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

Winter Furlough Notes for Citadel Parents

Luminaries light a path toward 2nd Battalion December 2 after the Candlelight Service in Summerall Chapel

Winter furlough begins today for cadets at The Citadel. A time to celebrate to be sure.

Some will be thrilled with the grades their cadet achieved this semester. Others will not have fared that well and you’ll most likely have questions. The notes and links below should answer most of your questions. The links below will also bring you to the pages to find contact information for the appropriate person or department to address your questions. While this advice is manly for first year families, parents of cadets in all years may find the links helpful

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll already know this next bit of information. As I mentioned in this post from 2012, the beginning of second semester is tough for all cadets, knobs to seniors. They’ve just spent close to a month at home visiting with family and friends. Coming back to cadet life, getting up early, PT in the cold dark days of winter, is a tough reality.

For parents of knobs, if your son or daughter hasn’t questions their decision to attend The Citadel before, January and February are the months you may field that call. If you do get “the call” remind them that they are stronger than they think they are, encourage them to talk to their classmates. Once they talk to their classmates and other friends in the Corps they will realize they are not alone. It’s still tough but they will get through it. Remind them that Recognition Day is not too far off, March 17, this year.

This experience is so common the cadets have a name for it, the PG version is F’d up February. It is also tough when their friends decide for a variety of reasons not to return.

If you are a family with a student who has decided to leave The Citadel, I wish you and your student the best in their next endeavors.

My best wishes to all The Citadel cadets and families this holiday season.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah-Chanukah, Happy New Year!!




Time Management and Cadets: A parents' perspective.

The Class of 2019 take the Cadet Oath http://www.citadel.edu/root/2015-oath-ceremony
The Class of 2019 take the Cadet Oath
A video of the ceremony

Since 2008 I’ve been supporting parents of cadets as a volunteer. First through The Citadel Family Association and since 2011 on my own through this blog and a few Facebook groups I started for new parents. In the past 7-8 years I’ve noticed a pattern emerge to the questions, problems and concerns that are raised by parents of first year cadets, or knobs as they are called.

The week after Matriculation Day the parents are aching for a glimpse of their son or daughter through photos posted on the school web site or related Facebook groups. This year I was on campus until Tuesday after Matriculation Day and managed to take quite a few photos.(see links below) A few academic offices and cadet activities in addition to the Citadel Photography Facebook page posted quite a few photos.

The next stage is right after the knobs get their phone and computer access. This stage is when various concerns come up with the parents, usually around food and sleep issues. Some knobs contact their parents requesting items they didn’t bring with them. Related questions revolve around how best to ship care packages.

We are entering the period of time, a week into classes when the academic concerns begin to surface. Some knobs struggle with time management and feel over whelmed. It can be very hard for parents to hear the stress in their son or daughter’s voice. The stress for many parents is the adjustment from being the person who helped their student through high school navigate their class schedule and assignments through conferences with teachers and counselors, to now empowering their cadet recruit to seek their own support by using their chain of command, their academic advisor, and the academic support office on campus.

As I pointed out in the blog entry, Learning Leadership and Ethics at The Citadel, the essence of being a leadership school is empowering students to take control of their experience. They will learn through a series of trials and triumphs. The temptation for many parents to assist is great. But parents must remember their child is at a school that values taking responsibility for ones actions. The best thing for parents to do is be their sounding board, not to take on their worries and concerns. The four years at the school will be filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. The key for parents is not to get on the rollercoaster with their child. You can serve as an observer offering tips of how to proceed, but not doing it for them.

Several years ago a former ombudsperson on campus told me how he helped cadets who came to him for advice. He said he would ask the cadet, who in their chain of command did they feel they could talk to about the problem/situation. If they didn’t feel they could trust the advise from the chain of command what about the company TAC officer, then an academic advisor, academic support center, or professor and so forth. The cadets are taught the roles of each cadet officer. They also learn the steps to resolve a problem. The best thing a parent can do is walk them through the problem solving by asking the same type of questions.

As first year parents are learning they too are making adjustments to a new normal. It isn’t just their cadet recruit. The school also has resources available for parents if they have concerns. The offices are located on the Office of the Commandant page under the H.E.L.P. link. If a parent just needs to talk to a fellow parent, the Citadel Family Association has parent volunteers who serve as company and battalion representatives.

The first year is one of many adjustments and “learning experiences” for both the knobs and their parents, but support is available.

Links to my photo albums follow:

Matriculation Day 2015 photos

Matriculation 2015 Sunday photos and Meet the Bulldogs

Monday after Matriculation Day

Oath Ceremony Monday Night

End of Oath Ceremony

Photos by Stacy Carter Studios (much better quality then my snap shots!):

Photos from CSI, Matriculation Day and others

A Caring Community

The Boat Center at The Citadel.
The picnic tables by the boat house. My favorite place on campus.

When my oldest son went off to college I never expected to end up with life long friends as a result, but that is what happened at The Citadel.

By the end of my son’s knob year I volunteered to help lead the Georgia Citadel Parents Group. That position meant I was part of the Citadel Family Association. many of the parents I met through this organization back in 2008 are some of my close friends now. We called ourselves the YaYa’s then and now.

Thanks to the development of parent Facebook groups, that are not officially part of The Citadel Family Association, many more parents are meeting virtually before they finally meet on campus.

The Citadel Alumni network are known for supporting fellow members of the Long Gray line of graduates. The parents of cadets at The Citadel are proving to be a very close group too.

As an official volunteer while my son was a cadet, I had the privilege of being a caring presence for a few families who experienced some of life’s most challenging situations, including serious illness and death of a close family members.

I’ve seen the alumni network jump to the aid of a cadet with sudden financial needs. Parents of cadets have too over the years. The alumni have a very organized structure, but for the parents there really isn’t a structure in a formal sense. They are members of various Facebook groups. As a need arises someone will post a note, then  the offers of help and prayers begin to pour in. This grass-roots support happened after hurricane Sandy when a Long Island mom, who is also a teacher posted a need. Each year leading up to ring weekend calls for support for cadets who cannot afford their ring are posted and the challenge is met.

Volunteer support is also given in family emergencies. Offers of prayers, visits to hospitals and campus are all carried out quietly by individuals and groups who hear of a need a step up to meet the need. I don’t know of another college or university that has this type of camaraderie among the parents of their students.

Parents do need to be careful though. The cadets are students at a military college. The 4th Class System is designed to train the students to become leaders, which means learning to solve problems on their own.

A recent article in Forbes addresses the problems that can arise when parents get too involved and don’t allow their children to learn through their mistakes, the title is 7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders. It is harder for parents of cadets to get involved with their day to day life, but quite a few parents do stay a bit too connected to the day to day decisions than is healthy for their cadet’s leadership development.

The Citadel website lists several options for families that find them self in an emergency situation. All parents should have the HELP web page bookmarked just in case it is ever needed. Only you know your student. If at any time you are concerned about your cadet or what has been reported to happen on campus always call the appropriate department. If you are not sure what the right department would be contact the Ombudsperson’s office they can help you and keep our conversation confidential if you would like.

We call ourselves The Citadel Ya Ya's. We had a little reunion at Vendue Rooftop in 2010.
We call ourselves The Citadel Ya Ya’s. We had a little reunion at Vendue Rooftop in 2010.