The Citadel: End of the Year Tips for Parents

2015 ready to say good bye
Members of the Class of 2015 turn to face the Corps of Cadets.

Each year about this time I receive an interesting mix of questions. Families of seniors write with graduation questions. Sophomore and junior parents have fewer questions but the ones they do have revolve around either the BVA process for junior year or early questions about Ring Weekend for rising seniors. The knob families are gearing up for Recognition Day, and the parents of high school seniors have matriculation Day questions.

Senior families:

The graduation schedule is posted on the school web site and should answer most of your questions. You only get 8 tickets per family. some large families set up a computer/TV combination in a rental home so the people who are not at graduation can see the live stream.

The school posts a link to the Balfour graduation announcements. They did not have the site updated early enough for many families so many have used a different company that offer better prices and plenty of options: Signature Announcements

I refer parents to the link to Emily Post Graduation Etiquette for an explanation about the difference between announcements and an invitation. Since the tickets are limited it is customary to send announcements a day to 2 weeks after the graduation to let friends and family know of the milestone reached by your graduate.

On graduation day be sure to ask your graduate where they want to meet you when the ceremony is over. The place is packed and if you have a designated place to meet it can cut down on the time it takes to find your grad is a sea of people.

For more tips and photos just enter Graduation in the search window of this blog page. Here is the post I wrote after graduation last year: Graduation for the Class of 2015

Dismissed
Class of 2015 Dismissed!

Junior families:

The biggest question that I’m asked is about the ring payment.The Citadel Alumni Association will send a bill in late August once the registrar lets them know who is qualified to receive their rings in October. Hopefully you or your cadet have been saving up. The cost of the ring has been in the $1,000 range the past several years. The payment is due before Ring Weekend.

BV and Summerall Guards with Jason
A few 2014 Summerall Guards, 2015 Bond Volunteers pose with ’89 grad, Jason Perakis, before their run Friday of Corps Day Weekend.

It is customary for the cadet to escort their mother through the giant replica of the ring the Friday evening of Ring Weekend. The schedule of when each company goes through the ring is posted early in the new school year by the cadet activities office.

For photos of dresses and other activities of the weekend, see this post: Parents’ Weekend at The Citadel, 2015

Sophomore families:

There isn’t much parents need to know before junior year. If your son has plans to become a Bond Volunteer Aspirant, you can expect them to spend a good part of their summer physically preparing. I’ve posted several entries about the process you might find helpful.

Knob families:

It won’t be long until your son or daughter will cease being a knob and become a regular 4th Class cadet. Recognition Day is coming up. If you attend, remember it is not a day to interact with your cadet. If you go, watch from the sidelines, take photos and be in awe of how they have grown as a class in one short academic year. This year I am looking forward to being on campus and joining some 2019 families for lunch that day.

Tire Flip
Cadets work together to flip a tire during the “Gauntlet.” photo by Stacy Carter Photography Studios

A heads up about sophomore year: It is a different type of tough.They aren’t knobs but if they have rank they are the lowest ranking officers. Many refer to it as knobmore year because it doesn’t seem a whole lot different than the year before. Parents like to call it knob-no-more, but I’m told by many cadets and grads that knobmore is a better description.

A few words of caution. . . It is a year when they do get a little bit a power. It can be a time when they will run into the discipline system a bit more. Grades can slip sophomore year because they don’t have anyone telling them what to do like they did the year before.

Families of high school seniors:

Congratulations! You are about to embark on quite a rollercoaster ride called Knob Year. Please join the Facebook group called, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2020. Please send me an email to let me know you are the parent of an incoming knob. The group is only for parents of knobs, not extended family. You’ll meet other parents who will become your friends. A few parents of grads are in the group to help answer questions. We have a variety of different backgrounds.The Citadel Family Association also has a Facebook group you can join. The Area Reps are parents throughout the country who volunteer to be a support to knew parents. Once you know your son or daughters company (on Matriculation Day) you will have a CFA parent volunteer you can also contact for help and support.

Knobs and Mark Clark statue
Knobs line up after getting their heads shaved Monday of Challenge Week, 2015

End of Year Tips for Citadel Parents

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Gray Line.
Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Gray Line.

The 2013-2014 school year is drawing to a close. The knobs are no more and exams are right around the corner. The Class of 2014 can tell you the days and probably the minutes until graduation. The Class of 2018 are just beginning their early preparations for CSI and Matriculation Day. I’ve decided to list the advice by class.

To the parents of the Class of 2018.

I know right now you are preparing for high school graduation. It is an overwhelmingly wonderful time. Your soon-to-be knob is probably not thinking too far ahead. Trust me when I tell you the best gift you can give your soon to be knob, is their plain toe black oxford shoes. The best thing the soon-to-be knob can do for them self is to wear the shoes over the next few month to really get them broken in. Foot troubles that first month cause many knobs to miss out on activities.

