I was never a cadet and do not claim to know the ins and outs of being a cadet. I have however learned quite a bit about being a supportive parent of a cadet. Since my son’s sophomore year at The Citadel I have volunteered my time to help new parents learn the odd terms and culture at The Citadel. At first I was a volunteer with the Citadel Family Association and since his graduation I have maintained this blog site and administered Facebook groups for new parents. Since the rules do change slightly from year to year I’ve developed a good relationship with various officials on campus to make sure what appears on this blog or on the Facebook groups I moderate is accurate and up to date.
Last month the Georgia Citadel Parents Group hosted a parent orientation meeting. In the Atlanta area these events have been happening in the early summer for over ten years. As the questions about preparing for knob year came pouring in from the parents of the class of 2020 I realized that I’ve become an expert on some very odd areas.
You might be a parent of a Citadel Cadet if. . . .
You know Bates is not just the name of the Downton Abbey Valet.
You become an expert in plain toe black Oxford shoes, or low quarters, and where to find them.
You are disappointed to learn the new Bostonian Kinnon style shoe does not meet regulations (stitching on the heel), but encouraged to know the Florsheim Lexington style does.
You know what deep lug soles are on combat boots.
You know which store in your area carries the plastic bins needed in the required sizes.
The staff at your local post office know your name, your cadets name, and what their favorite snacks are.
You know where to find the cheapest white flat sheets.
You know a change in the white PT sock requirement from crew length to ankle length socks sets off a major shock wave. (Yes, all cadets must wear ankle length white socks for unit PT this academic year.)
One week from now some members of The Citadel Class of 2020 will be on campus for Citadel Success Institute (CSI). That means across the country and beyond families are busy getting the necessary items and preparing to say good-bye. The parents of athletes who report July 26 and the parents of the cadets reporting August 13 have a bit more time, but they too are spending their time pouring over the Success Packet list and the Citadel Family Association’s “Nice to Have List.”
Military schools have a tradition of making sure everyone looks the same. Uniformity and not standing out is stressed. Because of this emphasis the families readying their student to report get a bit anxious. Everyone wants to make sure their student has what they need.
What I’ve come to realize though is while you do have lists of things you need to have and lists of things that are nice to have, the cadets still manage to carve out their own way of doing something. For instance, they all need flat white sheets to go on their twin sized bunks, but some cadets will decide they like to have a little extra fabric to tuck under and will want extra long sheets, others do not want the extra fabric. Some cadets use T-pins to secure their sheets to the bunks, others like the elastic straps made for this purpose.
Since the Class of 2020 has not started the year yet, the parents and their students are left with the official list and the Nice to Have list and must make decisions about what to bring. The knobs will develop their own preferences as the year goes on. Parents will slowly learn that no matter what they send, their son or daughter will still find something else they want or decide they do not need what was packed. This is all part of the 4th Class system, maybe not in a formal way, but finding their own way on a very regimented path is a by product of the 4th Class System. (see the PowerPoint on 4C Learning Outcomes)
There are rules for everything, but the cadets still find a way to be their own individual. Some will make their mark in Physical Training (PT). Others will stand out in the classroom, or athletics, or clubs. Some knobs will strive to be a “ghost.” They will do what is expected, but not do anything to bring attention to themselves. Others decide they want to stand out in their field of endeavor. For instance, if they are good at physical training they will do things that may mean extra push ups as a result. The person who is good at PT doesn’t mind extra exercise.
For the non-military person, like I am, this all seems pretty strange. That is alright, we non-grad/non-military parents aren’t the cadets and don’t have to understand it. As parents we are just supposed to be supportive. As I mentioned in a previous post being supportive in this context is helping them with the things they need to report, then encouraging them throughout the year.
I tell new parents each year not to stress about the lists of items, just do their best to get what is listed. Each year the parents worry and obsess over plastic bins, underwear sheets and shoe polish, then soon learn what size bin was sent, or type of sheet really doesn’t matter. In a way I believe parents need the lists to obsess over to distract themselves from the fact their child is going off not only to college but to a military college. The parents can’t control what happens once they arrive at the gates, but they can try to make sure their child has what they need.
