FAQ: The Admissions Process

For Information, Not Endorsement


On Keeping Records

Q:   Is keeping copies and records of paper work that important?
A:   Just wanted to add to this - copies of "everything" can be a lifesaver! Our son's files from civilian/Regular Army days didn't make the journey from USMAPS to USMA. We already had copies of his civilian stuff, and then copied all the certificates/papers from Regular Army. He wasn't the only Plebe who's files had to be reworked that year - for now we have a small file cabinet with us that contains all his papers. At some point all this will go with him, but for now while stationed overseas and moving around, we'll be keeper of his paperwork. If you have the room, this is one way of supporting your Cadet/Officer - when in doubt, keep the papers!

Nomenclature for USMA Admissions Field Force Members

Q:   What do the acronyms for USMA Admissions Field Force members signify?

MALO = Military Academy Liaison Officer: a Reserve Officer on orders serving in some capacity with a state Field Force, receiving pay and retirement points

MAAR = Military Academy Admissions Representative: a civilian or Retired Officer serving in some capacity with a state Field Force as a volunteer

AP = Admissions Participant: a member of a state Field Force

ZAC = ZIP Area Coordinator: the person who coordinates Field Force activity for an area of a state defined by certain postal ZIP Codes (Field Force is organized by ZIP Code areas, to conform to College Board/SAT usage)

State Coordinator = the person who coordinates Field Force activity in a state

RC = Regional Commander: the Admissions Officer at West Point in charge of admissions activity in one of the five regions by which DAD (USMA Directorate of Admissions) organizes our nation

State Coordinators and ZACs may be civilians, Retired Officers or Reserve Officers. We especially encourage parents of Cadets to become active with their local Field Force since they are experts in the USMA admissions process!

To find your local USMA Admissions Field Force members, search on the web for West Point or USMA Admissions Field Force or request contact information from your Regional Commander at the USMA Admissions Office.

IAW = Invitational Academic Workshop

Q:   I've heard that if you are invited to attend the summer academic program at USMA [IAW], then you are almost guaranteed an appointment. Is this true? It must be extremely hard to get in, as they accept only 400? My son applied, but we still have not heard either way. Does anyone have a son or daughter that attended this camp?
A:   The IAW is a wonderful program which enables high school juniors to get an "inside look" at West Point. Obviously, their experiences for the week will not be as strenuous, stressful, demanding, etc., as "the real thing", but they certainly have a better understanding of the physical, academic and military programs - and have the opportunity to experience a bit of all.

Our son attended last year, and had a wonderful experience, and made some wonderful new friends, many of whom he keeps in contact with. Some, but not all, of the folks he attended the IAW with have received appointments to the Class of 2007. A few actually decided after the IAW that the West Point experience was *not* for them, and did not apply - that, in and of itself, is a success story for the IAW, imho....

"... almost guaranteed an appointment?..." I would say this is an exaggeration. Obviously, if you are invited to attend the IAW, you have passed one portion of the academic screening - in that your PSAT results were sufficiently high to indicate that your academic performance should also be strong.... However, as we all know, many students score high on standardized tests and then choose not to perform in the classroom, and conversely, many students are what I call - the true students - the kids who soak up the learning, and really tear into it and study, yet do not score comparably on SAT/ACTs.

Definitely, attending the IAW is a great experience - but I would not want any candidate to go away thinking he/she has a "leg up" on admissions - nor would I want any candidate who was not offered the opportunity to attend the IAW to think that his chances to attend had just gone down the drain... .... And make no mistake - the IAW is no "summer camp"... it's a rigorous, physically and mentally challenging program.

A:   Given that only 400 are selected for the IAW and nearly 1,200 are ultimately admitted, you can see that almost two-thirds of those who report on R-Day did not attend the IAW for one reason or another.

PLEASE do not allow the fact that you did not attend the IAW for whatever reason, to discourage you or anyone from continuing with their application process to West Point. If you're qualified through all the required steps and processes...of which the IAW is NOT one...and you want West Point and they want you, both for the right reasons, you'll have the best "leg up" you can possibly have. Concentrate on manuevering through the REQUIRED processes, and leave the hearsay and hype by the roadside.

A:   One question regarding the IAW and Boys/Girls State that comes up rather often (especially here on the West Coast) is:

If the IAW and Boys/Girls State Conferences occur at the same time, which event should the candidate attend?

We recommend the candidate attend the State Conference as it is considered a 'leadership' activity and can help boost their file in that particular category. Although the IAW is a great experience in which to participate, the candidate always has the opportunity to visit USMA sometime later in the admissions process to gain that 'first hand experience'. It is impossible, however, to 'recreate' the Boys/Girls State Conference.

As for the IAW, students who are invited to attend are those who, up until that point in their academic careers, have demonstrated the 'potential' to have a solid file in which the Admissions Office is interested. Attending the IAW and then 'slacking off' in one's studies the next semester or entire senior year would definitely be a detractor in the admissions process for any institution. If you have the opportunity to attend the IAW, by all means attend! However, don't consider it imperative that you attend. I personally come from an extended family of 7 USMA graduates (5 from the last 4-11 years) and to the best of my knowledge, none attended the IAW prior to entering USMA.

Advice For A New Prospective Candidate

Q:   A mother asks, what advice do you have to a young person just starting out the application process for West Point?
A:   Excellent, you are your son's XO in the application process. Help him all you can. The most important thing he can do, with your backup, is complete his Candidate Kit early. The Candidate Kits go out during the summer to candidates USMA Admissions considers have a chance at admission. The determination that candidates have a chance is made from the Initial Candidate Questionnaire, which may/should be filled out online now. If that Candidate Kit (aka Second Step Kit) arrives, commit every resource in your household to get it completed ASAP. Think "immediately." The importance of early file completion cannot be overemphasized.
A:   Would add - make copies of "everything" and when sending information to Admissions, send certified just in case. Be sure to contact congressional offices for their interview packets and dates - they are all different but do request some of the same information as academy packets. Congressmen/Senators all have their own interview teams and office contact and interview schedules. Make follow-up calls, don't assume that everything is OK if you don't hear something back - stuff does get "lost" or waylaid some times in the best of times. A BIG calendar with dates comes to mind. Get letters of recommendation before summer starts while teachers are readily available!
A:   First and foremost, congratulations to your son on his decision to pursue an appointment to West Point. However, don't consider it a long and tedious process - consider it an adventure, and if you ever get discouraged by some of the paperwork, consider it a life lesson in dealing with a large corporation or beauracracy.


  • Open your candidate file online - go to www.usma.edu

  • Spend time reading all the info provided on the West Point website and the Admissions website

  • Make sure your son is the one making the contacts for his nomination, and throughout the application process with his Admissions Officer, MALO or Field Force Officer, etc. - As with any college admissions department, West Point wants to hear from the candidate - not the parent

  • Prepare a resume - it's amazing how much a candidate can "forget" he/she has accomplished

  • Get in touch with your MALO or Field Force Officer - if you are not sure who is your designated person, contact me off-line, and I will be able to point you in the correct direction

  • Take a DEEP breath - it's going to be a long process (the second step applications for USMA will not be mailed out to the candidates until mid August) - spend this time getting yourself mentally ready, writing for your noms, and talking to your teachers about writing letters of recommendation

  • Make sure there is a plan B. No matter HOW good a candidate is, he/she should always have a back-up plan, and should realize that the decision to attend West Point should be made with eyes wide open - at age 17 or 18, with all options laid out and compared.... Our own son has wanted to attend West Point since he was 5 years old - and yes, he applied to five other colleges....he has already been accepted to one very prestigious Ivy League school, and today received his formal appointment to USMA.... in his mind, the decision was a foregone conclusion - but the reality is that in this extremely competitive environment, all options must be pursued.......

  • Keep your spirits up - and don't ever hesitate to ask for help!
A:   That fact that your son loves the military is a good start. But, simply loving the military might not be sustaining enough to get through West Point. Although West Point is certainly military (even more so than in my days), it is primarily a very tough college and there are so many other aspects of that place that are unique. It has to be the most difficult way to become an Army officer. Therefore, he (and you) should learn as much about West Point as possible: Talk to cadets and graduates, visit the number of good websites available, visit West Point, if he hasn't already done so. It seems that you all are on the right track by asking for advice on this forum.

Your son should be going to West Point because, in addition to wanting to be in the military, he, more importantly, really wants to go to and graduate from West Point.

This may seem like elementary advice, but it is amazing how many people don't really understand what they are getting themselves into, and how their reasons for going to that place are not really congruent with their expectations and goals.

One bit of practical advice that seems to run counter to advice to do things early, early, early: Make sure your son is within the profile of a West Point class (class rank, standardized test scores, and leadership activities) before he sends in his Candidate Questionnaire. The reason for this is that if the profile he presents on his initial Candidate Questionnaire is substandard, he might be "Screened." This means that West Point will send a letter telling him that West Point feels that his chances for qualifying for the class are not good. Although this does not mean that he cannot reapply with a stronger profile, getting screened and having his file closed puts him in a considerable hole. Applying a little later (late fall of his senior year isn't too late) to insure that his file is competitive more than offsets the disadvantage (and psychological trauma) of being screened in the spring of his junior year.

The most important qualifying factor at this initial stage is a good SAT/ACT score. Have him keep taking these tests if his score isn't at least in the 1250+ SAT range (The average SAT scores of serious candidates in some of the Congressional districts here in Washington State is over 1320). And, even if his test scores are pretty good, and he has already submitted these scores, remember that competition for admission is highly competitive. A higher test score will proportionally increase his chances to be offered admission.

All that being said, I whole-heartedly agree that diligence is most important. Diligence is a motivation indicator.

Hopefully, the cautionary comments I've made do not apply to your son.

Outside Scholarships

Q:   My son has received a couple outside scholarships and is a finalist for a large scholarship from a nationally known corporation. The scholarship can be used at any US accredited school for post-secondary study. My question is: Has anyone had any experience with outside scholarships at West Point. I know his scholarships can be applied toward books, ect. The instruction manual he received along with forms for bank drafts and police record checks states the first year a cadet will pay approximately $10000 for books, uniforms, ect which is deducted from their cadet pay. Does that mean the amount for books will not be deducted from his pay if he has a scholarship directed toward that? How exactly has it worked in the past?
A:   The question was posed whether cadet candidates can receive outside scholarships. The answer is YES.... and NO. As the admissions packet clearly states: Cadets are permitted to receive scholarships. HOWEVER, since there is no tuition, room or board charges at West Point, scholarships stipulated "for tuition, room or board only" or based on need rather than merit cannot be accepted. If the scholarship can be used for textbooks, uniforms, or other expenses, inform the donor to make it payable to Treasurer, USMA. ..... and yes, if the scholarship goes into his cadet account, (as provided above) it will offset the cost of books, etc.

That said, it is really up to the individual corporation how they frame the scholarship. Personal experience: Our older son was a National Merit Finalist, and did, in fact, receive a NON-NEED based, merit scholarship - to wit, the Duracell Community Service Scholarship. However, under the language of the National Merit Board at the time, individuals attending any of the military academies were specifically precluded from receiving the scholarship money, even the base honorarium amount.

