United States Air Force Academy   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

Questions > FAQ Topic

Do basic cadets have any free time?

Yes, but very little. You'll get up at 5:30 in the morning and go to bed at 10:30 at night; however, sufficient time for relaxation is built into the daily schedule. Each evening there is time to shower and attend to personal hygiene. In addition, time is available, just before taps (the last bugle call before lights out), to study, write letters or rest. Adequate time is also allowed for sleep, meals, breaks and religious worship.

Do new cadets enter the BCT program immediately upon entering the Academy?

Yes. The first day is devoted to processing, which includes clothing issue, room and squadron assignments, completing forms, a medical review and a swearing-in ceremony. You will be asked to take the Oath of Allegiance to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to faithfully discharge your duties as a cadet. If your parents come with you, they may want to stay for the public swearing-in ceremony on the second day.

How can I feel assured that I am physically prepared for BCT?

The cadet appointee kit includes specific instructions on physical preparation by the Academy's Director of Athletics. You should follow the instructions by establishing a daily aerobic workout of 30 minutes, without overtaxing or straining yourself. The Cadet Fourth-Class Council has also prepared the following advice:

"Looking back on how we could have better prepared ourselves for entrance to the Academy, physical conditioning stands out first of all. The everyday strenuous conditioning activities can become discouraging and tiring if you're not in shape. If you can accomplish the 30-minute daily workout, which includes running at least two miles and performing the other aerobic activities, you should be prepared for the physical demands that will be placed upon you. However, if you have not met all of the recommended standards before arrival, you will have the opportunity to increase your physical abilities in order to keep pace with your classmates."

Blisters and tendonitis are problems experienced frequently by basic cadets. It is very important that your shoes and combat boots are properly fitted to provide comfort. You might want to purchase a pair of combat boots during your orientation and break them in before you arrive for BCT. You should also build up your leg and ankle strength and general foot toughness before arriving.

I’ve heard basic cadets referred to as "Doolies." What does this mean?

This is a term adopted by the Academy's first cadet class, the Class of 1959, when they were in BCT. Doolie is a derivative of the Greek word duolos, which means subject. The colloquial term is used to refer to cadets in their freshman year by most graduates and outsiders, although the cadets themselves do not typically use it.

If I have problems adjusting to cadet life, can I seek help?

If you experience adjustment problems, you'll be encouraged to seek assistance from counseling sources. Professionally trained officers are always available, as well as upper-class cadets designated for this purpose in each squadron.

What can basic cadets receive through the mail?

Cadets may not receive packages until after Acceptance Day, so it's best to just send letters while they're in Basic Cadet Training.

What happens after basic cadet training is completed?

The Acceptance Parade, with the entire cadet wing participating, marks the completion of BCT. You receive your cadet shoulder boards and become a member of the cadet wing. You can truthfully say to yourself "Well done. The challenges stimulated me to achieve a goal and perform beyond my own expectations." Now you enter the fourth-class academic year, which extends through May. But even though the stringent BCT program has ended, you must take a rigorous schedule of classes and live under the fourth-class system.

What is meant by the term "toleration?"

The Honor Code clearly states that cadets will not tolerate a violation of the code by another cadet. Experience with the code has proven that this is the strong point in maintaining its effectiveness. The Academy's major honor problems have grown out of minor ones. Isolated individual honor violations were tolerated by other cadets and this encouraged the spread of more honor violations within the cadet wing. The necessity for intolerance of such violations becomes even clearer when one considers the purpose of our training - to produce officers who will responsibly serve their country rather than their personal interests. The non-toleration clause represents the spirit within the cadet wing to hold its standards high and to protect them. A cadet who suspects or knows of an Honor Code violation is first encouraged to speak with the suspected cadet. However, if the cadet has difficulty in coping with the situation, the person is encouraged to talk with a cadet honor representative.

What is the purpose of basic cadet training?

The five-week BCT program tests your mental and physical abilities and helps you make the transition from civilian to military life. You'll develop alertness, physical endurance, emotional stability, self-reliance and individual initiative. You'll be subjected to rigorous discipline, attention to detail and punctuality. This training lays the foundation for leadership - which is what you're here for.

What type of training does BCT include?

BCT consists of two phases, both administered by upper-class cadets with commissioned officers and sergeants serving as advisors. The program is supervised by the Commandant of Cadets, who is an Air Force Brigadier General.

The first phase of BCT (1st BCT) takes place in the cadet area and is devoted to military orientation programs. Emphasis is placed on learning basic military skills and responsibilities, improving physical conditioning and adapting to teamwork through competitive sports.

The second phase of BCT (2nd BCT) consists primarily of Field-Training activities conducted at the Jack's Valley encampment site, five miles north of the cadet area. You'll march to the campsite, erect a tent city and live there for 18 days while you're in training. The activities expand your military orientation, teach you weapons skills and develop your physical and mental confidence through challenging obstacles. This training demands the utmost in stamina, determination and resourcefulness. More specific information on BCT can be found in the brochure "The Academy Experience," which the Academy provides to candidates selected for admission.

Who can attend the Acceptance Day parade at the end of Basic Cadet Training?

The Acceptance Day parade is open to the public. After the parade and pinning of the shoulder boards, family members and friends may join their cadets and spend a couple of hours with them on campus. Families and friends should arrive via the North Gate, ready to present a driver's license, and should park at the Cadet Field House.

Why is it necessary for basic cadets to have their hair cut short?

BCT is the transition from civilian to military life. Part of that transition is the uniformity of hair standards for the basic cadets. The rigors of BCT put great demands on personal hygiene. The time allocated for personal hygiene needs to be maximized and short hair helps. During the fall and spring semesters, hair is cut and styled in the cadet barbershops for men and the cadet beauty shop for women. Since the typical female in-processing haircut takes more than 15 minutes to accomplish, you should consider having your hair cut short and styled prior to your arrival at the Academy. After BCT female cadets are allowed to wear hair a little longer.

Will I be tested on my physical condition when I enter the Academy?

Yes. Two tests will be given during the third week of BCT to measure your physical fitness and endurance. The physical fitness test areas are pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, standing long jump and a 600-yard run. The aerobics test is a one and one-half mile run.

tab Topics 
After the Academy
BCT (Basic Cadet Training)
General Information
Honor Code
Mortuary Affairs
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
Waldo Canyon Fire Evacuation

 Inside USAFA

ima cornerSearch

tabAcademy Links

Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     USA.gov     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act