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  • Writer's pictureLTC Brechin, USAF, Ret.

Becoming a Preppie! . . . Admissions to One of the U.S. Service Academy Preparatory Schools

Updated: Mar 23

A one year, comprehensive preparation program and a life changing experience!

Students often ask me about the "Prep Schools" -- that is, the USAF Academy Preparatory School (AFAPS), the USMA Preparatory School (MAPS) or the USNA Preparatory School (NAPS). Each of these schools provide a 10-month program of academic, athletic and military training to prepare students, or "preppies," to become cadets or midshipmen at the five service academies of the United States. Although preppies are not guaranteed admissions to the Academy of their choice, typically more than 75% of graduates will gain an appointment to USAFA, USNA, USMA, USCGA or USMMA.

The original purpose of each of the prep schools was to prepare airmen, soldiers and sailors serving as enlisted members of the Air Force, Army and Navy for the associated service academy of their military branch. In fact, Franklin D. Roosevelt (our future 32nd President) was serving as the Undersecretary of the Navy in 1918 as the first wave of sailors were being authorized to attend the Naval Academy. FDR saw the need for a preparatory school to help sailors and marines with the transition to USNA. Although the school itself has moved across different locations, it is the oldest military prep school in our country and is now located in Newport, Rhode Island. The school also supports the Coast Guard Academy.

The other two prep schools, AFAPS and MAPS, are located near each of the academies in Colorado Springs, CO, and West Point, NY, respectively. Like NAPS, the schools now host, train and educate former enlisted members along with high school athletes and students deemed to be very competitive, but typically not meeting the minimum academic creditials to be accepted to the Academy. One focus of the prep schools is working toward a higher SAT score than previously attained during the initial application process.

As a high school senior, you will be considered automatically for admission to the prep school associated with the Academy to which you apply. One important point is that you must complete the enitre application process. A nomination is not required. Your leadership record across all areas (academics, athletics and activities) will be a principal consideration. Frankly, competing well for an Academy appointment places a student in an ideal position to be considered for the prep school.

High school students (who are not currently prior-enlisted members of the military service) are placed into the military reserves or active duty, depending upon the particular military prep school. With this designation, all preppies receive a monthly stipend, which represents dollars not used to off-set the cost of uniforms and other items required by the school. Preppies that do not receive an academy appointment are discharged from military service. However, preppies that came into the prep school as enlisted members are typically returned to their military service duties as an active-duty soldier, sailor, guardian, marine or airman.

Another class of scholarships exists for each of the five service academies. These are 'preparatory scholarship programs' that use private dollars to fund an additional year at a school, such as Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Georgia, or New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico. These programs are specifically and uniquely authorized by the NCAA for the Air Force Academy, Military Academy and Naval Academy as Division One athletic programs. Both Coast Guard and Merchant Marine have similar programs. Unlike the military prep schools, students are not placed on active duty or reserve military duty. Refer to my 'next' blog to discuss these programs, such as the AFA Falcon Scholarship, and how you might take advantage of these opportunities.

The prep schools -- AFAPS, MAPS and NAPS -- are a bit of a mystery to most students. However, completing the application process and competing well with other students will allow you to be considered for an invitation to attend a prep school. Keep this goal as your focus, and you may also become a Preppie!

[I would welcome a chance to discuss details with you. I offer coaching services to pace and prepare you (and your parents!) for the entire Academy application process . . . along with the preprations for the Prep School! Contact me at chris@cbbrechin.com, 503.515.7406 or complete my contact form on the home page.]


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