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Guide to Knob Year

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The Citadel

A Parent’s Guide to Knob Year
(all contained information is unofficial, and subject to change)

Preparing for Matriculation Day information:
Notes on the Official Citadel Clothing/Personal Items list
Socks: When purchasing the clothing items keep in mind it is best to get good socks. Many families find the “Gold toe” socks work well. You can’t find 100% white cotton crew socks, buy the ones with a high % of cotton. Pack extra crew socks and black sockss
Underwear & T-shirts: Bring extra of each. Some families double the number of t-shirts and briefs. Make sure the t-shirts are a snug fit.
Linens: Don’t buy expensive towels and linens. Many cadets make their beds once then they sleep on top of the bed with a blanket. Or they use the sheets for the banners that are made for Parents Weekend and other occasions.
The towels and wash clothes may also be used to polish brass in addition to their intended use. They will need the towels but don’t put a lot of money into them. You may want to purchase soft clothes/rags to use for polishing. (see the CFA Nice to have list)
Clear Plastic boxes: You are allowed one clear plastic under bed box. The required list of items lists says no larger than dimensions of 32”L x 11”H x 18”W. You can’t find a box by those exact dimensions. A standard under bed box that is clear plastic is fine. Many cadets like the ones with wheels to make it easier to access them. Bottom line - the box needs to fit under the bed. No one is going to measure it if it is a standard size.
The Larger clear plastic storage container should be 15 – 20 gallon size.
Shoes: Make sure you purchase good running/cross training shoes. Purchase the military shoes ASAP and make sure your cadet has all shoes broken in. Many cadets wear their shoes as often as they can (even with shorts and t-shirts in the summer) before reporting on Matriculation Day.
They require 2 pair of the black military shoes. Most cadets have one pair they keep in top notch inspection ready condition. The other pair is also shined but used to go to class, mess etc. Both pair should be broken in. They’ll learn how to polish them at school.
Several cadets recommend the Bates brand military shoe in addition to the Bates brand boots. If your cadet knows a current student they can always ask their friend for advice on shoes, boots and other items to pack and items not to pack.

Notes on the “Nice to Have List”

CFA “Nice to Have” list:

They will be given laundry bags and shown how to mark their clothes you do not have to label their things.
The CFA “Nice to Have” list does suggest powdered drink mix and food items. Many families have said it is best not to pack any food items for Matriculation Day. You can send food items via the USPS.
The list recommends an iron and a travel size ironing board, many cadets prefer a full size ironing board (yes, they learn how to iron The Citadel way and do it often!) Ask your cadet what they would prefer.
The sewing kit is important. Make sure they have black and white thread and a few sewing needles, and scissors. Large safety pins., and T-pins are really helpful to have as well. They will use the T-pins to keep their sheets in place.
A lighter or two (candle lighter)
In addition to general over the counter meds like Ibuprofen/Tylenol, if your cadet has seasonal allergies make sure to pack their preferred medication.
Bug repellant is a necessity in preparing for the parades for both your cadet and for you when you visit. (Skin So Soft) works great for “no-see’ems”.
Your cadet will let you know what additional items they will need. Each company has their particular way of doing things so requests will vary by company/battalion.

Notes on reporting on Matriculation Day:
One good tip is to say our real good-byes at the hotel before getting to campus. The upperclassmen do watch the final good-byes. A quick hug is OK but try not to make a big scene, your cadet will be grateful.
Cadets should report on Matriculation day in non-descript clothing. A plain t-shirt, plain dark athletic shorts, crew socks (not the footie type socks) and their running shoes is best.
When you drive on to the campus the cadet at the guard gate will ask you if you know your company. They direct you to the building to get your assignment. Drive to the appropriate barracks and park as close as you can. Having a cart to transport boxes from the car to the barracks curb is a help.
The Citadel Family Association members (parents of cadets) will be there to help. The volunteers wear Blue shirts. They have been where you are now.
The cadet recruits will sign in at the table and be told what to do next. They will be given their dark blue t-shirt, shorts, ball cap (PT’s or physical training clothes) and camel pack.
Knobs are called cadet recruits for the 1st 12 weeks. Parents weekend they get their company letter. They are then called 4th class cadets.
Your cadet recruit can stay with you until mid-morning. You can go to the chapel service then say good-byes. Make sure your cadet is in the barracks at the stated time.
Parents: Plan to stay on the campus for the address to the parents by the president. You’ll have an opportunity to get more information on various organizations too.
The Citadel Family Association has a BBQ after the president’s address. If you are able to stay it’s a good way to meet other parents before you head home.
If you can stay for another day or so you can attend chapel on Sunday and maybe get a glimpse of your cadet – but not talk to them. They also have an oath ceremony Monday. You won’t be able to talk to your cadet, but can watch from a distance.
Knob year notes

Keep a positive attitude. Remember the cadre yells at everyone, it isn’t personal.

