West Point began as Fort Clinton. In the late 1700s, it was used not only as an Army post but as a training center for their soldiers. Some soldiers were as young as 10.
The school focused on artillery, leadership and engineering. Many of the early graduates can be attributed to major landmarks, buildings and bridges across America. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the cadets could choose majors other than engineering. The first African American to be admitted occurred after the Civil War and the first females were admitted in the late 1970s.
West Point is a military institution and because so, discipline and rank prevail. Freshmen are called Fourth Class or Plebes. Sophomores are called Third Class or Yearlings. Juniors are called Second Class or Cows. Seniors are called First Class or Firsties. The student body is organized in a brigade. Under that are regiments, battalions and companies. Rank is trickled down from first class cadets to fourth class cadets. The Senior ranking cadet holds the title of Brigade Commander, one of the highest honors a cadet can receive at this school.
Cadets have a choice of 45 majors to choose from and all graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree. Cadets also receive military training, physical training and ethic training during the course of their studies. The West Point education is free for all cadets, in turn cadets serve five years active duty and three years reserve status for the Army. Few cadets do serve in other branches in the military.
While at West Point, a tour of the campus is a must. Visitors cannot tour the campus by themselves and must attend a guided tour, check on times and availability beforehand. West Point and the surrounding areas offer wonderful military museums as well. The city surrounding West Point has numerous independent restaurants, art galleries and wineries. One of the closest cities to West Point is New York City. It is about 50 miles away and is easily accessible by car or public transport.
Cadets are considered active duty military and receive Tricare benefits. Cadets are seen routinely at the Mologne Health Clinic and at the Saunders Dental Clinic. The Keller Army Hospital is located at West Point and has an ER. It services cadets, West Point staff and the local community.
Cadets live in barracks at West Point. Most cadets will share a room with one roommate, few may share with two roommates. During the first year, cadets are limited to meals on campus. Each year cadets receive more privileges to eat off campus. Faculty and staff generally live in housing out in town, few of the higher ranking faculty do live on campus.