In just a few more days the Class of 2019 will report to The Citadel for Matriculation Day. The nerves of the future knobs are probably running pretty high right now. If you notice your son or daughter withdrawing a bit, and being a little more quiet than normal don’t worry. Just like athletes who withdraw to get mentally ready for the big game, future knobs begin their own pre-game ritual. Parents begin to feel a bit nervous too. Allow yourself to feel these feelings Sending a child off to college is a big transition. Sending them to a military college is even tougher.
It is important that the future knob take ownership in getting everything together before Matriculation Day. Once their families say good-bye Saturday morning it is the knob who must navigate the 4th Class system while family and friends move to a support role.
Before reporting in make sure you’ve packed everything on the Success packet list, on page 6 and 7, and what they want to bring from the Citadel Family Association’s Nice to have List. Each year someone forgets their wallet and ID (Driver’s license). Be sure to add that to your packing check list. Be sure to pack in containers so that one person can easily carry each of them. Some families use disposable boxes and bags in addition to the 2 plastic bins so the knob will not have to go to the storage warehouse.
Each family makes their own plans to get to campus on either Friday or just Saturday. There are some meetings that are good to attend on Friday if you can be in town. The Army ROTC cadets have a meeting Friday afternoon. A few families have decided to meet at the canteen for lunch on Friday at 11:30 before the meeting. If you are on campus then stop by. The canteen is in the Mark Clark Hall building. The same building that houses the Bookstore and the post office. Other groups have their own special meetings. If these gathering apply to you and your student you would have gotten an invitation/notice.
Many families take the opportunity to go out for a nice dinner the night before the student reports in. Charleston is noted for wonderful restaurants. The Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau has a guide if you need help deciding where to go for dinner. If you are staying in a local hotel chances are several other families will be there too. I encourage families to say hello to other families that look like they have a college freshman aged student with them. Chances are they will be future classmates.
Saturday morning be sure your student has a good breakfast then get to the Holliday Alumni Center by 7:00 am. The soon to be knob should wear their white crew socks(ankle socks for the Class of 2020), athletic shoes, shorts/pants and a shirt (ticked in). The first thing they will do once they get to their barracks is change into their “knobbie clothes.” If they already have the socks and sneakers on it is just easier. It is also a good idea to say your real good-byes at the hotel. Things move pretty quickly once you get to campus.
Some families find it helpful to do a dry run from the hotel the night before. If it rains Saturday morning allow extra time to get to the campus. Charleston roads do flood when it rains. The traffic diagram is on the Matriculation Information page of the Office of the Commandant page online. You will visit the Office of the Commandant page all four years so you may want to bookmark it in your computer. Print out and bring the Traffic Diagram, FERPA form that must be completed and signed by the student, and the schedule for the day.
Once you arrive at the Holliday Alumni Center you’ll drive up in your car and the cadets there will give you the letter for your son or daughter’s company. Follow the map to the appropriate barracks. You’ll be instructed by the “Blue Shirt” volunteers and cadets at the barracks where to unload the car and put the things. You’ll also be told where to move your car. The Blue Shirt volunteers are parents of current cadets who volunteer to help the new families each year. Some travel quite a distance just to help out on this big day.
Once outside the barracks your son or daughter will be told what to do. Usually they report to the admissions representative at a table in the sallyport (entry way to the barracks). This is when the parents, and anyone with the families, just wait. Bring a folding chair with you if someone in your party has trouble standing for long periods of time. Once inside the barracks the cadet recruit will follow directions. They will eventually come out and let you know when it is alright to carry their things to their room. Once everything is in the room the parents and family leave. Do take time to get a photo of all of you either outside the barracks or inside the room. You’ll cherish them.
Parent must leave the barracks by 10:00am. Once the parents leave the gates of the sallyport will close and the introduction of the cadre will begin. This can be a very tough things for some families to watch because it signifies the beginning of a week long period when you will not hear form your son or daughter. It is best to move onto the fieldhouse for the information fair and president’s address.
There is an information fair in the McAlister Fieldhouse right next to 1st Battalion. It is good to go by there and visit the various tables. The Citadel Family Association will have representatives there serving some refreshments to. It is air conditioned, there are restrooms and you can have a seat for the President’s Address.
Once the address is over you are free to leave the campus. Some families stay Saturday night. Others want to go straight home. If you are in town Sunday you can attend the Sunday morning chapel service. You will not see or be able to talk to your son or daughter. Many families find they enjoy the time in the chapel after a stressful day Saturday. Monday evening is when the knobs take their cadet oath. The past several years the school has provided a live stream of the event online. Watch the school web site to see if they will do it again this year. It is not an event to stay for. It begins at 7:00 pm and only lasts 15 minutes or so. You won’t be able to talk to your son or daughter. Many local parents who stayed said they couldn’t tell where their child was. They have their hair cut and all in the same uniform.
Once you know your child’s company, reach out to the CFA company rep. you can find a list on their website. If you haven’t already, join the Facebook group for 2019 parents. I ask that you send me a private message on Facebook or an email to verify that you are a parent before I will confirm your request to join the group. The group is a great way to share photos and get information on the big weekends and events on campus.
Best wishes to the
Class of 2019!