The days of the Military Academy being viewed merely as a hot-house for structure and discipline have long been forgotten.
Of course, the Military School retains a culture built on respect, self-control and self-motivation, but the connotations of authoritarian structure and discipline that have plagued the Military environment are becoming ever more outdated. Yes, these things are important – or the Military aspect would not appear in the name – but they are slowly giving way to a notable reputation for preparing students to enter a prestigious University.
Much like the traditional boarding school environment, learning and living alongside classmates allows young minds to form bonds no future life hurdle can easily sever.
The Military School is the ideal “leg-up” to the world’s top colleges. The ability to keep to a schedule, prioritise, and respect authority gives ex-military school students a definite edge against competitors, while the rigour of the curriculum prepares them for the most challenging pathways in higher education.
But with so many outstanding military institutions in the United States alone, how should you go about choosing the one most suited to your child?
Here are four things you should definitely consider:
1. The Admissions Process
Before your child jets off to the States, it’s important to note that the admissions process for Military School is different to any other.
In order to enrol at a US Military Academy your child must adhere to a number of criteria. These will vary depending on the School you are applying to, so it’s worth checking the admissions procedure out on the college website, but here are some general requirements:
You must complete and submit an application form for admission – most academies will charge a non-refundable admin fee for this, so it’s worth checking it out beforehand.
The prospective student must complete an admissions questionnaire, and might also be asked to attend a personal interview. If your child will be attending from overseas, arrangements can be made to hold the interview through platforms such as Skype.
The student must also submit two recommendations from an adult (other than family or friends) who can comment on the candidate’s personality and behaviour. A useful source for this could be a teacher, counsellor or coach.
All copies of your child’s school records must also be submitted, along with updated physical and immunisation records, and a medical application form.
2. The Academics
If your child aspires to attend a top university, it’s worth checking out the Academic history and structure of each academy. As with the admissions process, each school provides different forms of enrichment, so it’s worth doing your some thorough research so you can decide what’s best for your child.
The academic schedule at each separate institution is designed to fit the interests of each individual student. They provide a rigorous and stimulating curriculum that is designed to inspire the next generation of scholars, giving them a passion for lifelong learning as well as a greater understanding of the world around them. The values that underpin the military environment prepares your child for success within not only the curriculum, but life way beyond the walls of the school.
Be sure to look into things like class sizes – a smaller number of students in each class could be considered greater value for money, as your son or daughter will receive more one-to-one attention from the teachers. It might also be worth considering the educational opportunities offered outside of the school walls, such as tours across the globe, or even the chance to participate in programmes like the reputable Duke of Edinburgh International award.
The more opportunities available to your child, the more it will benefit them long into the future.
3. The Campus Culture
Some may not think this point as important as the others, but if the general ethos of the school conflicts with that of your child, it’s unlikely that they’re going to have a particularly enjoyable time.
Every Military School has a responsibility to provide a stimulating environment that is conducive to learning so every child gets the chance to reach their full potential. In order to achieve this, every institution offers a diverse range of clubs and extra-curricular activities to keep your cadet on top-form.
Some schools offer weekend enrichment, such as fun and interactive seminars that teach leadership skills and character traits. Others offer cultural clubs in things like journalism or photography. And you can almost guarantee that each one will provide a wealth of physical activities and competitive sports teams your child can join at their leisure.
Whatever your child’s interests, there’ll be a host of things to suit them – all you need to do is sit down together and decide what attracts you the most. Remember to check out the facilities, too – the structure of the School means your child may not get time to stray too far from campus, so it’s definitely worth noting on-campus amenities.
4. The Structure of the Environment
Each Military Academy runs to its own schedule, and each day is handled with a high-level of organisation and predictability. Activities are planned day-by-day and all rules are definitely there to be followed. Schedules and regulations are extremely important in military culture; your child will wake up, eat, attend class, participate in sports, study and sleep all to a very strict deadline.
For young men and women who are not used to this sort of structure, it can come as a shock to the system. But don’t worry – every institution will have a fantastic network of support to help your child adjust to the environment in an encouraging and positive manner. Though your child may not think it now, the principles and values this structure will teach them, such as efficiency, time management and self-discipline, will profit them for the rest of their life.
The best way to prepare your child for this military culture shock is to research the daily routine of the school they are applying to. Before they go, write it on a timetable and hang it in their room so they can familiarise themselves with the routine, and avoid leaping into the great unknown.
Read on to learn more about some of the best Military Academies in the United States…
MISSOURI MILITARY ACADEMY, MISSOURI
Missouri Military Academy (MMA) is a preparatory school with a military tradition for boys in grades 6-12. The School is located in central Missouri, the heart of the Midwest, and provides a multi-dimensional education that produces self-confident and well educated gentlemen. Whether your son is in middle or high school, Missouri Military Academy can help him maximize his potential with the help of caring, qualified and dedicated faculty in a safe and structured environment. Character. Athletics. Academics. Leadership. Adventure. These are the pillars of an MMA education, and the reason why students flock to MMA from all over the world to build an exceptional future.
CULVER ACADEMIES, INDIANA
Every boarding school promises top academics, competitive athletics and a strong foundation for success in college and beyond. So does Culver. What Culver promises beyond that is the education your child needs to be a leader, as well as a responsible global citizen in high school, college and beyond. The School encourages students to develop their individual interests and talents, while helping them move beyond self-imposed limitations. With its unique focus on leadership and training, the school hopes to develop and nurture the whole person – mind, spirit and body – so each student receives the educational experience that has set Culver above other schools for more than a century.
ST JOHN’S NORTHWESTERN, WISCONSIN
St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy (SJNMA) is a private, all-male college preparatory and leadership development school that combines personalized academic instruction, mandatory participation in athletics, ongoing instruction in ethics and values, and a structured, military-style environment that together allows each student to achieve his full potential. The goal of the Academy is to prepare each cadet for success in life by instilling them with a solid work ethic, an understanding of the value of integrity and teamwork, as well as the ability to think critically, communicate well, and function in a world that is diverse and ever-changing.
FORK UNION MILITARY ACADEMY, VIRGINIA
Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA) is one of the premier college preparatory boarding military schools for boys in grades 7-12. The School is located in Fork Union, Virginia, in the heart of central Virginia, and offers high quality academics and athletics within a structure that’s built around discipline, leadership and development, as well as Christian values. The School uses the best aspects of a military-style system to create an environment focused on academic achievement and leadership development. The goal is not to create “soldiers” but to build “solid citizens” who embody the values of integrity, honour, duty, self-discipline, and service to others.