Why You Should Apply to the Air Force Academy

So for this video, I decided it was time to dust off a few of my Air Force academy uniforms. And, I don’t know, I guess try a few on for you guys. So here it goes. First up, we got the PT gear. There was definitely a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that went into this shirt, but I’m glad it still smells. So there’s that. Alright. The a jacket decked out with my squad modern patch. I pretty much wore this thing to class every single day. The parka. Rarely worn, but extremely coveted. This thing traces its origins back to the beginning years of the academy. And if I’m being honest, it’s actually pretty warm. All right, last but not least, the shower robe. Pretty self explanatory, but a staple for all academy graduates. So, anyways, that’s enough of that. I say we go ahead and get started. This is why you should apply to the United States Air Force Academy. What’s up, everyone? My name is Sam Atkholm, and I am actually a 2018 graduate of the Air Force Academy, currently serving active duty in the Air Force. I’m sure many of you already know what the Air Force Academy is, but for those who don’t, it’s essentially one of the most unique four year college experiences in the world.


It’s located in Colorado Springs, and upon graduation, after your senior year, you will commission as an officer in the US Air Force. Now, being a military academy, it’s going to be physically challenging, and the academics are pretty tough. But at the same time, I promise you, it is incredibly rewarding. At the academy, you’re not going to get the typical college experience that most of your friends will probably have. But at the same time, what you will get is the chance to take advantage of some once in a lifetime opportunities. So, to begin, let’s go way back in time to the summer of 2014, when I stepped off the bus and arrived at the academy for basic cadet training. Now, in this moment, this exact moment right here, did I question my decision to attend the academy? Absolutely. But what I will tell you is that this day was probably the last time that thought ever crossed my mind. You see, I chose to go to the Air Force academy because not only did I want a challenge, but I wanted to do something different than most of the other kids I grew up with. I wanted a school that would set me up for success later in life.


A school where I wouldn’t have to worry about student loans or looking for a job when I graduated, I wanted to go to a school that would allow me to serve my country, and I really, really wanted to spend my entire freshman year getting yelled at. Yes, sir or ma’am. But in all seriousness, the Air Force academy’s benefits are ones that are still surprising me to this day. And if you’re up for the challenge, I really hope this video encourages some of you all to apply. So, first up, I want to talk about one of the most appealing benefits of attending the academy. Yep. The cost. The cost of admission for your entire four years will be completely covered. Your tuition, room and board, meals, and many other admissions fees will be free. I mean, technically, it’s covered by taxpayer dollars, which we all contribute to, but come on, it’s basically free. On top of the free cost of admission, the academy will also pay every single cadet a monthly stipend. So you can actually have some spending money to go out and enjoy throughout your freshman year. The stipend will be reduced to pay off some of the cost of your issued uniform items, computer, and so on.


But by the time you’re a junior and senior, you will be making some pretty good money each month, especially considering that everything you really need will be covered. Now, I should definitely add that the trade off for receiving this free education is that upon graduation, you will owe a minimum of five years active duty service in the air force. Now, should you choose to go to pilot training or one of another select few career fields, the commitment you owe will be longer, depending on what job you select. Now, as I mentioned earlier, the Air Force academy will pretty much set up every single cadet for success. That’s because after you graduate, you will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force. Not only will you get a guaranteed job, but it’s an opportunity to start leading other people as a young officer, as well as an opportunity to serve your country and put you on a path to really make a difference. There are dozens of different career fields you can go into, and once your senior year rolls around at the academy, you will have the opportunity to put in your preferences for both what job you want and what base you’d like to be stationed at.


I was able to get my dream job as public affairs right out of the academy, and even got one of my top choices for locations as well. Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll get what you want, but the harder you work and better you perform throughout your four years will pay off when it comes time for your job selection. All right, now, I’m sure there’s a lot of people watching who are very interested in becoming a pilot in the Air Force. And I’m here to tell you that the Air Force Academy is hands down one of the best places you can go to earn a pilot slot. The reason for that is that the academy hands out the largest number of pilot slots to cadets every single year. When I graduated in 2018, over 400 pilot slots were awarded to my class. And if we look back at the class of 2019, their class had more than 530 pilot slots given out. So if you don’t see the trend right now, it’s a great time to be a pilot in the air Force. And statistically speaking, the academy is going to be your best option to do just that.


