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.
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.
NOTE: Use the search window of this blog to find previous entries on a variety of cadet related topics.
Each year at this time the cadets return to The Citadel for the start of second semester, just like other colleges around the country. It is a time of year most of the cadets dread, They return to campus after a month of warm beds, long hot showers, great food and time with their family and friends. On campus they resume their regimented schedules that include early morning physical training in the cold damp weather of the low country of South Carolina.
The knobs will begin to see the Recognition Day light at the end of the tunnel. The seniors just begin to realize that their time as members of the Corps of Cadets at The Citadel is coming to a close. The junior Bond Volunteer Aspirants begin the final steps towards Cuts Day and the hope of becoming a member of the Summerall Guards. Sophomore gain a few more privileges too. High school seniors are beginning to focus on preparing to join the Corps of Cadets.
The search terms people use to find this blog tell me that many cadets (and their parents too) are doing their homework. I have no way of knowing who is using these search terms, but I imagine the break down to be something like this:
The senior cadets and their parents are searching for topics like: Citadel gifts; life for graduates after The Citadel; Citadel graduation cake.
The knobs and their families are searching for: Citadel Recognition Day schedule (it isn’t posted yet); Citadel class of 2017
The high school seniors who will be in the Class of 2018 search for: pre-knob visit; what to pack for The Citadel; Citadel Success Institute (CSI); and my personal favorite this week, “is knob year awful.”
What ever may have brought you to this site, Welcome! I hope you find the answer to your questions here. Remember to use the search window on this site. I try to add the links to official information on the school website. You should also go to the citadel.edu website and use the search window there.
I wish every cadet (and future cadet) and their family the best where ever they are in the process of joining the Long Gray Line.
The year is flying by, at least for me. It’s hard to believe the cadets who were knobs my son’s senior year will receive their rings October 4. I envy the senior families. Ring Weekend was a highlight of our four years of visits to The Citadel.
Of course it is also a big weekend for knobs and their families. The promotion ceremony Saturday morning is a huge step in the life of a knob. They will move from being cadet recruits to full members of the Corps of Cadets, but still lowly knobs. I’ve written several entries about the weekend and will include links below.
Congratulations! The journey has started.
The Citadel is definitely different from other non-military colleges. There are a few tips for new parents to help your cadet recruit, or knob, and you this next year.
The Citadel is a Leadership school. That means now that your knob has reported it is up to them to navigate the system. parents should not call the school and make requests like special leave, talk to their professors like you did with high school teachers. Being a “Helicopter Parent” will not help your knob.
The school does a great job of posting updates to various social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, and YouTube. They will also post photos you can browse through and purchase. The goal of every knob is to be invisible, or a “Ghost knob.” If you see your knob in a photo of the site, share it on your own Facebook page but Do Not post any comments to the page. Set all your privacy settings to Friends only. That includes your photos too.
If you have friends who are the parents of upperclass cadets don’t post questions specific to their walls. Send a private message instead.
Email the Citadel Family Association Company and/or the Battalion rep for you knobs company or battalion. They can be a great resource for traditions specific to your knobs company.
Do Not have your knob as your profile pic or cover photo.
You will not hear from your knob until next week. When you talk to them do remind them this is a military COLLEGE. If they don’t pass their classes they won’t stay in school, no matter how shiny their shoes and brass looks. Knobs tend to try to do everything and skip sleep. That is not a sustainable plan. School work must be a priority. Sleep is necessary. Fit the polishing in where they can. Budget 20 – 30 minutes a night. Your role as parents should be to encourage them to get these priorities straight right away. The knob has to be the one to implement the plan.
The sooner a knob learns to pull together with their classmates the better.
Do not listen to rumors. Go to a primary source for clarification. If it didn’t happen to your cadet or to you don’t repeat a story you’ve heard. I covered some of this advice in a previous post about the Rumor Mill after rumors began to fly last fall.
Learn the school website. I’ve added the most frequently accessed pages to an entry called Helpful Web Links. Bookmark the entry for future use.
Do send encouraging letters and small boxes of goodies.
The Cadet Activities website is a great resource and they will post photos too.
Use your time this week learning how to read the training schedules. If you’d like to see the training modules they will be shown check out the Training page on the Office of the Commandant page under Operations and Training.
