Sunday, January 6, 2013, cadets from The Citadel return back to campus for the Spring semester. For the Class of 2013 it marks the beginning of their last semester as cadets.
I’ve watched the last several years as the seniors anticipate being part of the long grey line of graduates in May. They look forward to their time to break free of the rigors of the military college and begin their life as graduates who wear the ring. Sometime during graduation week it really begins to hit them. They have worked hard for four years to earn the right to wear the band of gold, walk the long grey line and receive their diploma. What dawns on them graduation week is that while they are moving forward with their new life, they are leaving some of the best years of their life behind. They have become family to their classmates and will now spread across the globe to begin the next stage of their life.
I’ve heard it said among alumni and I have seen it with the cadets the past few years. They spend four years trying to graduate and the rest of their lives trying to get back.
For the parents of the Class of 2013 I have a few tips for this semester and beyond. . . .
Remember tickets to graduation are limited to 8 per cadet. they can request additional, but it isn’t guaranteed. The Cadet Activities office handles all tickets. Your cadet can network with their friends to see if they have tickets to spare.
Enjoy the next four months. Realize your cadet has made it this far in a very tough program because you gave them the tools necessary to succeed. It is a great accomplishment for the whole family.
Spring semester flies by. Visit when you can. Take photos.
Plan ahead for graduation. Make reservations for lodging and meals.
If your cadet will commission with a branch of the service begin now to learn what that will mean for your cadet. The required uniform is expensive. Rituals like the first salute from an NCO also includes handing them a silver dollar. Join the Military Parents of The Citadel Facebook group. The group includes current and former members of the military who are also parents of cadets are graduates as well as parents who learn from each other as they pass through the various training then deployment stages.
Make plans to see the friends YOU have made the past four years. The Facebook groups are great, but be sure to get email and mailing addresses.
Consider purchasing a frame for their diploma from the gift shop. They seem expensive, but custom framing is more expensive.
If your cadet is a member of the Summerall Guards consider purchasing a few items now to give as gifts later.
The Lifetime Membership to the Citadel Alumni Association is a great lifelong gift. Other alumni gifts can be found on the CAA website.
Moms, if you want a “mom’s ring” you may need to let your husband know. Some cadets purchase them for their mothers, but many never think about it. Your husband and your cadet could work together to get one for you.
Your senior is a young adult. They will make mistakes. Hopefully they will learn from their mistakes. Be there to listen when they want to talk, but try to move from a supervisory role to interested observer/consultant. It is time for them to strike out on their own. This transition can be as difficult and even more difficult for the parents than the cadets.
For everyone in the classes of 2014 – 2016, your time is coming soon. Bookmark this entry for future years.
A Note For Parents of 2014 BVA’s:
Be prepared for a tough few months. Your cadet is about to begin their most physically challenging time at The Citadel. I am also told by graduates that they look back on their time as BVA’s as some of the best times they had at The Citadel. They just don’t have extra time to call or keep in touch. Join the Facebook pages for the Summerall Guard Foundation and The Summerall Guards once your cadet makes it. Summerall Guards wearables can be purchased through their website. BVA pants and shirts too.
Previous Posts about Graduation week:
Celebration, Tradition, Ritual: The Long Grey Line
Citadel Parent Crafts Her Own Graduation Ritual