As more young males drop out of high school — aimless, and getting into all sorts of trouble – the Army has come up with a plan that solves problems for the youth, as well as for the military: prep school.
“It’s academic immersion,” explained Col. Jeffrey Sanderson, chief of staff at Fort Jackson, home of the Army’s largest basic training school. “Our studies show that with only 3 out of 10 people of military age being capable of joining the Army, we are going to have to do something different.” (Associated Press, 8/27/08)
The Army turned six World War II-era buildings at the base into a mini-campus of Spartan classrooms and barracks. Classes of about 60 soldiers will enter the month-long program every week.
Their day begins at 5 AM with physical training, eight hours of academic review classes, and homework each night. It’s a tough and structured day. Grouped three to four to a class, the students work on GED preparation books.
Recruits must score in the top half of the Army’s aptitude test to qualify for the prep school and they get two tries at a GED certificate. If they don’t pass on the second try, the Army releases them from their contract.
The Army prefers those who graduate from high school on their own, as it demonstrates tenacity, but that some young men might have quit high school for a wide variety of reasons is a consideration. “These kids may have quit at some point, but the big thing is, a lot of people have quit on them. We are not going to allow them to quit,” commented the school’s commander, Captain Brian Gaddis.