Practical Tips for VMI Rats

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by tmoroney1, Jul 7, 2014.

  1. tmoroney1

    tmoroney1 New Member

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    I am going to be matriculating to VMI this August, and I was wondering if any VMI alumni or current cadets could give me any helpful tips. I know most will say things like "take it one day at a time", "rely on your Brother Rats", etc. But I was wondering if you could post more specific tips, even if they're about just small day-to-day activities like shaving or rolling the hays (if I used that term correctly). One thing that could be helpful is telling me something you wish you knew during the ratline. Anything is helpful. Thank you for your time.
     
  2. VMI82

    VMI82 Room 131

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    Advice on preparing now: run. run a lot now. run some more. do cross-fit style training. run more.

    as far as 'tips' once you are there … it'll be shoved into your grape. Don't get ahead of yourself. (I just gave that advice to DD who is at STP now)

    If I had advice to give:

    1. Stay ahead academically. Work on assignments when given NOT just before they are due. Ask for help from your professors.

    2. If you live in Virginia and have access to a rising 1st Classman see if you can get connected to a potential "Dyke' - my Dyke when I was a Rat was a miserable little scrub who did nary a thing to help me. Thankfully, his roommates were cool.

    I became determined to do better when I was a 1st. During the summer prior to 1st Class Year I sought out potential Rats as Dykes and wound up with a great kid. That kid is now a full bird Colonel working at VMI.

    In short - if you can, get a great 'Dyke.'

    3. Keep a sense of humor. What's the worst thing they can do to you - send you to military school? :)

    4. Don't focus on yourself. Focus on helping your BR's less capable/able.

    5. Enjoy the ride. Being a Rat, in many ways, is almost as special as being a 1st Classman.

    Almost. :)

    6. You will always be a Rat. Hell .. I still am. (I s*** you not)

    7. Master the following phrase: Suck. It. Up.

    8. When in doubt refer to rules 6 & 7.

    PS … when getting your Rat haircut be sure to ask for extra hair gel. That'll make sure you get off to a good start :)
     
  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    I would echo most of these. (Not sure about trolling for a Dyke- you kind of get what you get and sometimes you just get a lemon My son's dyke was in the latter category, but my dyke as a Rat was a hero, and my Rat is at VMI today and I still talk with him all the time (won't tell you who but he is a marvelous VMI man and I am proud to have been a little part of his development) . I would doubly emphasize that you go there in really good shape - especially with running and pushups- it makes life so much less miserable than if you are pushing yourself just to hit keep up with th eback of the pack. Push yourself hard (You CAN do it- you just have to drive on!) and during the Rat line-don't suddenly start being broken or sick a lot. You cheat yourself and your reputation won't recover- my Brother Rat's and I still- 38 years after our Rat line- can still tell you who rode out much of the Ratline in the Infirmary or with a "soft shoe" permit etc... while the rest of us were sweating, and believe me they get no more credit now than they did at the time. Your Mom may not want to hear this - but short of a broken bone or pnumonia- stay off the "Gim" and "suck it up":rolleyes: Keep your priorities straight- a STRAC (shiny/ squared away militarily) & Studly Rat who is failing- is just failing. You are going to college- make sure that you do the work. It won't do itself and if you get behind in a system like VMI where you have very little excess time - you are really behind. So prioritize- get the important stuff done early and then use the remaining time to relax, or to recheck to make sure that your work is done well. It works way better than waiting till the end and then discovering that you don't have enough time because something else came up that you are required to do. And don't sweat the military stuff- it is what it is and sometimes you have to do it and other times you have to decide that you are going to play the odds and hope you don't get caught. The Cadet who tells you that he/ she never goes outside the Blue book is either a phony or an insufferable twit- but when you get caught (as almost invariably you will) - then "man up" and don't whine about the penalty! Finally- have a good time and laugh occassionally at yourself and the absurd situations that you and your Brother Rats will find yourselves in. You will be amazed at how much better off things are if you don't take things too seriously. Good leaders have a personality and they have it in good times and bad, and as a result they are an inspiration to those around them just like others are an inspiration to them when they need it. (And you will need each other- that is the central lesson of the Rat Line- you are all in it together). So - good luck and trust me -it will go by faster than you realize and before you know it you too will be an old alum pontificating on all this stuff!
     
  4. VMI82

    VMI82 Room 131

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    +100 bruno

    much more elegant than my posts

    what strikes me about both his post & mine is the LONGEVITY of our thoughts - i.e., he and his BR's still look askance at a "GIM Rider" (someone always falling out for sick call )

    his Rat is at VMI 30-some off years later as is mine

    what this should tell all of you incoming pre-strains … you start building your reputation at VMI from day one and you continue building it your entire cadetship and as an Alum

    therefore: (as a coda to my above post)

    - be the person you admire

    - be the friend you'd want to have

    - be loyal

    - it is okay to make mistakes. it is never okay to not own them. (Boy, I made some Doozies - ask my Track Coach)

    - live in the moment BUT every now and then remember you will be that Old Alum some day (like us).

