College-level military schools are usually called military academies, and are intended to serve a dual function - educating students in a specific trade while training them in military tactics and strategy. Some military academies are privately run, while others have government sponsorship at the state or national level.
Students enrolled at military academies are generally required to commit to a period of active military service. Most receive free room and board and pay no tuition. Some military academies are able to grant Bachelor's degrees.
The amount of non-military coursework that students are assigned depends on the institution - most military academies acknowledge that few people remain in the military for their entire working career, and therefore attempt to provide students with skills that will help them land a civilian job after they leave the military.
When speaking of young people, generally between the ages of 12 and 18, the term military school has a very different meaning. It's the name given to a specific type of boarding school designed for young individuals with ongoing behavioral problems. It provides these kids with a structured social environment that combines physical and mental discipline to give them the direction they need to get their lives on track.
Military schools aim to provide troubled teens with:
- Perspective on their problems.
- Strategies for managing the things that cause them stress.
- A model for the development of leadership skills.
- An appreciation for teamwork and the merit of others.
It's important to note that military schools are targeted toward students who have ongoing behavioral problems that can't be resolved through more simplistic means - they should never be used as a first resort. Sending a child away to school shouldn't be a substitute for a family working together to resolve issues, using community resources and professional help. However, in cases where a child is stuck in a cycle of criminal activity or is suicidal and won't respond to counseling or other intervention, military school may be the best possible solution.