Sunday, August 10, 2014

ALO Interview

Nathan got home from White Sulphur Springs Friday night, bringing with him a terrible cold that actually some of the rest of us already had as well.  So we're just one happy hacking, sniffling family right now!  He had Saturday to recover, and then bright and early this morning he and I left to drive up to Ft. Meade, MD, where he met his admission liaison officer to have an interview, as part of his Air Force Academy application.

The ALO is usually an officer who lives locally and assists candidates in their pursuit of an Academy appointment.  Navy and Army have them too (BGOs and MALOs).  If Nathan was at our local high school, then there is an ALO for that school, and he would even be able to talk to teachers, coaches, etc. to try to get a feel for Nathan as a candidate.  Every candidate has to have an interview with the ALO to advance in the process, and the ALO fills out a form with their impressions from the interview to send to the Academy.  The saying goes, "An ALO can't get you an appointment, but they could keep you from an appointment", if they thought you weren't serious or whatever.  But the interview is supposed to be more low-key than the ones with the congressional representatives, who are making decisions for nominations!  Somehow, since Nathan is homeschooled, he got an ALO that is regional, not local, which was weird, because other VA candidates we have known had local ones.

Nathan (and I!) were both nervous.  I had stayed up late trying to update Nathan's transcript with his classes for next year.  The transcript is in Excel, which I have a hard time working with.  A lady on the Well-Trained Mind boards sent me her daughter's transcript as a template, and it is the only one I've seen that really works, since I need to include all Nathan's test scores for APs and SAT IIs to validate his grades, as well as a box explaining the different fonts used to denote classes taken at home, at Rivendell, online, and at the community college. But the borders were getting all messed up, and I had run out of room in the area for science classes--it was frustrating!  Bob had been up in PA all day with the girls, visiting an amusement park with his family, and he didn't get home until a little after 11:00.  He was able to help get it all straightened out, however.  *Whew*  We printed that off to bring with him, as well as the resume Nathan had prepared for his nomination packets, listing sports, extra-curricular activities, leadership positions, employment, and community service.

They were to meet at the Ft. Meade PX, which is over an hour away, so Nathan and I had plenty of time to talk in the car.  I had typed up a list of potential questions I had found from various threads on the service academy forums as well as college confidential, just to get him thinking about things.  We had good discussions and were able to come up with examples and stories for the questions I had, so that was good.

The interview was really long--one hour, 10 minutes.  Nathan came out of it thinking it went okay, but it could have gone better.  He felt like for the first 30 minutes he had good answers for all the questions.  The first ones were the no-brainer ones, like "What made you interested in the Academy?", and ones about leadership and the advantages/disadvantages of homeschooling.  We totally predicted those!  The last part was harder though, and Nathan felt like he said, "Ummm . . ." too much and moved his hands nervously.  Also, the questions were more situational (like "When was a time you disagreed with your leadership, and how did you handle it?").  We had (obviously, lol) not been able to predict all these questions, and it is hard to think of relative examples for weird situations on the fly, so Nathan felt like he wasn't as confidant/prepared here.  Also, for some questions we had discussed a situation that would fit . . . but then the ALO wanted a second example as well!  Ack!  Nathan felt like he had used up all his good stories in the first 30 minutes, lol.  But from what Nathan told me, I thought he did as well as could be expected, and that the ALO got a good sense of his character/experiences/personality.  It was definitely good to have the practice before nomination interviews!

For anyone who might be curious, here is the list of questions I had typed up, along with the ones Nathan had trouble with that weren't on my original list.  Hopefully it will be helpful to someone else!  I grouped the situational questions at the end.

  • What sparked your interest in the Academy?
  • What is motivating you to go, other than being a pilot?
  • What do your parents think of you pursuing an Academy appointment/military career?
  • What do you think the advantages.disadvantages of homeschooling have been for you?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • Should we provide military support for the current situation in Iraq (or insert some other current news event)?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What is a book you have read lately/one that has impacted your life?
  • Do you think the honor code is reasonable?
  • How have you demonstrated leadership?
  • How have you confronted adversity?
  • Share an ethical dilemma you have dealt with--how did you handle it?
  • Have you ever had a time when you failed at something?  How did you respond?
  • Have you had a time when you were really stressed out, had many things to get done, and couldn't possibly complete them all?  What did you do?
  • Share a time when you have watched a peer succumb to peer pressure.  How do you feel like you respond to peer pressure?
  • What is something you have regretted in the past, or that you would do over, if you could?
  • What is example of a situation where you disagreed with your leadership, and how did you handle it?

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