He also received a Thomas J. Watson Scholarship from IBM, and under those terms, he was entitled to a one-time $2,000. honorarium from the scholarship program, not the $2,000.00 PER YEAR non-need based amount stipulated for students attending other institutions and having no financial need.

Likewise, he received a scholarship from the State of Connecticut, and the very day he reported, we received a call that "as USMA was not either a public nor a private institution as determined by their regulations" he was not eligible for his honorarium... Not public? Go figure.....

He was awarded several local scholarships, and they sent the money in to the Treasurer.... This money has been in his cadet account, and it just means that his balance in that account is a tad bit healthier and wealthier than it would otherwise have been.

Bottom line is - it's NOT going to be West Point holding back on the ability to obtain scholarships .... it's more likely the guidelines and interpretations (and sometimes misinterpretations) of the administrators of those outside scholarships.... Apply to any/all - but look upon it as "found money" if any comes through.....

Importance of SAT/ACT Scores

Q:   Are the SAT/ACT test results the most important factor for gaining admission to West Point?
A:   Short answer: NO. SAT/ACT test results are but one (albeit very important) component of the academic portion of the whole candidate score. West Point looks at the entire candidate when determining whether to extend an offer of admission.

Some key components to the admissions process -

  • securing a nomination - an absolute "must"

  • Passing the PAE - an absolute "must". West Point tells candidates to practice, practice, practice that test... they give you guidelines of what you must achieve to pass the test - they tell you that it is an absolute requirement and comprises 10% of the admissions "packet"... and that it is a one-time opportunity to take and pass the test.... All this advise, and still many candidates fail. Why? As young men and women, mostly all highly motivated athletes, they assume that they will have no difficulty taking/passing this test. What they fail to realize is that this "test" tests different skills than a normal athlete routinely performs. Certainly, a kneeling basketball throw is not something your average football player, swimmer, basketball player, etc. etc., ever does... It does require practice, and it does require a level of dedication. Also, just "passing" is NOT the goal - being well above the line on all components of the test is the goal.

  • Passing the medical examination - an absolute "must" in the end.

Whole candidate score - that by which USMA admissions judges the candidate is made up as follows: 60% academic, 30% leadership and 10% PAE. The 60% academic is comprised of the SAT/ACTs, the candidate's transcript and the level of difficulty of courses the candidate has taken, and the level of competitiveness of the candidate's school. The 30% leadership comes from extracurricular activities, athletic activities, community service activities, teacher recommendations and the interview conducted by the field force officer. The 10% PAE is the physical aptitude test referred to above.

Obviously, all candidates want to put their best foot forward. Take the SATs and ACTs more than once - take both tests. USMA will accept either, and will take the highest composite score. Take the highest level/hardest courses that you can - a B in an AP Calculus course *really* is better than an A in a non AP course.

West Point is looking for young men and women who have challenged themselves and have risen to that challenge... Don't forget - the candidates are all extremely qualified, competitive young men and women, and little differentiations make a difference.... For example, here in Connecticut this year, we had one district where no candidate would "win the district" (be the candidate with the highest whole candidate score to win the vacancy utilizing the competitive form of nomination that our Congressmen do) without SATs of OVER 1500.... While 30 miles away in another CT district, the candidate who "won the district" had only 1350 SATs.... So, yes, the SATs made a difference and will continue to make a difference.... not being important in and of themselves, but when that it pretty much the only differentiation between two otherwise equal candidates..... It depends not only on the level of competition nationwide, but also the level of competition for the vacancy to attain the nomination....

Don't get bogged down in the details of the admission process - focus rather on the candidate putting his/her best foot forward and always, always, always doing his/her best.

A:   Of course West Point wants the whole banana - academic, leadership and physical aptitude. 60% of the algorithm that determines the candidate's Whole Candidate Score is academic. Class rank, teacher academic evaluations and test scores are the items that determine the academic portion of the WCS (Incidentally, GPA is not very important because of the inflation of everyone's grades. But, of course, it will affect class rank).

So, although test scores theoretically comprise only a portion of the WCS, you have to remember that most serious candidates are class presidents, Eagle Scouts, school newspaper editors, team captains, et. al. Most candidates, unless they are so incredibly naive that they will ask for an evaluation from a teacher who doesn't like them, will probably receive good teacher evaluations. And class rank is hard to change, once you're well into high school (Some schools don't have class rank so West Point estimates this by looking at GPA and test scores).

One of the few indicators in which there is a direct comparison among the candidates is the standardized test scores. Test scores are also the easiest and quickest to improve. Although West Point does not have a fixed minimum standard for individual categories, you can see that test scores are indeed very important. Are they the most important? The answer should be no, but as you can see, all things being equal, these scores are the difference between what would otherwise be very well qualified candidates.

A:   As we were advised early on, the evaluation process involves assigning points to each relevant score, activity, honor, award, leadership position, letter, etc. and it is a rolling evaluation. The bar is lower initially to get a letter of assurance and is raised as time goes on. It may fluctuate, but if you complete your second step packet early you are in position to benefit. If you wait until the last minute, there is less opportunity and more competition (translate=Higher scores). David has supplied advice that is very important and too easily ignored. Don't be in the position of saying "If I'd only..." Turn the packet around right away. Admissions accepts follow up submissions later. Increased scores, additional athletic letters, etc. can later add to your point score. Practice the Physical Aptitude Exam now and be prepared to take it right away.
Q:   Would SAT II scores help an application to West Point, for example in lieu of High School AP Courses?
A:   No they would not. Here in California, SAT II are pretty much used to meet requirements of the UC system. West Point does not use them in any way.

AP Testing

Q:   My son has been asking about the utility of taking the Advanced Placement tests. Will his success in these tests allow him to "test out" of specific first year level classes. His particular interests are Calculus and US History. Please advise.
A:   I would highly recommend that students sit for any AP test for which they are eligible. Granted, the fee will not be returned - the reality is that at many schools these days, colleges do not permit the student to just pass out of the class (civilian colleges want their $$$) but it DOES make the student eligible to sit for a placement exam, hopefully earning the right to "pass out of the course" or take a higher level course.

At USMA, all new cadets are permitted to take "validation exams" for certain subjects. Eligibility to take the validation exam is often predicated on having received a certain grade on the AP - as such, having taken, and scored well, on the APs is a DEFINITE benefit to a new cadet. Dean Dan Kaufman has changed the method and manner under which validation exams are given - much to the benefit of the student. During the first few weeks of Beast, certain days will be set aside for validations - rather than new cadets taking the exam after a full day of training. The Dean is committed to ensuring that all students are placed properly in a challenging academic environment, and does permit a student to "pass out" of a certain course level should they be found proficient.

Remember, however, that there is a discussion among educators in colleges and universities nationwide that the AP program itself needs to closer review - indicating their belief that not all students that take an AP course receive the same level of intense/true college work. Whether this is financially motivated (probably to some extent) or not, the reality is that not ALL high schools DO provide the same level of intensity in their "AP" course - some don't even follow the prescribed AP curriculum.

My personal philosophy and advice to candidates and to our own sons has been that taking the AP courses nonetheless expands their knowledge base - and if they are able to pass out of the course, or take a higher level course, that is great. If, however, it is determined that their placement is more appropriate in the normal level course, they will nonetheless be better prepared for the coursework. However, having taken the AP course, bite the bullet and pay the money, sit for the exam - and roll the dice - you may find out that you have validated Plebe Chemistry. :)

Value Of An Overnight Visit (For Admissible and Offered Candidates Only)

Q:   My son will be going to West Point for an overnight visit next month, and I, as well as an uncle, will be travelling with him. I thought I understood that there was a tour for parents (an hour or so?) the morning they drop their son/daughter off. If this is the case, what is the procedure for setting it up? We would like to spend much of the day touring West Point anyway - are there other tour/visit options? Also, we had hoped we could go to the Army hockey game that Friday night at Tate Arena - do we need to do something special to get tickets? All help would be appreciated.
A:   Do take advantage of visiting opportunities at West Point! Candidates who have received appointments are eligible for overnight visits. But prior to that, a day visit is always an option. It is my personal opinion that all candidates should visit West Point if at all possible. Nothing can take the place of the first-hand experience of a visit. Not only is it an opportunity to experience some of cadet life, but more importantly the candidate can ask questions of cadets and make many observations for themselves.

Admissions will take visiting adults on a walking tour once the candidate is released to a cadet guide. I believe the tour is about 2 hours or so. Dress warmly - winds off the Hudson can be brisk - and wear comfortable shoes!

There's a Visitor's Center just outside the gate and the West Point Museum is behind that. You can visit those places on your own as well.

If you'd like to go to a hockey game, you can call (877)TIX-ARMY to purchase tickets in advance. Tickets are $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for youth. Based on availability they may sell some at the door, but if you know the date you'll be there you might want to purchase them in advance. Go here for Army Sports and choose "Hockey" in the upper left scroll bar and that will bring you to the Hockey homepage where you can view the schedule.

A:   We have just returned from an overnight visit. The parent tour is scheduled at the same time as the overnight visit. I cannot express how valuable the overnight visit was to our son. Good luck to you!
A:   A little over three years ago, I accompanied my son on an overnight visit to West Point. He had KNOWN that he was going to the Air Force Academy for years, but cadet counselors and Old Grads at Boys' State had convinced him that he should at least take a look at West Point as well. He lived with a plebe for a day, including formations and meals, classes and athletics, and joining three plebes overnight in a two-person room. When I got him back the next day, he told me he was going to West Point, and he never wavered from that decision from that point on.

The overnight visit was huge in helping him decide whether West Point was right for him, and there is no better way to get a realistic view of life at the Academy than from a group of plebes. My son has stayed in touch with the guys he roomed with during that visit, and every now and then mentions what they are doing. Hard to believe that they will graduate in June!

I'd also like to add another perspective on the parent tour. After my son had linked up with his host and disappeared, I went on an extensive tour with a couple of other parents. The tour was conducted by a cadet volunteer, who talked non-stop for three hours and showed us all over West Point. He was happy to answer any and all questions, which was my first introduction to military academy life and what my son would be experiencing.

I encourage you to ask lots of questions and learn all that you can. Attending West Point or one of the other military academies is a unique educational experience, and, in my experience, parents can play a very important role in supporting their cadet. Being knowledgeable about life at the Academy, and about military life in general, helps a lot in playing that support role. Prospective-net, Plebe-net, and the other internet forums are great resources to help develop an understanding of West Point and the military.

A:   Two years ago, when handed USAFA (his original first choice) and USMA offers within 2 weeks, he called on his visits and other research/discussion experiences to come to a decision. Rather than looking down the road and trying to guess/determine what he would ultimately be liking/doing...so much can change both before and after graduation...he opted for what he saw as the best next 4 years. Hands down, that was West Point. In other words, he didn't make this decision based on what service he wanted to serve his country in AFTER graduation (he just knew he wanted a military-career leadership path to learn and serve through a sevice academy...and ALL of them have that), but rather WHICH service academy was going to educate and train him the best. The rest would be...and is, as it's turning out...icing on the cake.

