US Service Academies
The U.S. service academies represent some of the country’s best colleges, and all tuition, fees, room, and board is paid in exchange for five years of active duty upon graduation. If you’re considering applying to an academy, there is a thorough procedure you must follow. Because of the extraordinary competition for academy selection, students are encouraged to apply to other less competitive colleges as well and inquire about any ROTC opportunities.
Not only are the personal and academic demands extraordinary at the academies, they are also among the most selective colleges in the country. Therefore, it is important to start preparing in three key areas well before the time of application in order to be competitive for admission:
- Academic Preparation: Take a strong college preparatory program including four years of English (Rhetoric & Persuasion is recommended), four years of math (Pre-Calculus and Calculus are recommended), each of the core sciences (Biology, Chemistry, and Physics), and relevant courses in computer science, social studies (Economics and Psychology are recommended), and world language (modern is recommended: Chinese, French, German, or Spanish).
- Physical Fitness Preparation: Improve your physical strength and endurance by participating in competitive sports, running regularly, and performing strenuous conditioning exercises.
- Leadership Preparation: Participate in extracurricular activities to gain leadership experience.
Service academy applicants must be at least 17 years old, but no more than 23 years old, as of July 1 of the year of admission, must be a U.S. citizen, and must be unmarried, not pregnant, and have no legal obligation to support any dependents.
As with most colleges, the application process at the academies begins junior year. Starting in the junior spring as information becomes available online, fill out the Pre-candidate Questionnaire for each of the academies to which you are interested in applying. At the same time you begin the application process to the academy itself, request information about a nomination from a Connecticut congressional representative or other eligible nominator.
An Academy Day is held each fall, which all interested candidates are encouraged to attend. Representatives from each of the academies and Connecticut congressional offices are present.
A nomination is required for each of the service academies besides the Coast Guard Academy (where appointments are made on the basis of a nationwide competition). There are several nomination sources, including U.S. Senators from Connecticut, our district’s U.S. House Representative, and the Vice President for extremely qualified candidates nationwide. There are also various military affiliates with nominating authority if one of your parents is on active duty or retired from the military, a deceased or disabled veteran, or a Medal of Honor recipient.
Since competition for nomination and appointment is stiff, candidates should apply to all possible sources and for all academies in which they have a genuine interest. A candidate may be nominated by more than one source and/or to more than one academy.
Each house representative and each senator is allowed a maximum of five persons (called “charges”) toward her or his quota at any one time at each of the academies. When a “charge” either graduates or leaves school, a vacancy is created.
Candidates are directly appointed to the Merchant Marine Academy on a statewide basis. Each year, Connecticut has five vacancies. Each congressman nominates ten candidates who compete with nominees from the rest of the state to be appointed. For the Military, Air Force, and Naval Academies, each of the Connecticut congressmen uses the competitive method of nominating. Nominations are determined based on scholarship, personal character, extracurricular activities and athletics, physical aptitude, and leadership. Each congressman gives a list of ten nominees to the academy for each vacancy, and the academy’s admission committee selects the most qualified candidate, who becomes the congressman’s “charge.” Other nominees may still be considered for appointments, but won’t be the congressman’s “charge.”
Interested candidates should download nomination application materials from the congressman’s web site during spring of junior year. The completed application is due in October of senior year, and by December, each congressman submits his or her list of nominees to the respective academies. Keep in mind that separate documentation must be submitted to the nomination sources and to the academies themselves, as information is not shared by the congressmen.
Each Connecticut congressman has his own web site for applying to academies:
- Senator Richard Blumenthal: https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/services/academy-nominations
- Senator Christopher Murphy: http://www.murphy.senate.gov/services/academy
- Congressman Jim Himes: http://himes.house.gov/services/military-academy-nominations