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FAQ - Cadet Life
What is cadet life like?
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.
Do cadets have time for fun?
Cadets are busy, but there is still time for fun and relaxation. Competitive sports provide one outlet. The description that "every cadet is an athlete" is quite accurate. There is an intercollegiate program with 24 sports. There are numerous competitive club teams, such as rugby, crew and sailing. There is an active intramural sport program all year long with cadet companies competing against other cadet companies. The Cadet Activities Office coordinates more than 100 extracurricular activities. Among those are the Cadet Fine Arts Forum, the Cadet Glee Club, and the Cadet Drill Team. You can be a disk jockey at the cadet radio station or learn to fly.
Are cadets allowed to have cars?
Seniors and juniors (after Spring Break) are permitted to maintain cars at West Point. Others may drive on post, but only under special circumstances. Transportation for group outings is arranged by the academy.
How much vacation and free time is there?

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 upon the cadet's military leadership training assignment.

When academics begin, “first class” cadets (seniors) get twice as many weekend leaves as “second class” cadets (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 spring.

Do new cadets have free time during Cadet Basic Training?
During Cadet Basic Training, 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.
What is military life like at West Point?
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. It’s not always easy, but it serves a purpose by building a solid foundation of leadership.
What is the Cadet Leader Development System like?
The Cadet Leader Development System is a demanding but professional four-year program to develop leaders of character. In order to be a successful leader, you first must learn to follow. During your first year at West Point you do just that.

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 will not 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, using those cadet experiences to hone your leadership skills. 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.
What are cadet rooms like?
Cadet barracks are modern, well-lit, and comfortable. There are two or three cadets in each room with space for desks, closets, and beds. Each cadet is required to purchase a personal computer for academic courses and projects. There are some space restrictions that may limit the number of printers in each room. The cadet barracks also feature recreational rooms, lounges and study rooms.
Where do the cadets eat their meals?
All cadets dine together in the Cadet Mess Hall in Washington Hall. Meals are planned to meet the nutritional needs of your busy daily schedule. The food is high quality and is served family style.
How much pay does a cadet receive?
A first-year cadet earns more than $900 a month, and the amount increases each year.. A portion of that cadet pay is deposited into a personal checking account. Another portion of cadet pay is deposited to a "Cadet Account" that is used to help a cadet pay for expenses such as uniforms, books, a computer, activity fees, etc. Each cadet pays a standard amount for laundry, dry cleaning, haircuts, tailoring services and shoe repair. A cadet's gross salary is subject to federal and state withholding taxes and Social Security deductions.
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