Join the Facebook groups for parents, but do not post to the ones with cadets in them. The group for 2017 parents only has new parents and a few parents of graduates who volunteer their time to answer questions. To join the group email me and let me know your knobs name and company. My email address is in the About section of the group page. See the entry on Facebook groups or direct links to other groups.
To tide you over as you wait to see more photos from the school See these albums of photos I took this weekend.
A few other photos from Sunday Morning.
We are approaching the annual rite of passage at The Citadel known as Matriculation Day, the day the first year cadets, or knobs as they are called, report for their Challenge Week, formerly called Hell Week.
To help families prepare for this day the alumni groups in several area host send off events. In Georgia there is a parent orientation meeting. I started a group for new parents only on Facebook called The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2017 to help parents prepare their knob to report while also helping them learn to let go of the day-to-day aspects of their child’s experiences.
The hardest part of the experience for parents is letting go. The knobs have a tough time, but they are busy learning the system and going to classes. It is tough and they manage it well. The parents, on the other hand, tend to have a very tough time the first few months. They worry about their child, mainly because the system is so foreign to them and therefore, it is scary.
The Facebook group for new parents is there to assure parents that they, and their child, will get through this. Each year over 700 knobs report to the school. 2,000+ members of the Corps of Cadets are on campus each year. The parents of graduates in the Facebook group act as coaches for the new parents. We try to give them the tools they will need to support their cadet’s process instead of intervening.
Parents, you are sending your child to a military COLLEGE, not to war. I know the difference now since my son just returned from Afghanistan. My early worries seem silly now. Allowing your knob to take control of their experience and work out their problems is the best gift you can give them.
I do understand the anxiety though. I was in your shoes in 2007. At that time there were no Facebook groups. The Atlanta Citadel Club does have a send off event and the parent orientation was very helpful. I resourced with a local mom of a cadet and also the Citadel Family Association chair couple at the time. In 2007 knobs were not allowed to have cell phones first semester, so we didn’t get a call at the end of the first week. If we were lucky we received a quick email.
In 2011 I was asked to contribute to a blog called Off the Base , my son’s senior year. The blog is the project of Bobbie O’Brien of WUSF in Tampa, Florida. She thought my voice as the mom of an Army ROTC cadet soon to be officer would be helpful to her readers. I hesitated to write about The Citadel because I really couldn’t speak to the cadet experience. My son was the one who attended, not me. In the end I agreed. The entries trace my experience from a mom who couldn’t understand why in the world my son would want this type of experience, to a mom who knows it is not the experience I could have gone through, but The Citadel was exactly where my son needed to be.
Because of my blog contributions to Off the Base, and my own blog, some parents get the impression I never had doubts about the process. To these parents I suggest reading the first few entries from Off the Base. I assure you I was extremely anxious about the whole experience. The first entry, The Making of a Military Mom and the second, Mom Readies for Son’s Military College trace my early journey. The following entries, The Citadel: Year One a No Fly Zone for Hovering Parents and Learning Leadership and Ethics at The Citadel, describe in part the transformation I went through as I saw the changes in my son from a young high school student to a responsible adult.
The best gift a parent can give their knob is helping them prepare for Matriculation Day, then let go. Let your knob be the one to reach out to you. They have no control over their time so if you call and they don’t answer the phone, know that is completely normal. Send them encouraging cards and messages. When they do call, be supportive. Remind them of the strength they have within them to tackle their challenges. If they have a problem with a classmate don’t try to fix it for them, but remind them there is a chain of command and a protocol to go through to address concerns.
You can use the time to learn more about the school and the 4th Class system when your knob cannot call or email you. The Citadel external affairs office does a great job of posting photos and updates to the web site and also to their Facebook page for new parents to try to get a glimpse of their knob. Read through the Office of the Commandant page and all the links to learn about the school and the process your cadet is going through. This knowledge is not to intervene, but to see how they are trained.
As a parent it is tough to resist the urge to fix things for our children. Come April and Recognition Day, the knobs, and their parents, will see they have made it through to be full members of the Corps of Cadets and you will each feel a sense of accomplishment and pride of what you have come through.
This is the time of the summer when I begin to get private messages from parents with cadets at The Citadel. The new parents have questions about getting ready for Matriculation Day, the day the new cadets report. The parents of rising seniors are preparing for Parents Weekend, which is also referred to as Ring Weekend, the day the qualified seniors receive their class ring.
