FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the information listed below may be outdated. Please refer to USAFA's official media outlets for the most accurate information and updates.
What if I only have time (or money) for 1-2 trips to visit USAFA?
Parents' Weekend (Labor Day Weekend) is an optimal time to visit the Academy, when USAFA holds special events for parents, including the opportunity to attend your cadet's classes and meet the professors and instructors. It's Homecoming Football for the Falcons, and all cadets attend along with their families and enjoy the fabulous pre-game show, replete with fighter jet flyovers and Cadet Jump teams parachuting in. Parents' Weekend, or PW as it's commonly known, is a not to be missed experience for the whole family. Most cadet families attend every year, and many miss PW when their cadet graduates.
Should parents attend In-Processing?
That is the personal question that faces each family. While some Appointees may ask their parents to attend, some do not. Some Appointees tell their parents to stay home, that they want to in-process without the parents present. Some Appointees want to ask their parents to not come, but the parents don't give the Appointee a choice. We recommend that the parents wait to hear from the Appointee his/her preference on their accompanying him/her to In-Processing. It would be best for the Appointee to be enabled to make this decision.
For Inter-Collegiate (IC) recruits , the coach oftentimes invites the parents to accompany the Appointee to In-Processing. The coach holds parent gatherings while the Appointee is In-Processed with his/her team. While IC parents may enjoy the coach soirees, the Appointee is best asked what s/he would prefer. There will be plenty of opportunities for the team parents to meet and connect at future sporting events.
What happens during Basic Cadet Training (BCT)?
There are two phases to Basic Cadet Training, each 3 weeks: BCT I & BCT II.
BCT I starts with In-Processing on Day 1. Roughly 1,400 Appointees are in-processed in one day. They arrive either individually or with their parents or families in tow at the large white tent, travel through Arnold Hall, and when they're ready, they ascend the stairs to be in-processed. They will enter The Bus on the 15-minute ride to the Cadet Area. That bus ride may appear interminable to many. Their lives will never be the same again. They will ride The Bus to the footprints near the Core Values Ramp. The Appointees are sworn in on Day 2 and become basic cadets ... and the military training by USAFA standards begins.
FYI, they don't need their watches for another six weeks, as the cadre will serve as alarm clocks. Immunizations are given (if needed), haircuts are provided, and military clothing is issued. Everything that the basic cadet needs is supplied by the military, from toothpaste to underwear to eyeglasses (aka "date killers") to overcoats to socks. As one dad quipped on AOG parent forums, "If the basic cadet needs a mom, the military will issue one of those, too."
BCT II starts immediately after BCT I with the March to Jack's Valley, an area on the Academy grounds where their physical and mental capabilities will be tested. During BCT II the basic cadets live for 3 weeks in tents. They learn more about themselves, teamwork, leadership, and responsibility to each other, the squadron, the Academy, the Air Force, & their country. It is a time when many basic cadets question why they signed up in the first place. Now more than ever, they will need to hear encouragement from you.
How can I communicate with my Cadet during BCT?
BCT consists of two parts – 1st BCT, which is conducted in the Cadet Area, and 2nd BCT, conducted in Jacks Valley. Mail is the only way to communicate during this time. Mail those letters and cards often. Cadets won’t be allowed phone calls and the letters from family and friends mean so much to them. Suggest you put your cadet’s BCT squadron letter after their name to help get the mail to the cadet faster. Encourage them to hang in there. It gets better, and once the Fall semester starts they will have e-mail and should have their cell phones full time. Cadets will also have time to write letters during BCT as well, and are encouraged to do so by their trainers. If your cadet is thinking about quitting they will be allowed to call home so you can talk to them and maybe give them encouragement to stay.
What if there is a family emergency?
Feel free to contact your cadet’s AOC (Commander) or AMT (enlisted superintendent) in case of family emergencies. You can also contact Marie Nikovits, USAFA Parent Liaison, Toll Free at 1-877-268-3383, (719) 333-3828, if you need their phone numbers or need me to contact them for you. The commanders really do try and work out emergencies as quickly as possible.
What are Sponsor Families?
All new appointees will be given a sponsor family. You don’t need to contact anyone unless your appointee wants a particular family they are requesting. Then both the appointee (not the parent) and the family who wants to sponsor them must e-mail: Cadet.Sponsor@usafa.edu. You will be sent more information then. This is a really good program. It is a home away from home where your cadet can get away from the campus and chill. Many sponsor families keep their cadets for their whole four years and become lifelong friends. Many are active duty or retired military and they can help your cadet settle in and answer questions they may have. This is great for cadets with no military background. The families volunteer to help your cadet and all the costs incurred are paid for by the sponsor families.
What is Doolie Day Out (DDO)?
On DDO the cadets get to meet their sponsor families. The sponsor families pick the cadets up around 0930 or so and take them back to their house for the afternoon. This is the day your cadet will be able to call you during BCT. Only registered sponsor families with assignment letters will be permitted to enter the pick-up area. They must have their assignment letter and dash pass. If for some reason someone makes it all the way in without these documents, the cadet will be reported and there will be serious consequences for the cadet upon return. The cadets will be briefed about being released only to the family they are assigned to for the day. Your cadet will be able to talk with you on this day. If you are local you must become your cadet’s sponsor to be allowed to pick them up on Doolie Day Out.
Parents from out-of-state should NOT come to town in hopes of spending Doolie Day Out with their son/daughter on this day. Doolie Day Out is for sponsor families to get to know their sponsored cadets. The appropriate time for parents to come is on Parents’ Weekend (always Labor Day Weekend). They may then meet their son/daughter’s sponsor families if they so desire.
Should we attend the Acceptance Day Parade?
If you are close, you can spend 1 or 2 hours with your cadet after the parade. This is a parade officially accepting the Freshman (C4Cs) into the cadet wing. You must stay on campus and suggest you bring a picnic lunch or you will spend all your time in line at Subway, WingZone, or Godfather’s Pizza in Arnold Hall. Appointees will not be allowed cell phones so plan on meeting up on the parade field after the parade. Shoulder boards have to be put on by the Cadets, but parents are allowed on the field to observe. To help you find your cadet, the squadrons are organized from your left to your right. Cadets squadrons 1-10 followed by squadrons 11-20. To the right of the center are Cadet squadron(s) 21-39, followed by 31-40.
How much money does a Prep School Candidate need on In-Processing Day?
For the 2014-2015 year, prep school candidates are required to bring $1,875 to cover initial costs.
What if my cadet's plane arrives late and he/she misses his/her ride back to campus after a holiday?
Here is a helpful guide to begin your search for emergency transportation from the airport to the Academy.