For him, USMA was the more disciplined, better drilled, and professionally driven academy...they ran an altogether better visit/summer program and he really felt that the difference West Point put into this (would be) reflected on the entire academy program...and he was/is right. Based on the stats at that time, there were more P's with graduate degrees, smaller P-to-cadet class ratio and therefore better chances for one-on-one instruction if/when necessary, more military than civilian P's (for him that was important because of his rearing), and more of a historic background/environment/emphasis. (what can I say...he's a history buff and it mattered...!) The USMA cadets seemed better prepared, polished, and caring in the sense that they wanted to be there (ha...!:-) and the WP educational program had consistently produced more top scholars than either AF or N. He figured after 3 years...by the time of branch selection...he'd know what he wanted by then.

If he had selected the academy that his heart wasn't really in, insofar as 4 years of cadet education and training, et al, what would it matter that he might get his top branch choice or path that he THOUGHT he MIGHT want...? And if he didn't, it may be even worse.

If it were my son/daughter, I'd tell them to select the ACADEMY that they have interest and faith in for the short(er) term goals, and that will inspire and motivate them the best with no regrets for 4 years...the rest will fall into place in time.

A:   My daughter and her freshman sister and I visited West Point after blizzard of February 2003 with no civilian employees present and 1/3 of the Corps of Cadets missing due to weather delays in transportation. They were able to put on an excellent even if impromptu presentation and got cadet volunteers to tell us about cadet life and give us a tour. My daughter was hosted by a substitute cadet volunteer and her room mates and as a result was able to experience a typical day, meals, classes as well as talk extensively with the cadets about their experiences. She attended the debate team practice which went forward even without the coach. We were able to meet with our Regional Commander, who assisted us in visiting the PX to get boots and low quarters shoes and socks to break in. Everyone was very well informed, friendly and open about the academy and why they were there and what their experience was. I highly recommend the over night visit in the decision making process. My daughter had already made up her mind and accepted the week before the visit and the visit fully confirmed her decision.

As a parent I was most impressed with the feeling of welcome and the openness of the officers and especially the cadets. The rest of the academic world could learn from the USMA experience. All the way along I have heard the message for each candidate to research thoroughly and determine if this is right for them. Even on this trip, one caution was that even if a candidate felt unsure and dropped out the day before R-day they could fill that spot. Drop outs after R-day will go unfilled. It is in the Army’s best interest to get candidates that will successfully complete the entire program.

The best way to determine fit is to doggedly pursue all available information and examine what is driving your interests. This trip and overnight visit spoke volumes and replaced the abstract with a lot of concrete information. I presume the one-week summer program for juniors would similarly do the job.

Anyway, I would whole-heartedly recommend the over-night visit to those who receive an offer. And bring the younger sibs, as these kinds of trips make college life real for them and they might as well see the standard by which all others should be judged.

The National Waiting List

Q:   We were just notified that our candidate was placed on the national waiting list? Does anyone have information or experience with the list?
A:   The National Waiting List is comprised of 150 very qualified young men and women, all of whom USMA wants but cannot offer an appointment to at this time. Basically, it means that he/she did not "win their district/senatorial slot," but in all other areas, shine.

Each Congressman/woman and Senator can nominate TEN candidates to USMA. However, they usually only have ONE slot to fill (Each may have five at the Academy at any given time, which basically comes out to one a year, and once every so often, two in a particular year). So of those ten nominated, all may be great kids, but only ONE will get in from Congressman so and so.... Sometimes one or more of the nominated kids who did not "win the district" will be of such high caliber that West Point places them on the National Waiting List.

Folks DO get in off the National Waiting List .... it may be later than his/her comfort zone, and as I tell my candidates, it's a test of intestinal fortitude (as is the DODMERB process). You wait, and pray, and continue to update your file with your Admissions Officer (any new awards, improved SAT scores, etc) - don't forget, up until the very moment that all files have to be complete, your son/daughter should be looking at ways to make his file even better - those seventh semester grades will hopefully help, winter sports, announcement as a Captaincy for a spring sport heretofore unknown, etc....

I know of many kids who have gotten accepted at West Point (via the National Waiting List) as late as June .... not what every bright, aspiring young man or woman wants to hear, but if he/she REALLY wants West Point, hang in there ....

A:   The national waiting list is the top 150 candidates from across the United States whose Whole Candidate Concept ranking is just below that of candidates who are offered admission. The Whole Candidate Concept is the very fair and very careful file scoring system West Point Admissions uses to rank order candidates by overall merit.

The three major areas of the Whole Candidate Concept and their individual weight are: 60% Academics, 30% Leadership Potential and 10% Physical Aptitude. Within each of these areas, and especially the first two, are nuanced sub-and sub-sub-areas for which points are given or not.

Over the years, the Whole Candidate Concept has proven highly successful in identifying candidates who will succeed as Cadets. The goal is a Cadet who graduates as a Commissioned Officer in our United States Army.

Not winning a district/senatorial nomination, or a highly enough ranked district/senatorial nomination if their Congressperson/Senator(s) rank orders their nominees, is a usual but not the only reason for a candidate to be placed on the national waiting list.

The overall reason for being placed on the national waiting list is having a Whole Candidate Concept ranking that is just below the cut off point for offers of admission for a given Class.

All candidates are ranked by the scores receive through Whole Candidate Concept and the first 150 such candidates who rank just below the cut off point for offers of admissions to a given Class automatically are placed on the national waiting list, in rank order.

Thus the importance of retaking SATs/ACTs to bring up one's scores (a major element of the 60% academic component of the Whole Candidate Concept), of varsity sports letters and leadership, of sustained community service and leadership activities, and of passing the PAE (Physical Aptitude Exam) with the highest possible scores in each event.

For recent Classes the rate of acceptances of offers has been so high that few if any candidates are offered admission from the national waiting list. This pattern seems likely to continue. Thus being placed on the national waiting list makes an offer of admission for that Class unlikely. However, as long as the candidate would be under 23 years of age by R-Day for the Class to which they are offered admission, there is always next year.

A:   In recent years the competition has been at an exceptionally high level. Those who failed to receive an appointment to the available slot for each of the members of their congressional delegation, are placed on the National Waiting List to await openings. The acceptance rate dictates how far down the list USMA goes in offering appointments. Many of the available slots have been promised to the most highly qualified applicants through letters of assurance (LOA's). Thus the NWL may be tapped for appointments that are declined from LOA holders or appointments that are declined by those who won the congressional slot. It is very important to compete for an LOA by putting your best foot forward early in the process, completing the second step kit ASAP after receipt in August and completing your file promptly. This gives you the greatest chance of an appointment and avoids possible disappointment in a highly competitive year with record acceptance rates. For those on the NWL I suggest continued efforts to improve your scores, patience, prayer and a back-up plan.
A:   The National Waiting List could also be termed "The Test of Intestinal Fortitude List" .... particularly this year (2003). West Point's acceptance rates are higher than ever and quicker than ever. Basically, candidates are now in the position of *hoping* that someone declines the offer. This week is *the week* that many colleges send out their acceptances, and, as you know, the beginning of May is when all must accept or decline the various offers .... My gut instinct is that there will not be much movement on the National Waiting List until mid-May or later ....

Many have been on the National Waiting List, and some choose to remain steadfast in their commitment to attend - no matter how long the wait. Others will accept another college option and never look back. Your son *could* get an acceptance from the National Waiting List as early as mid May - or as late the day before R Day (and yes, that DOES happen). A friend of my son's was literally attending summer sessions at his state university, had already moved into the dorms, etc. ... and the call came .... He called his folks, asked them to come up to the State U to pack him out, and headed for the airport to report the next day ....

You will *not* receive any solace from the experiences of others in years' past .... His chances will depend on how high up on the list he is, whether there is any movement at all, and how long he is willing to wait .... Hang in there - there are MANY in the same boat .... this is an extremely tough year, but some *will* be among the fortunate few .... Having said that, DON'T reject other colleges - he must have a back up, even if he is willing to wait until the last second ... and he *may* be reapplying next year, or he *may* decide that he absolutely loves his alternative choice ... and at age 17 - 18, life should be about options and choices - and there is no wrong answer ....

Dental Care for Accepted Candidates

Q:   In the Instructions for Candidates Offered Admission Class of 2007 it discusses Dental Care and states that candidates are to bring the dental X-rays that DoDMEERB sent them to West Point on R Day. My son insists that he did not have a dental exam when given all of the medical/vision/hearing exams during the application process. Thus, we do not have any X-rays. He contacted a friend who went through the same routine of DoDMERB exams and his friend said he didn't have a dental exam or X-rays taken either.

I then contacted a friend whose son is class of 2008 and he said that his son definitely had the exam as part of the DoDMERB exams that were given during the application process. Did other members of the class of 2007 have these exams, and we just got left out or didn't get the orders to have the X-rays taken?

A:   The dental exam was eliminated after the class of '06. My current cadet ('05) was scheduled for it but my second son, an '07 candidate like yours, was not. He thought something was wrong and contacted DoDMERB...they informed him of the change.

Not sure why the change except it may have something to do with the costs for this procedure (x M's) vs. the real benefits of the exam ... since academy applicants are generally some of the top achievers, good grades, well rounded/balanced, etc., they've also probably had pretty good dental habits during their lives, without many problems. Just my guess. I would think the booklet instructions re: bringing X-rays were just not updated in time for this year's class.

If you're still in doubt or have further questions, have your candidate contact their Admissions Regional Commander, Liaison Officer, Field Rep. or USMA Admissions.

A:   A parent noted that in the Instructions to Candidates that was received by their son/daughter the directions stated to bring the dental records provided by DODMERB. In response to the query "What dental records" another parent stated that DODMERB had informed his son that dental examinations were no longer done as part of the Medical Examination - only the medical examination and an eye examination.

This response is correct - technically. USMA and DODMERB came to an agreement to streamline the medical procedures done as part of the Admissions Process, and tests such as the EKG and dental exams were no longer to be routinely done .... HOWEVER, for whatever reason (perhaps the medicals were scheduled before the agreement was finalized and fully executed, or ..... or .....) SOME candidates did have dental examinations. Accordingly, the reference in the Instructions to Candidates is ONLY talking to them .... if they were among the few hapless souls to have the distinction of being among the last to have dental examinations, they should bring along those X-rays. It was not a typo or error in printing .... it was a message sent out to the thousand that will apply to the very few .....

USMA is continually working with DODMERB to streamline the medical process and make it more user friendly .... As our wonderful moderator can attest, the process is a great deal different than when our '04s underwent this test of intestinal fortitude and determination to see the process through!

