Questions and Answers

General

What is the cadet equivalent to a student in a civilian university?

The Academy uses the class-year system rather than the equivalent designation characteristic of civilian universities. The comparison is Cadet Fourth-class =Freshman; Cadet Third-class =Sophomore; Cadet Second-class =Junior; Cadet First-class =Senior.

If I have a tattoo, a brand or a piercing can I be admitted?

While having a tattoo or brand does not automatically disqualify you from consideration, they must meet standards outlined in Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-2903. Tattoos or brands anywhere on the body that are obscene, advocate sexual, racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination or project an improper military or cadet image are prohibited. Tattoos or brands may not exceed ¼ (25%) of the exposed body part in any/all uniform combinations (except the Physical Training Uniform (PTU)). In addition any tattoos/brands above the collarbone are prohibited. Please review AFI 36-2903, Chapter 3, for more information.

If offered an appointment and you accept you will have to complete AF Form 4428 with your Admissions Liaison Officer (ALO) disclosing information on your tattoo(s)/brand(s)/body marking(s) such as location, size, and the significance. This form will be maintained in your personnel file throughout your Air Force career.

What is a cadet’s day like?

During the academic year, from early August through May, you’ll have a busy schedule of classes, study periods, military training and athletic participation. Your morning starts off with a period designated as personal time (5:15-6:25 a.m.) where you spend time getting your room and personal issues in order and getting dressed in the uniform of the day. Breakfast is sometimes mandatory (7:00-7:20 a.m.). Following breakfast, you will attend morning classes, which begin at 7:30 a.m. You’ll attend classes or study until 11:23 a.m., when you’ll go to your squadron area to prepare for the noon meal formation, lunch or the parade. You’ll march to lunch with the cadet wing and have approximately 30 minutes to eat. After marching to and eating a mandatory lunch, cadets will participate in commissioning education on every other day from 12:30-1:23 p.m. Afternoon classes begin at 12:30 p.m. and finish at 3:23 p.m. Cadets involved in NCAA intercollegiate athletics practice with their team from 3:00-6:40 p.m. All other cadets participate in intramural sports with their respective squadrons twice a week. An optional evening mealtime buffet is offered from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Personal development time is from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., and academic call to quarters is from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. Your day ends with taps (the final bugle call of the day) at 11:00 p.m. before class days. The daily schedule will vary during the summer according to the military-training activity in which you’re involved. Saturdays alternate between free time and military training days. Sundays are almost always reserved for personal time.

What is a cadet room like?

Rooms in the two dormitories, Vandenberg Hall and Sijan Hall, are similar. Each room, which is approximately 13 feet wide and 18 feet long, is designed for two cadets. The room contains two large closets, a counter with a built-in sink, a large mirror and a medicine cabinet. Every cadet room also has a twin-size modular bed, dresser and desk for each cadet. There is a proper location for everything you’re allowed to have in your room, and you’ll be expected to keep your room in cadet inspection order. On rare occasions, three cadets may be assigned to one room.

How is a cadet assigned to a room and roommate?

Each cadet is assigned to one of 40 squadrons. Male and female cadets have separate rooms, and female cadets have separate bathroom facilities within assigned squadron areas. You’ll be assigned a roommate during Basic Cadet Training (BCT). Squadron policies typically state that cadets must change roommates once throughout each academic year; however it varies on a squadron-by-squadron basis. You’ll always room with a member of the same sex and usually the same class year as well. If a cadet has significant problems, they may request and most likely be granted a change of roommate, if necessary. Siblings are assigned to different squadrons.

What items are cadets allowed to have in their rooms?

You’ll not be permitted to bring your personal possessions with you when you enter the Academy (except for a few items listed in the cadet appointee instruction booklet). All basic necessities—such as uniforms, bedding and linens—will be furnished when you enter. During the academic year you’ll be permitted to have additional items when authorized by the cadet wing commander. You’ll be issued a laptop while at the Academy. You may be permitted to have a radio or stereo equipment in your room beginning the spring semester of your fourth-class year; you must wait until your first-class year to have a television in your room. You may, at certain times, watch TV in the squadron recreation room. You must wait until the second-class year to have most electrical appliances, but as a third-class cadet you may have a coffee pot. Limiting distractions such as social networking and gaming is essential to success at the Academy.

What is the cadet dining facility like?

Also called Mitchell Hall, the cadet dining facility is the largest of its kind in the Air Force. During the academic year, the entire cadet wing assembles to eat family-style breakfast and lunch meals in Mitchell Hall, with buffet-style service provided for dinner and weekend meals. The facility provides complete food-service support for cadets ranging from wing tailgate parties at Falcon Stadium and organizational picnics to box lunches for official travel.

Do basic cadets get plenty to eat?

Yes, you’ll have the opportunity to eat three nutritious meals a day – and with all the physical activities required, you’re encouraged to eat well and consume plenty of water.

Are special dietary meals provided?

Preparation and service of the 12,000 meals served daily in the cadet dining facility prohibits offering special dietary menus based solely on religious faiths or individual convictions. Therefore, offering them on a day-to-day basis may be difficult, if not impossible to accommodate. Cadets in this situation should work the issue through their Cadet Group Chaplain. However, during the lunch meal, cadets are offered the opportunity to sit at “lite tables” where low-fat, low-calorie meals are served. Vegetarian tables at lunch are available upon request, and the evening buffet also provides vegetarian fare.

Are cadets required to pay income taxes?

Yes, they are. Federal income withholding tax, state tax if applicable and FICA (social security) are deducted from cadet pay. Each cadet must file appropriate federal and state tax returns.

What types of uniforms do cadets wear?

During the academic year, male cadets wear a uniform of blue trousers and either long- or short-sleeved blue shirts. Other uniforms are service dress uniforms with blue jacket and trousers and mess dress for social functions. Female cadets wear either skirts or slacks with the dress uniform. Male and female cadets wear the Airman Battle Uniform (ABU) for military training.

What is the officer development system?

The Officer Development System (ODS) is a four-year developmental process where each class receives training commensurate with their level of cadet experience. Fourth-class cadet training continues the cadet conversion from civilian to military life with an emphasis on personal development. Fourth-class cadets are followers who learn and live loyally to our values, mission and the chain of command. They also develop an understanding of the Air Force and Air Force Academy standards. Cadets master their primary duty skills, build personal awareness, learn leadership techniques, hone their followership abilities, assimilate Air Force culture, and adopt the Air Force core values while they learn to lead by example. Key to mastering these skills is developing an understanding of the things you can and cannot do within the cadet area (dormitories, classrooms, dining hall and other facilities); learning fourth-class knowledge, including information about the Academy and the Air Force, which is contained in a book called “Contrails;” and building responsibilities toward keeping your personal appearance, uniform, room and equipment neat at all times. It requires a display of prompt obedience, proper conduct, unfailing courtesy and unqualified honor. The training is tough, and during your fourth-class year your free time will be very limited. ODS is designed for a definite purpose: to teach you to accomplish delegated tasks in a professional and proficient manner, thus paving the way for progression to becoming an upper-class cadet and ultimately an officer of character. Cadets develop leadership and command skills throughout their four years at the Academy, and as they progress they take on more responsibility. As they take on more responsibilities they also have less restriction on how they spend their free time. Likewise, during the spring semester of the fourth-class year, there is some relaxation of the restrictions in order to prepare cadets for greater privileges and different responsibilities in the third-class year.

