The nomination process is not political. Applicants do not have to know their congressman to be nominated. The Academy applicant typically provides written essays and letters of recommendation. The applicant then submits to a formal interview. Candidates may have previous college experience, but they may not transfer, meaning that regardless of previous college credit, they enter the academy as a fourth class cadet and undergo the entire four-year program.
Those who do not must repay the AOG. West Point is a medium-sized, highly residential baccalaureate college, with a full-time, four-year undergraduate program that emphasizes instruction in the arts, sciences, and professions with no graduate program. The academy's teaching style forms part of the Thayer method, which was implemented by Sylvanus Thayer during his tour as Superintendent. The academic program consists of a structured core of thirty-one courses balanced between the arts and sciences.
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Although cadets choose their majors in the spring of their freshmen year, all cadets take the same course of instruction until the beginning of their sophomore year. Regardless of major, all cadets graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree. As all cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants upon graduation, military and leadership education is nested with academic instruction.
Military training and discipline fall under the purview of the Office of the Commandant. Entering freshmen, or fourth class cadets, are referred to as New Cadets, and enter the academy on Reception Day or R-day,  which marks the start of cadet basic training CBT , known colloquially as Beast Barracks, or simply Beast.
Their second summer, cadets undergo cadet field training CFT at nearby Camp Buckner, where they train in more advanced field craft and military skills. Rising Firstie senior cadets also spend one-month training at Camp Buckner, where they train for modern tactical situations that they will soon face as new platoon leaders. Cadets also have the opportunity during their second, third and fourth summers to serve in active army units and military schools around the world. The role of the TAC is to mentor, train, and teach the cadets proper standards of good order and discipline and be a good role model.
The Department of Military Instruction DMI is responsible for all military arts and sciences education as well as planning and executing the cadet summer training. These "branch reps" serve as proponents for their respective branches and liaise with cadets as they prepare for branch selection and graduation.
The Department of Physical Education DPE administers the physical program, which includes both physical education classes, physical fitness testing, and competitive athletics.
All cadets take a prescribed series of physical fitness courses such as military movement applied gymnastics , boxing, survival swimming, and beginning in , advanced combatives. Cadets can also take elective physical activity classes such as scuba , rock climbing, and aerobic fitness.
As with all soldiers in the Army, cadets also must pass the Army Physical Fitness Test twice per year. Since Douglas MacArthur 's tenure as superintendent, every cadet has been required to participate in either an intercollegiate sport , a club sport , or an intramural referred to as "company athletics" sport each semester.
Moral and ethical development occurs throughout the entirety of the cadet experience by living under the honor code and through formal leadership programs available at the academy. These include instruction in the values of the military profession through Professional Military Ethics Education PME 2 , voluntary religious programs, interaction with staff and faculty role models, and an extensive guest-speaker program.
The foundation of the ethical code at West Point is found in the academy's motto, "Duty, Honor, Country. West Point's Cadet Honor Code reads simply that: If they are found guilty by a jury of their peers, they face severe consequences ranging from being "turned back" repeating an academic year to separation from the academy.
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Cadets are not referred to as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors. Instead they are officially called fourth class, third class, second class, and first class cadets. Colloquially, freshmen are plebes , sophomores are yearlings or yuks , juniors are cows , and seniors are firsties. Plebeians were the lower class of ancient Roman society, while yearling is a euphemism for a year-old animal. The origin of cow is less known. There are a number of theories for the origin of the term cow ; however the most prevalent and probably accurate one is that cadets in years past had no leave until the end of their yearling year, when they were granted a summer-long furlough.
Their return as second classmen was heralded as "the cows coming home. The Corps of Cadets is officially organized into a brigade. The senior ranking cadet, the Brigade Commander, is known traditionally as the First Captain. The brigade is organized into four regiments. Within each regiment there are three battalions, each consisting of three companies. For example, there are four "A" companies: A1, A2, A3, and A4.