Looking back on the four years my son was a cadet I can understand why there are so many questions about these two events. The school does a great job of posting helpful information, but there are times when a mother just wants to get the opinion of someone who has gone through the experience. Right now the Facebook group for 2017 parents is growing daily with new parents. It is a great place to ask questions of parents of graduates and to meet other new parents.
My mantra with all parents is to remember there is no one right way to do things at The Citadel. Each cadet will have their own goals and possess their own gifts and talents. A general rule of thumb is to talk to your cadet about their preferences before you resource with others. That is especially true about preparing for knob year.
If you wonder whether to purchase a certain item, ask your cadet if they want it first. A recent thread on a Facebook group grew to over 30 comments when a parent asked about bringing printers. Ultimately it is a personal preference. If you ask five different people their opinion, you will hear five different answers.
Most of the questions from parents of seniors this summer deal with what a mom should wear to the Ring Ceremony Friday night. Some traditional rules about attire for Ring Weekend are now more flexible in practice. Traditionally in any social context you dress for the occasion based on the uniform of the day. For seniors this means their full dress grey uniform, their most formal. They wear this uniform to receive their rings and to walk through the Ring during the ceremony Friday night. SO to follow the traditional rules of etiquette, the mom and or date should wear a formal outfit.
That said you will see all types of outfits on the attendees at both events. Our family opted to wear nice “Sunday” attire Friday afternoon. For the Friday night Ring Ceremony I wore a formal gown. My 11-year-old daughter wore a nice dress and my husband was in a suit and tie. Scroll to the bottom of this entry to see a variety of dresses we saw in 2010.
The Cadet Activities office handles the schedule for the weekend, including the schedule of when each company goes through the Ring. Be sure to check their website and the school website for the schedule. When your cadet’s company goes through the ring will dictate when you plan to have dinner that night. Many companies, or groups of friends, get together for a group dinner that evening. Not everyone does, however. Another example of when you need to coordinate with your cadet. Moms, as you are selecting shoes to wear be aware that you may have to wait in a long line to walk through the ring. It is really an opportunity to have your photo taken as you walk through the giant replica of the ring. After you walk through the ring you can go to the Ring Hop, or take a carriage ride through the campus.
For the first year knobs, Friday afternoon and evening is a time to relax with their family and friends. Knobs and their families do not attend the Ring Hop Friday night. I was told by a TAC officer in 1st battalion that they prefer the knobs to get out of the barracks and off campus while the seniors are receiving their rings. The school will publish a schedule which will include an academic open house Friday afternoon and usually an update from the president. Knobs will have to have their rooms in order for the early morning open barracks, so they try to get back to the barracks before the Midnight curfew.
Saturday morning the barracks will be open to guests. They usually have coffee and donuts in Mark Clark Hall along with an opportunity to purchase photos and other items from various vendors. At about 10:00 each company conducts their promotion ceremony for knobs. They are promoted from cadet recruits to cadet privates at the ceremony. The parade follows the ceremony and is before lunchtime. After the parade families get together for lunch with their cadets either in the mess hall or they bring a picnic or purchase a boxed lunch through the school.
The cadets have to march to the football game together. They also have to sit together in the stands. It is fun to go to the game, then see the Summerall Guards perform at half-time. Many families enjoy tailgate parties outside the stadium before, during, and after the game.
I’ll include links here to previous posts about the weekend.
A few photos from Friday night and Saturday follow:
The Atlanta Citadel Club hosted the annual Cadet send off event June 13. The dinner is the best attended event each year and usually features an address from an administrator on campus.
A few months ago I joined the club as an affiliate member. Due to travel schedules the leadership of the club asked me and the current chair of the Georgia Citadel Parents Group to help with registration. It was a terrific way to meet everyone as they arrived.
I looked forward to this event each year. I am still in touch with the family I met when I arrived at the send off event before my son began his knob year. As part of the tradition, I take a group photo of the knobs in attendance. See the video the Citadel Alumni Association compiled of the evening.
This year I requested a few minutes on the agenda to ask for support for the homecoming needs of my son’s battalion. Then something really neat happened. I heard from the college roommate of Sgt. Aaron Wittman, a Citadel grad and the fallen soldier from the 3-69. I attended Aaron’s burial in February at Arlington National Cemetery.
A few months ago I read about the foundation set up by his classmates in Aaron’s name. I bought a t-shirt that was made for participants to wear in memory of Aaron during the Cooper River Bridge run. At the time I offered to help get the word out to Citadel parents about Aaron and his Foundation.
