What is Life as a cadet like?

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New Member
Jul 11, 2015
Hey, I'm wondering about my first year at West Point. Can plebes go to movies if they want? Is there a movie theater even on campus? Can they drive cars? What if their parents lend them a car? Can they take a date to dinner if they want? Where? I have a civilian boyfriend and am just wondering what we can do when he comes to visit. A friend who knew someone at West Point told them that it was a terrible place to bring a boyfriend for a visit. They said you can't hold hands, kiss, hug, or even lay around on a blanket- especially as a plebe. And they said that if you do bring your civilian sweetheart, you get embarrassed all the time by upperclassmen who yell at you all the time when you are in public. They might 'lock you up' in front of them. Is this true? I want the education, but it seems like I would have to basically give up my boyfriend to go there- at least during plebe year. Is that a choice I would have to make? I just want to know the reality of my choice.
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There are TVs in company areas, but no theater. You cannot maintain a car on post until after spring break of your junior year. You cannot have PDAs in public. No hand holding, kissing, hugging, or lying on horizontal surfaces.

If losing your boyfriend is a big concern for you, strongly consider not applying. The goal of WP is to produce professional officers in the U.S. Army. Graduation comes with a 5 year commitment to serve AD as a 2LT. It is much more than just a high quality education.

Not intended as a personal attack, that's just the reality of life as a cadet. Check out usma.edu. Plenty of information on what daily life is like at USMA.
I agree with littlepatriot. Also, IMO, if you are just looking for a free education and have no interest in serving, West Point, or any other service academy, is not the place for you. Chances are that you could get a free education at other colleges anyways if you are qualified enough to get into West Point.
Hey, thanks for the information. This is exactly what I am looking for. I want to confirm what I have heard. Sometimes it is hard to believe and I can't get the information in brochures or on the internet. On the official brochures, all I can find is that everything is great. But the friend of a friend paints a completely different picture. I just love my boyfriend, that's all. I don't want to break up just to become an officer.

I have another question, this friend said that even weekends are not free. I think they said that you have to get up early and still put your uniform on and go to a thing called Formation. You have to stand in line at 'attention', can be hazed, and for no other reason than to 'be counted' or something. Is this what you have to do on the weekend too? No break even on Saturday or Sunday? You can't sleep in ever? I'm just asking. I want to know what I'm looking at before I make up my mind.
basically just imagine all the terrible things you've heard about the place (not saying there aren't any fun stuff either but just bear in the mind the horrible things for now) and imagine it about 10x worst. You really have to know why you're going there in the first place if you want to survive (that's what cadets there told me)
I think you need to spend some more time with google. 10 seconds on google and this came right up along with tons of articles and even a YouTube video: http://www.usma.edu/admissions/SitePages/FAQ_Life.aspx

West Point, along with all the SAs, are very regimented lifestyles. College Confidential along with this forum provide lots of info about life as a Cadet. Your first year at any SA provides very little free time and yes you will have lots of formation, many times for no reason at all. Formations in the military are traditionally done to be "counted" and pass word. This will happen in the regular Army too. Hazing is against the rules. Can they "train" you, yes. Can you have visitors, yes. There isn't much free time and you will be in uniform at least your first year. There are rules that apply to no PDA in uniform. If one of your very top concern is losing your boyfriend, then I would definitely look at other schools. Are there relationships that survive Plebe Year, yes, but very few. Also realize that as a Cadet your priorities and time will be managed a great deal for you Plebe Year and finding time to communicate with a significant other is very tough. Nothing is impossible, but is not easy.
I'm ignoring you, Dixieland. pretty insulting. thanks for the answers to all others. No. and I've looked at Google articles and photos and videos. All of them are very cleaned up and professional. None of them show actual cadet videos like other colleges allow. It makes me a little antsy. Why aren't there candid videos from real cadets out there for me to see? The friend I am telling you about ended up quitting because she said that it wasn't anything like she was told. Thanks for your honesty, Lucky Dog. If I'm going to go somewhere for four years and make that kind of commitment, I want to know how it will really be- not what nice brochures say. I came here trying to get some inside answers, not to get yelled at. So, Lucky Dog, you haven't gone yet either?