Does the officer development system interfere with academic studies?

No, academics aid and complement the Officer Development System. The Academy mission is a concentrated, focused process aimed at developing leaders of character through military, academic and athletic endeavors. Your progress in all areas will be carefully monitored during all four years.

What is the total air force academy scholarship worth?

The scholarship that every cadet receives upon accepting an appointment is currently valued at over $400,000. This includes the costs required for monthly cadet pay, tuition, books, room and board, food, summer programs, flying programs, dorm cleaning services, and operation and management of all the cadet area facilities.

I have special religious requirements (e.g. dietary restrictions, religious clothing, jewelry, sabbath observances, etc.) Will I be allowed to practice them at the academy and in the air force?

It is Department of Defense (DoD) policy that requests for accommodation of religious practices should be approved by commanders when accommodation will not have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, standards or discipline. Additionally, if there are health or safety concerns, accommodation may not be possible (e.g. a cadet may be required to remove all jewelry, religious or not, while navigating an obstacle course during training). At the Academy, and throughout the Air Force, we will accommodate free exercise of religion and other personal beliefs, as well as freedom of expression, except as must be limited by compelling military necessity (with such limitations being imposed in the least restrictive manner feasible). Chaplains impartially advise commanders in regards to these matters. Concerning religious apparel, Public Law 100-180, section 508 (reference (c)) states that members of the Armed Forces may wear religious items or articles not visible or otherwise apparent with the uniform, provided they do not interfere with the performance of the member’s military duties or interfere with the proper wearing of any authorized article of the uniform. Whether an item of religious apparel interferes with the member’s military duty performance depends on its characteristics, the circumstances of its intended wear, and the particular nature of the member’s duties. However, hair and grooming practices required or observed by religious groups are not included within the meaning of religious apparel. If you have further questions regarding the accommodation of a specific religious practice, please feel free to contact the Academy Chaplain’s Office.

I have a child and have heard that I must relinquish custody before attending the academy, why?

Applying students (and current cadets) who have had a child (maternity or paternity) must provide a court order stating they have NO parental rights to the child whatsoever – this is different than just giving family members a power of attorney or temporary custody. The court order must indicate total and complete relinquishment of parental rights. Parental rights must be given to someone while you are a cadet for several reasons. The rationale includes but is not limited to: All cadets are required to live in the dorms all four years; your stipend is not enough to provide for the needs of a child (it is plenty to cover your needs); and the cadet lifestyle is a demanding one, and your attention will need to be focused on your tasks at hand – not on your child.

What programs do cadets participate in over the summer period?

During your upper-class summers you’ll have several opportunities to participate in a variety of programs. Several of these courses are needed to fulfill your graduation requirements, such as Expeditionary Survival and Evasion Training (ESET) which teaches combat skills to include weapons, convoy, Chemical and Biological, survival and evasion training.. Operation Air Force (Ops AF) provides an opportunity for you to visit and work at an operational Air Force base for three weeks. Additionally, most cadets take part in an airmanship program during the summer; if for some reason you are unable during your first summer, you will be given the opportunity to participate in an airmanship program at some point during your four years at the Academy. There are many airmanship courses to choose from, to include the Academy’s glider or soaring program, the freefall parachuting or jump program, powered flight program, and the unmanned aerial systems-remotely piloted aircraft (UAS-RPA) program. You’ll also have the opportunity to take summer classes. There are opportunities for you to participate in enrichment programs that widen your experiences abroad (e.g. Summer Language Immersion, Cadet Summer Research, and Enlisted Basic Training Instructor at Lackland AFB, Texas). All first- and second-class cadets will also participate as instructors or leaders of a summer program. The best part about all of these programs is that you are not limited by your financial backing; all programs are available to every cadet.

What is the most challenging aspect of the total cadet experience?

Every individual has different challenges at the Air Force Academy. The academic, military and athletic programs at the Academy are all rigorous and provide different degrees of challenge for each individual cadet. The level of success you have at the Academy will depend on your attitude, your willingness to challenge yourself, and your ability to adapt to stressful situations. However, every cadet agrees that time management is crucial for success at the Academy. So while you are attending the Academy, make sure you keep up with your work load and ask for help when needed. If you are looking for a challenge, the Air Force Academy is the place for you.

Where can I go if I’m overwhelmed, stressed-out or just having difficulty adjusting to the academy?

You’ll have access to many helping agencies, including the Peak Performance Center. The center provides a full range of counseling and performance enhancement services to meet the developmental, emotional, psychological and leadership needs of the young men and women in the cadet wing. The majority of our services are tailored to meet the specific needs of individual cadets. In this regard, the Academy Peak Performance Center functions much like counseling centers at other colleges and universities. You, like other students, often experience transitional stress due to new challenges or face difficult decisions regarding a wide spectrum of normal developmental issues. Over the years, the staff has developed a wide range of individual, group and walk-in services which effectively help cadets overcome personal, social and military difficulties. In addition, each cadet squadron has two cadet PEERs (Personal Ethics and Education Representative) to help address concerns and seek professional guidance on stress, relationships, eating disorders, equal opportunity and treatment. The Academy Chaplain’s office is another great resource and also has many programs available to cadets.

Academic

How does the academy’s academic program compare with other institutions?

According to the U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges 2014 rankings, the Academy has the #4 undergraduate engineering program in the nation, #2 aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical program, #5 Civil Engineering and Computer Engineering program, and the #7 mechanical engineering program. Academy graduates have won an impressive number of Rhodes Scholarships, Truman Scholarships, National Science Foundation Fellowships and other major competitive awards. These accomplishments reflect the excellence of the Academy’s academic program.

When do cadets first enter the academic program?

After you’ve completed BCT and have been accepted into to the cadet wing, you’ll be scheduled for classes at the beginning of the academic year in early August. For those without advanced placement or validation/transfer credit, your first two semesters are pre-registered for you. The year is divided into two semesters, each containing approximately 17 weeks of instruction, with breaks scheduled for holidays and leave periods.

Do all cadets take the same classes?

The Academy requires all cadets to take a core curriculum. This core curriculum covers a broad spectrum of classes in humanities, social sciences, engineering, basic sciences, physical education and military strategic studies. The Academy’s academic core curriculum consists of 32 three-semester hour core courses, and five semester hours of physical education courses for a total of 101 semester hours. Cadets receive further specialization in one of the many Academy majors currently offered. The major requirements bring the total semester hours to graduate to 140-147 depending on which major is selected.

