VMI and the Citadel Questions

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by oorah182378, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. oorah182378

    oorah182378 New Member

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    I am currently applying to the United States Naval Academy, Virginia Military Institute, and the Citadel. I have a full-ride NROTC scholarship and am weighing the pros and cons of VMI and the Citadel in the event that I am not accepted to the Academy. I am currently leaning heavily toward VMI because I like the location and (from everything I've researched and read) the atmosphere of the school. I understand the two are very similar and do not wish to cause any arguments about "which is better".

    I am wondering what traditions are currently upheld at each. With hazing laws, a lot of old military traditions have been outlawed at various schools (many for understandable reasons, others for not such understandable reasons). I am curious if VMI and the Citadel still practice military bracing and "drumming out" cadets who commit honor offenses, or what kind of traditions each school has? I plan to visit VMI in February, and may be able to have some of my questions answered then, but I do not have the luxury of visiting the Citadel also.

    And if anybody is willing to answer personal questions, what is the best and worst thing that you took away from the school you attended, if you have attended or are attending?
     
  2. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    I am in a similar situation. I know that you aren't really asking which you should pick, but I figured I'd put this out there. In all honesty, the two are so similar that there is really and truly no way to decide until you have visited both. Before visiting both, I was leaning heavily towards The Citadel. I had nothing against it, and I truly love both schools enough that I believe that I would be happy at either, but after I visited VMI, I unexpectedly like the atmosphere there more. I thought that the Charleston, coastal school would be the perfect place. I also loved the way the campus looked in the pictures. I was surprised by how impressive VMI is when you see it in person and I just overall thought that it was a better fit for me.

    Again, I am not a cadet yet, but to answer a couple of questions:

    -Both schools still practice bracing or straining, but only for the first year cadets (Rats and Knobs)
    - The Citadel is very strict in it's honor code as well as VMI, but VMI is the only one that still practices the "drumming out" of violators, although both will kick you out in a heartbeat.
    -They both are extremely proud of their heritage, especially that of the Civil War. Both have really cool traditions and nuances that you will just need to see for yourself. Try watching some youtube videos of different ceremonies and events, such as The annual Charge and New Market for the Rats at VMI.

    Good Luck! We may see each other in the near future!
     
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  3. turtlerunnernc

    turtlerunnernc Member

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    I cannot speak of the Citadel, onlyVMI where my son is currently a Rat.

    There is an insane amount of tradition at VMI. Starting with Matriculation Day when you form up with your company and all Rats March into Barracks to meet their Cadre. New Market Oath, where they reenact the charge across the battlefield where 10 Cadets died in the Battle. At the top of the hill you get your shoulder boards. The Rats shoulder boards are brought to New Market by a group of Cadets that March the 80 Miles from VMI to New Market.

    The Rats Strain at VMI, this is a privilege that is earned.

    VMI still does Drum Outs for Honor Code violations
    They march together, as a corp, to breakfast and dinner each day.

    I'm sure there are a ton more, but I'm still a new VMI mom.

    There is something very special about post, that cannot be put into words, it is a feeling you get when you step onto post.

    Good luck with your decision. I don't think you can go wrong with either school.
     
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  4. AJC

    AJC Member

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    When my son did an overnight at VMI his hosts told him that while the drumming out ceremony still takes place the violator is no longer present due to previous suicides.

    The violators picture is also blacked out of the yearbooks in the library.
     
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  5. turtlerunnernc

    turtlerunnernc Member

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    Correct the violator is no longer present. Their name is also blacked out of the Matriculation Book.
     
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  6. ddiamond

    ddiamond Member

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    Oorah,
    Believe the cadet environment at USNA and VMI may be more similar. But my understanding is VMI is much smaller and very spartan. Assuming you are USMC option, VMI and USMC ties run very deep.
    Although you said you don't have luxury to visit The Citadel, urge you to try. Go to Norwich, VT, Citadel and A&M if you can before making decision. Especially if you already have full Navy scholarship, one of these schools may "speak to you" when you visit.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
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  7. glen

    glen Member

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    diamond -
    I graduated from The Citadel a long time ago, but stay up on current campus life at The Citadel as I volunteer with our Admissions Office to talk with high students interested in attending the college. From my perspective, here are some things to consider in your decision:
    - Both VMI and The Citadel have great reputations and traditions, but each is different in terms of campus life. At The Citadel, traditions of Class year and individual Companies tend to form the major bonds and traditions. Citadel Cadets rarely switch Companies and most will live within one of the five barracks all four years. So Company life and individual Company traditions within the five battalions become very important. The Citadel Corps of Cadets is a little larger than VMI (2,300 vs 1,500 I believe for VMI?). The Citadel Corps of Cadets come from 49 states and some 13 countries, but most are from the Southeast (SC, NC, VA, GA Fla). Minorities make up about 22% of the Corps.
    - About a third of the Corps major in engineering, about half in business, and the remainder in liberal arts - most pre-professional (law, medicine, etc).
    - A major consideration should be what you are planning for an academic major. You mentioned you have an NROTC scholarship. If Navy - I assume you will major in a STEM subject? Both VMI and The Citadel have great engineering, math and science (STEM) programs, with small classes that are taught by full professors. This is important - you will never be taught by a Teaching Assistant at either college, as may well be the case at larger colleges and universities. Both VMI and The Citadel engineering programs are ranked high nationally for undergraduate education (Civil, EE and Mechanical Engineering programs). But to decide which program best fits you - you should call the department head and ask to have a discussion about their programs. At The Citadel, the Deans of the School of Engineering and School of Science and Mathmatics are absolutely willing to talk with potential Cadets. I am sure the same is true of VMI also. Reaching out for information is something you will do the rest of your life - start now with one of the most important decisions you can make at your age.
    - In Charleston, both the Corps of Engineers (SE Headquarters are on the campus) the Boeing Corporation (major east coast manufacturing center is located in North Charleston) and the Naval Support Systems Command, offer engineering and science students plenty of intern opportunities.
    - As for military - the NROTC programs at VMI and Citadel are equally well regarded. The Citadel NROTC program dates to the 1970s, but The Citadel has been producing Marine Corps officers as far back as the late 1800s. Today I would say it is definately oriented towards the Marine Corps - and as far back as I can recall has had a Marine Colonel as the PNS. The Marine Corps "MECEP" program was originated at The Citadel many years ago. This program provides highly competitive enlisted Marine NCOs the opportunity to attend a four year college and earn a commission. At The Citadel, MECEP NCOs are part of the NROTC detachment and actively participate in training of Marine contract Cadets, which is of great benefit to these Cadets.
    - The Navy has a major presence in Charleston. And the Marine Corps Paris Island is located a short ride from Charleston just outside of Beaufort, SC. So there are plenty of Naval training opportunities for NROTC mid-shipmen and Marine contract cadets. The "Naval Support Activity" as it is referred to consists of over 40 individual commands in the North Charleston area - including the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command facility (Nuclear Power, Propulsion, etc), and the Navy Minitions Command, Explsoive Ordinance, Marine Corps Reserve Center, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) are also located in North Charleston. The SPAWAR command is the largest employer in the Charleston area. So if Navy or Marine Corps are in your future, you will have plenty of training experiences at The Citadel.

