While the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is a college campus, it's also an active Army base and training facility. That means that unlike other college campuses, you can't just drive on and walk into classrooms and dorm rooms without planning your visit a little in advance. So whether you're a sports fan, historian, young aspiring Cadet, or a full-fledged Candidate, here are four easy ways to visit West Point.
1. The Sports Fan: Fall Visit to Michie Stadium
A home football game at West Point offers brisk weather, beautiful Hudson River views, a kaleidoscope of changing leaves, and plenty of opportunities to watch cadets in action. Since game days are among the most visitor-friendly days at West Point, it’s also a great way for aspiring students to experience a Saturday on campus. Purchase your tickets and parking passes in advance at GoArmyWestPoint.com and plan to arrive early! The Cadet Review parade normally takes place two hours before game time and requires a steep 1.2-mile walk from the parade field back up to Michie Stadium.
Even if you don’t plan to attend the Cadet Review, make sure to get to the stadium in time to catch some of the kick-off festivities, including helicopter fly-overs and the parachuting team’s tradition of sky-diving onto the 50-yard line to deliver the game ball. West Point’s Michie Stadium is regularly named one of the top stadiums with the best atmosphere in college football. ESPN, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and the National Football League all agree: attending an Army West Point football game at Michie Stadium is one of the most memorable experiences in sports! We think it’s a memorable experience for an aspiring student too.
2. The Historian: Winter Guided Tour
Did you know that the infamous traitor Benedict Arnold nearly gave West Point over to the British Army during the Revolutionary War? Did you know that a congressman wrote Hiram Grant’s name incorrectly on his West Point application, which is why we know him today as Ulysses S. Grant? These are just a few of the true stories that you will learn while touring campus with West Point Tours. The hour-and-fifteen minute tour (Adults $15, Children $12, Under-2 free) makes stops at the Cadet Chapel, Trophy Point, Battle Monument, and the Plain. We suggest booking the 10:15 a.m. tour during a weekday, which gives you plenty of time to catch the Cadets convening for lunch formation.
The current visitor’s center is under construction, but there is still plenty of parking for visitors. Plan to have your identification checked prior to going on campus. And while winter is a fun time to see the cadets in action, West Point can be known to get a little chilly. If you’re cold-adverse, plan to visit during the warmer months or dress accordingly!
3. The Aspiring Student: Spring Admissions Visit
West Point is consistently ranked among the top undergraduate institutions in the nation, and ranked in the top five for Best Classroom Experience, Accessible Professors, Diversity Interaction, Health Services, Intramural Sports, and Library Services! Even if you’re too young to begin an application to West Point, we highly encourage young men and women to come visit through the Admissions visitation program. On weekdays from September to April, West Point’s Admissions Directorate offers tours for you and your family to meet with cadets and staff and to see our campus alive with the activity of the school year. High school students can schedule a visit that includes shadowing a cadet, or even staying overnight; however, overnight visits are reserved for juniors or seniors that have already started an application file.
No matter your age, we suggest combining your visit to West Point with a trip to New York City. (Because why not?) After enjoying all the city has to offer, head to Grand Central Station and board the Metro North Poughkeepsie-bound commuter train for an hour-long ride to the Garrison stop. (We suggest taking the train in off-peak hours. Here’s a map.) West Point Taxi offers $20 rides to West Point, where there are many hotel options including the Thayer Hotel or the Holiday Inn. On the day of your visit, plan to arrive at the Admissions office by 7:30 a.m., as the briefing starts at 7:45 a.m. Remember that you’ll need to go through the Visitor Center’s security station prior to entering Thayer Gate. All Admissions appointments can be made by calling 845-938-5760.
4. The Cadet Candidate: Summer Leaders Experience
Perhaps the most authentic way that an aspiring student can visit West Point is through the Summer Leaders Experience. Though attending SLE requires a competitive application—there are only 1,000 slots and typically more than 6,000 applicants—it’s one of the best ways for an aspiring student to determine if West Point is the right choice for their college experience. Jam-packed with academic, athletic, military, and social activities, SLE is a place where people make life-long friends and try on what it feels like to be a cadet at West Point.
High School students can apply for SLE in January of their junior year by filling out the Candidate Questionnaire and indicating interest in the summer program. From living in a cadet dorm to attending classes and participating in hands-on military training, SLE is a fully-immersive week designed to give you a taste of life at the U.S. Military Academy. And while it is an optional step in the application process, we’ve seen time and time again the difference that one week can make in steeling an aspiring student’s resolve to make his or her application the best it can be, to successfully complete the journey to becoming a cadet at West Point.
It’s important for high school students to do as much research as possible before deciding where to attend college. So, whether you revel in our competitive sports, unique history, beautiful campus, or our immersive Summer Leaders Experience, we hope you take the time to visit and learn about West Point. Who knows? It might just be your college home.
More questions? Visit www.usma.edu or contact us at the Admissions Directorate at 845-938-5760.