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Should your Child Consider Military Service Academies?

Under the Radar

I talk with a lot of people about college admissions issues - all day every day. And I would guess that only about 10% know anything about the service academies.

Some have a passing familiarity with the terms "Naval Academy" or "West Point" or "Annapolis", but that's about the extent of it. 

The goal of this post is to demystify the academies and provide you with information so that your child doesn't miss out on a big opportunity.

What are service academies?

Military service academies are 4-year colleges that are rich in military tradition, culture, and training. Their goal is to educate, train and inspire the future leaders of the U.S. military. These leaders are known as "U.S. Military Officers".

There are five service academies:

I won't dig into details of each of the academies today. I just want to provide a broad overview of what a service academy is, why your child might consider applying, and the path forward.

It's important for families to familiarize themselves with these options in 8th, 9th, or 10th grade because successful preparation requires pre-work not needed for traditional colleges.

What makes service academies so tough?

If you've heard or seen anything about the service academies, you've likely gotten the impression that they are challenging - mentally, physically, academically, socially, and emotionally. Here are some factors that contribute to this reputation:

  • most-selective admissions criteria
  • more upfront work required on applications
  • intense and unique military experience
  • social restrictions
  • demand for neatness
  • routine inspections
  • dress code: uniforms
  • rigorous academic coursework
  • curriculum geared toward math, science, engineering (not exclusively)
  • heavy focus on leadership development
  • requires service commitment of 5 years (or more) after graduation
  • physical fitness curriculum for all students

What might your child miss when compared to a traditional college experience?

In addition to being "tougher" overall, there are plenty of experiences that your child might miss out on if they attend a service academy.

  • no barefoot frisbee playing on the quad on a Tuesday morning
  • no 15-hour games of Halo in the dorm room
  • no all-night cram sessions fueled by pizza and Red Bull
  • no skipping class to prep for the night's toga party
  • no blasting Bob Marley from dorm room windows at 2am
  • no drunken fraternity parties
  • no claw-scratching sorority parties
  • no debaucherous underage drinking, partying, and social relations

Why would any teenager subject themselves to this?

As "fun" or "part of the college experience," as some of the above might sound, some teenagers actually want to focus on academics, leadership development, service, and athletics.

They also like the idea of missing out on the $350K cost of many similarly-regarded colleges.

Here's what aspiring service academy candidates get excited about:

  • world-class education
  • opportunity to serve our country
  • guaranteed job for 5 years after graduation
  • potential for lifetime benefits (medical, dental, GI Bill for grad school, etc.)
  • high prestige, elite reputation
  • world-class alumni network
  • potential to extend post-graduate commitment to a full career
  • guaranteed leadership training and application
  • international travel
  • highly-transferable technical skills
  • surrounded by A-plus players
  • unmatched resources and facilities
  • guaranteed summer activities in between years in school
  • well-respected institution
  • unique pride and camaraderie shared among classmates
  • paid a monetary stipend while in school
  • less likely to make social mistakes often made in traditional college
  • learn qualities of discipline and military bearing
  • confidence builder
  • FREE or near free (room, board, tuition, books, travel, medical, books)

In case you skimmed the above list, let me highlight the last entry. This education and experience is nearly FREE.

It's not a partial $2,500 baseball scholarship that may or may not be renewed year-to-year. It's not a $10,000 Rotary Scholarship that gets swallowed whole by the $78,000/year cost of many colleges.

It's free (or close to it).

As you can see, the steps needed to apply and get admitted into a military service academy can be pretty daunting. Most teens would rather take the easy road. There are some who have longer-term perspectives and appreciate the payoff down the line.


We will break these issues down in greater detail in the coming months. My goal this week is to simply make you aware of the military options available. Most kids have no idea that service academies even exist. 

If college affordability is a big concern, you now know that it's possible to receive one of the best educations in the world - for free.

Wondering whether your child has what it takes to get into the Naval Academy? Take this QUIZ.

Do you have a child who could thrive in this environment? PrepWell Academy will provide a blueprint to get them there.

In the coming weeks, we will discuss another option that is a little less intense than the service academies - known as ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps).

Keep Prepping,

Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.

Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.

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