Are cadets counseled on the selection of a major?

Most definitely. Cadets are guided by academic advisors who discuss the academic majors in relation to career areas and opportunities in the Air Force. Additionally, Majors’ Night, an event held at the beginning of each semester, provides undeclared cadets an opportunity to learn more about each major. Faculty and students from every academic department and major are available to discuss their course offerings and potential program benefits. After selecting a major, you’ll be assigned to a faculty advisor from an academic department who will assist you with course selections, schedules and other academic matters.

Can cadets transfer credits or validate courses?

When you enter the Academy, you’ll take several validation tests offered by the various academic departments. We accept scores of 4 and 5 on some AP exams and scores of 5/6/7 on some IB exams in conjunction with core course placement exams that you will take during Basic Cadet Training. AP scores of 3 will be reviewed on an individual basis. If you attended another college or university, the Academy may award transfer credit. Regardless of the total transfer and/or validation credit a cadet must earn, 131 semester hours in residence and must spend four years in residence at the Academy for graduation. College courses taken as part of a high school curriculum will not be considered for transfer credit. In all cases, individual academic departments determine whether or not to award credit for AP and IB exams and previous college courses.

How do cadets participate in the academy scholars program?

Approximately 50 of the top academically qualified cadets of each new class (based on their entering academic composite and fall prog GPA) will be identified shortly after their first progress report in the fall. They will be offered the opportunity to volunteer for participation in the program starting their second semester. The goal is to have approximately 45 cadets formally enter the program. Cadets will be allowed to petition for admission to the program after their second semester if there is space available in the program. Cadets who wish to take Academy Scholars courses, but who are not formally in the program, may do so on a space available basis with the approval of the program director. A cadet will be considered for removal from the program if his/her GPA drops below 3.5. Additionally, any form of probation (honor, conduct, athletic or academic) restricts a Scholar to course participation and from complementary opportunities.

Can cadets take elective courses?

Many electives are offered, and cadets who receive transfer or validation credit may substitute electives, including mentored independent study and research projects, for those particular courses. Cadets with a high grade point average (GPA) may also overload during most semesters, allowing them to take other non-prescribed courses. Every cadet, however, must remain at the Academy for four years, no matter how many extra course credits are earned. Every cadet, also, must take a certain number of classes each semester – usually six academic courses (except for fourth-class cadets who only take four or five courses their first semester).

How are cadets graded on their courses?

A computerized grading system enables instructors to keep a continuous evaluation of each cadet’s performance on quizzes, examinations, homework or classroom recitations. A progress grade report is published at mid-semester, and a final grade report is issued at the end of the semester. Most courses are graded by means of letter grades (A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-,D, F) with equivalent grade-point averages (4.0, 3.7, 3.3, 3.0, 2.7, 2.3, 2.0, 1.7, 1.0, 0). An incomplete (I) grade is given to a cadet who does not complete the academic requirements because of incapacity, emergency or failure to finish an essential assignment. Some courses are graded pass/fail and have no effect on grade point averages.

When do cadets study?

The Academy’s courses are structured to require two hours of homework/study time for every hour in class. Cadets must study during free periods during the day, during academic call to quarters each evening, and on weekends in order to succeed. Small class sizes encourage strong 1 on 1 learning relationships with instructors. You also have the opportunity to get additional instruction directly from your instructor during office hours. Cadets may study in their rooms, study rooms within the dormitories, the library, and in vacant rooms in the academic building, Fairchild Hall.

Where can cadets of all performance levels go to receive additional assistance?

Academics at the Academy are hard work. Many cadets who have not yet developed a strong work ethic or efficient time management skills will struggle academically. Strategies for Academic Success courses, the Quantitative Reasoning/Evening Tutoring Center, the Writing Center, the Reading Enhancement Program, and academic advising programs are all available to guide cadets towards academic excellence. Cadets who earn an F or sub 2.0 semester, core, or cumulative GPA will be placed on academic probation. Probationary cadets are reviewed at the end of each semester and may be disenrolled. Probationary cadets are closely supervised and attend required counseling focused on improving work ethic, planning, scheduling, and learning skills.

When is a cadet considered academically deficient?

A cadet is considered deficient in academics if one or more F or I grades is received on a grade report or if the cumulative, core or most recent semester GPA falls below 2.0. A first-class cadet is also deficient if the major GPA falls below 2.0. At mid-semester, most deficient cadets will be placed on academic probation and will be reviewed by an Academic Review Committee (ARC) to determine their potential to succeed academically. In addition, cadets on probation will be assigned certain weekend study periods. At the end of the semester, if seriously deficient, the cadet’s record will be reviewed. The board may recommend either dismissal of the cadet or continuation on academic probation with appropriate remedial actions. The board can also direct participation in summer academics at the Academy.

What type of faculty does the academy have?

The Academy has a military and civilian faculty. The military faculty is composed primarily of Air Force officers with a few officers from the other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and from the military forces of allied nations who serve in a liaison capacity. The civilian faculty is composed of both government employees and visiting faculty. The civilian government employees are on renewable term appointments and hold all academic ranks as well as several administrative positions. The civilian visiting faculty members come to the Academy from academic institutions, government agencies and business corporations and are assigned to academic departments for one or two years. Like other institutions of higher learning, the faculty is organized by academic divisions and department. The Dean of the Faculty and all Permanent Professor positions have been established by law.

What type of instruction does the faculty provide?

The average class is small, 15-20 students, which allows the instructor to establish a rapport with each cadet and to recognize each student’s strengths and weaknesses. You will not get lost at the Academy. The faculty uses the seminar approach to instruction, when possible, keeping lectures to a minimum. Faculty are encouraged to be interactive and learning-focused. Cadets are expected to prepare for their lessons and participate in classroom activities.

Are cadets graded on their military performance?

Yes. All Academy personnel who instruct, supervise or coach cadets submit a military performance appraisal on the cadets. These inputs are used to create the Military Performance Average (MPA) similar to the academic GPA. Cadets who fall below a 2.0 MPA will meet a Military Review Committee (MRC), similar to an Academic Review Committee (ARC), which reviews academic deficiencies. The MRC may place a cadet on aptitude probation, initiate corrective action or make recommendations to the commandant or the Academy board.

What military courses are required?

Several military courses are required during the academic year. The Commissioning Education (CE) program is offered twice weekly on varying military lessons required by all commissioning sources. These lessons are automatically included in the schedule during the week and do not require special selection by you. There are end-of-semester tests on CE that you are required to pass and are included in your MPA.

Do cadets receive special recognition for outstanding performance?

Cadets who achieve at least a 3.0 GPA, MPA or PEA are allowed to wear merit badges on their uniform. Cadets who are recognized by the Dean of the Faculty for outstanding academic performance wear a small silver star on their uniform. Cadets who are recognized for achievement in military performance by the Commandant of Cadets wear a silver wreath. Cadets who are recognized for excellence in physical education by the Director of Athletics wear a silver lightning bolt. Those cadets on all three lists are recognized by the Superintendent and wear the star enclosed in the wreath between two small lightning bolts.