Join the parent group on Facebook for the Class of 2018 parents. You will meet other new parents and a few parents of graduates are in the group to help answer your questions. Be careful what you post to other Facebook groups and pages. Gushing about your soon-to-be-knob on a public Facebook page is not a good idea. Let your family and friends know that advice too. Set the privacy settings on your Facebook page to Friends. When school starts and you see your knob in a photo don’t tag the photo. You can download it and post it to your personal page. Learn to use the search window on this blog and also on the school web site. The Citadel has a great website and includes just about all the information you’ll need to know over the four years.

See the blog entry here called Welcome to the Class of 2018 for tips on the Success packet list (page 6) and the CFA “Nice to Have” list.

To the parents of the Class of 2017

Your cadets just finished the toughest year they have probably gone through in their young lives. Many cadets are so excited to no longer be part of the 4th Class system that they begin to get lax with their studies. Remind them it is a college they are attending.

Sophomore year is also referred to as knobmore year. They are no longer knobs but they are on the low wrung of the upperclass ladder. Even if they have rank, they are the lowest officers. Know that at some point sophomore your cadet they may again question if it is all worth it. They don’t question in the same way they did knob year, but it can happen.

Help them stayed focus on their school work. This year they have a little more freedom and will slowly become more like other college kids. Don’t be surprised if they do not spend their open weekends coming home.

To the Parents of the Class of 2016.

Junior year is a year of pretty major changes. The cadet officers have much more responsibility. They are used to the system and really are very similar to other college kids by now. Junior year at The Citadel has a few unique opportunities.

Some cadets decide to be Bond Volunteer Aspirants, or BVA’s, the group that tries out to become Summerall Guards. This means they are volunteering to go through some of the toughest months of their life. They may have rank, but are treated like knobs when they are with the current Summerall Guards. If your cadet decides to be a BVA know that they will have little to no time to them self. Let them be the ones to contact you. Remind them to keep their studies up.

The second half of their junior year they will receive blazer privileges. They will also have a ring sizing and an opportunity to try on their ring. See the Citadel Alumni Association page for more information on the requirements to received the ring.

Senior year is right around the corner. If you haven’t started a fund for the ring purchase start one now. The ring price depends on the price of gold. The past few years that means just over $1,000. Moms, if you want a ring, you better let your cadet know now. They run around $600.

The the Class of 2014 parents.

Congratulations. I am sure you are experiencing a mixture of emotions. Enjoy graduation week. The school has posted all the information for the week on the Commencement 2014 webpage.

If you can arrive in town early to see the various activities on campus. An award ceremony takes place on Thursday.  This year the luncheon/reception for the new Lifetime members will be held on Thursday at lunch time. The baccalaureate service is Thursday afternoon.

Be sure your camera batteries are charged up for all the events. It goes by in a flash. The photos will help you relive this exciting weekend.

For parents of cadets who will commission into a branch of the military, arrive to the chapel early for the ceremony. After the ceremony the newly commissioned officers will leave the chapel and go outside to render their first salute. You will become a Blue Star family that day. Blue Star Mothers have chapters across the country.

This photo taken at graduation shows the time honored tradition of tossing your cover in the air once the president dismisses the class. This photo could be taken in any year, but it is from May 2011.
This photo taken at graduation shows the time honored tradition of tossing your cover in the air once the president dismisses the class. This photo could be taken in any year, but it is from May 2011.

NOTE: Use the search window of this blog to find previous entries on a variety of cadet related topics.

Recognition Day for the Class of 2016

Bravo Company and 1st Battalion in Marion Square Recognition Day, 2008
Bravo Company and 1st Battalion in Marion Square Recognition Day, 2008

Recognition Day for The Citadel Class of 2016 is this Saturday, April 13. The year has flown by for me, but I know it hasn’t for the knobs and their parents. Looking back on my own son’s knob year I remember how long it seemed. The following three years past by like it was just one.

There is one aspect of the day I need to emphasize. Recognition Day is for the 4th Class cadets.

I was very surprised that my son came out of the barracks after they were recognized. In the past few years more and more newly recognized cadets come out of the barracks for a hug.
I was very surprised that my son came out of the barracks after they were recognized. In the past few years more and more newly recognized cadets come out of the barracks for a hug.

Each year since 2008 when I first watched the 4th Class cadets march into Marion Square more and more families travel to Charleston to watch the activities Saturday morning. It is important for everyone who does decide to attend to remember that this is their cadets big day, even though you too feel like you have survived knob year. It is a 24 hour period filled with challenges both physical and mental for the knobs.

While you can now observe the gauntlet, a series of activities performed on the parade field or the WLI field, you should not cheer or get in the way of the activities. Bring a chair, watch from a distance, take photos from a distance, visit with other parents, but do not interact with the cadets.

