Summer is full swing for most college students: beach parties, road trips and summer jobs at local snack shacks. 

But for those select few who've opted for a slot at one of America's military academies, life is very different. Freshman have already reported, upperclassmen are working their assigned summer duties and recent grads are newly commissioned officers.

So, as we wrap-up our camo contest (just one week left!), I thought it would be nice to learn more about a few of our future leaders - the ones taken a less-traveled path. 

A "free" education at one of our academies is valued at over $400,000, so why do so few take this path? Let's take a closer look.

United States Military Academy United States Naval Academy United States Air Force Academy
Location: West Point, NY Annapolis, MD Colorado Springs, CO
Founded: 1802 1845 1954
Approximate enrollment: 4,000 4,000 4,000
Sample Class Profile: (Year unknown) (Class of 2017) (Class of 2017)
Number of Applications Started: 15,407 17,819 9,706
Those nominated: 4,166 6,440 6,967
Those qualified: 2,165 unknown 2,277
Those offered and accepted: 1,183 1,200 1,190
Average acceptance rate (number admitted/applications started): 7.6% 6.7% 12.2%
Average SAT Scores (reading/math/writing): 634/653/608 580-670/620-700/unknown 642/669/unknown
Men/Women: 1,002/181 927/273 918/272
Length of time at academy: 47 months 4 years 4 years
Opened to women: 1976 1976 1976
Students called: Cadets Midshipmen Cadets
Mascot: Mule Goat Falcon
Camo: Army Combat Uniform Navy Working Uniform Airman Battle Uniform
Graduate as: Second Lieutenant

Ensign (Navy)

Second Lieutenant (Marine Corps)

Second Lieutenant
Cost: None, with five-year post graduation commitment None, with five-year post graduation commitment None, with eight-year post graduation commitment (five as active duty, three as reservist)
Fun link: Cadet Programs Videos Learn the lingo


Do you know someone at one of the academies? Are you a grad yourself? Leave a note to give a shout-out! Or, click to share with your favorite academy buddy. (Just play nice...)

And to all the service members and the families that love them: from our family to yours - thank you for your service!

Now go enter to win a camo bag customized in your colors!

Alejandro Villanueva & Andy Guyader

Alejandro Villanueva – Army soldier and NFL prospect – is making a splash across America. From ESPN to CBS This Morning, media is lining up to learn more about this Army Ranger, this Bronze Star recipient, this three-tour veteran, this decorated hero.

But before the recent headlines, before the tours, even before he was a commissioned officer, I’ve known Alejandro Villanueva simply, and appropriately, as “Ali.”

Written by Brenda Guyader — May 12, 2014

Last week I took a chance, bought some tickets and Little STRUCTUREbags and I headed to the US Open. Yes, that US Open. The one where Serena, Venus, Djokovic and Rafa play… It was truly one of those days I will remember for a lifetime. This, even after a four-hour rain delay!

Bronx Zoo Butterfly Garden

The butterfly garden at the Bronx Zoo is a delight for the senses. I could have spent hours in this fabulous little oasis watching, clicking photos and mentally designing bold design combinations.

Written by Brenda Guyader — August 13, 2013