What library facilities are available?

The Academy Library, with a collection of over 1.5 million volumes, supports the academic, research and recreational needs of all cadets and faculty members and has accumulated one of the most outstanding aeronautical collections in the nation. Other useful features of the library are the current periodical and newspaper collections, the microform collections, and access to numerous online databases and other electronic resources. With a seating capacity for 1,300 readers, the library has open book stacks to afford complete access to materials.

How accessible are the instructors, and are graduate students used in the classroom?

From 2006-2012 the Princeton Review has ranked the Academy in the top 2% for “Most Accessible Professors.” The instructors at the Academy maintain office hours Monday through Friday from 7:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Unless teaching or in a meeting, instructors are available for extra instruction. Additionally, most teachers will provide a contact number for after-hours questions. Some of the technical core courses (such as chemistry and physics) will have extra instruction rooms where cadets can receive help from an instructor during any class period. Our instructors are committed to the education of cadets and do their best to not only teach the course material but also to help our cadets grow as leaders. Many instructors will talk about dilemmas they faced during previous assignments, the pros and cons of their Air Force jobs, and they are always willing to discuss things going on within the cadet wing to help cadets see the “big picture.” Our instructors realize they play a vital role in the shaping of our cadets and take their jobs seriously. As a result, the Academy does not use graduate students or teaching assistants. Our military instructors have Master’s Degrees or PhDs in related fields of study, and almost all of our civilian instructors have PhDs.

Athletic

Do all cadets participate in the athletic program?

Yes. All cadets are required to participate in the athletic program, which includes physical education courses, physical fitness testing and competitive sports. Athletic participation contributes greatly to those attributes normally associated with the development of Air Force leadership potential. Participation helps you develop courage, initiative, team spirit and the will to win. Most cadets find that they enjoy sports as a release from academic schedules – and many become skilled beyond their expectations. Similar to a GPA in academics, cadets are required to maintain a cumulative 2.0 Physical Education Average (PEA) to graduate. The PEA is a composite score of a cadet’s physical education class grades, physical fitness test scores and aerobic fitness test scores.

What does the athletic program include?

During your first summer in Basic Cadet Training, you’ll undergo strenuous physical training to develop strength, endurance, agility and coordination. Conditioning exercises, an obstacle course and a confidence course are part of this training. During fall and spring semesters, you’ll take physical fitness and aerobic fitness tests, and physical education courses that are part of the curriculum. The physical education instruction includes six core courses, two core electives and two open electives, divided among academic, aquatic, combative, developmental, lifetime and team skills. All cadets also receive extensive instruction in competitive athletics either through varsity athletics, competitive clubs or intramural programs.

Can a cadet be disenrolled for poor athletic performance?

Yes. Similar to academic GPA, cadets are required to maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative Physical Education Average (PEA). When a cadet’s cumulative PEA falls below 2.0, he or she is deficient, placed on athletic probation, and enrolled into mandatory athletic reconditioning. This reconditioning meets for two hours a day, three afternoons a week. If a cadet carries a deficient cumulative PEA for two consecutive semesters, his or her athletic performance record is reviewed by the Physical Education Review Committee (PERC). The PERC may require additional corrective actions or recommend disenrollment. If recommended for disenrollment by the PERC, a cadet may appeal in person. The superintendent has final disenrollment authority.

Does the athletic program differ for men and women?

The physical education curriculum is identical for men and women with one exception. Women take Intro to Combatives their fourth-class year while men take Boxing. Intramural sports are all co-ed with the exception of Boxing which is male only, and Rugby and Flag Football for which there are separate men’s and women’s programs. Women have their own NCAA Division I intercollegiate teams in basketball, cross-country, diving, fencing, gymnastics, indoor and outdoor track, soccer, swimming, tennis and volleyball. Women are also members of the co-ed cheerleading and varsity rifle teams.

Why is the falcon the academy mascot?

The falcon possesses characteristics that mimic the U.S. Air Force – speed , graceful flight, courage, alertness and noble carriage. Several prairie falcons, which are native to Colorado, and one white gyrfalcon are housed at the Academy. Trained by cadet falconers, the prairie falcons perform demonstrations during half-time activities at football games. The Academy’s intercollegiate athletic teams are known as “The Falcons.”

What is the day of an intercollegiate athlete like at the academy?

Intercollegiate cadet athletes are expected to meet the same military, academic, athletic and character development requirements as every non-intercollegiate cadet. Their schedules are arranged to allow them to fulfill their required credit hours, including their physical education credits, military training time, intercollegiate practice, and finally their time for academic studies. A typical day for all cadets begins at 6:30 a.m. Since intercollegiate athletes typically practice all afternoon, their classes are scheduled throughout the morning. Classes run from 7:30 a.m. until 11:23 a.m. After lunch and military training time, intercollegiate athletes report to athletic facilities for team practice. Intercollegiate practice times are approximately from 3:00 p.m. until 6:40 p.m. A bus is available for an after-practice ride from the cadet field house to the evening meal at Mitchell Hall. After they have finished eating they will begin studying during the evening Academic Call to Quarters which begins at 8:00 p.m. for all cadets.

Are there opportunities for cadets to talk about cadet life with potential candidates?

Yes. The Grassroots Program, established in 1969, was designed for cadets to spread information about the Academy during their Thanksgiving vacation. On a voluntary basis, cadets give presentations to high schools in their hometowns, provide materials to newspapers, and arrange for interviews with TV and radio stations. This effort is still in progress and shows local high school students successful Academy cadets while they are still in the commissioning process.

Is it possible to be recruited by the academy and if so how does the scholarship process work?

Yes. It is possible to be recruited by the Air Force Academy for an intercollegiate sport. The scholarship that each student receives upon acceptance is not based upon academics, athletics or military performance. Our recruited athletes receive the same scholarship as every other cadet who is not recruited. By receiving a general scholarship, if you should ever become injured while playing a sport and can no longer participate, you will not lose your general Academy scholarship. In order to begin the recruited athlete process, please fill out the information form on our athletic Web site at www.goairforcefalcons.com.

Basic Cadet Training

What is the purpose of basic cadet training (bct)?

The six-week BCT program tests your mental and physical abilities and helps you make the transition from civilian to military life. You’ll develop alertness, physical endurance, emotional stability, self-reliance and individual initiative. You’ll be subjected to rigorous discipline, attention to detail and punctuality. This training lays the foundation to become leaders of character—which is why you’re here.

What type of training does bct include?