It’s best to smile, yell, and curse on the inside. Keep a straight face in front of the cadre.
Keep your room clean, shoes polished, brass polished. Keep up your personal hygiene.
If you have a difficult roommate situation try to work it out between the two of you.

Hearing from your cadet:

You will hear from your cadet sometime after the first week. It is best to wait until they contact you. Their time will not be their own.

They will be able to email/text/call mostly at night.
Sending cards/food to your cadet:

The school sends boxes and mailing labels to you. You can also order them yourself for free at: The box, # 01096L, is the size of 2 VHS tapes. It fits into their mailbox and briefcases and is about the size of a book.

Protein snacks and healthy items are best. Small packets of drink powder, like Propel, to add to water was also appreciated.
Birthday’s and Special Occasions Note: In general cadet of any year don’t want anyone to know it’s their big day. If you would like to have your cadet’s birthday or other occasion recognized without raising their visibility with other cadets. . .contact Mrs. Milner in the Cadet activities office. For $10 she will arrange to have 6 large cookies for your cadet. Email her directly at or to ask questions you can also call her at 843-953-4875.

Many area hotels offer special discounts for Citadel families. Call the hotels directly and ask if they offer a Citadel family rate.

Unlike college students at non-military schools, the cadets actually want their parents to visit. They want to see you, but more importantly they need to nap, eat good food, watch TV and just relax. Their stories are fun too.
First semester cadets do not have overnight privileges. The must return to the barracks each night including weekends usually by 12 AM.
The schedules for the week are posted on The Citadel web site under the Commandant’s page. You can see from the posted schedule what they are scheduled to do each day and what is expected on the weekends. (see web site section, page 8)
When you visit:

Unlike other college students, Citadel Knobs appreciate visits from family and friends on the weekends. They can’t stay over night, but the opportunity to nap in a comfortable bed, eat good food, and take long showers is appreciated. The visits help break up their time.

Whenever you go to see your cadet be prepared to wait. They are not in control of their time at all. They can be asked to do extra chores at any time, especially the first 12 weeks
Make sure the knobs are back to the campus well before the curfew. There is a silent procession of cars onto campus starting around 11:15 PM.
Ask your knob where they will want to be picked up and dropped off.
Be prepared to wait for your cadet. Your cadet will appreciate your patience.
First few weeks:

They keep the knobs really busy. Your cadet may have a senior mentor in the first few weeks.

While they can’t get mail during hell week you can go ahead and mail a letter or two so it is waiting when they go to the mailbox the first time. They will also be encouraged to write to you the Sunday at the end of hell week.
Parents remember to let your child work out their own problems. If you need confidential advice from a Citadel resource visit this web site:
Frequent (small) food packages and fun cards from home are welcomed. It is humid in Charleston. Sending food items in zip lock bags will help keep them fresh.
Remind your knob to break the year down into small goals, i.e. Parents Weekend, Homecoming, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. The beginning of each semester is the hardest. Visits during these times really help.

Special weekends:

Parents weekend:

The full weekend schedule is usually posted to the web site weeks ahead of time. This is the weekend the knobs cease being cadet recruits and become part of the Corps of Cadets. They are still Knobs however. The seniors get their rings this weekend. There is a dance Friday night, but usually the knobs don’t attend this one.

There won't be a parade Friday. Usually they have a time to visit academic depts. The cadets go with families sometime after the classroom visits. Your cadet’s cadre will have to tell them when they can leave. It can vary by company.
They have to be back by about 11:30 for all in at 12M. Some times the knobs go back earlier because they have Saturday morning inspection (SMI). They also make a banner for the company – a big deal for knobs. Make sure to notice their banner.
Saturday the barracks are open to visitors around 8:30. There is a ceremony that morning for each company in the quad of the barracks when they get the company pin for their uniform. Band members have a different schedule that includes a morning concert.
There is a parade on Saturday. After the parade the cadets usually have lunch with their families either in the Mess Hall or a boxed lunch – your choice. (the schedule and details will be posted to the web site.) They have to march with their company to the game.
You cannot sit with your cadet during the game. After the game they are usually free to go with you.

