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Articles / Admissions / Will Civil Air Patrol Look Good on College Applications?

May 17, 2020

Will Civil Air Patrol Look Good on College Applications?

Question: I am going to be a junior in high school next year and am starting to think seriously about what colleges I want to attend and apply to. I am aware of how important extracurricular activities are in college admissions and, for a number of years, have participated in a variety of extracurricular pursuits. In the past few weeks however, I have become very interested in joining the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). I do not want to join the organization just to stack my resume with another extracurricular activity, I want to join because I have a strong passion for aviation and aeronautical science-two things the Civil Air Patrol could offer me.

Unfortunately, my parents do not seem to want to let me join unless doing CAP "looks good" when applying to normal, civilian colleges rather than just military academies (I do intend to apply to a few military schools). Do you know if doing CAP will "look good" to admissions officials when applying to their college (Non-military college), especially if I achieve a certain rank? Thank you for your help.


As a parent myself, I'm always tempted to side with Mom or Dad, but this time I'm with you. The Civil Air Patrol gets my vote for two reasons.

First of all, it will “look good” on college applications. Admission officials are up to their eyeballs in common extracurriculars … Model UN, yearbook, orchestra, etc. CAP is something different and will help you stand out in a crowd.

Secondly—and most important—it’s something you want to do and it meshes with your stated passions. It’s likely that your enthusiasm will come across in your applications and, especially, in an interview situation.

So even if you aren’t applying to only military colleges, this sounds like a smart choice.

But before signing on, make sure you’ve thoroughly researched what you’re getting into and ask your parents if they have other concerns ... such as safety (you will, after all, be flying :eek:) and not just the admission-related ones.

(posted 6/25/2012)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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