Wisdom Teeth

Q:   My son had originally heard (heresay) that all cadets have their wisdom teeth removed when they get to West Point. He later heard (again heresay) that the rules had changed, and they don't automatically pull them. Our family dentist has recommended that (if no complications) one keep their wisdom teeth until age 23 to 25. Does anyone know the "official" policy, if there is one, in this area?
A:   You will receive a letter from the Dental Commander at West Point, if you haven't already gotten it which will ask for X-Rays and state words to the effect that a candidate with erupted or impacted wisdom teeth should have them removed before arriving on R-Day. I just went through this drill with a local candidate and we addressed the tradeoffs of having his impacted wisdom teeth taken out here or at the Academy. We concluded that he was better off having them removed before going to the Academy in an environment of TLC and excuse from going to class etc., as opposed to the hard nosed West Point approach.
Q:   My son has zero problem with his wisdom teeth and his dentist really does not want to take them out per his dental visit Monday. Is West Point really going to make him take them out??
A:   Although there is no real way for parents to know the official policy, I really doubt that they remove all cadet's wisdom teeth. Our cadet, 2003, had to have his out before he left for R-Day. It was a requirement for him to attend. He had X-rays just 8 months prior to the ones done for his DODMERB physical in 1999 and there was only a caution from the dentist to have another X-ray done in 12 to 18 months or so to keep an eye on them.

We are thankful for the DODMERB communication about our son's wisdom teeth. When the dental surgeon saw the new x-rays he was surprised. There was a significant change that he not would have thought would have happened in an 8 month time frame. If we had waited a year or more, our cadet could have had some more serious issues with the nerve in his jaw because the roots of the wisdom teeth were trying to grow around the nerve.

We know many cadets with their wisdom teeth. I am sure that the Army will keep an eye on them though, as they would not want them to develop a painful problem in the future, possibly while deployed. Can you imagine dealing with painful impacted wisdom teeth right now while trying to do your job in Iraq!!

A:   For 2007, almost all candidates did not have DoDMERB dental exams as it was removed as a requirement. After the candidate accepts an appointment, it triggers a letter from West Point, Saunders Dental Clinic, where the candidate is asked to provide a Dental Report on their form and radiographs to include Bite-Wing and Panorex X-rays.

These are reviewed by USMA and based upon the review the candidate gets a letter stating that you satisfy the dental requirements; that they cannot tell from the radiographs submitted whether you satisfy the requirements and asking for new ones to be submitted; or that you do not satisfy them and require 1) a conclusion of active orthodontia before R-day and requiring a letter from the Orthodontist assuring braces will be removed prior to then; 2) active decay must be treated and a letter from your dentist verifying this has been done; and/or 3) a pathological condition including wisdom teeth and/or jaw tumors must have corrective treatment and a letter from your dentist verifying treatment.

If your dentist does not believe the wisdom teeth constitute a pathological condition and does not advise removal, then you may wish to await further direction from USMA after they have reviewed the radiographs.

A:   Apparently, the new procedure calls for you to forward dental x-rays when notified. The Dental Clinic at USMA will review them and make recommendations based upon that review. I'm not aware of any policy stating candidates have to get their wisdom teeth pulled before reporting. As some have already posted, there are a number of cadets with wisdom teeth intact.
A:   The letter from the Dental Surgeon at West Point that was sent to one of my candidates, who had been accepted at the Academy, stated that if a candidate had erupted or impacted wisdom teeth, they had to be removed or the cadet could be disqualified for admission. Needless to say the letter caused a bit of trauma to the recipient and his family since this young man had two impacted wisdom teeth. His local dental surgeon didn't think they needed to be removed for a year or so but would do the job. The family after discussing it with me (and after I had spoken with the Minority Outreach Officer) decided to have the teeth removed now, while the candidate could receive some TLC at home, rather than having them out at West Point.

On Medical Waivers

Q:   In regards to medical waivers, how often are they granted? When WP does request a medical waiver from DODMERB, is it generally for a prospect that they really want as a cadet? Are they typically granted for things like nearsightedness?
A:   Medical Waivers: At every training sessions I have attended for USMA admissions, we have been cautioned that specific guidance regarding medical waivers is a matter best left to the professionals. I have learned that truthfully, you can never say never, and never say always, as each case is reviewed individually, and each has its own nuances.

In general, however, if, during its review, DODMERB discovers a disqualifying condition, DODMERB discontinues its review and seeks guidance from USMA whether USMA wants to pursue a waiver. The Regional Commander reviews the candidate file from all other perspectives, and IF it is determined that, aside from the medical condition, the candidate would otherwise be admissible, (in other words, strong candidate file) - will request that a waiver be requested. If USMA Directorate of Admissions seeks a waiver, then DODMERB continues its review of the file to determine whether there are any other disqualifying conditions, and at the same time forwards the file to USMA for medical review. Based on this second medical review and any information gleaned during the subsequent review of the rest of the candidate file, USMA, acting through DODMERB, will request additional tests be performed, paperwork submitted, explanations made, etc.

The candidate is then informed what, if any additional information is requested - and upon supplying that information, the review process continues again. How many waivers are granted? As many as needed - it's not a number game - hypothetically, the entire class could be comprised of candidates, who, for one reason or another, required additional medical testing, etc... This is why the Regional Commanders stress the need for timely submission of all candidate paperwork... If they have a file in early March that is devoid of information (for example, only two letters of recommendation are in, essays are not yet filed, etc) compared to the file wherein everything is in, and the candidate is academically qualified and has passed the PAE, guess which candidate file is more likely to have an otherwise admissible candidate....

The numbers and reasons for medical waivers granted could potentially by limitless - and no two files are the same. The medical condition you noted was nearsightedness. There is nothing "typical" about each candidates ability to see - how nearsighted is the candidate? Is it correctable to 20/20 with glasses? Are there other ocular conditions underlying the nearsightedness?

Accordingly, and while not meaning to sound flip - the candidate's job is to ensure that all other aspects of his/her file would otherwise support his/her admissibility - and then follow the instructions by DODMERB to the letter.... At the point of reviewing medical files and processing the waiver, DODMERB is acting as the clearinghouse for all academies, ROTC programs, etc. Your job is to act as promptly as possible with supplying any additional requested information and taking any additional tests - and then wait - and pray.

A:   The granting or non-granting of medical waivers give West Point's Directorate of Admission (DAD) through the Regional Commander (the admissions officer assigned to one of the geographic areas) the opportunity to objectively reject an applicant who, in the Regional Commander's opinion, will not be a strong candidate for admission. The granting of a medical waiver is completely discretionary. It is therefore very important that an applicant complete his/her file as soon as possible to enable the Regional Commander to adequately assess the candidate.
A:   As an admissions representative, I was given some very good advice several years ago, and this advice is as relevant now as then - even moreso, IMHO. Advice: When it comes to medical waivers, never say never, and never say always. EVERY applicant's experiences with DODMERB will be different - some breeze through the process, others have conditions that require further explanation, additional testing or whatnot, and some candidates are initially disqualified pursuant to the review conducted by DODMERB and then have that initial determination either overturned (rebuttable conditions) or waived by USMA (some non rebuttable conditions). Some, unfortunately, remain disqualified, or actually are disqualified on more than one circumstance.

That said, at this stage in the admissions process, parents need not know all the intricacies of the DODMERB process - it's a huge bureaucracy and yes, while the process has been streamlined, it nonetheless remains a bureaucracy .... Reviews are initially conducted by the folks at DODMERB, and if they determine that a disqualifying condition exists, they cease their review of the rest of the file, and send it up to USMA Directorate of Admissions to determine whether USMA will even seek a waiver. IF USMA DAD determines that the candidate is, absent any medical condition, likely to be a strong enough candidate to obtain an appointment, they will put in for a waiver, and the *sometimes very* long waiver process begins. DODMERB then continues its review of the file, and will also call for additional testing as required. At this point, DODMERB and the Docs at Keller Army Hospital work hand in hand. DODMERB remains the contact point for the candidate - and sometimes is just the information gathering entity for USMA. There are multiple levels of review, all of which *could* produce a thumbs up at any time... and all of which take time.

Yes, there are levels of review - and yes, candidates should not lose hope. Bottom line is, however, even when a waiver is granted - there has been a determination that the candidate is commissionable - that the medical condition under review would NOT preclude/prevent him/her from being commissioned.

My recommendation as an admissions representative to all my candidates? Put your best foot forward with your entire file - don't anticipate problems with DODMERB; realize that all medical conditions are different from person to person (degree of color blindness, accuracy of asthma diagnosis, severity of muscle damage due to bad breaks, etc.) .... don't be discouraged from applying because of a condition that may be disqualifying.... A DODMERB disqualification just means that the medical condition did not fit in the nice little box and needs further review... And, IF, as is the case with many applicants, your son/daughter receives a disqualification notice from DODMERB, follow the procedures set forth therein, and continue with the efforts to gain admission...

And yes, the DODMERB process *can* become a test of intestinal fortitude - and *yes* many candidates are kept anxiously waiting while the process wends its seemingly endless way through to a final resolution - but stick with it. The possibility of something showing up in the medical arena exists for just about every candidate - so my advice is always to open your file early, so that if there is a medical issue, there is time - that precious entity - to jump through all requested hoops and hopefully have the issue resolved in favor of the candidate being deemed *medically qualified*.

Advisability of Eye Surgery

Q:   Is surgical vision correction/laser correction for nearsightedness advisable?
A:   Laser surgery (LASIK) is acceptable to West Point Admissions only if done after age 21 because the eyeball has not stopped growing until that time of life. It is possible that in two years' time laser surgery may be allowed for Cadets who are past the age of 21.
A:   At the moment, I do believe that flying is out of the question for young people who get surgical vision correction/laser correction. It is only just becoming available in the Army and under very strict rules. The military studies everything in great detail before it is approved. From what I have read, eye surgery is not a way to become flight qualified. In fact I do believe at this time it will disqualify that person. At least not at this time! If this is not correct I am sure someone will jump right in here. Best to have your candidate check with the Academies.
A:   I don't know about flying, but I do know some of the limitations that LASIK and PRK have on other career decisions. I was in the first batch of laser eye surgeries done by the Army at Fort Bragg. They first let Special Operations have the surgery. Mine was in September of 2000. At that time LASIK disqualified you for Special Forces Qualification Course; Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE); Scuba School; and High Altitude, Low Opening (HALO) School. PRK did not have the same limitations. We must all realize that things like this are a moving target. For the candidate who might decide to go to Special Forces after four years at West Point and 3-6 years as an Officer, the decision now to have eye surgery could be disqualifying. I'd recommend putting off anything like that until later, until you were in a position to make a decision based on the most current information, as close to the decision point as possible.

Immunization Records Form for Accepted Candidates

Q:   Due to insurance requirements, our son has not kept the same physician nor did one physician give him all of his immunizations. I requested this form be completed by his most recent physician and was told that he would sign the form for the immunizations he had on record. The complete compiled record has been on file with the school, however, the Dr. cannot accept the school record. The Dr. who gave the original immunizations archived my son's records many years ago and then retired.

Those original records do not appear to be available any longer. This Dr. did send records to the subsequent physician. However, somewhere along the way, one physician would only include the immunizations he administered in his records. The original immunizations were included as an attachment only which was later separated and lost. One option is to have more than one Dr. complete a form for which they have records. Will the Academy accept multiple immunization forms which then add up to a complete record?

