Is a military academy right for you?


USNA students gather prior to beginning the fall semester. Students who are appointed to attend become a part of this long and prestigious process.

  For some high school students, there may be another option besides college and the workforce. This uncommon, selective, and prestigious option is service at a military academy. 

  At the end of high school, students have a decision to make.  The normal options for most are college, trade school, or the workforce. For most, these options are just fine, but many want more of their post-high school life and career. 

  The goal of going to a military academy is to ultimately become an officer in the service of the academy you attend. In the United States, there are five different military academies across the country; specifically one for each branch of the armed forces.

  The five different academies are as follows, there is the United States Military Academy at West Point (Army), the United States Naval Academy (Navy and Marine Corps), the United States Air Force Academy (Air Force), the United States Coast Guard Academy (Coast Guard), and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (Merchant Marine).

  Although all academies do vary greatly, they all follow the same general idea of service before self, on behalf of our nation. Each of these academies are four-year programs of study, followed by a service commitment. 

  Each academy is free, as a matter of fact you often get paid to attend. However, the “payment” for attending is the service commitment that comes after graduation. A service commitment is a part of the ‘deal’ with attending. Although your schooling is free, you will be required to serve in the branch of your designated academy for at least five years upon graduation.

  All in all, if your ultimate goal is to really be an officer in whatever branch you desire, the service commitment is actually the end goal, not a part of a ‘deal’ you need to hold up. In my case for example, my ultimate goal is to be an officer in the Marine Corps. Since this is so, my service commitment is actually my end goal, not a part of a ‘deal’ I need to hold up by attending.

  Here at Sterling High School, there are three students who are hoping for appointments to a service academy. These students are senior Kylie Nicklaus (USNA), senior Jack Graves (USNA), and myself, James Morris (USNA/USMA).

  The process for an appointment to a service academy is different than that of a regular college, service academy admittance is a more indepth and lengthy process. Primarily, there is a standard application that is submitted, one very similar to a college application. 

  If students are interested in a service academy early in their high school careers, primarily during junior year, each academy offers a summer program which allows for a visit to their campus. During June of last summer, Graves and I completed one of these programs at the Naval Academy. We can both attest to the enjoyment and importance of these events. 

  Following that, every applicant has a “representative” for their application to each academy. This person is the student’s liaison with the academy. The idea of this is to allow the academy to get a more in-depth understanding of who students truly are as an entire person, not just academically.

  After connecting with your liaison, applying for a nomination from a congressmen or congresswomen is a requirement. During this process, applicants meet with a board of congressional associates for an interview. During it, their congressional representative will determine if this applicant deserves their “stamp of approval” for admission to an academy. 

  Following that, with an academy ultimately being a part of the military, being seen as a healthy and physically fit individual is a requirement. Applicants must pass a Candidate Fitness Assessment,  as well as an official medical examination.

  Once all of these objectives, along with a few other loose ends are complete, an applicant’s full document will be submitted and reviewed by the admissions board of the academy(s) they are applying to. Students expect to hear a final decision of appointment by April 15 of the year they would begin at the academy.

  Ultimately, an appointment to a military academy is a great honor, and for students who are unsure of their next step but desire something more, it is a great opportunity.