Virginia Tech is one of only two universities in the U.S. that maintains a full time corps of cadets. Texas A&M is the only other school that has an active corps of cadets along with a civilian student body. The corps’ presence makes the Tech experience unique for both cadets and civilian students.
The corps of cadets is one of Tech’s oldest and most important institutions. When Tech opened as the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College on October 1, 1872, all students were cadets. It was not until
1964 that being a member of the corps become optional for all students.
Tech cadets have served in the Spanish-American War, both World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and recent conflicts in the Middle East, including the Gulf War. Seven alumni have earned the Medal of Honor and more than 100 alumni have been promoted to General and Flag Officer rank.
Though the approximately 700 member corps of cadets is now just one small part of the university, the history and traditions of the corps are an important part of the culture at Tech. The corps of cadets is under the command of Maj. Gen. Jerrold Allen.
Cadets at Tech can choose to either take the civilian track or participate in one of three ROTC programs.
The Army, Navy/Marine Corps, and Air Force ROTC programs lead to careers and commissions in the armed forces after graduation. The ROTC programs also offer cadets considerable financial aid.
Cadets in the civilian track participate in similar leadership and physical training, but are not obligated to serve in the Armed Forces after graduation.
The Highty-Tighties is the corps regimental band. Formed in 1893, it is Tech’s longest serving musical organization. The Highty-Tighties play at all Tech football games and perform in various competitions and parades up and down the East Coast.
The band has participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Savannah, Georgia, and Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans.
In 1919, the regimental band became known as the Highty-Tighties. The origin of the name “Highty-Tighties” has been debated for years, but the general consensus is that it began as part of a cadet