Preparing your application for the Air Force Academy is a significant milestone. One of the most crucial parts of this application is the Resume and Extracurricular section, in order to ensure you’re earning the highest Selection Composite Score possible.

This guide aims to help you differentiate between the two and ensure that each section effectively showcases your accomplishments and dedication.

Understanding the Difference: the USAFA Resume vs. USAFA Extracurricular Section

While both the Resume and Extracurricular sections aim to showcase your experiences and accomplishments, they serve slightly different purposes.

Resume Section

This section is comprehensive, allowing you to detail a wide range of experiences across various facets of your life, from leadership roles and employment to recognitions and personal interests.

Your resume gives a broad overview of who you are. It includes five sections, and in each you can include up to 3000 characters, allowing you to go into a lot of detail on:

  • Leadership and Extracurricular Activities

  • Volunteer Experience

  • Employment History

  • Recognition

  • Skills, Hobbies, and Interests

We recommend writing in bullet format, as the application instructions request.

Extracurricular Section

This is a more focused section where you get to handpick the top 10 activities that you believe best showcase your leadership, dedication, and alignment with the values of the Air Force Academy.

Given the 255-character limit for each activity, it’s vital to be concise and to-the-point.

There are many different choices to choose from, but they all come from 5 different drop-down options:

  • Athletics

  • Activities

  • Honor/Award

  • Work/Volunteer

  • Licenses

Pro Tip: We recommend that you write out the list of all of your activities, leadership, awards, service, and hobbies within the resume section, and from that list choose your top 10 extracurriculars.

Maximizing Each Resume Section

Organize your entries in a bullet-point format, clearly indicating the specific grade or year of engagement and the extent of your commitment

Leadership and Extracurricular Activities

In your pursuit to earn an Air Force Academy appointment, it’s not just about academic prowess but also about showcasing real-world skills, leadership acumen, and a demonstrable commitment to service. Your leadership and extracurricular activities offer a glimpse into these qualities, projecting you as a capable future cadet and Air Force or Space Force officer.

Prompt: Describe all leadership positions you have held and extracurricular activities you were involved in to include athletic activities. Please include activities or leadership positions held during college and/or while enlisted. Briefly describe the impact you had within each activity/position. Please list these items in bulleted format and be sure to include specific grades/years of involvement and length of time committed to each activity. (3000 characters max)

What to Include Under Leadership and Extracurricular activities

  • Position/Activity Name: Be explicit about the role or activity. Whether it’s an official position in a student council, a captaincy in a sports squad, or a leadership role in a community drive, specificity is key.

  • Grade/Year of Engagement: This gives a chronological understanding of your evolution as a leader and participant.

  • Specific Responsibilities: Enumerate the primary tasks or duties you shouldered. This offers insight into your capabilities and the level of trust placed in you.

  • Team Size (if applicable): Indicating the number of individuals you guided or collaborated with highlights the scope of your responsibility.

  • Impact of Your Leadership: Crucially, illustrate the tangible outcomes of your leadership. Did you initiate any novel projects? Drive any improvements? Your role’s impact underscores your leadership prowess.

Example:

Student Council President (11th Grade)

  • Led a team of 20 representatives. Organized monthly school events, including fundraising and pep rallies.

  • Created, organized, promoted and led the school’s most successful car wash fundraiser, leading 15 volunteers and raising $10,000.

Additional Tips for Leadership:

Service Orientation: Given the Air Force Academy’s emphasis on service, highlight instances where your leadership or participation positively affected your community or larger groups.

Precision and Context: While you want to be concise, ensure that the essence of your involvement is not lost. Offer enough detail and specificity for the admissions panel to grasp the depth of your role.

Demonstrate Progression: If you’ve escalated in ranks within an entity (like moving from a member to a leading role), it showcases personal growth and accumulating responsibility.

Volunteer Experience

Admissions expects service oriented leaders, meaning you’ve already demonstrated you’re willing to give back to the community. It’s also about highlighting your sense of duty, commitment to community service, and your ability to give selflessly. Volunteering experiences not only mirror these values but also underscore your willingness to work for something larger than personal gain.

Such experiences depict a character that aligns with the ethos of the Air Force or Space Force.

When you can, emphasize leadership during your volunteer service. What can you get involved in now, that later on you can seek out a leadership position? For instance, being a shift lead of 4 at a soup kitchen

Prompt: Detail all community activities/volunteer work you participated in and how you helped others. What were your responsibilities? Please include any activities or volunteer work that you did in college and /or while enlisted. Briefly describe the impact you had within each activity/position. Please list these items in bulleted format and be sure to include specific grades/years of involvement and length of time committed to each activity. (3000 characters max)

What to Include for Volunteering:

  • Organization/Event Name: Clearly state the name of the organization or event you volunteered for. This sets the stage for understanding the environment and nature of your service.

  • Grade/Year of Involvement: Mentioning the timeframe not only puts your service in context but also showcases your dedication at different stages of your life.

