The United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, is the oldest of the service academies, having been established in 1802 by President Thomas Jefferson.
It is located in West Point, New York, hence the name West Point. Several prominent figures have graduated from this prestigious academy, such as Douglas MacArthur, John J. Pershing, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Buzz Aldrin.
Attendees at West Point are collectively referred to as cadets. During a cadet’s time at West Point, they will go through a four-year course of study to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in one of the 36 majors the academy offers.
Along the way, they will receive various military instructions and guidance to prepare them to serve as second lieutenants in the US Army upon graduation.
This military academy operated under an “Honor Code.”
- A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”
There is a process for getting admitted to West Point. Below are the key points:
- The West Point military academy requires you to get a nomination from a Congressional representative, Senator, Vice President, or the Secretary of the Army.
- You must pass the required physical fitness test and medical evaluations.
- West Point Military Academy has a very competitive admission process that considers other factors such as academic performance, physical aptitude, and medical fitness.
West Point Class Structure and Terminology
From their first to last year in the academy, the cadets are officially called fourth-class, third-class, second-class, and first-class cadets, respectively.
Informally, fourth-class cadets are referred to as plebes. Third-class cadets are called yearlings. Second-class cadets are referred to as cows, and first-class cadets are called firsties.
Most of the military training takes place during the summers at West Point. The first summer, which is about a month or two after your high school graduation if you’re coming straight from high school, is called Cadet Basic Training or Beast Barracks and is six weeks long.
It’s essentially like a mini boot camp you go through before you start your actual time there as a cadet.
The second summer will have you do Cadet Field Training at nearby Camp Buckner, and then the third and fourth summers are spent serving in active US Army units around the world.
You also have the opportunity to attend advanced training courses such as airborne or air assault school. So before you get your commission, you can get some pretty cool training opportunities.
In a nutshell, each day you spend at West Point is going to be highly regimented, with almost every minute of your day being accounted for.
Post-Graduation Service Commitment
Those who graduate from West Point will be commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army and must serve at least five years of active duty and three years in the reserves.
Cadet Life and Career Selection
As a new cadet, you have plenty of responsibilities to deal with, but your quality of life slowly gets better with each passing year. This is a common trend in service academies. Upperclassmen have a better quality of life than underclassmen do.
As far as job selection goes, West Point starts to hone in on what you want in your third and fourth years as you get closer to graduation. Each year, West Point hosts Branch Week, which aims to help inform cadets so they are better equipped to decide what they want to do after graduation.
Branches are specialized occupational fields of the US Army, each with its own area of technical and tactical expertise.
Depending on the needs of the army and your personal desires, when the time comes to communicate what you want to do, you will let the army know by listing some of your top choices.
From there, the army will confirm which career fields you want to work in, and in return, the career fields will review your accolades, such as:
- Test scores
- PT scores
- Personal statements
This information will let the army know whether or not you’re a viable candidate.
West Point Entry Requirements
As always, unless a contract says otherwise, there’s no guarantee that you’ll land the job you want. We’ll end this section off with the basic requirements to get into West Point for those interested.
To be eligible, you must:
- Be at least 17 but not 23 or older by July first of the year you enter
- Be a US citizen
- Not be married or pregnant
- Not be legally responsible for child support
With West Point covered, let’s move on to our next service academy, the Naval Academy.