Preparing for matriculation day at an SMC

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by bruno, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Now that your applications are all in and acceptances are back or will be shortly, is the time to start thinking about how to prepare for your upcoming 4th class year at a Senior Military College. Couple of thoughts about what to expect and how to productively prepare. My experience as a Dad and an Alum is with VMI so others from other SMCs please chime in with your thoughts and experiences as you feel the need:

    Start working on your physical conditioning – If you are going to VMI , expect that it will be hot and hilly next August, and that you will run a lot and do a lot of pushups. It will be demanding as it is- but it will be much more so if you arrive without any ability to run a moderate pace for several miles, and your life will be infinitely uglier if you show up unable to do more than a few pushups. You have the time now- use it to move your baseline of fitness up a couple of notches. The key to survival is to not standout . Falling out of a run is a magnificent way to bring attention to yourself.
    Everybody is tired and miserable- but if you are in good shape you will be less so, and will bounce back a lot faster. Here is a physical fitness program that the VMI PE Department has put together that will help you get prepared.
    http://www.vmi.edu/show.aspx?tid=37099&id=2414&ekmensel=fb5d653b_20_547_2414_8

    Remember that you are going to College. This seems like a no-brainer, but more than one new cadet has failed to realize the relative importance of military and physical demands wih academic ones (in plain language- if you are as Strac as they come militarily and flunk academically- you are still gone, while the guy who has shoes that look like they were shined with a chocolate bar but has a 3.5 GPA will have a VMI diploma at the end of the trip!) Spend this last semester of High School wisely- which means that you should be working on your study skills. The fact that you got in indicates that you have the ability to succeed. But to translate that potential into reality, you will want to have good study skills- your last semester is an excellent time to focus on that. Additionally, consider enrolling in the VMI STP program. You will receive multiple benefits from doing so- you will get to knock off one of your 1st Semester Rat classes, while at the same time you will get to focus on a foundational course. And, you will get a chance to refine some study skills in a less demanding setting than will be the case once Matriculation day rolls around. I would strongly suggest that if financially able you take advantage of this program.

    Enjoy your last semester at home and Don’t overstress about what lies ahead. Tens of thousands have done this before you and all you need is a little prep time, some mental fortitude, willingness to be a team player, and a willingness to live by a strict honor code that is perhaps the most unforgiving yet worthwhile concept outside your religion that you will have experienced to date.
     
  2. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    The things that bruno has stated apply to Norwich as well. It's been a few years for me, but I don't recall PT being that bad at Norwich. The things you might see watching the Military Channel about the difficult training for our elite forces wasn't at all my experience at Norwich. Sure, we did a lot of pushups, but it is not something you can't handle (if you're in decent shape). The hardest thing, actually, was standing in formation with your "Rook Book" in front of your face while trying to memorize Norwich history, rank insignia, etc. and getting yelled at by kids not much older than you.

    At Norwich, you will do the "Dog River Run" in your first week, which is basically running in formation (entire Rook Class and the cadre) through a river getting very wet. You can see a photo on the Norwich website of the Dog River Run: http://www.norwich.edu/ You'll also do road marches in the mountains. This may all sound bad, but it's actually quite fun. Everyone enjoys it a lot. The primary function of these activities is NOT to weed people out -- it is to bring about unit cohesion.

    The point bruno made about academics is very important. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the "military" aspect of an SMC and put your academics aside. But your "career" at the SMC and your ability to rise in the cadet ranks will be very dependent on your academic performance. Also, it will likely be VERY competitive to get an active duty slot upon graduation if the defense spending bill goes the way it appears to be going. This means that if you don't have high grades, you may never realize your dream of serving as an active duty officer. I think bruno and I went through the system in the days of Ronald Reagan, where AD slots were plenty. ( Sadly my Cadetship predates Reagan's presidency by a bit- Bruno)We may not have that in four years.

    One more point about academics. Most of you will not serve out a career in the military, even though you THINK you may now. The following is a quote that I borrowed from one of my rook buddies, who is now doing very well as a civilian:

    When I was 10, I wanted to be President of the U.S.
    When I was 20, I wanted to be General Patton.
    When I was 30, I wanted to be Dean Martin.
    Now that I am 40, I just want to be me.
    I'm rich in every aspect of my life...and I can sing!

    Your life will likely follow a similar path. Mine did. But if you want to pursue graduate school, you really need good grades. I can't emphasize that enough.

    MESSAGE TO PARENTS: My son has been working out regularly to prepare for his path in the fall, and I've decided to do it with him (I am NOT a fitness nut). But I have to say that the past six months doing PT with my son has been one of the most enjoyable periods in my life. We've gotten very close doing PT together (believe me, HE's the one pushing me!). We go to the gym regularly and use the same trainer (my workout is a lot less rigorous than that of my son). You might want to try it, because you've only got a few short months before your DD/DS leaves the nest.