If you are the parent of a student entering this year, get the items they need, then take time now to be with your child.
It is a tough year. No matter what they do or don’t do, they will get yelled at a lot. Nothing will ever be right. They won’t get positive reinforcement on campus, that is what you can provide.
They will make friends that will become their family. The cadets have a saying, they spend four years trying to get out of The Citadel and then the rest of their lives trying to get back.
If your son or daughter has chosen this path they have the strength to get through the year. Remember that and remind them of that fact often in the months to come.
In a few weeks I’ll be in Charleston for a couple of nights to attend a Cadet Send off dinner and appear on a panel hosted by the Summerville Citadel Club. (see the fun panelist description for me below)
Each time I visit town I try to find a decent property with good clean rooms and a reasonable price. I spend VERY little time in whatever room I’m in since these are really working trips.
Once in a while I am fortunate to be invited to stay with friends, but most of the time I’m on my own. Several of my friends sing the praises of AirBnB so I decided to check in to the offerings in Charleston. I think during one of my next trips to town I’ll be checking one of these properties out.
When visiting Charleston to see your cadet, always call the hotel directly and ask if they offer special rates to Citadel families. I’ll be updating this entry about hotels soon, but check out some of the links listed.
The Summerville Citadel Club sent me a copy of the invitation to the event. The alumnus who sent it to me asked if I liked my title/description. What do you think?!
CPT Geno F Paluso II, USN, Commandant of Cadets.
LTC Robert Pickering, SCM, Director of Multicultural Student Services and International Studies, Director of Citadel Success Institute, Ombudsperson.
Mrs. Dorie Griggs, Citadel Mom, Facebook Organizer, Blogger, Knower of Many Things Citadel Parent’s Should Know.
I put together photos from last summer’s Matriculation Day, and Sunday and Monday of Challenge Week and included them in an iMovie. It’s a little long, almost 15 minutes. I suggest you read the explanation below then watch the video. Click here to view the video
While the photography isn’t the greatest, they are my snap shots not my husband’s professional images, I hope they will give new parent a little insight into the beginning of Challenge Week. You’ll see how the knobs are led around campus from meeting to meeting task to task. This is The Citadel’s version of freshman orientation.
Last summer (2015) I was in town and ended up dropping off a knob who flew in from LA on his own. The photos start with the line at the check in at the alumni center and proceed to pulling up at the battalion, unloading the car, and moving into the barracks. You’ll see the knobs checking in at the first sergeant table and picking up their new “knobbie” clothes.
The photos then move to the cadre, dressed in gray duty uniforms, lining up to “Welcome” the knobs, then on to knobs lining up to “be introduced” to the cadre. After they meet the cadre marches them to lunch.
The next group of photos you’ll see knobs lined up on the parade field to be divided into various faith groups to go to Sunday morning worship or ethics seminar. As they wait to move you’ll see photos of knobs reading their Guidon, a book they must learn and memorize, at least parts of it. Parents can attend chapel Sunday, but they do not interact with the knobs. After chapel the knobs reconstitute with their cadre from their companies and they are marched off to meetings.
At the 8:48 mark the photos are from Monday morning when the knobs get their hair cut, get their mail box keys and laundry bags. They then go on to the Cadet Store to get uniform items and carry the very full bags to the barracks, studying the Guidon when they wait for their classmates.
By the 14:18 mark the photos are of the knobs in their gray duty uniforms marching to the parade field to take the cadet oath. The knob in the golf cart had an infected foot and was allowed to leave the infirmary for the ceremony. He healed and had a very successful knob year.
I’ve included photos of upperclass cadets. Many of whom I met their knob year and I know their parents.
In two months, less if you are an athlete reporting the end of July, the Class of 2020 will report for Matriculation Day at The Citadel. This time of year is stressful for the families of the incoming knobs.
The students are starting to get their “game face” on. If they are smart, the incoming knobs are breaking in their shoes and working on their physical training. I’m told by cadets and alumni those are two things a knob can do to help them self out the beginning of this challenging year. It will still be tough but if you can meet or exceed the PT standards at least the new cadet recruit won’t have to do remedial physical training on top of everything else.