A:   Many of us have had our children taken care of by numerous doctors, due to moving, insurance, etc. In our case, we also had the situation of having numerous doctors, some of which we could no longer contact. We submitted what we had, including the school immunization record. We were missing years 0-4, completely. Nothing was transferred. I gave them what I had. The school record had to be signed/verified by a doctor somewhere down the line and was acceptable to DODMERB. This was approximately 4 years ago. We had numerous records from many different doctors that we sent.

Immunization Records

Q:   We've used various doctors and getting accurate records will be difficult at best. Does my son need to get a new tuberculosis shot and a new tetanus and diphtheria shot? I know he has had a tetanus shot within the past three years but I think it was through his school.
A:   Immunization records are very important for all of us to maintain. Many states require that students file immunization records upon registering, and update them at specific intervals. While it may take awhile to gather all the requested information, in the long run, it's a good exercise, as your son/daughter will thereafter have them in their military records, and there will be no question about it. I would also recommend making a copy of them, and placing them with your important family papers (wills, mortgages, deeds, etc.)

When my son was undergoing his DODMERB examination, they requested all medical records from birth to date. My initial thoughts were similar to yours .... oh, my ... all the moves, all the different doctors ..... but the funny thing is that technology has actually aided us on this one .... The records from the Hospital where he was born and his first pediatrician were "stored" in some medical storage facility in San Jose, California ...... the hospital and doctor are themselves in northeastern PA! I actually received those records "in hand" a full week sooner than I was able to get records from another doctor right here in town!

Also, if you tell them that the records are needed for his admission to USMA, many doctors' offices will not charge you the normal copy fee...

Regarding Immunizations

Q:   My son is a cadet candidate for 2007. We have completed all of the necessary forms and sent the immunization form in but still lack the last Hepatitis B and both A vaccinations. We were told to complete what we can (he is due to have his last B this month) and bring a copy of his record on R day. Our question is the Hep A series. Our local health department does not administer it. I had to make several calls to physicians and found two that can order the vaccination but will charge $75 to administer each shot. What experience has anyone had with this vaccination and can we wait until R Day for this series? His admissions officer stated through email that "it might be a good idea to get the vaccination if we can". Should we pay the $150 it will require to have the two shots?
A:   The question was posed on getting the Hep A immunization shot. Short answer: get all the immunization shots that time permits your son to get. While most do not suffer any ill effects from the shots, even a sore arm is going to be something he is not going to want to contend with during the first few days of Beast. An additional reason to get the shots now is that it will be one less "thing" that he has to do, on top of everything else ....
Q:   I have been reading about the need to get the Heb A and B vaccines- What about meningitis for my son?
A:   The immunization form from the red booklet entitled "Instructions for Candidates Offered Admission Class of 2007" that was required to be returned to West Point lists the immunizations that are needed. MGC was item H, USMA Form 5-516. It is recommended by West Point DAD, CPT Ballister, to complete these prior to R-day as R-Day will be busy and that last thing the candidate needs is additional requirements to be filled. There is the additional issue of temporary discomfort that can be avoided as well. While the candidate will not be refused admission for missing immunizations, it is an avoidable source of stress on an important day. Accordingly, we completed the MGC and are in the process of completing the Hep B #3 (item F) prior to R-day.

Police Records Check for Accepted Candidates

Q:   The instruction booklet indicates that a background check is to be performed by each jurisdiction. I would like clarification on a couple of points as a previous post seems to have interpreted this differently.

Example: We live in a city within county A. Our son attends a private school in another city which is in county B. I interpret the instructions to require a Record Check Form be completed by the police in each of the 4 jurisdictions: our city of residence, our county of residence, the city where his school is located and the county where his school is located.

Secondly, we moved across the country 18 months ago. How far back do we need to go in having these forms completed? Our son has recently moved back across the country to complete his high school and graduate with his life long friends. He is residing with grandparents for this purpose. They live in a different county than we did prior to our move. How does one go about obtaining additional Business Reply envelopes for this purpose?

A:   As to the multijurisdictional, we obtained our county police record check and also the state police record check. Again, this was four years ago. You need to contact your admissions representative to ask for additional business reply forms and specific answers to these questions.
A:   And two years ago, as stated in an earlier post, we went to our local small-city police department, and were able to have all jurisdictions checked from there. They ran our cadet's name, etc. through their national computer network, the chief signed the form, and we were on our way. Again, unless something more is now being requested or has changed, this should be all that's necessary. The best advice again, as stated, is to check with (your) admissions contact to be sure.
A:   Laws concerning obtaining an individuals police record also vary State to State. In Massachusetts, police agency is allowed to release a police record- even to the individual. They are limited to releasing information only within their files. An individual who wishes a complete copy of their record must apply to the Criminal History System Board in Boston - forms are available at the local Departments the charge a small fee (of course!)

I am not sure if other States have similar requirements - Mass., has very strict CORI Laws - even people who are legally allowed access to this information ( such as Army recruiters) must go through theCHSB- Local Departments can access this informationn for their own purposes - but can not release it.

Regarding Bank Accounts For Cadets

Q:   What advise is there regarding bank accounts for cadets? Is it best to have one at home or closer to West Point? I understand that cadets can cash checks on post with proper ID but received a suggestion that a NY-based bank may be preferable when the cadets evenually get to venture off the post.
A:   You will hear many opinions on the issue of bank accounts. Simply, which bank a cadet chooses to use is purely a personal matter. Some cadets maintain accounts in their hometown bank, while others open accounts at West Point. Were I to guess, I would speculate that two of the more popular banking choices for cadets are the PENTAGON FEDERAL CREDIT UNION (The West Point Federal Credit Union merged with PFCU on 1 April 2002) and/or USAA. The PFCU maintains an office in Highland Falls, and has a branch office right in the cadet area, and an ATM machine located up located up at the Commissary/PX complex. Hence, maintaining money at the PFCU is easy and painless, and can be accessed at almost any time, whereas physically accessing another bank, even in Highland Falls, will be limited to weekends when walking privileges are permitted, and most banks are closed. PFCU also offers online banking at no charge, and use of the ATMs at school are likewise at no charge. See www.penfed.org

USAA is also a popular option with many military members, as they will rebate a certain number of ATM charges per month. See www.usaa.com Many "cows" have their "cow loan" with USAA, and so, open accounts with this entity. Down the road, your son/daughter will likely become familiar with USAA, as it offers many services, including insurance. USAA rebates the fee charged by other banks for using their ATM machines up to 10 visits per month.

One of the nice aspects of these two institutions is that they have a long history of serving military members and are aware of their particular needs, particularly if/when deployed, or on TDY. Also, both PFCU and USAA are worldwide. Obviously, another option is to maintain an account at home and have access to either PFCU or USAA. That way, the cadet has the benefit of the military-friendly aspects of these two institutions, and Mom and Dad can easily transfer money when needed.

ATM charges are the big thing for you to check. Will your hometown bank charge your son/daughter every time he uses his ATM card at West Point? As they often withdraw such princely sums as $20.00, ATM fees will add up quickly.

When our older son entered West Point, he opened his account at the WPFCU (now PFCU)... he groused when the bank changed to PFCU - now he proudly tells me that PFCU offers one of the best savings rates... These kids learn quickly... When he receives his "cow" loan, he will (I believe) be required to switch his direct deposit over to USAA - However, recognizing the value of added interest, he has decided to maintain both accounts - internet transfers of sums make it quick and convenient for them to switch money from savings to checking, etc...

Some parents like to maintain the local bank, as it is easier for them to transfer funds into their son/daughter's account. Like the decision of giving your son/daughter an "allowance" or extra money, this is simply a family decision - no right or wrong. We felt that the Army salary was more than sufficient to meet his needs (and it's amazing how much $$$ they blow on CDs, videos and food) - note needs v. wants.... And, as we live geographically close, our son has the benefit of his personal banker - i.e., Mom - whenever I see him, he seems to have an empty wallet - often he refuses money, but when he was on his way down to NYC to enjoy 500th Night weekend, I made the mistake of asking if he had cash.... his reply "No, I'll have to run to the ATM before we leave"... well, luckily for him (not so for me) I *happened* to have cash on me, thereby saving him the trip to the ATM (and the money) Do I expect/want to see that $60 back? No....Does he repay me for other things? Absolutely....

Old adage ... first one out is the best one dressed - certainly applies in this household.

A:   A member asked if the cadet candidate can do the paperwork for joining PFCU = Pentagon Federal Credit Union on R Day. Short answer: NO.

In one of the many packets you will receive between now and R Day will be adirect deposit form. The USMA Treasurer requests that this be filled outand returned -

Make life as simple for your son/daughter as possible. R Day will be incredibly stressful - the LAST thing they want is to have to stand in YET another line, because they didn't have some paperwork completed in advance as required. Log onto the bank, or call - explain that you have a son/daughter entering USMA, and ask to speak with the representative who sets up and handles West Point accounts.... Five minutes of your time now (and likely a $5.00 deposit) will save years of their life.....

This member also asked about the cow loan... VERY briefly, because I do not believe in inundating y'all with an overload of information before it is relevant - during spring of cow year, all cadets with finances in good standing (and yes, they do credit checks) are offered a low interest loan - amount of the loan and interest rate varies from year to year - this year it's like a $24,000 or $27,000 loan - Repayment doesn't start until after graduation, and the interest rate is something like 1.5% This is the "seed money" that many cadets use to purchase cars, their uniforms for when they graduate, their Class ring, fund their IRAs...... Don't worry about the cow loan now.... that's another lifetime away!

.....AND... while we're speaking of lifetimes - when you get closer to R Day, you will receive much advice about having your son/daughter AND you guys take it "One Day At A Time"... Basically, the concept being that the entity, in its entirety, can be overwhelming - but your job is only to make it through today .... tomorrow is sufficient time to worry about tomorrow....My husband has/had a different take on this advice - in his mind "One Day At A Time" can, in and of itself be too long - too overwhelming ..... his advice to all our folks .... take it "One Meal At A Time."

A:   Each of these sites had all the info necessary and both are available to candidates for purposes of the direct deposit choice:
A:   You can use an account at a bank at home and use a debit card or credit card or check and avoid the cash machine.

Banking Options

Q:   A short time ago, there was a message regarding banks/credit unions available around West Point for new cadets. I have lost that message, and would like to know what some options are other than our home town bank. Thank you.
A:   You may wish to consider the banks that many military personnel find helpful. Visit www.penfed.org or www.usaa.com . The first referenced bank has physical locations right in the garrison area of West Point (real people located in Washington Hall) plus ATM machines up at the PX/Commissary complex and a branch office/ATM in Highland Falls. The second referenced bank also has an ATM machine in Highland Falls, but as it deals exclusively with military folk, also rebates up to 10 ATM fees per month.

Both banks referenced are very good (We personally have used both). They both offer a great deal of services. The second referenced bank is the one that just issued the cows their "cow loan" and also has "the lock" on great insurance rates for military families.

Cadets are likely equally split as to which of these two they prefer.

