1. Meyer - T

    Meyer - T 5-Year Member

    Mar 16, 2009
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    First, I've visited Norwich University and they have what seems like millions of programs to get their students through their education very successfully, whatever types of programs they are. Does VMI have stuff like that available because their Ratline has the reputation of putting a strain on one's GPA, something that would not help my chances of receiving a NROTC-MO scholarship if I go there, or are cadet-students left to organize their own study groups to get through as best they can?

    Also, all the resources I've seen put the finish date of the new barracks at VMI at this summer. Is that true? And if so, how much do you think that will affect their admissions rates. I'm waiting on word back about admissions still and trying to find as many things to calm my nerves as I can while I check that mail every day:wink:

    Thanks for the help.
  2. bruno

    bruno 5-Year Member Retired Staff Member

    Feb 2, 2008
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    There are a lot of resources that are available to Rats (and others) who may need help with your academics. To begin with- I can't emphasize enough how important attending the Summer Transition Program is (STP) which will get you started both academically and physically on the right foot, and which will lessen your Rat load by 1 course- you will appreciate that ALOT. While there you will be assigned an Academic advisor from your major who will be assigned to you for the 4 year ride. The Miller Academic Center - http://www.vmi.edu/show.aspx?tid=30507&id=154&ekmensel=8f9c37c3_463_0_154_2 - is available to provide a lot of assistance in developing good study skills as well as help you with peer led tutoring and studying as well as Academic mentoring programs for Rats who may be sinking under the time load. Finally-100% of the mission of the faculty at VMI is to teach- the professors are there to interact with you, and will do so if you need and request them to do so.

    Oddly enough- I think that the toughest semester is not the first one- it's the second one and specifically the period between "Breakout" and the end of the semester when Rats tend to luxuriate in their new freedoms until midterm only to discover that it's tough to catch up when you have put yourself in a hole!

    VMIs graduation rate is about 74% - which is pretty much the same as USMA's rate. That still means 26% don't graduate- which also demonstrates that although there are a lot of resources available- ultimately success is dependent upon the cadet. I could go on but you get the picture- as Stonewall Jackson said (memorialized in the sally port in Jackson Arch which you will memorize)" You may be whatever you resolve to be". Resolve is translated as : whatever you put your heart into and work until you bust a gut to achieve. Do that and you will be successful as a VMI cadet, as a Marine, as a soldier, in business, or law, academia or the government- regardless of how much junk they pile on your plate.

    As far as the "3rd Barracks". They are open now (and nice compared to the old barracks)- however the overall capacity of the barracks hasn't increased as they are now renovating the other two barracks which is scheduled to continue thru the 2009/2010 academic year.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2009
  3. RahVaMil2009

    RahVaMil2009 5-Year Member

    Dec 15, 2008
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    To build on Bruno's post (which he happened to make while I was still typing mine :smile:)...

    I'll be honest, the Ratline does put a lot of strain on one's GPA. But there are so many resources available to help rats (and upperclassmen!) who are struggling academically that it's really up to the individual if s/he wants to stay at VMI or not.

    It's mainly a time management issue, which you'll get at any military school. Sometimes rats (and I'm sure the same goes for rooks, knobs, swabs and plebes) have trouble with prioritization, and try to prioritize their activities based on who's yelling the loudest. The fundamental error in this logic is that your professors won't scream at you before failing you. Yes, you have to make sure your uniform is immaculate and your room is ready for inspection at any given moment. But it's a lot easier to get kicked out for academics than for excess demerits, because grades can sometimes sneak up on ya.

    Here's the link for the Miller Academic Center: http://www.vmi.edu/show.aspx?tid=30507&id=154. I know all of the officers in the MAC very well as I've been going to them for advising since I was a rat, and I've been an academic mentor and peer tutor since Third Class year. They're good people and they will bend over backwards to help you.

    Here's a brief summary of some of the programs available:

    Academic Advising
    Each incoming rat is assigned an academic advisor (generally a faculty member from within the department of the rat's major, although in some cases this isn't possible) to help him/her figure out class schedules and degree requirements. Rats meet with their academic advisors twice before classes begin and periodically throughout the Ratline for advising lunches so they can get progress updates. After rat year, you aren't required to meet with your academic advisor, but it's generally a good idea. You won't be able to register for classes online until your ac advisor lifts the hold from your account anyway, just to double check to make sure you aren't signed up for a bunch of classes you don't need for your degree.

    Academic Mentors
    An upperclass cadet who has a GPA of 3.0 or higher is assigned to a rat who's struggling academically, to help the rat adjust to college-level work and to teach them how to succeed academically despite the rigors of the Ratline. They mainly focus on study skills, time management and organization techniques. This program is specifically designed for rats who have <1.5 GPA after the first grading period (1/4 of the semester) and/or midterms. Participation in this program is mandatory for these rats. Mentors receive 15+ hours of classroom training to prepare them for their roles, and it is a College Reading and Learning Association certified program.

    Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) is a one-on-one peer tutoring program. Faculty members can nominate upper level students to help with 100- and 200-level subjects. As a Spanish major, I've been participating in this program since last year leading sessions for SP-101/201 in the fall and SP-102/202 in the spring. Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) is a group-based study session. The subjects offering PLTL are limited because a professor will coordinate with PLTL leaders and design a worksheet for students to complete during the weekly PLTL workshop. There isn't as much personal attention, but it's a truly beautiful program from the teaching perspective. I've been a PLTL leader for CH-131 and CH-132 since I was a Third, and it's very unique in that we're able to allow students to learn from each other as they wade the murky waters of college chemistry. It's called "team learning" for a reason. Each student who comes to the workshop has a different level of understanding, so they can learn through explaining things to each other, which in turn reinforces the lessons for themselves. PASS is more personalized, but PLTL encompasses more learning styles.

    Since NCAA athletes have to miss a lot of class due to away games, they are provided with tutors to help them keep up. Attendance at these individual tutoring sessions is mandatory. Attendance is also mandatory for the evening study halls that many of the teams provide. Normally these are just for rats, but last year at least the football coach made the entire football team check in at the library for accountability at 2000 hours. :smile:

    The vast majority of the professors will show the same level of committment to helping you succeed in their classes. They all have regular office hours and you can also schedule other appointments to meet with them outside of class. Many of the professors (especially for 100- and 200-level classes) provide study sessions the night before tests/exams. And most of them ask that you knock even if their doors are closed, because they just might be available even though the door isn't open at the time.

    Believe it or not, a lot of people find that their best semester GPA was fall semester of rat year. There's a lot of pressure, but there are very few other distractions. After Breakout, you can watch movies, use IM, go out on weekends, take naps and all manner of other previously prohibited activities. Wasting time is a lot more common.

    Another thing to keep in mind is the particulars of the attrition rate. I don't know percentages, but in general, a Class loses the most people after Third Class year and it's due to academics. I always assumed that the most people would quit during the Ratline, but it turns out that many of them just can't handle the academics once the Ratline is nothin' but a memory.

    If you have any other questions about academic support, feel free to ask me. You can also contact MAJ Teri Dale Beasley (BeasleyTD @ vmi.edu) of the Miller Academic Center.

    Good luck,

    Jackie M. Briski '09
    First Class Private

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