First class cadets hold the leadership positions within the brigade from the First Captain down to platoon leaders within the companies. Leadership responsibility decreases with the lower classes, with second class cadets holding the rank of cadet sergeant, third class cadets holding the rank of cadet corporal, and fourth class cadets as cadet privates. All cadets reside on campus for their entire four years in one of the seven barracks buildings.
Most cadets are housed with one roommate, but some rooms are designed for three cadets. Cadets are grouped into companies identified by alpha-numeric codes.
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All companies live together in the same barracks area. This process is known as scrambling, and the method of scrambling has changed several times in recent years. Each class of cadets elects representatives to serve as class president and fill several administrative positions. Each class crest is required to contain the initials USMA and their class motto.
Class mottos typically have verbiage that rhymes or is phonetically similar with their class year. Cadets today live and work within the framework of the Cadet Leader Development System CLDS , which specifies the roles that a cadet plays throughout their four years at the academy. Freshmen have no leadership responsibilities, but have a host of duties to perform as they learn how to follow orders and operate in an environment of rigid rank structure, while seniors have significant leadership responsibilities and significantly more privileges that correspond to their rank.
Cadets have a host of extracurricular activities available, most run by the office of the Directorate of Cadet Activities DCA. Plebe knowledge is a lengthy collection of traditions, songs, poems, anecdotes, and facts about the academy, the army, the Old Corps , and the rivalry with Navy that all plebes must memorize during cadet basic training. Other knowledge is historical in nature, including information as found in Bugle Notes. Each cadet class celebrates at least one special "class weekend" per academic year.
First class cadets celebrate three different formal occasions. All of the "class weekends" involve a formal dinner and social dance, known in old cadet slang as a "hop," held at Eisenhower Hall. Since , Army's mascot has officially been a mule because the animal symbolizes strength and perseverance. Fourth class cadets verbally greet upper-class cadets and faculty with "Beat Navy," while the tunnel that runs under Washington Road is named the "Beat Navy" tunnel. Army also plays the U. Army football began in , when Navy challenged the cadets to a game of the relatively new sport.
Navy defeated Army at West Point that year, but Army avenged the loss in Annapolis the following year. The football season marked Navy's fourteenth consecutive victory over Army, the longest streak in the series since inception. On December 10, Army won for the first time in 14 years, beating Navy, 21— The football team plays its home games at Michie Stadium , where the playing field is named after Earl Blaik. Cadets' attendance is mandatory at football games and the Corps stands for the duration of the game. At all home games, one of the four regiments marches onto the field in formation before the team takes the field and leads the crowd in traditional Army cheers.
Between the and seasons, Army's football program was a member of Conference USA , but has since reverted to its former independent status. Though football may receive a lot of media attention due to its annual rivalry game, West Point has a long history of athletics in other NCAA sports. The men's lacrosse team has won eight national championships and appeared in the NCAA tournament sixteen times. In its early years, lacrosse was used by football players, like the "Lonesome End" Bill Carpenter , to stay in shape during the off-season.
It was the first March Madness tournament appearance for any Army basketball team. The head coach of that team, Maggie Dixon , died soon after the season at only 28 years of age. Bob Knight , formerly the winningest men's basketball coach in NCAA history, began his head coaching career at Army in the late s  before moving on to Indiana and Texas Tech. One of Knight's players at Army was Mike Krzyzewski , who later was head coach at Army before moving on to Duke , where he has won five national championships.
Due to West Point's age and its unique mission of producing Army officers, it has many time-honored traditions. The list below are some of the traditions unique to or started by the academy. The Cullum number is a reference and identification number assigned to each graduate. It was created by brevet Major General George W. Cullum USMA Class of who, in , began the monumental work of chronicling the biographies of every graduate. He assigned number one to the first West Point graduate, Joseph Gardner Swift , and then numbered all successive graduates in sequence.
