USNA Professor Criticizes Applicant Stats

The US Naval Academy recently publicized its pace to set a record for the number of applicants.  The US military academies have a notoriously low acceptance rate, an indicator of the competitive nature of selection.

Au contraire, says Annapolis English professor Bruce Fleming.

Fleming, a fairly “frequent critic” of his employer, filed a FOIA to determine how the Naval Academy counts applicants.  He says the Academy overstates and artificially inflates the number of people who actually try to get into Annapolis.

The academy counts as “applicants” people who have not completed an application but have shown an interest through other means…

An academy admissions official Dec. 5 used this standard to boast that the school had 18,651 applicants so far this year, saying it put the school on track for a record year for the Class of 2016…

The Class of 2015, which began training during the summer, had 5,720 completed applications; the academy cited its applicant number as 19,145 — more than three times the number of completed applications.

Academy documents indicate they made 1,426 offers of appointment, for a 24.9% acceptance rate for the class of 2015 — quite a bit higher than the 7.4% acceptance rate publicized.

Does that lower the prestige of attending the military academies?  Not really, since the applicants who self-select to apply are already culled due to highly restrictive standards (and perceived standards) of both admission and commission.

Still, it is not an insignificant detail to tell a high school graduate he has a 1 in 4 chance of being accepted, as opposed to 1 in 14, if he simply completes his application.