WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 25, 2010) -- The <a href="http://www.usma.edu/" target=Aca,!A?_blank">U.S. Military Academy</a> at West Point, N.Y., long renowned for cultivating some of America's most celebrated leaders, offers 170 slots each year for prior-service Soldiers, yet many go unfilled.Each school year, 85 seats for active-duty and another 85 for Reserve and Guard Soldiers are reserved in the incoming freshman class, but only about 50 in each category are filled."I know the 85 Soldiers are out there, we just have to reach them," said Maj. Brian Easley, the Soldier admissions officer at the academy.The admissions period lasts from August until November of each year, and the final deadline for prior-service Soldiers who already have SAT scores is Feb. 28.Applying to West Point as a prior-service Soldier has its benefits: current active-duty or reserve-component Soldiers don't need a congressional nomination. Prior-service Soldiers must simply request a service-connected nomination from their commander, which means they don't have to compete for a congressional-appointed slot.Also, while a good high school grade point average is important, Easley explained that the admissions staff is willing to work with current Soldiers who may have less than desirable grades.For example, Easley spoke of a Soldier who had very low grades in high school, couldn't get into any conventional colleges, but strived to attend West Point. Looking at the Soldier's packet, all of his recommendations described the Soldier as extremely bright, so the admissions staff decided to take a closer look.They learned that the Soldier's best friend had been killed during his junior year in high school, leading to his declining grades. The West Point staff encouraged the Soldier to take the Scholastic Assessment Test, or SAT, which the Soldier nearly maxed. After admittance, he went on to graduate as second in his class at West Point, and to earn two degrees from Oxford."It's an amazing opportunity for Soldiers to reach their full potential," Easley explained.The requirements for admission to West Point include being between 17 and 22 years old, a U.S. citizen, single and without dependents, with an above-average academic record, in good physical health and to be able to pass the Candidate Fitness Assessment.For more information about the prior-service Soldier admissions process, please visit the admissions office web site at <a href="http://admissions.usma.edu/" target=Aca,!A?_blank">http://admissions.usma.edu/</a>