Just curious to what the average clout chaser on this forum would say.
Are the service academies more prestigious than the Ivy Leagues?
Hold on while I grab the popcorn and pull a chair up.
Yes, except for Harvard, Princeton & Yale. I am referring just to three service academies : USMA at West Point, USNA at Annapolis & USAFA at Colorado Springs. (These 6 institutions are equals.)
No, not in my mind.
When my H was young he looked into Annapolis – he was told in no uncertain terms that the job of the USNA was to prepare cadets to become naval officers. After that conversation he did a good bit of soul searching and did not pursue getting an appointment.
I think the more valuable thing would not be to focus on perceived prestige (they are all outstanding institutions) but rather to determine which school is the best fit for an individual given his/her goals. For a young man or woman who aspires to become a military officer a service academy would be the choice that would best prepare him/her for the future. For a young man or woman who does not want to serve in the armed forces a service academy would not be a great choice.
In my opinion, the most prestigious educational institutions in the US are : USMA at West Point, USNA at Annapolis, USAFA at Colorado Springs, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Julliard & Curtis School of Music.
Just not sure how many are willing to sacrifice their lives to attend 8 of the 11 above listed institutions.
Which amounts to a significantly large portion of the student population, especially women.
I don’t think so. They are very hard to get into, but they don’t have the academic reputation to match the Ivies. Selectivity and academic quality do not always correlate.
Low acceptance rates, but low # of applications.
In the last 4 years, one (1) student went to a military academy from our local, extremely diverse public high school, which graduates 500-600 kids per class.
IMO, the “average clout chaser” would chase the Ivys.
The service academies are highly selective but if you are looking at pure academics (gpa, sat/act) then no, they are not the level of the ivy schools. That said, there are many other qualities that make these institution prestigious in my opinion.
Apples and oranges. They are different types of institutions with different requirements. Can’t really compare them.
What? Indentured servitude and a chance of death for free college. There is no doubt these are all awesome educational institutions and I’m absolutely sure there are military families that would consider entry into one of these as a crowning achievement. I’m just not sure how many families that have spent 20 + yrs saving for college would consider allowing their children to consider this option.
Are the academies more prestigious? They can only be compared to each other, not civilian colleges as they aren’t the same thing. You might ask if UNSA is more prestigious than USMA, but asking if any of the five federal service academies is more prestigious than any civilian college is nonsensical. As @akin67 posted, they are different types of institutions with very different missions and they attract a very different type of student.
We didn’t consider it for a second, yet our son is a senior at West Point. We still aren’t quite sure how this happened, but there was no “allowing.” He turned 18 before that appointment arrived, so there wasn’t a damned thing we could do about it. We paid college rates for high school, and we had a fully-funded 529 that would have paid every cent of the cost of any college in the country (but, thanks to the Military Family Tax Relief Act, that money returned to us penalty-free, except for taxes on the gains). He got no encouragement or support from us during the process, but once that choice was made, we buckled up to support him on a very tough ride. We are very proud of him, but not because he chose the military.
I posted recently on another thread that the rubric used to determine academy appointments, by design, does not value academics the same way civilian colleges weight them. The SAs value a combination of brains, brawn, and leadership somewhat equally–as they must. Until he was fully into his major, our son was underwhelmed by the academics at West Point. The brain trust is there, but cadets sometimes have to seek it out. When he discussed this with his department head, the LTC explained to him that only about one third of any incoming class is selected for academic chops; the other 2/3rds are chosen for other equally shiny traits. All are academically capable, all pass the academic bar, but only that third is what you might label “scholarly.” Our son has learned to value those other critical equally shiny traits in his band of brothers very highly. The corps needs a balance of all of them in a way civilian colleges do not as their missions differ vastly. The Army puts it this way (as inscribed in stone at West Point):
The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools. -Thucydides-
The service academies are looking to produce capable officers for each branch of our armed services. It takes a certain kind of kid to go this route, and those kids don’t always look like the applicants to the usual civilian suspects. If academics rather than service is the main concern of any applicant’s college evaluation, then the SAs probably aren’t for them, not because that applicant can’t be academically satisfied (s/he can) but because getting through a SA and the years of service that follow takes a gut commitment to something else.
