Life at the United States Military Academy is BUSY! Many say cadets are the busiest college students in the country. Classes and study, physical education or athletics, military duties and recreation fill many hours of the day. Typical cadet day:
7:35-11:45 Class or study
12:45-1:40 Commandant/Dean Time
1:50-3:50 Class or study
4:10:5:45 Intramural, club or intercollegiate athletics; parades; extracurricular activities; or free time
6:30-7:15 Supper (optional except Thursday)
7:15-7:30 Cadet Duties
7:30-8:30 Study Conditions/Extracurricular activities
8:30-11:30 Study time
12:00 Lights Out
All cadets receive Christmas, spring, and summer leave, along with the four-day Thanksgiving break. Christmas leave is normally two weeks in length following the completion of first semester final examinations. Spring leave is about 10 days, including the weekends. Summer leave is about 3 or 4 weeks depending on a cadet's military leadership training assignment. When academics begin first classmen (seniors) get twice as many weekend leaves as second classmen (juniors). A plebe (freshman) will have only a few weekend passes. Plebes also may leave West Point for extracurricular or cultural trips and athletic trips. There is also the traditional Plebe-Parent Weekend scheduled each fall.
During Cadet Basic Training (six weeks long), New Cadets do not have privilege periods because of the requirements of the intensive military training activities. There is a day set aside for a military family visitation, allowing New Cadets a short time of relaxation. New Cadets are also given time to call home on the weekend.
The transition from civilian life to a military environment is challenging. You learn military courtesies and standards, and you learn to live by those standards every day. You learn how to properly wear the various cadet uniforms. You practice drill and ceremony, and you learn how to prepare for inspections.
Like all of the military services, West Point uses a "Cadet Leader Development System" to help develop military leaders. During your first year at West Point you learn to "follow." The Leader Development Program prescribes the relationship between you as a plebe and upper class cadets. As a plebe, you must be able to recall an accumulation of information with precision. You may receive constructive criticism at times during Cadet Basic Training, but upperclass cadets (unlike the "old days") are not allowed to treat you in a demeaning manner. You will also carry out specific tasks in your company during your plebe year. During each succeeding year at West Point, you receive progressive leadership responsibilities. You learn how to be a team leader during the second year at West Point, guiding two or three cadets in your company. In your third year, leadership responsibilities are expanded, helping you learn more about senior noncommissioned officer duties in the U.S. Army. This prepares you for cadet officer responsibility during your senior year. You learn what it takes to lead larger groups. It also prepares you for platoon leadership responsibilities as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Cadet barracks are modern, well lighted and comfortable. There are two or three cadets in each room, with space for desks, closets, and beds. Cadets are required to purchase a personal computer for academic courses and projects, including a color monitor, central processing unit and a keyboard. There is some space restrictions that may limit the number of printers in each room. Each cadet also has a telephone. The cadet barracks also feature recreational rooms, lounges and study rooms.