    The Citadel is located just outside the City of Charleston on the banks of the Ashley River. Charleston is rated the No. 1 City Tourist destination in the US by Conde Nast Travel magazine for many reasons including the history and variety of things to do. Charleston is really hot and humid in the summer (Mid-August is when 4th Class Cadets must report fo training). But in the Fall, Winter, and Spring there is no more beautiful City in America - and the beaches are great. You really need to get a first hand knowledge of each campus. Can be done - I took a bus in 1965 from north Jersey (14 hours!) because my counselor said "don't enroll unless you spend a weekend visit to get a feel of the campus life." Very important advice.
    Good luck to you. Glen
     
  8. Cluelessparent

    Cluelessparent Member

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    Lots of heritage and tradition at both schools.
    -The Citadel- As said above with VMI on Matriculation day you get to meet the Cadre up close and personal. Plenty You Tube Videos can be found
    -Knob hair cut
    -Currently knob bracing---put a push by the Politically correct to end it
    -Full Dress Parade on most Fridays to dismiss school (Citadel is on the downtown tourist right)
    -All students are required to march to and attend all home football games (But not other sports)
    -Recognition day usually around April- and afterwards you will march though the historic streets to Marion Square and take the oath at the original site of The Citadel
    - Lots of other traditions that you just have to see or be there- (Week leading to Thanksgiving is usually a big time)

    Big difference between the two is going to be the Summer temps and Charleston and the surrounding area is larger. Charleston is a place you just have to visit to understand. Modern but historic and laid back. For most folks it just gets deep in their bones forever...
    We visited VMI but did not do an overnight. I liked VMI he really never blinked at it much...I think the major deciding factor is we are SC residents and he joined the SC National Guard during High School

    No help on the Navy aspect. DS is Army and Commissioned Active Duty through The Citadel.
     
  9. zrxkuma

    zrxkuma Member

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    I strongly recommend doing an overnight at VMI if at all possible. It gives the perspective Cadet as realistic view of what is in store as possible. DS is a Second (Junior) at VMI and he states he loves the traditions and ceremonies involved.
     
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  10. INMOM

    INMOM Member

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    I so agree, turtlerunnernc. You actually echo my sentiments exactly. VMI is a feeling as well as a wonderful place to be from. The traditions are just amazing!!!
     
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  11. oorah182378

    oorah182378 New Member

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    Thank you all so much for your replies! This information has been very helpful; it is good to know more about the schools, especially little details that are difficult to find online otherwise.
     
  12. repatriot

    repatriot Member

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    In terms of comparing the schools overall, I've heard VMI is like a smaller version of a service academy... 1/4 the size and more Spartan-like.
    IMHO, the honor code at VMI is unlike anything else. It's all-encompassing (meaning the onus is on you to report yourself when not in class, formations, etc.). Also, the single-sanction factor combined with a drum-out is just plain old-school!
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  13. Falcon A

    Falcon A Member

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    I have no experience with El Cid other than having a dear friend that is a grad, so this is in no way meant as anything detracting from El Cid or any other SMC.

    For those considering VMI -- VMI is a tough school - mentally, academically, physically. It is meant to be that way. First, it's not an "easy" school to get into -- its acceptance rate is somewhere between 25%-40% depending on how you calculate it. It's recent historical attrition rate when measured over 4 years is ~40% (About 500 enter on matriculation day and about 300 graduate after 4 yrs).

    The Service Academies are more difficult to get into -- about a 12-16% acceptance rate but they now have a lower attrition rate after 4 years currently reported at around 20%. (Back in my era at USAFA the attrition rate was ~40% like at VMI.)

    The Ivies (Yale) are very hard to get into. About a 7-9% acceptance rate and their attrition rate is around 13% for getting a 4yr degree within 4 years. (If you expand the calculation to include those that take 5 years to get their undergrad degree the attrition rate drops to 2%!)

    What is my point? It certainly does mean something to get into an Ivy league school like Yale -- congrats to those that get accepted. Getting into a SA is awesome, but it is a bit of a "lotto ticket" given the selection process. IMHO, it means something special for someone to choose to go to a school like VMI, and it is very special indeed to be a graduate of the Institute.
     
  14. repatriot

    repatriot Member

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    True and Very well said indeed! VMI is definitely unique...
     
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