While the incoming knobs, also called cadet recruits, have concrete things they can do to prepare the parents task is not as straight forward. Parents need to begin to prepare to, but their preparation is more mental than physical. Sending a child off to The Citadel is a scary task, especially if you do not have any military background. I know it was scary for me.
Parents need to remember that sending a child off to college should be a time of celebration and focus on the success of the recent high school graduate. Too many parents dwell on the change in a negative light, forgetting that there are some exciting time ahead. Yes, we all miss having our children at home, but sending them off into the world is a sign we have done our jobs as parents.
I’ve learned that for some parents they cope with their anxiety by obsessing over the Success Packet list of items to bring and the Citadel Family Association’s “Nice to Have List.” The problem with that plan is the parents tend to over think the list. There is not one perfect kind of sock, underwear, or the exact size plastic bin. You really can’t make a mistake. If something isn’t brought with them the knobs share with each other. They can also purchase items they need from the Cadet Store and the Bookstore
The big difference in sending a child to a military school like The Citadel is the abruptness of it all. The knobs turn in their phones the very first day they arrive and do not get them back and do not have computer access for a week to ten days. Some parent handle this better than others.
My suggestion is to keep yourself very busy that first week. Limit your time on the computer and social media. Let your friends and family know you’d like to get together for a visit, spend more time on your other children and your spouse. Most likely they’re feeling a bit strange about this new normal too.
It’s also a good idea to try and let go of some of the control over your son or daughter’s time now. In a couple of months you will have very, very little input as to how they spend their time or what they are doing day to day. Get used to that now.
The first few weeks that the knobs are on campus some photos will be posted to the school’s Facebook page , and the Citadel Photography page as well as the parent Facebook groups. You’ll begin to understand the game of “Where’s Waldo” in a whole other context. Once they get their hair cut and wear the same uniforms it is very hard to find YOUR Waldo. (Pro tip: If they are in the PT clothes look for their athletic shoes.)
Between now and Matriculation Day step away from Facebook and spend time face to face with your family.
NOTE: The Citadel staff is reviewing the required and Nice to Have Lists for the Class of 2021. This entry will be updated once the new lists are available.
Knobs line up in 3rd battalion to get their PT clothes. On Matriculation Day.
Each year in late May or early June the school posts their Matriculation Headquarters page. The incoming knob should read everything on this page, click every link and read everything on the linked pages. Knobs will soon learn that they, not their parents, are expected to know what is contained in these pages. Incoming knobs should check the page at least once a week for updates.
There are assignments due throughout the summer. The Office of the Commandant will update their Matriculation Information page soon too. (NOTE: As of this writing, 6/12/2016, the information is still from last academic year.)
The required list of items for knobs can be found on pages 6-7 of the Success Packet. Please note that cadets must be in uniform when in the area around the school. The knobs will learn the rules once they arrive. Knobs do not need any civilian clothes. You may bring comfortable clothes for them to wear in the hotel room when they are there. The first day they are given physical training clothes and their bathrobes along with a few other items.
I have copied the list for 2020 knobs below in Bold and added tips next to the official items. In general knobs are very hard on their clothes. A few tips you’ll hear from everyone is to get cheap sheets, but good socks. And break in the shoes before you arrive.
All cadets are required to furnish their own bed linen except for the bedspread and one blanket , which will be issued. Beds and mattresses are provided, but pillows are not.
One plastic mattress cover will be issued at cost to each cadet.
All cadets (male and female) must bring the following:
One  pair of conservative style pajamas (optional) – Personal preference. many cadets sleep in their PT shorts and shirt.
Twelve  white, cotton, crew-neck tee shirts – Purchase snug fitting t-shirts. Many families send along double the amount of t-shirts. In the first few weeks when laundry is slow and they are exercising in the hot Charleston weather having extra means they will have a fresh change of clothes available.
Twelve  pairs of white cotton underwear – briefs, or boxer briefs (male) – White boxer briefs or briefs are available at Walmart, Target and other stores. 6 will be folded for their inspection drawer and never worn. Bring extra.
