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What is Green Lighting for an NCSA, and why do we do it?

Posted on April 21, 2022 at 3:41 PM by Elizabeth Hornbach

“Green lights” are a way for the wing to communicate to the NCSA team that this applicant is a highly qualified cadet. It’s a colloquial term that has been coined as a result of the ink color and labeling in  eServices. When a cadet receives a “green light” for an NCSA, that means their wing has marked them in the system as Highly Recommended for that specific activity, raising the cadet’s chances of getting the activity of their choice. Each wing is allowed to highly recommend a certain number of cadets (typically 10% of the applicant pool), and each wing has their own process to choose which cadets receive the highly recommended application boost for one of their preferences. Ultimately the reason for the system is to help the highly qualified and deserving cadets get their first preference. The system works best when everyone highly recommends a cadet’s first preference. Highly recommended a cadet is only applicable for the initial on-time priority selection period. After that, applying a “green light” doesn’t boost a cadet’s status since activity staff will only offer slots to late applications after all on time cadets, regardless of their scores.

Let’s tackle some commonly asked questions: 

What happens when I give a green light to an activity that is not the cadet’s first choice?

Since the goal of the Highly Recommended is not to put the cadet at the top of every pile, but to put them at the top of the pile they want most, it’s important that you are applying it to the cadet’s first preference. Recently, many cadets have been highly recommended for their lower priority preferences. This confuses the system. The system will apply the points to what you have green-lighted, but then when the selection algorithm is applied, the system will still look for a cadet’s first preference.

To rectify this discrepancy, the NCSA team will manually go in and handle each of these cases individually and apply the slotting to the activity that has been highly recommended. So, if you are giving a green light to a 5th preference for a cadet, be sure that is the activity they want to attend most. If you apply your highly recommend to their 5th preference, the NCSA team will ensure that preference is the one they for which they are slotted.

The major reason for highly recommending a lower preference activity is if a cadet has a scheduling conflict with their first preference. Since changing an application will result in all preferences being marked late, highly recommending a lower preference is a safe way to communicate to the NCSA team the cadet’s new first preference. Applying the highly recommended to anything other than first preference for any other reason means they will miss out on their higher preferences. 


What should we do when a cadet has a conflict and wants to change their application?

Up until January 15th, a cadet can change their application without issue. However, after January 15th, if their application is touched for any reason and resubmitted, it will be marked as late. If a cadet wants to be highly recommended and considered for on-time priority slotting, it is best NOT to touch the application at all after the deadline.
Late applications are not considered for on-time priority slotting. They are at the bottom of the alternate lists and are considered for alternate slots once all the on-time applicants have been contacted.

Encourage cadets to be confident in their selections before submitting the application. Once the deadline has passed, they are stuck with the selections they have made. Only in rare and extenuating circumstances will a manual change be considered. If there is a situation that is extenuating, and a cadet can no longer make their first preference, the unit could contact, prior to on-time priority slotting in late February. NHQ may be able to connect with IT to change the preferences and keep the application from being marked late. This is only for emergency situations.


What happens when I disapprove/red light an application preference?

When an application is disapproved, the system does not notify the cadet. Rather the activity status remains as pending and appears as “Awaiting Unit Approval” or “Awaiting Wing Approval”. At either level, you can disapprove the application. If an application gets disapproved at the unit level, the wing will never receive the application in the electronic queue. When you disapprove an application, you are applying the disapproval to the preference not to the entire application, just like approvals. For example, you can disapprove for PJOC because they don’t meet the physical requirements yet approve their other choice of Honor Guard Academy. You will be able to see which activities have been disapproved within the Wing Approval page in Event Administration system. You can also see the status in some reports. (See section titled NCSA Resources for Cadet Officers) Remember, viewing the Activity Status screen in Event Admin or Registration and Payment only will show “Awaiting Unit Approval” or “Awaiting Wing Approval.”

If you are disapproving a cadet, you should let them know what you have done and why. While it may be a difficult conversation, informing them of the reasons behind this action will help them to grow. When the wing red lights the application, the cadet sees “Awaiting Wing Approval” in the event administration activity status page. So, a cadet will likely feel like their application has been ignored or forgotten. Please do your best to inform a cadet if they are being disqualified from slotting and offer them an explanation.

Disciplinary Issues

If you are disapproving a cadet because they are having disciplinary issues, be sure this action aligns with CAP’s progressive discipline model. The unit also should set up a feedback meeting where they can discuss this with the cadet and complete a CAPF 60-90 series form to help the cadet develop a plan of action for improving performance. Choosing to disapprove a cadet’s entire NCSA application affects their ability to attend an activity up to six month later. Before disapproving, be sure this is the appropriate disciplinary measure. A disapproval at the time of on-time priority slotting will likely mean a cadet won’t get a slot for the summer. It’s better to approve the application, giving the cadet an incentive to improve. Then, if the cadet doesn’t demonstrate improvements over time a unit or wing can rescind the approval later, forfeiting the slot to another cadet. If you do decide to rescind your approval after slotting, it is a good idea to send a message directly to the activity director.


NHQ will work with an activity director to provide the necessary accommodations to ensure maximum participation of our cadet corps. Please don’t disapprove an application because you assume an accommodation is unavailable. Approve the application and then we will work with the specific cadet. If you are unsure about a specific situation, contact first.

