The pain of applying to the Academy is what motivated us to start Academy Endeavors – because, let’s be real, the Service Academy application process is the most complex college application process in the country, it’s not even close, and we want to help YOU win. We used to coach applicants through the Ivy League college application process, and the Ivy Leagues don’t hold a candle to how long, intense, and unclear the Service Academy admissions process is. 

And yet the worst part is, you can go through all the hoops and still not get accepted. Realistically, you only have a 10% chance of getting accepted, but if you follow what we teach, we believe you can dramatically improve your odds. 

Over the last 3 admissions cycles, 100% of our clients have earned Congressional nominations, and over 90% have earned an Academy appointment and/or full tuition ROTC scholarship. This year, our biggest cohort ever, 87% so far already have LOAs or appointments to Academies. 

So let’s dive into this! We want to show you three things…

The One Thing We Want You to Remember

This process is much more complex than normal college, so you must learn to ask for help. Academy applicants are usually type A, high achievers that take pride in their accomplishments. They’ve learned through school and sports that “if it must be done, I must be the one.” But when you are juggling 15 different things, usually what gets done is the most urgent, and this mindset does poorly in Academy admissions. What we are going to show you is that the most urgent is not always the most important, so you are going to need to ask for guidance from someone you trust to help you have a long range plan for success. 


The first thing we want to do is walk you through this Timeline.

On the left hand side, you’ll see Academies on top, Nominations in the middle, and ROTCs at the bottom. We wanted to put these three buckets together in one slide because applicants have different deadlines for each of these three categories. 

Deadlines. The red lines are the typical deadlines for Academy, Congressional and ROTC applications. The exact dates for each Academy are at the top. 

Beginning. At the beginning of 2nd semester junior year, summer seminar applications will open up, and they will occur during summer going into senior year of high school. 

Real Applications. The real applications open over the summer, as shown.

Notifications. The Academies’ goal is to notify all their applicants by April 15th. National College Decision Day is May 1st, where most colleges require you to put down a deposit to ensure your spot in the class. Some Prep School, Wait List, and DODMERB Medical Waiver notifications can happen after April 15th, even into May and June, but it is not the norm. As long as you have your appointment and medical clearance before basic training starts in late June, then that is what matters. You just might have to eat the deposit you paid the civilian college, which most would gladly do to get their dream of an Academy. 

3 points we want you to know from this Timeline

These following three reasons why the Academy application process is such a “bear”:

  1. The Academy application process is longer. The normal college application process takes about 3-4 months, but with the Academies, between Summer Seminar to Notification can last up to 16 months. The series of military Interviews and the extensive DODMERB process lengthen the time on the back end of the application process that normal colleges don’t have. Be emotionally and mentally prepared for this – it’s a marathon, not a sprint! 
  2. The Academy application process has many more requirements. This is much more overwhelming than the Common App!
    • First, the Congressional nominations are a requirement only for Service Academies, and they add a layer of complexity and anxiety that no other college applicant has to deal with. 
    • Second, the SAT/ACT is a requirement. Most colleges don’t even require the SAT/ACT. But with the Academies, the SAT/ACT is mandatory. Start prep as early as summer going into sophomore year. You want to start early so you can get the SAT/ACT behind you so you can focus on the applications when they come out in the summer going into your senior year. Academies superscore and only look at your highest scores, so you do yourself no harm by taking it early and taking it often. 
    • Third, the medical (DODMERB) process is intrusive and disqualifies 20% of the applicants per year and can drag on up to 7 months long. Talk to any previous applicant and they will tell you, surprisingly, that this might be the most stressful part of the whole thing!
    • Fourth, interviews, interviews, interviews. Military interviews are intimidating, especially when you’ve never interviewed with a military officer before. With normal college applications, you might have one interview maximum, if you are lucky and applied to an Ivy League school. Between Academies, ROTCs, and Nominations, our average client has seven interviews. Seven!
    • Fifth, there are multiple fitness tests and they are not the same. We’ve found candidates to be solid in some of the events naturally, but fail in others. Here’s the problem: if you fail one event, you fail the whole thing! 
    • Sixth, expect lots of writing. The common app for normal colleges has streamlined essays, but there’s no common app for Academies. Our average client wrote 18 essays. 
    • Finally, seventh, there’s a litany of letters of Recommendation. Most colleges require two letters of recommendation per school, and they are optional. The Academies require 3-5 per school, and Congressional offices require 2-3. Our average client chased down 22 letters of recommendation last year. 

Why so many requirements? Because they are looking for the most well-rounded applicant! The process won’t allow someone to be smart but not athletic, or a good writer but not a good interviewer. It weeds out the one-dimensional star, and looks for the most motivated, smart, athletic, high character leaders in America! 

  1. The Academy application process does “rolling” admissions. Normal colleges have one deadline for everyone to submit applications, and then they have one notification date where everyone finds out. But the Academies (except USCGA) utilize rolling admissions, which means they are actively giving out seats in the class as time goes on. Therefore, he who submits last, all other things being equal, has the worst chance of acceptance. In other words, the Academy application deadline is a distraction, not a goal! The goal should be to get your Academy application submitted before you start senior year of high school, or at least as soon after as possible. 

Why Academy Applications Are So Competitive

Once you get through this complex process, the overwhelming part is you can jump through all these hoops and still not get in. The average college acceptance rate is around 60%, but the Academy acceptance rate is between 10-20%. 

Why is it so low?

First, there is a Congressionally-mandated, limited supply of appointments. Contrary to most colleges that increase enrollment each year, the Academies by law cannot. So, this means, every year, the Academies can only give out approximately 1,200 slots per year. By law, they must not exceed an enrollment of 4,400. This is very small! 

Second, 20% of appointments are taken by recruited athletes. The Academies have sports teams just like every other college. But what is unique about the Academies is the large number of sports teams for such a small enrollment. For example, USAFA has 27 Division I sports teams. Compare this with a large state school like University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, which has five times bigger enrollment than USAFA, yet has the same number of teams! Each class of 1,200 roughly will have approximately 250 of them are recruited athletes. That makes the available appointments much smaller. 

Third, about 10% of appointments are taken by enlisted and prep schools. The Academies allow enlisted members to apply, and they also hold a certain number of appointments for those coming from their prep schools or sponsored by their foundations. If you are a high school senior and want to get in directly to an Academy, the door just got narrower. 

The result is, within the small number of appointments, there’s only 70% of left for non-recruited athletes, non-enlisted applicants. 30% is already off the table to begin with.

Next, consider this: they are federally mandated to offer one appointment to each district in the US that has a qualifying applicant. Since there are 435 applicants, that could be another 435 slots off the table if you don’t “win your district.” 

However you are looking at the numbers, this process is hyper competitive any way you slice it. There’s just not enough appointments to go around!  

So the question is, what are you going to do to get the competitive edge? How are you going to tackle this complex and hyper competitive process, and win?

We Want You to Remember!

The one thing we’ve noticed from all our Academy grad interviews over the years is the ones that got in had help. It’s amazing how behind every success story we heard, there was a superstar guide behind it all. Do NOT go alone. Find a mentor. The likelihood is, you will only go through this once, so if after this long road, you get a rejection letter, how confident do you want to be that you did everything you could?

Next Steps

  1. Find a mentor
  2. Get a winning strategy for the “9 mountains” (SAT, fitness, medical, nominations, recommendations, interviewing, writing, athletics, leadership)
  3. Sign up for free 1-on-1 here. No strings attached. Bring a parent. We will answer your questions and help you WIN!