From through the Class of , graduates were listed by general order of Merit. Beginning with the Class of , graduates were listed alphabetically, and then by date of graduation. Seven graduates have an "A" suffix after their Cullum Number. For various reasons these graduates were omitted from the original class roster, and a suffix letter was added to avoid renumbering the entire class and subsequent classes.
West Point began the collegiate tradition of the class ring, beginning with the class of Before , cadets could design much of the ring individually, but now only the center stone can be individualized. The academy library has a large collection of cadet rings on display. Immediately after senior cadets return to the barracks after receiving their rings, fourth class cadets take the opportunity to surround senior cadets from their company and ask to touch their rings. After reciting a poem known to cadets as the Ring Poop , the senior usually grants the freshmen permission to touch the ring.
Donations of class rings are melted and merged. A portion of the original gold is infused with gold from preceding melts to become part of the rings for each 'Firstie' class. West Point is home to the Sylvanus Thayer Award. Given annually by the academy since , the award honors an outstanding citizen whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify the academy's motto, "Duty, Honor, Country.
The award has been awarded to many notable American citizens, to include George H. Sedgwick's bronze statue has spurs with rowels that freely rotate. Legend states that if a cadet is in danger of failing a class, they are to don their full-dress parade uniform the night before the final exam. The cadet visits the statue and spins the rowels at the stroke of midnight. Then the cadet runs back to the barracks as fast as he or she can. According to legend, if Sedgwick's ghost catches them, they will fail the exam.
Otherwise the cadet will pass the exam and the course. The game is played with full pads and helmets using eight-man football rules. Legend states that Army will beat Navy if the goats win, and the opposite if the engineers win. From the earliest days of the academy, one form of punishment for cadets who commit regulatory infractions has been a process officially known as punishment tours.
Cadets are "awarded" punishment tours based upon the severity of the infraction. Being late to class or having an unkempt room may result in as little as 5 hours while more severe misconduct infractions may result in upwards of 60 to 80 hours. In its most traditional form, punishment tours are "walked off" by wearing the dress gray uniform under arms and walking back and forth in a designated area of the cadet barracks courtyard, known as "Central Area. Certain cadets whose academics are deficient may also conduct "sitting tours," where they have to "sit hours" in a designated academic room in a controlled study environment, for which they receive half credit towards their reduction of tours.
Cadets' uniforms are inspected before their tours begin each day. A small number of cadets may be relieved of their tours that day if their uniforms are exceptionally presentable. Another tradition associated with punishment tours is that any visiting head of state has the authority to grant "amnesty," releasing all cadets with outstanding hours from the remainder of their assigned tours. An unofficial motto of the academy's history department is "Much of the history we teach was made by people we taught.
Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower ; the president of the Confederate States of America , Jefferson Davis ; and three foreign heads of state: Grant , Robert E. Stuart and Oliver O. Eichelberger , James M. Patton , Joseph Stilwell , Maxwell D. West Point graduate Frank Medina organized and led the nationwide campaign that brought the Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment , also known as the Borinqueneers. Among American universities, the academy is fifth on the list of total winners for Rhodes Scholarships ,  seventh for Marshall Scholarships and fourth on the list of Hertz Fellowships.
On May 26, , the U. Postal Service released a cent stamp in its honor. As an active-duty U. The DHR is the higher headquarters for: Additionally, active duty Army support, such as recent field artillery training conducted at Camp Buckner in July , is sometimes provided by the 10th Mountain Division , based at Fort Drum , NY.
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National Register of Historic Places. History of the United States Military Academy. United States Military Academy grounds and facilities. West Point athletic facilities. Superintendent of the United States Military Academy. Army Black Knights football. Army Black Knights men's basketball. United States Military Academy class ring. Retrieved 25 December Retrieved 4 November Retrieved 11 May Retrieved 14 December Archived from the original on 21 May Congressional Documents and Debates, — ".
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