Listen, I'm serious about the weekend thing. I don't mind discipline. I have straight A's, am great at sports, play the clarinet & sax and volunteer with my church. I know what a schedule looks like. But I do need some down time. When my friend told me about never getting to sleep in, ever, I balked. How do cadets ever recoop? I sleep loads on Sun to recover my unbelievably full week - Do I get one day of sleep or not?
You can go on Youtube and find lots of videos of cadet daily life. Your room is inspected every morning and there are formal inspections that take hours to prepare for every semester. It is incredibly stressful as a Plebe at West Point and sleep is a rare commodity. You'll have laundry duties, trash duties, school, two hours after school of a mandatory sport, then studying, then more studying, then up at 5 to do it all again. Weekends are sports, studying, parades, mandatory football games. You'll be lucky to get to leave on pass for two weekends of the Plebe Year. There is a theater on post and there is pretty decent live entertainment that comes in if you don't have somewhere else you have to be. This experience is not for the faint of heart and you need to want to be an Army Officer to go here, education is secondary to that. If you are thinking you want West Point for the awesome education, which it provides, and that is all, think again, because you have a major commitment along with that superb education. After graduation, men and women will be looking to you for guidance, inspiration, and comfort in the knowledge that if deployed, you will get them through what lies ahead safely.
OP, life as a Plebe can suck, but its all what you make of it. There will be weekends that you do not get to leave post because of duty, training, football games, parades, etc. Normally Sundays are fairly relaxed and you can recharge a little. If you have duty or training that day, probably not. So there is no guarantee that you will get every Sunday off. The better you are a time management will lead to more sleep. After your Freshman year you can nap during the day. You do have free periods, use them to study and do homework. As you progress you get more time off, but you also increase with responsibilities. That isn't a bad thing, but it means giving up some of your free times to take care of things if needed. Not saying this is an everyday thing. With privileges come responsibilities. I have looked for a few minutes and found plenty of videos, blogs, etc that discuss Cadet life pretty honestly. Even on the FAQ page on the West Point page, they aren't hiding anything. West Point is a pretty isolated place and getting out and about is pretty tough. Weekend passes are rare, especially as a Plebe. I highly recommend that if West Point interests you that you visit the campus. To be honest getting advice from someone who has left and appears to be bitter isn't going to paint an honest picture. Most Cadets are pretty brutally honest about what life is like at West Point. West Point doesn't hide things either.
ok, thanks, everyone. I think I understand. Can anyone point me to the Youtube videos with a link? All I found under 'West Point' were very 'formatted' videos with music. I would like to see some candid stuff from real students. You know, just stuff like them in their rooms, talking & being themselves. I would appreciate that. I have learned a lot and would like to thank most of you for answering my questions with honesty and patience. I don't want to make a mistake and perhaps you are right- asking a cadet who left might not be the best source for knowledge. That's why I'm here to get more information. While my questions might seem lame to some of you, I'm not a soldier yet and these things do matter to me. Thanks for your thoughts. I'm sure you don't want an ambivalent soldier on your hands. Lots to consider.
Thanks for asking your questions on the forums. Sometimes it is hard for the experienced members to realize how little the general public knows about the military academies and the questions that get asked seem very trivial. I appreciate your effort to learn more about West Point and I hope that you continue to visit us and ask questions.

As far as videos go, since it's 0220 and I'm at work I don't have time to look up a bunch, but here the first one that comes up when I searched "West Point Fun". It's a bit dated. There are times for cadets to have some fun, but the first year is hard.

OP, although I'm not a cadet I did sleep over a WP and spend 2 full days with my host cadet. I can say that although life as a Plebe is hard, (from what I saw) I also always saw Plebes supporting Plebes in everything they were doing. From what I saw classmates were always there for each other making sure everyone was squared away before moving on to wherever they were going. I was there during the middle of the Academic Year last year and to be honest I didn't see any upperclassman hassling the Plebes. I talked to a girl and she said for the most part during the school year they don't really hassle you because their to busy focusing on their own work. You will get those few that will just because they can, but that's just part of being a Plebe. I believe every plebe gets one weekend off called "leave" but you can earn more and if you have an emergency they aren't going to MAKE you stay at WP. Basically life as a Plebe is hard, but you'll never be alone. You'll always have support and people to be there to help you along the way. Again, this is just what I saw, I'm not a cadet. Hopefully 2020:). Hope I helped!
I don't want to break up just to become an officer.

You don't want to break up with your boyfriend to become an officer? OP, major red flag. The mission of the United States Military Academy is, "To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army."

I admire that you're asking questions and trying to learn about cadet life, but if you aren't willing to sacrifice a high school relationship to become an officer, how will you feel when you're responsible for actual human lives in combat? I strongly suggest not applying.
relax guys. susan, just know that 90 percent of the cadets there have lost their respective partners and don't date anyone from hs. Might want to think about addressing that if you're going to apply (if that is the big issue for you). Think about going to the SLE. They told us that Beast is generally like the first day you're there-- except a whole lot harder.
Wow. Little Patriot. Why are you abusing me? Thanks, Stealth 81, for understanding my need to know what I'm getting into. You would think that others would appreciate that I am asking good questions before I apply. Making decisions that suit my goals should be applauded, not scorned. 90% is dismal. I see all these photos with guys marrying all these women at West Point- I thought they were civilian girlfriends. I guess I thought it meant I could keep my civilian boyfriend. We are very serious and are discussing marriage. I am very patriotic and love the idea of service- it is just very difficult to understand how this will impact my future family. I think about children and being a female officer as well. I won't have a future family if I lose the love of my life. Much to consider. I'm sorry that this means so little to some of you. And actually, the way some of you have treated me here in this forum makes me believe what my friend told me about the cadets. Your attitude seems to be, 'If you ask these questions or have these concerns, don't bother even applying. REAL soldiers don't have these concerns." I will bet you that they do have these concerns. There appears to be very little tolerance for women's concerns, emotions or even questions. Isn't this a forum where we're supposed to ask questions? Geeze. By simply asking these questions, I have been told numerous times to not bother applying and been called a troll. Further, the heavy implication that I am a weakling, only want to take a free hand out from the government via a free education, and am an unworthy candidate all around seem to be showering down upon my head by merely asking questions! Is this how you treat women in West Point? You make me wonder how you would treat me if I was actually under your control.
Wow. Little Patriot. Why are you abusing me?
Thick skin is an invaluable trait in life. Littlepatriot did not say anything abusive, she gave you her opinion, and I personally agree with her to a certain degree. The fact that you are even considering not going to USMA because it might interfere with a high school relationship shows that you don't want to go to USMA that badly.

