Music at VMI (Virginia Military Institute)

May 1, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges

The Pipe Band

The Pipe Band

One of the many things I love in life is music. I don’t know where I would be without it. Music has been a big part of my life because I have grown up with it. I have been singing since I was seven and playing the alto saxophone since I was eleven. Additionally, I listen to music all the time. Without music life would not be worth living.

My taste in music is somewhat versatile. However, I do lean towards two specific types. My two favorite types of music are pop and country. However, I like to listen to a little bit of everything. I’m the type of person that if I hear a song I like I don’t care what genre it is, that is why I like the Billboard Top 100 because it has a variety of different songs.

At VMI, our exposure to music is kind of limited. However, that doesn’t stop cadets from listening to music. Cadets love blasting music from their rooms, especially on a nice day or right before a parade in order to get hyped. From what I have heard, most cadets like to blast the top songs and/or country. Sadly, our opportunities to listen to live bands or go to music events are limited. Since we do not have much time for ourselves in the first place, it is extremely rare to have the time to go see a concert. Additionally, most big concerts are nowhere near our school. VMI is located in the Shenandoah Valley with the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding it. Therefore, almost everything worth doing is about an hour away. The one time I went to a concert as a cadet was during Easter break to see Hunter Hayes and it was an hour away in Roanoke, Virginia. Nevertheless, there are a few small concerts on campus and in the town throughout the year, but they are more of either classical or folk music and most cadets are not into those genres.

Additionally, there are a few music groups within the Corps. We have a regimental band, a jazz band, a glee club, a brass quintet, a men’s acapella group, pipe band, herald trumpets, and the buglers. I am part of the regimental band, the jazz band and the glee club. These groups helped me get through this school because they were my relief from all the stress, especially my rat (freshman) year.

Also, plenty of cadets and professors alike have their own bands or play instruments on the side for stress relief and a form of self-expression. Music is a big part of many cadets’ lives and they use it to help get them through this place. Conversely, when you are a rat (freshman) you are not allowed to listen to music for the first six months, which becomes difficult for a lot of people. One of the many struggles you have to overcome your first year here. So even though we go to a military college, cadets find ways to express themselves musically.

The Horror of the Ratline

March 13, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges

Matriculation Day

Matriculation Day

When I graduated high school I never believed that I would have been through what I have been through to this date. I knew I wanted a military college experience and that is exactly what I got. I thought I had my life planned out and that I was going to be an Army officer in four years. And now looking back….I could not have been more wrong.

For starters, I knew when I got to VMI (Virginia Military Institute) on that hot day in August of 2011, that the next four years were not going to be easy and I knew the first year was going to be the hardest and most challenging obstacle I was ever going to face… and it certainly was. However, I didn’t know how traumatic it was going to be nor did I know that the next four years were going to challenge me in different ways.

The first year at VMI is known as your rat year. The ratline was definitely the most traumatic experience I have had in college. It challenges you physically, mentally, and emotionally and most people do not make it through. It is a system that breaks you down in order to build you back up. The first week itself is very rigorous because you get little sleep, you PT (physical training) a lot, and you are constantly getting yelled at by your cadre. You are made to think and feel that you are at the bottom of the totem pole and that you are actually a rat. Additionally, you are made to walk a certain way in barracks and eat a certain way in the mess hall and the funny thing is, is that these did not even surprise me. I knew I had signed up for it and had even seen it at another military college I had visited.

The thing that shocked me the most was the lack of respect they had for females that attended the school and the maturity level of the so called “men” that the institute is so keen on producing since 1839. Surprisingly, during the ratline I only had one instance of where I was treated rudely because I was a female and other than that I didn’t notice a lack of respect of the other young women. I think that is partly due to the closeness of the entire rat mass (otherwise known as all the freshmen). The lack of respect for the women that attend the school doesn’t so much occur from your own classmates, at least during your first year because you are all going through the same tormenting process of getting through the ratline. However, once the ratline is over is when everyone goes their separate ways and makes judgments of one another and thinks that women don’t belong at the school.

This is the sad and frustrating truth that I honestly had no idea would happen when I came to VMI. I figured it was the 21st century and women can do the same thing as men and they wouldn’t care as long as I proved myself that first year, which I did. And I am not saying all guys at the school think that women don’t belong there, but there are some that do, which to me shows a lack of maturity and thus why my four years at VMI have felt more like a high school than a college.

As it goes, I have two months left at VMI and I decided that I did not want to commission into the Army as I had originally planned when I had decided to attend. I know I want to be treated with respect for the woman I am and even though it wasn’t exactly as I had expected, I know that I have made it this far and I don’t have to prove that to anyone.

