There is an extremely selective college a bit north of Manhattan (10% acceptance rate) that offers free tuition, room and board. Popular majors include engineering, the social sciences, foreign languages and business. No, it’s not too good to be true…it’s the United States Military Academy, or West Point.
If your son or daughter is considering West Point as an option, there are some important things you and they need to know:
Candidates must pass medical and fitness exams in order to be considered.
Candidates must be nominated by a US Congressman, US Senator, the Vice President, or the Secretary of the Army. Students are urged to contact all possible nominators to give themselves the best chance of securing a nomination. Most senators and congressmen have a limit as to how many students they can nominate each year.
Students should begin the nomination-seeking process as early as spring of junior year.
Students must take the SAT or ACT and submit official score reports.
Submission of a full application and transcripts is required.
Prior to the formal application process, students who are thinking about West Point should consider applying for attendance at a Boys or Girls State summer program. These programs, sponsored by The American Legion, are considered excellent exposure to the workings of government and strengthen an application to West Point. Students must be sponsored by an individual post of the Legion. School counselors can provide contacts to these groups.
Another summer program that’s recommended is West Point’s Summer Leaders Experience. This two-week program occurs in early June. About 6,000 rising seniors apply and about 1,000 get accepted. The program provides a true taste of what life will be like at West Point for students giving it serious consideration.
Students who participate in ROTC type programs during the school year, regardless of which branch of the military is sponsoring the program, indicate strong interest in military life while demonstrating the ability to adhere to the requirements of military programs.
What’s Expected After Four Years
Before a student makes this leap, he or she should be clear as to what is expected once their four years of cadet and college life are complete. By accepting admission to West Point, a student is agreeing to serve an additional five years of active duty in the army. So, while the education is free, the commitment is large. For a student unsure of their willingness to sign on for so long, we strongly suggest summer and ROTC school year programs to give them a clearer sense of what attending West Point truly means.