Twelve  pairs of white cotton panties (female) – NO thongs This is very straight forward. Wicking fabric is best since they do a lot of physical training throughout the year.
One  pair of “longjohns” They wear this under their itchy wool uniforms later in the fall. Some don’t wear them at all.
Twelve  pairs of black crew length socks – cotton socks are recommended. [Experience has proven that socks made of synthetic material contribute to blistering and in some cases secondary infections.] Gold Toe makes a good think black crew length sock. Families have had luck finding cheaper thick black work socks at Wal-Mart.
Twelve  pairs of plain white cotton athletic ankle socks (Socks must be void of visible logos or color, and must cover the protruding ankle bone. Low cut quarter socks are permitted.) While they say cotton you can find socks made out of wicking fabric that will help cut down on blisters. For the first time in years ankle length socks are required, not crew length. Good, thick socks, are a good idea. (NOTE: They will need socks to wear with their boots and ACU uniform. If you bought crew length socks the cadets can wear them with their boots or send along a few pair of boot socks.)
One  bathing suit, solid black or navy blue (female: conservative one piece) They don’t wear them often but it is good to bring a swim suit. Lands End, Kohl’s, Target and others carry them for men. Women’s suits can be found in the competitive swim suit stores/brands
One  pair of shower shoes (black)
Six  white, cotton towels – Buy inexpensive towels at Wal-Mart or Target
Six  washcloths – Buy inexpensive towels at Wal-Mart or Target
One  standard sized pillow – Send along their favorite pillow
Four  white pillow cases –
Four  white, non-fitted sheets for a single bed – Regular twin size flat sheets. Wal-Mart has them. Do not send expensive sheets. They make their beds for inspection and sleep on top of the made bed. Some sheets end up as banners.
Twelve  white handkerchiefs – Plain white washable handkerchiefs can be found at Wal-Mart and Target
Toilet articles – They do not need a shower caddy. They should bring their own soap, shampoo, shaving needs.
One  pair of good running shoes in a subdued color such as white, navy, or black (may have contrasting trim) Bring shoes that fit the best in subdued colors. Some cadets bring two pair of running shoes and use them for all activities.
Three  pairs of black bike shorts (cotton spandex) for optional wear with physical training uniform – Compression/bike shorts without design or logos on the legs
One  pair of military style boots, sand colored with deep lug soles – boots must be sand colored with a plain toe. Boots made of patent leather or poromeric material are not authorized. Also, boots containing Marine Corps emblems are not authorized. The Cadet Store at The Citadel sells Bates brand boots, but large sizes may not be readily available. In addition to the Bates boots, some find the Nike and others brand fit well. They must be sand colored.
One  clear plastic storage container for under the bed. It must be sized 32″L x 11″H x 18″W. Note: Do not search for a container meeting these precise specifications. Instead, look for something smaller than 32″ x 11″ x 18″. The underbed box must be 32″ or shorter to fit under the bunk. Two must fit so do get something smaller than the sizes listed. A solid subdued colored lid is fine. Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, The Container Store Bed Bath and Beyond all carry containers.
One  overnight bag (or another clear plastic storage container) for additional items that will be kept on top of the full press is authorized. This bag or container 24″L x 12″H x 18″W. Most knobs bring the second clear bin. the 66 quart size usually meets the criteria. Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, The Container Store Bed Bath and Beyond all carry containers.
Two  pairs of military style, plain toe, smooth leather, black oxford shoes with rubber heels. You will not be permitted to wear shoes that fail to meet these criteria. Shoes made of patent leather or poromeric material are not authorized.
The school prefers that knobs wear the Bates plain toe black oxford made of polishable leather. Thorogood also makes a plain toe oxford. Some cadets like the Florsheim Lexington style plain tow black oxford. The Bostonian Kinnon style IS NOT approved because it has stitching on the heal. ***See the last few pages of the Success packet for expanded descriptions of the shoes and boots.***
Please ensure shoes and boots are “broken in” prior to arrival to avoid foot problems. Boots and shoes are available at The Citadel Cadet Store. Summer store hours are Monday-Wednesday 0700 to 1700 and Thursday 0700 to 1630. Call (843) 953-5166 to check on item availability. Boots and shoes must meet specifications. See the Cadet Store letter for details.
