Honest Question about VMI

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by lumpcrab, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. lumpcrab

    lumpcrab Member

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    Hello,

    I'm the parent of a senior and we will be going to visit VMI soon. I have an honest question and I am not trying to stir people up or cause friction, so please don't flame me!

    When I mention that my son is applying to service academies, the reaction is generally favorable. When I mention a couple of civilian colleges he is applying to, the reaction is generally favorable.
    When I have mentioned that we are going to visit VMI, I have found that I get a strong response from people and, quite honestly, it is often more negative than positive. When pressed for a reason, there often isn't one in particular, just a lot of "I heard.." or "they really didn't want to accept women.." or references to strong hazing.

    We are still going to check out VMI and plan to form our own opinions. But, I won't lie. It does give me pause. Mentioning the Citadel (which is not on the list at the moment) does not garner the same response.

    What do you think causes this reaction to VMI?

    Again, I am not looking to disparage VMI or any other school. I don't have much military knowledge and this is very much my son's journey. He's interested, so we will visit, end stop.
    But that being said, I can't help being curious and slightly trepidatious.

    Thanks for taking this thread in the manner it was intended.
     
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  2. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    Hello,

    My daughter is a Rat at VMI this year. We went through a lot of those same responses last year while she was applying to USNA and formulating her "backup" plans. My advice is to follow your instinct to visit VMI and judge it for yourself. I know our family was absolutely blown away by VMI when we visited last year - we quickly realized that VMI is no "backup plan" at all....it is a top-notch institution in every single way. We just shrugged off any odd comments, realizing that many people just don't understand why our daughter would choose this path.

    VMI is a very tough school - mentally, physically, academically and even emotionally. Some say it's the toughest school in the world. It's not for everyone. But those who choose to follow the harder path usually have a greater reward at the end.

    I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about VMI, although I'm a rather new Rat Mom. Best wishes to your son as he finds his path.
     
  3. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    +1 @EOD/SEALmom

    VMI is an amazing institute (don't call it a college) and it is clearly not for everyone. My DS spent a week at VMI Soccer camp two summers ago and then went on to visit the Citadel and many other "regular" colleges. He ended up realizing that VMI was not a great fit for him and he ended up at a public university close to home, where he has since thrived, earning a campus based AROTC scholarship.

    My point is that as a parent it is important that you trust your son's instincts. I was fearful that my DS would need the discipline of VMI in order to keep him on task. I was wrong. He made a great choice that fits best for his personality and has adapted well.

    As far as other folks opinions are concerned, take them with a grain of salt. The views they have are likely from long ago and even VMI has adapted to changing times. Case in point, 10% of the VMI Corps of Cadets is now female.

    If your son has gotten this far in the process, he probably has what it takes to make a great decision too and again, I would have him rely on first hand information gathered.
     
  4. Lawman32RPD

    Lawman32RPD Member

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    Great response. Our son's best friend from high school is now in his third year at VMI and doing very well. He wasn't the best student in high school - which may well explain his friendship with our son, who also, to be charitable, wasn't the best student in high school. Our friend (I consider him a friend too, a great Scout I got to observe on many trips) got through the Rat-Line and found a niche that he's done well in. I suspect VMI isn't for everyone. We had another Scout who went there, graduated last year, and also did well. It's alumni are passionate and devoted. We got to see a football game there last year and the cadets seemed happy. It is a very different feel seeing a game there than one has going to a football game at Kyle Field at A&M, where the stadium seats 104,000+, and where they had more than 100,000 at the game two weekends ago against UCLA (or was it USC, I think it was UCLA); hotter than the hinges of HE Double Fiddlesticks. We got to surprise our son's friend, as well as his family, his Dad is also a VMI graduate, while they were tailgating after the parade. You certainly can't beat the chance to really get to know your professors, and there is no room to hide there. That is quite different from A&M and more than 50,000 undergraduates and a Corps of about 2,500 +/-; so the about 5% of the student population in the Corps get a lot of experience in huge freshman and sophomore classes, sitting next to someone in pajamas, etc. There are pluses and minuses to everything and I think AROTC Dad's comments are spot on, as were EOD/SEAL Mom's. I don't know if our son would have thrived as well at VMI, wonder about it all the time, as I think about his decision not to attend SUNY Maritime sometimes, or some of his other more traditional choices. I guess what I can say is this. If you'd have asked our son as a sophomore or even a junior in high school if he was going to follow his sister into the Corps at A&M his answer would have tracked along the lines of going to Canada to resist the draft (to betray my age). Well, off to an Aggie Eagle weekend he went, Wow, there are a lot of pretty girls there, and the rest as they say is history. He also overnighted at VMI (and SUNY) and visited other schools. Like AROTC Dad said, trust your son and your instincts. Best wishes and good luck.
     
