“It’s a time commitment,” Cox said. “We have many cadets that strike that balance, but it’s challenging. We are not saying it’s the right fit for every college student but we do believe it’s a strong option for many.”
One path, which both Smith and McAtee were a part of before leaving the corps, is the citizen-leader track. According to the corps, the purpose of the track is to create leaders of “character and integrity, regardless of whether they choose a civilian career upon graduation or whether they choose a military career.”
Smith appreciates the aims of the alternative, and the opportunities it provides.
“(The civilian track) builds you to be a leader in the community,” Smith said.
Within this program, students go through all of the same experiences as the military-track cadets, including the very strict first few weeks of school, known as the Red Phase. This is six weeks in which the freshmen “rats” focus all of their free time, and more, on learning the traditions, values and rules of the corps.
If a cadet decides to drop out before the end of the Red Phase, they will then be required to drop out of the university all together, for the rest of the semester. They have the option of reapplying the following semester for admissions back to the university.
There are several implications for dropping out of the corps. If cadets have a scholarship, it will be dropped upon their departure. Also, dropping out requires a change in housing for freshman.
Although McAtee and Smith chose to leave, both said that being a part of the Corps was a positive experience.
“The camaraderie is really awesome. You end up being really good friends with a group of thirty people. It was also awesome learning the traditions of Tech,” McAtee said. “How many people really know that the colors are Chicago maroon and burnt orange?”
Smith agreed with McAtee’s sentiments.
“The first few weeks in the corps made me realize a lot about myself, and it changed me overall for the better,” Smith said. “Something I’ll take away from it is teamwork, and camaraderie, and to be proud of what you are and what you stand for.”