Now, when I was in high school, researching the Air Force academy as an option for where I wanted to go to college, I mean, I was completely blown away by all of the crazy, unique opportunities cadets had the chance to be a part of. Now, this was a huge reason I decided to apply. And now, as a grad, looking back, I can promise you that there will be no shortage of incredible experience you will get to take advantage of. So, first off, I want to talk about the summers, because they are some of the most exciting times at the academy. And each year, there will be different options for what programs you can do after your freshman year. You can sign up for either the basic free fall course, which gives every single cadet five freefall parachute jumps, or you can choose to fly gliders in the airmanship program as well. I personally chose to go the jump route, which they say is the only place in the world. Your very first jump is 100% by yourself. Let’s just say it was an insane experience, but I’m not sure if I will ever willingly do something like that again.


Oh my God. Oh, my God. He on exchange mode.


Now, after your sophomore year, you will get sent on a program called Ops Air Force, which allows you to experience different active duty career fields at a real Air Force base. They send over a thousand cadets to bases all around the world, and you will have the opportunity to shadow all different types of career fields and may even have the chance to strap into the backseat of a fighter jet or other military aircraft. I got to go to Travis Air Force Base, which is just south of San Francisco, and spent close to three weeks learning a ton about the Air Force and also exploring some pretty sweet places. Now, by the time your junior and senior years roll around, if you’re interested, you can apply for summer internships or even look at possibly spending a summer abroad or semester abroad at a foreign country’s military academy. In fact, there are even options to do a semester exchange with both West Point, Annapolis and the Coast Guard Academy as well. I personally spent six weeks after my junior year living in Georgetown and interning for a congressman on Capitol Hill. And this was just one of the many highlights I had throughout each of my summers at the academy.


Now, I also want to mention one more quick thing that is pretty unique to the Air Force academy, and that is the student to faculty ratio. The Air Force Academy ranks as one of the best in the nation with a student to faculty ratio of eight to one. The school also has 65% of its classes held with fewer than 20 students. Now this is important because while the academics at the academy are tough, having those smaller classrooms and teachers dedicated to giving you extra instruction whenever you need it makes so much of a difference in terms of your education. Now, there were many long nights I had studying for tests and completing projects, but having my instructors there to help all along the way was incredibly important. Now, in my opinion, probably the number one reason for why the Air Force academy is such a special place is going to be the people. Because of how much time you spend working as a team alongside your class and your squadron. The bonds and friendships you will make will seriously last a lifetime. Throughout your freshman year, you will essentially do everything with your squadron that consists of about 30 cadets in each class, especially freshman year.


You will live, eat, breathe, train, work out and study with your freshman class. Some of my best memories I had were that first year, and I’ll never forget some of the crazy things we did and probably some of the things we shouldn’t have done as well. Now, before we wrap things up, I want to cover a few misconceptions I’ve heard about the academy to hopefully clear the air and let you know what you’re getting yourself into. So, first off, the academy is not purely a military school. And what I mean by that is that we are not just constantly going around and being all military and strapped and serious. I mean, of course there are times for that, but at the end of the day, we’re all still college kids and you are allowed to have fun. Just like the other schools. The Air Force academy has a division I football team, baseball team, basketball team, and about a million other intercollegiate sports teams and clubs that you can be a part of. I was actually on the mock trial team at the academy and got to travel all over the country to compete against other schools.


And of course, I can’t go on without mentioning Air Force hockey. It definitely gets pretty rowdy. Now, I’ve also heard people ask if you have any free time at the academy, and the answer is yes. The campus itself is located in Colorado Springs, and it’s just a quick drive off base when you’re an upperclassman to grab some food or hang out with your friends on the weekend to just get away. Not to mention the fact that you’re just a few hours away from some of the best skiing in the country. So if that’s your thing, you’re going to be set. So last but not least, if you’re wondering if you have to major in some sort of engineering or math or sciences field, the answer is no. While the Air Force academy does have some of the best programs for these technical degrees, that doesn’t mean you have to make it your focus. Now, you will spend your first two years taking a bunch of core classes that will introduce you to these subjects, but when it comes time to declare a major, you are free to choose any one of the academy’s 30 plus majors that include English, legal studies, behavioral science, management, and economics.


So that about sums it up. I mean, obviously there’s no way I could possibly mention all of the reasons why you should apply to the Air Force academy, but I hope I was able to spark some interest. Just like everything, the school is not going to be for everyone. So make sure you continue to do some research on your own to find out if it would be a good fit for you. The academy admissions website has some fantastic information, not only about cadet life, but also how you can get started on the application itself. As always, if anyone has any questions, please feel free to drop them in the comments below or shoot me a message on instagram and I would love to help you out. So in the meantime, take care everyone Sko Falcs and I’ll see you in the next video.


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