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Cadet Merit List

Posted on 08/31/2022 at 09:42 AM by Joanna Lee

Modeled upon USAF Academy program, proposed award would honor academic & fitness excellence

Leadership and aerospace are arguably the two thematic areas of cadet life that receive the greatest attention. How might we motivate cadets to excel in the other two areas, fitness and character? At the Air Force Academy, an award program called the Cadet Merit List recognizes high-achievers in academics and fitness. We’re proposing a Cadet Merit List for CAP that would encompass two awards, the Cadet Academic Award and the Cadet Physical Fitness Award. Every cadet would be eligible, and competition should cause the higher Merit List standards to become the new de facto standard — nobody wants to be left behind.

Academic Excellence

A person of character practices the discipline of prioritizing higher obligations. For cadets, academic excellence at school is one such high obligation.

We envision a voluntary program where cadets who desire the Cadet Academic Award would need to show a school report card with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (4.0 scale). This criteria mirrors National Honor Society standards.

The award would expire after 6 months. To continue with the award, the cadet would need to sustain that cumulative 3.0 GPA.

The idea here is for the award to provide cadets yet another reason to excel at school.

Physical Fitness Excellence

To encourage excellence in physical fitness, we envision recognizing cadets who attain the Healthy Fitness Zone standard that’s set for one year above their age (e.g., cadets aged 13 would aim for age 14 standards) in all 5 CPFT events, unless medically restricted, in which case that event would be waived.

As with academics, the Cadet Fitness Award would expire after 6 months. Thereafter, cadets would need to re-earn the award or remove it from their uniform.

Applying for encampment cadre? Going for a scholarship? You’ll want to be on the Cadet Merit List to be competitive.Possible Merit List Modular Shoulder Cord Example

Easy Administration

We know that this program needs to be easy for squadrons to administer. We envision using eServices to record the Merit List honorees, with cadet personnel records showing all the instances where the cadet achieved the academic and fitness standards as well as the date that the next 6-month cycle ends.

The award takes the form of a shoulder cord, which is easily modular, allowing the cadet to add or subtract honor designations, depending on their performance on the Merit List. Cadets included on the current Merit List would earn the basic braided cord. If they earn the academic honor, they qualify for the aiguilette with silver tip. If they earn the fitness honor, they qualify for the single rope without tip. Cadets who earn both awards wear both additions to the basic cord. Cadets who do not qualify for the Merit List earn nothing, not even the basic cord.


The National Cadet Team welcomes feedback on the larger concept of the merit list, as well as the proposed finer details such as the form of the award, cord vs. badge, and the specific levels and time periods for earning these recognitions.  

Categories: New Ideas

First glance, I think it is a great idea. I don't think it would difficult to administer, that info is on their school records. Then my mind went to another problem. Homseschool. In the past, one of my own kids were home schooled. Tested great when he was ready for 10th grade public. But, we did not have much of a grading system. In our squadron, we have many homeschoolers and public, even some mix. I don't know how you can level the playing field. But I do like the concept.
2nd Lt Mol | 09/19/2022 at 12:18 PM
I think the idea is amazing! It seems any way that we can boost self esteem and confidence by giving them things to accomplish is a great idea! I do agree that the costs would be a big burden, especially for smaller squadrons like ours. s
Stacy Condie | 09/13/2022 at 09:44 AM
This is not a great idea as is. I echo other comments that this is an incredible administrative burden for volunteers. This is not a full-time job and NHQ continues to grow in this direction. Wanting to recognize academic and fitness achievement is laudable, but this is not the way to do it. Scrap this proposal and start over.
Mary Albright | 09/11/2022 at 08:07 AM
I think this is an outstanding idea, and should promote a friendly competition among the cadets to earn the awards.
Kelly Howard | 09/09/2022 at 12:56 PM
Not only is this an administrative burden, but also comes at great cost to either the cadet or unit. Typical cords cost $22-30 from Vanguard. Is NHQ going to provide the cords?
Sara D | 09/08/2022 at 01:28 PM
I don't like the idea of an award that comes and goes. Keeping track of who can wear the cord and which add-ons will be a significant burden, especially as it isn't calendar based (where everyone puts it on/takes it off at the same time) but individual - every week checking the list of cadets to see what's changed. Also, for the Fitness award, currently the choice is Mile run or Pacer Run, not both. Cadets will have to do both? What about squadrons that don't have a location to do a mile run?
Paul Kretschmar | 09/08/2022 at 12:43 PM
Adding administrative items to a program already requiring several adds to a cadet programs officer’s time burden. My Wing has a Sqn with 100+ cadets. This is not a full time job. Heading in this direction makes it seem that way.
Elizabeth M Yull | 09/01/2022 at 04:23 PM
Good day, I like the idea of rewarding cadets who might excel in physical and academic skills, I'm sure it'll motivate cadets to up their fitness standards and academic effort. This is great, thank you National Cadet Team.
Gabriel Torres | 08/31/2022 at 10:52 AM
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