While most high achieving secondary students have their eyes set on the schools at the top of the US News Rankings, there is a smaller subset of students who are focused on gaining admission into a United States Federal Service Academy.
The big three U.S. Federal Service Academies are the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), the U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis), and the U.S. Air Force Academy. A smaller, lesser known service academy is the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. These four academies all have admissions rates that make many of the US News top 25 colleges and universities envious, with both West Point and Annapolis being in the single digits. Additionally, these service academies require no room, board, or tuition from their students; it’s “free”! Upon graduation, every person attending one of these academies is guaranteed a commission by their respective service, and they then receive further professional training that will help them in their careers, in or out of the service. Additionally, the alumni networks of these academies are extremely strong, and their placement rates into top business schools are matched historically by only Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, and Stanford.
With zero cost of attendance, a highly regarded education, a guaranteed job, and great prospects beyond the military, one would wonder why more high school students aren’t gunning for admission into the academies. The most obvious answer is war. There are legitimate risks to military service, and while West Point and Annapolis take on the heaviest burden in war in terms of casualties, none of the services are immune from injury or death. Another answer is fun, or lack thereof. When freshman show up at most colleges, they party and socialize. When freshman (otherwise known as Plebes or Doolies) arrive at the academies they get harassed and hazed. No drinking, plenty of studying, and too many parades. Many academy graduates consider their four-year college experience as a hazing experience. A third answer is long-term indentured servitude. Many 17 year-olds aren’t ready to commit to four years of a less than fun college experience in addition to an eight-year service commitment on the other end. This commitment helps many recognize that the academy experience isn’t really “free.”
However, for tens of thousands of high school seniors, the plusses outweigh the minuses and they throw their hat into the ring of Academy admissions. Having assisted applicants through my college admissions services; having previously been a Field Force Admissions Representative for West Point, with responsibility for two congressional districts; as well as having gone through the process myself as a 17-year old; I am amazed by how stressful the process seems to applicants when gaining admission to one of the academies is actually quite simple relative to gaining admission into a school ranked in the top 10-25 of the US News rankings. All it takes is proper planning. While there are far more requirements to an academy application, including Congressional nominations, fitness exams, and medical exams, all of them are easily accomplished, if given enough time.
As with getting young people into Harvard and Stanford, getting young people into West Point or Annapolis is substantially easier the earlier one begins preparing. If I can begin working with someone by the time they are a freshman, short of a medical disqualification, I can virtually guarantee they will gain admission if they are willing to put in the time and energy necessary to meet the many requirements of admission.
The key to admission to one of the academies is consistent investment into academics, athletics, and leadership throughout the high school experience. Unlike Harvard or Stanford one does not need to be an academic star to get into a U.S. Service Academy, but they do need to produce. Likewise, they don’t need to be a recruited athlete or the youngest person ever elected mayor in their hometown, but they need to hit certain benchmarks with regards to athletics and leadership. Through proper execution, one can position themselves for a near guaranteed admission into a fraternity that will open up doors in ways that regular most colleges cannot.
The decision to apply to a service academy is a heavy one with heavy consequences, and no young person should be pressured into applying by their parents or teachers. However, if a younger person chooses to go down that path, and if they commit to the process early on, they can easily gain admission. If your child wants to get into a Service Academy then contact us at 989-31-ADMIT.