BCT consists of two phases, both administered by upper-class cadets with commissioned and noncommissioned officers serving as advisors. The program is supervised by the Commandant of Cadets, who is an Air Force Brigadier General. The first phase of BCT (1st BCT or “First Beast”) takes place in the cadet area and is devoted to military orientation programs. Emphasis is placed on learning basic military skills and responsibilities, improving physical conditioning, and adapting to teamwork through competitive sports. The second phase of BCT (2nd BCT or “Second Beast”) consists primarily of field training activities conducted at the Jacks Valley encampment site, five miles north of the cadet area. You’ll march to the campsite, erect a tent city, and live there for 18 days while in training. These activities expand your military orientation, teach you weapons skills, and develop your physical and mental confidence through challenging obstacles. This training demands the utmost in stamina, determination and resourcefulness. More specific information on BCT is contained in the brochure, “The Academy Experience,” which we provide to candidates selected for admission.

How can I feel assured that I am physically prepared for bct?

The cadet appointee kit includes specific instructions on physical preparation by the director of athletics. You should follow the instructions by establishing a daily aerobic workout of 30 minutes, without overtaxing or straining yourself. The Cadet Fourth-Class Council has also prepared the following advice: “Looking back on how we could have better prepared ourselves for entrance to the Academy, physical conditioning stands out first of all. The everyday strenuous conditioning activities can become discouraging and tiring if you’re not in shape. If you can accomplish the 30 minute daily workout, which includes running at least two miles and performing the other aerobic activities, you should be prepared for the physical demands that will be placed upon you. However, if you have not met all of the recommended standards before arrival, you will have the opportunity to increase your physical abilities in order to keep pace with your classmates.” Blisters and tendonitis are problems experienced frequently by basic cadets. It is very important that your shoes and combat boots are properly fitted to provide comfort.

Do new cadets enter the bct program immediately upon entering the academy?

Yes. The first day is devoted to inprocessing which includes clothing issue, room and squadron assignments, completing forms, a medical review and a swearing-in ceremony. You will be asked to take the Oath of Allegiance to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to faithfully discharge your duties as a cadet. If your parents come with you, they may want to stay for the public swearing-in ceremony on the second day.

Will I be tested on my physical condition when I enter the academy?

Yes. During the fifth week of BCT, two tests will be given to measure your physical fitness and endurance. The physical fitness test areas are pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, standing long jump and a 600-yard run. The aerobics test is a 1.5 mile run.

Why is it necessary for basic cadets to have their hair cut short?

Basic Cadet Training is the transition from civilian to military life. Part of that transition is the uniformity of hair standards for the basic cadets. The rigors of BCT put great demands on personal hygiene. The time allocated for personal hygiene needs to be maximized and short hair helps. Women are not required to cut their hair as long as they are able to secure it in a manner that prevents it from falling in their face, obstructing vision, or touching their collar. It must present a neat, professional appearance at all times. The time requirement for a woman to get her hair within standards is two minutes. Following BCT, hair can be cut and styled in the cadet barber or beauty shops.

I’ve heard basic cadets referred to as “doolies.” What does this mean?

This is a term adopted by the Academy’s first cadet class, the Class of 1959, when they were in BCT. Doolie is a derivative of the Greek word “doulos,” which means “subject.” The colloquial term is used to refer to cadets in their freshman year by most graduates and outsiders, although the cadets themselves do not typically use it.

Do basic cadets have any free time?

Yes, but very little. Cadets rise as early as 5:15 a.m.release from quarters and go to bed no later than 11:00 p.m. (TAPS). However, sufficient time for relaxation is built into the daily schedule. Each evening there is time to shower and attend to personal hygiene. In addition, time is available, just before taps (the last bugle call before lights out), to study, write letters or rest. Adequate time is allowed for sleep, meals, breaks and religious worship.

If I have problems adjusting to cadet life, can I seek help?

If you experience adjustment problems, you’ll be encouraged to seek assistance from counseling sources. Professionally trained officers at Peak Performance Center (PPC) are always available as well as upper-class cadets designated for this purpose in each squadron. The Academy Chaplain’s office is another great resource and also has many programs available to cadets.

What happens after basic cadet training is completed?

The Acceptance Parade, with the entire cadet wing participating, marks the completion of BCT. You receive your cadet shoulder boards and become a member of the cadet wing. You can truthfully say to yourself “Well done! The challenges stimulated me to achieve a goal and perform beyond my own expectations!” Next, you enter the fourth-class academic year, which extends through May, during which you will take a rigorous schedule of classes and live under the Officer Development System.

Honor Code

Does the cadet honor code apply to all cadets in the wing?

Yes. Cadets are instructed during BCT that they must agree to live by the Honor Code if they want to enter the cadet wing. The Honor Code, which defines a minimum standard for the cadet wing, serves as a basis upon which you can build a personal code of ethical behavior. The Honor Code states: “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” The Honor Code was adopted as an institutional standard by the Academy’s first cadet class in 1956, and since its acceptance, the cadet wing has exercised guardianship over it. The Academy has established a Cadet Honor Committee to help maintain high ethical standards within the wing and extend the ideals of the Honor Code.

What is meant by the term “toleration”?

The Honor Code clearly states that cadets will not tolerate a violation of the code by another cadet. Experience with the code has proven that this is the strong point in maintaining its effectiveness. The Academy’s major honor problems have grown out of minor ones. Isolated individual honor violations were tolerated by other cadets, and this encouraged the spread of more honor violations within the cadet wing. The necessity for intolerance of such violations becomes even clearer when one considers the purpose of our training – to produce officers who will responsibly serve their country rather than their personal interests. The non-toleration clause represents the spirit within the cadet wing to hold its standards high and to protect them. A cadet who suspects or knows of an Honor Code violation is first encouraged to speak with the suspected cadet. However, if the cadet has difficulty in coping with the situation, the person is encouraged to talk with a cadet honor representative.

How does the honor code operate?

The administration of the Honor Code is accomplished by a joint effort between cadets and Academy officers. Each possible Honor Code violation is thoroughly investigated on the premise that the accused cadet is honorable until a sufficient amount of reasonable evidence shows otherwise. The primary sanction for code violations is disenrollment from the Academy. Some cadets, however, are retained on probationary status. The main concern in the administration of the code is that fairness and equity be maintained while teaching the importance of personal responsibility and ensuring the rights of the cadets are fully protected during this process. Cadets are taught the specifics of the administration of the Honor Code during BCT and throughout their Academy experience.

Airmanship

Do cadets earn air force flying ratings?

Cadets do not earn Air Force “pilot wings” at the Academy, but they can earn Air Force parachute wings. Cadets who complete airmanship courses during their four years can gain significant flight experience, which serves as excellent preparation for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) after graduation. A very large part of the Commandant of Cadets’ military education program involves flying. Airmanship courses are consistently rated as the some of the best and most rewarding courses cadets take at the Academy. As early as BCT, cadets are exposed to air power via multiple flyovers of America’s topline aircraft. After BCT, airmanship training continues with instruction in the concepts of flight, navigation and operations.

What flying and aviation programs are available?

