Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by GregMilitary, Aug 2, 2011.
It's a question concerning everyone!
Your question is addressed by Cadets themselves in this current thread:http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/showthread.php?t=21132
Read "Absolutely American." My cadet enjoyed it. There are other books out about life at WP written by former cadets. Try Amazon to track them down.
This admissions page has FAQs about cadet life: http://admissions.usma.edu/faq_cadet_life.html
Three other books:
In a Time of War, The Unforgiving Minute, and The Diary of a West Point Cadet
Then, if you're interested in the lifestyle of the 'old' corps (or just interested in reading a West Point classic):
The Long Gray Line
West Point Books
I couldn't agree more about the books mentioned above. They will all give you loads of information, and for me, they really ignited more passion inside of me for West Point!
I have read Absolutely American, In a Time of War, and am currently reading The Long Gray Line. They are all informative, interesting, and all around great books (Absolutely American gives the most info about Cadet's time at West Point).
Finally, check out "Surviving West Point". It is a National Geographic TV special addressing issues such as Beast, Army-Navy, traditions, etc. It is a great series and I would highly recommend it, especially if you wanna know about Cadet life.
It is important to understand that the most recent of those GLIMPSES of cadet life (most of which are amalgamations of the experiences of many cadets into a few personas) was produced a decade ago. Not just any decade ago...a decade of war ago. West Point has changed greatly in the intervening years.
All of those books are excellent reads. The thing to remember is that they are indicative. IE: specific details, privileges, etc may change from year to year, and even company to company.
This also holds true of forums & mailing lists, of course.
so the way to treat them is as a general information source. Any specific detail (good or bad) you'll want to validate if it's important to you.
There was also a fairly big change starting in '98. Mentioned in detail in both "Absolutely American" and "Duty First" as well as other references. This does not invalidate earlier books or experiences, just recognize that the approach to plebe year changed dramatically. You'll find different views on that change, so be aware of that as well.
Also read "Dereliction of Duty" a great book by H.R. McMaster. The book is about Vietnam War!
It's really up to you . . .
I remember a SA applicant telling me that she was not applying to West Point because the uniform was ugly, she was joking.
My personal experience is that attending West Point is more about the end result - becoming an Army officer and having a foundation to be successful in life - and not the "price" you have to pay. Everything matters, but things like how much free time I have, what do I wear, etc shouldn't really matter. It's a package deal, you don't get something good for nothing.
What was the change in 98? I thought the CORPS had quite awhile before then- ha!
I forget the name of the new system, I want to say it's something like CLDS. And I'm sure I cannot explain it as well as current cadets can, as they are living it.
But the general theme was that upperclassmen became responsible for the development and performance of the lower classes. Understand, there are those who will argue about the new system. But the general idea was that hazing & super tough environment by itself did nothing to teach leadership.
So they retooled, and kept traditions that did help develop leaders. Or did not inhibit that development. And rolled in accountability for the performance of the squads, companies, etc. Much more like real life!
Seeing it in action via DS, I have to say it's impressive, and seems to have accomplished the goal of better teaching leadership.
Yuks- (Sopomores) are corporals, and are each assigned a plebe to act as mentor. They are referred to as team leaders. Their job is to help their plebe transition into academy life, coach them, and are a go-to person for questions, etc.
Cows- (Juniors) are Sargents, and lead the squads, platoons, companies, etc.
Firsties- (Seniors) are the cadet officers, and lead the cadets through the NCO's.
All have a vested interest in the performance of the lower classes. And learn leadership along the way.
If a plebe does not do well, it reflects on the team leaders, the Sargents, and even the cadet officers. And they work to help get the plebe back on track.
If a plebe has problems with the APFT, their team leader will be working with them to resolve it. Same for other problems.
There were other changes as well, but that's the quick answer. Hopefully some cadets or recent grads can comment. While details may have changed, it appears the overall current structure is very similar to that described in "Duty First" and "Absolute American". "Diary of a West Point Cadet" is another good read, written by an 2006 grad.
Hope this explanation helps!
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