Understand the Differences Before You Enroll Your Son
One of the most important factors that will determine the course of a young man’s life is the educational experience provided to him in his adolescence. Parents considering the structure and focused environment of a private school education may find themselves choosing between a military school and a traditional boarding school. While both alternatives offer an elevated emphasis on academics and a structured schedule, parents should understand the major differences between the two environments, and the unique benefits and advantages offered specifically from enrollment in a military school, before they choose the option that will best meet the goals of their son.
Character and Leadership Development
While boarding schools offer a secure environment where students can focus entirely on academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities, the primary emphasis of a boarding school is to prepare a young man for entrance into a four-year college. Thus, the primary focus of the institution is on educational coursework. While academics are an essential element in the preparation of a young man as he matures and prepares for the future, military schools are unique in that their curriculum is predicated on the importance of developing all aspects of a young man. While this includes academic prowess, it also places significance on character and leadership development.
In a military school environment, young men live the disciplined life of cadets, living in barracks, learning the life skills of teamwork, honor, discipline, integrity, respect, accountability, work ethic, independence, and other soft-skills needed not just in order to enroll in a four year college, but to succeed in life as a student, an employee, a family member, a friend, and a leader. Military school cadets are offered the same academic curriculum as boarding school enrollees in a more structured environment that limits distractions by monitoring free time and ensuring each cadet’s primary focus is on the school’s curriculum.
Military training exercises, daily rituals, and a structured daily schedule reinforce the importance of discipline and accountability, while living and learning from experienced military personnel provides mentorship and an aspirational example of the type of person each young man can work to become. Cadets enrolled in military school do not simply learn about leadership – they practice it daily as they are tested and challenged to live the lessons they have learned in real, actionable scenarios.
A Brotherhood Born from Shared Learning
While friendships are formed easily in a boarding school environment, the philosophy of the school, one of personal advancement, predominates. While friendships are still encouraged and fostered in a boarding school environment, the curriculum and primary focus of the schools do not tend to reinforce those bonds, but rather, they encourage students to focus primarily on their own individual achievements and paths.
Military schools offer young men a unique opportunity to benefit from an environment that fosters the development of a brotherhood of cadets that share a common goal of not only becoming leaders, but also becoming part of a team that is greater than just their own personal aspirations. This brotherhood of military cadets is formed naturally as the result of the need to work as a team to overcome the challenges of rigorous military programing and activities. Graduates from military school often speak to the support they found not only from their military school leaders but also from their fellow cadets as they developed their leadership skills and personal confidences. Military school graduates form bonds with one another that last throughout their lives, regardless of where their individual roads take them.
While traditional boarding schools place an emphasis on collegiate preparation, they do not necessarily provide an advantage in this area when compared to military schools. Many military schools across the nation have partnered with local and regional nationally ranked colleges and universities to offer accredited course work, and guaranteed credit transfers. For young men with aspirations of enrolling in a four year college or university, they do not need to limit their considerations to traditional boarding schools in order to receive the high quality academic education necessary to be accepted into one of the nation’s leading academic institutions.
While both military and boarding schools are equipped to prepare young men for the rigors of collegiate life, the path to a four-year college or university is not desired by every young man. Military schools offer an advantage to traditional boarding schools because they offer more than just collegiate preparatory coursework and guidance. Cadets may choose to focus on a trade or labor skill with the intent of entering the workforce directly upon military school graduation. For military schools that offer trade school coursework in such areas as robotics, arts and music, web development, and engineering, cadets are assisted with internship opportunities and early job placement. In this way, military schools provide parity in career planning for those students for which an advanced degree is not of interest. Such options are generally not offered with the same level of support and opportunity at traditional boarding schools.
For some young men who complete a military school education, there is an interest and desire to serve in the nation’s armed forces. Having the foundation of a military school education and access to Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) developmental programs provides an advantage to former cadets once they arrive for basic training. Again, the primarily academic-focused, but limited curriculum of boarding schools does not provide these same opportunities for young men with a desire to serve their nation.
According to Boarding School Review, the average boarding school tuition in the United States was $46,750 per year in 2013. Comparatively, the cost of military boarding schools is approximately $36,000 per year. Both military schools and boarding schools ensure that cost does not become a deterrent to any family by providing for scholarships, financial aid, and flexible tuition plans. Still, families should understand that not only do military schools offer young men more career planning opportunities as well as leadership and character developmental opportunities in an atmosphere where they are supported by a brotherhood of peers, but they do so using a more affordable tuition model.
While both military schools and boarding schools can offer a young man an exceptional academic education, only a military school’s curriculum, environment, and support system, places the necessary emphasis on the development of life skills that are true differentiators in the holistic, mental, physical, and emotional development of a young man. For parents and families looking to best position their son for success in adolescence and in life, only a military school education offers a foundation of integrity, honor, and character that cannot be obtained elsewhere.