Parents and students often wonder if they may be selling themselves short by taking an engineering degree at a service academy rather than big-name schools such as Harvard or Yale. How do the service academies size-up to the big-name colleges? I found this compelling article by Dr. Thomas Sowell, and I briefly quote: "The military service academies are, of course, meant to be more than academic institutions. However, the quality of their academic foundation may be indicated by the fact that West Point alumni received 79 doctorates in engineering alone during the decade from 1977 to 1986. This was more than the number of engineering doctorates received during the same period by the alumni of Johns Hopkins, Duke, Harvard, or Yale. Altogether, West Pointers received more than 300 doctorates in all fields during this decade-a remarkable achievement. . . " "Much the same story could be told of the other military service academies. More than 30 percent of the class of 1991 at Annapolis score in the 700s on the math S.A.T. Four-fifths ranked in the top 20 percent of their high school classes. The Naval Academy boasts among its alumni more than two dozen Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel Prize winner, astronauts, and a President of the United States." "Like most institutions that turn out outstanding people, West Point takes in outstanding people. Only about 10 percent of those who apply are accepted, and 10 percent of these are high school valedictorians. The Coast Guard, though a part of the Navy during wartime, has its own separate service academy in New London, Connecticut. Less than 10 percent of its applicants are admitted." The full article is available at: http://www.leaderu.com/alumni/sowell-choosing/chpter04.html#military My daughter has accepted an appointment to the USCGA and plans to major in civil engineering. She was accepted into the engineering programs at the University of Illinois (ranked #1 in civil engineering http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/college/spec-doct-civil) Georgia Tech (ranked #5 nationally in engineering) and Rensselaer Polytechnic in New York. How does the Coast Guard Academy stack up? US News ranks them #2 among first tier schools in the northeast: http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/college/items/1415 My daughter did an over night visit at both the USCGA and U of I. She sat in on engineering classes at both schools and spent the evenings visiting kids at both schools. She also attended a Women in Engineering luncheon at U of I and after all that she choose the USCGA. I read (what I took to be a rather snarky comment) from a poster on this forum saying that ". . .most service academy students would never get into Berkeley." I personally think you could turn that around and say most Berkeley students would not make it at the service academies. There is more to life than GPA and SAT scores. Thank you Dr. Sowell for a thoughtful piece on the value of a service academy education! I encourage you to follow the above link and read the entire article.