3. Texas A & M University
It is surprising at the number of people who do not realize that Texas A & M is one of the six senior military colleges in America. In fact, until 1965, participation in the corps of cadets was mandatory for every student enrolled at the university.
Established in 1871 and located at College Station, Texas, the schools original mandate was to “educate white males in farming and military techniques.” Presently, students have the option of enrollment into the corps or opting for a traditional academic curriculum. The university is only one of three public schools with a full-time corps of cadets on campus. Nevertheless, the university’s corps of cadets is the largest in the country (with exception of the service academies), numbering about 2,250 cadets. Considering, however, that current enrollment at the school tops 50,000, then it’s not inconceivable how the corps could be overlooked.
Still, the sheer size of the university (it’s the 6th largest university in the U.S.) and the academic opportunities that come with this is certainly to the benefit of the cadets. The school has a rich tradition of providing quality officers to the U.S. armed forces. The school has produced over 225 flag and general officers, and members of the schools corps of cadets have been involved in every American armed conflict since 1875. The school’s marching band is also the largest precision military marching band- in the world! Texas does everything big.
The corps of cadets, to give one an idea of the scope of its military program is broken down as follows: 3 Air Force wings, 3 Army brigades, 2 Navy and Marine regiments, nd the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. As a result, the university produces more commissioned officers for the U.S. armed forces than any other school outside of the service academies.
And then there are the academics. The university offers degrees in over 150 different fields of study, has 10 colleges and 18 research facilities (in 2001, the university cloned the first domestic animal, a cat named CC). Opportunity is the operative word that comes to mind with Texas A & M. The school offers an environment in which a cadet/student has all the tools necessary to become a successful member of society and their chosen profession- military or civilian.
Alumni: Rick Perry, Texas Governor; Mike Fossum, Astronaut
2. The U.S. Military Academy (West Point)
There is little question about the value of a West Point education. Established in 1802 and located at West Point, New York, the academy has been in the forefront of producing leaders for this nation from the very earliest days of its inception. The motto of the school is simple: “Duty, Honor, Country”. Simple and yet very profound.
For over 200 years, this school has dedicated itself to produce the highest quality of officers for service to the armed forces of America. As a result of its high academic standards and offerings, as well as its military influenced leadership and character development, West Point is consistently ranked among the best schools to attend in the nation.
Gaining admission, however, is not an easy endeavor. As with all the federal service academies -selection is a tough process, with only a small percentage of applicants gaining admission each year (a little over 12%). The school offers 45 academic majors, with the most popular ranging from foreign languages to mechanical engineering. The academics at the school are structured according to the Thayer system (named after former academy superintendent Sylvanus Thayer). This system places an emphasis on small classes that allow more one-on-one interaction with students, and daily homework. The idea (with the homework) is to encourage cadets to be actively responsible for their own learning by making them accountable by completing their class assignments outside of the classroom (and discussing the assignments during the next class period).
With its primary goal of training officers, as with the entire federal service academy, there is an emphasis on the military aspects of the school. All students are members of the corps of cadets and are technically on active duty in the armed forces while attending the school. Upon graduation, every cadet (now a commissioned officer) is required to serve several years in the armed forces of the United States.
Currently, there are 4,487 cadets at the school (of which, about 15% are women). Cadets will reside on campus for all four years, though with each succeeding year, cadets are granted additional privileges (such as weekend passes). All 4000+ students eat breakfast and lunch together during the weekdays in the school’s enormous mess hall. This is just one of the many traditions that have made West Point a fixture in the lexicon of military schools. West Point was also the first school to have class rings for its graduates. And consider the alumni who have graduated from the school -the names read like a who’s who of military (and civilian) excellence. West Point is not just about commissioning officers for the military, it produces leaders.
Alumni: Douglas MacArthur, 5 star general; George Patton, 4 star general; Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States, 5 star general; Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States, general.
1. US Naval Academy
I will admit to a slight bias with this selection; in all honestly, West Point and Annapolis are really neck and neck in terms of quality. However, being a former Marine, well…
There is no finer institution than the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Established in 1845, it is the second oldest federal service academy, behind West Point. With an enrollment of 4,400 midshipmen, the mission of the academy is to educate, train and develop officers for commissioning in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The academy produces high quality graduates that are prepared to undertake the reins of leadership in either the military or civilian sectors.
The academy was recently ranked as the #1 public liberal arts college in America by U.S. News and World Report, and its engineering program is consistently ranked in the upper echelons. The academy is also an accredited Technological Institution. With 22 majors in 3 divisions (engineering and weapons, mathematics and science, humanities and social science), the academy is well equipped to provide the highest level of academic training to its Brigade of Midshipmen. Consider the pedigree of its alumni stats: 990 noteworthy scholars, 45 Rhodes Scholars, 16 Marshall Scholars, 50 astronauts (sorry Air Force, that’s more than any other school), 2 Nobel Prize winners and a U.S. President.
Of course, any image of Annapolis brings with it the Brigade of Midshipmen, probably marching around sporting their crisp white uniforms. Certainly, the rigid military styled environment – as with all the service academies- forms the structure that midshipmen must acclimate themselves too. One aspect of this system that differs from other institutions is the Naval Academy’s approach to the honor code. While other institutions have a formal proceeding to address honor code violations (as does the Naval Academy), the academy encourages midshipmen to confront violators on a personal basis when the situation warrants. In this manner, it is believed that this process develops honor among the men and women, as well as a sense of moral self-worth. It is also noteworthy that the term midshipmen is not arbitrary, but is an actual naval rank (it falls between the warrant officer rank of w-1 and w-2). This is in accords with being officers of the line, but in training.
In addition to a heavy academic load, military leadership training, and athletic participation, students also spend their summers engaged in specialized military training – from oversea cruises aboard U.S. warships to special schools like the Army’s Jump (parachute) school. The Naval Academy also fields NCAA division I athletic teams. However, it is their rivalry with West Point that highlights any sporting matchup (they compete against one another in every sport both institutions dually field).
What is certain is that the naval officer is traditionally seen as not only a leader of men, but as an individual that is competent in their chosen endeavor. For those who attend the U.S. Naval Academy, this is what one can expect of themselves.
Alumni: Jimmy Carter, President of United States; David Robinson, NBA player; Roger Staubach, NFL quarterback