Additional items for female cadets:
Five  white, beige, or skin-colored regular bras
Five  white or beige sports bras
Labeling clothes: As a time saving measure, though not mandatory, it would be helpful to write your last name and first two initials in your clothing using a permanent marker. The location of the name should be inconspicuous when the garment is worn (e.g., bottom of each sock, rear waistband of underwear, and the front shirt tail of t-shirts). Household linens such as towels, sheets, and pillow cases should not be labeled. The Cadet Laundry will affix a permanent label to these items.
The following items may be brought with the new cadet or obtained later:
One  desk reading lamp
One  picture with frame – no larger than 8”x 10” Most knobs wait until after parents Weekend to bring a Frame
One  radio/stereo/CD player – Speakers must be no larger 12″x24″. It’s a good idea to wait until Parents Weekend to send speakers
One  oscillating fan – Box or floor fans on a stand are not authorized.
Computer and printer – See the Computer Recommendationspage for more information. Some cadets prefer to print off papers in the computer labs or the library. Ask your son or daughter what they would like to do.
Alarm clock – They will not have their phones the first week. an Alarm clock would be helpful.
The Citadel does not furnish bedding. Cadets shipping their belongings to the college must bring with them two sheets, one pillowcase, and pillow for use until they can access their belongings.
LUGGAGE Trunks and suitcases can not be stored in cadet rooms. Only one overnight bag for overnight travel may be kept in the room. All other luggage is stored at the central warehouse at the risk of the cadet. Luggage may be shipped to The Citadel in advance of your reporting date. It should be clearly marked with the cadet’s name and addressed to Central Supply, The Citadel, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, SC, 29409.
The Citadel Family Association “Nice to Have List.” NOTE: Your son or daughter does not need everything on this list. I’ve made a few notes after some items. Check with your son or daughter and ask them if they want to bring these items.
CLASS ROOM SUPPLIES:
SURGE SUPPRESSOR/POWER STRIP WITH 3 OR MORE OUTLETS (for computer)
PENCILS, PENS, STAPLER, STAPLES, PAPER CLIPS
COPY PAPER FOR PRINTER
EXTRA PRINTER INK
PERMANENT BLACK MARKERS (used to label things that will be required)
DISPOSABLE SHEETS OR ONE (1) CAN OF PLEDGE OR ENDUST
DISPOSABLE SHEETS OR ONE (1) CAN WINDEX OR GLASS CLEANER.
DISPOSABLE SHEETS OR (1) CAN LYSOL
FEBREZE FABRIC DEODORANT –Used a Lot knob year.
SPRAY STARCH (1 CAN)
TIDE PEN & BLEACH PEN
IRON (Yes, we are serious!) – No need to get an expensive iron just one that will stand up in the barracks.
IRONING BOARD (TRAVEL SIZE) – While the cadets often prefer full size many companies do not allow knobs to have a full size ironing board.
TRAVEL SEWING KIT – Send along a spool of white and black thread. They will sew on buttons.
“”T”” PINS & ASSORTED SAFETY PINS – Used to secure the sheets on their bunks. T-pins can be found online or in the sewing notions section of craft stores, Target and Wal-Mart.
EXTRA UNDERWEAR, T-SHIRTS, WHITE & BLACK COTTON SOCKS – As noted on the Success Packet list
ADDRESS BOOK WITH ADDRESSES – Just make sure they have the important addresses for family and friends in their phone or computer.
FIRST AID SUPPLIES: BAND-AIDS, FIRST AID CREAM OR SPRAY
TYLENOL, MOTRIN, TUMS, ETC., FOR MINOR MEDICAL NEEDS – I would add, send long their preferred over the counter cold nad alergy medicines.