During the fourth-class year, cadets have an opportunity to participate in a voluntary aviation program called “Project Fledgling” that includes a classroom introduction to basic aviation principles, as well as “flying time” in T-6 simulators. Elective aviation courses provide firsthand flight experience while furthering their knowledge and understanding of the flight environment. These courses teach flight concepts, basic and advanced aviation, and instrument principles and procedures. The aviation courses offered are varied, ranging from a course on Air Force combat operations to courses designed to prepare graduates to excel at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training(SUPT). Approximately 50 percent of cadets are enrolled in a soaring course during their third-class year, where they pilot a sailplane and have the opportunity to potentially solo and earn their cadet wings. Cadets also have the opportunity to take an elective course in freefall parachuting, complete five freefall parachute jumps, and receive Air Force parachute wings. Some cadets will have the opportunity to enroll in our newest airmanship program, unmanned aerial systems-remotely piloted aircraft (UAS-RPA), where they learn about the fastest growing high-tech world of unmanned combat aviation in today’s Air Force. Additionally, selected cadets are offered an opportunity to serve as cadet aviation instructors, where they gain invaluable leadership experience both in the air and on the ground. As a culminating aviation experience, cadets in their second- or first-class year can take an elective introducing them to an operational USAF squadron and allow them to fly and possibly solo a propeller-driven aircraft. Altogether, aviation and airmanship courses provide a wealth of leadership opportunities familiarizing cadets with important activities in the Air Force and potentially introducing them to a satisfying career in aviation.

Soaring Program

Cadets during their third-class year have the opportunity to fly and solo a glider in the soaring program. Although Air Force pilots supervise the operations, it is a cadet run program with cadet instructor pilots accomplishing the majority of the flight and ground instruction. Students completing the basic soaring course may apply for enrollment in a semester-long upgrade course to become one of the “Youngest Instructor Pilots in the Air Force” in a glider. In this and other advanced courses, cadets experience many aspects of leadership while instructing soaring.

Parachuting

Cadet volunteers who meet stringent physical requirements may enroll in the parachute program. Successfully completing five freefall jumps may earn them the Air Force parachute wings. Selected cadets from the basic parachuting course may enroll in the parachute instructor course. Graduates of this course instruct others in the basic parachuting course and participate in advanced parachuting activities, including demonstrations and competitions with the Air Force Parachute Team, “The Wings of Blue”.

Powered Flight Program (PFP)

The Powered Flight Program is a capstone course that serves as a culmination of a cadet’s aviation education. Lessons in Air Force heritage and principles of engineering are applied in real-life scenarios during nine flights in a single-engine propeller driven aircraft. Air Force Instructor Pilots introduce cadets to concepts of powered flight—based on proficiency approximately 50 percent of these students will solo. The training includes ground and flight instruction using the T-53 (Cirrus SR-20) aircraft.

Unmanned Aerial Systems-Remotely Piloted Aircraft (UAS-RPA) Program

Cadet volunteers have the opportunity to participate in our newest airmanship program – the UAS-RPA program. Here, cadets get the exciting opportunity to participate in and experience the fastest growing mission in the Air Force. As with the soaring program, Air Force aviators supervise the program, but cadets run it. Cadet instructor pilots provide most ground and flight instruction. Students in the basic course may apply for enrollment in an advanced course that trains cadets to become UAS-RPA flight instructors. Select cadets may also participate in our unmanned systems demonstration and collegiate competition team.

Are extracurricular flying courses available?

Yes. Cadets may participate in flying through extracurricular programs such as soaring, parachuting and the Cadet Aviation Club. Soaring and parachute training is held on a year-round basis and is available to every cadet. The basic soaring course includes dual and solo instruction involving 10-14 flights. Upper-class cadets can compete for Soaring Instructor Pilot Training. Once qualified, the cadet instructors, who are supervised by rated Air Force officers, instruct other cadets. Some selected upper-class cadets who have completed advanced flying programs may earn a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificate through the rating of flight instructor. All soaring is conducted in Academy sailplanes. Parachute training is also available to selected cadets who volunteer and meet stringent physical requirements. The basic parachuting course involves five freefall jumps. Some selected cadets from the basic course will take advanced courses to become parachute instructors for other cadets. These instructors, known as jumpmasters, may become members of the “Wings of Blue” parachute team and may qualify for a U.S. Parachute Association rating. The Cadet Aviation Club is open to all cadets who are interested in pursuing flying as an extracurricular activity. As members of the club, cadets can earn FAA ratings from private pilot through instructor pilot. Also, selected cadets may become members of the Cadet Competition Flying Team.

Intercollegiate Competition

Cadets who demonstrate high levels of ability in airmanship programs can compete at the intercollegiate level. Select cadet soaring instructors compete in regional and national cross-country soaring and aerobatic events as members of the Sailplane Racing Team and the Aerobatic Glider Team. Cadet members of the Wings of Blue parachuting team compete in events throughout the country, culminating at the College National Parachuting Championships. Cadets on the Academy Flying Team also compete in regional and national level events. All of the teams are nationally recognized and perennially earn top honors. These teams also conduct demonstrations at public events at the Academy and throughout the nation.

Recreation

Will I be able to travel into town or abroad?

The Academy refers to permission for cadets to leave the Academy during off-duty periods as passes and authorizations. Your individual passes on Friday evening and Saturday will depend on your class and on your overall squadron performance. As a basic cadet, you’ll not be permitted to have visitors unless there’s a scheduled cadet function. When you become a fourth-class cadet, you’ll be allowed to use Arnold Hall, the cadet social center and to entertain your guests there on weekends after Parents’ Weekend. You’ll also be permitted to dine out in the homes of sponsor families on certain occasions and to attend home athletic events and other scheduled activities of the cadet wing. In recognition of added maturity and responsibility, authorizations and liberties are gradually increased by class. First-class cadets can go out every day if their performance is up to standards.

What leave periods do cadets have?

Cadets have a leave period over Thanksgiving, two-and-a-half weeks for winter break, and one week in the spring semester. During the summer, cadets take required leadership programs, which are held at the Academy or other installations. Either before or after a leadership program, most cadets in the upper three classes have approximately three weeks of leave. There are exceptions for cadets who volunteer or who are required to attend summer school; in these cases leave periods must be forfeited.

Are cadets permitted to wear civilian clothes away from the academy?

Fourth-class cadets may wear civilian clothes during leave periods, such as Thanksgiving and winter break, and when authorized by the Commandant of Cadets. This authorization usually occurs during the spring semester. Cadets who are representing the Academy on special programs, such as speaking appearances in their hometowns, must wear their uniforms.

Where do cadets go on weekends?

