Why Choose Military Schools

Military schools may not be the best choice for all. So, why choose military schools? Because military schools offer what some families need. If you know the pros and cons of military schools and what they have to offer then you can choose whether military school is the best option for you or your child.

Military schools can be appropriate choices for a child’s education for several reasons. The choice of a military school over other types of education can rest on the available schools in the area, family traditions, the child’s career aspirations, or simply a good fit between a child’s temperament and a school’s approach, as well as other reasons. Let’s look in a bit more depth at reasons people choose military schools.

First, it’s important to know what a military school is. A military school is a college preparatory school, accredited by the appropriate public or private accreditation agency or agencies, that provides a rigorous academic program in a military-style environment in which students (usually called cadets) wear uniforms, attend JROTC classes, and form part of a hierarchy, with the idea of creating graduates who will be leaders in their chosen careers.  In general, military schools send upwards of 90% of their students on to college; some claim acceptance levels at 100%. Often, at least a few students enlist in the military or accepted to one of the Service Academies, but there is no military obligation incurred by choosing to attend.

• Parents of a son might begin their consideration of military schools when they think about single sex education. Many military schools for boys have a long history of teaching boys, as well as well-developed outlets for their physical and competitive maturation.

• Parents looking for a Christian education for their child may consider Christian military schools among the variety of schools that have a faith-based focus. There are military schools that are non-denominational Christian, as well as schools specifically affiliated with Episcopal, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Roman Catholic faiths, for example.

• A family living near a military school that offers a day program—whether public or private—might choose it simply because it offers the finest academic program available or because it offers a particular sport that their child excels in that may not be offered in other schools (military schools often have extensive interscholastic sports programs).

• Parents who come from a family tradition of military school attendance, who work at a military school, or who are or have been in the military may choose a military school for their children to continue the tradition, to share their values and an experience they appreciated with their children, and/or to give their children insight into their career choices and commitments.

• For a child that has leadership potential, works well in a disciplined, group environment, is physically fit and enjoys athletics, and is doing extremely well academically, a military school may seem like a perfect fit for his or her further development.

• For a child who plans to enlist in the military or hopes to attend a Service Academy, the choice of a military school offers the opportunity to gain an idea of the atmosphere and work on the skills, aptitudes, and attitudes that will serve him or her well in the military.

Military Schools vs. Public Schools

When comparing military schools vs. public schools it is important to note we are comparing private military schools (which are essentially boarding schools) to public schools. Keep reading to learn the similarities and differences between public and military schools.

Military Schools vs. Public Schools Introduction

There are two sides to the issue of Military Schools vs. Public Schools. On the one hand, military school—largely college-preparatory private boarding schools, where students wear uniforms and live in a world of military style discipline—can be quite a contrast to public schools, where—in some cases—it seems like students can wear almost anything and behave pretty much as they wish.

However, now that there are a number of public military schools, we get a second look at the relationship between military schools vs. public schools.

The Private Military Schools vs. Public Schools

As hinted at above, private military schools can stand in stark contrast to public schools. Some private military schools date from the middle of the nineteenth century, a good fifty years before there were public schools. Many are all-boys schools, stemming from the historic fact that at one time, only men served in the Armed Forces and only men went to college, so only boys went to schools that prepared them for military service and higher education. Now, many of the private military schools are coeducational, and they largely prepare students for college rather than the military, with some claiming 100% college acceptance rates.

Today, private military schools are characterized overall by outstanding academics, high levels of faculty with graduate degrees, a fair number of international students, mandatory JROTC connected with one of the branches of the service, and outstanding athletic programs. Many of them are Christian—some affiliated with particular sects, and others non-denominational, but most seeking to include a spiritual dimension in their education.. Many of them have day students, as well as boarding students, and most charge a sizable, and some a hefty, tuition. While those accepting international students have ESL programs, most do not have provisions for students with AD/HD or learning differences and will not accept students without excellent academic records or with a history of disciplinary problems.

