Last June I was able to attend a summer scientific seminar at the United States Naval Aca-demy (USNA). Lasting a week, the high school participants (from across the country) were able to live in the dormitories, eat the food, and attend a variety of programs, which provided information about life at USNA. The week was exciting and fun and showed me first-hand a great deal about life at a military academy in general, and the Navy in particular. The dorms were adequate, the food was pretty good, and the people were all enthusiastic, confident, and capable - they impressed everyone attending.
Life at USNA is certainly very strenuous; there are scheduled sports periods every day, and all "midshipmen" (students) must be both physically and mentally fit at all times. This is demonstrated to entering freshmen during "plebe summer" (the summer before freshman year) where incoming students spend learning how to survive at a military academy. The school is based on the idea of constant challenge to body and mind, thus helping make you the best person (and naval officer) possible.
The city of Annapolis, Maryland, right outside the Academy gates, is lively and historical, and holds anything a student would want. The Academy itself is big and beautiful, right on the water, with incredible academic and athletic facilities (easily some of the best in the country).
The Academy is free, but includes a five-year obligation to serve in the Navy after graduation, which can be in naval aviation, submarines, surface vessels, or the Marines, with choice based on class rank at graduation. The academic program at USNA is very rigorous and is equal to some of the best civilian colleges in the country.
The process of applying to Navy is very long and detailed, requiring medical examinations, physical tests, numerous interviews and application for a Congressional nomination. However, the reward of being accepted is certainly worth the effort. Having gone through the process, I had to put a lot into it, but I learned much about myself. Going to the Naval Academy, challenging yourself and serving your country as an officer (all for free) is an opportunity and an experience that few colleges can offer. The results are certainly worth the effort.
Reviewed in 1990
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.