About the Academy

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There's a lot to learn about what makes the United States Air Force Academy unique. From general questions to specifics about an aspect of the Academy experience, you may find an answer here.

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USAFA Catalog 2013/2014

Cadet Life + Recreation FAQ

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. On most mornings there will be military training time from 6:30-6:55 a.m. where squadron meetings can occur or military training takes place. Breakfast is optional and served daily (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 and lunch. You’ll march to lunch with the cadet wing and have 28 minutes to eat. After marching to and eating lunch, cadets may participate in military training, Commander’s Calls, briefings or commissioning education from 12:30-1:23 p.m or go straight to afternoon classes. Afternoon classes begin at 12:30 p.m. and finish at 3:23 p.m. Cadets involved in intercollegiate athletics practice with their team from 3:00-6:40 p.m. All other cadets participate in intramural sports with their respective squadrons and Commandant-level approved unit level activities. An optional evening mealtime buffet is offered from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Personal development time is from 5:30-7:15 p.m. every class day except Monday where it is extended to 7:50 p.m.  Military training time is 7:15-7:50 p.m. where briefings, lectures, ancillary training, and military training takes place.  Academic call to quarters is from 7:50 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. Military training takes place on various Saturdays throughout the semester with non-training Saturdays being free time for most cadets. Sundays are almost always reserved for personal time.

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What is a cadet’s 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 are allowed to have in your room, and you will be expected to keep your room in cadet inspection order.

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How is a cadet assigned to a room and a 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 will be assigned a roommate during Basic Cadet Training (BCT). Squadron policies typically state that you must change roommates once throughout each academic year, however, it varies on a squadron-by-squadron basis. You will always room with a member of the same sex and usually the same class. 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.

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What items are cadets allowed to have in their rooms?

You will 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 will be permitted to have additional items when authorized by the Cadet Wing Commander. You will be issued a laptop while at the Academy. You will 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 your second-class year to have most electrical appliances, but a third-class cadet may have a coffee pot.

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What is the cadet dining facility like?

Also called Mitchell Hall, the Cadet Dining Facility is the largest of its kind in the United States Air Force. During the academic year, the entire cadet wing assembles to eat family-style breakfast and lunch meal 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.

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Do basic cadets get plenty to eat?

Yes, you will have the opportunity to eat three nutritious meals a day — and with all the physical activities required, you are encouraged to eat well and consume plenty of water.

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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.  Vegetarian tables at lunch are available upon request and the evening buffet also provides vegetarian fare.

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What types of recreation are 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 will 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 popular with cadets, too. Arnold Hall staff coordinates a variety of tailgates for Air Force athletic events and the Super Bowl, in addition to organizing summer events with food trucks and games.

Additionally, cadets can participate in any of more than 90 active clubs, ranging from fly fishing to falconry, to sports, drama and more. To find out more about cadet clubs and what’s offered, click here.

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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. Decorum is taught in cadet squadron military training classes and cadets are required to attend social decorum training multiple times over their cadet careers to practice customs and courtesies.

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Will I be able to travel into town?

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. Cadets are permitted to leave base but there are certain rules and regulations that dictate when, where, and how often.  The privilege to leave increases in quantity over the four years as a cadet progresses.  Cadets can visit with their assigned sponsor families; many go on to develop very close relationships with these families because they were a great source of support away from home. 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.

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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 a population of 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 like to 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, relax and telephone your parents.

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

Attendance at cadet chapel services is completely optional. Many cadets attend Sunday or Sabbath services in the Cadet Chapel, which has separate areas for Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Earth-centered faith services. There is also an all-faith meeting room for members of other religious faiths. Cadets are permitted to attend a church 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. Early morning daily Chapel is also available. USAFA also features a weekly program called SPIRE (Special Programs In Religious Education) for organizations to meet.

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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.

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What types of uniforms do cadets wear?

Cadets wear a large variety of military uniforms.  Primarily, cadets wear airman battle uniforms (ABUs) and some form of blues.  Service dress is commonly worn for more formal events and mess dress is worn for the most formal events.  Cadets also wear physical conditioning (PC) gear for physical education classes and tests.  Parade dress is also worn.

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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 for special programs, such as speaking appearances in their hometowns, must wear their uniforms.

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What programs do cadets participate in over the summer period?

During your upper-class summers, cadets 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 each cadet to visit and work at an operational Air Force base for three weeks. Additionally, most cadets will take part in an airmanship program during the summer; if for some reason they are unable during their first summer, cadets will be given the opportunity to participate in an airmanship program during their four years at the Academy. There are many Airmanship courses to choose from, one being USAFA’s glider or Soaring Program and the other being USAFA’s freefall parachuting or Jump Program, powered flight program and the unmanned aerial systems-remotely piloted aircraft (UAS-RPA) program. Cadets also have the opportunity to take summer classes, which can be used to get ahead or to help lighten an otherwise academically loaded semester. There are also opportunities for cadets to participate in enrichment programs that widen their experiences abroad (i.e. Summer Language Immersion, Cadet Summer Research and Enlisted Basic Training Instructor at Lackland AFB). 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 as part of the over $415,000 scholarship.

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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 USAFA 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 in your success at the Academy. So while you are attending USAFA, 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.

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Where do I go if I am overwhelmed, stressed-out or having difficulty adjusting to the Academy?

Cadets have access to many helping agencies, including the Academy Peak Performance Center. The Academy Peak Performance 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. Cadets, 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.

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