    Do not rob today's fun & mischief (what Blue Book?) for that Old Man you'll be …

    BUT live honorably and faithfully with your BR's.

    If you manage to squeeze 4 years into 5 - it won't matter in 10.

    If you seem to be be on confinement perpetually - it won't matter at your 25th reunion.

    (Unless you got a #1 - then THAT is a point of pride! I only got a #2 and have never been able to hold my head high compared to my roommates - all #1's each)

    Best spit shined shoes, most gold stripes on your sleeve, hottest Ring figure date -- they won't matter when you are 60

    (okay, the hot date will linger in your mind some ... just don't admit that to your spouse)

    What will matter is you are HONORABLE. That is the scarcest commodity in today's world.
     
  5. Jarhead1775

    Jarhead1775 Member

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    These are great. Very much appreciated.


    Sent using the Service Academy Forums® mobile app
     
  6. tmoroney1

    tmoroney1 New Member

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    Thank you for all the info, it is very much appreciated and enjoyed. I'll make sure to put it all to good use.
     
  7. Strength and Honor

    Strength and Honor Member

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    Thanks for the advice! Got my Dyke a couple of days ago... One of the STP counselors hooked me up. Having a great time at STP getting ready for August!
     
  8. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Don't be surprised if there comes a day when you want to quit. It's natural for folks at military schools to have doubts about staying. Perfectly normal.

    First tell yourself that you won't quit "today." Everyone has down moments at any military school; the key is to push through them. Most of the time, tomorrow will be a better day.

    Second, if you still are thinking about leaving, make sure your decision is made on the "best" day of your week, not the worst. Leaving in a "down" moment or as a knee-jerk reaction to a bad event/day is a bad idea. If you aren't happy on the best days, that's another matter.

    Very, very few people who graduate from a military school regret that decision . . . and yet most of them probably had a few doubts along the way.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2014
  9. Lawman32RPD

    Lawman32RPD Member

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    As a parent one, and soon to be two, students at an SMC I found your comment right on the money (as well as those above including Bruno's). I was listening to General Ramirez, the Commandant of the TAMU Corps of Cadets, earlier this month at a New Student Conference (TAMU has these before start of the Freshman Orientation Week). He told the parents (the students had gone off at this point) that they should expect "The Call" (I wanna quit). He said he made that call about two weeks into his Fish year and his Mom was ready to have him come home - he was the first in his family to go to college; but his Dad, a retired Master Sergeant, told him that he'd chosen that path and he needed to stick it out for the first year. Obviously he did, and things worked out well. General Ramirez reported that earlier in the summer he'd had a reunion with other TAMU Corps members who, like he, had been members of the Fightin Texas Aggie Band, and they were all glad they'd done it. There have been ups and downs for our oldest, now a rising Senior, and I suspect there will be ups and downs for the younger one as well.

    For the incoming Rats, Knobs, Rooks, Fish, Frogs, Mugs, Plebes, etc., at least from this parent's perspective, you are getting very good advice. Good luck and Godspeed on your journey.
     
  10. Lawman32RPD

    Lawman32RPD Member

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    PS:
    From our oldest:
    1) Don’t take things too personally.

    2) Try your hardest at everything, even if you know you really suck at it.

    3) There are going to be bad days. Bad, bad days.

    4) You might not like all your buddies, but you’re gonna have to put for effort for them if you want an easier life.

    5) Puma and Lincoln > Brasso and Kiwi*

    6) You’ll miss the simple everyday things but you’ll enjoy them so much more.

    7) You may be jealous that non-regs get to have those everyday things but secretly, the non-regs are jealous they don’t have cool stories about how they went scavenging for Armadillos, went so hard on the O-Course they threw up and aren’t the “Keepers of the Spirit and Guardians of Tradition”. Hooah.

    8) Not that I know, but those boots with the spurs seem SO worth not quitting for.

    9) Don’t take yourself too seriously or in the words of our 1st Sergeant: Don’t be a tool, don’t be that guy.

    10) It’s the most fun you’ll never want to have again.

    *Have Brasso and Kiwi on hand though because they good at taking out the knicks in your brass/shoes
     
  11. mugatu

    mugatu New Member

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    Current cadet here - Don't spend more than the 15 minutes at CQRB (you'll understand what that means when you get there) shining your shoes and getting your uniform ready for the next day. I see too many other cadets, especially the rats of 17 (but that probably goes for every ratmass that's gone through) that have gotten caught up in obsessing over their uniforms, sometimes spending over an hour on them that could be used for studying. Sure, attention to detail and maintaining a level of professionalism is important, but as other users have mentioned, you're there for an education first. If your shoes aren't the shiniest you will probably get fussed at and maybe get a demerit here and there (just don't get 20, that equals PT's).

    As weird as it sounds just have fun with the ratline. It's not that bad and it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. Rely on your br's and be there for them as well. Keep up your grades and don't forget to strain ;)

    Also, Mothers or simichrome and a wash cloth is much better than brasso; it makes shining brass a whole lot easier.
     

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