Ask Me Anything: Rat at Virginia Military Institute

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by Whats_my_MOS, Jan 29, 2018.

  1. Whats_my_MOS

    Whats_my_MOS Member

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    I'm currently a Rat wrapping up the Ratline, or six month indoctrination process at VMI. Also, a mechanical engineering major and Midshipman 4th Class in the Naval ROTC unit at VMI. Ask me anything!
     
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  2. C76706340

    C76706340 VMI 2022, AROTC Scholarship Winner

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    Was the Ratline harder or easier than you expected? Elaborate if you can. Thanks.

    Anyway, congratulations on making it this far. Ressurection is in February right? Have fun reenacting the Battle of New Market!
     
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  3. letsgoservetheserviceboys

    letsgoservetheserviceboys Member

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    How much study time do you get a day? What do you do on weekends? Do you get any free time to have to yourself? Thanks
     
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  4. VMI2017+3

    VMI2017+3 Member

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    I’ll go ahead and answer the second one since a current rats opinion wasn’t asked for...I don’t expect OP to be back on here this week, nor should he be.
    Study time/day is any time between 0800-1600 when you don’t have classes (in the middle of the day there sometimes is an hour of mandatory stuff, normally Monday and Wednesday). Then after SRC until taps is almost all free time. So you’re getting at least 4hr/day...most days more. Saturdays will almost always have something going on. Most people spend the day at church or with their host families on Sunday, regardless of religious status. That’s optional though. You will rarely have time alone, but you will have free time, most of which will be spent studying since you don’t have any entertainment sources.
     
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  5. letsgoservetheserviceboys

    letsgoservetheserviceboys Member

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    How many classes per day do Rats normally take?

    This may seem a little silly but I was wondering, going to the gym is a pretty big part of my life and I was wondering if I could continue developing myself at VMI. Do you think I'd have time to still go to the gym and do my usual workouts or would I not have time with everything going on as a Rat? Thank you very much.
     
  6. VMI2017+3

    VMI2017+3 Member

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    Course load varies. Typically, most departments are geared to have a lighter first semester. Mine was 14.5 credits. You can also do STP which I recommend, it got a class out of the way. I decided to stay ahead though, instead of using that to further lighten my first semester.

    You’ll definitely be encouraged to continue going to the gym. You just wanna make sure you’re staying healthy, don’t over exert yourself and get tendinitis or something. If you have an area you’re weaker in, you should definitely make time outside of required PT to improve.
     
  7. Walman888

    Walman888 Member

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    OK, so here goes. How is the food? Don't mean to sound silly but...
     
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  8. VMI2017+3

    VMI2017+3 Member

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    The food vendor changed this semester. It’s very good now. All the reviews you see on sites like niche are out of date, it used to be terrible. You Rats will never understand...hahaha.
     
  9. Walman888

    Walman888 Member

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    Thanks! Seems like a small issue,but, an army runs on its stomach....
     
  10. Phantom

    Phantom Member

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    I am asking for my DS, as he doesn't have an account (yet). How much emphasis is put on religion/church/prayer at VMI? He will be an incoming Rat and it seems to be something that has come up more frequently than it has at any other school. Is it an important part of life there? Thoughts?
     
  11. VMI2017+3

    VMI2017+3 Member

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    In general, the majority of people here are Christian, but I know jews, agnostics, and atheists as well. And a majority of the Christians here aren’t toward the extremes. Although there are a few. I just recommend picking a church to go to to get out of VMI every Sunday. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it sounds like you’re worried about your DS facing difficulties being “unaffiliated” or “agnostic” or “atheist.” If that’s the answer your looking for, let me know and I’ll type a little more out on my experiences as an atheist/agnostic Rat/Cadet.
     
  12. Phantom

    Phantom Member

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    Thank you for your quick reply. We are both very interested in hearing more about what you have to say and your experiences as an 'unaffiliated' cadet. Has it been difficult for you to acclimate? Is it not possible to catch up on sleep on Sundays?
     
