I was so pumped when I received my acceptance to SLS for 2011, and right away I started doing research online to learn more about it. I came across a gentleman who did an After Action Report, and read it a half a dozen times. Now that I have attended, I feel like I learned a great deal of things to share, or maybe you're like me and just want to read something about SLS! This is literally everything you ever wanted to know about it. If it's too much, go read the other AAR. If you have some free time, here is what I've got. Day 1: "R-Day" (kinda) After all the research I did, people kept repeating the same thing. GET THERE EARLY. Everyone stressed that this was a huge thing to do. People kept saying , "I waited on the bus for hours." So I actually went out of my way to get there early. I live on the west coast, so I flew the day before SLS, stayed at the Hotel Thayer, and showed up at 0900 the next morning, right when it opened. DO NOT DO THAT. SLS in some areas isn't even about the candidates it's about the cadre. The cadets receive a grade on how they run SLS, and there is no structured formula by some authority figure. Everything is done by the cadets. The problem with getting there at 0900 is that the cadets havn't had time to work out the kinks in their process. I was with the first group and when we went to the different stations, we were with the first group the cadre had. So at the marching station, the instructor hadn't taught marching yet. I bet by the end of the day he was much better at teaching than he was at the start. Point being, yes get there early so you can go to all the stations that is important. But do not get there at 0900. Shoot for 1100-1200. The day itself, is actually pretty fun. Cadets were blasting Disturbed and were yelling to not call them sir, but sergeant. (You'll learn about cadet rank structure). Don't be a funny guy. Trust me. Even if you have a problem getting yelled at, it isn't that bad. Have fun with it. CFA and PT: After a meal at Ike Hall, (yes, you do eat at Washington Hall, just not the first night) and squad introductions, go to bed. You're going to need it for the next day, and week. MAKE SURE YOU PRACTICE THE CFA BEFORE YOU ARRIVE. I just can't stress this enough. Your scores are kept on file, the test is administered by the cadets, and to simply put it, important people are watching. You do not want to be the guy that only did 30 pushups. Make sure you practice the basketball throw. This threw off a lot of people. Also, the run is not around a track, it's around Lusk Reservoir. Everyone is convinced it was longer than a mile. I talked to a cross country recruit and he ran it in the 5:20's. I'm sure if it was on a track his time would've been faster. Just be ready for it. Everyone said the PT (physical training) isn't bad so I wasn't worried. I was surprised though that it is no joke. If you can pass the CFA, you won't die, but know PT is no cakewalk. It's still PT. It's not diehard rigorous, but it is exercise. Formation, Appearance, Hygiene: Don't be a jackass. If you're at attention, it is time to be quiet. I watched a kid do more pushups than you could believe because he chuckled when another kid dropped his water bottle. Some guys had their heads shaved before SLS. I chose not to do that, because I did not want to give off this, "Oh I already think I'm in the military" vibe. Don't be the guy who has hippie hair either. I recommend regulation military cut, but you don't need to go all out and shave your head. It is New York. It is the summer. You will sweat. Get over it. I did purchase a bar of soap at the C-Store to wash my PT shirt in the sink. Brown water came out, no joke haha. They were dry by morning and they wouldn't smell as bad. If you don't want to do that, bring a can of AXE or something to get the smell out. It can get pretty bad. You only get two PT shirts. Don't wash your uniform shirts though. You need those frequently and a bar of soap might be harmless to it or it might not. I didn't want to risk it. The showers are open showers. Don't be the guy that walked in in his underwear. You're all big boys and it's not a big deal unless you make it one. But do wear clothes to the shower house. Classes and Assemblies. Sign up for classes that you want to attend! Your SLS acceptance is not based off the classes you chose. So if you want engineering instead of leadership and ethics, nobody cares! Take engineering. You get hardly any sleep at SLS, just because you're going to bed at around 11:30 but you're waking up at 5:30. It is a FIGHT to stay awake in class. I brought 5 hour