Political Climate of Service Academies? (conservative? liberal? mix?)

I’m sorry this is long, but I don’t know where to get this information, and I’m really hoping someone here has information for me!! :slight_smile:

  • BACKGROUND-- My son is a sophomore and is seriously considering applying to USMA, USNA, and/or USAFA. We've read through the requirements, read a lot of websites (official and unofficial) and watched a lot of youtube videos, and I think we have a general idea of how it all works.

I think my son has a good chance of admission-- he’s very strong and athletic, is outgoing and charismatic with many leadership experiences, and is quite intelligent (as a 9th grader he scored a 32 on the ACT with near perfect math and science subscores).

My son loves his country and thinks he would make a good soldier and military leader. He knows he’s smart and feels that it is his duty to use his intelligence to make his country (and the world in general) a better and safer place rather than just use his intelligence to make money in the corporate world. He loves creative problem solving and strategy and sees himself in a future career working in military intelligence or for the CIA, FBI, etc.

  • QUESTION-- We are wondering-- What is the political climate of the service academies?

My son is scientifically minded, atheist, progressive, and liberal. He is very turned off by reflexive patriotism and increasing nationalism in our country.

Here’s an example to explain what I mean-- With the recent Kaepernick media coverage, my son sided with those who supported Kaepernick. Conservatives tend to say that Kaepernick is anti-American and that by not standing for the national anthem he is disrespecting the soldiers who died to protect our country.

My son strongly disagrees. He believes that Kaepernick is a great American because he bravely participated in the fundamental right of American citizens to peacefully demonstrate. He believes that when someone sees a way in which America needs to improve (such as racial inequality), then that person has an obligation as an American citizen to bring attention to the area that needs improvement like Kaepernick did with his anthem protest.

In my son’s opinion, that’s what makes a great American-- someone who is brave enough to fight to make necessary changes, not someone who just waves a flag and says this country is great and anyone who suggests a need for improvement is anti-American.

Anyway, my son is pro-science, pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, pro-gun control, and generally aligns himself with progressive liberal ideals. He is also pro-military, but here is the south, the only people that seem to be pro-military are conservatives with the opposite views as my son.

Are the service academies conservative? Or, are there a lot of people who are progressive/liberal like my son?

Your son sounds like a wonderful young man. I don’t have any experience to add. My own son considered the service academies for several months but decided not to pursue it, mainly because he has a smilier outlook to your son and had the same concerns. So, I’m interested to hear what others tell you.

@ChoatieMom’s son is currently at one of the academies. Perhaps she has some insights on your questions.

I’m confused why your son wants to attend a service academy- sounds like it would be a horrible choice for him.
Would he be willing to kill someone for his country???

The service academies are generally on a spectrum of conservative.
In addition, there’s been official trouble due to peer pressure to do Christian things.
Even the maritime academies are known to be vastly more conservative than regular colleges, with few liberals.
They’re outstanding opportunities to grow and serve for the right kids but it doesn’t sound like it’d work well for your son.
A 'lighter ’ alternative is to try junior ROTC and then look for colleges with ROTC (or navy ROTC).

This poster duplicated this question under the handle “Texana” on the Service Academy forum:


Lots of good advice there.

@ChoatieMom Thanks for that link. I was not aware of that other forum.

For my opinion, I think that many young people come to the academies with various outlooks, some similar to your son’s. I do believe that there is plenty of tolerance for any views while at USNA and your son would not feel like an island of liberal thought. However, I have seen that once at the academies and after years on active duty, most military people tend to shade their world views toward the conservative side. I am sure they don’t completely lose their old beliefs, but I think that the atmosphere and life in general tend to move more people to the right. That is just my opinion as an old retired grad and parent of two grads.

2 - First post from a new member. Nonsense.

I’m a former military officer, and we could use quality future officers in the military like the OP’s son. Military officers come from a broad spectrum of political backgrounds, and it’s true that the majority are of the conservative spectrum. The academies don’t train right wing robots. They want to develop honorable young officers who will uphold the oaths they took upon entering the military to protect and defend the Consititution. There is no pressure to assimilate to the dominant conservative political philosophy. He can be himself and stick up for what he believes in. I would tell him to go for it.

If the views posted by many in the link provided in #4 are indicative of what one would experience at the academy, I’m glad my child chose a different path. But @NoVADad99 comments give me hope that isn’t the case. It would be a shame to draw officer candidates from such a narrow viewpoint.

I can assure you that the political leanings of the WP Corps of Cadets run the gamut and that discussions in and out of class are lively, intelligent, and above all, respectful. The Corps comprises all aspects of American society with its attendant diversity of opinion. I thought our son’s boarding school was diverse. It doesn’t hold a candle to West Point.

@slhogan Curious to know if the original poster has returned here? Any updates?

Sorry to hear you got that response. One of mine was interested for awhile during junior year, has the same leanings, but decided against applying. I think it was the correct decision based on several factors, one being the climate you describe. Unfortunate because the military leaders of tomorrow should represent ALL Americans and a variety of thought and opinions. Their loss.

Thanks for the update. These decisions are tough and very personal. Fortunately, with your son’s record, he will have lots of great options, even without a service academy in the mix. Best of luck to him.

I wanted to update on a topic from last year: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/service-academy-parents/1920050-political-climate-of-service-academies-conservative-liberal-mix.html#latest

I was reading through a topic I started last year. With my son in the middle of college applications, I find myself on CC again.
I cam across my old post, and I saw that it ended with @profdad2021 asking for an update. But, I couldn’t reply there since the topic had been closed.

So, I’m not trying to spark the topic anew. I’m just providing an update as requested:

At someone’s suggestion, I asked my question at the Service Academies forum. I was taken aback by the strong negativity of many of the responses! Most of the responses posted there (as well as hateful personal messages I received) made it plainly obvious that many people would not welcome my son at USMA.

I think it’s a bit of a shame because I think he could have done well at a service academy. He’s graduating this year (a year early) with a 4.0 average, 800 math SAT, 36 ACT math and science, and 4 years of leadership as a Student Council officer. He’s been juggling school with a 20-hour part-time job, frequent gym workouts, and a serious girlfriend, yet has never been tardy to school and is on track to graduate with an 11-year streak of perfect attendance at school.

But, he is an atheist and progressive liberal, and that doesn’t appear to be welcomed by the majority of military people I talked to about the matter (both in online forums and people I meet in real life). So, he decided against pursuing military as a career. He’s applying to competitive universities to study math instead.

So, that’s the update!


I reopened the old thread an appended this comment to it.