  13. VMI2017+3

    VMI2017+3 Member

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    I think this really depends on exactly your DS’s attitude. I haven’t had any trouble, I’ll openly tell people I’m atheist if it comes up in conversation (although I certainly had the tact to avoid such topics while at church on Sundays), but I just make sure not to try to say anything that will sound like I’m trying to assert myself as right and them as wrong. Having said that, I’ve had numerous healthy debates on the topic including numerous deep debates with one of my BRs who wants to be a pastor. So you aren’t going to have people condemning you left and right when they find out you’re an atheist. He’ll identify a small number of people that are less tolerant and all I do is just avoid religious topics with them, no problem.

    There is a slight Christian “dominance” (not a great choice of words), in that many people will assume you’re Christian sight unseen, and the host family system is only pseudo-official and run by religious entities. These were things that I knew wouldn’t be ideal for me, but I factored that in to my decision and it didn’t way heavily because I decided upfront how I was going to handle myself so it wouldn’t be a real hurdle.

    As far as catching up on sleep without church: You could probably do it, most Sundays Cadre/RDC probably won’t spend their free time looking for Rats to bother (they’re presumed all at church anyway), but regardless, he’ll want to get out. The Sunday after hell week all the churches come and give a quick intro and then everyone picks. I picked the only church where the pastor was relatively young and was just wearing a t-shirt. They were very nice people to spend the Sundays with. Even though they ended up having less liberal Christian views than I had gauged, there was still a laid back culture which was nice. Additionally, although I’ve never done this, the Institute Chaplain, who makes a point of being inclusive in terms of accommodating Rats (specifically saying he still wanted to help out agnostics/atheists), has a non-denominational service and then he organized for one of the local inns to be a Rat hangout after his service every Sunday. I just chose the option to get off post right away, so I can’t speak to how that was, but it’s an option.

    Really, almost all your BRs are not gonna think twice about what religion you are, you’re all getting screamed at together and hating every waking moment together...That’s going to supersede most differences in opinions.

    Sorry for the ramble, if you have more specific questions, let me know.
     
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  14. Phantom

    Phantom Member

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    Thank you so much. Your post is very helpful and informative. It sounds like you and my son have a lot in common as far as your background and approach to life. I'm sure your post will be helpful to others, as this can be a very sensitive topic. Best wishes--
     
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  15. turtlerunnernc

    turtlerunnernc Member

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    It seems to be a fairly conservative / Christian population, but I know there are cadets who are not either of those things and thrive, fit in just fine. I am a Christian, my son stopped go to church in high school and I did not push him to go, but to search himself for what he believes. I did encourage him, on the advice of those who had been there to select a church to get off post on Sunday that he would need the break.

    He ended up going to chapel on post. After the service the assistant chaplain would take the rats to a local bed and breakfast where they could relax. They were fed lunch. I think they did do a bible study. Homework or watch football, he would call home. They would eat dinner and head back to post.

    He now really enjoys going to chapel. I don't think there is any pressure on them. The Chaplains are amazing and they know the rats need time away.
     
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  16. CaseBlue

    CaseBlue New Member

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    Did you do STP? If so, was it helpful?
     
  17. Dadof2

    Dadof2 Member

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    @joshgva.19 - STP can be helpful, but just make sure your expectations of how STP will help are realistic. In a nutshell, STP can help you knock out a few credits and get used to the location of academic buildings and general layout. Don't plan on STP helping you prepare for the rigors of the Ratline. Ratline is not in effect until the afternoon of Matriculation, so things will be very different when you are a Rat versus your STP experience.
     
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  18. Whats_my_MOS

    Whats_my_MOS Member

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    I did STP two years ago. I will say that it helped a bit when it came to life at VMI, but not so much the Ratline. When matriculation came around I knew the lay of the land (in Lexington and on Post), and I had a medical leg up: For a month I had been consistently PT'ing and I had been able to break in my first pair of low quarters (our dress shoes that we wear until Junior year, when we can buy corframs), combat boots and my new tennis shoes. However, STP is nowehere near the Ratline, which begins upon march-in in August. A common joke is that when we shave the rats heads the common sense too! As a rat you "white-out" and forget everything you thought you knew, and learn to do things the VMI way. I hope I helped!
     
  19. CaseBlue

    CaseBlue New Member

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    Very good info. Thanks for the advice and I look forward to VMI!
     
  20. Wishful

    Wishful "Land of the free, because of the brave..." 5-Year Member

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