SPECIAL REPORT

a division of Home School Legal Defense Association
November 4, 1998

U.S. Service Academies Accepting Home Schoolers

The National Center for Home Education conducted a survey of the Army, Navy, and Air Force academies to determine whether and how home schoolers are admitted into these schools. The results were encouraging. Military academies are admitting one to five home school students per year, and these students are doing well. Each institution reported that the number of applications received from home schoolers is growing each year. Below is a list of frequently asked questions from home schoolers considering military academy entrance.

  • Should a home schooler wishing to enter a military academy take certain academic courses?

    Yes. A strong foundation in math and science is a basic requirement for any applicant. Taking community college classes during the junior and senior years of high school would be a good way for a home educated student to demonstrate competence in the appropriate course work. It is important for a home schooler to have taken laboratory sciences and one or more calculus classes.

  • Are there specific admissions policies for home schoolers?

    No. Home schoolers are treated in the same manner as public schooled students. However, each student is handled on a case-by-case basis, so the admissions process varies slightly with each applicant. Admission requirements are similar to those of most four-year colleges, but parents and students are encouraged to call the admissions office of the service academy in which they are interested to discuss their situation and address their questions directly to a counselor. While no specific policies for home school graduates exist, the Air Force Academy has issued guidelines which offer suggestions for home schoolers who want to tailor their high school education towards an appointment to the academy.

  • What kind of transcripts do the academies accept?

    The academies prefer standard transcripts. The Naval Academy stated it would take anything that proves which courses were taken by the applicant. However, the academies did not show interest in portfolios. The Air Force Academy puts greater weight on the applicant’s SAT and ACT results. The Air Force Academy recommends a transcript consisting of the following: English, 4 years; college prep math, 4 years; social studies, 3 years; foreign languages, 2 years; computer science, 1 year; laboratory sciences and typing (optional).

  • What tests should a student take, and what scores are acceptable?

    All the service academies prefer SAT or ACT scores to GED or SAT II scores. Minimum acceptable scores are listed in the following table. The Naval Academy accepts ACT scores but prefers the SAT.

    AcademySAT Average scoresACT Average scores
    West Point Verbal: 620 Math: 650Reading: 30 Math: 28
    Air Force Verbal: 620 Math: 650 Reading: 29 Math: 29
    Science: 29 Verbal: 25
    Naval Verbal: 520 Math: 610

  • Does the application include an essay or interview requirement?

    Yes. All service academies require essays, and all the academies, except West Point, require an interview. West Point does not include the interview in the formal process of applying to the academy.

  • Must home schoolers obtain a congressional recommendation? If so, how is it obtained?

    Yes. Each candidate for a U.S. service academy must be nominated by at least one congressman from his/her state. Congressional recommendations are obtained by contacting your U.S. senators and representative (usually through their district office) and asking for a nomination to the academy/academies of your choice. A member of the congressman’s staff will then send you a packet with the proper forms to complete.

  • How important are sports and community activities?

    All three academies stress the importance of athletics. They want to see that a student can handle a large academic load, physical training, and have good social skills. The more community and sports activities the student is involved in, the better chance that student has to get into an academy. It helps to show that a person has good interpersonal skills and can work within a team. West Point’s evaluation of an applicant is 60 percent academic, 30 percent extracurricular activities, and 10 percent sports. The West Point representative stated that it is very important for home schoolers to excel in their extracurricular activities. The Air Force Academy admission formula is based on 60 percent academics, 20 percent extracurricular activity, and 20 percent from interview and panel review.

    Conclusion

    For home educated students who are considering attending a service academy, it is never too early for them to begin planning. Both the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy recommend that students request an application during their junior year of high school. As more and more students complete their families’ home school programs and contemplate college and other training options, it is likely that service academies will more actively recruit home schoolers.

    Participation in sports (4-H, YMCA, private schools, etc.), community service (scouts, church activities, etc.), and supplemental courses in higher mathematics and science will make an applicant more attractive to service academies. It would also be wise for the home school applicant to meet his/her U.S. representative and senators. This allows a congressman to put a face with a name and may increase the likelihood of obtaining a nomination.