Further, the heavy implication that I am a weakling, only want to take a free hand out from the government via a free education, and am an unworthy candidate all around seem to be showering down upon my head by merely asking questions!
When you say " I want the education, but it seems like I would have to basically give up my boyfriend to go there" it makes it seem like you only have an interest in the free education and no interest in becoming an officer in the Army.
OP, I actually think some of the feedback that you are receiving that is more on the negative/questioning is side is from prospective Candidates. Many folks have their 'ideas of why someone should want to attend a SA.' For those of us who have gone to a SA, many know the reality is that people for a bunch of reasons, but you must be willing to stay for the right reason, and that is service. I am a female graduate of USNA. Its not West Point, but the SAs are pretty similar in some regards. A couple of things:

1. Being a woman in the military is different. You are correct. Timing for families and other things are factors. How do I know this, because I am a woman who served as a Marine and a huge majority of my friends are female officers. The Navy just increased maternity leave to 18 weeks. That is amazing! Remember you cannot get married until you graduate. If marriage is something you want sooner, a SA is not the right place. Having a kid as a woman in the military is challenging. Timing it so it has the minimal impact to career, deployments, etc. I saw many woman try to get out of all kinds of deployments because they had a kid. The bottom line is if you want to serve, it is upon you to meet those commitments, including deployments. Not saying you wouldn't, just trying to give some reality. This can and does create rifts in units when guys get tagged again to deploy, because a woman is pregnant again or finds everywhere possible to get out of deployment because they have a child.

2. The reason many are giving you some questionable feedback about a high school relationship is because very few high school relationships survive the first year of college, especially ones of distance. And this isn't unique to SAs. The reason is there is so much growth, maturity and learning about yourself. Its the first time most of you have had to fend for yourselves, think for yourselves and develop your own thoughts and opinions. Especially at a place like a SA, you will be exposed to so many people from all over the country and even some foreign Cadets. The growth is so large the first year at any school, especially at a SA, most relationships naturally drift apart. I am not saying this is you, but statistically, it is more than likely. And my parents were married at 19 and still married 50 years later. 90% isn't just West Point, I can tell you that any first year distant college relationship has similar numbers. I know of 2 folks who made it through USNA with their high school sweethearts and are still married today.

Also there is a pretty decent wave of folks who get married right after graduation. I think I went to 6 weddings in 2 days after I graduated. Of those 6, 3 are still married and they all met in college. The divorce rate is rather high for these grads. It is somewhere above 50%, probably closer to 2/3. The reason is active duty life is hard. Also for a SA grad the first year or two after graduation is big growth times. They have been living a very regimented lifestyle and its the first time they make alot of different decisions, entered the real world, etc. Sometimes the growth can create a separation with a spouse. I think that is common for young couples, heck its an issue for all couples. Also if you have dated long distance, it tends to be very honeymoonish during those 4 years when you get to visit. Real life living in El Paso, TX with a spouse who hates the base, misses family and you are gone for 6 months, sometimes just can't take it. Marriage and the military is a totally different world. It has its unique challenges.

3. The reason alot of folks are giving you some flack on here is there really isn't a mention of wanting to serve. You bring it up a few posts down. It is mostly a mention of education and how this will impact your love life. As someone who has gone through this, as has Stealth, we have a little perspective and see these are important questions. I am not here to bash you or call you a troll. I hope I provided some perspective as a woman who has gone through this life. Realize that the military and especially a SA, your time is not necessarily yours. The time management and balance is hard. There are going to be days where you have 30 minutes to talk to your boyfriend on the phone and other days where a text will have to suffice. You might make plans for him to visit on a Sunday and all of a sudden you have a mandatory event. It happens. Women can and do very well at SAs every single day. I had a very positive experience at a SA as have nearly all my female friends. They all have incredible lives in and out of the military and have amazing careers and families. The bottom line is what are your priorities? What do you want to get out of the experience? Remember you can always go and do ROTC also. You would have more free time and could possibly go to the same school , or closer, as your boyfriend. You can even get married.

If you have more questions feel free to post them or PM me. Ignore the other stuff.
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