Most people don't give military academies much thought when making plans for their children's high school education. Less than one percent of U.S. citizens currently serve in the armed forces, according to Pew Research, The New York Times and countless other sources, so not many people think in terms of the military as a part of their own lives. Attending high school at a military academy, however, could be an excellent opportunity for an intelligent, college-bound child, whether or not a career in the service is a possibility. Parents may want to take a look at some of the approximately thirty high-school military academies across the country. Here are five reasons why.
1. Military academies are not for troubled kids – in fact, just the opposite is true. We've all heard of kids with behavioral problems being sent off to military based schools to learn discipline. Military based schools for troubled children differ from military academies, which are college prep schools for motivated students. Military academies are not a good fit for troubled children because they don't provide psychological or behavioral therapy for kids, according to The Aspen Education Group, a national provider of education and therapy for children with academic, behavioral, emotional or substance abuse problems. According to Aspen, sending a challenged kid to a military academy is like putting a bandage on a struggling child's problems. The discipline at the academy might help the child for a while, but eventually, without therapy, the child's problems will resurface. Well-adjusted, motivated children who enjoy a structured environment are the best fit for military academies, the Aspen Education Group explains. 2. The leadership skills acquired in military training are unparalleled. Military academies provide the same kind of leadership training found in the U.S. armed forces, and this kind of training cannot be found anywhere else, according to "Why the Military Provides Great Leaders," by Tom Kolditz (The Harvard Business Review, Feb. 6, 2015). According to Kovitz, in the military leadership is taught in a carefully planned, methodical way. This kind of leadership training cannot be found in a corporate setting or elsewhere in the government. The reason, Kovitz explains, is simple. Military leaders must do more than motivate people – they have to inspire them. They must lead people into battle, asking them to risk their lives. This kind of inspirational leadership is taught at military academies, and it's a strong factor to consider in choosing a high school for your child. Your child's leadership potential could be honed to its fullest potential at a military academy. 3. Military academies provide excellent preparation for college. High school students graduating from Wentworth Military Academy and College, located in Lexington, Missouri, have a ninety-five percent college acceptance rate. Wentworth prides itself on offering challenging courses taught by outstanding teachers, exceptional athletic programs for all students, strong role models to show students how to perform to their full potentials, a strongly supervised, safe environment and a diverse community of students from across the country and around the world. Hargrave Military Academy, located in Chatham, Virginia, enjoyed a ninety-nine percent college acceptance rate from 2003 to 2011 and average SAT scores in the 1500's. These schools are just a few examples of the extensive college prep work that high school students, or cadets, accomplish at military academies. Carson Long Military Institute, located in Bloomfield, Pennsylvania, which has bragged of a one hundred percent college acceptance rate, explains that its students study in a "distraction-free, highly structured atmosphere." Carson Long also encourages students to be patriotic and maintains as its top priority the goal of graduating "confident young leaders who are prepared for college." 4. Military academies provide much more than education and military training. A terrific resource for families looking into military academies or other types of boarding schools is The Boarding School Review (boardingschoolreview.com), which explains that in terms of the time allocated to pure academics, military schools are similar to religious-affiliated private schools. At a military school, a cadet will generally spend about ten hours on military training, and at a religion-based school, a student should expect to spend approximately ten hours a week on religious work, according to The Boarding School Review. (If both religious-based and military schools sound appealing, check out the military academies that are affiliated with particular religions.) In addition to academics and ten or so hours per week of military training, students at military academies participate in clubs and are expected to remain physically healthy, active and fit. Military academies place a strong emphasis on physical fitness, requiring all students to participate in athletics and to maintain the type of physical strength and stamina required in the armed forces. As the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas, notes, scientific research has established a correlation between physical fitness and top academic performance, and in any event, it's hard to disagree with the notion of encouraging high school kids to be physically fit. 5. Military academies require students to conduct themselves with the utmost integrity and to maintain strong personal values. Trust and integrity are at the core of serving in the armed forces -- one's life can depend on the work ethic and integrity of one's fellow service members. Military academies instill strong personal values in their cadets because strong values will be necessary for those who will go on to serve in the armed forces. For instance, the Marine Military Academy (a private school not affiliated with the U.S. Marines) expects its cadets to abide by these three core values. (1) Honor: cadets are held to the highest ethical and moral standards, and respect for others is essential. (2) Courage: cadets must face their fears and overcome them, and they are expected to do what is right regardless of the consequences. (3) Commitment: cadets must strive for excellence and never give up because duty to others is fundamental. The strong personal values expected from the cadets at the Marine Military Academy are indicative of those at other military academies. If your child is college-bound, patriotic and thrives in a structured setting, a military academy might be the perfect fit for high school.
Theresa Anzaldua is the author of We Had A Job To Do – A Basic History of World War II Through The Eyes Of Those Who Served. She has interviewed dozens of veterans of World War II, all of whom have praised their military training. Learn more at www.theresaanzaldua.com.