There are three types of military focused educations: a military college, a service academy and an ROTC program at a college or university. Some students desire the rigors of an education with a military focus along with a career in the military. Others simply like the discipline and teamwork that come with this type of education.
Do not apply to a service academy unless you desire a career in the military. The lifestyle at each academy is very rigorous and only individuals who are strongly committed to a life in the military will be motivated to complete such a strenuous educational experience. The students interested in attending either one of the military academies must begin early to insure they receive full consideration. Students serious about attending a service academy should contact the academy liaison officers or the academies directly for the Pre-Candidate Questionnaire no later than the spring of their junior year.
There are five military service academies that the Department of Defense maintains for the preparation of officers for the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy, and Merchant Marine. All your education and room and board are covered if you receive an offer of admission, along with a monthly stipend. You must request an application from each academy. Your chances of being accepted to a service academy are enhanced if you apply to more than one and if you attend the summer session at the academy of your choice in the summer between your junior and senior years. The Department Defense suggests applicants adhere to the following guidelines.
The application process begins in the spring of your junior year. You should call or write to each academy at the end of April and request a Pre-Candidate Questionnaire. The brief pre-application is easily completed and returned the same day you get it in the mail. You must complete this form in order to receive a formal application. The official Candidate Application consists of several components, including the application, a physical aptitude test, a personality test, a personal statement, recommendations and various printed materials. You should fill out and return as many of the application materials as soon as possible. You may send in the various components of your application separately. Each academy will set up an admissions file on you as soon as they receive part or all of your application. You could be notified as early as November of your senior year of your admittance, although the normal date for notification is after mid-April.
You must be prompt in arranging your DODMERB (Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board) Physicalif you expect to be admitted on schedule. Many potential candidates have been denied admission because their physical was not completed on time. Successful completion of the DODMERB Physical is absolutely essentialbefore admission can be granted. Schedule your physical as soon as you get your application. Keep in constant contact with the Admissions Board of the Academies to which you are applying to determine if there are delays in the receipt of application materials.
When you start your senior year, you should write letters to both your representative in the House of Representatives and to both California Senators requesting a nomination to each academy to which you are applying. Most nominations are given by the representative in your area. They will schedule you for an interview as soon as they receive your letter of request. Failure to schedule an interview can cost you your chance for admission.
Successful appointment to an academy is based on the successful completion of your application, your physical, and a receipt of nomination. Candidates in the top 10% of their class, who have strong SAT scores, and who have demonstrated leadership in school or community activities are the strongest candidates for admission.
Admission to the Academies is extremely competitive and only excellent students, who have demonstrated superior leadership skills, are granted admittance. A typical profile of a successful applicant would show a student with outstanding grades in the most difficult courses offered by the school; who has scored very well in the SAT; and who has been involved in school sports, student government, Boy Scouts, and community-based organizations. Students who do not gain admittance can be offered an appointment to an Academy Prep School for a year and then be admitted the following year. Most of the slots in Academy Prep Schools are reserved for recruited athletes or enlisted persons in the military.
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According to The Association of Military Colleges and Schools, “Military schools have a unique culture that is built on tradition and proven practices. Students wear uniforms and participate in ceremonies that develop self-discipline and foster pride. Most are boarding (residential) schools where the students live together and are part of a student-lead organization that helps each student develop competencies as a follower, team member, and leader.Students learn the importance of self-discipline, time management, and to work together with others as part of a team.”
What types of colleges are available?
There are Senior Military Colleges (4 year), colleges that offer ROTC programs, and Military Junior Colleges (2 year). Cadets have formation, physical training and wear their uniforms. For more information about the specific programs, you can check out these sites:
What is the military service obligation?
Two-year colleges, colleges, and universities all offer programs leading to commissioning that include a service obligation. However, none of these programs are mandatory and many students participate in the school’s Corps of Cadets without incurring an obligation. The decisions whether to accept a commission is normally made at the beginning of the junior year.
ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) Programs
ROTC programs allow students to earn a degree while receiving financial support from the military. After graduation, students begin service as an officer in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps. Students take course work for a major, as well as courses related to the branch of the military in which they plan to serve. Each branch's program has its own requirements.
Which colleges offer ROTC programs?
Not all colleges and universities offer an ROTC curriculum, but Military.com provides a simple search by state and branch of service.
What is the cost?
College ROTC programs offer scholarship opportunities along with other financial support options, such as stipends for living expenses. The amount of financial support you receive will depend on the specific program you participate in. Some ROTC students receive full funding for tuition, books, housing and personal expenses for four years of college. These scholarships are quite competitive, and are based on academic performance, not financial need.
What is the military commitment?
Students who participate in an ROTC program are expected to serve in the military after graduation. This can range from four to 10 years of service, depending on the branch of the military. If you accept an ROTC scholarship and later decide the program isn't right for you, the military will allow you to keep any funding you received during your freshman year in college. You will have to forfeit any funding you received beyond your freshman year.
Students who are interested in an education with structure, commitment, and regiment should consider a military focused education.