The Citadel: Being Supportive From the Outside

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Parents and family members look through the sallyport gates as the cadre walk by on Matriculation Day, 2015.

I did not attend The Citadel, my son did. Over the years I’ve learned a good bit about the process, but I am still not an insider and never will be.

However, I have learned how to be a supportive parent of a cadet. A parent of a cadet should follow the strict definition of supportive, “Providing encouragement or emotional help.” That is important for new parents to keep in mind this first year, especially if over the past several years you are the type of parent who reminded your student of deadlines and due dates or if you did their scheduling.

At The Citadel the cadets learn to take ownership of their actions. Time management is a huge part of that process. The beginning of the year the first year cadets, or knobs as they are called, learn how to polish and shine brass and their shoes. They learn where everything goes and how to get ready for an inspection. THey learn the rules of the school and what is expected of them. This all takes place before the classes start. Once the classes start they have to juggle the military aspect of polishing and cleaning, with the academic rigors. Parents can be a huge support during that transition.

When a knob begins to feel overwhelmed they will often vent to family and friends not at the school because these trusted contacts are the only ones they feel safe with at the beginning. It can be hard to hear the complaints but it is now when they need your encouraging support. Remind them they are strong. As time goes on the knobs will slowly learn to trust and lean on their classmates. In fact their friends knob year will become like family to them for the rest of their life.

The knobs are put in situations where they must make snap decisions and judgements. It seems arbitrary to an outsider. I’ve gain insights into the reason the system works the way it does by reading books and talking to graduates and cadets.

One book I read, Through Their Eyes by George Steffner was very helpful. The following paragraph is from page 41 and it explains how the training that takes place in the mess hall works:

“The process was designed to create a pressure cooker environment in which young officers in training were pulled at from every direction, for every imaginable reason, to do things that were next to impossible. But the cadre were not there simply to make our lives miserable. Hot situations gave the upperclassmen excellent indicators of who was and was not suitable for command, both at the school and later in life, whether in a military capacity or otherwise. The idea was simple: to be so overcome with stress and responsibilities, so completely surrounded with impossible demands on their time that they would have to choose in triage fashion the most important tasks to complete while keeping a cool head in the process. It was a proven method, not without flaws but generally successful in creating leaders who could make important decisions under pressure. Someday these men might lead a platoon or company through knee-deep mud. Someday these men might find themselves taking fire and incoming mortar rounds from all sides with little hope of escape, What would be needed then wouldn’t be a leader who fell apart and  got is entire command wiped-out but rather one who could think clearly and rally his men to hunker down, counter attack and if possible survive to fight another day. The only way to weed out those who couldn’t take life’s pressures was to do so in an early crucible and this was part of that crucible.”

The memorization of the Knob Knowledge in the Guidon (the updated Guidon should be posted this summer) and other facts they must remember have a similar purpose. One day in their post college position they may be called on to remember details and information in a pressured situation. Developing the ability to memorize and to integrate that information into your memory is a crucial skill in high pressure situations.

One of the biggest differences I’ve observed between cadets and their non-military school counter parts is the ability to manage their time. With all the required activities, including mandatory class attendance and meal attendance, time becomes a precious commodity. Taking time away from cadets is a form of punishment whether it is walking tours or sitting confinements.

Confinements and Tours as defined in the Blue Book:

6.8.3 Confinements

6.8.3.1 A confinement is a 50‑minute period during which confined cadets, in duty uniform with white waist belt, are required to remain in their assigned confinement classroom (or when approved by the ACD their own room which will be in MRI order) studying.

6.8.4 Tours

6.8.4.1 A tour is a 50‑minute period of time during which a cadet marches on the quadrangle at 120 steps a minute with a rifle at right or left‑ shoulder arms.

It is a strict system with checks and balances in place to encourage good decision-making. That is not to say that cadets are above trying to stretch the rules a bit.

 

As I mentioned in an early blog post, Learning Leadership and Ethics at The Citadel, the cadets, especially the ones interested in holding rank, must learn to use their time wisely. It is a job skill that other college students may not learn until they are in their first job.

For the families of incoming knobs this is all a bit overwhelming right now. In the months ahead you will learn to let go of the daily control over your son or daughter’s time and actions and adjust to supporting them in their activities. If they call and complain about their process, know that you are the only one they can complain to right now. They usually vent then move on leaving you to worry as they go on to the next task. You need to remember they are only getting small bits of information at a time and cannot see the big picture. Your role is to be supportive by helping see the big picture and keep their long terms goals in mind.

A few tips for how to be supportive when you hear from a knob:

  • Remind them they are stronger than they feel at that moment.
  • Tell them they will get through this one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time.
  • Encourage them to build relationships with their fellow knobs. They will learn they are not alone.
  • Remind them they are at college, grades are more important than shining shoes. Fit the shining in around their studies not the other way around. (their shoes will never be shiny enough)
  • Help them set small manageable goals. i.e. make it to Friday of each week, then to Parents Weekend, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.
  • Frequent care packages of their favorite protein bars and treats is always welcomed.

