I have the great honor of servingon my Congressman's Selection Committee for the US Military Academies having just finished the selection process for the Class of 2015. The committee decides which candidates the Legislator should nominate to attend the Military Academies, the actual choice is up to the individual Academy and the candidates are picked from all national nominations submitted. What an honor to be chosen to go to a Military Academy!
West Point (Army), Annapolis (Navy), Colorado Springs (Air Force) , and King's Point (Merchant Marine) permit our US Legislators (in Congress and the Senate) to submit nominations every year. The fifth Military Academy, Coast Guard, in New London, CT, is not included in this selection process.
This year 39 youngsters applied, thirteen of which were female. The Navy Academy was by far the most popular - many of the applicants wanting to become Marines, some Navy Seals. When interviewing the candidates we find that they have 15-hour days, just fitting in all their schooling and other activities. It makes me breathless just to listen to their schedules.
The Academies consider academic and sports excellence, fitness, leadership ability, tenacity and any other special circumstances. Since each cadet costs the tax payer around $400,000 to put through the 4-year program the Academies obviously want youngsters who do not leave when the going lets too tough.
The selection committee days fill me with joy! I do not have children and I am able to meet so many (mainly seventeen-year old) highly intelligent and dedicated young people. What a difference to the high school kids hanging aimlessly around the malls!
Some excellent candidates who may be lacking a few grade points may be offered a year of "prep" school first, and almost all prep school students will go to the relevant academy a year later.
As I have heard from cadets presently in the Academies, life if not easy, and the extremely structured life is more difficult than they had expected, particularly in the first few month. But graduating from one the US Military Academies makes up for all the agony and hard work.