  • Specific Roles and Responsibilities: Detail out the roles you assumed or tasks you undertook. This gives a clear picture of your active involvement and the scope of your contributions.

  • Duration of Service: Indicate how often you volunteered, whether it was hours per week or days per month. This offers a sense of the depth and consistency of your commitment. ie: a 4 hour event once doesn’t hold as much weight as weekly volunteering for an hour for over a year.

  • Impact of Your Volunteering: Always highlight the results of your efforts. Did your involvement lead to any measurable improvements? These tangible outcomes offer compelling evidence of your effectiveness and commitment.

If you’re considering what you could include in the volunteering section, here are some ideas:

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Involvement:

  • Participated in search and rescue missions as a member of the local CAP squadron.

  • Assisted in organizing and conducting aerospace education events for young students.

JROTC/ROTC Programs:

  • Led a community clean-up drive as the squadron commander.

  • Organized fundraisers to support veteran-related charities.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Volunteer:

  • Assisted in administrative tasks at a local Veterans Affairs office or hospital.

  • Helped organize annual Veterans Day events or parades.

Community Leadership Programs:

  • Volunteered for local leadership programs, mentoring younger students or assisting in community development projects.

Tutoring & Education:

  • Offered free tutoring in subjects like mathematics, science, or languages for underprivileged students.

  • Assisted in organizing and running summer camps focused on STEM education.

Environmental Initiatives:

  • Participated in tree planting drives, local park clean-ups, or other environmental conservation activities.

  • Advocated for sustainable practices at school or within the local community.

Support for Military Families:

  • Volunteered at local military bases, assisting families during deployment phases or during community events.

  • Participated in drives collecting goods for deployed troops.

Humanitarian Aid:

  • Worked with organizations that support disaster relief, both domestically and internationally.

  • Assisted in collecting and distributing supplies for disaster-stricken areas.

Community Services:

  • Volunteered at food banks, homeless shelters, or eldercare facilities.

  • Assisted in organizing local events like marathons, fairs, or cultural festivals to promote community spirit.

Youth Organizations:

  • Engaged with organizations like the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or other local youth groups, taking on leadership roles and organizing events.

  • Led community service projects as part of earning specific badges or ranks.

Example of how to format your bullet:

Local Animal Shelter Volunteer (10th Grade)

  • Organized adoption events. 2 hours every weekend.

  • Reorganization of events resulted in a 15% increase in pet adoptions, directly impacting around 50 pet lives.

Additional Tips for Volunteering:

Alignment with Air Force Values: When describing your experiences, emphasize elements that resonate with the Air Force’s core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. (You should always have these in mind throughout the application process, including as you write your 3 Air Force Academy essays)

Show Growth and Dedication: If you volunteered for an organization over multiple years, illustrate your progression in roles or any increasing responsibilities you took on.

Diverse Experiences: The Academy values well-rounded individuals. If you’ve volunteered in various capacities – from environmental initiatives to community outreach – ensure to capture that diversity.

Employment History

A lot of students wonder how much employment matters. Contrary to participation in sports and academics, a job showcases that you are successful in the real world, and can handle responsibility. Your employment history, be it part-time, full-time, or during summers, provides a lens into your commitment, adaptability, and responsibility. It also offers insight into how you’ve balanced work, education, and service, attributes critical to USAFA and your future career in the service.

Prompt: List all employment you have held, part-time and/or full-time while in school and during summer. What were your responsibilities? Please include any work done while in college and/or while enlisted, if applicable. Briefly describe the impact you had within each activity/position. Please list these items in bulleted format and be sure to include specific grades/years of involvement and length of time committed to each activity. (3000 characters max)

What to Include:

  • Job Title/Role: Clearly specify the position you held. If you had a role with significant responsibility or leadership, be sure to emphasize it.

  • Grade/Year of Employment: This gives the admissions panel a chronological view of your work history relative to your academic commitments.

  • Specific Responsibilities: Detail the tasks or duties you undertook. Any leadership roles, significant challenges faced, or improvements made during your tenure should be highlighted.

  • Hours & Duration: State the hours you worked weekly and the overall length of your employment. This provides insight into your time management skills and commitment levels.

  • Impact & Achievements: Briefly describe any accomplishments or lasting impacts you left at the position. Did you introduce any new ideas? Were there any commendations or recognitions for your work?

Bosses are generally great options for letters of recommendation as well, especially if they witnessed you supervising others at work.

Example:

Lifeguard (Summer of 9th Grade)

  • Ensured safety of 50+ swimmers daily. Conducted bi-weekly training drills.

  • 30 hours/week for 3 months.

Additional Tips for Employment History:

  • Transferable Skills: Even if the job isn’t directly related to military service, think about skills that can be transferred: leadership, teamwork, discipline, time management, etc. Highlight these aspects in your descriptions.

Recognition

Recognitions serve as tangible proof of your skills, dedication, and competencies in various areas. Whether you’ve earned awards for academic excellence, community involvement, or unique achievements outside the traditional realm, each award offers a story of perseverance, effort, and success.