MOLESKIN BLISTER TREATMENT PADS
BUG & GNAT SPRAY (skin so soft) – Very important
EXTRA CAN OF BRASSO (School will provide small can)
TWO (2) LARGE CANS OF BLACK SHOE POLISH (KIWI)
LINCOLN SHOE POLISH (BLACK)
HEEL n SOLE EDGE DRESSING FOR SHOES
JEWELER’S CLOTH (Sonshine brand works well)
SANDPAPER 2000, 1800, 1500 GRIT (Can be found in automotive section of store)
CLOTHS & RAGS FOR POLISHING BRASS AND SHOES: 100% COTTON
OLD TOOTHBRUSHES: TO BE USED FOR CLEANING
LARGE PLASTIC DRINKING CUPS
GATORADE POWDER (CAN) OR OTHER DRINK MIX
POWER BARS, CRACKERS, SMALL SNACK ITEMS – Some suggest that families mail them a care package their first week and not bring food on Matriculation Day
FLASHLIGHT, SMALL WITH EXTRA BATTERIES – Many do not ever use the flashlight
MASKING TAPE; 1 ROLL 3/4″
Note: These items are not required, and most are available on campus at The Citadel. However, it is highly encouraged that these items be purchased prior to arrival. Freshmen/Knobs will be able to replenish these items when necessary as the semester progresses. Do not send an item unless it is found on this list or the official list received from The Citadel.
**One item not listed but that many cadets find helpful are shirts stays. They are elastic that attaches to the bottom of shirts and to the top of their socks to keep their shirts tucked and their socks up. There are several brands available.**
It is high school graduation time. Parents of graduates who will be attending The Citadel in the fall are turning their attention to the various lists of items their son or daughter will need when they report to the school on Matriculation Day.
There are now close to 200 Class of 2020 parents in the Facebook group The Citadel Parents of the Class of 2020 right now and more requesting to join each day. (If you want to join please go to the page request to join then send me an email, email@example.com, letting me know you are the parent of an incoming knob. The group is only for new parents, not extended family.) The questions asked in the group at this time of year revolve around shoes, boots, socks, and other required items.
That will sound odd to parents and others who have no experience with a military school.
When a student attends a military school they are given a list of items to bring with them. Most of their clothes will be provided to them by the school since they wear uniforms every day, including the weekends. The cadets also have very strict rules about what they can and cannot have in their rooms.
This is a stressful time for many families. The process of sending a child to a military school can bring on a mixture of feelings. Some of these feelings are shared by all parents of college bound freshman. Some are unique to the parents of military college students.
I thought it would be helpful to the parents of The Citadel, Class of 2020 to include a list of advantages of being the parent of a cadet at The Citadel.
When retail stores begin their sales pitch to college students in the summer, touting their dorm room decorations and bedding, families of cadets at The Citadel can ignore the ads.
When other families have to caravan to get their student to college in order to bring all the things for their dorm, Citadel families can fit everyone, and the incoming knob’s required items, in the family car.
Unlike parents of other college students on move in day, you won’t have to decorate and unpack your cadet recruit’s things. On Matriculation Day, the day first year cadets report, families carry the things in, with the help of the Citadel Family Association volunteers, and your son or daughter will unpack after you leave. Parents do not stay and unpack and decorate the room. You can go into town and enjoy the many wonderful restaurants and toast your success as parents.
When other parents are worried about the decisions their college student is making with all their new found freedom, Citadel parents know exactly where their knob is by midnight each night of first semester, right in their barracks room.
The “freshman 15” usually refers to the weight college students gain when they are away at college. Thanks to the physical training Citadel knobs go through, they usually lose weight and gain muscle. Your knob will end the year in the best physical shape of their lives.
First year cadets really appreciate visits from family and friends. They love to get off campus to sleep, eat what they’d like, and take long hot showers. When your friends with college students complain that their student doesn’t want them around, you can brag about how happy your knob is to see you.
The first year knobs are not in control of their time. This means when families visit they end up waiting outside the barracks for their cadets. Life long friendships are made among families as they wait for their knob to exit the barracks.
Parents of the Class of 2020, there are plenty of other reasons to be proud and happy your child has chosen “the road less traveled,” for their college experience. Try to focus on the positives right now.
You’ve given them a firm foundation. Now sit back and watch them soar!