Clubs at VMI

March 5, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Sports


If you decide to attend the Virginia Military Institute you should know right away that your time is very limited, especially your first year. During your first year you don’t really get the option to join many clubs since they keep you pretty busy with other activities. However, once you complete the first six months of your first year you can join just about any club you want! There are a variety of different types of clubs, so you can choose anything that suits your fancy. The clubs range from academic, to theater, to sports clubs and there really aren’t any bad ones that are looked down upon, because if there were the school wouldn’t allow us to have them.

So to start off with the more academic side of things these are your options.

American Chemical Society

American Society of Civil Engineers

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Economics and Business Association

Cadet Investment Group

English Society

Honors Forum

Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers

International Relations

Pre-Law Society

Society of Physics Students

Tau Beta Pi

These options give you a range of different groups that you might like to join, especially if there is one that is also your major.


Next are the club sports. If you don’t want to participate in sports as an NCAA athlete, then these are a great alternative.

Basketball (Men’s & Women’s)


Rugby (Men’s & Women’s)



Field Hockey




Ice Hockey

Trap & Skeet








Water Polo (Men’s)




Next are the publications clubs that you can be a part of. If you like to write and/or take pictures then you can either join The Cadet Newspaper or The Bomb, which is our yearbook. Both are cadet run publications and are looking for writers and photographers all the time.


Next are the special interest groups. These range from a variety of different interest and thus why they are called special interest.

Acoustic Guitar

Android/iphone App

Ballroom Dance

Big Red

Civil War Roundtable

College Republicans

College Democrats

Eagle Scouts

Fishing Club

Knitting and Crocheting

Marksmanship Club

Recycling Club

Scuba Club

Soaring Club

Yell Leaders


The military clubs are next and as you might have guessed revolve around the military, so if you are really motivated and Hooah about the military then you might want to consider joining one of these clubs.

Armed Forces Aviation

Arnold Air Society

Association of the U.S. Army

Cadet Battery


Marshall-New Market Battalion

Ranger Challenge

Semper Fi Society

Tanker Platoon

Trident Society

Special Actions Detachment



The religious clubs are next. So if there is a specific denomination that you follow then there just might be a club for it as well that meets on a weekly basis! Check the list below.

Baptist Student Union

Canterbury Fellowship

Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Lutheran Student Union

Newman Club

Officers Christian Fellowship

Presbyterian Campus Ministry

Religious Council

United Methodist Christian Fellowship


If you are really interested in public service then you might consider joining or participating in the many service clubs that are available. These include the following:

Blood Mobile

Cadet Program Board

Cadet Recreation Committee

Emergency Response Team


International Club

Search and Rescue Squad

Timber Framers

Engineers Without Borders


Last and certainly not least are the music and theater clubs. Here is the wide variety that we have available.

Commanders jazz ensemble

Glee Club

Herald Trumpets

Men in Grey a cappella group

Pipes and Drums

Progressive Music Club

Brass Ensemble

Regimental Band

Timmins-Gentry Music Society


So overall, no matter what your interests are there are tons of choices for clubs and if we don’t have what you like then you can always start one yourself! However, I think you can find at least one that can occupy the rest of your time at the I.

A Typical Week as a VMI (Virginia Military Institute) Cadet

February 13, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges



A typical week as a VMI cadet is a very busy one. VMI cadets are some of the busiest college students that you will meet because their days are filled with a lot of mandatory meetings and whatever else the Institute has them doing. So here is an overview of what a regular week looks like for a VMI cadet.

Monday: Cadets form up for what is known as BRC (Breakfast Roll Call) formation at 7:00 in the morning and proceed to salute to the colors as they are raised and then march down to the mess hall for breakfast. Then they attend their classes like every other college student based on how they set up their class schedule. Then there is a mandatory DTT time from 11:00-12:00 which stands for Deans Training Time. This time is dedicated to your specific major. So if your major decides to have a meeting then you must attend. Other times there might be an academic speaker that comes to speak to the entire corps, in which everyone attends. Then cadets have time to grab lunch and classes start again at 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. and again that depends on your own personal class schedule. At 4:05 all cadets attend PTT, otherwise known as Physical Training Time. If you are commissioning in the armed forces, then you PT with your respective branch, and if not then you PT with your company. After that SRC (Super Roll Call) forms up at 7:00 p.m. which is similar to BRC, but we salute to the colors coming down and again march down to the mess hall for dinner. After that you are free to go study in any building until Taps which is at 11:30 p.m. You must be in your room at this time unless you are studying in an academic building.

