Academic Excellence
MIDN Robby Fontenot pictured with MIDN Molly Dundon, USNA Class of 2015, earned the Greystone Academic Excellence Award for 2011 by earning back-to-back 4.0's both semesters at Schreiner University. In the photo above Molly and Robby completed the San Antonio Rock n' Roll Half Marathon as a team!

Assuming you meet all medical qualifications for a candidate, the next most important qualification for your academy appointment is your academic credentials. By credentials I refer to your high school GPA, class standing and your SAT/ACT scores. Academic achievement takes the “lion's share” of your multiple as a candidate – and for good reason. The academy admissions board will conduct an in-depth assessment of your accomplishments as a scholar to determine if you have the skills and ability to survive the academic rigor that must be overcome by every cadet and midshipman before they graduate. More than any other basis for evaluation at the academies, good grades or the lack of good grades - will determine your success or failure. It will not matter how extraordinary you are as a Varsity athlete – if you can't make the grade academically, you will not be invited to stay! Grades influence your ability to participate in sports, Extra Curricular Activities (ECAs) or even be allowed to leave the campus – your academic success is that important to the academies! Big picture: your academy academic achievement is the driving force behind your Class Standing which, as a senior, is the determining factor when it comes to your selection of career opportunities. The higher your GPA, the wider the career opportunities made available to you! Academics are that important and therefore your performance as a scholar is vital to your academy success! 

The measure of a man is the way he bears up under misfortune.
– Plutarch

As a candidate, you should be able to determine the importance placed upon academics at your particular academy by looking at its national ranking as an institution of higher learning. The three major academies (the Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy) traditionally do very well “educating” young men and women. Their investment in your education provides them with very capable officers upon graduation.  More importantly, the academies academic reputation also ensures a continuous stream of highly qualified candidates who apply. When you consider the need for academy scholars from the perspective of national academic recognition and academy recruitment, the emphasis placed upon each candidate for high academic achievement becomes justified.

As a candidate seeking your Plan B, I would encourage you to research the various academy prep schools and to “dig deep”.  Do not be satisfied by window dressing or historical reputation.  Both will leave you wanting either by not delivering for you as a reapplying candidate or by not sustaining you once you enter the academy. When I was teaching at the Naval Academy, I made a point to visit the Naval Academy Foundation in Annapolis where I intended to volunteer my services. I was compelled to give something back to the Foundation because in 1976, the Foundation sponsored me to attend a prep school (I did not earn my appointment directly out of high school). While I was speaking to the Foundation Director in 1998, he lamented to me that the prep school programs had not changed much from when I was a sponsored candidate, however, at the same time, the academy qualifications required to earn an appointment had continued to climb and expand. If only there was a program with the flexibility and capability to stay in step with the evolving academic demands mandated by the academies. At that point in time, I began to consider an idea that became Greystone.

MIDN Vicky Reyes, USNA Class of 2017 has continued her own version of the Greystone Study Hall at the Academy.

This was the genesis of the Greystone Preparatory School – the beginning of a new and different approach to academy preparatory education that is designed to keep up with or exceed the admissions qualifications established by the five Federal Service Academies. The intent of the Greystone program from its beginning was to elevate the level of academy preparatory education from the existing high school level or a community college/junior college level to something that was on par with the academy academic challenge – and it had to be flexible enough to keep pace with the ever-growing candidate qualification standards. The only way to make this idea into a reality was to elevate the prep school academic program to the same level as the academy first-year courses.

Unlike traditional academy preparatory education, Greystone is a challenging one-year university-level program located on the campus of Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. Because of this relationship, Greystone students earn up to 38 college credits in demanding courses such as Calculus, Chemistry with lab, English and History.  These are courses recommended by the academies for those candidates who are reapplying but more importantly, courses that are in sync with academy first-year courses. Academic experience at this level not only demonstrates a more accurate assessment of scholastic capabilities to an academy admissions board, but it also serves to minimize past academic weaknesses which can make a scholastically weak high school candidate more competitive.

Class Schedules for:

Free Agents
USNA Foundation
USAFA Falcon Foundation

Experience in a challenging university curriculum provides those candidates who earn their appointments with a significant advantage over other traditional “academy prep” students. Through their Schreiner experience, they fully understand and therefore can deliver exactly what the academies expect from their students – there is no “learning curve.” In addition to the university-level academic challenge, Greystone students learn and practice critical time-management skills, hone decision-making abilities, and master the fine art of setting and sticking with priorities – all skills that are essential if you are going to succeed at an academy.