  5. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    Lawman....what a perfect description!
     
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  6. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    ^^^and that is exactly what my daughter wanted to avoid, being just a small military part of a large civilian college. She wanted to be in a place where the entire student body had the same goals, ambitions and drive she does. While not all at VMI will choose to commission in the military (think it was around 54% last year), they all take part in the lifestyle while at the Institute.

    She also loves her teachers and the small classes, some with less than a dozen students, none with more than maybe 20.
     
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  7. lumpcrab

    lumpcrab Member

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    Thank you all for the feedback, and for not flaming me. :)

    It is interesting, going through this college search process with my son. My DD (now graduated) was small liberal arts all the way, and as I said, we are not a military family. We are following his lead and letting him explore his options. I am interested to see VMI also, just for the experience of it.

    EOD/Seal Mom- thanks for your input! If I have questions upon our return, I will direct them to you!

    So far my kids have all sought something different in their college search.. I can hardly wait to see what child number three will be looking for a few years down the line!
     
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  8. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    I'm a mom of five....and while several have overlapping interests, no two are even remotely alike. How cool is that?!?!

    Happy to help anytime!
     
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  9. Dadof2

    Dadof2 Member

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    I have a DS who is a Rat at VMI this year. EOD/SEALmom gave good description of VMI. I think a visit is a great idea, with perhaps a follow up visit if he still has interest . He'll have to really be honest with himself about the fit. Being a Rat is extremely tough. I think probably a lot of the negativity you are hearing surrounds the treatment of Rats. Some would argue that it is unnecessarily cruel, but when you talk to VMI upperclassmen or alumni, most will strongly, passionately defend the process.

    I will tell you that my DS was a HS athlete and spent a lot of time at the gym, so he arrived to matriculation in great shape. It was still challenging for him physically. As EOD/SEALmom stated, VMI will push you to your limits physically, mentally, emotionally and academically. My DS likes a challenge and wanted the regimented lifestyle. His first choice was USNA (his sister is a youngster at USNA), and his backup plans were mostly SMC's. He decided that he wanted the full-military environment and chose VMI when USNA turned him down.

    If your DS honestly assesses everything about himself and VMI and sees a fit there I would not have any reservations about him going - it's a great school for the right person. Just understand it is going to be tough. It's designed to be. And it's also tough as a parent knowing what your child is going through and realizing it's something they have to get through on their own. Those who do endure and thrive at VMI have a legendary alumni network and support system for the rest of their lives.

    Good luck and let us know what he thinks after the visit.
     
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  10. lumpcrab

    lumpcrab Member

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    I will do that! Thank you!

    And thank you to everyone for making this a safe place to ask a question like this one!
     
  11. turtlerunnernc

    turtlerunnernc Member

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    Hi and welcome!
    My son is currently a 3rd ( translation - sophomore) at VMI. Please don't hesitate to message me anytime.
    My son has always wanted to be military, when it came time to think about college his original first choice was Norwich, until he attended a VMI info event in our state. It immediately became his first choice school. The strict honor code, the discipline, the spartan lifestyle it was what he wanted. We went for an overnight and that sealed it solidly in first place over Norwich And West Point. He just felt at home there. I will say the experience has been nothing short of amazing. The small school and the intensity of the Ratline intensifies the bond the cadets have and it is a bond that is for life. The ratline is very difficult. It is physically, emotionally demanding then you add on top of it a top notch academic program. The Rats are always exhausted. BUT, the transformation is imcredible. As EOD/SEAL and the others have said, it is not for everyone, and if it isn't for your child that is ok. But, go visit because y'all need to decide for yourselves. VMI isn't something you can describe. There is just this feeling about post, you have to go there to comprehend. The history and tradition are carried forth each year, you can search for things on YouTube like New Market Oath etc. My son said you have to embrace the suck of the Ratline, that it is worth it in the end. There are no "safe spaces" at VMI. I'm struggling to describe it. The alumni network is like no other.

