Summer Seminars: USMA, USNA, USAFA & USCGA
Updated: Jan 21
US Service Academy summer seminars can be great fun! But they provide much more than just some summer entertainment.
West Point has the Summer Leaders Experience (SLE), Annapolis has the Summer Seminar (and so does Air Force in Colorado), and finally, Coast Guard has the Academy Introduction Mission (AIM). If you are interested in attending any of these four service academies, then I highly recommend applying for each of these programs during your junior year in high school.
You may be asking . . . Why? What if I can't attend? What happens if I turn an invitation down? Or, even better, what can I expect when I show up?
I'll take a few moments to address these and some other questions. Note that this blog has been updated to reflect the changes noted for 2022 to this point.
Why should I apply for the summer seminar, SLE or AIM?
The short answer is that the seminar application kicks off your process of applying to the US service academy (or academies) of your choice well before the official window that opens in the summer. In other words, you place yourself in 'front' of the application queue as well as letting the school know you are interested.
What if I can't attend? I am busy during the summer seminar -- should I still apply?
As I noted previously, the prime reason to apply is to start your initial application steps for an appointment to USAFA, USMA, USNA or USCGA. You may turn down the invitation without prejudice if you find that you cannot attend. Declining the invitation will not affect your appointment application negatively. Plus, plans fall through. Remember, COVID-19 was unknown last January/February (when most applications were due). A cancellation, or altered plans, may allow you to attend a seminar if you are invited.
What happens if I turn the invitation down?
Nothing! But now you are ready to apply to the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy, the Military Academy and/or the Coast Guard Academy based on your summer seminar application. The summer seminar application serves as your pre-candidate questionniare, or PCQ. Typically, you will be notified by email when the application portals open in the June time frame for each of the academies.
What is the value of attending one of the seminars?
Beyond being a lot of fun, the seminars (including SLE and AIM) provide a informative introduction to the facilities, staff, training and curriculum at each of the service academies. The seminar programs desire to provide concrete information and real-life experiences so that students can truly evaluate their desire to become cadets or midshipmen at each of the schools as well as serving in the associated military service (i.e., the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Space Force or Coast Guard).
What's more, the academy staff will have a chance to 'evaluate' your fit with the school. Typically, the seminars will provide an opportunity to take the Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA), and they may very well conduct the official interview for your application. Double check the details for your particular seminar and be prepared for these two important evaluations.
Can I attend multiple seminars at different academies?
Yes. I had a student who participated the Naval Academy's Summer Seminar in early June and then attended the US Military Academy's Summer Leadership Experience the following week driving with his father between Annapolis to West Point by car. TIming, distance and expense will be some considerations for you and your parents, but you may attend all four seminars if the timing allow its!
Does the Merchant Marine Academy have a summer seminar program?
No -- unfortunately, the US Merchant Marine Academy does not have a summer seminar as their academic year (of trimesters splitting land-based academics and maritime experience) does not accommodate these kind of programs.
Will the seminars be held in person in 2022?
It appears all of these programs will be held in person in 2022, with some schools adding a 'virtual' session as an option. The facts may change so have a Plan 'B' in mind. In 2021, all four schools (USAFA, USMA, USNA and USCGA) held virtual programs. Several of my students attended a few of them and enjoyed the virtual programs. This year, with lots of experience under their belts, the academies will be able to hold the seminars in person safely. However, it appears all of them have back-up plans to hold virtual programs if they decide that in-person seminars are not feasible. By the way, I recommend receiving the full COVID-19 vaccination regime to ensure you can attend the seminar in person.
But, as I noted, attending the seminar is a bonus as the most important aspect is to apply and initiate your application(s) for an appointment. Feel free to decline the invitation if you decide you cannot travel and attend safely. Your health and well being are much more important than your participation in the summer programs.
Is there a cost for seminars?
Yes, there is a fee for the in-person programs. You must provide your own transportation and the seminar fees vary from about $300 - $600. You will find more details at each of the academy admissions websites. There are also some limited funds to provide financial aid to deserving students.
Do you have any other questions?
Each of the academy admissions websites provide more details, including FAQs, so I invite you to dig deeper into the details. Feel free to reach out to me. My email is email@example.com and my cell number is 503.515.7406.
I would also enjoy speaking to you about a coaching engagement -- I provide active consultation on the entire admissions process, including preparation and review for interviews, essays (personal statements), activities and more for all five of the U.S. service academies: USAFA, USMA, USMMA, USCGA and USNA; plus, I work with students to purse ROTC scholarships for the Army, Air Force and Navy. Call me at (503) 515-7406.