In a secular society, public schools have the minimum requirements for order required for education, and sometimes have a difficult time enforcing even these. A few public schools have strict dress codes and even have students wear public school uniforms, but in many cases, the dress code may be limited to prohibiting spaghetti straps, strapless tops, too short skirts, midriffs showing, and for boys, “pants on the ground” with boxers or underwear showing above. Public schools must admit all comers and provide them with an education: providing special services of a wide variety of types.

The academic offerings range from remedial to AP level, and students who graduate may go directly to work, enlist in the military, or go to community college, junior college, technical school, or a college or university. Sports offerings and other extracurricular activities may be extensive. Students may receive an excellent education, but their connections with their classmates may be limited—certainly not the hierarchy proposed in military schools.

Public military schools differ from both other public schools and from private military schools. Public military schools don’t have the faith affiliation, but they do have the hierarchy and the focus on college preparatory curriculum, the uniforms (which are free to students), and the JROTC program requirement.

Military School Requirements

Military school requirements are different from those of public or private schools.  Military school requirements are more along the lines of a college prep school.  This article covers some of the basic military school requirements, including the cadet creed. 

Since military schools share with other college-preparatory schools a desire to send the greatest percentage of its students as is possible to the college of their choice, academic admission requirements exist for all military schools, whether public or private. But, public or private, military school requirements set them apart from other schools.

Basic Military School Requirements

Some military school requirements are similar to those of any other college preparatory school. For example, even for public military schools, there is an application process that begins, at minimum, the fall before admission is desired. This generally involves basic information about the potential cadet (the military school name for their students), a transcript, recommendations, a set essay, in which the student is often asked to explain why they’ve made the choice of the school in question. An interview is often required.

There are also some basic military school requirements that—while similar to other private schools—differ between public and private schools. While public military schools draw from their surrounding community, sometimes extending beyond a typical neighborhood school, but still serving students in their vicinity, private military schools often serve international students, who may comprise up to a third of its cadets, and there are other requirements that these students need to fulfill, in regards to passports, documentation, and other paperwork.

For public military schools, there is no tuition charge. For private military schools, there is also a financial aid process that may either be considered to be part of the admissions process or a parallel process. At private military schools—many of which have a religious affiliation, whether a specific denomination or non-denominational Christian—chapel and worship are a standard part of the routine and attendance is required. Such schools make it part of their core mission to make sure that their students’ spiritual needs are served.

Specialized Military School Requirements

There are some requirements that military schools share and that set them apart from all other schools, both public and private. Here are some key military school requirements:

• Cadet Creed—Students at military schools participate in mandatory JROTC, which may be allied to various branches of the Armed Forces. Because cadets will be expected to live up to the Cadet Creed, admissions to the program may probe the applicants and their record to make sure that they have good character. Students who have had disciplinary issues are not likely to be admitted. The Army version of the Cadet Creed reads as follows:

Cadet Creed

  • I am an Army Junior ROTC Cadet.
  • I will always conduct myself to bring credit to my family, country, school and the Corps of Cadets.
  • I am loyal and patriotic.
  • I am the future of the United States of America.
  • I do not lie, cheat or steal and will always be accountable for my actions and deeds.
  • I will always practice good citizenship and patriotism.
  • I will work hard to improve my mind and strengthen my body.
  • I will seek the mantle of leadership and stand prepared to uphold the Constitution and the American way of life.
  • May God grant me the strength to always live by this creed.

• Wearing a Uniform—Order and discipline in the military school extends to dress. Not only must a uniform be worn (they are provided at no charge to public military school students and must be purchased by private military school students), but it must be worn in the correct way.

• Participating in a Hierarchical System with Military Atmosphere—Attending a military school, students will be required to participate in a military-style hierarchy and live in a military-style atmosphere.



How to Apply to a Military School

Once you’ve narrowed down your selection of potential military schools to those that are best suited to your child and circumstances, it’s time to begin the application process. This article explains how to apply to a military school.

Scope of Article

Because public military schools may have a quite different process this article focuses on the application process for private military school.

