Cadet Life FAQ
What is a cadet’s day like?
During the academic year from early Aug. through May, days begin at 5:15 a.m. and last until taps at 11:00 p.m. Each day comprises personal time, military training, classes, athletics, study time, ancillary training and meals. 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.
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. Each cadet room also has a twin-size modular bed, a dresser and a 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.
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.
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 coffeepot. These rules are general guidelines but may be more restrictive depending on each squadron’s rules.
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 a family-style lunch meal in Mitchell Hall, with buffet-style service provided for breakfast, 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 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.
Are special dietary meals provided?
Preparation and service of the 12,000 meals served daily in the cadet dining facility limits our ability to offer special dietary menus based solely on religious faiths or individual convictions. Therefore, offering them on a day-to-day basis may be difficult to accommodate. Cadets in this situation should work the issue through their cadet group chaplain. Vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian options are available upon request at all meals, and the evening buffet also provides vegetarian fare, but not all dietary restrictions can be fully accommodated. However, cadets can work with the nutrition staff to see what is possible.
What types of recreation are available to cadets?
The Academy provides opportunities to enjoy a change of pace through participation in cadet activities and social functions. Arnold Hall is a relaxing place to enjoy dancing, games, movies, entertainers and television. The snack bar in the Richter Lounge is also popular with cadets. Arnold Hall staff coordinates a variety of tailgates for U.S. Air Force Academy 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 and falconry to sports, drama and more. To find out more about cadet clubs and what’s offered, go to the Cadet Clubs page at USAFA.EDU.
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 provide experience in the kind of social situations that may be expected of 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.
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. Individual passes on weekends 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 may also visit their assigned sponsor families.
Where do cadets go on weekends?
Colorado Springs, approximately eight miles south, is the nearest city and has a population of more than 460,000. Denver, 55 miles to the north, has a population of more than 2.5 million. These cities have many advantages and recreational facilities, including a variety of restaurants, museums, theaters, nightclubs, shopping centers, athletic facilities and sporting events. 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 a 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 their parents.
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. The U.S. Air Force Academy also features a weekly program called SPIRE (Special Programs In Religious Education) for organizations to meet. Finally, during Basic Cadet Training, cadets are allowed to attend religious services for their choice of faith or partake in an alternate personal resiliency time. Visit the Chapel page.
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. Often, many cadets have the opportunity to go home over long weekends as well. 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.
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 and flight suits are also worn.
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. Third-, second- and first-class cadets may wear their civilian clothes during leave periods as well as on passes in the local area.
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 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 (including the Soaring, Jump or Unmanned Aerial Systems-Remotely Piloted Aircraft [UAS-RPA] programs). Cadets also have the opportunity to take summer classes or to participate in enrichment programs abroad (e.g., 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.
What is the most challenging aspect of the total cadet experience?
Every individual has different challenges at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The academic, military and athletic programs at the U.S. Air Force 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 in your success at the Academy. So while you are attending the U.S. Air Force Academy, make sure you keep up with your workload and ask for help when needed.
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 to offer professional guidance on stress, relationships, eating disorders, equal opportunity and treatment.
What is the Cadet Sponsor Program?
The Cadet Sponsor Program builds a professional mentoring relationship and provides a home away from home for cadets on a permanent basis during their time at the Academy. Sponsors are composed of active-duty, retired and reserve officers, senior noncommissioned officers (NCOs), Academy alumni, civil servants and select local citizens. The program is offered for all four years at the Academy, and cadets and sponsors may make by-name requests which the Cadet Sponsor Office will attempt to honor. If by-name requests are not made, common interests, hobbies or preferences are used as matching criteria. Sponsors often develop lifelong relationships with their cadets, and many cadets come to consider their sponsors as family.