Photos clockwise from top left: Dorie with her son, daughter and a high school friend and fellow knob enjoying dinner out in Charleston in September knob year. Parents Weekend promotion ceremony. Cadet Lalli and his senior mentor, Carrying the guidon on Recognition Day, Graduation Day, Ring Ceremony, He wears the Ring.
Across the country high school seniors are graduating. In the South the graduations have already begun. In the North June tends to be graduation month. That means families getting their students ready for Matriculation Day at The Citadel are turning their focus to getting things for their soon-to-be Knob.
The school will post an updated list of items the new students are required to have. (you can view the previous year’s information on page 6 of this document. it changes very little from year to year.) The Citadel Family Association also has a list of items that families have found helpful to have. It is called the “Nice to Have List.” You do not need everything on the Nice to Have List. Parents should ask their student what they would like from that list since they will be the ones to go through the 4th Class System.
I will pause here to give a word of advice to parents. Your student will be attending a leadership school. I’ve written previously about what I learned about what that means. The hardest, but most regarding lesson for parents of cadets is this, your student will have to be the one to navigate the rules and regulations of the school. You can help them get ready to report, but once they are on campus the students are the ones who must take control of their process. Your role will move from one of guiding and teaching your child, to the role of encourager and support person. You WILL NOT be able to navigate the system for them day to day.
This first year is a rollercoaster of emotions for the knobs. My advice to parents is to avoid getting on that rollercoaster with your student. Obviously you will be concerned, but try to remember that the challenges your student will encounter are learning experiences for them. You will be the only one they can confide in and vent to this next year. Often times the knobs will vent to a parent, leaving the parent worried, while the knob moves on and never tells the parent they’ve resolved the issue.
In the next several months local alumni groups sponsor “Send Off events” for incoming knobs and their families. You can check with the Citadel Alumni Association to see if the club in your area will host an event. The Citadel Family Association also has area reps who are current parents who volunteer to help the new parents. you can find a list of the Area Reps here. The Atlanta Citadel Club has asked me to serve as the chair of the new Parent Committee. We will have a parent orientation meeting in June then the club will host a send off event August 4. Contact me if you’d like additional information.
There are three things an incoming knob can do NOW to prepare for the next year: (The office of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs also has a good list for incoming knobs. You can access the link HERE.)
Begin to memorize the Knob Knowledge in the Guidon. It is available online or in the bookstore. You’ll get a copy when you report.
Parents often wonder about company assignments and roommates. The majority of cadets will find out their company and roommate on Matriculation Day. The athletes who report in July will all stay in the same barracks then move to their regular company assignments in August when the Corps of Cadets report. Unlike other colleges cadets will change rooms through out the year. The moves can be for a variety of reasons.
If you live out of state and don’t want to ship the items to campus, you can order times from Bed, Bath and Beyond or Wal-Mart and pick them up from the stores in Charleston. If you choose this option you will have to arrive in town before Matriculation Day. If you ship items to campus it is a good idea to arrive Friday morning to retrieve them from the warehouse on campus. Contact the warehouse directly with any questions about shipping items in advance.
I know it is a very stressful time for parents who do not have a military background or do not have a history with The Citadel. I was in your place in 2007. Much of what happens seems really strange. As my son would tell me every time I would question something, “There is a reason behind everything we do.” It is the knobs challenge to learn these reasons. A parent needs to encourage and support them in the process.
If you are the parent of an incoming knob, please join the group for 2020 parents on Facebook to meet fellow parents and to have a safe place to ask questions. Go to the page and request to join, then end me an email to confirm you are the parent of an incoming knob. firstname.lastname@example.org
High school graduation season is upon us here in the South. For families with a student who will attend The Citadel in the Fall that means the annual scavenger hunt for items on the Success Packet “Clothing /Personal Items” list is about to begin. As of this writing the list for the Class of 2020 is not available. The list for the Class of 2019 is still on the school website. The basic items like underwear, socks, flat white sheets have not changed in years. For tips on these items you can see my previous post here. The Freshman Assessments and Placements link is updated for the Class of 2020.
Preparing for knob year to begin is different than other college freshman, for both the student and the parents. Since I’ve never been a cadet, but I am the parent of a graduate, I can best speak to what it’s like for parents.
The transition from high school to college is a big step for any family. Sending a child to a military college feels more like a HUGE leap, especially if you are not familiar with the military. I learned early in the process that The Citadel is a Leadership College. That means the students are expected to take responsibility for their actions/in action.
For parents it means learning to let go and let them take control of their life. With the advent of electronic media, cell phones, Skype, Facetime, texting families are more connected than ever. When I went off to college in the summer of 1977 I was 7 hours from home and shared a land line with my roommates. I spoke to my parents once a week on average. I’ve heard stories from graduates of The Citadel from that same time period who talked of waiting in long lines to make a call home on a pay phone then only have a few minutes to talk. While cadets can now have cell phones and have computers in their rooms, the first year knobs cannot use their phones and computers at will. This is a major adjustment for many families.
For parents of incoming knobs if you are used to constant communication with your student begin cutting back on the daily communication now. If you don’t already, allow your son or daughter to take control of the decisions that impact them directly. When Matriculation Day arrives you will not hear from your knob for at least a week. Keep in mind that parents who send their child off to enlist in the Army don’t hear from their son or daughter for weeks.
A couple of things you can do now to ease your anxiety over this transition is to join a couple of parent Facebook groups. I administer a group for Parents of the Class of 2020. Go to the page and request to join, then send me an email to let me know you are the parent of a cadet. Only new parents are approved to the group. No cadets, extended family, or parents of upperclass cadets are admitted in. It is a safe place to meet other new parents and ask questions. I’ve invited some trusted friends who are parents of graduates to help answer questions. Once you are in the group for 2020 parents, join the Citadel Family Association (CFA) page. They will post helpful information throughout the year. The Citadel and Citadel Photography are good pages for you and extended family members to follow for photos and campus news.
The tendency for most parents is to obsess over the list of required items and the “Nice to Have List” in the months leading up to Matriculation Day. When I asked the Parents of the Class of 2019 to pass along their advice to new parents many of then said, do not let yourself get stressed. While I agree with that advice, I have observed over the past eight years since my son was a knob that parents seem to NEED to obsess over the lists. It is far less stressful than focusing on sending your child off to a scary new adventure. So if it helps you to have that list and focus on getting everything (you do not need to get everything on the Nice to have list) go for it. I do encourage you to involve your student in getting the items. If you have a question of whether they want something, ask your student. They are the ones who will have to live through the 4th Class System when you drop them off. Examples of optional items are coffee makers and printers. If you ask five cadets at The Citadel about them you’ll get five different answers. Some like to have a coffee maker or hot pot. Others do not want them. Begin letting go now by asking your son or daughter what they want to do.
While I cannot advise on getting through knob year from personal experience, I have listened to enough send off speeches by alumni to give you a few pointers to pass to your son or daughter. These are basically the same things I’ve written about in previous blog posts. I’ll include a list of links to knob year related blog posts below too.
Break in your shoes. That includes the plain toe black Oxfords, the boots and athletic shoes. The largest single cause of knobs going to the infirmary at the beginning of the year are complications from blisters. Get the shoes now and wear them every day.
Physical Training In addition to breaking in shoes an incoming knob should report being able to meet or exceed the physical training standards. The Physical Fitness web page has very helpful information including the standards the cadets are expected to meet or exceed for weight and physical training. A knob should be able to meet or exceed the number of push ups, sit ups, and run 2 miles in the times listed for their gender and age. Males / Females
Since we have a few months before Matriculation Day this is enough advice for now. In the weeks and months ahead I will share other tips. If you are the parent of an incoming knob, please join the Facebook group for Parents of the Class of 2020. We answer questions daily there. The links below include helpful information for this first year. Read at your own pace. Please remember to always refer to the school web site for the most up to date information.
For the past four years each January I post a group for parents with high school seniors about to enter The Citadel in August. The group for the parents of the Class of 2020 is now live.
If you are the parent of a high school senior, or a transfer student, entering The Citadel in the summer of 2016, please request to join the group. I do ask that everyone send me an email to verify they are the parent of an incoming knob. That email address is: dorie (at) dorielgriggs (dot) com