Direct Deposit Form

Q:   We have a son going to West Point. We are having trouble with the Direct Deposit Form (ie: claim or payroll ID number, type of payment, etc.). I would appreciate any help in filling this out.
A:   A careful reading of the instruction booklet section on Form 1099A with the form in front of you to permit easy reference should result in successful completion of the form. We have restated and rearranged the instructions below to assist you in the process: There are five steps to the process:

1. Complete Section 1, items A through G of Standard Form 1199A as indicated below:

  1. Block A: Name of payee, address, telephone number. Print the address and phone number to which the financial institution can return the completed standard Form 1199A to you. Do not forget the postal zip code.
  2. Block B: Same name as payee.
  3. Block C: Print your Social Security Number.
  4. Block D: You must open a checking account (not savings).
  5. Block E: Enter your account number.
  6. Block F: Type of payment is: Fed Salary/Mil. Civilian Pay.
  7. Block G: Leave this blank.

2. Sign your full name and date the form in the Payee/Joint Payee Certification Block.

3. Complete Section 2 as follows: In the Government Agency Name Block, enter U.S. Military Academy; In the Government Agency Address Block, enter West Point, NY 10996.

4. Send or take the completed Standard Form 1199A to the financial institution of your choice. The financial institution will complete the form and return all but their copy to you.

5. Bring the completed form with you when you report to West Point. It will be collected from you after June 30th by a representative of the Defense Military Pay Office - West Point.....

... Any questions regarding completion of Standard Form 1199A should be directed to the Chief, Military Pay at (845) 938-6112/6109."

A:   This might help.

Accepted Candidate Changing High School Sports Participation

Q:   The question was posed whether there would be any Academy-related consequences if an Accepted Candidate dropped high school baseball in favor of club rugby. It was further noted that the cadet candidate does not intend to play baseball at/for USMA....
A:   Participation in high school sports is entirely up to your son. He is not a recruited athlete, and USMA did not offer an appointment to him as a recruited athlete.

The ONLY potential glitch (and no real problem) is IF he put on his activities sheet that he was participating on the high school varsity baseball team in 12th grade.... which is unlikely, as the candidates typically only report what they have DONE, not what they intend to do.

If, however, he did make that representation, a quick e-mail to his Regional Commander at the Admissions Office notifying him/her that he will not be playing baseball will keep the files accurate with reality.

High School Graduation Gift Suggestions

Q:   Any suggestions for High School graduation gifts for a West Point-bound student?
A:   Yes, rest, lots of water and things to do, such as cardio-pulmonary and leg development, to keep occupied and far away from HS graduation revelry.
A:   *Phone cards are probably tops on the list. They are not only a less expensive way to make long-distance calls home, but they give cadets an opportunity to stay in touch with high school friends (after Beast Barracks, of course!) spread out across the country.

*Cash is always a welcome gift. Cadets will be purchasing a printer, school supplies, and various items from the Cadet Bookstore/PX once classes start. They also tend to order food out a lot (again, after Beast) and appreciate not dipping into their own funds for that.

*McDonald's is just outside Thayer Gate and they deliver to cadets, so gift certificates are also a good idea.

*Religious reading material is permitted, so a couple of encouraging books are nice to have. We provided a journal for family and friends to write in at our cadets' high school graduation parties. It was just one book to carry but it was full of encouragement and memories.

*I was surprised that my new cadet took pictures during Beast with disposable cameras. I ended up mailing a few. (They can receive packages during Beast, but no FOOD.....you'll hear more about that as time nears). You might put this idea on the back burner till your new cadet lets you know whether or not he/she would want them during Beast.

Also, the Parent Forum webpage has gift ideas. Scroll down and click on "Gift Ideas Page". Scroll to the bottom of the page and look for "Gift Ideas for Incoming or Future Cadets".

Completing Instructions For Accepted Candidates
         Bust Measurement, Eye Exam and Birth Certificate

Q:   We are filling out the measurements card and it directs you to Defense Logistics Agency (Warfighters Clothing Support) for help in how to take measurements, yet there are many more measurements at the site than asked for on the card. The chest measurement asked for on the USMA card does not specify for women if it is the "bust" measurement or the "upper chest measurement". Do you have any contacts that can answer this question? The other measurements seem to be easily explained by the above website they referenced on the card.

The second issue is with regard to the vision survey card that asks for the date of the "Last Complete Eye Examination" other than USMA Application Physical Exam. My daughter has always had good vision per her physicals, which are not Complete Eye Exams, but rather are reading off a chart as a screening mechanism. It does not say she needs to have an exam. She passed the DODMERB Complete exam. Should she leave the date blank, insert the word "none" or schedule an exam?

The third question is related to the birth certificate. When we were at West Point in February, the office took a photocopy of a Cadet Candidate's certified copy of his Birth Certificate. If a photocopy will meet the requirements, I would like to avoid ordering a new one. I can send a photocopy tomorrow, but wanted to confirm that it would meet the requirements before acting.

A:   Take measurement on the bust so shirt is large enough that bust doesn't invite attention.

No, she does not need to go out and get an eye exam. That part is mainly for those who wear glasses and DAD needs the prescription so they can have the glasses ready on R-day.

Birth certificate requirement is for a certified or notarized copy of the birth certificate. To send a notarized photocopy of the certified (raised seal, stamp, colored ink, etc) birth certificate: photocopy certified (raised seal, stamp, colored ink, etc) birth certificate in front of notary. Or, use this to contact your local authority and possibly order a birth certificate online.

Leg Inseam Size for Accepted Candidates

Q:   We're completing the Uniform Data Card that came in the Instructions for Candidates Offered Admission booklet.

We're wondering about Leg Inseam Size. The illustration on the warfighter web site seems to show measurement to the floor, whereas when buying slacks, the inseam measurement is usually to the shoe heel top.

Our son wears slacks with a 32" inseam while his body-to-floor measurement is 34".

Any suggestions on what to indicate on the card? Thank-you.

A:   I would just give his normal inseam length. West Point wants this info just so they have some approximate information on what sizes they will need and have them available. When they arrive on R-day, they will be completely measured and given the size that fits best.

If you take the Uniform factory tour over your Plebe Parent Weekend, you will discover that most of the uniforms for the class of 2007 have already been made. They fit what they already have and then tailor from there if necessary.

A:   The safest way to send in measurements is to take your son/daughter to a professional tailor. They know how to do the measurements, and will be happy to help.

I would not take any warfighter web site as gospel, particularly as the cadets are fitted for many different uniforms, most in the line of dress pants..... not BDUs (battle dress uniforms) also, your illustration may have been without shoes, which would make a difference.

... One other thought .... most young men do not know anymore where their waist is.... pants at West Point are not worn slung low, so certainly don't go by his current style of pants to judge waist size!

New cadets will be re-measured at West Point for the proper fitting of all their uniforms - this will give the uniform factory some idea of who will need what size on R Day....while all other uniforms will be issued later.

Low Quarter Shoes and Combat Boots

Q:   In my son's acceptance packet, it states that at a later time he will receive a letter authorizing him to purchase a pair of low quarters. Is that pair the pair of black shoes he needs to take with him on R-day? Or does he need to go out and buy another pair from the mall?
A:   The low quarters are precisely the shoes the cadet candidates will report in. Wait for the letter and get the right shoes - it will make a world of difference during Cadet Basic Training!
A:   Well, not necessarily precisely :-). That being said, using the certificate/letter is not mandatory...it is an option/benefit for those who wish to...and who can...take advantage of it.

The certificate/letter will mandate the use of an authorized outlet...some of which will be too far for many candidates to reasonably access unless you want to try mail order, which I would NOT recommend due to the importance of the shoes and the fit required to insure success.

If the military outlet is too far away, you still have some viable options. First understand that your cadet-candidate will be issued regulation low-quarter shoes on R-Day. However, one of the primary purposes of having a pair ahead of time...in addition to the requirement to bring a pair...is getting used to them/breaking them in. If they are the same or a similar regulation shoe, the better. In the event your new cadet must wear them for whatever reason while they're breaking in the new ones, or they don't have the correct size (rare), they'll be ready with the pair they brought/wore.

You can try and locate a similar pair at an Army-Navy or similar military-type store, or even at a uniform or industrial shoe outlet. My son did exactly that 2 years ago and was none the worse for it. Rest assured, MANY (if not most) cadet-candidates will show up on R-Day WITHOUT the exact regulation shoes...but instead wearing a reasonable facimile, or worse.

If you know where any police officers in your community get their shoes, that may be a good place to look (but remember, they must be polishable leather uppers, with plain, round toe...not corfam or other glossy finish).

Don't panic if you can't locate the exact shoes...do the best you can according to the candidate instructions and get them broken in...and polished! This will be the least of their worries on R-Day, I assure you.

A:   Your local field force rep should be able to direct you with greater specificity. The ones for my daughter that we got at the West Point PX were as described above, lace-up, plain toe, low heel, polish-able leather uppers with a synthetic thin sole. I highly recommend trying them on with the relatively thin black socks as we went through two pair before getting the right fit. I though they looked great, but daughter wasn't about to start wearing them to school.
A:   Probably questions about combat boots will surface soon, following on the low quarter shoes discussion. Some may hear about "breaking in" footwear and wonder if combat boots or low quarters are meant.

Thus this advice, which surveys topics besides footwear.

A:   As far as the boots go, don't worry about shining them. You will have ample opportunity to do so during Beast. To break them in during Beast, we wore them into the shower and walked around in them until they were mostly dry. This seemed to do the trick for me. Also if you did not get two pairs yet, wait. They will issue another pair to you and this helped me great deal because by then my feet were pretty swollen and my bigger boots came in handy when my feet were swollen during road marches and what not. They were just big enough to accommodate some swelling. In general just make sure they fit well. If you think you will get blisters(not everyone does) bring stuff to put on them. [Cadet name omitted] likes moleskin but I'm a big fan of second skin.
A:   I am assuming you just bought one pair of plain ol' combat boots. Make sure they fit really well...so if you bought them thinking you would grow into them more or something that won’t work. Because if you boots are a little too big or a little too small you will get terrible blisters (I speak from experience). (If you are worried about blisters at all (you will be on your feet ALL the time) it might be a good idea to bring some mole skin with you to Beast. You also get issued another pair of boots during the summer. What you will end up doing is using one pair about for training (a pair you can really beat up and are pretty comfortable for road marches) and one pair when you are just around the barracks and stuff (this will be the cleaner, shinier pair). I recommend trying to break in the boots you have now and designate them as your field (training) boots...so don't worry too much about shining them.

As far as breaking them in....just start wearing them...go for a hike or even a run, or just wear them when you are doing regular stuff (I know that sounds really embarrassing but with a pair of blue jeans no one will notice you are wearing them. However, if you would like to try and shine them... Get an old t-shirt and a can of black Kiwi shoe polish. You will take a finger or two and wrap in the cloth, then dip it in water, then put some polish on it, and then start applying it to the shoe in small circles. With boots, it will take a pretty thick layer of polish before it ends up turning up a shine (I don't think I ever got a quality shine on my boots until after Beast was over). Don't stress about this stuff too much, you learn these sorts of things when you get here.

