20 Things You Need to Know About Getting Into a Military Service Academy

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy and Merchant Marine Academy offer a tuition-free education—but getting in takes hard work and patience.

picture of West Point cadets at graduation throwing their hats into the air
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are thousands of high school students out there dreaming about the day they'll toss their hat in the air and graduate from one of the nation's military service academies. If you're one of them, I hope your dream comes true and you're able to attend West Point, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Coast Guard Academy or the Merchant Marine Academy. But you need to understand that it takes a lot of hard work and patience just to get through the application. My own son is a service academy grad, so I've seen for myself how difficult it is to get an appointment. But you can do it if you have the right stuff and know how the admissions process works.

To that end, we've pulled together a list of the most important considerations for students hoping to receive a service academy appointment someday. To bring our list to life, we interviewed 19 young men and women who recently went through the service-academy application process and earned an appointment to one (or more) of the five military academies. When it comes to the academy admissions process, they've been there, done that, and were eager to share their experiences, tips and advice with the next batch of service academy dreamers. With their guidance, here are 20 things you need to know about getting into a military service academy. If you're lucky enough to receive an appointment, you'll be rewarded with a tuition-free education at a first-rate school and an experience you'll never forget.

Rocky Mengle
Senior Tax Editor, Kiplinger.com

Rocky is a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, he worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky has a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.