United States Air Force Academy

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Character development is the process which builds and reinforces a cadet candidate’s commitment to integrity, service, and personal excellence; qualities necessary to lead in the Air Force.

Cadet candidates are exposed to a comprehensive character and leadership development program during the 10-month United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School experience. This program builds character and leadership skills by focusing on the Academy Honor Code, the Air Force Core Values, and applying these character expectations to real life (what it means to live honorably, and what that looks like). Each cadet candidate takes the Honor Oath at the conclusion of Basic Military Training (BMT) to demonstrate their commitment to these principles prior to the start of the academic year.

Character development opportunities come in many forms. The Preparatory School hosts several guest speaker lectures and discussions, and all cadet candidates attend the Academy’s world-class National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS), in addition to a variety of honor lessons. Additionally, cadet candidates may volunteer to participate in various community service projects both on-base, and in the local community. These efforts not only help others, but build character through service. Past efforts include:

  • Science Fair judging at local elementary schools
  • Holiday food/toy drive
  • Academy Halloween Trunk-or-Treat
  • Reading with children at the base library
  • Habitat for Humanity (Preparatory School won the Pikes Peak region’s volunteer group of 2018 award)

The entire Preparatory School staff is dedicated to developing the character of each individual. Instructors, coaches, military trainers, and all support staff are united in this mission to develop future cadets who value and embody good character. In developing one’s personal character, missteps may be part of the journey, and all Preparatory School staff members are dedicated to providing the necessary accountability, support and guidance in times of struggle. Bouncing back from a mistake can be a very powerful lesson, and solidifies the valuable skill of resiliency. As such, cadet candidates are expected to need help at one time or another, and ideally ask for help (in any arena). Having the ability to admit a fault or expose a weakness—and being willing to work to improve it—is viewed as an act of personal responsibility, and a sign of strength.

Preparatory School Honor Program Fact Sheet and QA