The acceptance rates aren’t really that low. The gate is getting a congressional nomination; without at least one, the application dies. However, for any candidate who receives a nomination who is also academically, physically, and medically qualified (3Q), the chances of appointment are around 50%. Here are the stats for the most recently admitted class at USMA. These percentages are relatively stable year to year and across academies:
And it also helps to be a varsity athlete. For example, of the 1302 candidates appointed to the class of 2020, 99% were varsity athletes:
I will end by saying that although “prestige” may be a driver for applicants to civilian colleges, it isn’t enough to sustain anyone through the physical and mental rigor of a service academy, and any candidate with “prestige” as a main driver will not pass the scrutiny of the multiple congressional panel interviews required for receiving a nomination. The panels are expert at ferreting out motives, and they are looking for a deep commitment to service and the desire to become an officer in one of our armed forces. They also closely examine each applicants understanding of the potential price of that service. Prestige does not figure into this equation.
*Anyone interested in the makeup of a service academy class can look at the most current class profile at USMA:
The OP’s issue is “prestige”, not selectivity.
Pass the popcorn, @skieurope.
“The service academies are looking to produce capable officers for each branch of our armed services. It takes a certain kind of kid to go this route, and those kids don’t always look like the applicants to the usual civilian suspects”
“We didn’t consider it for a second, yet our son is a senior at West Point. We still aren’t quite sure how this happened, but there was no “allowing.” He turned 18 before that appointment arrived, so there wasn’t a damned thing we could do about it.”
In our area, I have known two families get a child into a service academy. One family was highly motivated by a long history of family members in the service. The other needed the free education. Both families helped their child jump through unbelievable hoops to make it happen. It is truly amazing that on his own your son decided to join a service academy and made it happen. I realize that the process is not the same everywhere.
" The nomination of constituents to one of the service academies can provide Members of Congress
with the opportunity to perform community outreach and other representational duties. In some
states and congressional districts, nominations are highly competitive. Others are less
competitive, and some offices do not receive expressions of interest from enough applicants to fill
the number of nominations allocated. Consequently, some congressional offices might need to
dedicate considerable staff resources to the selection process to identify qualified candidates,
while others can incorporate service academy nominations alongside other constituent service
work such as casework."
In our area, I do not believe the process would happen without strong commitment and involvement by the family. Most families in our area pursuing a "prestigious university " would compare and apply to schools outside of this arena, therefore I believe the service academies are not getting looked at by the complete group of top academic preformers.
Yet acceptance rates to the three primary service academies are remarkably low.
USMA at West Point accepted 10% of all applicants for the class entering Fall 2017.
USNA at Annapolis accepted just 8% of all applicants.
USAFA at Colorado Springs accepted 12%.
so a different group is applying as stated above . “Prestigious” does not just mean academically prestigious.
" The average SAT score composite at United States Air Force Academy is a 980.
United States Air Force Academy SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)
The 25th percentile New SAT score is 830, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1110."
While I reach for another bag of popcorn, might I suggest that any people who are contemplating any college should evaluate the data presented by the college in question as opposed to any secondary source. The above quote comes from prepscholar, whose accuracy I put under the heading of “if it’s on the internet, it must be true” and does not correlate with the data provided by the USAFA. YMMV, of course.
I stand corrected , but unchanged so a different group is applying as stated above . “Prestigious” does not just mean academically prestigious.
Applicants Submitting SAT
SAT Reading 25th 650
SAT Math 25th 630
SAT Composite 25th 1280
SAT Reading 75th 710
SAT Math 75th 730
SAT Composite 75th 1440