In 2008 we arrived in Charleston before noon to watch the march into Marion Square. I was surprised to see some people gathered around the sallyport gates watching what was happening inside. We got out of the car just in time to hear the announcement, “The fourth class system in no longer in effect!”

Many alumni do not understand why parents now come to campus for Recognition Day. The tradition has changed from their time as cadets. The significance of the day for the 4th Class cadets has not changed. Don’t be surprised if a friend who is also a graduate of the school doesn’t understand why you are going to the campus.

For parents who cannot be on campus for the activities, the phone call you will get from your cadet will be one of the best calls you have ever received. The school will post photos and the Facebook groups for parents will be filled with photos and videos.

I look forward to seeing the photos and videos myself. I am hoping the members of the Facebook group, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2016, will gather at some point for a group photo.

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

See the following links for previous posts about Recognition Day.

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Ring Weekend

Recognition Day the Best Day of the Year for Knobs

The members of Bravo Company, '11, march into Marion Square led by their company commander.
The members of Bravo Company, ’11, march into Marion Square led by their company commander.

A Note to Knob Parents About Thanksgiving

Can you believe you have made it this far in the semester? By now your vocabulary should include quite a few new terms specific to The Citadel. You should have a level of comfort with your new normal as parents of a cadet.

In the next week your knob will experience their first Thanksgiving dinner Citadel style. The cadets will gather in the mess hall for a family style Thanksgiving dinner. The highlights of the night are the hats made for upperclass cadets by their mentees. Juniors are given hats made of a sheet of poster board and resemble a stove-pipe decorated with the upperclass cadet in mind. The seniors hats can be very elaborate. My sons senior year his mentee made a hat that looked like a tank in honor of his news of being in the Armor branch of the Army. Knobs wear an Indian style head-dress with one construction paper feather and the sophomores wear a similar head-dress with two feathers. Watch for the photos. Each company has a few other traditions that evening. The stories and photos are a lot of fun to hear when they get home.

The tank hat had a working gun in the front that shot out fireworks.

Speaking of home. . . usually parents of knobs are very anxious to have their son or daughter home for a whole week. The knobs are anxious to be home too. Just remember they will also be looking forward to seeing their friends from home. The experience varies for each cadet. Many enjoy seeing their friends, but begin to see just how different their college experience is from their friends. Some feel very different and can’t relate as well to friends who went right to work or are attending a non-military school.

While they have to keep their rooms at The Citadel in decent order those organizational skills don’t always transfer home with them. Don’t be surprised if their room at home looks like a small bomb exploded.

This can also be a time when they begin to question their choice of school, if they haven’t yet. If this happens with your cadet remind them they are almost done with the first semester and they can make it to the Christmas break. Some cadets decide that after first semester they do not want to continue at a military school for the rest of their college career. Others are more determined than ever to stick it out to prove to themselves they can make it. You know your child better than anyone and will have to decide how to proceed if they bring up the subject of changing schools.

If you need help with transportation post a notice to one of the many parent groups on Facebook. You can also call the Cadet Activities office to see if they can help with ride share requests.

Above all else, enjoy your time together. You’ve all accomplished quite a bit in a few short months.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Note to Knob Parents About Thanksgiving

Can you believe you have made it this far in the semester? By now your vocabulary should include quite a few new terms specific to The Citadel. You should have a level of comfort with your new normal as parents of a cadet.

In the next week your knob will experience their first Thanksgiving dinner Citadel style. The cadets will gather in the mess hall for a family style Thanksgiving dinner. The highlights of the night are the hats made for upperclass cadets by their mentees. Juniors are given hats made of a sheet of poster board and resemble a stove-pipe decorated with the upperclass cadet in mind. The seniors hats can be very elaborate. My sons senior year his mentee made a hat that looked like a tank in honor of his news of being in the Armor branch of the Army. Knobs wear an Indian style head-dress with one construction paper feather and the sophomores wear a similar head-dress with two feathers. Watch for the photos. Each company has a few other traditions that evening. The stories and photos are a lot of fun to hear when they get home.

The tank hat had a working gun in the front that shot out fireworks.

Speaking of home. . . usually parents of knobs are very anxious to have their son or daughter home for a whole week. The knobs are anxious to be home too. Just remember they will also be looking forward to seeing their friends from home. The experience varies for each cadet. Many enjoy seeing their friends, but begin to see just how different their college experience is from their friends. Some feel very different and can’t relate as well to friends who went right to work or are attending a non-military school.

While they have to keep their rooms at The Citadel in decent order those organizational skills don’t always transfer home with them. Don’t be surprised if their room at home looks like a small bomb exploded.

This can also be a time when they begin to question their choice of school, if they haven’t yet. If this happens with your cadet remind them they are almost done with the first semester and they can make it to the Christmas break. Some cadets decide that after first semester they do not want to continue at a military school for the rest of their college career. Others are more determined than ever to stick it out to prove to themselves they can make it. You know your child better than anyone and will have to decide how to proceed if they bring up the subject of changing schools.

