I’ll be writing shortly about my “Public Ivy” schools for 2015-16. Beginning three years ago, I named each of the military service academies a Public Ivy, along with several other public colleges and universities whose names that you will recognize, and some that you might not. Today I’m reposting a piece to explain why the service academies deserve such distinction–Ed.
Since starting EducatedQuest I have been fascinated by the concept of a “Public Ivy” school. I’ve made three lists of such schools, each time fine-tuning the standards by which a school could be called a Public Ivy.
The United States Naval Academy (aka Annapolis), the United States Military Academy (aka West Point), the United States Air Force Academy (aka Air Force) all met my standards for retention, graduation rates and costs for a Public Ivy. The United States Coast Guard Academy (aka Coast Guard) and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (aka Kings Point) came very close.
These schools charge no tuition; they obviously exceeded my standards there. In my previous post about Public Ivy schools I noted that a Public Ivy should not charge in-state students more than one-third of the tuition and fees of the least expensive Ivy League school and charge out-of-state students no more than two-thirds of the tuition and fees of the most expensive one.
I also reported that a Public Ivy should retain at least 90 percent of its first-year class. Annapolis and West Point did better, retaining 97 and 93 percent respectively. Air Force was extremely close, retaining 89 percent. So did the Coast Guard Academy. Kings Point had a very good first-year retention rate of 85 percent. All of these academies graduated at least three quarters of their first-year classes within six years, another important consideration for being a Public Ivy.
Annapolis, West Point and Air Force are national liberal arts colleges, not state colleges or universities while the Coast Guard Academy and Kings Point are classified as Regional Colleges. The fact that they’re national institutions rather than state schools is irrelevant. All of these academies are highly desired places to go to school, not only for the costs, but also for the opportunity to develop leadership skills and serve the country. And they all have alumni networks that extend well beyond the military.
I have no problem with calling Annapolis, West Point, the Air Force Academy or the Coast Guard Academy Public Ivy schools. The selection process is daunting, summer camp is exhausting, the academics are challenging and the demands to balance fitness, military discipline and academics are far greater on academy students than those at other colleges and universities. And they are often the first-choice schools of the students who are there.