Information for families of Prospective Candidates
The West Point Club of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia welcomes all prospective West Point families. You are about to embark on a challenging and rewarding process, and we'd like to help you along the way. You are encouraged to take advantage of our Parent Mentoring Program.
If you have not yet started the application process, and are interested in potentially applying to West Point, your first stop should be the official West Point Admissions web site.
Join Prospective Net, an email listserv for all prospective candidates to the United States Military Academy at West Point and their parents. Members of this listserv have an opportunity to ask questions and share information about all aspects of the West Point application and admission process.
Frequently asked questions for families of
prospective Candidates, Class of 2012:
2. What can the WPPC do for me as the Parent of a prospective candidate? The WPPC maintains a Parent Mentoring Program for parents of prospective candidates, new cadets, and plebes – it's available to you now. We will share our accumulated knowledge about being a West Point Parent, and help you to get the most out of the experience.
3. When can I join WPPC? You can (and should) join as soon as you are able after your daughter or son accepts an offer of appointment. We will be contacting you as soon as the Academy notifies us of your son or daughter's decision to accept an appointment, at which time you will be invited (along with your daughter or son to our annual New Cadet & Family Welcome Picnic, usually held in mid June, a week or two before Reception Day. At the picnic, which is scheduled for early June 2008, you will have a chance to meet and socialize with other parents and Cadet upperclassmen, join the club, sign up for upcoming events such as our Plebe Parent potlucks (held in July), and take advantage of other services of WPPC, including our popular Cadet bus service.
4. When should I make hotel reservations for Reception Day? NOW! Actually, LAST WEEK would have been even better. R-Day, Acceptance day, and Plebe Parent weekend are three times when there just are simply no hotel rooms to be had within reasonable driving distance of West Point. From the West Point home page go to the "search and reference" section and select "master schedule search" to confirm the exact date; or check with the hotel or motel when you make the reservation. Most local hostelries know.
5. Where should I make reservations for R-Day? Access the club web site and check the Parent Information Booklet for a listing of several hotels/motels in the West Point area. If you cannot find a room in Highland Falls, try the major chains in the cities of Newburgh, Fishkill or Peekskill, each of which is 30 - 40 minutes away from West Point. The Thayer Hotel, on the grounds of the Academy, and the Bear Mountain Inn, offer varying quality lodging at a higher price and fill up very early. There are also Bed and Breakfast options on both sides of the river. During Acceptance day weekend your Cadet will be restricted to an area in the close vicinity of West Point, so having a room nearby is very important. Plebe Parent weekend will have slightly more relaxed rules, usually allowing Cadets to travel within approximately a 40-mile radius of West Point.
6. What can parents do once their daughter/son begins the R-Day in processing? This will be a long, exciting, rewarding, and emotional day. There are numerous events and activities for you to participate in. A partial list includes:
Reception Center in Eisenhower Hall·
8. What's the difference between a "New Cadet candidate" a "New Cadet" and a "Plebe"? West Point is a great place for transitions of status! The first few steps are particularly confusing to new families' (of course, your son/daughter will learn the fine points of these distinctions in about 30 seconds on the morning of R-Day) Until you start a file at the USMA admissions office, you are a "prospective candidate"; once you start a file, and until you show up for R-Day and take the oath, you are a "New Cadet Candidate"; after taking the oath, and until successful completion of Cadet Basic Training (CBT), popularly known as "Beast Barracks", you are a "New Cadet"; upon completion of CBT and the Acceptance Day parade at the end of the summer, you become a "Plebe" or Cadet Private. Toward the end of a Cadet's first year, and provided of course that they are making satisfactory progress, they will be promoted to Cadet Private First Class, and authorized to wear the brass "U.S." insignia on their shirt collar. This is a big deal for Plebes, and may include formal recognition by the upper classes, depending on Corps policy in a given year.
9. What are upperclassmen known as? After completion of Cadet Field Training and the start of the second year, Cadets become Yearlings, also known as Yuks, with the rank Cadet Corporal. At the start of the third year, they become Cows, second class cadets, with the rank of Cadet Sergeant. In the senior year, Cadets are known as first class cadets, Firstie for short, and hold the rank of Cadet Lieutenant/Captain. The highest ranking Cadet Captains are known as "Stripers" because of the many chevrons on their dress uniforms. The senior Cadet in the Corps is the First Captain.
10. What are the most important things for me to get done NOW? Open your daughter's/son's application file as early as possible. It is important to get ALL items into the file as quickly as possible, especially any medical issues which must be closed. Believe it or not, something as apparently trivial as failure to get a tooth filled (if so indicated as a result of a physical exam) can prevent a candidate's file from even being considered. If that happens, others who are perhaps theoretically less well qualified might be offered admission first, and when all the slots for the next class are filled, that's it! Remember (this is really important) that to become a Cadet one must be offered an appointment and that an appointment = a nomination + acceptance. You cannot become a Cadet without both a nomination and acceptance! Work on both in parallel.
11. What's the most important thing I can do to maximize my chances of success? Here's something previous generations of West Point parents have learned: keep the pressure on the admissions officer, stay in touch with him/her! The Candidate (NOT the Parent!) should call the admission's officer on a regular basis – whenever there's reason to think that there has been a change in the file – to ask: "did you get my transcript?" "did you get the letter my Principal/Coach sent?" or whatever. Keep calling until the admissions officer tells you that the file is complete. Then start calling regularly to ask: "Have you taken my file to the board yet? Why not? What can I do to get you to take it in?" The admissions board meets roughly weekly from late fall until the Class has been filled. Each admissions officer has the opportunity to brief several files each time the board meets. Your objective is to get your file briefed (with a positive recommendation) If the admissions officer feels there is a weakness in your file which could be corrected, they will usually be frank with you about what you can do to make the correction. For example, perhaps you were suspended from High School for a couple of days Freshman year for drinking. The admissions officer might want you to write a letter to the board explaining the circumstances and providing evidence that this learning experience has helped to make you a mature and responsible individual. But they won't volunteer this information to you. You have to discover this by drawing them out in a conversation. The candidate's desire, positive attitude, and tenacity can be measured by their interactions with the admissions officer during this process. Every year, candidates with superior records fail to be offered admission in favor of candidates who demonstrate a "take charge and move out" personality and a real desire to attend the Academy and serve as an Army Officer.
12. What can we do if we arrive prior to R Day?
Check List for Prospective New Cadet Parents
Plan to join West Point Parents Club of MD DC VA (WPPC MC DC VA) when you become a West Point Parent - you will get lots of helpful tips for your WP Parent experience and as a bonus meet lots of great new friends!
The Town of
Highland Falls is quite small and during the major Plebe Year events,
the available lodging in the immediate vicinity is quickly accounted
for. If you wait until Spring 2009 to make reservations, you'll end up
as much as a 45 minute drive away from West Point and this is NOT GOOD!
So, keep this checklist in your package of application materials. As
you go through the application process, but not later than January if
Download the WPPC Parents Handbook. Included is a list of motels/hotels with phone numbers.
Prospective Parent Forum listserve at West-Point.org. For more
information on how to join, go to