What It's Like To Be A Student At West Point

This feature is a part of our Best Colleges In America series.

The United States Military Academy at West Point is one of the most elite institutions in the country.

Students, or cadets as they’re called at the West Point, receive a full scholarship to the school in exchange for a five-year commitment to the Army after graduation.

An education at this school, which came in at number 12 on our list of the 50 best colleges in America, is anything but a breeze. From academics to athletics to other extracurriculars, one day at West Point could look like an entire month in anyone else’s calendar.

Cadets need to keep fit, and can be seen jogging around the campus at all hours of the day, even at 7 a.m.

Statues of historic U.S. leaders remind them of the standards they must live up to. A statue of George Washington sits in front of the hall, bearing his name.

There's also a statue of President Eisenhower, who attended West Point from 1911 to 1915.

The academy was founded in 1802. Prospective students must be between the ages of 17 and 23 in order to apply.

Most classes at West Point have fewer than 20 students. This is a business law class.

Business is a popular major at the academy, along with engineering, foreign languages and social sciences. Cadet Caroline Rice, pictured here, majors in American Legal Studies.

Hats are not allowed to be worn indoors, but must be worn at all times when cadets are outdoors.

Patches on their jackets indicate what company cadets belong to, with the year they will graduate embroidered below.

Walking from class to class, it's easy to catch a beautiful view of the Hudson River.

There are about 4,400 total students at West Point.

About 15 per cent of them are women.

Each must obtain a recommendation from a congressman or senator in order to apply to the academy.

In addition to their classwork, all cadets must participate in some type of sport. It can be intercollegiate, club level, or intramural.

The Military Academy is NCAA Division I for baseball ...

...and of course football.

The cadet chapel, built in 1910, is one of the most striking buildings on campus.

Many of the students return to get married here, as they are not allowed to be married during their time in school.

It has the largest chapel pipe organ in the world.

Perhaps the most impressive part of campus is the mess hall, where all 4,400 students eat at once

It requires massive amounts of food.

Tables are stocked with essentials in preparation for the mad rush of hungry cadets.

Before entering the hall, the cadets all line up in formation...

...and stand at attention.

Soon they're flooding into the mess hall.

This is what it looks like in a 20-second time lapse.

Certain tables are dedicated to different sports teams. These are the girls from the volleyball team.

The entire meal lasts 20 minutes.

And then they're off to their next class or activity...

...preparing for their future in the U.S. Army.

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