A big weekend for the alumni. The barracks are open Saturday morning. You can attend the football game. Friday night Saturday after the game and Sunday morning and afternoon can be spent with your cadet

Second Semester Notes and days of interest:

The beginning of second semester can be a tougher time for a knob than any other during the year. It’s cold and damp in Charleston. Morning PT is even tougher in the cold. They will return after a month away. Over the break they will have spent time with friends who attend other schools, or are enjoying the freedom of being employed and doing whatever they want to do. The second semester is when sophomores are able to interact with the knobs as well as the other upper class cadets.

The beginning of second semester is the time many 4th Class cadets find themselves questioning their decision to attend a military school. If this happens to your cadet just remind them it was their decision to take this path and assure them they can get through the year.

Corps Day:

Corps Day is the annual celebration of the founding of The Citadel. The Office of External Affairs (OEA) states this about Corps Day: “The Citadel Corps Day tradition began with the college’s inception in 1843 when the first 20 cadets reported for class at the old Citadel on Marion Square in downtown Charleston.”

Like parents weekend, you can go into the barracks Saturday morning. The Summerall Guards change over from the current seniors to the rising seniors, or “Bond Volunteers.” Several awards are given during the dress parade. Friday night is a dance for the cadets. This is a dance the knobs may attend and enjoy.
You may be interested in reading about the Summerall Guards history on the web site.
Recognition Day:

This is most important day of the year for knobs. This is the day usually a couple weeks before the end of the year when they cease being knobs. The day begins around 5:30 AM with intense physical training. It ends near lunch time with the knobs being recognized by the upperclassmen by being addressed by their first names and hearing the upperclassmen speak their first names for the first time. They share a BBQ lunch in the barracks, have a couple of hours to shower and change, and then get ready for the march to Marion Square to renew their oath. The day ends with a special banquet. The local families do go and watch the activities from a distance. We went to Charleston to watch the march to Marion Square. We arrived just before lunch time and on time to hear the announcement that the 4th Class system is no longer in effect. We peered through the gates of the barracks to catch a glimpse of our cadet and his buddies. The majority of parents do not go to Recognition Day. I felt that I wanted to be there since in a way I too survived the year. I was very surprised when our son wanted to come back to hotel and just rest that night. Most other cadets went out with friends into Charleston or went to the homes of local cadets. If you do decide to go, know that most likely you will not spend time with your cadet. Sunday mid morning brunch may be an option.

Miscellaneous terms and advice:
The Citadel Family Association sponsors events and hosts a BBQ on Matriculation day. They wear blue shirts and are available at most events. The CFA has a host of volunteers to support you. The Company Reps, Battalion Reps and Area Reps are all an email away see the CFA web site for the current contact information for each position. Their web site is linked to the main school site:


All in – When all cadets are to be in their room in the barracks.

Black Badge, Red Badge – ROTC pins for cadets who are on an Army or Marine contract.
brace – a form of attention that knobs must do around any upper class cadet. Try to touch their chin to their spine
Knobbie mission – when a senior sends a knob to play a prank, usually on another senior.
Open and Closed weekends - Open means the upper class cadets can go off campus for the night(s) if they don’t have any tours or confinements. Closed means everyone must be in the barracks at the appointed time each night.
PT – Physical Training
Press and Full Press – The press is the metal dresser for folded clothes, The full press is the closet for hanging clothes.
roaching – trying out for a position. Knobs can roach for clerk their second semester. Originally used to describe cadets trying out for Sword Drill.

sallyport – entry gate to the barracks

SMI – Saturday Morning Inspection
Sir sandwich – begin and end all answers to an upperclassmen with sir
table top – while bracing the knob leans as far back as possible without wavering making them look like a tabletop
Web pages of interest:
Knob Knowledge web site:
The Red Book: The Fourth Class System Manual. It is a 16-page booklet compiled in July 1999 to assist freshmen in adjusting to The Citadel's fourth class system.
Main page:
Book Store:
Commandant’s page:
Computer information:
Senior staff/Leadership:
For weekly schedules:

Click on “Training schedules” to see the weekly schedule and for Open/Closed weekend info

Yearly Planning Calendar:
Matriculation Day Information:

Your cadet must give you the codes to log in to this site. Once logged in you will have access to grades, transcripts and other information


Make sure to Login to be able to view and order photos online

Citadel Family Association:

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