THREE CHEERS FOR KP!! The United States Merchant Marine Academy, based in Kings Point, New York, is a year-round national service academy that promises to make you into a leader and prepare you for a career at sea—either in the commercial maritime industry or in the armed forces. It’s one of the nation’s better-kept academic secrets, with just less than 1,000 undergraduates. Kings Point is the place to be if you like the water, you want very strong academics, and you crave a military lifestyle. The well-rounded core curriculum is demanding and extremely comprehensive. It includes computer science and heavy doses of math and the liberal arts, as well as naval warfare, with courses in aquatic survival, basic firefighting, and self-defense. Students (called midshipmen) can major in marine transportation (if you want to work on the bridge of a ship) or marine engineering (if you want to work in the engine room). Regardless of your major, you will also complete rigorous physical training and spend approximately one year at sea working for commercial shipping companies and visiting exotic ports all over the world. These mandatory internships hone students' skills so that they are highly sought after by maritime industry companies once they graduate. Graduates of the academy receive a Bachelor of Science, an appointment as a commissioned officer in a reserve component of one of the branches of the United States armed forces, and a license as a merchant marine officer (issued by the Coast Guard). This license is midshipmen’s ticket to success, apparently, because the school has a reputation of having a 100 percent employment rate of graduates within 3 to 6 months after graduation, in high-paying maritime industry jobs or as active-duty officers in one of the uniformed services. Midshipmen can participate in many activities on the academy’s storied waterfront campus, including sailing, power boating, crew, and windsurfing. But be warned: Life is regimented. The men and women who become midshipmen undergo a difficult, challenging, and exasperatingly hectic experience. Midshipmen cram about as much activity into one day as the average college student does in one week. Sharing in an intense program creates a sense of camaraderie amongst midshipmen not found at most colleges.