Performance as a scholar is vital to academy success.
Assuming you meet all medical qualifications for a candidate, the next most important qualification for your academy appointment is your academic credentials. By credentials I refer to your high school GPA, class standing and your SAT/ACT scores. Academic achievement takes the “lion’s share” of your multiple as a candidate – and for good reason. The academy admissions board will conduct an in-depth assessment of your accomplishments as a scholar to determine if you have the skills and ability to survive the academic rigor that must be overcome by every cadet and midshipman before they graduate. More than any other basis for evaluation at the academies, good grades – or the lack of good grades – will determine your success or failure. It will not matter how extraordinary you are as a Varsity athlete – if you can’t make the grade academically, you will not be invited to stay at an academy! Grades influence your ability to participate in sports, Extra Curricular Activities (ECAs) or even be allowed to leave the campus – your academic success is that important to the academies! Big picture: your academy academic achievement is the driving force behind your Class Standing which, as a senior, is the determining factor when it comes to your selection of career opportunities. The higher your academy GPA, the more career opportunities will be made available to you! Academics are that important and therefore your performance as a scholar is vital to your academy success!
As a candidate, you should be able to determine the importance placed upon academics at your academy by looking at its national ranking as an institution of higher learning. The three major academies (the Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy) traditionally do very well “educating” young men and women. Their investment in your education provides them with very capable officers upon graduation. More importantly, the academies academic reputation also ensures a continuous stream of highly qualified candidates will apply. When you consider the need for academy scholars from the perspective of national academic recognition and academy recruitment, the emphasis placed upon each candidate for high academic achievement becomes justified.
As an academy candidate seeking to reapply, I would encourage you to research the various academy prep schools and to “dig deep”. Do not be satisfied by window dressing or historical reputation. Both will leave you wanting by either not delivering for you academically as an unchallenged post-high school student or by neglecting to provide you with skills that should sustain you once you enter the academy. When I was teaching at the Naval Academy, I made a point to visit the Naval Academy Foundation in Annapolis where I intended to volunteer my services. I was compelled to give something back to the Foundation because in 1976, the Foundation sponsored me to attend a prep school (I did not earn my appointment directly out of high school). While I was speaking to the Foundation Director in 1998, he lamented to me that the prep school programs had not changed much from when I was a sponsored candidate, however, at the same time, the academy qualifications required to earn an appointment had continued to climb and expand. If only there was a program with the flexibility and capability to stay in step with the evolving academic demands mandated by the academies. At that point in time, I began to consider an idea…an idea that eventually became Greystone.
This was the genesis of the Greystone Preparatory School – the beginning of a new and different approach to academy preparatory education that is designed to keep up with or exceed the admissions qualifications established by the five Federal Service Academies. The intent of the Greystone program from its beginning has been to elevate the level of academy preparatory education from the existing high school level or a community college/junior college level to something that was on par with the academy academic challenge – and it had to be flexible enough to keep pace with the ever-growing candidate qualification standards. The only way to make this idea into a reality was to elevate the prep school academic program to the same level as academy first-year courses.
Unlike traditional academy preparatory education, Greystone is a challenging one-year university-level program located on the campus of University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. Because of this relationship, Greystone students earn up to 38 college credits in demanding courses such as Calculus, Chemistry with lab, English and History. These are courses recommended by the academies for those candidates who are reapplying. Most importantly, Greystone/Ozarks courses are in sync with academy first-year courses. The courses you take while at Greystone are the exact same courses you will take as an Academy first-year cadet or midshipman. Think on that for just a moment – you are going to already have the courses required of you next year when you’re at the academy. This gives you a significant advantage as well as some incredible options. By having courses on your University of the Ozarks transcript that you will be required during your first academy year, you will have the option to either retake those Ozarks courses again or you can choose to validate. Taking those courses again will afford you the opportunity of taking known material again – which technically should not take much study time to earn an A in those courses – A’s that will appear on your academy transcript and add directly into your Class Standing determination. If you aspire to be at the top of your academy class because you desire to fly or attend medical school, this would afford you with an invaluable opportunity. However, if you desire to become a Rhodes or Olmstead or Gates Scholar, it may be best for you to validate those Ozarks courses when you arrive at the academy. By validating courses, your academic course matrix will be adjusted so that sophomore year courses will fill the gaps in your academic matrix. By being ahead of your matrix, you will be allowed to take additional courses beyond your major or in your senior year, you can take courses needed to complete your master’s degree. Let your prep school academic experience build the academic foundation for your academy academic future. Unlike any other academy prep school, your Greystone experience will provide a lifetime of return on this investment and set you apart from the academy competition. If you are serious about maximizing your academy experience, then Greystone must be in your prep school future!
