Winter Furlough for first year Citadel cadets can bring with it a mixed bag of emotions. While they are very happy to be home and away from the 4th Class system, they also miss their fellow knobs. The friends from high school who went on to non-military colleges can’t relate to the regimented life of a cadet. The process of moving into adulthood and the life of a Citadel cadet is in place by December of knob year.
The downside of Winter Furlough is the news that comes from friends who have decided they want a different college experience and will not return to The Citadel for second semester. While I am sure it is a tough decision not to return, in some ways hearing a good buddy won’t be there second semester can really upset the most devoted knob. I bring this up in case anyone reading this thinks they are alone so they will know they are not.
Some cadets don’t return because of grades. For others, they do not return because of financial reasons. Others decide that they want to attend a non-military college. Whatever the reason, it is hard to leave good friends.
For the knobs who face second semester without a friend, returning in January can be even more difficult. The beginning of second semester is tough for many cadets of all classes. They have spent a month with friends and family, enjoying good food lots of sleep and long hot showers. They return to the cold dark barracks, early morning PT in the damp cold temperatures of the winter. Many first year cadets who haven’t questioned their sanity of choosing this type of college experience, will have their doubts in January and February.
I mention this now as a heads up to parents of first year cadets so you’ll know that if you get a call in January complaining about the school, you’ll be aware that this is normal. As I’ve written in several posts, you know your child the best. If at anytime you have concerns about them and their experience at The Citadel, call the ombudspersons office. They will keep the call confidential and hear your concerns.
How a cadet did academically first semester can be a cause for celebration or concern. Congratulations if your cadet made the Dean’s List (3.2) or Gold Stars (3.7 or higher). The school will publish a list of the cadets on each list. There will also be the announcement of the Commandant’s List and President’s List cadets sometime in January. The President’s List cadets and Gold Star recipients are recognized during the awards parade in January and are invited to a reception at the President’s home after the parade.
If your cadet did not do well first semester it can be a wake up call to reorder priorities. I’ve heard plenty of stories of cadets who didn’t do well their first semester and went on to earn Gold Stars. The academic support office and the individual academic departments can be a great help to cadets, but they must seek the assistance. The sooner they ask for help in a semester the better.
No matter how they did academically, they have made it through the toughest challenge a college freshman can go through and that is cause for celebration!
For now, enjoy your cadet and their stories.
Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful Holiday.