Graduation Info (General)




Prep School Activities generally start the Tuesday prior to USAFA Graduation (15 May)

Graduation Reception Tuesday

Parade –Wednesday AM, Hall of Fame and Awards Ceremony PM

Graduation – Thursday at Arnold Hall



Friday the 18th – for the 2nd Degrees (2019)  Ring Dining Out (Mess Dress – Mitchell Hall)

Ring Dance – Arnold Hall (note:  men usually stay in Mess Dress, ladies usually change into a formal gown)


Saturday the 19th – Commandant’s Fiancee Reception (If your cadet has proposed and would like to present their fiancée to the Commandant (Cadet RSVPs and escorts fiancée)

Sunday the 20th – Superintendent’s Reception (Cadets must escort their guests)  A Formal Reception at the Carlton House, you can tour the house and get photos with the Supt.  Timing is by Group 1  1300-1345, 2 – 1400 (2 PM – 1445),  3 – 1500-1545  4 – 1600-1645.  Church wear is appropriate, some steps (there are ramps)  light snacks/desserts/drinks.  Unless you have a handicap placard, you park in a lot and a shuttle takes you to the house.

(I highly suggest this weekend you and your cadet start packing up and donating what they won’t take with them during this weekend)

Monday, the 21st.  All of the awards ceremonies, usually by department.  Each department will publish the time and location of their event.  Cadets are highly encouraged to attend and support their fellow classmates.  I wore “upscale casual” to this event.  Black pants, a nice top and a jacket.  My husband wore a shirt and tie, no jacket.  I saw folks in polo shirts and slacks there too.

In the evening is the Graduation Concert at Arnold Hall—open to public, comfy clothes.  It was fun, as my daughter was in the cadet chorale, and we saw In the Stairwell perform before they got famous on America’s Got Talent J

Tuesday the 22nd.  Graduation Parade at 0900-1100.  Get there early!! Classes march on by squadron.  As you look at the field, 1-20 is left of the podium 21-40 to the right.   Cadets will separate from the group, and you can meet them on the parade field.  I highly suggest you coordinate where you will meet prior to the parade. (think acceptance parade if you went)  Be comfy here.  You can get away with jeans here—unless you are stuck on base for commissioning, then bring clothes to change into with you.  You honestly can change in your cadet’s room if you need to.


Commissioning Ceremonies—what we came for!!  This is broken into 3 different time frames:

1:00-3:00, 4:00-6:00, 7:00-9:00 (all PM)

They will publish, by squadron, the location of your cadet squadron commissioning time and location closer to graduation.  You want to dress nice here, suits, or uniforms if you are retired/authorized to wear one.  Ours happened to be from 1:00-3:00, at the Air Garden, which is right in front of Mitchell Hall.  If you have an outdoor ceremony, dress appropriately, and they may change the location if the weather is inclement.  The AOC will make remarks, and call up cadets to take the commissioning oath.  The cadet chooses who will give it, generally someone significant to them during their time there, or a family member if they were a member of the service (doesn’t matter which one).  I saw everything from military in Mess Dress, Retirees in their Class A Uniform, and older retirees in a suit wearing a retiree pin…  The oath is posted in big letters on a board for the officiant to read.  Once they say “so help me God”.  They get their cadet boards removed and “pinned” 2Lt by whom they choose (many times parents), but really the boards are just snapped on and off, so it’s pretty easy.  Once all of the cadets are commissioned, they receive their first salute.  They choose that person too.  They are issued a silver dollar for the occasion by the AOG, so make sure it is NOT packed up with their belongings, and they can find it for the ceremony.

If you choose the Formal Reception at Mitchell Hall (I highly recommend it, it’s fabulous), your cadet will need to buy tickets for everyone in your party, I believe at Arnold Hall.  Timing is key here.  The Reception is from 3:30-7:30 pm.  So, if you are in the first group to go, you eat after.  If in the middle, 6:00 pm isn’t too late to eat, but if you have last commissioning, eat beforehand.


Wednesday the 23rd.  Graduation!  Traffic can be bad, and we waited over an hour to exit the parking lot.  Have water or a cooler with you.  Or, I recommend parking on the south side of the stadium (if you can) and as close to the road as you can, if you are willing to walk up to the stadium, as those who got there early and parked by the stadium are punished by waiting for those who came last to exit last…..

Your cadet will also have an outprocessing checklist.  Be prepared to be out of the room by after graduation.  Your cadet should be packed up and out of the room by Tuesday, minus their graduation uniform and something to change into after graduation, and maybe a pillow if they are sleeping there.  They have to “clear the dorms” so to speak and plan to meet them at your hotel, house, etc. wherever you are staying.  They can meet you in the stadium after the ceremony and thunderbirds are done (it’s a long 3 hours), so you will want to have some cold water ready for them.  I gave our daughter several cold bottles of water to take with her.  If you can, maybe a light, non-perishable snack you can bring in with your see through bag J too, as many probably skipped breakfast.  We were prepared to leave first thing Thursday morning after graduation.




Generally, your cadet will get 60 days off, unless there are extenuating circumstances.  (For example, they have an overseas assignment, but a hard training/class date in the US, so they move the new Lt to their assignment first, so their unit pays for the travel to their training location).

As a rule, it’s easier just to move all their stuff home, what they have of it, although the Air Force will pay to move their stuff from the Academy to their first duty location.  It just depends on where they are going and when.  If overseas, no option, the Air Force will move them, but you can ask them to move them from their home of record to their first assignment.  You can even ask them to do a split pick up (if they have very large items at home that will be moved, like a piano…)  Generally, most cadets do a DITY move (or Do It Yourself Move), where the Air Force pays the cadet to move themselves (keep all receipts!!)  And they are briefed on how this works, for example, weighing their car empty with a full tank of gas, them full of their stuff, with a full tank of gas.  They are paid by the pound.  This is what our daughter and most of her friends did.


Once they get to their new duty station and sign in, many are sent to training of various types.  The Air Force pays them to do this, and I recommend they travel in their own vehicle whenever possible, so they have it.  If they have an overseas assignment, and know they will be coming back for training, wait to have their car shipped overseas until they complete their training, so they have their vehicle, then it will be shipped over to them.  Also, some countries have restrictions on vehicle sizes, but it is an unusual situation….  By this time, it’s time for the new Lts to learn just like everyone else, which is by asking a lot of questions and just doing it.

Relax and enjoy your time with your cadet, try not to over schedule yourself and try to get them to start going through their stuff at least 2 weeks prior to graduation.  Sell, the fridge, give away bedding to Good Will, etc.  Uniforms, clothes, toiletries, computers/monitors, etc. are the basics of what they should keep and move.  Honestly most everything else can probably be thrown out or given away.