Colorado Springs is the nearest city, approximately eight miles south and has a population of more than 370,000. Denver, 55 miles to the north, has over two million. Both cities are located in the heart of the Rocky Mountain tourist area, known as “Ski Country, USA.” Because of their tourist attractions, these cities have many advantages and recreational facilities including a variety of restaurants, museums, theaters, nightclubs, shopping centers, athletic facilities and sporting events. Colorado Springs is an important training site for athletes who practice yearly for the Olympics. Denver is the primary access city leading to many mountain resorts, ski areas and scenic drives. The cities of Boulder and Fort Collins also offer many cadets the opportunity to “get away from it all.” Many cadets go to ski resorts for a day or weekend of skiing, and the Cadet Ski Club provides free transportation and inexpensive ski equipment for these outings. River rafting, mountain climbing and horseback riding are some of the other popular recreational activities available in the area. After BCT, Air Force families participating in the sponsor program host one or more cadets for periods of relaxation—an opportunity to enjoy a home-cooked meal, sleep and telephone your parents.

What type of recreation is available to cadets?

The Academy provides opportunities for you to enjoy a change of pace through participation in cadet activities and social functions. This comes as a welcome break from the military activities, academic requirements and athletic participation of the busy school week. You’ll find the Arnold Hall social center a relaxing place to enjoy dancing, games, movies, entertainers and television, and the snack bar in the Richter Lounge is also popular with cadets. The cadet wing social committees arrange dances, both formal and informal, throughout the year.

Are cadets expected to attend certain social functions?

Yes. As a cadet you will be expected to dress in formal uniforms and to attend scheduled dinners with your squadron or class in Mitchell Hall. Attendance at these functions will give you experience in the kind of social situations that may be expected of you as an Air Force officer. You’ll receive a decorum handbook, which contains information on proper etiquette for various social occasions. Decorum is taught in cadet squadron military training classes.

When and where are cadets permitted to practice their faith of choice?

Attendance at Cadet Chapel services is optional. Many cadets attend Sunday or Sabbath services in the Cadet Chapel. The Chapel has separate areas for Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Earth-centered, and Muslim faith services. There is also an all-faiths meeting room for members of other religious faiths. Cadets are permitted to attend a place of worship of their choice in the local community, and many volunteer to teach Sunday-school classes. Cadets may participate in several other religious activities including choirs, study groups, daily worship and fellowship organizations. Please contact the Academy Chaplain’s office for the current worship schedules and opportunities (719) 333-2636.

Preparatory School

Do I have to have a short military haircut when I show up for basic military training?

No, however males need to be prepared for their hair to be cut on day 1 for military appearance standards which are as follows. Male cadet candidates’ hair must present a tapered appearance, not to exceed ¼ inch at the termination point. Cleanly shaven heads or military high-and-tights are authorized. No haircut will exceed 1 ¼ inches in bulk. Males must not use excessive grooming aids or attach ornaments to their hair. For female cadet candidates their hair must not hang below the bottom edge of the collar nor exceed 3 inches in bulk in any direction. Females are authorized to wear plain, conservative pins, combs, headbands, elastic bands and barrettes which similarly match their hair color.

Can I apply directly to the prep school?

No, those that apply directly to the Academy are considered for a Prep School appointment.

What are the completion requirements of the prep school?

To complete the Preparatory School successfully, each cadet candidate must have demonstrated an aptitude for commissioned service and leadership, been satisfactory in conduct and personal integrity, and have successfully met the physical, academic and military requirements.

If I complete the prep school will I automatically receive an appointment to the US Air Force Academy?

Successful completion of the Prep School usually, but not always, results in an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. The Prep School commander will provide a recommendation to the Academy Board which is the final authority concerning appointments to the Academy.

What are the living arrangements like?

You will live in dorms at the Prep School from arrival to graduation at no cost. This lodging is available to only you, not to friends and family. All dorms are co-ed; however females will reside on the first floor within each dorm.

Do students wear uniforms and work like the active duty military?

Students will wear Air Force uniforms and be subordinate to the cadet candidate rank system of the Prep School. In addition, students may be given Letters of Counseling, Admonishment or Reprimand, and/or an appropriate probation due to substandard performance. Any of these may result in extra duties and/or loss of privileges. Additionally, students are subject to discipline and punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for infractions of military laws. Students are also expected to maintain physical fitness and personal appearance standards (for example, students hair will be in regulation just like active duty).

Will I be able to wear civilian clothes?

You will not be authorized to wear civilian clothing for the first few months at the Prep School. Later in the school year you will be authorized to wear civilian clothes on the weekends.

How physically demanding is basic military training (BMT)?

BMT requires physical exercise and training to get cadet candidates into the shape they need to be as a military member. This includes calisthenics and long runs. You should arrive in the best shape possible and not wait until you get here to get in shape. You will be at 7,000 feet above sea level and your life will be easier throughout your BMT experience if you are already in shape.

What is there to do on the weekends?

It depends on how well you are doing academically. As long as you stay on top of your academics and in good physical shape, you can enjoy the wonderful surroundings of Colorado. Denver is only a short one-hour drive, and downtown Colorado Springs is just outside the south gate. Both are cities filled with culture, restaurants and attractions. You can also enjoy Colorado’s world class ski resorts, which are only a couple hours distance. Many “preppies” also enjoy the great hiking and biking on the Academy grounds and elsewhere in Colorado.

Will I be able to maintain a motor vehicle while at the prep school?

Students may not own, maintain or possess an automobile, motorcycles, motorbike, or motor scooter at the Prep School or within a 150-mile radius of the Academy grounds in accordance with the Preparatory School Instruction 36-1.

If I decided the military is not for me am I allowed to quit on my own free will?

Yes. If you were a civilian when you entered the Prep School, you will be discharged for the Air Force with no further obligation. If you were on active duty when you were assigned to the Prep School, you will be removed from “Cadet Candidate” status and returned to your current Air Force rank. The Prep School will work with Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) to coordinate your next Permanent Change of Station (PCS) in your career field as soon as possible.

Can my friends and family come visit me?

Yes, absolutely. The first chance for this to happen will be on Parents’ Weekend which corresponds to Labor Day weekend every year. However, non prep school personnel cannot stay in or enter the dormitories.

When will I be allowed to go home or take leave during the school year?

You will have approximately five days off for Thanksgiving, two weeks for winter break and a week for spring break. You will be authorized to fly to destinations outside a 150 mile radius from the Academy.

Will I be able to attend religious services weekly?

Yes, you will coordinate a religious pass through your commander or other permanent party members of your squadron.

Parents

How can parents help their son or daughter to excel in the cadet wing?

Parents can encourage cadets to put forth their best efforts in all areas and, particularly, to abide by the cadet wing regulations, take responsibility for their actions, and be accountable to themselves and their supervisors. Parental support has been found to be a strong motivator toward good performance. Conversely, parents who condone violations will undermine the Academy’s efforts and leave their son or daughter open to punishment and possible disenrollment. For example, statistics show that most cadets found guilty of violating the regulation that only first- and second-class cadets may own, maintain and operate a personal motor vehicle were given a car, or received some financial assistance toward one, from their parents.

Are parents permitted to contact cadets by phone during bct?

