Value of SMC outside the military

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by bjkuds, Aug 22, 2014.

  1. bjkuds

    bjkuds Parent

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    I just wanted to throw a bone to the nervous parents of those new rats, rooks etc that have opened their check books, signed the parent plus loans and are about to cry all the way home up I81 from Lex wondering if it is really all worth it. Is VMI what it sells itself to be? Not everyone that gets in is on an ROTC scholarship, and even if you are it is still quite the road to travel as a parent and cadet. Even though it is a military college the majority graduate and go on into the civilian sector either as their initial plan or as in my sons case as plan B. He started in NROTC/EE major but hated EE.. changed majors to chem...buku summer school but will graduate on time:thumb:With the cut backs/higher standards required to comission he failed to have the GPA to receive advanced standing his 2nd year... His dad and biggest cheerleader, was very ill with renal failure..(diagnosed 2 months prior to matriculation) passed away 1 week into summer school last year which wasnt unexpected yet very difficult to get through. The cloud of that possibly happening had to add to the stress DS endured, yet he remained focused.. WE ALWAYS encouraged him to stay the course. DS has worked his tail off..has a respectable GPA now..made some connections and spent this summer doing forensic chemistry on the gulf coast at an coveted internship position.He walked into that lab feeling totally prepared to handle it due to the education he has received so far at VMI.. There were chemists from other colleges that were a year ahead of him that didnt know what he knew about the equipment etc. His education has been stellar compartively, not to mention the work ethic the boy has. He had alumni house and feed him from Florida to Pa. I only bought some gas to get him back and forth. They opened their doors to him in DC, Charlotte...anywhere he needed to be there was someone he could count on.. and one guy that put him up was actually a friend of a friend from El Cid... He offered a place to stay for DS after he graduates for 3 months until he gets his own place if offered a job there. His BR's got him through the worst.. Chap Parks, his profs have been invaluable... The professors really do go the extra mile.. VMI is a family no doubt and what they have when they graduate is highly sought after in the private sector. He was told to apply soon for a position by his supervisor from the summer.. He hasn't started his final year of college and he is being recruited for good paying positions in his field of choice. It will be worth it.. I told DS on matriculation day.. "Last chance to save me a ton of money".. once you sign the book I'm not coming to get you." He only asked once:wink: during hell week. (that brief call) proper answer for parents is "no son.. it's suppose to suck" otherwise everyone could do it... and you can! Good luck to you all!
     
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  2. pennak

    pennak Member

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    Bjkuds, your post is an inspiration. Your DS and my DS are classmates. I concur, VMI has been invaluable. PS: I didn't get the "call" until after Xmas break during the Rat year -- it is precisely the call we were told to expect, almost word for word. My answer was your answer. "Hang in there, you can do it!" And he did. He had a great summer and is now going into his last year with rank (Lt.), Academics stars and looking ahead with the confidence that only VMI can build. Good luck to your son.
     
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  3. NAS

    NAS Banned

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    Absolutely an outstanding post--good luck to you all, indeed!
     
  4. Lawman32RPD

    Lawman32RPD Member

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    As an outsider I've been privileged to watch the SMC process work for one, and now, two. Recently the older one sent a picture that someone had drawn three years ago while they were Fish at TAMU. I suspect it is equally applicable to the other SMCs, Maritime Academies, and indeed the federal academies. I'm too computer illiterate to be able to import the picture here so ya'll just have to do with my attempt to recreate it in words.

    In the first panel of the cartoon/drawing, there is a triangle. In the middle it says "Welcome to College, choose two." At top of the triangle is "Enough Sleep", at the right point of the triangle is "Good Grades", and on the left point of the triangle is "Social Life."

    In the second panel of the cartoon/drawing there is a 12 pointed star. In the middle is says "Welcome to the Corps of Cadets, you are responsible for all of 'em." On the 12 points of the star, from the top, in clockwise order, are (1) Good Grades, (2) Sleep, (3) Morning Workout, (4) Staying Awake in Class, (5) Room Standards, (6) Guard Room, (7) Drill, (8) Work Out, Running, (9) Pseudo Social Life, (10) Uniform Standards, (11) Blow Calls, Camposologies, and (12) Upper Class Expectations.

    Learning to juggle those demands is, again from an outsiders perspective, one of the great challenges/benefits of the SMC experience.
     
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  5. bjkuds

    bjkuds Parent

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    As an update to my previous which is long overdue; DS was offered a position as a forensic chemist/toxicologist in the previously mentioned forensic lab where he did his summer internship. This was about 2 months prior to graduation. They sought him out when they had an opening. There were 200+ qualified applicants/some with Masters Degrees and he got the nod. He moved to Florida 2 days after graduation where he is helping to solve crime with a microscope. Coming from a law enforcement family I know Dad is looking down from above and very very proud. He has hit the ground running with his employer and has surpassed everyone hired within the last year that is going through the training program at his job. He thinks having a job is so easy compared to his time at VMI, and he absolutely loves the work he is doing. He finds himself often bored and not able to relax on his off time, so he takes part time side jobs to make extra money for extra payments on his student loans. He is also following up with a recruiter to join the Naval Reserves next year... whether he is going to commission is still questionable.. I think he misses the military life to a degree, yet enjoys his condo on the Gulf Coast and the civilian salary....(he says its a condo...It looks like an apartment to me) but admittedly it is much nicer than anything I could have afforded at 22. He managed the deans list the last year and had a 2.99 in the end so Im not sure if GPA is even a factor with the reserves. We will see. VMI did great things for my boy. His work ethic, character are uncommon and continue to hold true after leaving the incubator of VMI. Anyone in management that has tried to find solid employees knows the difficulty... SMC's produce a highly sought after product that is harder and harder to come by. What he learned there has become part of who he is as a person... It was worth the overtime :) now I have a free vacation spot.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
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  6. turtlerunnernc

    turtlerunnernc Member

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    As the mom of a Rat, I can't LOVE this post enough!!! Thank you.
     
