A Visit to The Citadel – The Military College of South Carolina

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By Sue Luse



The Citadel is located about a mile from downtown Charleston. Known for its beautiful beaches, world-class cuisine and historic downtown, Charleston, South Carolina is the number one tourist destination in the US according to Conde Naste Traveler’s 2011-2014 rankings. Plenty to do in this city filled with southern charm, a friendly atmosphere and a unique culture. From events and fairs to museums and historical sites, Charleston offers something for everyone.

About The Citadel

The Citadel of the 21st Century remains true to it’s original vision – instilling in Cadets the core values of integrity, honesty, and responsibility in a disciplined academic environment, thereby preparing its graduates to understand their obligations as citizens, and to become principled leaders in whatever their chosen field of endeavor is.

Campus bldg

Citadel graduates have participated in many of the pivotal events in our nation’s history, and have fought in every American war since the Mexican War of 1846. Alumni have achieved prominence in such diverse fields as military and government service, science and engineering, education, literature, business, the medical and legal professions and theology. The Citadel’s legacy of service to the State of South Caroline and our Nation is a tradition of which its founding fathers would be justly proud.

Life at The Citadel

  • Cadets are in uniform all day
  • Freshman are called “knobs” and are considered the 4th Class System (meaning lowest class); in fact, when in the presence of upper class cadets, they are required to “brace” a form of attention where they try to touch their chin to their spine.
  • All cadets are in ROTC.
  • Citadel Bulldog
  • A 4-Year Leadership Model is followed:
    • Freshman – learn about leadership
    • Sophomores are servant leaders
    • Juniors are sergeants and leaders
    • Seniors are commanders
  • In the first year, boot camp comes before school starts – very intensive and they lose about 15% of new cadets the first week
  • In the summer, they offer a non-military program for the seniors
  • 50% of students are from out-of-state
  • Freshman can’t leave until after first semester
  • All cadets march to football games in uniform
  • On Fridays the cadets wear dress uniforms and parade in formation



The Citadel takes pride in educating the “Whole Person” – mind, body, and spirit – and the cadet lifestyle is an important aspect of this educational process. From the freshman year until graduation, numerous opportunities and challenges are afforded cadets both within the cadet companies and through the many cadet organizations on campus.



Life at The Citadel is regimented. Students are involved in sports and clubs, but most of their day is scheduled with military and classes. Freshman live on a 24 hour calendar and every minute is scheduled. Cadets do more by breakfast time than other students do before dinner. Physical training is twice a week before breakfast. Students are off Fridays and Saturdays, but have to earn it.

Here’s an example of a typical day:

  • Up at 5:30
  • Formation
  • Breakfast
  • Class starts at 8
  • Formation before lunch
  • Lunch – they feed 2,300 students very quickly in family-style dining
  • Classes end at 3
  • Then some time for sports, clubs, ROTC, etc.
  • Formation before dinner
  • Study from 8-11 Sunday – Thursday (No exceptions)


Tour guide

The average GPA is 3.5 – 3.9 and the average ACT is 23 – 27. They look for challenging high school courses.

Incoming students must pass a fitness test and continue to take physical fitness tests during their time at The Citadel:

The Citadel Physical Effectiveness Program (CPEP) is administered by the Health, Exercise, and Sport Science Department, in conjunction with the Office of the Commandant. Based upon the idea that effective leaders take pride in their own level of physical fitness, the CPEP focuses on two crucial components: body composition and physical training (PT). Cadets are expected to meet and maintain prescribed height and weight requirements. In addition, the Corps of Cadets is required to take a PT test each semester. To be classified as physically proficient, cadets must perform satisfactorily in both these areas. They must also be physically proficient to be considered for rank in their sophomore, junior, and senior years.
Height/Weight Standards for Entering Cadets:
For Males | For Females
The Citadel Physical Fitness Test (CPFT) is given at various times during each semester. Any cadet failing to meet minimum standards at any application of the test will be assigned to a remedial physical fitness program. Cadets must satisfactorily pass the physical fitness test to be physically proficient, which is a requirement to qualify for class privileges and graduation. NOTE: The sit-ups and push-ups are timed tests. You must complete the minimum required in two minutes – two minutes for the sit-up portion; another two minute period for the push-up portion.

What Kind of Student Would be Happy Here

The Citadel is not just about academics; fitness and a desire to serve are even more important. Students who excel in leadership roles – ie captain of the football team or student body president. Many Eagle Scouts and Girl Scouts attend The Citadel. A student who has a hear and wants to serve their country. The Citadel does accept women, but right now they are only at 7%.

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