7 Days and Wake Up

Checking in at Holliday Alumni Center
Matriculation morning, 2015

We are one week away from the day Class of 2021 report to The Citadel on their Matriculation Day. Hopefully by now the incoming knobs have read the Matriculation Headquarters page, and completed the necessary tasks. Parents of the Class of 2021 should be aware of everything on the headquarters page, but should really read through everything on the Freshman Parent section of the school web site.

A mailing with helpful information for parents from the Citadel Family Association (CFA) will arrive in the mail soon. The CFA is made up of current parents who volunteer their time to support new families. Once your student learns their company you’ll have a company and battalion rep to support you. You can also find their contact information on the CFA web site.

Parents talk to the “Blue Shirt” volunteer as they wait with the boxes as their knob reports to the battalion.

I moderate a Facebook group called The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2021. We have a record number of parents in the group for this time of year. Membership is already over 630. The group is only for parents and guardians of knobs. Please let your extended family and friends know they cannot join the group, but they can follow the public pages the school runs to keep up with what is happening on campus.

This is the time of year I advise new parents to step away from the computer and spend time with their family. It can be a stressful time for many families, so much so that I end up writing a blog post about letting go each year around this time. I’ll add a few links at the end of this entry.

I do understand how scary it can feel to send a child to The Citadel, or any military college. The key to remember is your student has chosen this type of college experience. If this is what they really want to do they have the skills necessary to be successful.

Trust me, when my son went to The Citadel I was extremely nervous. What I learned that first year is that I didn’t have to understand why they do things the way they do. I was not a cadet my son was. He was the one that had to deal with the 4th Class system. To this day I can’t say I totally understand the “why” around much of the process, but I have come to appreciate the outcomes. The Citadel was exactly where my son, and most cadets who choose to take on the challenge, were supposed to be.

If you are a parent worried about this first year, you aren’t alone. A few words of advice. Try not to worry about things that haven’t even happened yet, because most of the things you worry about will never happen. If you feel you need to speak to someone on campus the Parent liaison is one place to start: parents@citadel.edu The company and battalion TAC officers and the Ombudspersons are also great resources for parents.

If you find you are nervous and obsessing over the parent’s Facebook page each day, walk away from the page for a while. Most likely by now your student has what they need to report on the 12th. Once you have read the Matriculation Headquarters , the Freshman Parent information page and the Citadel Family Association page you are set for next week. Read my previous post with matriculation day tips next week before you get to Charleston for a review.

I have walked your path as have scores of other families. We understand your fears, but also know how great the rewards are for those who stay and wear The Ring.

If you will be in Charleston the night of August 12, sign up for the 2021 Family BBQ dinner. It is a great way to meet other families.

On a personal note. . . this year our youngest is a college freshman. She moved into her dorm at Columbus State University yesterday. It was a completely different experience from her older brother’s matriculation day in 2007. We are slowly adjusting to our new normal as empty nesters while still missing our girl.

Blog posts about my son’s knob year and what I learned:

The Making of a Military Mom

Mom Readies for Son’s Military College

The Citadel: Year One a No Fly Zone for Hovering Parents

How The Citadel “Ya-Yas” Came to Be

Learning Leadership and Ethics at The Citadel

A few tips about knob year for parents:

Knob Year Notes for Parents

Posts about letting go:

Uniformity, Lists, and Letting Go

Citadel Parents: Let it Go!

Transitions and Letting Go

Matriculation Day: The Hardest Part for Parents is Letting Go

Preparing for Knob Year – Parents Edition

Advantages of being the Parent of a Citadel Cadet

Our family Matriculation Day morning at the hotel, 2007
Taylor, Chelle, and Nelson (Bravo, 11) May 2017

 

 

Parents Weekend, 2007
Chelle in her new dorm room. August 3, 2017

Preparing for The Citadel – Parent Edition

The knobs check in with the company’s 1st Sergeant and turn in their phones. Remember to turn them off so they won’t be dead when they are returned in a week.

Each year about this time in the Facebook group for new parents some parents post that they are really stressed about the preparation. I try to be as caring as  can be and encourage these parents to begin to let go of the process and encourage their student to do the prep work necessary.

Since tuition is now really high, especially for out of state students, I understand the need for families to monitor expenses and to be concerned with the purchases needed to report to The Citadel.

For many alumni who tell tales of their parents dumping them at the gates and driving off on matriculation day these parental concerns confuse them. Sending a student to The Citadel today is a major investment. Out of state tuition is over $40,000 a year. Most families must watch their expense and it is a team effort to meet the expenses.

With that background I offer a few tips for new parents:

The Citadel is a leadership college. That means in addition to their academic major they will be learning leadership skills. Parents need to learn to step back and let their student take charge of their process. This includes getting everything gathered to report on Matriculation Day. Once they report you will not have any control of how your student handles their training. Start practicing letting go now.

The new parent Facebook groups help with basic questions and support. Do not spend your time trying to get everything “just right.” Each cadet and family are different there is not one right way to get ready for Matriculation Day. The future knob must prepare physically and mentally for the big day. They need items on the Success Packet list and should break in their shoes. How those things come together with vary with each person.

Last year the father of a knob sent me a video clip from Finding Nemo. In the clip a small sea turtle, Squirt, gets thrown out of the current. Nemo’s dad, a clown fish named Marlin panics and tries to go after Squirt. Marlin is stopped by Squirt’s laid back dad, Crush, who says, “Kill the motor dude. Let us see what Squirt does flying solo.” As a parent be like Crush, not Marlin. Do not try to intervene with your knobs experience. You’ll be amazed at what they can do “flying solo.”

The staff and cadet cadre have a strong tradition of training young students and molding them into strong cadets. Allow the process to work. If at any time you have concerns or questions, contact the parent liaison, Capt. Taylor Skardon, parents@citadel.edu. or one of the three Ombudspersons.

Cadre members lead knobs from the Cadet Store back to their company. August 2015
Knobs in the class of 2019 study their Guidons.
A 2019 knob reports to his company on Matriculation Day.