The Citadel: Welcome to the Class of 2017 and Your Parents

I can tell from the search terms used to find this blog that the members of The Citadel, Class of 2017 and their parents are doing their research before Matriculation Day. The high school seniors this year will graduate from The Citadel 10 years after my son graduated. He is now in the Army serving in Afghanistan. Time really does fly by.

Matriculation Day morning, 2007. Nelson and little sister, Chelle, before reporting to campus. Note the plain t-shirt, plain black shorts, white crew length socks.   photo by Stanley Leary.
Matriculation Day morning, 2007. Nelson and little sister, Chelle, before reporting to campus. Note the plain t-shirt, plain black shorts, white crew length socks. photo by Stanley Leary.

Our daughter was starting third grade in 2007. She will graduate from high school in 2017. Looking back on the photos I can see how much she has grown in this time. Funny how our children get older, but we do not age.

If you have found this entry after a search for Citadel related posts, Welcome! Please take time to review the information in the links on the left  hand side of the page. If you are a member of the Class of 2017 or a parent of an entering cadet, see the Knob Year Notes for Parents link. That entry has helpful tips and links to other blog posts. Spend time looking through the other entries on the left hand side of this page as well.

If you are starting your research early, NOW is the time to start your physical training. You will be required to pass a physical fitness test each semester. If you are a high school athlete that will help, but you do need to meet the requirements for sit ups, push ups and the 2 mile run. The other top thing to do to be ready to report is get your shoes and break them in prior to steeping foot on campus. Foot problems are the top reason for knobs to struggle the first few months.

Please take your time and review the information on this site. Parents, join the Facebook group, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2017. This group is just for new parents. A few parents of graduates are in the group to help answer your questions. Once your cadet reports and finds out what company and battalion they are in you can join the respective Facebook group.

Please remember that Facebook is a very public space. If you have questions about your cadet, send a private message to one of the administrators or call the appropriate office on campus. Check your Facebook settings and be sure the privacy settings of an incoming knob are set very high. The cadre, the upperclass cadets responsible for training the knobs are known to search for photos and posts by their knobs. It is also a good idea to Goggle your name to see what come up. You can’t really do much about public posts like news articles, but at least you will know what information is readily available online about you.

Family Day at Fort Stewart, Oct. 2012, just before our son by Stanley Leary
Family Day at Fort Stewart, Oct. 2012, just before our son deployed.
photo by Stanley Leary

The Citadel: Most Common Search Terms

I reviewed the statistics of this blog site today. In my early career I worked in sports information at the college level. The sports information director’s office, or commonly known as the SID office, keeps track of all the statistics for all the varsity sports at a college or university. Looking at stats and trying to interpret them holds a deep rooted fascination for me.

The 2011 Summerall Guards run with the 2012 BVA's the Friday of Corps Day Weekend. photo by Stanley Leary.

When I looked at the search terms used to find the blog I found out of 389 known terms 104 of them related to the Summerall Guards or Bond Volunteer Aspirants. 94 terms had to do with knob year, matriculation day and/or recognition day.  The other roughly 50% had to do with ROTC, general cadet life, and active duty military terms.

The fact that so many people searched for Summerall Guard information and knob year information isn’t too surprising. Both knob year and the Summerall Guards are activities at The Citadel surrounded with mystic and intrigue, mostly by design.

The 4th Class System is designed to make first year cadets learn to follow orders. The knobs are kept dependent on the upperclass cadets for information. Their first year is tough, but they learn to support their classmates and pull together as a team. The system has been in place for years with minor changes. While the knobs are going through their most challenging year their parents are often in the dark as well and end up turning to search engines and the collective knowledge of other parents to help them through.

By junior year some cadets decide to try out to be part of the elite silent drill squad, the Summerall Guards. The cadets who decide to do this are called Bond Volunteer Aspirants (BVA).  They aspire to be Summerall Guards and voluntarily go through a very demanding training regiment. By junior year many of the  BVA’s hold a high rank in the cadet chain of command which is like having a full-time job on top of a full-time course load. The BVA training is demanding both physically and mentally. It is not unusual for normally communicative cadets to have little communication with their families during this demanding year. All types of rules surround what knobs can and can’t know about the BVA’s and Summerall Guards which builds the mystic and fascination with the entire process.

Class of 2015 knobs head to lunch on Matriculation Day.

