Prep School Program
The United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School, popularly known as the “Prep School,” prepares a diverse group of cadet candidates to succeed and lead at the United States Air Force Academy.
Unless you are a Regular Airman in the Air Force, there is no direct application process for the Prep School. If you apply to the Academy and are not accepted, you may receive an appointment to the Prep School. For more details, see Prep School Admissions.
Students at the Prep School are addressed as “cadet candidates.” Each year, approximately 240 students between 17 and 22 years old begin the program in late July.
The Prep School program emphasizes the same four areas as the Academy:
The academic program is rigorous and specifically designed to transition students from a high-school academic environment to the world-class collegiate academic program at the Academy.The success of the Prep School’s academic curriculum has been borne out over the years with a graduation rate from the Academy that very nearly matches the graduation rate of those appointed directly to the Academy.
To earn an appointment to the Air Force Academy, cadet candidates must meet historically established academic standards. To accomplish these goals the Prep School divides the academic year into four quarters, each approximately nine weeks long. An integrated course in basic study skills is required in the first quarter to learn time management and study techniques that will facilitate the transition to the demanding requirements of college academics.
The rest of the curriculum is designed to lay the groundwork for success in courses required at the Academy, with a focus on math, English and science:
- Math: A robust mathematics sequence, providing intense instruction in a spectrum of topics including college algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and applications in science and engineering.
- Science: Chemistry is used to teach all students fundamentals in scientific reasoning and problem-solving skills.
- English: The primary focus is to develop solid writing skills through a composition program that incorporates literature and character-focused readings. An optional course in Reading is also available for students to increase vocabulary, comprehension and reading speed.
Tracking is an essential part of the academic program. Students are placed in the program that best fits their requirements. Fundamental tracks are available throughout the year in math and chemistry while advanced courses are available in all three subject areas. Advanced opportunities are also available in the spring to take physics as well as freshman-level English and math courses at the Academy.
Instructors are readily accessible for extra academic assistance to anyone who needs it. The success of the Prep School’s academic program has been borne out over the years with a graduation rate from the Academy that very nearly matches the graduation rate of those appointed directly to the Academy.
Military training at the Prep School is centered on the Air Force Core Values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do. Military training is a part of a cadet candidate’s everyday life.
Upon arrival at the Prep School, cadet candidates enter an 18 day indoctrination into the military called Basic Military Training (BMT). BMT is designed to orient cadet candidates to the military lifestyle and provide them with information on the organization of the Air Force, military customs and courtesies, drill and ceremonies, military history, Core Values, the Honor Code, physical training and proper wearing of the uniform.
Cadet candidates are briefed in detail on the standards of conduct and appearance they will be expected to maintain while at the Prep School. To ensure they uphold these standards, cadet candidates undergo regular inspections of their uniforms and personal appearance as well as their rooms and the overall dormitory.
Working directly with each squadron are two company grade officers, known as the Military Training Officers (MTO) and two Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs), known as Academy Military Trainers (AMT). The role of the MTO and AMT is diverse — they are trainers, disciplinarians, counselors, advisors, mentors, and often confidantes to the cadet candidates.
Each year is concluded with a Transition Exercise, or TX. It is designed to be a physical and mental review of all the cadet candidates have learned for the year and to prepare them for Basic Cadet Training (BCT) at the Academy.
The Prep School Athletic Department’s mission is to prepare cadet candidates for the rigors of athletic competition and the physical conditioning required of all Academy cadets. Additionally, the Prep School athletic program provides cadet candidates with a realistic leadership experience in a mentally and physically challenging environment. This prepares and motivates cadet candidates for a lifetime of service through physical education, fitness training and testing, and athletic competition.
The Prep School athletic program includes three main areas: physical conditioning, competitive sports, and fitness testing.
Prep School intercollegiate teams include:
- Men’s and women’s basketball
- Men’s and women’s soccer
Prep School varsity athletic teams compete against top-rated National Junior College Athletic Association, National Collegiate Athletic Association junior varsity and other service academy Prep School teams. Walk-ons and managers are essential and encouraged.
Specialized sports are those the Prep School cannot form or coach a full team, but select cadet candidates may join a downtown team or league. Examples include (but are not limited to):
- Men’s and women’s gymnastics
Participation in specialized sports is based upon a cadet candidate’s recruitment and limited to cadet candidates with the potential to compete at the Division I level (i.e., no walk-ons).
Character development is the process that builds and reinforces the traits which form a cadet candidate’s commitment to personal excellence and produces quality officers to lead the Air Force. Implementation of this program is through a 10-month comprehensive process, which focuses on the Honor Code, and character and leadership development.
All cadet candidates must live by the USAFA Honor Code, and agree to live by the positive principles that underpin the Honor Code. Character development training starts during Basic Military Training (BMT) and continues throughout the entire year. At the conclusion of BMT, each cadet candidate takes the Honor Oath, and “steps across the line” prior to the academic year.
Cadet candidates also have the opportunity to participate in community service projects, honor and ethics symposiums, and distinguished visitor testimonials as part of the continuous character development process.
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