energies and am very glad I did. DO NOT FALL ASLEEP. You need to remember that a colonel on the admissions team could be walking around, see you sleeping, notice your name tag, and never say a word to anyone. Trust me, it happens. It will suck, but tell yourself now, it's not going to happen to you. Also, you get briefings from the Com and the Dean, and even the Supe talked to us on military Day. You may tell yourself now, "yeah, it's not like I'm going to sleep when the Com is talking to me" but you would be surprised. Food: Have table manners. You get interviewed by your squad leader at the end of the week and he tells you little things he notices. He complimented my manners personally and told another guy he should work on them for the last two days. Don't hunch over your plate and shovel down your food. Eat, limit the talking, but be a gentleman/lady about it. You're thinking about being an officer, after all. I was never full, but there isn't really anything you can do about it. Asking Questions: You would be surprised how stupid some of the questions can be. My buddy and I started to tally them and made a game out of it. Some kid actually asked if getting an LOA increases your chance of a nomination. Do some research ahead of time. And don't ask questions that have already been asked. If you know the answer to somebody else's question, let them ask it anyway. The cadets really enjoyed answering questions. Squad Leader: You spend the most time in your squad. My squad had 13 people in it. I also had the greatest squad leader, just an all around great guy. Be respectful, but also know, most of them are just like you. They usually say the funniest stuff. You can really ask them anything. Keep a sense of professionalism though. War Sim: We never fired live rounds or a real gun. But the War Sim is very cool. Essentially, they took M4A1's and stripped out all the firing stuff and made it laser based (similar to Surviving West Point if you have ever seen that show). The also have it rigged to compressed air so you get the effect of recoil. You basically are either standing up or are in prone shooting bad guys at a projector. If you're not doing the War Sim, you're in the computer room playing America's Army. Let loose a little, here, it's a great time. Military Day: This day starts at 0430. I'm serious. Like literally 3 hours of sleep haha. Bring jeans and a long sleeved shirt. I'm sure it's different from year to year, but here is what we did. You first eat breakfast. EAT A LOT. You need the calories. Then you march to Daly Field where you get on buses to head to Buckner. Everyone slept on the bus. Next, all platoons (8 squads, 13 people to a squad, do the math) start off at different stations and some stations have mini stations haha. We started off on the Ranger obstacle course. Other platoons got camo paint here and got to use more obstacles. It would have been nice but in the grand scheme of things it's not that big of a deal. You get muddy. Like really muddy. But it's a great time. After the Ranger course we marched to a big field where we practiced room clearing with dummy M4A1's, Sat in the cockpit of real helicopters, flown in specifically for SLS, operated machinery from the engineering corps, and played with a bomb dismantling robot. You'd be surprised how much they let you do. But this is a ton of fun. We then marched to the ranger pit where we had our lunch of MRE's. Eat fast, they give you like no time at all. We then learned combatives at the ranger pit. That was a lot of fun. After that we marched to a final field where we got to hold all sorts of real guns (M4A1's, SAW's, M9's, etc), practice patrolling tactics with dummy M4A1's, and speak with an ROTC guy. We then got on the bus and did the LRC's, or leadership reaction courses. Basically, they give you like a huge wall that you have to get your squad over and you have a rope, a tire, and a ladder and you cant touch the wall. My word of advice is when the squad leader assigns the team leader, do what the team leader says. A team of leaders is as bad as a team of followers. We all wanted to do it our way and argued and nothing got done. You'll learn though, it's a great time. After words you go back the the Academy, get cleaned up, have some dinner, and then chill with your squad and clean the barracks. Going Home: It sucks. It really does. I'm still in touch with my squad mates. I miss it. Worst part of the week. I hope this helps! I enjoyed writing it and I hope it serves you well. Best of luck, learn as much as you can, ask GOOD questions, and really see if USMA is for you.