While quite different in their dynamics, knob year and BVA year are very similar. They are both bound by years of tradition and time-honored secrecy about the process. So it is not surprising that parents and friends turn to search engines to gain knowledge about both processes.

I’ve written about both knob year and the BVA/Summerall Guard process. Links to the most viewed blog entries and pages follow.

The Citadel: Preparing for Knob Year, Class of 2016

BVA’s and Summerall Guards: Cuts Day, Mardi Gras and Corps Day

Recognition Day the Best Day of the Year for Knobs

Information for Parents about the BVA’s and Summerall Guards

For Parents of BVA’s as you wait for Cuts Day

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

Matriculation Day: Getting Ready

The Citadel: Preparing for Knob Year, Class of 2016

A member of the Class of 2015 reports on Matriculation Day 2011.

It’s hard to believe it is time for the next class of cadets to prepare for their Matriculation Day. Last year at this time I began to post advice for the Class of 2015. The nice thing about a military school is the same routines are in place each year with minor changes.  The advice in the post The Citadel: Unofficial Tips for Families of Knobs is still valid. A Letter to the Class of 2015 contains words of wisdom for incoming cadets of any future class and their parents too. Be sure to read these two entries and the links in them for information on reporting. Also review each link on the Citadel Parent Info page on this blog.

Visit the Matriculation Headquarters page. The required items to bring can be found in the Success Packet listed under Important Documents and Links.

To make it easier to find helpful information for new cadets and their parents I updated my blog with a Citadel Parents Info section.  The information listed is a result of 4 years of volunteering with the Georgia Citadel Parents Group and The Citadel Family Association. I’ve updated the information and added links as I learned new information or when the schools main website updates their information.

With the help of my husband, photographer, Stanley Leary, I put together a slide show of Matriculation Day photos. The key for parents to remember about The Citadel is it is a leadership school. That means your high school graduate is treated as the adult they are. You raised them and now they must learn to handle their own affairs.  Before Matriculation Day it is fine to help them get ready for school by making sure they have the necessary items, but they must take the responsibility for getting ready physically and mentally for the challenge ahead.  That includes being able to meet the minimum physical training requirements prior to Matriculation Day. Military scholarship ROTC cadets should meet the highest requirements. The ROTC pages for each branch of the service will give you more details on the specifics of their training.  The staff and websites for The Citadel Army ROTC , Navy ROTC, and Air Force ROTC are very helpful if you have questions as your student prepares to report.

Citadel Family Association, “Blue Shirt” volunteers wait with parents of the Class of 2015.

The top advice after physical training is to break in the black leather Oxford shoes. The incoming cadet should wear them each day for a few months prior to reporting.

To get a head start on learning the various aspects of being a knob the new cadet recruit should review The Guidon. Parents should read through it to become familiar with the terms used on the campus as well as the various traditions. The Guidon is published each year. The 2011-2012 edition is available in pdf format on the schools web site. Once additional tip for new families, when you have a questions about the school, most of the questions can be answered by reading the web site.

Tips on what to purchase can be found in the Getting Ready for Matriculation Day advice section of this blog.  The school updates the Success packet each spring. Make sure you read the Success Packet thoroughly as it includes action items for your cadet and for you as well as the list of what your cadet Must Bring. The Matriculation Day Headquarters link is usually posted to the main page and also to the Admissions office page in the main website. The Citadel Family Association posts a Nice to Have List on their website. While most items on the list are a good idea to pack, be sure to ask your cadet what they want from the list. Remember you can help them get ready, but once they report you need to defer to your cadet. Each company and each battalion have their own traditions. Your cadet will learn what these traditions entail.

You can resource with other parents, but remember each cadet has their own experience.

Facebook groups for parents are listed by Battalion and by Company on the Helpful Web links page. Just remember the other parents are happy to help, but it is best to ask an individual about specific questions regarding your cadet rather than posting it to an open forum.  You can find parent volunteers by region of the country on the Area Rep section of The Citadel Family Association website.

Your cadet will find out his/her company on Matriculation Day when you arrive on campus. Once you know the company and battalion you can always contact the parent volunteer listed in the Co. Rep section of the website.

As I mentioned earlier whenever possible encourage your cadet to work out their own problems using the cadet chain of command. They can always seek the help of the Ombudsperson on campus who is a confidential resource for cadets, faculty, staff, and parents too.

The Bravo Company cadre lead the new knobs of the Class of 2015 to lunch on Matriculation Day 2011. (Note the crew length socks)

More Tips for The Citadel Class of 2016