Things You Can Do in Advance

In case you’re reading this article prior to the actual moment when you’re ready to set pen to paper (or start keyboarding) the actual application, there are, in fact, some things you can do to help the application process before that point. They include:

• Encouraging and supporting your child’s school efforts to ensure good grades. Military schools are college preparatory school with a military bent, and as such, expect a good to excellent academic record from its applicants.

• Work with your child’s guidance counselor to assist in the choice of appropriate courses and course load (if such choices are offered) to underpin the course of study at the military school.

• Encourage participation in extracurricular activities and/or work and keep records of accomplishments and their dates that are likely to be part of an application—awards, solos, athletic competition ribbons, newspaper articles, and membership in extracurricular organizations or participation in volunteer work. These activities can demonstrate the good character and leadership ability that military schools seek in their candidates.

• Complete your Federal taxes as soon as you can. If you are applying for military school financial aid, these will be needed, though you may be able to substitute estimates prior to actually filing, if necessary. If your child has to file, assist him or her to complete the forms.

• If you expect to be applying for financial aid in the form of loans, checking your credit rating and keeping your finances in good order are other key preparations you can make.

Elements of the Application Process

The military school application process goes beyond the application form. While some schools may consider the financial aid application separate, others consider financial aid applications as part of the overall application process. Application for outside funding, including  military school scholarships and financial aid also need to be considered, as do the visit/interview/campus tour that often form part of the application process. The latter is particularly important to mention because it is a portion of the process in which the candidate, as well as the institution, gains information that can be useful in making a decision. And, of course, you need to multiply all this by the number of schools to which application is made.

To start the military school application process:

• Contact the admissions office of the school and let them know of your intent to apply. Find out about arranging for a campus visit/interview/tour.

• Read the online information presented in the ‘Admissions’ portion of the military school’s website and download and print any documents they may provide. This may require installing Adobe Acrobat Reader.

• Contact your child’s current guidance office and find out about procedures for getting transcripts and recommendations.

• Assemble all of the material mentioned in ‘Things You Can Do in Advance.’

• Read through the military school application documents to see if there is anything else you need.

• Have your child fill out the military school application on paper so you and s/he can both check it. If your child has to write an essay, make sure that you follow the school’s guidelines for what kind of assistance you give, so that it truly reflects your child’s work.

• Keep a hard copy and digital copy of everything you submit.

Good luck!

How to Choose the Best Military School

Choosing the best military school is a personal decision and not everyone will come to the same conclusions about what is the best military school. This article will provide some guidance to help you choose the best military school for your needs.

What to Consider in Choosing the Best Military School

People consider many factors in choosing the best military school. Here are some that may prove to be important to you:

Parents Alma Maters—If a student’s parents or other family members attended a military school, and especially if they maintain close connections, this may be important.

Parents’ Employers—If a student’s parents or other family members are employed at a military school, this may be a key factor, partly because they may receive a benefit like free tuition for their children.

• Geographical Location—Military schools are not as common as other college preparatory schools, and location may be an important factor in your search.

School Characteristics—Major categories of military schools include the grades they offer (including post-graduate year); their size; whether they are day schools, boarding schools, or both; whether they are public or private/independent; whether they are co-educational or all boys; how large the school is; the teacher-student ratio; and whether there is a religious affiliation.

• Academic Programs—If your child has special gifts or talents or interests, making sure that the academic program is a good match is key.

Extracurricular Activities, Including Athletics and Music—Whether it’s ice hockey, soccer, or playing the flute, support for a child’s non-academic activities is also important.

Military School Costs—In considering cost, don’t forget expenses besides tuition and room and board, which can include uniforms and their cleaning, fees, pocket money, instrument lessons, athletic equipment, etc.

Military School Life—It is important to match your child with an environment that will support his or her development. Although military schools often offer substantial web information, as well as print materials and videos, a visit is the best way to ascertain what the school is like.

• What Does Your Child Want—Different students have different goals. What’s top of the list for your child?

