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The Perfect University

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The perfect university would have high academic standards. No freebie-get-by garbage courses like "Television Appreciation," or "Concepts of Profanity." The perfect university would teach hard-core math, science, and english courses. The perfect university would not teach students that they should hate the country they were born in. The perfect university would place a high value of physical fitness while not putting their sports-team ahead of the value of their academics. The perfect university would teach the value of honesty, integrity, loyalty, and self-discipline.

The perfect university would also offer free tuition to all students. No, let's make that free tuition and free rooms. How about free tuition, free rooms, and free books? Or, the perfect university could offer free tuition, free rooms, free books, AND free meals! Even better: the perfect university would offer a small salary-type monthly stipend, as well as free tuition, rooms, books, and meals.

You say such a university cannot exist? I know of four: The United States Military Academy (West Point), the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Naval Academy, and the United States Coast Guard Academy.

All four of these institutions meet or exceed the standards listed above for the "perfect university." (Okay, okay, the Coast Guard Academy does require $3,000 up front, but other than that, it qualifies). What's the catch? They are extremely difficult to get into. One might even say it takes an act of Congress.

The U.S. Military Academy . Since its founding nearly two centuries ago, the Military Academy has accomplished its mission by developing cadets in four critical areas: intellectual, physical, military, and moral-ethical - a four-year process called the "West Point Experience." Specific developmental goals are addressed through several fully coordinated and integrated programs:

A challenging Academic Program that consists of a core of 31 courses provides a balanced education in the arts and sciences. This core curriculum establishes the foundation for elective courses that permit cadets to explore in greater depth a field of study or an optional major. All cadets receive a Bachelor of Science degree, which is designed specifically to meet the intellectual requirements of a commissioned officer in today's Army. The Physical Program at West Point includes both physical education classes and competitive athletics. Every cadet participates in an intercollegiate, club or intramural level sport each semester. This rigorous physical program contributes to the mental and physical fitness that is required for service as an officer in the Army.

Cadets learn basic military skills, including leadership, through a demanding Military Program which begins on their first day at West Point. Most military training takes place during the summer, with new cadets undergoing Cadet Basic Training - or Beast Barracks - the first year, followed by Cadet Field Training at nearby Camp Buckner the second year. Cadets spend their third and fourth summers serving in active Army units around the world; attending advanced training courses such as airborne, air assault or northern warfare; or training the first and second year cadets as members of the leadership cadre. Military training is combined with military science instruction to provide a solid military foundation for officership.

Moral-ethical development occurs throughout the formal programs as well as a host of activities and experiences available at the Military Academy. These include formal instruction in the important values of the military profession, voluntary religious programs, interaction with staff and faculty role models, and a vigorous guest speaker program. The foundation of the ethical code at West Point is found in the Academy's motto, "Duty, Honor, Country." Cadets also develop ethically by adhering to the Cadet Honor Code, which states "A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do."

The life of a cadet is demanding, but leisure time does permit recreational activities such as golf, skiing, sailing, and ice-skating, Intramural clubs include a cadet radio station, orienteering, rock climbing, and Big Brother-Big Sister. A wide variety of religious activities are available to cadets from virtually all religious backgrounds.

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