Military academies admit only the best and brightest. The standards for excellence in a military environment are significantly different than those in the civilian world. Any applicant to a military academy must make sure they are not only prepared to demonstrate their superior competence, but also to show their sense of bearing and ability to respond to unexpected questions. Real strength is not possible without flexibility. Any military academy hopeful must understand the traditions and requirements of a military career in order to bring the energy and focus necessary to ace that crucial first interview.
Research the History of the Academy
Each military academy has its own unique flavor. For example, an academy that supports naval traditions has a completely different use of military orders and protocol than one that supports the Army or Air Force. Make sure that you understand the specifics of this going into the interview. Many, if not all, of the officers who teach at the academy are former officer in that service. They will take your ignorance of their traditions as willfully disrespectful, coloring their opinion of your prospects unfavorably. Also, some military academies were founded by famous, historical people. It would behoove you to research whether this is the case with the academy to which you are applying. Although conspicuous name dropping does not reflect well on your candidacy, you should be able to easily converse on the academy's history if the interviewing officer brings it up in conversation.
Explain Your Personal Draw to the Military
Embarking on a career as an officer in one of the armed forces is a huge step. It will demand sacrifice, courage and a willingness to redefine who you are at your core. The interviewing officer will want to know what drives you to this decision. Think about this at length before you actually step into the interviewing office. When the question is asked, there will be no time to hem and haw. Speak definitively but do not oversimplify your motives. If you belong to a family that has a long tradition of service, it is a good idea to tell the interviewing officer. Legacies have been a part of the military culture since armies first marched the surface of the earth. Do not be afraid to affirm this as a factor in your decision if it is applicable.
Prepare Substantive Questions
Military academies are not interested in two dimensional "yes men." They seek adaptable, critical thinkers who want to understand the situation as comprehensively as possible. Research ahead of time to determine what questions about the academy or its program might suggest themselves to you. This does not mean simply repeating a list of FAQs you can pull up on a web page. Do your homework, and show that you have the ability to dig deeper and ask what is not commonly asked. Make yourself stand out, and you will prove your worth as a superior candidate.
Charles Dodd White has written freelance articles for five years. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in "Night Train," "Pequin," "Rain Taxi" and others. He holds a Master of Arts from Western Carolina University in English and a Master of Fine Arts from Spalding University in writing.