Prompt: Identify any awards, noted accomplishments, and extracurricular/academic achievements. Please identify achievements received while in college and/or while enlisted, if applicable. Please list these items in bulleted format and be sure to include specific grades/years received. (3000 characters max)

What to Include:

  • Award Name: Clearly mention the name of the award. Be specific and avoid using abbreviations unless they are widely recognized.

  • Grade/Year of Receipt: Indicate the exact year or grade when you were honored with the award.

  • Criteria for the Award: Specify the standards or requirements that had to be met to be considered for the award. This helps the reader understand the significance of the recognition.

  • Distinction from Peers: Highlight how you stood out from the competition. Were you one amongst a few who were considered? Or did you outshine a large group of peers? This provides context about the competitiveness and prestige of the award.

Example:

Earned ‘Best Science Student’ (11th Grade)

  • For achieving the highest score in the district science Olympiad.

  • Outperformed 200+ students in the district.

Additional Tips for Awards:

Quantify When Possible: Using numbers (like in the example “200+ students”) gives a clear picture of the magnitude of your achievement.

Avoid Jargon: Ensure that the name of the award and its description is understandable to someone outside your school or organization – don’t use acronyms no one understands (It’s a good idea to spell it out at least once).

Be Honest: Only include genuine awards and recognitions. Do not exaggerate or falsify information.

Skills, Hobbies, and Interests

Prompt: Please identify any hobbies and interests that may be directly or indirectly related to your intended program of study at USAFA. Briefly describe the impact you had within each activity/position. Please list these items in bulleted format and be sure to include specific grades/years involved. (3000 characters max)

What to Include:

  • Relevant hobbies and interests.

  • Specific achievements or projects related to them.

Example:

Aerospace Enthusiast

  • Built and launched five miniature rockets.

  • Organized workshops in hobby club, introducing 30+ students to rocketry basics.

Closing: Taking time to flesh out your experiences, skills, and achievements in a detailed manner can be the key to crafting a standout application. Remember to be authentic and strategic in what you choose to highlight. Your dedication and effort will shine through.

Choosing Your Extracurriculars

The Extracurricular section allows you to pick the ten activities that best highlight your most commendable achievements.

Prioritize Activities That Showcase Leadership

When the Air Force Academy evaluates applicants, leadership potential is a significant factor. Whether you were a team captain, club president, or took on leadership roles within community projects, these experiences can differentiate you from other candidates.

Ensure Diversity

While it’s excellent to be committed to a particular activity or interest, showcasing a range of experiences can be advantageous. It demonstrates adaptability, versatility, and a well-rounded character – all valuable traits for future officers.

Highlight Consistent Commitment

If you’ve been involved in a particular activity for several years and have shown progression, be sure to include it. This long-term dedication often translates to commitment and persistence, traits that are highly regarded at the Academy.

Quantify Achievements

Whenever possible, include numbers that give a clear indication of the scale or impact of your involvement. Did you raise funds? How much? Did you lead a team? How large?

Example Selections:

  • Varsity Soccer Captain (12th Grade) – Led a team of 20 players; introduced training drills that improved team’s performance by 25%.

  • Debate Club President (11th and 12th Grade) – Organized weekly debates; team won regional championships two years in a row.

  • Community Service at Local Hospital (10th-12th Grade) – Volunteered 5 hours every weekend; spearheaded a campaign that raised $5,000 for children’s ward.

  • Summer Internship at Aerospace Company (Summer after 11th Grade) – Assisted in designing a small aircraft component; received ‘Intern of the Month’ award.

  • Mathematics Tutor (10th-12th Grade) – Tutored 10 students weekly, leading to an average grade improvement of 15% for each.

  • School Newspaper Editor (12th Grade) – Led a team of 15; increased readership by 20%.

  • Jazz Band Lead Trumpet (9th-12th Grade) – Performed in over 50 school and community events.

  • Chess Club Vice-President (11th Grade) – Organized monthly tournaments; club membership increased by 30% under my leadership.

  • Tech Club Founder (12th Grade) – Introduced 40+ students to coding and robotics.

  • Summer Camp Counselor (Summer after 10th Grade) – Supervised and mentored 50 campers; introduced a new wilderness training program.

Remember, your USAFA application is a testament to your past achievements and a vision of your future potential. While the selection process is competitive, an authentic, well-prepared application that showcases your commitment, leadership, and alignment with the Air Force’s values can set you apart.

Take your time in curating the best representation of yourself, and trust in the experiences and values that have shaped you thus far. Make sure you’re using attention to detail, and have someone review your resume before you turn it in. Best of luck!

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Trisha Dach

Former Air Force Captain Trisha Dach served as an Intelligence Officer from 2011-2018. A graduate of the Air Force Academy, Trisha has helped hundreds of candidates earn a service academy appointment or ROTC scholarships, with over a 90% success rate with clients. Click here to learn more about Captain Dach.

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