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  • Writer's pictureLTC Brechin, USAF, Ret.

Prep School II -- Not the Movie!

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Falcon Scholars - Coast Guard Academy Scholars - West Point Preparatory Scholars - Naval Academy Athletic and Scholarships - USMMA Prep School Sponsorships

The expression "preparatory school" means different things to different people or constituencies. For the US military service academies, a 'prep school' is often an additional year of schooling after high school to prepare a student to become a cadet or a midshipman at the Air Force Academy, Military Academy, Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy or Merchant Marine Academy.

As I noted in my last blog, this article will cover a second category of preparatory schools and associated scholarships beyond the three US service academy preparatory schools (AFAPS, MAPS and NAPS). A student who applies to any of the five U.S. service academies will be considered automatically for one of these scholarship programs. Each of the programs outlined are supported by private dollars through the associated foundations that sponsor them.

Through the foundations, these programs provide candidates, who do not need the specialized preparation provided by AFAPS, MAPS and NAPS, with an additional year of academic preparation before entering the Academy itself. Scholars that attend the prep schools must repeat the application process for the Academy that sponsored the scholarship. Historically, a significant portion of the scholars who complete the program are offered appointments. Note that your successful DODMERB exam from the previous year will still be valid with an update of your current medical status. However, all other steps, such as taking the CFA, applying for nominations, and completing a new application, must be reaccomplished.

One example is the Air Force Academy's Falcon Scholarship Program. The Falcon Foundation, an independent, non-profit organization, offers up to 100 scholarships annually to five different schools around the country. The foundation does not select the cadet-candidates to be offered a scholarship. Instead, the AF Academy’s Admissions Office identifies young men and women to be offered a Falcon scholarship. This offer provides a significant portion of the cost of room, board and tuition. Scholarship recipients must pay for transportation to and from school and for clothing, laundry, other personal expenses and their proportionate share of the tuition, fees and books. With their selection, the scholarship recipient chooses one of the five schools to provide their preparatory experience: Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Georgia; Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama; New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico; Northwestern Preparatory School in Crestline, California; or Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, Virginia.

All five US service academies and their associated foundation use a program very similar to the Falcon Foundation sponsoring students to prep schools across the country. The scholarship programs have proven to be an effective way of bringing in well qualified candidates into each of the U.S. service academies, and ultimately, into the military service. These graduates have a proven record of accomplishments and contributions to our country, including General officers. In fact, both former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein (a classmate of mine) and his predecessor, Gen. Mark Welsh III, were Falcon scholars.

As previously noted in this blog, and in my previous one, students qualify for an invitation to a preparatory school and the associated scholarship by completing the application process to any of the US service academies (AF Academy, Military Academy, Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy and Merchant Marine Academy). A nomination is not necessary; however, every component of your application must be accomplished in full by the January 31 deadline.

Prep schools are a great way to prepare for becoming a cadet or midshipman. With hard work and preparation, you may also be selected to attend a prep school under the sponsorship of one of the five foundations. The paths vary, but the end results are the same: becoming an 'Academy grad' and serving our country as a military officer!

[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 Prep School and other Prep Scholarships! Contact me at chris@cbbrechin.com, 503.515.7406 or complete my contact form on the home page.]


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