If you are the parent of an incoming knob, join the Facebook group for 2020 parents.  Extended family or friends are not permitted into the group.  This is a volunteer effort that is very time consuming with just the parents. If you are a 2020 parent, go to the group page and request to join then send me a Facebook message or email (address in the About section) to confirm you are a parent.

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Knobs in the Class of 2019 line up after getting their hair cut the Monday after Matriculation Day. Part of the 4th Class system is becoming uniform with everyone in your class.

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Knobs from the Class of 2019 study their Guidons after gettting their hair cut.

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The Citadel: A visual of the first few days

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Checking in at the Holliday Alumni Center, Matriculation Day 2015

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.

Capt Paluso addresses the Class of 2019 at the Atlanta Citadel Club Cadet Send Off Dinner

The following videos are from The Citadel Experience YouTube channel :

2015 Matriculation Day

The Citadel Class of 2015 Oath Ceremony

Photos from Matriculation Day and Challenge Week 2015

 

Packing for Knob Year at The Citadel: Unofficial tips

NOTE: This is an outdated post.

This blog site is up to date: https://cadetparentadvice.com/cadet-packing-list/

Always check with school officials for current requirements, especially about the approved shoes and boots.

3rd battalion knobs
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.

The Citadel Family Association has a “Nice to Have List” posted to their website. Notes on those items are listed below the Success Packet list.

move in

Matriculation Day morning families pull up to the battalion and with the help of the Citadel Family Association volunteers unload the car.

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.

CLOTHING/PERSONAL ITEMS

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 [1] pair of conservative style pajamas (optional) – Personal preference. many cadets sleep in their PT shorts and shirt.

Twelve [12] 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 [12] 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 [12] 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 [1] pair of “long johns” They wear this under their itchy wool uniforms later in the fall. Some don’t wear them at all.

Twelve [12] 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 [12] 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 [1] 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 [1] pair of shower shoes (black) 

Six [6] white, cotton towels – Buy inexpensive towels at Wal-Mart or Target

Six [6] washcloths – Buy inexpensive towels at Wal-Mart or Target

One [1] standard sized pillow – Send along their favorite pillow

Four [4] white pillow cases – 

Four [4] 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 [12] 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 [1] 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 [3] 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 [1] 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 [1] 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 [1] 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 [2] 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 [5] white, beige, or skin-colored regular bras

Five [5] 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 [1] desk reading lamp

One [1] picture with frame – no larger than 8”x 10” Most knobs wait until after parents Weekend to bring a Frame

One [1] 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 [1] oscillating fan – Box or floor fans on a stand are not authorized.

Computer and printer – See the Computer Recommendations page 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.

Class of 2019

Knobs line up to march to lunch after the battalion gates close. Note the PT shorts, shirts and caps, crew length socks and athletic shoes. They wear a clear plastic bag around their neck that will hold the Guidon and other items.

**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.**

Parents of the Class of 2020, if you haven’t already, please join the Facebook group: The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2020. You will meet fellow parents and get up to date information and links to find photos and other information. You can also join the Facebook group for The Citadel Familiy Association (CFA).

Find Facebook groups for parents by regions of the country too. See this entry for a list.

Reporting to the 1st Sergeant on Matriculation Day morning:

 

Advantages of being the Parent of a Citadel Cadet

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.

Citadel Ya Ya's and one friend 2010

A group of Citadel Moms. We call ourselves The Citadel Ya Ya’s. We met through The Citadel Family Association.

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, dorie@dorielgriggs.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.

The Citadel Class of 2020: Getting Ready

Matriculation Day check in

Matriculation morning the knobs and their families report to the Holliday Alumni center early to receive their company assignments.

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.

Knob reports

Matriculation morning the knobs and their families report to the Holliday Alumni center early to receive their company assignments.

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. waitingwithboxes

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.)

  1. Make sure you can meet, or better yet, exceed the Physical Training requirements.
  2. Buy and wear your black plain toe Oxford shoes (MUST be Polishable leather) and your 8″ desert boots.  Now through May 28 you can get 35% off site wide when you use the promo code EXTRA35.
  3. 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. dorie@dorielgriggs.com

Previous posts about Knob Year

Matriculation Day: Getting Ready

Matriculation Day: Reporting in that first day

Preparing for Knob Year: Parents Edition

Knob Year Notes for Parents

The Citadel: Unofficial Tips for Families of Incoming Knobs

Hotels that Offer Discounts to Citadel Families

Preparing for Knob Year – Parents Edition

 

Matriculation Day morning

The long line of cars at the Holliday Alumni Center on Matriculation Day. Everyone begins their journey here the Saturday morning.

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.

 

Class of 2019

Once the knobs report in to their company they will change into their new “knobbie” clothes and line up to go to lunch.

Matriculation Day: Getting Ready

Matriculation Day: Reporting in that first day

Knob Year Notes for Parents

The Citadel: Unofficial Tips for Families of Incoming Knobs

Hotels that Offer Discounts to Citadel Families

 

Welcome to the Parents of the Class of 2020

Knobs and Guidons

Knobs in the class of 2019 study their Guidons.

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

The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2020

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