For those Parents not familiar with the Prep School, some are surprised at R-Day activities, to see "New Cadets" with ribbons, awards and badges on the Cadet Uniform, or do not know what the term "Prepster" is. The Mission of the United States Military Academy Preparatory School is "To provide academic, military and physical instruction in a moral-ethical military environment to prepare and motivate candidates for success at the United States Military Academy".

The United States Military Academy Preparatory School, known as USMAPS, the Prep School or West Point Prep, was formally established in 1946, but the history of "preparing" the soldiers for West Point has existed since Congress enacted legislation in 1916 authorizing appointments of soldiers to West Point. The School exists today as an avenue of opportunity for a carefully selected group of soldier and civilian aspirants by providing them the academic, leadership and physical skills that will prepare them best for success as cadets at the United States Military Academy.

Currently located at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, West Point Prep prepares cadet candidates for entrance into West Point with a foundation that will last them beyond admission to the Academy and well into the future as leaders of character for the Nation. Candidates report to USMAPS in early July to begin their preparation for West Point, and graduate from USMAPS in mid-May when they receive their formal appointments to the Academy.

West Point Prep accepts students and soldiers from diverse backgrounds and challenges them to meet established USMAPS standards in all developmental areas: Academic, Physical, Military/Leadership, Moral-Ethical. Appointment to West Point is contingent upon meeting these standards, and all efforts of the school are devoted to preparing candidates for success and excellence. As a military school with a career focus, West Point Prep also develops the foundation of professional and physical attributes needed for growth as an officer in the Army.

Some Cadet Candidates come to USMAPS from Regular Army Units, some from Army Reserve Units and some National Guard Units. These Candidates have completed Army Basic Training or may have completed Basic and AIT (Advanced Individual Training which gives them a MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) in which they have worked as soldiers from 1-4 years. Under U.S. Law, a Cadet entering West Point may not be more than 23 years of age (in addition to other requirements) on R-Day. Therefore, Cadet Candidates may not be more than 22 years of age by July 1st of the year entering USMAPS. About half of the Cadet Candidates come to USMAPS directly from High School. They are enlisted as Invitational Reservists (IR) for the purpose of attending USMAPS, and incur no active service obligation if they are disenrolled for any reason. Pay for IR candidates is the same as a West Point cadet's û approximately $600 per month. Regular Army, National Guard and Reserve Component soldiers receive pay based on their current pay grade.

Cadet Candidates report to USMAPS in July. During the first four weeks emphasis is given to physical and military training. Following that, four academic quarters are conducted, which include physical and military training, in addition to an active sports program. USMAPS fields varsity-level athletic programs in: football, women's volleyball, cross-country, track, men and women's basketball, soccer, lacrosse, swimming, and wrestling. The academic curriculum at USMAPS is focused in the areas of mathematics and English, each having several tracks to accommodate different entry-level capabilities. In addition, all students are enrolled in a one-quarter Student Success Development course which parallels the course offered at West Point in the Center for Enhanced Performance, and for which candidates receive partial credit for completion.

West Point Prep accepts 230-250 Cadet Candidates each year. These candidates come from the active Army, the Army Reserve, National Guard or directly from High Schools. Cadet Candidates do not apply directly for admission to USMAPS. The USMA Admissions Department identifies applicants who have applied for direct admission to West Point who have significant leader potential, but do not meet the minimum standards for direct admission. When a judgment is made that disqualified candidates have the potential to be remediated at USMAPS, applicants are offered an opportunity to attend USMAPS. A Letter of Assurance (LOA) issued by USMA Admissions guarantees candidates' appointments at USMA if they meet USMAPS and DOD medical standards. Historically, 75-80 percent of an entering USMAPS class are admitted to USMA. The majority of those who do not go on to West Point leave USMAPS voluntarily, having lost the interest to continue.

The entire Program is about 10 months long, and is conducted under the watchful eye and guidance of the Commandant, an Army Colonel who has been an Academy Professor at West Point and personally selected by the Superintendent to accomplish the important mission. Since USMAPS is a Major Activity Directorate of West Point (part of the USMA organization), significant interface with all activities at West Point is maintained to ensure the USMAPS programs are operated consistent with parallel programs at USMA.

Upon entrance to West Point (R-Day) the Cadet Candidates are integrated with New Cadets in their Class. They help/assist the other New Cadets with military challenges during CBT (Cadet Basic Training/Beast Barracks) and throughout the Plebe Year and beyond. USMAPS graduates graduate from West Point at roughly the same rate as those entering West Point direct, and are disproportionately represented in many of the key cadet leadership positions. West Point prepsters are the nucleus of each entering West Point class, and offer West Point a cohesive cohort with the right values and norms from which to build a class. The bonds of friendship and support that are developed at Prep School last throughout the West Point experience and beyond.

To assist the Parents of Cadet Candidates, Graduates and Friends a "forum" is maintained at usmaps-net. Here questions can be asked "on-line" and advice/support given to those who need it. This net is NOT an official source of information by West Point and/or USMAPS.

This section of the Source Book is not intended to be "all inclusive", but rather to provide an overview of USMAPS and its Mission. The commitment of the Commandant, the staff or the value of USMAPS to the Academy or this Nation could not be adequately covered in a few pages. For more information about USMAPS, the following web site is provided as a reference.

SEE ALSO:   USMAPS Website     and     USMAPS Parents' Listserver

Jim Vones



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