Military Academy at West Point
Established by an act of Congress in 1802, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is the oldest and perhaps the most prestigious of the federal service academies. Thomas Jefferson selected the location at the mouth of the Hudson River to protect what was then the capitol of the nation in New York. Because it changed from its original intent as a fort, named Fort Clinton, to an educational institution, it has become the longest continuously operated military installation.
Graduates of the four year program are awarded bachelor’s degrees after completion. Upon graduation they are also awarded commissions as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.
Since its founding, the U.S. Military Academy has had as its primary goal the preparation of cadets to assume leadership roles as U.S. Army officers.
With this goal uppermost in mind, requirements from admission to graduation, physically as well as mentally, are stringent.
The U.S. Military Academy has as its graduates such distinguished alumni as George Armstrong Custer, Douglas MacArthur, George S. Patton, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar N. Bradley, and many others.
Despite the high standards for not only admission but to stay and eventually graduate, the numbers of those who apply for admission is always far more than there is room to admit. Part of the reason for this is that just as is the case with all federal service academies, there is no cost to attend. Instead, in addition to their educational costs being covered by the government, each cadet is paid an amount comparable with enlisted ranks until they graduate. Cadets enter the Academy by either attending the West Point Preparatory School or any number of other educational institutions. Regardless, most cadets have credentials that include honor roll membership, letters in various sports, and numerous extracurricular activities.
Early in the Academy’s history, cadets could only study a single subject, military engineering, but today’s cadets have their choices from a wide selection of majors, from behavioral sciences to English and philosophy, and from mathematical sciences to systems engineering.
Classroom learning is only a part of the Academy curriculum, with the demands of Army leadership taking a considerable amount of the cadet’s time and energies. Cadets spend not only time during the week, but summers in the field surrounding the main campus learning military skills that they might take into battle. Subjects such as brigade tactics, military instruction, and professional military ethics and leadership.
Another important aspect of daily cadet life is athletics. The Academy is known around the the world for the teams it fields in such sports as football, basketball, lacrosse, boxing, wrestling, and many others. As part of its role in the development of leaders, cadets are strongly encouraged to take part in all manner of physical education programs.