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Military School – One Size Does Not Fit All

When you hear the words “military school“, many different images are conjured.  Some see a campus fortified with beautiful stone buildings, manicured lawns, and cadets proudly marching with perfectly tailored uniforms gleaming from all the spit and polish.  Many of these young men and women are aspiring to future service in their country’s armed services.  Others see a compound, reminiscent of that seen on Hogan’s Heroes, where misbehaving inmates are sentenced to hard time for their past behavior, and angry drill instructors scream at a hopeless collection of trouble-makers.  The later is more reminiscent of what today has become known as teen boot camps, where an intense regime of shock therapy and even abuse over a short period of time is intended to turn troubled teens around.

The truth is that both of these types of institutions exist, as does everything in between.  This is why one size does not fit all when looking for a military school or academy. In the United States, there are numerous military schools.  One doesn’t need to search for too long on the internet to find them.  But why are there so many and why are they so popular?  Many have a long proud history dating back to before the Civil War.  Students attend because of tradition; their father, and grand father, and great grand father attended.  Some attend because they see it as a stepping stone to one of the federal service academies like West Point, Annapolis, or the Air Force Academy.  Others see it as a structured environment within which their misbehaving youngster will learn discipline and be turned from a life of misfortune into a contributing member of society.  However, when these students with differing goals end up in the same school the outcome is often chaotic.  Those who do not want to be there fight the system every step of the way.  The others end up suffering as a result of these negative influences.  In the end, neither group receives what they want, or what they need.  It is for these reasons that it is important to know what you are looking for in a military school, and why.  Ask the right questions and tell your whole story to the admissions department before enrolling.  This will help determine whether a particular school is right for your son or daughter, and whether your son or daughter is right for the school.  In the United States, a good place to start your search is the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States (AMCSUS).  This professional association includes nearly every military preparatory school, college and university in the United States in its membership.  It has even included a school from outside the United States, Robert Land Academy in Canada, as its only associate member military school.  In Canada, there is only one private military school - Robert Land Academy, located in Wellandport, Ontario, is Canada’s only private military school.  It accepts boys in grades 6 through 12, and draws students from all over the world.  Robert Land Academy caters specifically to boys who have experienced difficulties related to attitude, behavior, concentration, focus, respect, or have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), or other Learning Disabilities.  It typically sees boys who are performing at least two to three grade levels below their current grade level prior to enrolment.  It is not the purpose of the Academy to prepare boys for future service in the military, nor is it to punish them for previous behavior; rather it utilizes the military model to reinforce the importance of accepting personal responsibility, organization, teamwork, and self-discipline.  The Academy follows the educational curriculum established by the government and is inspected and accredited by the Ministry of Education (Ontario), allowing students to advance to college or university level courses world-wide.  Robert Land Academy reports that 95% of its students experience a dramatic improvement in their academic performance and success within the first semester of enrolment and that 100% of its grade 12 graduates who apply are accepted to a college or university program of choice. The moral of this story:  Not all military schools and academies are alike.  Be sure you understand the difference between what you want and what you (or your son or daughter) need, because these are not necessarily the same thing. To learn more about the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States visit http://www.amcsus.org or Robert Land Academy http://www.robertlandacademy.com