Tuesday: Cadets form up for BRC just like Monday and then proceed to attend their classes. At around 4:00 p.m. students are allowed to attend any club sports team that they may be a part of. SRC forms up same as Monday and then studying and Taps.

Wednesday: Cadets form up for BRC, attend their classes, but from 11:00-12:00 we have what is called CTT (Commandant’s Training Time). This time is dedicated to the Commandant of the school and it usually consists of many different things depending on the week. For example, sometimes we have uniform inspections, room inspections, or this week we had a Corps safety brief because we have a school dance this Saturday so they want to make sure everyone is being safe.  After that students can go to lunch and then attend the rest of their classes. At 4:00 p.m. cadets have many different things they can do on Wednesdays. They are allowed to go into town or to Wal-Mart if they want, if they are in trouble then they must march PTs (penalty tours), if they cannot pass the VFT (VMI Fitness Test) then they must go PT with a group of people, and then everyone else can do what they want. And once again, SRC forms up at the same time and then cadets study and go to bed.

Thursday: Thursday is exactly the same as Tuesday.

Friday: On Friday, the only difference is that at 11:05 all cadets attend PTT just like on Monday, the only difference is that it is at 11:05 a.m. and not 4:05 p.m. Then on most Fridays, we have parades at 4:05 p.m. which every cadet marches. After the parade is over, cadets are allowed to go into town or study and what not, but there is still SRC formation.

Saturday: Every Saturday is different. Cadets still form up for BRC but after that it varies from week to week. For example, last weekend it was ROTC control time. This means those that are commissioning must do whatever their respective branch has them do from 8:00-12:00. After that the institute might have other things they make us do like attend a home basketball game. And yes, it is mandatory and they make everyone go. After that you are free to do whatever you want, for the most part.

Sunday: Sunday is the only day that cadets do not have to form up for BRC. Sunday is our only day off, but you still have to form up for SRC. And then the week starts all over again.

Overall, a typical week for a cadet is jam packed with not a lot of room for free time. It can get overwhelming and monotonous a lot of the time.

Survival Guide to the Virginia Military Institute

October 24, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges

Going to a military college is no easy feat. It takes mental toughness, perseverance, and all around stamina to get through this place. It is definitely different than a civilian college, but in the end it’s still a college and has some similarities with regards to surviving. Here are a few tips that might help you if you decide to go to VMI.

1.      Be physically fit before you come and continue to stay in shape while you are here.

 If you are not in top shape before you get here, you will not be able to make it through the ratline and they probably wouldn’t let you attend this school. The ratline is filled with demanding physical challenges every week. You are constantly running up stairs, doing pushups, circuit workouts, runs, etc. You are pushed to your limit physically almost every day.

Additionally, once you are out of the ratline you still have to work-out with your respective military branches and are expected to pass the school’s physical fitness test. Fitness is a major part of the military and if you aren’t prepared for that then you won’t survive and this school is not the place for you.

Physically Fit

Physically Fit

2.      Study, talk to your professors, and get good grades your first year

Studying is very important at any college and it is especially important here. Your first year at VMI as a rat is a very tough and demanding one. You often don’t have the energy to study or you think that shining your shoes and learning your rat bible knowledge is more important, but it really isn’t. You came to VMI to get a college education first and foremost and that is exactly what you need to dedicate your time to. And once you develop good study habits your first year, or hopefully you came here with good study habits, you will then carry them with you the next three years.

Also, talk to your professors. They are there to help you. It is their job. They want to see you succeed and do well in their class. If you are struggling with their class make sure you go and ask for help and they will be more than happy to help you and they will be glad you took the initiative to do so. I know it may be weird to get to know them and ask them for help, but they are dedicated to your success and they like to get to know more about you as well.

Lastly, you need to get good grades your first year. This goes along with studying. If you study and get good grades your first year, it will be easier the next three years. It can be difficult getting a good GPA your first year at VMI as a rat, but if you get a good GPA then you won’t be fighting to bring it up the next three years.



3.      Get involved

Getting involved is important no matter where you go, be it college or a new town you move to. By being involved, you make new friends, you get experience with things you are interested in or hope to pursue later in life, and it gives you something to do besides sit in your room and sleep (which is tempting I know). However, as a rat you really don’t get the opportunity to get involved since the ratline keeps you busy, but once the ratline is over you get to join any club you want!

Get invloved

Get invloved


Overall, these tips are ones to live by at VMI or any college for that matter. They instill good habits in you and are ones to live by. If you follow them, then there is no doubt you will succeed and make it through one of the toughest colleges in the nation. Ra Virginia Mil!