Military academies provide a tremendous opportunity for students that are very strong academically, well-rounded and successful athletically. A student that is considering a military academy should begin the process no later than fall of the junior year in high school.
U.S. Congressmen may nominate students to a Service Academy based on the qualifications. However, they nominate just one per service academy. Deciding who to nominate is based on outstanding moral behavior, extra-curricular activities, community activities and ACT/SAT scores.
Outstanding moral behavior would require students to have letters of recommendation from several individuals. Their files at school should not hold numerous disciplinary actions or incidents with law enforcement. Theft, assault and malicious acts such as harassment will disqualify prospective students.
Extra-curricular activities show the ability to multi-task and interest in new things. Activities outside of school show an ability to use time management. Community activities which are often known as volunteer work show a gratitude for what has been received and the effort to give back to the community.
ACT/SAT scores must be quite high for admission to an academy. The standards are quite different than other branches of the military. The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO is ranked #4 in the nation for academic experience by the Princeton Review. It is ranked #6 as a top science and engineering school by the U.S. News & World Report. Current g.p.a. for students here is a 4.0 and they should have ACT scores in the 27-30 range to apply. The professor to student ratio is 1 to 8. There is no tuition because once accepted, tuition, room and board, medical care and monthly pay are provided.
West Point is 50 miles north of New York City and is ranked #4 among engineering schools by U.S. News and World Report. West Point also has no tuition fees because tuition, room and board, medical and dental care are provided to all those admitted. Four years of education at West Point is approximately valued at $300,000. ACT scores should place in the 27-30 range. Students receive a salary while attending school. The student to faculty ratio is 9 to 1.
The Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD is #1 in the nation for accessibility of professors, #7 for the toughest to be admitted into, and #20 for the best overall academic experience. Full tuition, room and board, medical and dental care is provided. Regular active-duty benefits include commercial transportation and lodging discounts plus the ability to fly space-available military aircraft around the world. Approximately 1500 applicants are accepted out of a pool of 12,000-13,000. The student to professor ratio is 7 to 1.
Four years of education is at no cost unless a cadet drops out. If a student leaves an academy during the freshman or sophomore year, there is usually no charge for the education. However, if they leave in the junior or senior year, they are expected to repay the academy for their education received. The annual cost can be $75,000 per year so attending an academy can be a great opportunity. Changing your mind later can be a serious error with overwhelming consequences.
Other branches of the military require military service first and through a GI Bill soldiers receive their education after the tour of duty. Academies provide an education first and ask for repayment with five years of service. Academies are not for everyone but they are a great opportunity for a select few.