Apples to Apples

"The Academy is not a high school, a community college or a junior college; the Academy is a four-year, fully-accredited institution of higher learning. Prepping your candidates in anything less than that is going to provide a disservice to your candidates." 

-VADM Rempt

What separates Greystone from other academy preparatory schools is the academic curriculum provided by Schreiner University. As stated to me by VADM Rempt while he was the Superintendent at the Naval Academy, “The Academy is not a high school, a community college or a junior college; the Academy is a four-year, fully-accredited institution of higher learning. Prepping your candidates in anything less than that is going to provide a disservice to your candidates.” I took his advice to heart and in so doing, have set the new standard for academy preparatory excellence. This academic relationship between Greystone and Schreiner University is unique in this field because it is the only academy preparatory school affiliated with a four-year, fully-accredited university. Do not be fooled by false claims made by other prep schools who insinuate to be “university-like” when they are affiliated with a junior college – there is a huge difference! Schreiner University is fully-accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – the same organization that provides the academies with their accreditation.

Cadet Ian Correll, USMA Class of 2017 in Greystone Study Hall.

I evaluated 122 colleges and universities - public and private - before I discovered Schreiner University. What attracted me most was that the Schreiner academic environment closely emulates the academy first-year experience in terms of their academic challenge and increased scholastic  expectations. Unlike any other academy prep school, Schreiner professors (with their doctorates) teach each Greystone course with a class size limited to 18-22 students. With a 13:1 student-to-professor ratio at Schreiner University, Greystone students receive an extremely high-quality education in an environment conducive to strong academic achievement.   Schreiner is an extremely challenging academic institution; however, Greystone students are able to excel as scholars due to the program emphasis placed upon organized and structured study as well as weekly grade collection, evaluation and counseling. Students do not languish in their misery if they are unable to understand a subject – they are empowered to take action! Like the academies, Schreiner believes that students who try will succeed. It is only when they stop trying that they fail. Greystone provides a motivating and inspiring academic environment intended to support exceptional academic performance. The average GPA at Greystone for the Fall 2016 semester was 3.78. 28 students earned a space on the Schreiner University President’s List (GPA of 3.75 or higher). 14 of those students earned 4.0's. And 11 Greystoners earned a spot on the Dean’s List (3.5 to 3.74 GPA). Keep in mind, each Greystone student is carrying up to 19 Schreiner credit hours of extremely challenging courses. You must ask yourself – how is this possible? It is possible because our students receive guidance and oversight from Schreiner faculty who are dedicated to teaching and Greystone Staff who have the experience and dedication to ensure the success of our students.The high-quality educational experience is focused on individualized learning and mastery of subject matter. To ensure successful performance at this level, students are required to establish a structured and organized university-level work ethic, study skills and time-management while the Greystone Staff provides academic oversight. To ensure students master these concepts, they are required to engage in a proctored four-hour study hall six nights per week, submit their grades weekly, and when they encounter academic difficulties, they are required to seek assistance from their professor, obtain a tutor for that subject from the Schreiner Academic Center and join a Greystone study group. As an instructor at the Naval Academy, my Plebes used these skills and techniques to overcome their academic difficulties – and all academy students will eventually have academic difficulty. These same academic skills and techniques taught and then practiced during their Schreiner experience translates to enhanced performance at the academies. Superior performance in the Schreiner classroom has a direct correlation to superior performance in the academy classroom.  This correlation is now recognized by the academies.

Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

– William Shakespeare

Over the last eleven years, Schreiner University has sent more students to the academies than any other university in the country. In addition to the Schreiner academic curriculum, Greystone students are required to take every SAT/ACT beginning in September. This ensures that they leave no stone un-turned as they pursue their academy appointment. Unless they take the test, they will not improve their scores and because the academies "super score" the SAT and ACT, poor test performance will not hurt the candidate.  Throughout the fall semester Greystone students receive briefings from SAT and ACT consultants to ensure they understand the strategy that will allow them to improve their scores. Students are also provided with an United States Air Force Academy approved reading enhancement course that increases their reading speed and comprehension, as well as an online math assessment program that determines their starting point and then tailors a program to strengthen those areas where they test weaker. Both the reading and math program serve as a building block that will help to increase SAT and ACT scores. 

Candidates who are serious about earning their academy appointments and excelling through the academy must maximize their year of prep to ensure their overall success. Accepting a lesser challenge in the classroom is not only doing you as a candidate a disservice, it is also sending the academy admissions board a message that you are not willing to take on the academy-level challenge.  At a time of record academy applicants, the academies are not seeking reasons to say "yes" to a candidate - they are seeking reasons to say "no".  Show them what you are made of academically; that you are a scholar and capable of excelling though the academy academic challenges.

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