U.S. Air Force Academy Recommendations, 2023-24
Updated: Jul 31
USAFA requires three evaluations and two optional LORs . . .
Your first steps to 'earning' an AFA white parade cap is completing the application for admissions to the U.S Air Force Academy. An important component of this application will be three evaluations from your school teachers and officials. Plus, you may include two optional recommendation letters.
Let's review the requirements for these evaluations and recommendations . . .
If you are in high school, these evaluations must come from your 11th- or 12th-grade English instructor, math instructor and one other school official. If you are in college, then you may have your college instructors complete the evaluations. Home schoolers can have individuals within their community, who know them well, complete the forms.
One point to keep in mind: entering and 'saving' the information for each evaluator will immediately trigger an email request.
As you will note above, USAFA outlines a priority list for your 'other school official' evaluation starting with your ROTC or JROTC commander and instructor. Next on the list is your counselor or principal. And, finally, you may use a chemistry or physics teacher from your junior or senior year or another teacher as listed.
The list is meant to provide guidance only. Therefore, if your counselor hardly knows you, then you should select a teacher, for example, that can speak to your qualifications. A good example might be your history teacher, who is also a sponsor for the History Club for which you also help lead. Thus, this recommender knows you from multiple perspectives, which should allow her to provide a 'richer' evaluation of your work in the classroom and interactions with others as club member and leader.
A unique aspect of the Air Force Academy application is the optional recommendation. You may submit two. Each one is a 'true' letter written by a coach, mentor, Scoutmaster, JROTC commander or other adult that you may know well. Providing these letters is completely optional (although encouraged). The letters of recommendation (LORs) cannot be from a teacher, counselor, principal, etc., you have also asked to provide a separate evaluation through your AFA portal.
I recommend that students use LORs that provide insight beyond what your other three evaluations will provide. Teachers typically know you only as a 'student' so supplying letters from people outside of the school environment will provide another perspective not likely found through your teacher evaluations. When you complete the entries, then your recommenders will receive an email request to upload their letter as a PDF (or other file format) through a designated web portal.
Some other points to emphasize . . .
Coordinate with all of your teachers and recommenders so that they expect to receive the USAFA email request. Sometimes the emails will be captured in spam so double-check with each person to ensure they received the request.
Unlike USMA and USNA, the USAFA application portal does not display a dashboard (i.e., the checklist) until after you complete the Candidate Kit. Thus, you will not know if the requests were fulfilled and received by USAFA Admissions until the kit has been completed. See my blog about the Candidate Kit for more details.
Ideally, you will build a good relationship with your teachers well before you require an AFA evaluation. Your junior year teachers may work well for you, especially if you can line-up their support at the end of your junior year of high school. Refer to my blog about letters of recommendation for some pointers.
One alternative to generate your LORs is to draft the letters for your 'busy' recommenders. I wrote a good blog about this topic too.
Get started! The Candidate Kit opened on July 15. You'll have quite a few 'spaces' to fill-in and questions to answer. One set will be your evaluators and recommenders. With planning and coordination, you will be ready to complete this portion too!
[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 helping you coordinate with your USAFA recommenders. Contact me at email@example.com and/or 503.515.7406]