Important Conversations to have with your incoming Freshmen Cadet
Before you drop your child off at The Citadel on Matriculation Day (August 11th) or they return as an upperclass, there is plenty of information you should review with your cadet that can be found at the Admissions Office's Matriculation Headquaters website. We have highlighted a few areas with videos that we hope will facilitate a conversation between you and your future cadet (click on the bolded text to link to a video with members of the staff or document).
Honoring your child's decision to attend The Citadel! As you have heard during your visits to The Citadel, your cadet’s success must be firmly rooted in an independent decision that this is the right college experience for him or her. A challenging and often difficult freshman year often leads to a moment where they will look in the mirror and ask themselves, "Why am I here?" The answer has to be, "Because I made the decision to do this, not my parents or alumni." You should let them know you are proud of THEIR decision and you will be there to support them. To support the student life and military pillar, the Commandant has designed a supporting and challenging system. You can find a copy of the Commandant's bio here.
The Citadel is a military school. I know, but you would be surprised how many first year students arrive without a clear understanding and tell us "I didn't realize it was a military school." Others may have understood on paper, but did not understand that a military school includes marching, waking up early, cleaning their room and following orders.
Ask your cadet recruit what they think being a "military school" means.
Use the summer months to prepare. Cadet Recruits can prepare themselves mentally and physically for a successful first year. Getting in shape – daily running, pushups and sit-ups - is important. Also the Charleston weather can be tough on the feet while marching in shoes that have not been broken in. Same goes with their running shoes and boots. If you get to July and they haven't shown much interest in working out or breaking in their shoes, you may want to have a conversation to make sure they are still excited about attending The Citadel.
One of the most important items your Cadet Recruit can read is the Guidon. We update this book each year with current information that will be a big part of your Cadet Recruit's forst few weeks. At this time the 2018-2019 edition has not been issued, but you can click here to see what last year's edition looked like. We will update the link once it is publlished, but there usually aren;t many changesonce you get past the introductions. Getting a head start by memorizing the essential elements, like the Alma Mater, Core Values, Cadet Prayer, etc will ease a lot of the stress during that first week.
Ask your cadet recruit what they think the first year experience will include.
Fast track to expulsion.As the Commandant said in his video, your child in all likelihood will encounter failure sometime during the year. Although the system is designed to support the cadet through this, the growth that comes from recognizing your mistakes and learning from them is incredible and what makes The Citadel one of America’s most unique college settings. The fourth class system is a year of training, but there are two areas that all cadets and cadet recruits must abide by from day one - the Honor Code and non-use of illegal drugs.
"A Cadet does not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do" is our honor code. If found in violation of the Code, the punishment is expulsion which means your child can never come back to The Citadel as a cadet, evening student or graduate student. One strike, no exceptions.
We conduct random sampling for illegal drugs. If a sample come back positive, illegal drugs are found on your possession (to include areas you have access such as your lock box) or you share a control medication, the punishment is expulsion. To see the policy, go to page 19 of the College Regulations.
Illegal drug use/possession/distribution and the Honor Code are two areas where there is no "do over." Please sit down and review the Honor Manual with your cadet and discuss the drug policy with your child so there is no misunderstanding on their part.
Academics.The primary mission of the college and the ultimate your child has chosen The Citadel is to prepare for his or her future career. Going from high school to college classes is a significant transition regardless of the college one chooses. COL Mark Bebensee did this video for us when he was serving as the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs. It's very good so I have left it on the site. Please take a look at it. As Colonel Bebensee mentions in his video, your child is moving from a "passive" learning environment to an "active" one where their participation is critical. The Citadel makes this transition even more challenging by putting pressure on the amount of time they have to manage. Think about it. By the time they get to their 0800 class, your cadet will have exercised, been inspected, cleaned their room, had breakfast, all while walking double-time around campus. The students who succeed early are those who develop good study habits and use the evening study period (ESP) for studying effectively. We also have additional academic resources, like tutoring and supplemental instruction, at no additional cost that are designed to help them succeed. But. . .your cadet will need to demonstrate personal leadership and ask for what they need to be successful academically.