Finding a Local West Point Parents' Club

Q:   How do I contact a West Point Parent Club in my area?
A:   In the past, the Public Affairs Office at West Point has been able to the President's of all West Point Parents' Clubs across the country about new cadet candidates coming to the Academy from their respective states. Many WPPC host picnics and/or luncheons to welcome the new cadet candidates and their families.

Unfortunately, new security measures prohibit disclosure of new cadet candidates names to the Parents' Clubs. You, as the parent of the new cadet candidate, must reach out to your respective club. Mrs. Delores Salvatore, of the Public Affairs Office, will be happy to provide the email address of any WPPC President. Delores can be contacted by email at the following address: "Salvatore, D. MRS PAO" yd2883@exmail.usma.army.mil or by telephone at 845-938-5650.

In the meanwhile, the President of the WPPC- IOWA, Jan Worthern, has asked me to post her email address, with the invitation for any new cadet candidates from IOWA to contact her. Jan's email address is jworthan@hotmail.com .

A:   In the past, the Public Affairs Office at West Point has been able to the President's of all West Point Parents' Clubs across the country about new cadet candidates coming to the Academy from their respective states. Many WPPC host picnics and/or luncheons to welcome the new cadet candidates and their families.

Unfortunately, new security measures prohibit disclosure of new cadet candidates names to the Parents' Clubs. You, as the parent of the new cadet candidate, must reach out to your respective club. Mrs. Delores Salvatore, of the Public Affairs Office, will be happy to provide the email address of any WPPC President. Delores can be contacted by email at the following address: "Salvatore, D. MRS PAO" yd2883@exmail.usma.army.mil or by telephone at 845-938-5650.

In the meanwhile, the President of the WPPC-IOWA, Jan Worthern, has asked me to post her email address, with the invitation for any new cadet candidates from IOWA to contact her. Jan's email address is jworthan@hotmail.com .

A:   Check the following web site for information on West Point Parents Clubs in your area: http://www.west-point.org/parent/parent_clubs.html

The Upfront Deposit

Q:   What is the story on the upfront deposit of @ $2400?
A:   IF your finances permit, the routine procedure is for parents to send the deposit to Treasurer, USMA so that it is received prior to R Day, 30 June. West Point addresses this issue very clearly. "Parents and candidates should make every possible effort to meet the initial deposit requirement. Requests for a waiver or deferment of the deposit are considered on a case-by case basis. A request for a waiver should be sent to: Treasurer, USMA." (page 3...Instructions for Candidates Offered Admission - Class of 2007)

That said, USMA does NOT expect any candidate to turn down the appointment because the $2,400 would cause dire family circumstances.... There have been circumstances in the past, and there will be circumstances in the future, when a number of candidates simply cannot come up with the $2,400.

Advice should you find yourself in this situation: Contact Treasurer, USMA AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, explain your situation, and request additional time to pay, a payment plan, etc. Worst case scenario is that the $2,400 will be added to the cadet candidate's already hefty "loan" and his cadet account will be charged, and possibly his monthly pay will be a bit less over time to repay the additional money....

Unless you ask for a waiver, no one will offer it... If you need it, don't hesitate to ask - West Point will work with you to make it happen...

A:   Thought we would add a note on deposits and $'s. Our now 1LT (USMAPS '97, USMA '01) sold his car when he entered Reg Army after HS graduation ('95). He put that money in some funds (simple things that $2000 would get him into). While at USMAPS, he was still receiving his Reg Army pay (back then PVT FC wasn't a big money maker if that's what you might be thinking), but had to save for his deposit during the year (at that time there were check points on his bank account to prove that he had enough funds for his USMA deposit). He saved his $'s while at USMAPS (even gave up some fun times so as not to dip into this account). He still has his original investments to which he added his USMA Cow loan $'s in lieu of buy a car. (Investments at that time seemed a good thing?) The car purchase came back after USMA graduation ('96 Saturn) that will probably have it's wheels run off it after he returns from Korea. Thought this might be of interest to prior service/USMAPs parents that are preparing for Class of 2007!

High School Awards Assemblies

Q:   I have been asked by my son's school to provide a document from the USMA stating the dollar value of a USMA scholarship. How can I obtain a document such as this?
A:   USMA Admissions Office gives it as $375K as of the Spring of 2003.
Q:   Can you talk about the high school awards assemblies at which Accepted Candidates are presented their Appointments to the Academy with some fanfare?
A:   A member asked many questions about awards ceremonies. I will attempt to answer them as best I can, utilizing the memorandum supplied by USMA to all Admissions liaison officers. First and foremost, USMA will NOT be sending anything to any guidance department/local school. When a candidate is offered admission, West Point sends out a copy of the awards certificate in a picture folder with proposed comments for the awards ceremony to the member of the DAD field force listed as the ZAC for that candidate (MALO/field force, etc). West Point expects the field force to make arrangements with the schools to have a USMA representative (the local field force) present at the awards ceremony.

As the Zip Area Coordinator for CT A/C, my husband has been receiving these certificates throughout the spring - every time a candidate is offered admission - and in fact, I have a very busy spring planned for him - attending various awards presentations and graduations....

In addition to the memorandum sent to all ZACs for how to handle the awards ceremonies, West Point provided a sample presentation script - text that the presenter can read verbatim, or incorporate into his own style... The script provided this year indicates a dollar value of the scholarship of $280,000.

Personally, I have heard higher values - however, as this is coming directly from USMA DAD (Directorate of Admissions) I reckon we'll go with their figures :)

If you have not been contacted by your local ZAC/MALO/Field Force whatever up to this point, you can either contact your Regional Commander at USMA DAD, and he will be able to tell you who is "your" ZAC .... If you prefer, I can also try to get this info for you .... if you tell me what city you live near, I can access the data bank and find "who's out there".

As indicated, I also have the script - so just in case your ZAC is not able to attend :(, I can fax or retype the script and send it to you...

Having the ZAC/MALO, etc. making the presentation is always really a show stopper .... the pause before the dollar amount is mentioned is always followed by a tremendous gasp thereafter..... It's a nice script provided by West Point.... you'll be happy.

A:   Regarding some suggested comments at the awards assembly: http://www.west-point.org/academy/malo-wa/hndbk/AwardSuggRemark.html

Terminology IS Important: To Parents of Accepted/Cadet Candidates

Q:   As we approach R Day, I would like to give you a heads up on a few things. From this moment on, terminology IS important... it may seem silly to you, but trust me, if you can save your son/daughter a few too many push-ups by addressing mail properly, etc., it will be a much appreciated gift.
A:   Okay, so as to terminology:

* At the present time, everyone who is a candidate for the Class of '07 falls into one of the following categories: candidate - they are still in the application process - no appointment has been made cadet candidate - YEAH ... that lovely green folder has arrived, and the appointment has been made and accepted

* From the time they accept the appointment up until the MOMENT they take the oath, they are referred to as cadet candidates... you will likely hear this often in the early moments of R Day

* New cadet - Once the cadet candidate takes the OATH, they become New Cadets. From that moment on, they will be referred to -in our case, for example - New Cadet Hostler. Just New Cadet Last Name - no first names will exist...Throughout Beast, all mail should be addressed to New Cadet So and So... Johnny left home and So and So took his place :)

* On Acceptance Day, they will officially be welcomed into the Corps, and, in addition to receiving their white hat, will lose the "New"... They will then be Cadet So and So... Unless things change this year, plebes do not officially have first names until promotion, and if you are anything like me, you will silently shudder to hear them calling each other only by their last names in public... Don't fret ... in the warmth and coziness of the barracks (okay, so now you KNOW I've lost it:) they do unofficially call their friends by first name (though likely not during Beast, as they may be too busy quivering :)

Lots of little rules - lots of little hints that can make you (and their) passage through this four year roller coaster a tad bit easier....

What To Bring On R-Day

Q:   What should or is recommended to be brought to R-Day?
A:   From the Red Book "Instructions for Candidates Offered Admission Class of 2007", bring the following:
  • Copies of Tickets and Lodging Receipts for reimbursement after the 30th.
  • Copy of Immunization Record.
  • Completed Direct Pay deposit Form 1199A.
  • Social Security Card.
  • Dental X-rays if not already sent to West Point
  • One piece of luggage, tagged with your full name.
  • Comfortable travel clothes-do not bring extra clothes
  • $40.00 in bills and $1.00 in change.
  • For Women: 9 white or beige bras-durable, modest & supportive (3 of the 9 to be athletic-strong support while running).
  • Wear one pair of "broken in" inexpensive, black leather laced shoes with plain toes and rubber heels when reporting.
  • One pair good quality running shoes, designed for running with maximum shock absorption and balance of motion control and cushioning characteristics. Not "cross training" and must be "broken in".
  • Combat boots-2 pair, "broken in"
  • Razors or depilatories.
  • For women: clear or hair colored devices to hold hair above the collar.


  • Non-electric alarm clock
  • A framed picture, not larger than 8X10
  • Sunglasses
  • Plain wristwatch (Note that military time is 24 hour clock)
  • Musical instrument
  • Small hand-held dryer and/or curling iron
  • Electric razor
  • Religious reading material

Then there are additional items recommended by cadets from experience:

By the West Point Parents' Club of Michigan:

And by the West Point Parents'Club of Washington:

Note that foot care products such as Gold Bond powder, mole skin and band-aids, gel insoles for combat boots, wool socks/nylon socks or liners, extra crew socks (plain white), and spandex shorts to prevent chafing under BDU's are some of the items commonly recommended.

Bugle Notes

Q:   What are Bugle Notes; how can it be purchased; and does it need to be memorized prior to R-Day?
A:   Bugle Notes, for those whose interest has just been peaked, is the official bible for all cadets ... small, (as in tiny 2 x 3 but 200+ pages) but packed with all sorts of "stuff". It is issued every year to the incoming class, so the only Bugle Notes now would be that issued to the Class of '06.
A:   A member asked how to get a copy of Bugle Notes. They are available by calling the Cadet Bookstore at Bookstore (845) 938-5193, and if I recall correctly, cost approximately $40.

There is always some traffic before R-Day whether incoming candidates should memorize Bugle Notes. Short answer: NO. First of all, much is informational (Message from the Superintendent, Message from the Commandant, Message from the Dean, etc....History of West Point, etc. etc. etc.). Yes, there will be some "knowledge" that all new cadets must learn that is contained in the Bugle Notes, BUT the handy-dandy little New Cadet Handbook, which will also be issued, becomes the REAL official bible of all new cadets. It tells them week by week what knowledge they must learn, and whether they must learn it verbatim or general concept. It's even tinier than the Bugle Notes, and the print is about 10X smaller. It is the new cadet handbook that they will carry with them everywhere.

The New Cadet Handbook is obviously not available for purchase, and is not even yet published for the current class. The Bugle Notes from last year may make a nice graduation gift, and your new cadet candidate may wish to peruse some of the information, but it should not be a matter of stress or a feeling that everything must be learned before R Day.

