Which Military School is Right for You?
Military schools today are not meant to be a first step in a military career. Very few students who graduate from a military school go into the military service, but the decorum, respect and discipline they are taught in the military school setting propels them forward in their future career and keeps them focused in a world that is full of distractions. And across the board, over 90% of military school students go on to college and are accepted in prestigious educational institutions.
The more distractions there are in public school, the greater need there is for military-style schools. Many parents find that their student is helped by the structure and discipline present in military educational institutions. Students who may have been unfocused in their past educational pursuits, or perhaps were distracted by having the opposite gender in the same classroom, find new focus and a sharper vision of their future by attending military-style schools.
The environment in a military academy is rich in the important qualities that are sometimes missing in young people’s lives (and missing in public schools and most private schools). In military schools, students are taught respect, and are expected to attend all classes on time and to give instructors their full attention. Course work is expected to be turned in correctly and on time. High expectations are a fact of life in a military academy. Strict study times are enforced, keeping the student focused on their work and on achieving the best scores they can earn.
Military schools are not for troubled teens, however. In nearly all cases, military schools today are college or military preparatory schools that will not tolerate boys or girls that will cause trouble on campus or in the classroom. Such students are either rejected outright, or are quickly expelled once they get in trouble on campus and the parents are often left footing the bill. If your teenager has behavioral issues, instead of a military school we recommend that you look at a school for troubled teens. Sometimes a troubled teen can go on to military school after their behavior is brought in line by first attending a therapeutic boarding school.
So, how does one go about choosing the right school? The right – or wrong – decision can have a significant impact on a student’s academic performance as well as on his or her future career.
The criteria for selecting a military school don’t differ significantly from those for selecting any school. Following are the factors that need to be considered during the process of making a school selection:
The academic program: Does the school provide a well-rounded program that not only prepares the student for success in a military career, but a balanced program that teaches life skills that are essential for success regardless of the student’s chosen career path?
- Academic prestige: As with civilian schools, not all military school are equal in this regard. The ‘A’ student from an unknown military academy, when entering the job market, will be at a disadvantage when compared to the ‘A’ student with a degree from Virginia Military Institute. When evaluating a school, look at how it compares with college-level institutions like the Army, Navy, or Air Force Academies, even if your child will not be going into the military.
- Location: This is especially important if you’re looking at boarding schools. Travel between school and home during academic breaks can be a significant cost if you’re operating on a limited budget.
- Grading system and credit transfer: Have a clear understanding of how student performance is graded. Are credits earned at the school transferable to other schools?
- Homework policy: Some schools have a universal policy regarding homework, while others leave it to individual instructors. In the latter case, this can mean that students with similar final grades have different levels of achievement.
- Student-teacher ratio: The smaller the class size, the better is the instruction received by each student, particularly in primary grades.
- Athletic/physical education program: Determine what level of participation is required of students, and whether or not the prospective student has the ability to participate fully.
- Physical plant / labs / libraries: Are the libraries and media centers well-equipped and organized? Does the school use the latest technology? What is the condition of dormitories and classrooms? Are athletic fields and gymnasiums adequately equipped?
- Cost & Tuition: How do costs of the school compare with similar institutions? What is the availability of grants or scholarships?
- Graduate employment history: How do graduates of the school fare, in military careers or civilian employment? Is there an alumni network to assist graduates?
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
The mission of a military academy is to prepare young people for advanced education and develop the individual’s character for future success. Preparatory academies can provide the structure and discipline that many adolescents need in order to be successful in college and in a career. For some, the decision to attend a military school is because of a desire to have a military career, while others merely want the discipline that such schools offer. Regardless of the motive for attending a military prep-school, choosing the right school is an important first step.