Experience in a challenging university curriculum provides those candidates who earn their appointments with a significant advantage over other traditional “academy prep” students. Through their Ozarks experience, they fully understand and therefore can deliver exactly what the academies expect from their students – there is no “learning curve.” In addition to the university-level academic challenge, Greystone students learn and practice critical time-management skills, hone decision-making abilities, and master the fine art of setting and sticking with priorities – all skills that are essential if you are going to succeed at an academy.
Apples to Apples
What separates Greystone from other academy preparatory schools is the academic curriculum provided by University of the Ozarks. As stated to me by VADM Rempt while he was the Superintendent at the Naval Academy, “The Academy is not a high school, a community college or a junior college; the Academy is a four-year, fully-accredited, liberal arts and leadership institution. Prepping your candidates in anything less than that is going to provide a disservice to your candidates.” I took his advice to heart and in so doing, have set the new standard for academy preparatory excellence. This academic relationship between Greystone and University of the Ozarks is unique in this field because it is the only academy preparatory school affiliated with a four-year, fully-accredited university. When comparing, make sure to compare “apples to apples” because not all prep programs are the same. Do not be fooled by false claims made by other prep schools who insinuate to be “university-like” when they are affiliated with a junior college – there is a huge difference! University of the Ozarks is fully-accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – the same organization that provides the same level of academic accreditation as the academies. Where some prep school claim to be accredited by the same organization, they are not accredited as a 4-year, liberal arts institution.
I evaluated 122 colleges and universities – public and private – before I discovered University of the Ozarks. What attracted me most was that the Ozarks academic environment closely emulates the academy first-year experience in terms of their academic challenge and increased scholastic expectations. Unlike any other academy prep school, Ozarks professors (with their doctorates) teach each Greystone course with a class size limited to 18-22 students. With a 13:1 student-to-professor ratio at University of the Ozarks, Greystone students receive an extremely high-quality education in an environment conducive to strong academic achievement. Ozarks is an extremely challenging academic institution; however, Greystone students can excel as scholars due to the program emphasis placed upon organized and structured study as well as weekly grade collection, evaluation and counseling. Students do not languish in their misery if they are unable to understand a subject – they are empowered to act! Like the academies, Ozarks believes that students who try will succeed. It is only when they stop trying that they fail. Greystone provides a motivating and inspiring academic environment intended to support exceptional academic performance. The average incoming freshman academics at Greystone include a 28 composite ACT, 1230 SAT, and a 3.67 GPA. You must ask yourself – how is this possible? It is possible because our students receive guidance and oversight from Ozarks faculty who are dedicated to teaching and Greystone Staff who provide the oversight and have the experience to ensure the success of our students. The high-quality educational experience is focused on individualized learning and mastery of subject matter. To ensure successful performance at this level, students are required to establish a structured and organized university-level work ethic, study skills and time-management while the Greystone Staff provides academic oversight. To ensure students master these concepts, they are required to engage in a proctored four-hour study hall six nights per week, submit their grades weekly, and when they encounter academic difficulties, they are required to seek assistance from their professor, obtain a tutor for that subject from the Student Success Center and join a Greystone study group. As an instructor at the Naval Academy, my Plebes used these exact skills and techniques I developed to overcome their academic difficulties – and all academy students will eventually have academic difficulty. These same academic skills and techniques taught and then put into practice here at Greystone during their Ozarks experience translates to enhanced performance at the academies. Superior performance in the Ozarks classroom has a direct correlation to superior performance in the academy classroom. This correlation is now recognized by the academies.
Greystone Preparatory School has sent more students to the academies than any other military prep program in the country. In addition to the Ozarks academic curriculum, Greystone students are required to take every SAT/ACT beginning in August. This ensures that they leave no stone un-turned as they pursue their academy appointment. Unless they take the test, they will not improve their scores and because the academies “super score” the SAT and ACT, poor test performance will not hurt the candidate. Throughout the fall semester Greystone students receive briefings from SAT and ACT consultants to ensure they understand the strategy that will allow them to improve their scores.
Candidates who are serious about earning their academy appointments and excelling through the academy must maximize their year of prep to ensure their overall success. Accepting a lesser challenge in the classroom is not only doing you as a candidate a disservice, it is also sending the academy admissions board a message that you are not willing to take on the academy-level challenge. At a time of record academy applicants, the academies are not seeking reasons to say “yes” to a candidate – they are seeking reasons to say “no”. Show them what you are made of academically; that you are a scholar and capable of excelling though the academy academic challenges.