    Excellent thread, bruno.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2011
  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    One last suggestion- if you want a big fitness boost between now and August- you might want to look into the "Crossfit program" if there is a crossfit gym nearby. This program has become very popular in the Army-my son has become a monster doing this. It's functional strength and it's not that far off of what the Army PT program is trying to move to.
    http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/what-crossfit.html
     
  4. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    One more suggestion. You absolutely, positively must get a photo of yourself on your first day. One before the haircut and one afterward. You will be very happy about that decision in 25 years from now. :thumb:

    Tell your parents to bring their cameras. Don't worry, it's not embarrassing!
     
  5. Devil5891

    Devil5891 Norwich Cadet

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    To all those that see this and are coming to Norwich next year, Hi, I may end up being your Cadre :welcome1::rant2:
     
  6. :-)

    :-) Member

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    devil we should meet lol
     
  7. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Be nice to our SAF kids, Devil. Be nice! :shake::shake:
     
  8. C2014

    C2014 Member

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    If your coming to El Cid all I can say is Hydrate...you dont want to be "that guy" who gets the silver bullet ;)
     
  9. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Hoorah! The Citadel folks are joining this discussion! We need more details for our SAF kids who planning to attend that great institution!
     
  10. hopefulparent

    hopefulparent Member

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    "silver bullet"????
    :confused:
     
  11. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    At Norwich, the term "silver bullet" means a can of Coor's Light beer. I suspect it means something different at The Citadel.
     
  12. Devil5891

    Devil5891 Norwich Cadet

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    I'll see what I can do, just have them know how many days till I get my ring before they get here and I may consider it. :thumb:
     
  13. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    I hear they've cancelled the ring ceremony this year for lack of interest. Is that true?

    BTW, can you spot the error on the NU ring in my avatar? . . . oh wait, you actually need to have one to spot the error!!!!!!!:shake:
     
  14. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    You are kidding right??
     
  15. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Just "playin' with the devil", bruno.
     
  16. bjkuds

    bjkuds Parent

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    that was mean...funny but mean:yllol:
     
  17. Devil5891

    Devil5891 Norwich Cadet

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    Yeah I'm sure this years Juniors would of been pissed, They just had their ring try-ons they seem so psyched

    Oh and if anything is going to be for lack of interest, its Regi Ball at the beginning of the year, that had a very poor showing
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  18. C2014

    C2014 Member

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    The Silver Bullet is ye old thermometer that the doc puts a certain somewhere to insure your body temp isnt so high that you will get brain damage etc from heat stroke :)
     
  19. btexino

    btexino CidGrad/VMIdad

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    Even more sadly, my cadetship at The Citadel predates Bruno’s cadetship at VMI, which predates Reagan’s presidency. So, I’m certainly short on up-to-date advice for soon-to-be Knobs headed to Charleston. But, the one thing I can add relates to what Bruno calls “mental fortitude.” It’s just as important to be ready mentally as it is physically and academically. You may be ready for Div-I sports and Ivy League professors. But, if you’re not ready for the ways in which cadet cadre will challenge your mental toughness and make life somewhat – shall I say – “unpleasant”, then you’re simply NOT ready.

    If you plan to attend an SMC, then you should know that the “system” you’ll face as a Rat, Rook, Knob, etc., will be mentally challenging, and that having a “quitting is not an option” mindset will help you make it through that system. So, while working to improve your physical conditioning and academic readiness before you go, work on your frame of mind, too. Repeat the “quitting is not an option” phrase as you do your physical conditioning exercises, and keep it in the forefront of your mind as matriculation day approaches and especially after you’ve entered the crucible. Oh, just one more thing – QUITTING IS NOT AN OPTION! Make it your mantra.

    P.S. I have to say, I never saw either "Silver Bullet" during my days in Charleston. I recall staying well hydrated, but not with Coors because it wasn't sold east of the Mississippi River back then.
     
  20. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    I have a fond affiliation with anyone who went to an SMC. SMC cadets, at least in my experience, tend to gravitate together during the ROTC summer camp (I was AROTC, so I can't speak to the other branches).

    Here's a true story. When I was an ignorant high school student (no offense intended to current high school students), I had two colleges in mind. The first was The Citadel, and the second was Norwich (didn't know much about VMI at the time). I messed up The Citadel application with my ball-point pen and decided to crumple it up rather than sending it in (too embarrassing). But I did send in the Norwich application without error and they accepted me!! I then showed up at Norwich and hated it at first (it is challenging as a rook). But after the snow melts in the spring, I absolutely LOVED it. I mean, ABSOLUTELY loved it. I expect anyone attending any other SMC will love it, too, if you give it time.

    Believe it or not, we actually had a kid BEAT his parents home after the first day of rook week!! He was waiting for his parents on the front porch when they got home. So betexino's advice to tell yourself that "QUITTING IS NOT AN OPTION" is really excellent advice. You will just have to trust us that this is the way to go. You will be proud of having graduated from an SMC. Even today, I totally identify with others who graduated from an SMC. It's almost like being a member of a fraternity.

    Everyone needs to know that it is mentally challenging, but it is TOTALLY worth it. Totally.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2011

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