A friend of mine from high school who I have not really kept in touch with, sad I know, just recently e-mailed me and asked me to write about my experiences in college. A strange request, but apparently it’s for a class project. I said “yes,” naturally. Who am I to refuse a friend, and it also gave me some motivation to write, something I’ve been lacking lately.
Now the topic is a bit of a doozie. Apparently this friend of mine wanted me to write about “Reasons Not to Go to College and Why I Went,” and she wanted me to describe some events or information that I felt I should’ve been told before starting my time here at The Institute. It left me scratching my head for a while. I cannot begin to think of any reason other than personal preference why not to go to college. Honestly, a college education opens up so many doors and provides so many opportunities. So, I guess that’s the end of that question.
Now on to the really hard part, describing one event or piece of information that I felt I should have been informed of before Matriculation. Well, there are tons of things I wish I knew before I came here, but then something is lost in translation when you are simply told of all of the hardships a Rat must endure, and believe me I was well informed, but no amount of words could really describe the torment of a sweat party, or the absolute jubilation and happiness of being Broken Out. The Ratline is just one of those things that you need to experience and either you make it or you don’t, but there is no shortage of help to succeed.
And to choose one event out of the multitude of experiences I have had here is almost impossible. From Meeting Cadre to The Crucible to swearing in as a Cadet and charging across the Field of Lost Shoes as the Corps had back in 1864 during the Battle of New Market; those first couple of weeks alone were almost a whirlwind of excitement and new experiences. Toss in my first college football game, the many sweat parties, forced marches, the twenty mile march to New Market, Resurrection Week, and finally Break Out, not to mention the many small things in between like just hanging out with my Brother Rats; and the list to choose from starts to get long. So, after scratching my head for a few days, and being unable to come to a definite conclusion on which single memory to include, I decided instead to just dish out some advice. But know that your experiences might vary and advice is worth what you pay for it.
If you do choose to join the ranks of the Virginia Military Institute, know these things: It will be hard, mentally and physically. You will be pushed past any limit you thought you had. There will be times where you wish that you chose an easier path, but know in these times that pain and suffering do not last forever and this will only make you stronger. Keep your head up and stick it out, the rewards are worth the blood, sweat and tears. Yes, there will be tears. Know that nothing can compare to the happiness of Break Out, except maybe Ring Figure. Give it everything you have and never look back, you will not be disappointed. Trust your BRs and help them. Lean on them when times get rough; they will help you through it. Be proud, you are among the few who chose the path less traveled. During Hell Week, keep you ears and eyes open, your mouth shut, and your butt in neutral.
Just my two cents.