  7. Superior rocks

    Superior rocks Member

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    bjkuds, Thank you for sharing your son's story. He sounds like a wonderful person who will continue to make his mom proud. My DS1 attended The Citadel. He was immature for his age and needed the structure of a SMC. He hated every minute of his knob (plebe) year. DS1 called home many times, begging to come home. DH played the role of comfort parent. My job was to tell DS1 to "suck it up." I'm certain DS1 told everyone who would listen about his "evil" mother.

    When DS1 flew home for Thanksgiving, DH and I noticed a change. DS1 addressed everyone as "sir" or "m'am." He looked everyone in the eye and walked with a purpose. He was more focused.

    That said, when DH dove DS1 to the airport DS1 was so angry about returning to El Cid. In the airport TSA asked DH1 if he would like to go to the gate with DS1 to say goodbye. (DS1 was dressed in his uniform, a requirement for knobs.) DH declined to go to the gate because he knew the longer he prolonged his goodbye to DS1 the harder it would be to say goodbye.

    DS1 flew home for Christmas break and enjoyed every minute of his break. When it came time to return to Charleston, DS1 was surly. I told him that second semester would be better than first semester. He was skeptical.

    DS1 called several times during second semester to vent and tell us what a miserable place El Cid was. He wanted out. Finally, I relented and told DS1 that he had to make it through the first year; if he was still unhappy at the end of his first year, he could transfer to a civilian school.

    Fast forward to April, Recognition Day, the end of the fourth class system: more than any other day in DS1's then 19 years, this day launched him. Recognition Day is a grueling day for the knobs. They start their day early and are challenged with grueling physical fitness activities. They are tormented by the upper class cadets. At the end of the physical challenge they are recognized by the upper class cadets and welcomed into the corps of cadets. This recognition occurs outside of public view, but is memorialized in several YouTube clips. It is an emotional, inspirational ceremony. These young men and women realize they made it through the most grueling year of their young lives.

    Knob family members, girlfriends and boyfriends stand outside the sally ports waiting for their newly recognized cadets to emerge from the barracks. These newly recognized cadets walk towards their family members soaked in sweat, many of them crying. It is a moving experience for all.

    On Recognition Day, DS1 walked purposefully through the sally port. He was soaked in sweat, but was not crying. DS1 walked up to DH, me and DS2 and calmly said, "I did it. I made it." The look on his face told the story of a young man who was amazed that he had done something he (and others) didn't think he was capable of completing. He never again talked about leaving El Cid.

    DS1 was not the model cadet. He never loved The Citadel. That said, he is proud to have graduated from El Cid and wears his ring. DS1 did not attend The Citadel on scholarship. DH and I paid his tuition and expenses. The summer before DS1's last year he was hanging out with his Citadel buddies. His buddies were talking about their student loan debts. DS1 realized he was truly blessed. That night he called to thank DH and I for being his parents and investing in his future.

    Late that summer when DS1 was home for a few weeks, we attended a Sunday picnic at our church. An older couple asked to sit with us at our table. The older gentleman asked DS1 about his haircut. DS1 proudly stated that he was a cadet at The Citadel. The older gentleman volunteered that he had served as a captain in the Navy during WWII. Our parish priest and others subsequently joined the conversation. When it came time for us to leave, DS1 stood up, walked over to the WWII vet, shook his hand and said, "Sir, thank you for your service. It was an honor to meet you, sir." I noticed the older gentleman had tears in his eyes. As we walked towards our car, I told DH that, "Today [DS1] is my son. All the other days he is your son."

    DS1 signed his contract with the Army in May of his junior year, graduated from The Citadel, and is active duty outside the US. He still has some growing up to do, but he loves being an Army officer. DH and I frequently look back to DS1's knob year and agree that the best thing to happen to DS1 was to make it through that first year at The Citadel. DS1 agrees. He has told me that, if he ever has children and they want to quit something he thinks they need to finish, he will make them call their grandmother for some good old fashion "suck it up, you're being a baby" advice.

    DS2 wants to go the SA route, but plans B and C are in place. DS2 is wired differently than DS1 and is more mature at the same age. That said, the SAs and the SMCs are not easy and DS2 will have his moments of doubt, too. DH is prepared to reenact his role as the good cop. I, in turn, am prepared to dole out some tough love.

    The SAs and SMCs are not for every young person, but for those who make it through and graduate they are life changing.
     
  8. MAJOROFSTLO

    MAJOROFSTLO Banned

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    I can relate to the above story, I was miserable my first semester at The Citadel and seriously considered transferring but I am so glad I stuck it out and would do it all over. I was not a very serious student in high school and mostly needed the disciplined environment with its lack of distractions that exist at civilian colleges. I think it goes without saying that the environment at an SMC teaches lessons that aren't learned at other colleges - teamwork, time management, attention to detail, handling physical and mental stress; things that will benefit a person whether or not you are civilian or military. Its "the road less traveled" and well worth the journey.
     

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