military schools

How Do Military Schools Work?

By: David Bolthouse | 10 Comments


Military high schools, also known as military academies or military preparatory schools, are institutions that combine a traditional academic curriculum with military-style discipline, leadership development, and physical training. They are designed to prepare students for college, military service, or careers in various fields. Here’s a general overview of how they work:

  • Admission and Enrollment: Just like any other school, military high schools have admission requirements. Prospective students may need to provide academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, undergo interviews, and in some cases, take entrance exams.

  • Academic Curriculum: Students are required to take core academic classes such as mathematics, science, history, and English. Many military high schools also offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses and other college-preparatory classes.

  • Military Training: In addition to academic classes, students receive instruction in military disciplines. This might include classes in leadership, military history, and basic drills. Physical fitness is emphasized, with regular physical training sessions.

  • Uniforms: Students typically wear military-style uniforms, which foster a sense of discipline, unity, and pride. The specifics of the uniform will vary by school.

  • Rank System: Much like in the actual military, students can achieve ranks based on their performance, leadership capabilities, and length of time at the school. This rank system often plays a role in student governance and helps establish a hierarchy of responsibility among the students.

  • Structured Environment: Days at a military high school are typically very structured, with set times for waking up, meals, classes, drills, study periods, and lights out.

  • Character and Leadership Development: These schools often emphasize character education and leadership development, teaching students values such as integrity, honor, and responsibility.

  • Extracurricular Activities: Just like traditional high schools, military high schools offer extracurricular activities. This might include sports, clubs, and other groups. Some also have specialized teams like drill teams or rifle teams.

  • Post-Graduation Paths: Graduates of military high schools may choose a variety of paths. Some opt to attend civilian colleges or universities, while others may pursue appointments to senior military academies (like the U.S. Military Academy at West Point or the Naval Academy at Annapolis). Others might enlist in the military or pursue civilian careers.

  • JROTC and ROTC: Some military high schools have a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program, which offers additional leadership training and prepares students for potential future service as officers in the military. Some graduates might also choose to participate in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in college.

It’s worth noting that while military high schools instill discipline and structure, they are not correctional institutions or solutions for troubled youth. Parents and guardians interested in sending their children to a military high school should research individual institutions to ensure they align with their educational and developmental goals for their children.

Length of Military School

Military high schools, typically follow the same four-year high school curriculum as regular high schools, covering grades 9-12. Thus, they typically last for four years.

However, there are some variations:

Grade Levels Covered: Some military high schools might start at grade 6 or 7 and go up to grade 12. In such cases, students could potentially spend six or seven years at the institution if they enroll at the earliest grade level.

Postgraduate Programs: A few military academies offer postgraduate or “PG” programs. These are one-year programs for students who have already graduated from high school but want an additional year of academic and physical preparation before going on to college or a service academy.

Boarding vs. Day Schools: While many military high schools are boarding schools, where students live on campus, there are also day military schools where students go home at the end of the school day. The academic duration remains the same for both types, but the experience might differ due to the residential aspect of boarding schools.

Summer Programs: Some military high schools offer summer programs or training sessions. These can range from a few weeks to a couple of months and may be designed for new cadets, for extra training, or as preparatory courses for the upcoming academic year.

If you’re considering attending or sending a child to a military high school, you should research specific institutions to understand their individual durations and program structures.

Admissions and Enrolling

  1. Research and Choose Schools: Begin by researching different military schools to understand their programs, curriculum, extracurricular offerings, costs, and any other factors that are important to you. Some military schools have a particular focus or unique traditions that might appeal to different students.
  2. Request Information: Many schools provide information packets for interested students and parents. This packet often includes application materials, brochures, and other pertinent details.
  3. Visit the School: If possible, visit the school for a campus tour. Some schools also have open houses, shadow programs, or other opportunities for prospective students to experience a day or more on campus.
  4. Complete the Application: This will typically include personal information, academic records, letters of recommendation, and possibly essays or personal statements. Pay attention to application deadlines.
  5. Medical Examination: Depending on the school, a medical examination might be required to ensure the student meets health and fitness standards.
  6. Interview: Some military schools require an interview as part of the admission process. This can be in person, over the phone, or even via video conference.
  7. Entrance Exam: Some schools might require entrance exams or standardized test scores (e.g., SSAT, PSAT, SAT, or ACT) as part of the application.
  8. Submit Required Documents: This can include transcripts, immunization records, birth certificates, and other required paperwork.
  9. Wait for Admissions Decision: After submitting all required materials, you’ll wait for the admissions committee to make its decision.
  10. Acceptance and Enrollment: If accepted, there will usually be a formal enrollment process. This might involve submitting an enrollment fee, completing additional paperwork, and providing further documentation.
  11. Orientation: Many military schools offer orientation programs for new students and their families. This provides an introduction to school life, rules, and expectations.
  12. Preparation: Before attending, you’ll likely receive a list of required items (uniforms, supplies, etc.). Ensure you have everything needed for a smooth transition.

Remember, each military school will have its specific requirements and procedures. It’s crucial to closely follow the guidelines provided by the school and reach out to the admissions office if you have any questions or need clarifications.