No. Your parents should refrain from calling you directly during the difficult BCT adjustment period. You’ll be instructed to write home soon after BCT starts and give your parents the name and home and duty phone numbers of your Air Officer Commanding (AOC) who directly supervises your squadron. The first opportunity you’ll have to phone home will be during Doolie Day Out, which is approximately halfway through BCT. Cadets and parents are strongly encouraged to communicate through cards and letters. If an AOC cannot be directly reached in the event of an emergency, call the command post at 719-333-2910/2911.

What events are scheduled for parents’ weekend?

During Parents’ Weekend (which begins the Friday before Labor Day weekend), cadet parents and guests may attend an information fair and a parade, as well as briefings led by the superintendent to update the parents on the Academy’s current status. Parents and guests are invited to attend classes with their cadets throughout the day, and fourth-class cadet parents may join their cadets for lunch at Mitchell Hall. There are also airmanship, dormitory, athletic and academic area open houses scheduled during the weekend. Guests are welcome to join their cadets at buffet meals in Mitchell Hall throughout the weekend; tickets may be purchased at the door. Typically there is a home football game scheduled on Saturday afternoon that all cadets must attend. Tickets are available for purchase for friends and family of the cadets. Cadets are usually released to spend time with their parents off base following the game and must report back to the base on Monday evening. For more information about Parents’ Weekend, you may visit: www.usafa.edu/superintendent/parentsweekend/?catname=Parents.

Do parents receive transcripts of cadet grades?

Most parents are curious about their cadet’s grades and academic progress at the end of each semester. The policy regarding the release of student grades to parents is dictated by the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This law specifies that educational records of the students may not be released without (1) the written consent of the student specifying those educational records to be released and to whom, or (2) judicial order or subpoena of the student’s educational records. In the latter situation, the student must be notified of the institution’s compliance with the order or subpoena. Based upon this policy, the United States Air Force Academy provides grade reports directly to the cadet. We understand and appreciate the concern and interest of parents; however, parents must receive this information directly from the cadet.

As a parent is there a support group that I can join locally?

There are presently 93 parents’ clubs in the United States, with every state having representation. These clubs are, basically, support groups. The parents support each other, and they support their cadets and the Academy.

As a parent, what types of packages am I allowed to send my cadet and when can packages be received?

Basic cadets are not allowed to receive care packages during BCT. However, upon completion of training they are allowed to receive care packages from their parents and family at any time. The cadet area houses a fully functioning U.S. Post Office that allows your student to receive mail and packages in a timely manner. Generally, newly accepted cadets are eager to receive care packages that include their favorite snacks, food, pictures of family and friends, cards and other letters of encouragement.

Post Graduation

Will I have an opportunity to become a pilot or combat systems officer?

Yes. While at the Academy cadets obtain a solid background in all phases of aviation. All cadets who meet the physical and medical qualifications are considered for flying training and may be selected to fill available openings. Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (conducted at several U.S. bases) prepares qualified graduates for flying careers in airlift, bomber, fighter, multirole, special ops or transport aircraft.

Do graduates have a chance to obtain an advanced degree?

Graduates can receive scholarships to attend military or civilian graduate schools immediately after graduation. Many of the graduates are funded for post-graduate education programs if they meet two important criteria: they must perform well as officers, and the Air Force must need people from the degree program they wish to pursue. These graduates are generally eligible for attendance after three years on active duty. In addition, many Academy graduates attend one or more of the armed forces Developmental Education courses during their careers. For more information on post-graduate education and scholarships, you may visit: www.usafa.edu/df/dfr/grad_studies/grad_studies.cfm.

Can graduates enter medical school?

The Academy may send up to three percent of each graduating class directly to medical school upon graduation. Additionally, up to one-half of one percent of each graduating class may be selected to attend dental school or nursing school. This, in effect, brings the total percentage that may be selected to attend health professions post-graduate education to four percent. These graduates complete their training through the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Programs or the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. These same two programs are available to all active-duty officers. Selection for these programs is on a competitive basis, and the number of students will be based on the needs of the Air Force.

Can graduates enter law school?

Beginning in 2012, the Academy has the authority to select one graduate a year to send to law school immediately following graduation in an excess leave status. Eligible candidates include legal studies majors or mock trial team members with competitive grade point averages. While in law school, participants will be in an unpaid excess leave status and will not receive government funding. Upon successful completion of law school and passage of a state bar, that Academy graduate will become a member of the Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.

What are some of the benefits of an air force career?

The pay and allowances of a new officer compare favorably with starting salaries in business, industry and the professions. An officer advances in rank according to the needs of the Air Force and professional performance. The Air Force puts a high premium on leaders with character, vision, dedication and ability. It offers a stimulating challenge and an interesting future in a wide spectrum of fields for Academy graduates to employ their leadership talents. There are opportunities for advanced education. All career officers are eligible to apply for further education through AFIT at civilian colleges and universities. Selected officers attend on a full-time basis, receive pay and allowances, have their tuition and fixed fees paid, and receive some reimbursement for books and thesis expenses. During each move, reimbursement for certain transportation costs, an extra allowance for incidental expenses of moving, and free shipment of household goods are provided. Additional benefits are: medical and hospital expenses, commissary and base-exchange privileges, officers’ club privileges, VA and FHA mortgage loan insurance, group life insurance, and 30 days of vacation with pay each year. The current law enables an officer to retire after completing 20 years of active service.

Following graduation what is the salary of a second lieutenant?

As of January 1, 2013 the base pay per month for a second lieutenant is $2,876.40. Your salary is based on not only your rank, but also your time in the Air Force. In addition to base pay, military members also receive two allowances: Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS). Military members who are authorized to reside off base at government expense are entitled to receive a monthly tax-free housing allowance, known as BAH. The amount of the allowance is based on the member’s rank, duty location, and whether or not they have family members residing with them. BAS is simply a monthly monetary food allowance for members of the military. Members who attend flight training will also receive flight pay. For more information, please visit: http://www.airforce.com.

I don’t understand the rank structure at the academy or in the air force. What are the different ranks?

The military is organized into an officer corps and an enlisted corps. Commissioned officers outrank all enlisted personnel. Enlisted personnel are required to salute all commissioned officers, and commissioned officers are required to salute superior commissioned officers. Responsibility and accountability increase commensurate with rank. The Air Force rank insignia system is broken down into two major categories: officer ranks and enlisted ranks. The enlisted ranks are further divided into Airmen and NCO (noncommissioned officer) ranks. There are four Airman ranks and five NCO ranks. Additionally, there is one special NCO rank (chief master sergeant of the air force). Officers progress from second lieutenant to first lieutenant, then captain, major, lieutenant colonel, colonel and finally, four general officer ranks. As a commissioned officer in the Air Force, immediately upon graduation, you will enter the Air Force as an O-1, which is a second lieutenant. You will progress upward from one rank to another (e.g. O-2 to O-3 to O-4, etc.). Each rank has a pay grade that begins with a letter, “O” for officers and “E” for enlisted. For more information, please visit http://usmilitary.about.com.