Most teenagers decide to jump straight into college after high school without a second thought. According to the United States (US) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 66.2% of high school graduates immediately enroll into a college or university. However, other options fly past students without them even knowing.
One unique opportunity often not thought of by the average high school student is applying to a military academy. Jake Clegg, a senior at Key West High School (KWHS), applied to the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). Clegg shared his excitement about possibly attending the USCGA. “I am choosing the USCGA as my primary application. I am most excited about the opportunity to improve myself so I can better protect and serve my country.”
Jaiden Troilo, another senior at KWHS who’s interested in pursuing a career in the military, has been accepted by the United States Naval Academy (USNA). Troilo divulged, “My dream school is the Naval Academy because of the vast amount of opportunities that will be at my fingertips. Coming from a military family, I am proud to carry on the tradition”. Troilo went on, “I’m excited about attending the Naval Academy, meeting new people, and making friendships that will surely last a lifetime. It won’t be easy, but I’m excited and ready for the challenge”.
Calming his qualms about where he would be attending school, Troilo finally received an answer from the USNA. Troilo explained, “I saw my portal updated with a fully qualified offer of appointment…I called the office [of Congressman Carlos Gimenez] almost every day to check up on my nomination status. I had worked for months for that last piece. I started the application back in July when I became certain the Naval Academy was the best fit for me. It was a long, terribly stressful process”. Through Troilo’s determination, he was able to reap the benefits of his hard work.
Troilo advised, “To anyone who may consider applying to a service academy, my advice is that it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a long, difficult journey, and I recommend starting as early as possible to limit the stress”. Clegg added, “Maintain high grades, do as much community service as you can, stay in great physical shape, and participate in a program like the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps or JROTC are all exceptional ways to stand out to any military academies.”
Though the work may seem strenuous and debt-free, in the end, finishing college debt-free and a career is worth the effort. Military academies provide an opportunity for world-class education, friendships that last a lifetime, and a pathway to future opportunities in the military, outside the scope of the norm.