Every year I have the great privilege of nominating some of Arizona’s finest students for admission to our nation’s service academies. As we approach the October 19 application deadline for those seeking to be nominated by my office for next year’s entering class, I thought it would be helpful to outline the application process and encourage interested young Arizonans to apply for this opportunity to serve their nation and get a great education.
Members of Congress can nominate as many as 10 candidates for each academy. Only one of their nominees is guaranteed an offer of admission by the academy, however. The others enter a nationwide pool of candidates, competing with student from other states for any additional openings.
It is a fitting testament to the caliber of students in Arizona that last year 21 of my appointments were accepted for admission to the academies. Of those outstanding students, 11 were offered an admission to the U.S. Air Force Academy, five to West Point, four to the U.S. Naval Academy, and one the Merchant Marines. Four more were accepted to the Navy’s preparatory school. (The U.S. Coast Guard Academy has a separate application process and does not rely on congressional appointments.)
Students who are interested in being considered for an appointment to the academy must take part in a highly competitive selection process. They may first apply for a congressional nomination in their junior year of high school – and I strongly encourage interested candidates to apply to as many nominating sources as possible, including both of their U.S. Senators and their representatives to Congress. All candidates must be U.S. Citizens, and between the ages of 17 and 22 (17-24 for the Merchant Marines) as of July 1 of the year they would enter the academy. Student applying to my office also must be permanent resident of Arizona or, if they are younger than 18, their parents must be permanent state residents.
Candidates are also required to open files with their desired service academies. In other words, the application process is dual track – students need to apply to both congressional and academy offices. Upon starting a file, qualified candidates are scheduled for physical fitness tests and a medical examination. Other tests and exams are also scheduled at a nearby military facility.
Candidates who open files with my offices in Phoenix must provide a small photo of the applicant, a completed application form, an official transcript indicating a cumulative Grade Point Average and class rank, and other materials required in the application packet. Those students who meet minimal qualifications will then be selected for a personal interview with my Academy Screening Committee. This usually occurs in early to mid-November.
Often students and their parents ask me what qualifications might increase their chances of selection. Candidates should have a proven record of achievement in academics, athletics, extracurricular and leadership activities. A strong background in math and science is also helpful. I also recommend that students take the SAT and/or ACT tests as early and often as possible – since the academy only considers the highest scores received in each category (Math and Verbal) regardless of when that score was achieved.
The service academies are among the most selective colleges in the nation. They have graduated U.S. Presidents, astronauts, business leaders and members of Congress. Whether a student is committed to a military career or not, the service academies provide an unmatched educational opportunity. I encourage all Arizonans interested in learning more about the application process – or in attending my annual informational meeting – to contact my offices in Phoenix at (602) 840-1891 or Tucson at (520) 575-8633 or to visit my web site at www.senate.gov/~kyl.
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