How Do I Get Accepted Into Service Academies?

The United States Service Academies are elite institutions that train young men and women for leadership in the US Military. Admission to these academies are extremely competitive. In order to be accepted into a service academy, you must demonstrate a high level of intelligence, physical ability, and moral character. The official application process takes about a year and a half — beginning during your junior year of high school — but preparation should begin even earlier.

Be a Stellar Student

In order to be accepted into a service academy, you must excel in academics. 9 out of 10 cadets were in the top 20% of their high school class. An applicant’s grade point average, or GPA, is the primary measurement of academic performance. It is important to maintain high grades throughout high school, starting with the first semester of freshman year. All of your grades are factored into your GPA and it only takes a few blunders to significantly lower your average. Academies look at other measures of academic ability as well, including standardized test scores. Prepare for the SAT or ACT with practice tests and retake the tests until your scores are well above the average.

Get Involved

Academies are not only interested in grades. They also look for candidates that excel in their extracurricular pursuits, especially athletics. Ninety percent of cadets participated in varsity sports before applying. Every academy has strenuous physical requirements. Athletic achievement in high school is a strong indication that an applicant can handle the physical demands of being a cadet. Participation in varsity sports also demonstrates teamwork, discipline, and commitment. Organized sports are not the only way to show you possess these qualities. You can also participate in school service clubs or community organizations. Academies look favorably on candidates who not only participate in such organizations, but also take on leadership roles. Make yourself stand out by serving in student government, founding clubs, and organizing activities and fundraisers for organizations you participate in. The purpose of the service academies is to train cadets for leadership roles as officers in the US military. You need to show them that you have the potential to be a leader.

Go the Extra Mile

Remember that almost every applicant is going to have an excellent resume. In order to get accepted into a service academy, you have to do more than meet the basic requirements for admission. There are a few things you can do to show that you are serious about joining a service academy. First, schedule official visits to campus. Take a tour of campus, speak with admission officers, and try to sit in on classes. This not only shows that you are serious about getting into the academy; it also gives you a chance to become familiar with the culture and routine on campus. You also want to make an impression on your local congressman or senator. In order to get in to an academy, you must be recommended by a member of Congress, the President, or the Vice President. You can improve your chances by volunteering or interning at a congressional office. At the very least, try to speak with your Congressman in person early in the official nomination process.

Admission into a service academy is an extremely competitive process. It is not a challenge that is taken on lightly. Once accepted, you can look forward to four years of rigorous intellectual and physical training to prepare you to be an officer in the US military. It will be one of the hardest challenges of your life, but also one of the most rewarding.