If you’re interested in joining the Armed Forces straight out of high school, there are a lot of things that you need to consider. Many service members originally enlist in the military to pay for college, but what if you could go to school, earn a degree and guarantee a job in the Armed Forces after graduation? The service academies — The Military Academy at West Point, The Naval Academy, The Merchant Marine Academy, The Coast Guard Academy and The Air Force Academy — are all ways that high school graduates can pay for college, as well as guarantee a position in the Armed Forces upon graduation.
Joining The Armed Forces Through Service Academies: How To Get In
Entrance into the service academies can be incredibly stiff. There are only a certain number of spots open to incoming freshmen each year and many people apply during their junior or senior year of high school. However, applicants can be older, as long as they haven’t passed their 23rd birthday.
Thousands of people apply each year. Before applying, most will need to be nominated by a member of Congress. The process can vary depending on which member of Congress is doing the nominating, but in most cases, applicants will need to provide their high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. They’ll also need to show their leadership potential, as well as prove that they’re committed to living a military lifestyle.
Once a member of Congress nominates them, applicants then go through the appointment process. At this point, applicants compete against each other for one of the available spots.
Children of career military personnel can also apply for appointment through a Presidential or military service nomination.
Benefits Of Joining The Armed Forces Through The Service Academies
Students who are planning on joining the Armed Forces through the service academies will receive a number of benefits. These include:
- An education equivalent to one from an Ivy League School
- A full scholarship
- A taxable pay that’s the equivalent to 35% of the O-1, under two year rate
- Free room and board
- A guaranteed job and commissioning as an O-1 upon graduation
Requirements Of Joining The Armed Forces Through The Service Academies
Of course, having the military pay for college does require a duty commitment. Typically, graduates will need to spend at least five years as an active duty service member, plus complete another three years as a reservist. Some officers, especially those who will complete additional training to become a pilot, can have their service requirement lengthened.
If you’re interested in joining the Armed Forces through a service academy placement, it’s vital that you start the process early in your educational career. Decisions you make, including which classes you take in high school, can directly influence your nomination or appointment to a service academy. Take full advantage of every leadership opportunity that comes your way, work diligently in school and you might just be the next officer in the U.S. Military.