Remember also, that it will become a dust collector in your home when your son/daughter departs for USMA. They will be issued their very own Bugle Notes. So as long as you are willing to spend the money for a nice little reference book that you will have much longer (and may also like to peruse) call the Cadet Bookstore.

Also check these sites:




Tabbing the APFT During Cadet Basic Training

Q:   What is the level of performance for tabbing on the APFT during CBT?
A:   To tab (B+) the APFT (and get the patch) you must score a 270 or above and get a 90 or above in every event. Be ready for the first one. We took it the third day we were there, and I was really bad. Make sure you drink water but really make sure you eat as much as you can so you don't get weak. You'll be really tired, too, so be prepared for that. Knowing about all of this should help you, so don't worry about it too much.

Run = 15:30; push-ups = 38; sit-ups = 78

15:27 two mile gets 100+ points
38 pushups gets 91 points
78 sit-ups 100 points

Cadet Free Time On Acceptance Day (A-Day)

Q:   My husband and I were thinking about coming back to West Point (from Oregon) for Acceptance Day weekend. (We will be there for R Day.) I was reading about this weekend and am wondering if our son will have too much to do and if we would be in the way? It sounds like new cadets will have recently assigned homework, new roommates, duties, etc. I don't want to stress him out any more than he might be, especially if he has a lot of homework, nor do I want to be in the way or interrupt other activities he should be doing. I read in earlier postings that new cadets had quite a bit of free time during the weekend, but maybe that isn't really the case. Maybe it would be best to leave him to adjust to new friends, school, homework, etc.

Is this an OK time to come or not? For us it involves coming from a long way away, airline tickets, hotel, car rental, etc., which we can afford to do if this is a good weekend to come. We are coming for Plebe Parent weekend in Oct. Your thoughts??

A:   The question was asked whether it would be appropriate to come out for Acceptance Day, or if, perchance you would be in the way. Acceptance Day weekend is the first opportunity you will have to see and spend time with your son/daughter since R Day. They will be exhausted, but exhilarated ... too tired to talk, too much to talk about to stop talking ... anxious about classes, desperate to do something other than sit in their barracks room ....

YOU, as the parent will be desperate to see them ... and likewise they will be anxious to see you. If you can make arrangements to travel to West Point, by all means *do*. Some time shortly (relative term :) after the parade, the new plebes (no longer new cadets!) will be released to spend time with family and friends. They will have from mid Saturday afternoon to late Saturday evening, and then the majority of Sunday to spend time with you ... and oh, the stories they will tell ... and the food they will want to eat ... and the stories ... and the food .... and they will likely fall asleep ~ perchance even standing up (our older son did). The little pleasures that we all take for granted will be special treats on Acceptance Day .... including, for our son, wearing his *own* glasses for the first time since he was issued his "beloved" TEDs (he didn't even attempt the contacts until Labor Day, as he was too tired!)

Yes, they will have homework to prepare ... and they may get itsy Sunday afternoon ... or they may decide to spend every possible minute with you, and stay up late on Sunday night!

IF however, you are not able to come for Acceptance Day, please rest assured that your son/daughter will be adopted by any number of families who are at West Point to visit their sons and daughters ... In 2001, very dear friends of ours were not able to come out for Acceptance Day (they did, however, come out for Labor Day).... We adopted their daughter for the weekend, and made sure that she was well fed, slept and had a phone available for a looooooooooong phone call home ....

Walking Privileges for New Cadets and Plebes

Q:   Please explain walking privileges. Is there any problem with booking a room at the Thayer Hotel for R-Day, A-Day, or Plebe Weekend? Someone mentioned that the New Cadets and Plebes may be restricted due to a problem with walking privileges.
A:   If you have reservations at the Thayer Hotel, you won't need to worry about where the walking privilege area is because the hotel is right in the middle of it. The Thayer is pretty expensive for some people.

For R-day, you won't have to worry about the walking privilege area because your New Cadet won't have any time off once he/she reports in the morning.

For Acceptance [A-]Day, your New Cadet will have completed Cadet Basic Training and will most likely be allowed to take Walking Privileges. This means that he/she can leave the post but must stay within an area roughly bounded by the Hudson river on the east, Route 9W on the west, Washington gate on the north and the Bear Mt. traffic circle on the south. They can go anywhere within this area.

For Plebe Parent Weekend, your New Cadet will have "Off Post Privileges" which allows them to go a little farther.

Detailed information on all this on Plebe-net after about March 23 when the class of 2007 is allowed on that listserv.

Also, you are very smart to be making hotel reservations for any events that you already know the dates. There are very few close-in hotels to West Point and they get filled up early. I'll give you an example, my cadet graduates this June. I have had a room reserved at a local hotel since October of 1999 and had to pay in-full when I made that reservation...the up side is that my hotel is very close.

A:   For years, Walking Privileges boundaries have been as follows:

North - The North side of the USMA post, out to Washington Gate, then following highway 218 past the golf course and ski slope to its intersection with highway 9W and highway 293.

West - Highway 9W. Businesses on the West side of highway 9W are within the boundary as long as they front directly on highway 9W

South - Where highway 9W meets the Bear Mountain Bridge traffic circle. An exception has been made for Bear Mountain State Park, which is directly across the traffic circle on the South side. As long as the cadet is driven to Bear Mountain State Park all parts of that park are open to the Cadet, including the Bear Mountain Inn, which is within the park.

East - The West bank of the Hudson River.

Also, Round Pond has been authorized as a place where cadets can go and be consider within the boundaries of Walking Priviliges. Round Pond is about a mile West of the intersection of Highways 218, 293, and 9W (the junction of the North and West boundary) but still has been authorized. As with the Bear Mountain State Park the cadet must be driven to this location.

I would expect that these boundaries will stay the same, however, cannot guarantee it. There is a new Commandant at USMA and lots of things have changed this year.

A:   During Plebe Parent Weekend there is another type of privilege authorized for plebes. That is "Off Post Privileges (OPP's)". For previous Plebe Parent Weekends plebes have been authorized OPP's with a restriction of travel to within 75 miles of West Point. Under OPP's plebes are authorized to travel to any location within 75 miles of West Point, including Cornwall. If things don't change then OPP's will probably again be authorized during Plebe Parent Weekend (and only during Plebe Parent Weekend) for plebes.

When your cadet leaves USMA to join you somewhere they must sign out in the Company Orderly Room. When they sign out they must indicate whether they are departing on "Walking Privileges" or "Off Post Privileges". What they write down describes what they can do.

On Purchasing A Printer

Q:   What type of printers have cadets purchased, and when do we take care of that purchase? I did read that there is a website I can check out and that the printer shouldn't be purchased prior to the end of August. Can cadets purchase one at West Point or do parents purchase one and then ship it out in August?
A:   By R Day, the purchasing agent for the USMA Cadet Bookstore will have researched all printers that will be compatible with the chosen computer (specs are not out yet, and the computer contract will not be bid for quite some time) .... On R Day, Grace at the USMA Cadet Bookstore will have a table (USMA Cadet Bookstore) and the representative from the chosen company (last year it was HP) ... several models will be available for purchase by the parents with delivery to the new cadets upon their return from Camp Frederick at the end of Beast Barracks.

Grace has always had a rather long window in which parents can order, so that even parents who cannot attend R Day have the opportunity to purchase a printer at the low, discounted price she is able to offer. We, the moderators of Plebe Net, will be publishing that information for your benefit this summer. When our '04 son entered, we had to purchase by 9 August to ensure delivery by 15 August .... There will be a similar window of opportunity.

Printers are not required. However, they are a great convenience, and if you are financially able to purchase this "gift" for your son/daughter it will be very much appreciated. If it will create even the least financial hardship, it is not worth it. In our son's case, he was initially in a four man room. Only two of the four had printers .... and all in the room preferred our sons. They networked (I'm so glad THEY are computer literate) their computers, so they all shared the same printer .... Cadets always help each other out.

I would STRONGLY recommend, however, that if you plan on purchasing a printer, that you ONLY purchase one through Grace at the USMA Cadet Bookstore. That way, you are assured that it is compatible with the systems at WP, and most importantly, if something goes amiss with the printer, Grace will be the point person to get it fixed (rather than that additional burden falling on the cadet or you - long distance) ..., and will also be able to lend a printer to the cadet until his/her printer is fixed .... If you purchase it elsewhere, you are on your own ......

Plebe Pay

Q:   What Are Plebes Paid?
A:   The present (February 2003) pay rate for Cadets is 35% of the base pay of a 2nd Lieutenant with less than two years of service. At the present time the gross monthly pay for a 2nd Lieutenant with less than two years of active duty service is $2,183.70 per month. A cadet is paid 35% of that or $764.30 per month.

After expenses are deducted from a Plebe's pay, present (February 2003) Plebe "take home pay" is $220 monthly.

The base pay and take home pay increase each year a Cadet is at the Academy.

Current Military Pay schedules are here.

Languages at West Point

Q:   I want to go to West Point but it does not offer Japanese, which I study avidly. USAFA offers Japanese but I do not really want to go there. Any advice on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
A:   West Point does not offer Japanese and has no plans to do so in the future - quite simply as the needs of the Army do NOT call for it. There will likely be increased emphasis on other languages and dialects, but Japanese will NOT factor into the program at West Point in the foreseeable future (and that is directly from the Dean, by the way)

As to whether you would have a need or use for it in the Army as opposed to the Air Force... possibly, but highly doubtful. The Air Force find it helpful as they have personnel stationed in Japan... the Army doesn't have such needs. Even in MI (military intelligence branch) we are really not in the "deep throat" context here.... plus, any Japanese MI officer would likely speak English! Need? Highly doubtful... However, knowledge of any language is helpful as a member of this global society, and the more languages you know, the more qualified you will be to tackle whatever challenges you find....

As to your age... You will hopefully be a plebe in 2006 - fingers and toes... that means you are currently a freshman in high school, correct? You have a long time to prepare - and this is the right time to ensure that you are taking the courses that you need to make yourself as attractive to USMA and to all other colleges, as possible. You may wish to contact your local MALO or field force rep, and start a mentoring relationship with them... or someone else who can guide you from through the long process and your ultimate goal. There is also an excellent book entitled something like The West Point Candidate: How to Prepare, How to Get In, How to Survive.... It is an excellent resource, and best referred to OFTEN during the high school years (good tips even on Congressional interviews, etc)... I lent my copy to someone, so don't have it in front of me, but can get the exact name and ordering information, should you desire. I have supplied our local high schools with copies of the book that I purchased - I thought it was *that* good and *that* important to have in each high school guidance office...

A:   The USMA Prospectus may be read online and so may USMA Curriculum information.

A point of interest upon which you might ruminate is that when he was President of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, VA, Robert E. Lee, USMA Class of 1829, felt that Spanish would become a widely used language in orbits of interest to United States leaders and citizens, and accordingly he urged students at Washington College to become proficient in that language. As on so many others, President Lee was prescient on this point.

I believe Spanish is now or soon will be accounted the second Lingua Franca, following English.