I'll be there. Oh, wait... I'll be "here".
1. Come with a lot of questions
. It's okay to be the annoying guy who asks a ton of questions at an admissions open house. Seriously, if you're going to shell out the money to spend four years of your life here, you need to have as good of an idea of what you're gettin' yourself into as you can. There will be plenty of Q&A sessions with upperclassmen and you'll be spending the entire night in barracks with the rats.
2. Get to know the other prospective cadets if you can
. Exchange email addresses and IM screen names so you can keep in contact. Share workout plans, motivate each other to keep your grades up, share Ratline horror stories you've heard. If you can, make tentative plans to attend the Summer Transition Program (STP) to continue building foundations for these bonds. The day will come when you will rely upon them.
3. Talk to as many cadets as you can to try to get the whole picture
. The rats may or may not have broken out by then, so you may or may not get to see straining. Even if they have broken out, you'll certainly see the stark living conditions. The privileges of Fourth Classmen are few and far between. Ask the upperclass cadets who are showing you around about the differences between the classes and what it's like after rat year.
4. Dress inconspiculously
. If you go to a military high school or if you're involved in any other cadet program, don't wear your uniform. Don't wear torn jeans down around your ankles (or for females, don't wear mini skirts and pumps). Don't worry about a coat and tie or a prom gown. I'd recommend business casual (khakis, button down/polo, etc.), especially if you have an admissions interview or if you know for sure that you're coming to VMI. Business casual will show that you take it seriously and that you see it as a professional atmosphere. Oh, and wear comfortable shoes.
5. Have fun, but don't make a fool of yourself
. It doesn't have to all be business... if you're too uptight, you may not get a real feel for the school. However, the rats I stayed with as a prospective cadet became two of my closest friends. I still talk to two of my prospective cadets (from when I was a rat host) on a very regular basis. VMI is a very small school, comparatively. The impression you make may very well follow you for four years, and believe it or not, your reputation may linger even after graduation.
Let me know if you have any other questions!
Jackie M. Briski
VMI Class of 2009