Aaron and his parents have been in my prayers since I received word of his death early this year. We have never met, but I felt connected to them once I learned of their connection to The Citadel and because our sons served in the same battalion together. I wanted to write to them, but I never did. That changed the week of the ACC dinner.
Robby Jackson, Aaron’s good friend and classmate emailed me before the dinner. He asked if I would help get the word out to current parents about the Aaron Wittman Foundation. He told me that Aaron’s parents had donated Aaron’s ring to the Band of Gold program administered by the Citadel Alumni Association. His ring will be melted down and be part of the ring the Class of 2014 will receive this Fall. Robby then put me in touch with Duane Wittman, Aaron’s father, so I could learn more about the scholarship fund the foundation will support.
I was so happy to finally be in touch with this family whom I’ve prayed for. During my recent visit to Fort Stewart my daughter and I took time to stop at the Warrior’s Walk where trees are planted in memory of the Ft. Stewart soldiers who were killed. We went to pay our respects to Aaron and to Rex Schad another 3-69 soldier who gave his life for our freedom. It was an honor to be able to share the photo I took of Aaron’s tree with Duane.
Aaron’s father Duane sent me the following information about the foundation:
First, the Aaron Wittman “07” Scholarship Fund was the wonderful idea and effort of Aaron’s classmates.
The Wittman’s agreed that a Memorial Scholarship was the best way to honor Aaron and his selfless sacrifice and teamed up with his Citadel Classmates to create the Aaron X Wittman Memorial Scholarship. The Scholarship Operating Board consisting of Aaron’s classmates and the Wittman Family signed the official MOU with The Citadel Foundation on 5 April 2013.
To date, the endowment level was achieved by 1 June with $52K + on hand and the jump start scholarship dollars are available and will be awarded this year.
We should reach our goal of $100k by 31 Dec 2013 and a life-long goal of $250k.
The Goal of the Scholarship is to provide a rising Sophomore Cadet financial support for three years/graduation.
· Financial Need is First Priority
· Achieve 2.0 GPA for Freshman Year
· Must maintain a 2.5 GPA to maintain Scholarship after award
· Member of National Guard (desired but not required)
· Prefer a Cadet who desires a future in the Armed Forces.
If you would like to support this effort please visit the website: SGT. Aaron X. Wittman, ’07, Scholarship Fund
This video is a great overview of the foundation. The Birth of the Aaron Wittman Foundation
You can also join the Aaron Wittman Foundation Facebook page to receive regular updates.
It is that time of year again. High school graduations begin and preparation for the next class of cadets at The Citadel are beginning to prepare. Each year at this time I see an increase in the number of visits to my blog, especially the entires that deal with knob year.
There is a Facebook group for the parents of the class of 2017 to help them understand the ins and outs of preparing their student to matriculate in August. The group is made up of new parents and parents of graduates. The questions always revolve around the best computers to buy and where to find items from the Success Packet of required items. Most of the answers to these questions can be found on this blog and also on the school website, but I think parents like to hear directly from other parents who have been there.
If you are a new parent there is one bit of advice I’d like you to hear. The Citadel is a leadership school. Your student will learn to take control of their experience there. It is important for you to learn to let them make their decisions. That begins with preparation for Matriculation Day. Please read the entry The Citadel: Year One a No Fly Zone for Hovering Parents.
They need most everything on the required list, but even on that list there is room for personal preference, like whether they want pajamas, desk lamp, etc. Ask your future cadet what they want and what they don’t want to bring. The Citadel Family Association “Nice to Have List” is a suggestion of items to bring. Ask what your cadet wants to bring from that list. If they get to school and decide they do want something it is available on campus or at a nearby store, or you can mail it. You want them to be prepared but it should also be a growing experience for them to begin to make their own decisions.
Even as I write this I know some readers will say, but they HAVE to HAVE so and so with them. I have learned over the years that there is no universal cadet experience. Some cadets like home-baked goods in their care packages, some only want healthy foods. Some want coffee pots some do not. One parents will say you NEED to send a particular item, while another will tell you their cadet never used it.
My advice for new parents? Take this opportunity to begin to let go of your control and allow your student the opportunity to begin to make their own decisions. You’ll be amazed at how much they mature this first year.
Previous entries about knob year:
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.
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.