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  • Writer's pictureLTC Brechin, USAF, Ret.

Using the Service Academy Forums

Updated: Feb 8

A good online tool with lots of advice for students and others . . . but take caution!

The Service Academy Forum header for the website

Some of my favorite quotations concerning "advice" are:

  • "The right advice is very personal, and will depend on your particular situation."

  • "Generic advice is like junk mail. To be useful, you have to customize it -- one size does not fit all."

  • "Many receive advice, few profit by it."

If you have consulted the website, Service Academy Forums, then you are familiar with the format of a resource that many, who seek an U.S. service academy appointment and other military scholarships, use routinely. Parents, candidates, current cadets, ROTC members, recent appointees and military veterans are some of the individuals that lend their expertise and provide advice through the SAF website. Anyone can 'ask' a question or describe a situation to gain insights from this open-sourced forum.

My students and other have asked my opinion of SAF, and its effectiveness for Academy and ROTC scholarship candidates. I think it is a good resouce. Often, the guidance is sound and well thought-out. Some of the advice, however, has errors so 'buyer beware'!

I also contribute my advice to SAF; however, I often don't know enough about the candidate to provide detailed counsel. I do my best! But, I suffer many of the issues that I point out with the three quotations that I cited previously. Let me dig-in a bit more . . .

The right advice is very personal, and will depend on your particular situation. As I noted, it is difficult to 'know' an anonymous candidate, his/her background, his overall drive and intent, her previous efforts to address an issue, etc. The only way to provide great advice is to be aware of a candidate's situation as it is very personal. As an Academy Admissions coach, I understand my student's situation as I invest the time to understand details, background, drive and intent, as well as my student's previous efforts to address an issue. We get personal! And it provides sound results.

Generic advice is like junk mail. To be useful, you have to customize it -- one size does not fit all. SAF provides some good 'generic' advice, and many readers will be able to 'customize' it to fit their particular situation. I encourage my students to reach out to some of the midshipmen or cadets that often offer to respond to questions through the forum. For example, on a recent SAF, a student asked about the combat boots that the cadet preferred and why. The insight from the cadet was great and on point! However, for many students, the 'generic' advice can be quite confusing. My counsel, as an admissions coach, is customized for each of my students.

Many receive advice, few profit by it. SAF readers will gain some great insights and information. As I noted previously, you should be a bit careful with some of the advice.

When you find some good guidance on SAF, I encourage you to note it and then make a plan to implement the advice in your preparations for the application process and eventually becoming a cadet or a midshipman. In other words, "profit" from the advice!

As an admissions coach, I reinforce my 'lessons' (advice and counsel) with assignments and active follow-up with all of my students. Thoughts lead to actions, actions lead to habits, and good habits will lead to a successful path to becoming a military officer through a U.S. service academy or an ROTC scholarship.

[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 . . . along with effective advice tailored for your particular situation! Contact me at chris@cbbrechin.com, 503.515.7406 or complete my contact form on the home page.]

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