Discussion in 'Service Academy Preparatory Schools' started by Hopefulcandidate99, Jun 24, 2016.
Which prep school has the best program to send students to a SA?
The answer depends on you and what your weaknesses are. For instance Northwestern Prep's focus is on the SAT/ACT prep and the Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA). The reason for this focus is because after high school, the biggest part of the whole candidate score that you can change is you standardized test scores and your CFA score. Now the downside is that none of their classes can transfer as college credit, but since it is only a semester long, you start college after winter break at another university. Now the military junior colleges, MMI, NMMI, and VFMA, have a slightly different approach. They do have SAT/ACT prep, but it probably is not as rigorous as the NWP model. They also have physical training programs to help with the CFA. What they do offer is college level courses that MAY transfer to another college. I say MAY because not all colleges accept transfer credits from all junior colleges, but these junior colleges will tell you which colleges will accept the credit and the required grade for transfer. Military junior colleges will be an introduction to the military lifestyle which could help indoctrinate you to what to expect at a SA. Now Marion Military sends about 30 candidates to West Point and a good number to Coast Guard since they use it for their scholars program, so if you want to be with a cohort of kids headed to a certain academy, that may influence your decision. NWP sends most of their students to USAFA. The military junior colleges also have ROTC which can open up an additional nomination slot if you join. Also, talk to your service academy admissions officer, they may recommend a certain course of action. Now if you feel you only need to improve you test scores and you are disciplined, you may just want to sign up for a Kaplan like test improvement course, sign up with a local trainer to improve your CFA, and go to a local university to take Calculus, Chemistry, College Level English, and College Level History. You have to be very disciplined and focused to do this route, because nobody is invested in you attaining an appointment. Remember all the preps make their living on getting candidates into an academy, so they have a vested interest in your success. Also, look at the letter of recommendation requirement. Getting letters from a university professor may be difficult as they will have no idea what you are doing.
I have some experience with this as I did not get into my academy after high school and went to a civilian college on an ROTC scholarship. The PMS I had at my college was an academy grad and really wanted me to go, so he would push me to get the requirements complete. If he was not like that, I am not sure I would have gotten an appointment as I was a typical 18-year old. I also wore my ROTC uniform to academy MOC interviews and received two MOC nominations (Senator and Representative).
Flash forward to having a son who just missed acceptance this year. I had to move after the end of his sophomore year in high school to another state. It was very difficult for him to get involved as a leader in any clubs or activities, since everybody had a two year head start in establishing relationships. We chose MMI, because we know he needed test prep and also strong letters of recommendations that he may not have been able to receive as the new kid in high school. He feels he is ready for college work, so wants to take college classes. He also wants the one full year bonding experience with other like minded individuals with common goals. We are in a area where there is not much military, so showing up to an MOC interview in a uniform will set him apart from other candidates. Finally, we asked the admission officer and that is the course they recommended.
So you need to do a self evaluation.
My DS went to Marion as a sponsored prep for USMMA. It was a great choice for him. I don't know about the other programs, but Marion has a big USCGA contingent and is one of two prep schools for USMMA. It's Army focused and has other options for self-preps that are not selected for an SA. (Like the Army early commissioning program) It's definitely worth a look.
Just read your post and thought I'd balance the others' suggestions by sharing briefly, our DS and DD's experience. We were in your shoes, so to speak, 5 years ago when our DS did not receive an appointment and we knew we needed to research what would his best plan B. DS's BGO had mentioned foundation schools during his interview,so the information hunt began. After getting the list from USNA admissions, talking with the people in charge of MMI, NW Prep, NMMI and Greystone, we looked at what each of the four finalists had to offer. As previous posters have shared, there are differences as to the focus and strategy to assist second time applicants. He really liked all of the prep programs, but for our DS, he leaned with Greystone. It fulfilled the academy's rejection letter's (the dreaded TWE) advise, of "go to college and take the same type of classes that the plebes are taking at the academy, Calculus, Chemistry, etc." It also provided the structure and support to help them study intensely, practice for the SAT and ACT, and so much more. Four years later, when DD received her TWE, she knew where she wanted to continue her path to an appointment. Best advise, check them out, see which one has a better fit.
I've read the posts and couldn't agree more with what I've read. I can only speak about Greystone and MMI since these were the only ones we researched. In the end MMI was the best fit for DS for a lot of the reasons mentioned above - heavy test prep, strong presence for USMMA and USCGA, foundation school for USNA, side by side with sponsored preps and other like-minded individuals, significant increases in academy appointments for self-preps and value for the money. Here's a cool article about the day in the life of an MMI cadet - we were on a visit to MMI when this article was done and met this young man.
PM me if you'd like to discuss MMI further. thanks...
The first thing you need to decide is whether you need a prep school or not. If you were really close to an appointment (victim of the "numbers game"), you're probably better off going to a regular college. Can't speak for the other SAs, but USNA's advice to those who were turned is to attend a 4-year college, not to attend a prep school.
Prep schools are most helpful if you: (1) had a crappy high school that didn't teach you anything; and/or (2) need help with study skills, time management, etc. There are definitely other benefits to prep schools (i.e., getting over homesickness, ability to play "varsity" sports) but the two above are the main ones. IMHO, if you need help with the CFA, you're better off getting a personal trainer.
For every non-sponsored prep student (or college student) who does get an appointment on the second+ try, there are at least several who don't. So you need to think about what you do if your SA dream doesn't pan out. If your credits don't transfer, a year of prep could be used to set you up to do really well at a civilian college academically and otherwise. Whether that's a year "wasted," depends on your viewpoint. Some prep schools do give you college credit, assuming the college you select will accept it.
As for which helps you get into a SA . . . if you are unsponsored/self-prepping, it's all somewhat of a crapshoot. When a school tells you the number/percentage of kids who got into SAs, be sure to ask if they were sponsored (by the SA, which means their acceptance is all but guaranteed) or self-prep. It's the latter number that counts.
If at all possible, stick with a school that is a sponsored school for the SA(s) of your choice. The reason is that school already has a "seal of approval" from the SA you want to attend. They know it; they like it. That does NOT mean you'll get an appointment as a self-prep, just that the SA knows what an "A" from that school means and what recs from those teachers mean. If that isn't an option, look at prep schools sponsored by other SAs -- be wary of any that were recently "dropped" by a SA as a sponsored prep school as I can promise you there was a reason and it probably wasn't a good one.
Finally, prep school costs a LOT OF MONEY. Right now there are a lot of depressed and maybe even desperate kids and parents who got the TWE a couple of months ago. Sadly, some people prey on that. Be sure you understand what you'll get and realize that, no matter what any school tells you, there are zero guarantees.
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