Time for the Gung-Ho comments.
If you are trying to "COMPARE" the academy to ROTC or to becoming commissioned via OTS; comparing Air Force to Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, etc..; then your question is quite valid. There are definitely pros and cons to each method of an education and to becoming a commissioned officer in the United states Armed Forces.
Now; if your inquiry is to determine the pros and cons of the academy as an alternative to a traditional college or university, then I'd say that such an inquiry isn't as valid.
The #1 purpose of a cadet attending the Air Force Academy, West Point, Annapolis, etc... SHOULD BE to SERVE THEIR COUNTRY as a commissioned officer in the military. The pros and cons are not important in the desire to serve; ONLY as to WHICH BRANCH and academy one may use as their route to serving. With approximately 10,000 individuals applying each year to each of the big 3 academies; and only approximately 1400 individuals walking through the doors when the dust settles; there are MORE than enough applicants who's desire to serve is strong.
I guess my point is; if you truly want to serve as a commissioned officer in the air force; and want to attend the air force academy as a means to that commissioning; then it doesn't matter WHAT THE CONs are of the place. You deal with them and you'll reach your goal of being a commissioned officer. If your #1 priority is something other than serving as a commissioned officer in the Air Force, then probably the air force academy is not right for you.
Applying to any of the academies should not be just ANOTHER SCHOOL that you applied to in the hopes that one of the schools will accept you. It is not an EQUAL on your list of schools. The academies really need to be your first and preferred school on your list. It's what you want to do. Whether you serve for 5 years or 20 years, that is what you should WANT to be doing. Not like; "I get a great education, and I'm (Willing) to give back 5 years of my life to pay back for that education". Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that looking at the fine education, benefits, etc... of the academy and military service shouldn't be considered. Of course they should. But you should WANT to serve; not doing it as a form of pay back. And if you WANT to serve; then it doesn't matter what the pros and cons are unless you are trying to compare the different academies to each other; or to ROTC or OTC. There's approximately 25% of the entering class each year who WILL NOT GRADUATE 4 years later. Most will quit. Some will not be able to handle the academics. It sure would be nice if the academies could bring in their estimated graduating class size right from the beginning where there's a 100% graduation rate. "Minus any medical or physical issues". Of course that's not practical or realistic. But I don't mind bringing up this topic every once in a while in the hopes that those who apply are doing it for the right primary reason. After that, there are plenty of valid reasons. But the #1 reason still needs to be the desire to serve your country.
Sorry if this post sounded cynical. It is not meant to be. But with 10,000 people applying; I'd rather those who really have a calling and desire to serve be the ones. And as far as I know; YOU COULD BE THAT PERSON!!! That would be great. If you are, then don't worry about the CONS. Everything in life has it's moments where it sucks. Ask every parent on this board who has a job, has raised their kids, etc... But it's what we want, so we just deal with it. But again, your question is great if you're comparing the air force to army, navy, coast guard, ROTC, OTS, etc.... now; having said all that; ask about all the GREAT THINGS AT THE ACADEMY!!!!! Best of luck to you. Mike....