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The Academic Year


The academic year commences immediately after REORGY week. Classes usually have less than fifteen students and are very challenging to even the brightest students. Encourage your plebe not to neglect their academics. It is 55% of their class rank grade. (Military 30% & Physical 15%) The Academy, while educating the whole person, stresses academics. Your plebe is well advised to study hard and develop good study habits.

Time management is essential and to help plebes with developing good times management the Academy offers an optional short course on this subject for plebes. Encourage your cadet to sign up. Classes begin creating stress of another type. The Thayer method of instruction is consists of study and application first with explanation later. This is a unique approach that usually creates frustration to students unfamiliar with it until they learn how to study in this manner. The top honor student that has never had a grade below a "B" has now failed their first two quizzes or PR's (Partial Reviews). This is also normal, not to panic. On top of the NEW academic strain, there are also plebe duties, room management, and personal military inspections. Upperclassmen are also "helpful" in reinforcing everything and then some. This is when your cadet learns the most efficient way to MANAGE TIME. Homework is done before the class, not after. The cadet should be prepared BEFORE the first day and BEFORE every class.

Encourage your plebe to become involved in clubs and similar activities in order to afford some outlet from academics. Several extra-curricular activities are performed outside of West Point and these will provide the plebes with an opportunity to leave the Academy for a while.
Sunday is a day of relaxation, unless the plebe has a specific duty. They will be free to sleep late, attend religious services of their choice, and do as they please until Sunday evening study period. Due to the heavy academic schedule, many cadets will use Saturday afternoon and Sunday to complete their assignments for classes.

Remember that you may hear the worst from your cadet. You are the outlet for all of their frustrations. When you talk to other parents, it may seem their cadet is always doing better. This isn’t the case so don’t despair. Most times your cadet will feel much better after the phone call. You, however, may feel worse. Just be a good listener, be positive, be understanding, be supportive. Calling the TAC officer should be reserved for more serious matters such as family emergencies, etc.    Tactical Officer (TAC) and TAC NCO's provide the military structure to the Corps. They work for the Commandant and are the disciplinarians that watch over the Corps.

For those that are experiencing some problems with their studies, Additional Instruction (AI) is available to all cadets. Each instructor at the Academy has only one responsibility, and that is to help the students learn and succeed. They are available each day to provide special help to any cadet that schedules an appointment. They will not come to the cadet, even when they know the cadet needs help. The cadet must request this help. Encourage your cadet to avail themselves of this service as often as needed. Get help EARLY- don't wait till it is too late. Mentors have even been known to help cadets with additional instruction as well as other classmates in their company. There is always someone to help. All the cadet has to do is ask. Asking for help is not a sign of failure or weakness but helps all students succeed and builds teamwork among classmates.


From Labor Day on, things start to settle down. There will be emotional ups and downs along the way. Be ready to give your support and encouragement. There may be poor grades on papers or an "F" on a quiz or not doing well on a WPR (Written Partial Review). At this time, the challenges seem like mountains to the students who have never had a "C" on a paper before. Again, encourage your cadet to seek Additional Instruction (AI) early on. By the end of the semester, they will be able to work things out and may be doing well by the time finals roll around. Looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas leave and the Army/ Navy Game keeps them going.

Winter Reorganization Week:

The first few days after winter leave will be for reorganization.  The cadets will get new rooms, new roommates, new jobs for upperclassmen and homework assignments.

SECOND SEMESTER - The Gloom Period

From January through March, everything at the Point is GRAY - uniforms, buildings, the mountain and the weather. However, for Alaskan cadets it is fun to watch the "southern" cadets learn to walk in their first snow storm. Keep those words of encouragement coming.


After March, the weather and the moods on post lift. Sometime in March or April, the APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) will be administered again. Passing this APFT annually is required. It consists of doing sit-ups, push-ups, and a timed two-mile run. This is very important to all cadets.

Stress to your cadet to maintain their fitness level at all times.  Multiple failures on the APFT are reason for separation from the West Point aka the Army. Keep your cadet focused. Go ahead and make arrangements for flights for summer leave. Making these plans can be exciting, however their academics must come first.

Recognition Night:

This is usually the last Thursday before Spring Break. The night is when upperclassmen first shake hands with the Plebes and promote them from Cadet Private to Cadet Private First Class. Plebes are now allowed to "fall out" in the Area, look around and talk when outside, and shed the infamous "Four Responses." The days leading up to this night are filled with many demands and are very stressful. After Recognition Night one of the biggest hurdles of the four years is over.

Most often, just before Thursday night's dinner formation as Plebes are falling in formation, the upperclassmen are "encouraging" them for one last time, most of it in good humor. Promotion orders are announced in formation, and the companies open ranks. The team leaders fall out and pin on the new brass of a Cadet Private First Class (U.S. brass). Then a first for the plebes occurs. A friendly and relaxed dinner is enjoyed by all. There is genuine camaraderie among the Corps of Cadets that evening. The cadets must continue to maintain a professional relationship, but the severe atmosphere which has been present since R-Day is gone.

This is a wonderful night for the Plebes. Everything that they have gone through since June 26, 2006 has now paid off in the events of this evening.

Summer Term Academic Program (STAP):

If your Plebe is part of a sports program as a recruited athlete the summer academic program is often used so the cadet will not have to have as heavy a load during the academic year to allow for travel and practices. It is also used if a cadet earned a "D" or "F" for a final grade in a course. The three weeks of leave are spent intensively taking or re-taking any course work that is needed. STAP is used to keep cadets in the normal academic track. For QPA (West Points's equivalent of a GPA) calculations, grades earned in this session replace the "D" or "F".

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