA. Each serves both roles as a mentor and an evaluator, like the FFR. However, a BGO interview is required to complete your USNA application.
Lastly, for completeness, both USMMA and USCGA have some admissions officers in the field, but they are very limited in number. Most interviews are conducted by active duty staff at each of the schools.
Working with your admissions officer is usually quite easy. Your M-ALO, FFR and BGO will be identified when you open your application to each of the schools and are qualified as a candidate. Work with each of them professionally and ask questions if you cannot find information on your own, or you are hung up on an issue
If you haven't met your admissions officer prior to April of your junior year, then I encourage you to reach out to each one for the service academy for which you plan to apply. The Mentor ALO will be a resource for you, but recall that this officer will not conduct your academy interview. However, your local BGO and FFR will conduct the academy interviews for USNA and USMA, respectively. They are also a great resource for any questions that you may have. I suggest introducing yourself through an email with an attached résumé outlining education, activities, honors, awards, community service and work experience along with any pertinent hobbies, interests and skills. I recommend keeping it to a single page. I suggest that you read this blog for more details.
Every few months, update the BGO and FFR on your 'news' -- e.g., your latest SAT results, a promotion in Scouting or the completion of an interesting service project. When you complete about 60% to 80% of your USNA or USMA application, it is likely they will ask you to schedule a formal interview. BGO's will often ask you to meet them informally for a quick 'greet and meet' at a central location. You will then mutually agree on a time to meet at your home, with your parents, for the formal interview.
Most FFR's will meet you at a central location to get to know you. As I noted previously, this interview is not strictly required by USMA; however, I highly recommend that you 'insist' on meeting and outlining your successes throughout your activities. In other words, be prepared (in all of your academy interviews) to discuss how you lead and engage with others. Concrete examples are imperative. You must be able to talk about leading your service project, organizing the club fund raiser and being a good teammate on your sports team.
For USAFA, your E-ALO will be designated when you complete the Candidate Kit. Reach out to the officer soon after you learn his name and email address. Be sure to attach your one-page résumé to the email asking the E-ALO when he is available to meet. Since he is located in a different state, the meeting will likely be through a video link, like Zoom or Google Meet, or a phone call.
By the way, when you win an appointment, the local admissions officer can arrange to present the appointment in person at your high school awards banquet or similar affair. Don't hesitate to ask her for this assistance.
Your academy admissions officer is an important part of the application process. Working with the ALO, BGO and FFR punctually, respectfully and seriously are important.
Prepare for each interaction, especially the one-on-one interview that will be conducted near the end of your application process.
If you need help with your academy applications, then your admissions officer is a great person to ask. Get to know your ALO, BGO and FFR, and you will be one more step closer to earning an academy appointment!
[I would welcome a chance to discuss details with you. I offer coaching services to pace and prepare you (and your parents!) for the entire Academy application process, including working with your academy admissions officer(s). Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or 503.515.7406]