From Initial Failure to Rebound Success: How the ASVAB Opened Doors to a Career in the Airforce

Like many little boys, Austin Holshey always loved tanks, helicopters, guns. Raised in a military family, Holshey, now 20, anticipated enlisting in the military at the end of high school and never placed any emphasis on academics, believing that his studies were not important as long as he received the minimum score required on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and earned a high school diploma or GED. Holshey took few steps to plan for his future, hoping that his participation in his school's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) was enough to prepare him for a life in the military.

As the date for ASVAB testing drew nearer, Holshey eagerly imagined his life in the Air Force. However, after receiving unsatisfactory results, Holshey was advised by military recruiters that he was not eligible for the glamorous Air Force careers of which he dreamed. Holshey recommitted himself to success on the ASVAB in the following year, "College was not an option and I was not going to get a dead end job for the rest of my life. So really, my motivation came out of fear of having a boring life and being stuck at home," Said Holshey.

In Holshey's senior year he prepared himself for ASVAB success: "A week before the test I studied random things Online and the day before the test I skipped school and took practice tests Online all day, which taught me a lot." Holshey never experienced test anxiety and calmly sailed through his second ASVAB attempt almost doubling his initial score.

Now, Holshey is an apprentice in the Air Traffic Control program in the Air Force. Holshey hopes to further his education while on active duty and begin pursuing credits toward a higher degree. "Technical training is the best training you will ever receive and you receive college credits I received 21 credits for 6 months of training." said Holshey.

Looking back, Holshey wishes his high school had better prepared him for the world ahead by offering classes in financial literacy and career planning as well as developing mentoring programs and one-on-one guidance for unmotivated students, "I believe teachers [should become more like] mentors. My JROTC instructors [like mentors] taught me a lot and showed me all my options."

Holshey is satisfied with his current plan and trajectory, but considers the lives and dreams of other unmotivated students who struggle with school and are not lucky enough to have the guidance of respected mentors and stresses the importance of planning. "I wish more students were like me and always planned for the future," says Holshey, "So many students just decided that they were going to community college because they had no idea what they wanted to do...I always had a plan A, B, C and even D...plans C and D were dream options but I motivate myself by dreaming big."