Are you a student in high school and interested in a flying career? You may want to consider attending a service academy instead of a state or private university for your four-year bachelor’s degree. The service academies are little known opportunities that do not require tuition, pay students to attend, guarantee at least 5 years of employment after graduation, and supply a young person with endless possibilities for the rest of her life, not the least of which is free training in aviation. So what does it take to apply?
There are 4 major academies and several smaller military schools that can be paths to a military aviation career. Did you know that the United States Air Force Academy, Naval Academy, Military Academy (West Point), the Coast Guard Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy can all provide flying opportunities for graduates? All are among the best collegiate programs in the country and can provide an easy track to many professions, in multiple fields. So, how does one apply to “The Academy”?
The process is lengthy, so early preparation is key. Anyone interested in attending a service academy must demonstrate to an admissions board a well-rounded student and citizen. This means not only having competitive grades, but it also means participating in clubs and organizations that are not school functions (ie an after school activity or nonaffiliated program) and also playing at least one sport. If you are considering a service academy as an option for your collegiate degree, we recommend starting early to prepare your resume, because the schools are highly competitive. Most students begin preparing in their sophomore year, though applications are not due until senior year of highschool.
Many steps of the application process are unique to military academies compared to colleges and universities. One very large difference is the requirement to apply for, and secure, a nomination from a sitting member of Congress or the Vice President of the United States. If you don’t know who your Senator or Representative is, here is the list of representatives and this link to find your senator. You do not have to personally know any of these members, an official request is required. Congressional members have different methods of nominating their candidates. Some members require an in-person interview. Others host panels of interviews, much like a job interview. The member nominating a candidate will want to see the well rounded and mature person that meets their expectation of a future military officer. There are other ways to secure a nomination for specialty groups, check each academy’s website for details.
Once a nomination application is complete, applicants will be contacted by a Liaison Officer (Or Blue and Gold member as known in the Navy)- someone in the service associated with the Academy that can assist with the rest of the application process- and be given an opportunity to visit the school in an overnight capacity. Students will have to take a physical fitness test designed by the specific service academy as well as a medical examination and may have to take other screening tests to ensure basic aptitude for military service. An applicant should have a clean record – no arrests, drug use or misdemeanors on record- and cannot be married or have children.
Each service academy accepts about 800-1100 students a year, out of 10,000. Varsity sports players sometimes have an advantage for admission, as sports are a revenue source for the Academies, but they are not the majority of admissions. Also, no requirements are set for any previous flight or military experience. Cadets who attend are given the full scope of skills necessary to become military officers and specialists. Some candidates with congressional nominations who do not make the cut for an academy may be offered a year at prep school to cover a gap in a record. Many people who attend prep school are accepted into the academy the following year without issue.
If you are considering an application to one of the service Academies, and have more questions after reading this short summary, feel free to reach out to us using our message feature. If we don’t know the answer to your question we can connect you to someone who can.
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