Which Criteria to Look for First

One of the issues in finding a military school is deciding which criteria to put first. And this can vary, depending on your situation. If there is no military school in the immediate area, then the decision for having a boarding experience is implicit in the idea to look for a military school. If, on the other hand, there is one nearby, you may decide to examine it carefully to see if you can make it work, and if there are several nearby, your initial focus may be on making a comparison.

In the realm of expenses, if you expect to qualify for military school financial aid and/or scholarships, the difference of several thousand dollars in tuition and/or board may mean less than if you expect to be paying for the entire sum, unless it’s a sum that you can easily afford, in which case, as they say, money is no object.

The key is to array the criteria in the way that seems best to you, and make sure nothing is left out, and with the overall goal of meeting your child’s needs.

How Much Does Military School Cost?

Military school costs depend on a variety of factors. Read this article to find out more about the considerations you should take into account when you figure out the cost of military school.

Public Military Schools

Public military schools are funded by the public and do not charge admission. They are day schools, so do not charge room and board. At present Chicago is the locale with the most public military schools (six), and the states of Delaware, George, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin each have one. They are mostly grades 9–12, and if you live near one, you have the opportunity for a very inexpensive military school experience.

The Costs of Private Military Schools

The most costly elements are military school tuition, room and board, and international fees. Seven-day boarding can run up to $37,810 per year. International military school students pay $3500 more, for example, Riverside Military Academy, where 7-day boarding for US residents is “only” $27,500. While for most people, changing the status of an international student is out of the question, there may be some choices involved in the other major costs.

• Some military schools offer a choice between enrolling as a day student, a 5-day boarding student, or a 7-day boarding student. At Admiral Farragut Academy, for example, day students tuition and board costs are $14,980; 5-day boarding students are charged $26,420; 7-day boarding runs between $31,570 and $32,150. This allows a choice for those who live near enough to take advantage of it.

• There are other ways to reduce the cost of military school.

• People who are able to pay the semester’s charges in a lump sum by a given date are often given a discount.

Military scholarships may be available for students who have excellent grades, excel in certain areas—such as music or sports, or meet other criteria.

Financial aid for military school may be available for families that qualify.

• Student loans may be available for families that qualify.

• Families with multiple students enrolled in the military school are likely to qualify for a discount.

• Discounts are likely to be available for children of military school employees—both faculty and staff.

• Other military school costs, while less than those, can be substantial, when all added together. They include uniforms, student fees, special class fess, new student enrollment fee or reenrollment fee for continuing students, health insurance, special class fees, and more.

Food for Thought

Before you send a child to military school, consider enrolling him or her into the summer school program. It costs less and provides an opportunity to discover how your student adapts to the environment before investing in the full year payment. If your child does then attend the school during the school year, he or she will have had an opportunity to become familiar with the environment, the people, the atmosphere, and the expectations during the shorter summer session and will be better prepared for the fall semester. If, on the other hand, your child has not found the experience to be a good fit, you have saved yourself from the full-year costs.

Military School FAQs

Many people have misconceptions about military schools. This article will help address some of the basics facts about military schools through military school FAQs that will help set the record straight.

What is a military school?

The term military school usually refers to a college preparatory boarding school that includes some aspects of military culture in its environment and expectations, including, for example, the wearing of uniforms, a high level of self-discipline, loyalty to the group, and opportunity for assuming positions of leadership. Many of them have a Christian affiliation, although it may be non-denominational, and while attendance at chapel may be required, students’ individual faiths are respected and supported.

Are students who go to military school required to join the Armed Forces when they graduate?

Most military schools have a JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program, and participation may be required while students are enrolled, but there is no obligation for military service incurred by attendance at a K–12 military school. They are separate from the US Armed Forces Service Academies.

Should I send my troubled/defiant child to military school to set him/her straight? It seems like the strict atmosphere might be helpful.

No. Military schools are college preparatory schools that admit promising students who are functioning well academically or downright gifted and who they identify as having leadership potential. Most of these schools are explicitly unwilling to and/or do not have the resources to deal with students with learning differences or ADD/ADHD, let alone students who are having larger difficulties.

