Opinions on VMI?

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My cousin is currently a Rat at VMI, and I've been accepted there. We have been emailing back and forth recently and I've been asking her a lot of questions about life there and what her experiences are. My top choice school is USAFA, however, so VMI is not the first thing that is on my mind.

In one of her emails, she opened with: "VMI is the most challenging military-affiliated college experience in the United States, even surpassing that of the Academies." I know that she is a bit biased as she is there now, but does anyone have an opinion on this statement? Is it true? Is there any way to be a bit unbiased and be able to tell which is more "challenging" regarding the military aspect of the schools?

Another thing to note: VMI does not have the major that I am looking at, so I will most likely not be going there, even if I do not get an appointment to USAFA. This was more for my curiosity than anything else.

Thank you so much!
 

AJC

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She might be correct. It is very rigorous. It seems that after recognition at the other SMCs things tend to get much easier in terms of the Corps of Cadets. I did not get that sense when I visited VMI.
As for as SMCs go; Norwich, TAMU and VT have a larger choice of majors. UNG does not have AFROTC. It is safe to say that those four are less "challenging" then VMI. The value of such a "challenge" is the subject of great debate.
 
Joined
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She might be correct. It is very rigorous. It seems that after recognition at the other SMCs things tend to get much easier in terms of the Corps of Cadets. I did not get that sense when I visited VMI.
As for as SMCs go; Norwich, TAMU and VT have a larger choice of majors. UNG does not have AFROTC. It is safe to say that those four are less "challenging" then VMI. The value of such a "challenge" is the subject of great debate.

Thank you for your answer! I had a feeling that was the case, but it never hurts to ask other people.
 

VMI2017+3

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OP, I am also a Rat. I don't think anyone has a perfect yes or no answer. Perhaps some of the people who transfer to an academy after their first year do, but that's a small number.

Here's what I would say though, as I am actually researched and applied to USCGA and am waiting to hear back:

- I believe VMI is likely the harshest (certainly the most conservative/old-school), but not necessarily the most difficult. For example, although VMI certainly has rigorous academics, I believe the service academies may have even more rigorous academics...especially looking at the big three; they are essentially Ivy League academically.

Therefore, I think it depends on the person to determine which is harder.
 

time2

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Honestly, most people only attend one college. For any of them say the one college they happen to be attending is harder/more strict/more prestigious/more..... than college B is really nothing but a random opinion. I doubt you will be able to find anything but opinions/hunches and guesses on which one is more 'challenging'. I would try to decide where to go based on your interests/skills/abilities. Only you know what you will find challenging, not random strangers on the internet.
 

AJC

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An important difference between VMI and the SAs is the faculty. VMI has professional educators (most with PhD) whose only job is their classes.
Some of the instructors at the SAs only qualification is they are active duty officers that previously attended.
That may make VMI academics seem less rigourous
 

repatriot

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First, of all the senior military colleges in the U.S., VMI is the most similar to the Service Academies in terms of student body lifestyle and all-cadet composition. Primary difference between VMI and the SAs is simple: Mission. The SAs produce officers for a particular service branch while VMI's mission is more broad and crosses military and civilian career lines.
1. Dancing Falcon, per your question regarding VMI and your friend who, in one of her emails, opened with: "VMI is the most challenging military-affiliated college experiences in the United States, even surpassing that of the Academies." -Just one opinion here, I'd say your friend is spot on. VMI is designed that way: from sleeping on cots, to the single-sanction honor system, to the overall austere environment. The place is definitely old-school and there is a reason the alumni are so close (and perhaps fanatical) about their school and traditions! Nothing I've seen is quite like it.
2. As AJC wrote, "An important difference between VMI and the SAs is the faculty. VMI has professional educators (most with PhD) whose only job is their classes. Some of the instructors at the SAs only qualification is they are active duty officers." With nearly 100% of the full-time faculty at VMI being required to hold PhDs, the quality of education and the rigor of the academics is definitely on par with the SAs--biggest difference is funding between a state-funded school and a federally-funded academy. Because of funding, there is a big difference between programs and opportunities for cadets, including the fact that cadets attend SAs free and get paid about $1000 per month as cadets to attend.
 
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