When researching private boarding schools, some people see “military school” and immediately drop that school to the bottom of the list -when it actually should be placed on the top of the list.
Let's look at several reasons military high school is not only a great choice, but the right choice to prepare boys for college.
The military often conjures up thoughts of too many restrictions, too much structure and too much uniformity. And yes, military school does have rules, structure and uniformity, but those three things actually develop the individual.
A former student brought this to light during his Valedictorian speech. When Josh came to our military school, he was a very liberal young man who felt all this uniformity would quelch his creativity and individuality.
As Josh explained in his speech, he realized that when he put that uniform on, he was no longer defined by what he wore as everyone had on the same clothes. He was no longer defined by what rules he decided to follow, because everyone followed the same rules. He was no longer defined by those he hung out with because, everyone was doing the same things at the same times.
What began to happen was that his inner personality began to define itself. Josh found out that he was very talented in public speaking and joined the Forensics Team. He found a way to express his opinions in a way that was getting more people to listen, than just being disruptive to be heard.
He found out that he gained respect from others, even though he did not have rank because that was not the goal he was setting for himself, but respected those that chose that path. He discovered he was ready for college as the person he knew he was, and did not have to wait until he got to college to have others define who he was in a college environment.
Not a Fix-It
Military school is not a “fix it school”. The emphasis is not on “fixing” a troubled teen but to redirect those students who need to refocus on the long term goal of getting into college. Hargrave is a college prep school and that is what we do.
Many boys just need that extra push, that structure and discipline of a military school to get back on track, stay on track or just to create a new track.
I fondly remember a student I had that was struggling with his academics, he desperately wanted to go to college and his parents were really pushing his academics. He was given extra help and with the structure of the military, he was completing assignments and working hard in class, but it was still not enough to get into college.
Then Mike discovered a passion for technology. While taking a media editing and broadcasting class, he became the “fix it guy”. When another student could not get a piece of equipment to work, Mike fixed it.
If the students wanted to try something new, Mike found a way. Suddenly, Mike had a new direction, a new focus and was prepared to enter a media centered institution when he graduated and is now a high tech guru for a great firm. The military structure helped Mike to stay focused, not give up and set his sights on a new direction.
It is the military spirit that creates the prepared college student. Developing military quality values prepares the student to be able to make the right decisions before they are faced with the massive temptations of the college freedom.
The military spirit is honor, integrity, dedication, loyalty, toughness, professional demeanor, can-do-attitude. The military school environment teaches students to make really tough decisions in their very formative high school years.
We once had a student that was a high ranking officer in the Corps of Cadets (student body). One day he witnessed and was asked to join fellow officers in unpermitted behavior. This was a life changing decision for him. Not only whether to join them but whether to report their actions.
After telling his peers to stop or he would report them and they did not, he reported them. He was worried that he would be considered a blabbermouth by his peers. However the exact opposite happened, even those who were involved and punished. His peers told him they respected the fortitude he had to make the rough decision.
With all the dangerous temptations on college campus’ today, learning these valuable virtues is priceless.
Military schools have a high percentage of college acceptances and Hargrave proudly states that we have a 100% college acceptance rate. Military schools begin the focus on getting into the best fit college in the early years of high school.
There is no military requirement for any graduates of the military high schools. While some do have military aspirations, most graduates go directly to college and grow their hair out.
On a daily basis underclassmen are exposed to their fellow dorm-mates who are going through the college acceptance process, and they begin to understand how important it is. Since military schools insist that you become independent, it is the students, under the guidance and prompting of the College Counselor, to do all the college application paperwork and all the essays by themselves. Their parents are not doing it for them.
This is part of that can-do attitude that the military spirit creates in each cadet. In addition, the excitement and pride that is seen on each cadet’s face as he gets his first acceptance and it is announced in the dining hall. Pride that comes from the hard work he completed, is just what he needs to send him on to his next great adventure.
The military believe in a strong sense of commitment to everything they do. This sense of commitment also permeates throughout a military school.
At Hargrave, when a student makes a commitment to a club, sport or activity, they are expected to fulfill that commitment. That means attending all the meetings, all the practices, all the sports events and organized activities.
Students are taught that if they don’t fulfill their commitment, they are hurting others.
This sense of caring about others over their own natural selfishness is a military strength. Military schools help Cadets to understand commitment that their parents are making toward their education.
The justifications for boys to attend a school like Hargrave are numerous. Students and parents who are making a decision as to which private boarding school a boy needs to attend, need to look closely at a military school education.