To find a good match for troubled youth or  a child defying authority, ask a healthcare professional or guidance counselor for assistance in finding an appropriate setting for your child, or visit the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) website at http://www.natsap.org/programsearch.asp and use their program search to begin a search for programs that might be a good match for your child.

Will attendance at military school help my child get into a good college?

A very high percentage of military school graduates are admitted to prestigious colleges or enter the United States Armed Forces.

How can I ensure that we choose a school that is a good fit for my child?

There are three really helpful things you can do.

• Take advantage of every resource offered on the school website or through published documents, DVDs, or other sources of information, like alumni to find out everything you can about the school. Seek out people who had a less than perfect experience, as well as those who have nothing but good to say.

• Visit the school when it is in session and spend a good amount of time experiencing the atmosphere of the campus. An in-person interview provides information to the student as well as the school.

• Arrange for your student to participate in any summer school program that the school might offer. This is the best chance for your student to really understand how he or she can fit into the school paradigm.

Military School Facts

Did you know that the United States Military Academy at West Point is the oldest of the United States service academies, having been established in 1802? Want to know more facts about military schools? Read the rest of this article.

More Military School Facts

• Military schools may also be called military prep schools, military academies, or military boarding schools.

• Although it was once true that all K–12 military schools were private military boarding schools, today there are public military schools, all of which are co-educational.

• Military schools are usually college prep schools, offering college preparatory curriculum to students in grades 6–12 or 7–12. There are, however, some elementary military schools.

• A military school is not the place for a troubled or defiant child. Military schools are generally designed for the solidly-grounded, well-rounded, academically-gifted student with leadership potential and respect for authority. Many military schools explicitly say that they are not equipped to handle troubled or academically challenged students, such as those with learning disabilities.

• There are co-educational military schools and all-boys military schools, but no all-girls military schools. This comes from the history of the US military, which began as a male-only institution.

• The oldest military boarding school in the US is Carson Long Military Institute in New Bloomfield, PA, founded in 1842.

• The state with the most military boarding schools is Virginia.

A number of military schools have a Christian affiliation:


            Fork Union Military Academy (Virginia)

            Hargrave Military Academy (Virginia)


            St. Catherine’s Military Academy (California)


            The Howe School and Summer Camp (Indiana)

            St. John’s Military School (Kansas)

            St. Johns Northwestern Military Academy (Wisconsin)

            TMI–The Episcopal School of Texas

            Non-denominational Christian

            Massanutten Military Academy (Virginia)

            Missouri Military Academy (Missouri)

            Oak Ridge Military Academy (North Carolina)

            Valley Forge Military Academy (Pennsylvania)

            United Methodist

            Randolph-Macon Academy (Virginia)

 • Some military schools offer a post-graduate year.

 • Admiral Farragut Academy, a military boarding school in St. Petersburg, Florida, is recognized as an Honor Naval Academy by the U.S. Congress, and is one of the few military schools to offer support for students with learning differences (LD) and ADD/ADHD.

 • Most military schools have a JROTC program. Participation may be mandatory.

 • Most military school graduates go on to enroll in a college or university, or enlist in the military.

Many famous people, and not just those who distinguished themselves in the military, attended a K–12 military school:

  • Astronaut Alan Shephard graduated from Admiral Farragut Academy. So did musician Stephen Stills.
  • George Steinbrenner, New York Yankees owner and film critic Gene Siskel graduated from Culver Academies.
  • Plaxico Burress, New York Giants wide receiver, graduated from Fork Union Military Academy.
  • Donald Trump, President and CEO of Trump International, graduated from New York Military Academy.
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr., NACAR driver, graduated from Oak Ridge Military Academy.
  • Actor Spencer Tracy graduated from Saint John’s Northwestern Military Academy.
  • General Douglas MacArthur graduated from TMI–Episcopal School of Texas.
  • General H. Norman Schwarzkopf and author J.D. Salinger graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy.