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Knob Year Notes for Parents

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

***2/10/2019 Please note: I am no longer updating the blog posts for Citadel parents. See the official school website for the most up to date information***

Knob year notes (Updated 6/15/2016)

Parents: The Citadel is a leadership school.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, The Citadel is a No Fly Zone for Helicopter Parents.  This means you must allow them to take control of their life while they are on campus. The cadets are expected to handle their own affairs, including advocating for themselves. With that said, if at any time you are concerned about something you can always contact the Ombudsperson’s office on campus and talk confidentially with one of the two Ombudsmen on staff.

REMEMBER cadets– The new knobs will get yelled at.  It isn’t personal it is just part of the 4th class system.  Just don’t give them reason to yell if you can help it.  Report in on Matriculation Day wearing a plain shirt, t-shirt with no writing, or collared golf shirt. Tuck your shirt in. Wear plain gym shorts or if you wear other shorts, wear a belt. Wear white ankle length socks and your athletic shoes. Pull up your socks and make sure your shoe laces are tied.

Don’t let them know you were in JROTC or attended a military school. Everyone starts at the same place. Ask permission before you do anything, including tasks they tell you to do like sign in.  ie – ask if you may use their pen, ask which pen they would like you to use.  And remember you will get yelled at no matter what you do.  It’s part of the 4th Class system.

Keep a positive attitude.  Remember the cadre yells at everyone, it isn’t personal.

It’s best to smile, yell, and curse on the inside.  Keep a straight face in front of the cadre.

Keep your room clean, shoes polished, brass polished. Keep up your personal hygiene.

If you have a difficult roommate situation try to work it out between the two of you.

Hearing from your cadet:

You will hear from your cadet sometime after the first week. It is best to wait until they contact you.  Each company returns phones on their own schedule. Their time will not be their own. If you are talking and they suddenly hang up, don’t worry. It probably means a member of the cadre walked in. They will be able to email/text/call mostly at night. If they have to get off the phone quickly do not take it personally or become agitated with your cadet. Their time is not their own this first year. Skype or Facetime are great ways to see and talk to your cadet.

Sending cards/food to your cadet:

The school sends boxes and mailing labels to you.  You can also order them yourself for free at: usps.com  The box, # 01096L, is the size of 2 VHS tapes.  It fits into their mailbox and briefcases or “Knobbie bags” and is about the size of a book. To find their address go to the People Search window, located at the bottom of the citadel.edu home page, and enter their name. The Post office has a helpful letter posted to the Matriculation Headquarters page. You can access it HERE too.

We sent a lot of protein snacks.  They do go to meals but they don’t always get a lot to eat.  For the most part the knobs don’t get to have condiments with their meals and I’m told the food isn’t great to begin with.  Our son only wanted protein snacks and healthy items.  Small packets of drink powder, like Propel, to add to water was also appreciated.  Emergen – C was a favorite, especially the first 12 weeks.

Birthday’s and Special Occasions Note: In general cadets of any year don’t want anyone to know it’s their big day.  If you would like to have your cadet’s birthday or other occasion recognized without raising their visibility with other cadets plan ahead and mail a special treat to them, send a restaurant gift card,etc. If you plan ahead, you can call the Cadet Activities office on campus and ask if you can have cookies delivered to their office for your knob. DO NOT have any food delivered to the barracks for a knob. They have not earned that privilege yet.

Cookie delivery in Charleston:

Sweet Southern Bella’s Bakery

King Street Cookies


A September Sunday visit in Charleston with knobs Lalli and Spysinski.

Many area hotels offer special discounts for Citadel families.  Call the hotels directly and ask if they offer a Citadel family rate. See this entry that includes the names of hotels that offer special rates. You can find quite a few hotels throughout the Charleston area. We have friends who rent a condo each visit or go to an area campsite too. Try vrbo.com or AirBnB.

Unlike college students at non-military schools, the knobs actually want their parents to visit.  They want to see you, but more importantly they need to nap, eat good food, watch TV and just relax. Their stories are fun too.

First semester cadets do not have overnight privileges.  The must return to the barracks each night including weekends usually by 12 AM.

The schedules for the week are posted on The Citadel web site under the Office of the Commandant’s page, then Operations and Training, then Training Schedules, You can see from the posted schedule what they are scheduled to do each day and what is expected on the weekends.

When you visit:

Unlike other college students, Citadel Knobs appreciate visits from family and friends on the weekends.  They can’t stay over night, but the opportunity to nap in a comfortable bed, eat good food, and take long showers is appreciated.  The visits help break up their time. They like to do their own laundry. Bring quarters and detergent when you visit. They do have laundry service on campus, but many cadet prefer to do their own laundry when they can get off campus.

When you go to see your cadet be prepared to wait.  They are not in control of their time at all.  They can be asked to do extra chores at any time, especially the first 12 weeks

The first time you can visit is usually the second weekend after you drop them off. Summer of ’07 the first free weekend came the weekend after hell week ended.  My son’s Dad went up on that Saturday and rented a room with a kitchen.  He brought pans of lasagna, salad, a case of water and other food.  Our son brought about 4 – 5 friends with him.  They napped, ate, told stories, napped, ate some more and told more stories.  They don’t have much time to compare notes during the week without the cadre being right there so this time was precious for the cadets.  Some of their stories are really pretty funny.

I visited in September with my son’s girlfriend and our daughter.  We arrived on time to see the parade.  An hour or two after the parade we arranged to meet my son and his friend in Mark Clark Hall then go to dinner.  Other cadets met near their barracks or outside the gate.

Make sure the knobs are back to the campus well before the curfew.  There is a silent procession of cars onto campus starting around 11:15 PM.

Ask your knob where they will want to be picked up and dropped off. We usually emailed each other to coordinate meeting plans.  Many of the cadets arrange to meet outside the gate.  We always found the Mark Clark Hall front entry a convenient meeting place.  After the parade you can usually find a close parking spot and the cadets can duck quickly into the car after their last duty.  The restrooms there are near the entry of Mark Clark Hall.

Also note: that you DO NOT want to enter the sally port (or entry way) of the barracks and ask someone to get your knob.  This will bring unwanted attention to your cadet. Be prepared to wait for your cadet recruit.  Your cadet recruit will appreciate your patience.

First few weeks:

They keep the knobs really busy. Your son or daughter may have a senior mentor in the first few weeks.

While they can’t always get mail during hell week you can go ahead and mail a letter or two so it is waiting when they go to the mailbox the first time.  They will also be encouraged to write to you the Sunday at the end of hell week.

Parents remember to let your child work out their own problems.  If you need confidential advice from a Citadel resource visit this web site: http://www.citadel.edu/root/emergency-help-numbers

Frequent (small) food packages and fun cards from home are welcomed. It is humid in Charleston.  Sending food items in zip lock bags will help keep them fresh.

Remind your knob to break the year down into small goals, i.e. Parents Weekend, Homecoming, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.  The beginning of each semester is the hardest.  Visits during these times really help.

Blog posts about Knob year:

The Citadel: Unofficial Tips for Families of Incoming Knobs

A Letter to The Citadel Class of 2015

Matriculation Day: Getting Ready

Matriculation: Reporting in that first day

The Citadel, Preparing for Knob Year, Class of 2016

Hell Week and Knob Year Survival Tips for Parents

The Citadel: Helping Parents Cope With Matriculation Day Anxiety

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