When is a Four-Year Degree More Than a Four-Year Degree?

This last Sunday, May 8, PARADE magazine ran a cover feature about the United States Military Academy at West Point. You are probably familiar with PARADE. It?s that Sunday supplement found in the insert section of many national newspapers. This issue?s cover photo shows us nearly a dozen West Point cadets in military formation — freshly-shaved young faces, in profile, severe and proud. The caption asks us, ?Are they still the best?? If you aren?t already acquainted with the federal service academies, there are five in all. (The US Military Academy at West Point, New York; the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; the US Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; the US Coast Guard Academy at Groton, Connecticut; and the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Neck, New York) If your candidate graduated from one of these academies, it means that he or she has successfully navigated one of the most rigorous, well-rounded, and challenging college programs offered in America. Unlike the usual American-college experience, with its freedom of choice and social life, these institutions of higher learning are very regimented, disciplined and challenging ? academically, physically, and morally. Just to be admitted is to be identified as among one of the nation?s best. Competition for admission as fierce as any of the Ivy League schools. The academic programs at the federal service academies are loaded heavily in the engineering and hard sciences, but all require a solid foundation in the arts and humanities. Every student is required to participate in athletic and military training. Hands-on leadership is taught and practiced in their daily lives. They all practice and adhere to a rigorous honor code. The challenges are tough, and their schedules are tight. They start their days before sunrise, and they are hard-pressed to accomplish all of their responsibilities before lights out at night. And, upon graduation (if they make it to graduation, as usually a third of them drop out before they get there), each graduate is required to pay for his or her fully-funded education with several years of service as a junior officer. So what does an academy graduate offer to a potential employer? Academy graduates know how to handle responsibilities and working under pressure. They are excellent time-managers and know how to set milestones and meet deadlines. They know how to lead by example; they understand the importance of integrity; they have the motivation and drive to carry tough projects and tasks through completion. They come to the workforce after serving in their respective federal service with hands-on experience and top-notch practical training. These schools have graduated 13 US Presidents, various Leaders in our government, and Captains of industry. OK. You may accuse me of being biased, and perhaps I am. (Being the product myself of one of those schools, who isn?t proud of their alma mater?) But I can also unequivocally, and without reservation encourage you to take another look at a resume with a federal academy degree. Know that you have a candidate who has undergone a rigorous and challenging route to a degree ? a person who earned that degree by perseverance and hard work.

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Bill Gaul (bgaul@destinygrp.com) is President and CEO of The Destiny Group, an Internet-based recruiting tool that utilizes the latest patent-pending technology (including audio/visual) for organizations to use to source men and women departing the military services. Endorsed by all of the U.S. Service Academy Alumni Associations, and three times selected as one of the "50 BEST" by CareerXRoads, this online system is the easiest and lowest cost method to reach transitioning military worldwide, without a per-head fee.

Bill's articles are Copyright 2001, The Destiny Group.

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