As a former cadet at Massanutten Military Academy, I feel that I have a more informed opinion on what military schools are like than most other people. Military school can be beneficial to many types of student. However, a distinction must be made between “military school” and the “boot camp-style” teen prisons that corrupt the name. The former are college preparatory institutions, while the latter pretend to be the former and are operated by people whose sole enjoyment in life is to cause misery in teenagers, being abusive to an extent that would get a Marine drill instructor court-martialed. This article is not about how to tell the difference, however.
The main differences between military schools and other schools lie, obviously, in the military structure. The fact that cadet life has a tight schedule means that cadets will be able to easily get their school work done, as there is usually a nightly study period, while the small amount of free time available will teach cadets how to manage their time to get the largest amount of leisure activities done. The cadet chain of command teaches cadet leaders (officers and NCO’s) responsibility. Cadet leaders are responsible for making sure that their subordinates do the things required of them. If a lot of members of a squad are late to a formation or their barracks maintenance jobs are unfinished, the squad leader gets in trouble, if a company’s area of the mess hall isn’t clean with chairs stacked after a meal, the mess sergeant gets in trouble, and so on. This type of preparation in life benefits the cadet in ways that a regular school can’t.
Military schools can also benefit the cadet in the friendships that form. As with other boarding schools, cadets live in close proximity to the members of their company. This combined with the fact that they all share a common, incredibly demanding experience makes for particularly strong friendships that can’t be compared with the ones that form at regular high schools.
In conclusion, military schools offer much that regular schools do not offer. This can benefit troubled youths in many ways. One of the more obvious benefits that can occur is that from improved performance in school. This improvement happens because, along with the time allotted for no activity other than school work, teachers will go out of their way to help cadets, often remaining on campus to do that even after dinner, when almost all teachers at regular schools would be at home with their families. This dedication is often about by the fact that school employees have many the same challenges placed upon them as cadets, with some even living in the same buildings, with very little more in their rooms than in cadet rooms (the primary difference is that they have their own bathrooms and showers).