My question is actually 3-fold.
Situation: Currently I’m a high schooler, but I know for a fact that I’m going to enlist in the Air Force for a 4-year tenure. However, I want to get the best education after my service, and for my prospective major of EECS/Physics, Columbia, MIT, and the HYP schools are the best (and also let me network really well). I also click with the vibe of these schools, have visited, know people who have visited, and have talked to current students/alumni/AP’s (in other words, please don’t deviate from these 5 schools during this thread). Now I know that Columbia treats vets the best, but I also found out that a majority of these vets are navy veterans. So here comes question(s) 1:
Does me going into the Air Force hurt my chances into getting into Columbia as an EECS/Physics guy? What should I do during my AF career to really maximize my chances of getting in (other than taking a bunch of CC courses and getting a 4.0)?
My question(s) 2 is: How much do these colleges care about what you did in high school? I’m not a bad student, but I’m not exactly ‘MIT caliber’ either. Furthermore, how does becoming a veteran affect my chances of getting into non-Columbia schools that I mentioned (if at all)?
Finally: This is completely random, but can I take the Putnam exam even after Air Force Community College? On the Putnam website, it says the participant shouldn’t hold a college degree. I really wanted to participate in this because I love math, doing well in the Putnam opens a lot of doors, and doing well in the Putnam eases up the tuition, which is why this is relatively important to me.
Anyway, thanks for reading and, if you took your valuable time to answer, thanks for that as well!