We encourage you to watch the video on academics together with your cadet recruit and discuss ways in which they can commit to their academic course of study.
The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).Federal Law protects the records of students and only they can decide with whom we may share that information. Yes, you may pay the bills, but they control viewing of their college records. A copy of the FERPA Form was included in the class schedule questionnaire sent to them earlier this summer. The FERPA should have been signed and returned with the information they provided. If it wasn't, then have your cadet recruit print out another copy, sign it and give it to their 1st SGT when they check in with their company on Matriculation Day. We hope you had a chance to review the form with your child so you both have a common understanding of what can be shared by the college and with whom. Keep in mind, they can change who they allow us to share information with anytime during the year. You can find a copy of the FERPA Release form to print here.
HIPPA. The oldest building on campus is the Infirmary which has a staff that will meet most of the needs of your cadet. If the diagnosis requires a specialist, we will get them an appointment and provide transportation if required. Just like their school records, your child's health information is protected by the federal law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, otherwise known as HIPPA. We don't ask for a HIPPA waiver during matriculation, but instead ask the student to complete one when visiting the infirmary. With more serious health issues, we will transport the patient to an outside hospital which will require their own HIPPA release. When we see a cadet who has a serious medical condition, we strongly recommned they call their parents and let them know about the condition. Please see the video to learn more about our infirmary and its capabilities. You can find additional information on the medical services and the Informary by viewing the video and visiting the Infirmary website.
Alcohol Use. The legal age in South Carolina is 21. Like colleges across America, your cadet will have new freedoms that they can choose to exercise. One of these will be to consume alcohol or not. But unlike other schools, being intoxicated at The Citadel will have larger ramifications than simply a hangover the next morning. Both the Discipline and Honor system state that intoxication is not an excuse for violating the rules or the Honor Code. We have already discussed the ramifications associated with violating the Honor Code, but violating the Discipline system could disqualify them from certain programs later in their cadet career. Like students at other colleges, they will face pressure to drink alcohol. We encourage you to have a conversation with them and share your experience and expectations. Make sure they understand that there are ramifications of their decisions and follow-on actions. This video offers some information we hope helps have that conversation. For more information and resources, visit the<strongCampus Alcohol and Drug Information Center (CADIC) website.
The Academic Support Center. We have an incredible Academic Support Center on campus that provides a wide range of services, such as tutoring and a math lab, to our cadets based on their individual needs. Many think because we are a military school, we can make cadets report to and use these services. This is not true. On their own, cadets must recognize their needs and then work with the staff to develop a plan of services tailored to those needs. Cadets who need these services may not reach out to the Academic Support Center because they either see college as a fresh start or believe asking for help is a sign of weakness. You know your son or daughter better than anyone. During your conversations before their arrival, encourage them to meet with the ASC staff early in the academic year if they find they are having troubles with a course.
Services for Students with Disabilities also falls under the umbrella of the Academic Support Center. If your cadet has a documented disability, advise him/her to meet with the Disability Coordinator in 103 Thompson Hall after Matriculation Week is over to discuss services and accommodations. Please assure your cadet that the information provided is confidential and will not be shared without his/her permission. Additionally, it is important for your cadet to understand that as he/she enters this new academic environment, services and accommodations he/she may have been provided in high school are still important for academic success in college.
For more information, please visit the Academic Support Center's webpage.
Social Media. I am adding this subject this year hoping you will discuss with your incoming cadet some of the pitfalls associated with it. I did not grow up with social media like many of you and your cadets did, but I do appreciate the power behind it. What I am amazed with today is how open users are with posting whatever is going on in their lives. Although most posts are harmless, we have had instances where our cadets have exercised poor judgment by posting a comment or picture before fully thinking through how what they have just shared could be interpreted by others - and those with whom others share the post. An innocent post by one, can easily be seen as offensive by others and quickly shared with one of the local papers or TV stations. We do not restrict a Cadet's First Amendment rights, but if the post shows inappropriate behavior or poor judgment, the cadet will probably face disciplinary action. Have a conversation about use of social media with your cadet. Help them understand what they share online is a reflection of who they are and what they believe. A good question to ask before posting something is "would my parents be proud of me if they saw this post?"