Why did my cadet not get the activity he was highly recommended for?

If a cadet did not get the activity for which they were highly recommended, most likely it is because the activity was filled by other highly recommended cadets with higher points. However, there are a few activities that use a subjective component in addition to the objective rankings. For example, IACE requires a resume and supplemental questions. The activity directors will prioritize cadets who are highly recommended unless there is a compelling reason not to slot them. For example, in the case of IACE, if the supplemental application materials strongly suggest that this cadet is not ready for international travel, a highly recommended cadet may not be slotted. 


How do I know how many points a cadet has?

Cadets are assigned points (as of mid-February) based on age, achievement milestone, time in the program and national level activities previously attended (that use eServices registration). This chart, and other helpful slotting information can be found on the NCSA Application Instruction page. The maximum points for a cadet is 60. Highly recommending them will add 100 points to the specific activity preference score. 

You can view a cadet’s assigned points by viewing the Primaries/Alternate Report in Events Administration. This report only shows one event at a time. To see all the activities a cadet has applied to, you can look at your approval screen or pull a “Cadet Wing Approvals by Wing” or “Activity by Wing” report.


At what point does the on-time application status stop mattering?

It depends on when the activity exhausts it’s on-time applicant pool. On-time applications are most important for the first initial slotting. Only on-time applications are considered for the slotting at the end of February. After this initial slotting, if an opening becomes available, activity directors will first move through the on-time applications on the alternate list before moving to the late applications. Even if a late cadet’s points rating is higher, they will still be placed after all the on-time applicants. Once the on-time list is exhausted then activity directors may choose cadets without regard to the slotting score.


What if a cadet will turn senior before the NCSA?

If a cadet will turn senior prior to the activity, the cadet will need to hold off applying until they have changed to senior status in eServices. However, they may reach out to the activity director and explain their situation and let them know they aren’t in the system yet as a senior and that they would like to attend as a senior member. The activity director can hold a space for them so that it is available when they apply.

The new senior member will need to complete certain requirements to qualify (such as CPP/Level 1), so be sure they have a plan for doing so prior to the activity. 


How do I choose who in my wing gets a selected as highly recommended?

Wings can use whatever method they feel is most appropriate for selecting the cadets who will be highly recommended. The process should be objective, and the requirements announced in advance, so all cadets can compete. Be sure the process is intentional, and that there is a reason for any elements you employ. Also consider whether your process is accessible. Are you creating unnecessary barriers, especially for cadets without means?

An important thing to remember is that whatever process you employ, this ONLY should be used to determine who you will highly recommend. Extra additions to the application process are not appropriate for general approval. If a cadet is in good standing and eligible for the activity, the application is all that is required to be considered for the activity.
Let’s explore what some wings are doing. 

  • One approach is to use a point system to evaluate the cadets. You could use the same points system as the NCSA system uses or add elements such as having held a leadership position. This route provides an objective metric that doesn’t put any extra burden on the cadet. However, if you are adding additional elements, be sure there is a reliable way to measure them. Something like cadet leadership roles may not be easily and uniformly accessible in eServices.

  • An interesting approach is to have applicants submit a written essay with the application. Questions could include: why are you applying, what do you hope to gain personally, and/or how will it help your squadron or wing? This exercise also helps cadets articulate their interests. Encourage cadets to complete the essay before submitting the application in eServices. This is a great reflection opportunity that will help cadets draw connections with their interests and experiences. Often cadets will have an ah-ha moment and realize their top preference is different than they originally thought. It also allows the committee to evaluate the applications without bias, if the essays are looked at and ranked anonymously.

  •  Some wings have an in-person or virtual interview. Interviews are a useful experience in CAP because it relates directly to a life skill. Many of the same questions addressed in the essay section above could be asked in an interview. However, when considering an interview component, you must consider how it will affect the applicants. Travel can be a barrier for many cadets. Be sure the process is accessible to all applicants and that the constraints are not too restrictive. What if a cadet has a conflict with the time? Are there alternatives? 

The key to a successful process that adds value is this: don’t make the cadet jump through unnecessary hoops. Be sure the process is useful and accessible, is applied consistently throughout the wing, and is known well in advance so cadets who want the green light can plan. This is a good time to evaluate your process and see if anything could be streamlined for next year. 

NCSA Resources for CP Officers:

Helpful Reports:

Found: eServices> Reports> Event Administration – Reports>

  • Activities Wing Report

    • This report shows all members in a wing that have applied for an activity. This includes unit number, CAPID, name, member type, rank, gender, DOB, membership expiration date, wing approval status, address, preference rank, event name, and whether they are slotted for the event. 

  • Cadet Wing Approvals by Wing

    • This report shows everyone who applied for an activity and what their wing approval status is (red, green, approve). This includes CAPID, name, and email.

  • Unit Approval Report

    • This report shows the application approval status for each preference.  This report shows all members in a wing grouped by unit. This includes CAPID, name, member type, wing approval status, and application status.

  • Primaries/Alternates per Event

    • This shows all completed applications for an event separated by slotted primaries and alternates. This includes CAPID, rank, name, member status, gender, shirt size, date that the activity application was modified, and the slotting score.

Other Resources: 

Tell us in the comments, what are your best practices for selecting the cadets you will highly recommend?

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