    Best of luck wherever he ends up.
     
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  12. turtlerunnernc

    turtlerunnernc Member

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    I forgot to add that the Corp does a lot together, again promoting that family/ brotherhood bond. They march to breakfast together, they march to supper together, they all go to all home football games together. The classes are small, attendance is taken and if you are late or not there, there are consequences. The professors want these young men and young women to succeed.
     
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  13. lumpcrab

    lumpcrab Member

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    Thank you to everyone.

    I showed this thread to my son tonight and he read it with great interest. I think he is looking forward to seeing VMI even more now than he was before.
    I am hesitant but curious, overall probably not a bad way to be!
    I will say that I am heartened by what I have read here. I just had no idea what in the world to think before!

    We will definitely report back in.
     
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  14. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    Glad to hear we were able to help. Here's a video to share with your son. Maybe he will be one of 500 next year!
     
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  15. turtlerunnernc

    turtlerunnernc Member

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    Falcon A and EOD/SEALmom like this.
  16. Falcon A

    Falcon A Member

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    Lump crab.

    If your DS is applying to the SAs, also recommend he apply for a ROTC scholarship. It typically takes a "SA quality" record to get one; although the selection process is a bit different between SAs and ROTC. Every year there are kids that get accepted into one of the SAs but fail to qualify for a ROTC scholarship ... And every year there are kids that receive a 4 yr ROTC scholarship but don't receive a SA appointment. This is mainly due to the geographic factor for SA appointments. The #10 kid's record from state X congressional district y that is better than the #1 kid's record from a less competitive state or congressional district doesn't get the SA appointment, but the #1 kid from the less competitive area does get the appointment. Happens all the time. ROTC scholarship selection tends to be more merit based and doesn't have the geographic factor that SA appointments do. Many of the cadets at VMI are kids that were SA applicants, have stellar high school records, but came from very competitive areas (I.e., Northern Virginia, Norfolk, etc.), and didn't get the SA appointment, but did get a ROTC scholarship to VMI.
     
  17. lumpcrab

    lumpcrab Member

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    This could very well end up being my son.

    He is indeed going to apply for a ROTC scholarship, to my knowledge. I feel like my head is going to spin off, just trying to keep a timeline of what is due when, and he did a LOT of stuff over the summer! One nomination packet fully in, one mostly complete, one as yet unstarted. Common App filled in but essay not done yet. VMI app finished but needs personal statement and scholarship app in etc etc etc. Overwhelming for him and I know he is far from being the only one in this position. I try to just cheer him on and freak out quietly to myself. lol

    Back to ROTC (I distracted myself)- he would probably be doing Tier 3 although some good food for thought was given to doing otherwise. His passions lie in history, political science, govt and international relations though.

    We also got some information on Greystone as a Plan .. D? Ack!
     
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  18. lumpcrab

    lumpcrab Member

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    That is a great video! Will pass that along to him as well!
     
  19. Falcon A

    Falcon A Member

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    Based on your "Tier 3" comment I assume he is doing NROTC -- I don't have a lot of experience with that or USNA but there are a number of folks on the forum that do.

    (My DS applied for USAFA & USMA and AROTC. Was an early select for USAFA but USAFA docs denied his medical waiver; Got a congressional nomination from NoVa, but did not get waiver or appointment from USMA; did get the medical waiver and 4yr national scholarship to VMI from Army ROTC.)

    My belief is there are about 1200-1500 national NROTC scholarships given out each year, so about the same as the number of slots for USNA. Best of luck. This is quite the process . . .
     
  20. Lawman32RPD

    Lawman32RPD Member

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    Lumpcrab: Sent you an PM
     

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