If you need help with transportation post a notice to one of the many parent groups on Facebook. You can also call the Cadet Activities office to see if they can help with ride share requests.

Above all else, enjoy your time together. You’ve all accomplished quite a bit in a few short months.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Citadel: Parents/Ring Weekend 2012 + Hotel Info

Knobs line the street Friday afternoon. The seniors will process between them on their way to receive their rings in the field house.

Only four weeks until Parents Weekend at The Citadel. I won’t be attending the events, but I am in touch with quite a few parents who are looking forward to October 12. Parents of knobs can’t wait to visit their knob and see the barracks and the other activities on campus. The senior parents, especially the moms, are getting ready to see their cadet receive their hard-earned ring and walk through the giant replica of the ring Friday night.

Bravo Company banner, 2007.

Knob parents:

  • Parking is hard to find so get to campus early and plan to walk a lot.
  • If you can, arrive early enough on Friday to see the knobs line the street in front of the barracks. The seniors will walk between the knobs on their way to receive their rings. he knobs cheer them on as they pass by.
  • Friday afternoon belongs to the seniors. You are encouraged to visit the academic departments with your knob then take them off campus for the afternoon and evening.
  • Be sure to pay special attention to the company banner Saturday morning. The knobs work very hard to make sure the banner looks great. There are also bulletin boards to take note of as well.
  • Make lunch plans for Saturday. You can eat in the Coward Mess hall with your cadet and will need a ticket. You can purchase them in advance or on Friday afternoon through the Cadet Activities office. Boxed lunches are also available or you can bring your own lunch.
  • Bravo Company banner, 2010.
    photo by Stanley Leary
Bulletin board recognizing the one 2011 Summerall Guard member in Bravo Company.
photo by Stanley Leary

The promotion ceremony, 2010.
photo by Stanley Leary
The Ring Presentation ceremony begins. 2010
photo by Stanley Leary

Senior parents:

  • If you can arrive Thursday evening so you can get to campus early on Friday. The parking as on most big weekends is tight.
  • Dress for the afternoon should be in keeping with the occasion. The cadets are in their most formal uniform. You will see people in a variety of different types of clothes. a Jacket and tie for the gentlemen and a dress or nice slacks for the ladies is appropriate. Again you’ll see families in a variety of different clothes Friday afternoon.
  • Friday evening plans will revolve around when your cadets company is scheduled to go through the ring. Cadet Activities posts the schedule.
  • Dress for the mothers and anyone else going through the ring with the cadet is formal.
  • Check with your cadet to see what the plans are for dinner that night. Some eat before they go through the ring others go after.
  • Ladies, be aware that  you may be standing behind the scenes for a while before you go through the ring.
  • Family members not going through the ring go inside the field house to watch the presentations.
Our family outside 1st Battalion after the ring ceremony.

If you plan on being in Charleston for the weekend I hope you have your hotel reservations. If not, I have some information to share with you regarding availability.

Hotels I’ve checked with have given me the following availability and rate information for Parents Weekend and Homecoming. You can also try hotels.com or another web site to find a hotel at a good rate. Vrbo.com is a good place to start if you’d like a rental property. If you are staying three nights and are looking for a rental property call recent grad, Chip Morrison, of Carolina One Realty, 843-343-3525.

  • Comfort Inn near campus has availability for both parents Weekend and Homecoming. Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate. They also offer a frequent guest program. Be sure to ask about it at the desk at check in.
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston North/Univ Area Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate. They offer a discount on their regular rate.
  • Hawthorn Suites has some rooms for Oct. 13th  and still has availability for Homecoming. Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate.  $74 plus tax.
  • Homewood Suites Charleston Airport is offering a nightly rate of $137 plus tax for Parents Weekend. Call the front desk, 843-735-5000 and ask for The Citadel rate.
  • LaQuinta Inn & Suites Charleston Riverview is sold out for Parents Weekend but does have rooms for Homecoming. Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate. $92 plus tax.
  • Marriott Charleston has a limited amount of rooms for October 13 for the special rate of $189. For Homecoming they have a few rooms left and selling for a two night minimum for Friday and Saturday. THe rate is $319 per room per night.
  • Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown/Riverview Limited rooms available. Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate. They offer a discount on their regular rate.
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott Riverview Limited rooms available. Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate. They offer a discount on their regular rate.

Other posts about Parents Weekend/Ring Weekend:

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Ring Weekend

Special Weekends: Parents Weekend, Homecoming, Corps Day, Recognition Day

The Citadel: Parents Weekend and Ring Weekend Tips

Senior Parent notes

You’ll see a variety of outfits Friday night at the Ring Ceremony: