Please give me advice on choosing a Foundation program


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Mar 31, 2008

I'm new to this forum. I was just accepted into the USNA Foundation program for 2008-2009 and have been struggling with a decision on what program to select. I have very little time to decide though.

I can choose between these schools, but have been told Northwestern is probably not a good choice because it isn't a full-year program.

Blair Academy, Blairstown, New Jersey
Bridgton Academy, North Bridgton, Maine
The Gunnery, Washington, Connecticut
Greystone Prep School at Schreiner University, Kerrville, Texas
Hargrave Military Academy, Chatham, Virginia
The Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania
The Hun School of Princeton, Princeton, New Jersey
Kent School, Kent, Connecticut
The Kiski School, Saltsburg, Pennsylvania
The Marion Military Institute, Marion, Alabama
The Mercersburg Academy, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania
New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell, New Mexico
Northfield Mount Hermon School, Northfield, Massachusetts
Northwestern Preparatory School, Crestline, California
The Peddie School, Hightstown, New Jersey
Portsmouth Abbey, Portsmouth, RI
Salisbury School, Salisbury, Connecticut
Valley Forge Military Junior College, Wayne, Pennsylvania
Vermont Academy, Saxtons River, Vermont
Western Reserve Academy, Hudson, Ohio
Wyoming Seminary, Kingston, Pennsylvania

I don't even know how to start to decide between these. Are one of these programs more popular than the others for past Foundation students? Is one of them academically more rigorous than the others? Are there any that offer more help (tutoring) to Foundation students with tough classes such as calculus and chemistry? Are there any that have better or worse stats than the others of students finishing and going on to USNA? I've been told 5% of Foundation students perform poorly and drop out of Foundation, so I'd want to be sure I go to a place that has all the support I could ever want so that I wouldn't end up in that 5%!

I would love some advice.
Most of the schools are boarding prep schools. There you will attend as a high school post-grad. You won't earn any transferable college credits. You can however participate in athletics without affecting your NCAA eligibility.

Greystone Prep school is at Schriener University in Texas. You will go and take University classes but be a part of the Greystone Prep Program - you can find more info on their website. You will earn college credit.

Marion Military, New Mexico Military and Valley Forge Military all have Service academy prep programs. These are military schools and you will take ROTC, wear uniforms, learn about and participate in a military lifestyle. They are restrictive but not as restrictive as the academy.
You will attend a junior college and take college courses and earn college credit. If you are a recruited athlete you probably will not be participating in your sport - but you will have the opportunity to play on intramural or club teams.
They are very supportive of SAP students.

MMI for example has a special SAP program - the SAP kids take classes specially tailored to the academies needs and mirror plebe year academics. They have a SAT prep class if you need to take the SAT's again. This year MMI had over 100 SAP kids for all the academies. You will get to know and get support from other kids going not only to USNA but other SA's as well. MMI has a director of the SAP program and each academy has it's own advisor. NMMI has a very comprehensive SAP program as well.
For most students the military academies are the cheapest as well. You can apply for and use Federal Financial aid, which you can't do at the boarding schools.

There are pros and cons to each approach - it depends on your situation. You should check out the schools websites and call and talk to the SAP program director - if they have one.
My son is just finishing his Foundation year. Here's the process he/we used.

First, look at the schools. Are there any you want to rule in or out for any reason?

Look at the distance from home. My son's dream pick was the Vermont Academy. GORGEOUS scenery, beautiful campus, lots of skiing (Although Captain Wallace will tell you NOT to ski!) was his dream. BUT--it was really expensive. Even with the Foundation sponsorship, we really couldn't afford it.

So, he went to choice #2-5.

NMMI is really INEXPENSIVE, but really really far from home. The money he'd have saved us by going there would have ALL been spent on travel..and then some! He wasn't up for desert living for the Foundation year, so that was out.

He settled on Valley Forge as his pick then. A few hours from home, would introduce him to the military life, etc. He liked it all. On paper. Then he and my husband (his dad) went out for a visit and did NOT like it. The atmosphere, they felt, was more like a reform school. The tours wer all led by people saying "If you've been in trouble, it's ok, we'll get you straightened out. Look at me. I'd have been in jail if it weren't for this school." Yeah. OK. Not the kind of kid my son is--or YOU probably!

So. We were running out of time and he was running out of options. He decided to go and visit Kiski. Again, close enough to home to get home readily, but far enough away that he wasn't home or seeing us all the time. Captain Wallace will highly recommend the Kiski School too--it's where his own son went!

My son and husband and I went to Kiski for a visit and really really liked it.

So he finally decided on Kiski.

This year, there are FOUR "Navy boys" at Kiski. The whole campus knows the Navy boys. Academically RIGOROUS!!! Not a college--which is fine. You can't transfer credits anyhow. My son needed some work in calculus and chemistry, and has worked his tail off for the last 7 or 8 months. The cool thing about Kiski is that all the teachers live on campus. Need help on calc? Go to the teacher's house for study hall from 7-9pm. My son was there alot. It took him a good long while to really get his academics kicked up to where they ought to be, but he is SOARING now! His grades are outstanding, he is so much more knowledgeable and confident now. He did really well in high school, but has just grown so so much in the last year!

Three of the four Navy boys are really good friends, and take classes, study, and hang out together all the time. They are going to Hawaii together as soon as they finish this year and before (obviously) they report for Plebe Summer--to celebrate the achievements of this year.

One of the teachers at Kiski is a West Point grad. He is academic advisor to the Navy boys. It's funny--they're back and forth with the Go Navy Beat Army--go Army beat Navy ALL THE TIME. He pushes them--even when they think they're cruising, he keeps it real for them, reminding them of where they are going and how hard it's going to be.

Can you tell I recommend Kiski? They have done wonders for my son. It was the right environment for him at this time. Absolutely. Is it right for you? Who knows--you need to find that right fit for yourself. Check out the websites, the cost, the distance, and then visit one. Or two. And then go and make the best of it!

Hope that helps! :shake:
:yllol::yllol::yllol: Sorry, but I go to Western Reserve Academy, couldn't help it. Anyway, Its one of the nicest placest ever. (I know that you can't really take my word for it, but still its a great school). We have a brand athletic center, only about 4 years old. It has five Bball courts, an inside track, weightroom, training room, pool is a little outdated (but the coaching staff isn't too bad). We have a brand new turf football field with a quarter mile track around it.
Academically, its college-prep. There will be a lot of homework. But for most people, they can handle it. There's a brand new Library (the ong library) and brand new science center (wilson). Most of the classes are held in Seymore (English, Languages, Math, History). It has become to be known as a great place for both muscians and artists to study (ive personally heard some of the best). As for foundation, I can garuntee you will NOT be the only one here. There is usually one or two students every year who attend the school.

Sorry to the person above, but if you do have to make a decision, dont go to kiski. It's wayyy out in the middle of nowhere. There's a gas station and a subway at the entrance, but thats its. In hudson you'll find a lot of different shops as well as restaurants (mcdonalds, Subway, Chipoltle). It's a great place to learn as well as a lot more up-to-date than the Kiski school (im not going to openly bad-mouth Kiski, but it was originally used as a Juvenhile hall for troubled teens in pittsburg. As for blair, mercerseburg, the hill school and others, can't really say that much. We played them in football, but i didn't really see a whole lot more. Although, i did think blair was fairly nice.

Good luck making your decision,
WRA class of 08'
Still waiting for word on navy.
LOL Luv! Not that there's any rivalry between WRA and Kiski! ;-)

I agree that Kiski is out in the middle of nowhere. That's ok, because so are we--it's about an hour and 15 minutes from home for us/son--and we live in the middle of the PA countryside too. It's definitely a matter of finding a school that will allow you to grow: academically, maturity, etc. My son played football for Kiski this year--I bet you played against each other! He really got an eye-opener as they traveled to different schools for games last fall.

Visiting a school makes all the difference. Someone in another forum here posted how much they really grew at Valley Forge and how "just right" it was for them. I think it's excellent that the Foundation gives you choices--each individual can find the place that's right for him/her.

I think Capt. Wallace goes to the Admissions Board for you Foundation students tomorrow for Class of 2012. You'll all be in my prayers tomorrow!

Mom of a hopeful USNA 2012

(P.S. Just FYI--Kiski was originally founded by the brother of then-president Woodrow Wilson as a preparatory school for boys! ;-) )
Trunner, I'm not sure who told you Northwest Prep wasn't a good choice. They have solid success and a high percentage rate in getting their folks into SAs and everyone who goes there, is in the same boat as you -- a person who missed one chance at an appointment but the admissions saw something they liked, and gave them a Foundation slot. If you haven't done so, call and talk to your USNA Admissions counselor and seek their input. Ask them which schools have the best success in subsequent appointments. Sure, they can't make a recommendation, but they can give you information. Ask about the schools you like and if, or how many of their students are subsequently appointed the next year. Also, do a forum search on the CC web forum -- there is lots of input there as well about these schools. I remember one post where the person said the goal was to academically prepare to get an appointment -- there would be plenty of the "military" training once you get into the SA. Above all, remember that a Foundation slot is positive feedback that they like what you've got -- you just need that "something extra." Find out what school best fits YOUR needs and go there!

Good luck! :thumb: