At Your Service! A Quick Rundown On The Five Military Academies
FOR THOSE WHO SEEK TO OBTAIN A TOP-notch college education without the debt incurred by student loans the five United States service academies might be worth consideration. The academies include the U.S. Military Academy (Army) the U.S. Air Force Academy the U.S. Coast Guard Academy the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA). If accepted you’ll get a completely free education including room and board hands-on training and great benefits. And did we mention the paycheck? Yes you’ll get paid while you’re in college.
You will have to agree to a five-year service commitment after graduation. And getting into the academies isn’t easy. Accepted students must rank in the top 20 to 30 percent of their high school graduating class and all but the Coast Guard Academy applicants must be nominated by senators congressional representatives the President or Vice President. In addition applicants must pass a medical exam and rigorous physical fitness test.
In general a typical day at the academies includes some mix of classes military training athletic participation and study periods. Summer programs for the cadets/midshipmen vary according to the academy but all offer opportunities for high school students to “sample” the academies.
Here’s a quick summary of the five academies:
1. THE U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY
Colorado Springs, Colo.
APPLICATION STATS: Between 10,000 and 12,000 applications of which about 12% were accepted and of those about 82% enrolled
DIVERSITY: Women-25%: Minorities-25% to 28%
SERVICE COMMITMENT: At least five years once earning their commission
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: About half of Academy graduates choose flight training and serve in approximately 15 flying-related careers such as pilots combat systems officers or air battle managers. The other half choose from a variety non-flying careers such as mission support (personnel police public affairs health) sortie generation/logistics (missile maintenance intelligence) operations (air traffic controller space operations) or scientific/technical (civil engineering communications).
2. THE U.S. MILITARY ACADEMY
West Point, N.Y.
APPLICATION STATS: About 15,000 applicants of which 12% were offered admission and of those 85% enrolled
DIVERSITY: Women-16%; Minorities-27%
SERVICE COMMITMENT: A minimum of five years on active duty then three of inactive duty
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: It’s recommended that you participate in some extra-curricular activities during high school specifically those that provide you with valuable leadership experiences and responsibilities. The admissions team considers it more valuable to achieve distinction in a particular activity than to participate in multiple activities without any evidence of leadership achievement.
3. THE U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY
APPLICATION STATS: About 20,000 applications of which 7% were accepted and of those 87% enrolled
DIVERSITY: Women-30%; Minorities-35%
SERVICE COMMITMENT: A minimum of five years as an officer in the Navy or Marine Corps
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Because the Naval Academy offers 24 majors in the fields of engineering and weapons math and science and humanities it’s recommended that high school students take engineering and computer courses to prepare for the rigors of the Academy’s core requirements.
4. THE U.S COAST GUARD ACADEMY
New London, Conn.
APPLICATION STATS: Around 2,000 applications of which approximately 17% were accepted and of those 75% enrolled
DIVERSITY: Women-33%; Minorities-27%
SERVICE COMMITMENT: Five-year active duty service commitment
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Approximately 30 percent of cadets graduate with some form of engineering degree. Marine and environmental sciences operations research and computer analysis government and management are other major options. Graduates use their major immediately in jobs that fulfill Coast Guard missions such as search and rescue drug and migrant interdiction marine safety ice operations and marine and environmental protection.
5. THE U.S. MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY
Kings Point, N.Y.
APPLICATION STATS: 2,211 applicants of which 409 were offered appointments and of those 273 plebe candidates reported in
DIVERSITY: Women-17.5%; Minorities-21%
SERVICE COMMITMENT: Either five years in any of the nation’s armed services or working as a merchant marine officer in the maritime industry. Those who choose the latter must also serve eight years in any branch of the reserves.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Midshipmen are either engineering majors or deck majors. Deck majors focus on marine transportation maritime logistics and security.
As for what the academies look for in an applicant the essentials are all the same: good grades good test scores leadership physical fitness community service and a desire to serve your country. If you want to increase your chances of acceptance you can contact the academies to find out what summer programs they recommend.