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Our Mighty Citadel

Ashley Coplo

Camaraderie in the Corps

Before she could become one of the few, Ashley Coplo had to learn how to be part of the team.

“The Citadel has taught me about teamwork, just being able to work with one another, that you’re responsible for the people next to you the same way that they’re responsible for you,” said Coplo. “It’s not all about your success, but the success of the team.”

After visiting Parris Island through her high school ROTC program, Coplo fell in love with the camaraderie and the honor that Marines exhibit. She joined the Corps of Cadets to prepare herself for a career in the United States Marine Corps.

“I’ve always wanted a challenge, and I think the Marine Corps is perfect for that.”

Coplo got an early taste of military challenges as a freshman. The year-long training begins with Challenge Week in August dedicated to leading the knobs through intense physical exercises and introducing them to The Citadel’s military structure.  During their first year at the college, knobs must obey strict regulations, such as walking at 120 steps per second, making turns at 90 degrees and bracing, a modified and challenging way of standing at attention. In addition, freshmen must keep the barracks swept and brass polished; they must memorize and recite on demand key facts about The Citadel and much more.

“You definitely can’t get through knob year alone. You have to lean on others, and they have to lean on you.”

The challenges of freshman year culminate on Recognition Day, the milestone in a cadet’s career that marks the end of the fourth-class system. The gauntlet, a succession of difficult physical challenges, is held in the early morning hours. Every knob moves through each of the 10 stations at seven-minute intervals. After the exercises are complete, the knobs run around campus together as a class, led by their company commander.

“The victory lap was a fun last thing you do as a knob. You finish all of your exercises and you run around campus as a company. You all run together and everyone’s like ‘you got this, you can do this.’ It’s just a lot of encouragement and a lot of excitement.”

As the final step before the end of the fourth-class system, the freshmen must complete a class set of pushups: that’s 100 pushups plus their graduation year, or in Coplo’s case, 124 pushups.

As if the rigors of their first year weren’t enough, Coplo and her classmates had the added challenge of completing their knob year during the pandemic.

“We made it work,” said Coplo. “Everyone kept saying we were going to go home the first month or the first semester or the second semester, but we made it work all the way to the end of the school year.”

Coplo, an exercise science major, achieved academic excellence her first year, earning Gold Stars for a grade point average of 3.7 or above. Additionally, she holds a Marine Corps scholarship.

During her sophomore year, Coplo will serve as a cadre squad corporal. For the rest of her time in the Corps of Cadets, Coplo hopes to share her positive experiences with her classmates.

“I’m very excited about the next three years – to move up within the ranks, help others, make sure they have really good experiences during their knob year just like I did, to encourage them to stay here at the school even though it gets hard sometimes, to stick through it. I just hope to make small differences in people’s lives.”

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#1 Public College in the South

The Citadel has been ranked #1 Public College in the South offering up to a master's degree by U.S. News & World Report for 10 years in a row.

1 in 3 Cadets Earn a Commission

Approximately 1 in 3 cadets earn a commission into the U.S. Armed Forces upon graduation.

Citadel Graduate College

The Citadel Graduate College offers 25 graduate degrees programs with 22 concentration options, 25 graduate certificates and 10 undergraduate degree completion programs.

12:1 Student-Faculty Ratio

The 12:1 student-faculty ratio ensures direct access to nationally recognized scholars.

2,300 Cadets

Approximately 2,300 students comprise the South Carolina Corps of Cadets at The Citadel.

Over 90% Cadet Placement

Over 90% of Cadets report professional employment, military, or graduate school acceptance within 6 months of graduation, which is significantly above the national average.

$250,690,056 Raised

20,784 donors contributed to the Foundation for Leadership campaign, a 6 year effort to support the college.

Over 1,100 Non-Traditional Students

The Citadel Graduate College has a population of over 1,100 students, 23% of whom are a part of the undergraduate degree completion program.

16 Varsity Athletic Teams

The Citadel is part of the Division I Southern Conference with 9 men's varsity teams and 7 women's varsity teams.

Learning in 23 Countries

Citadel cadets and students study abroad in 23 countries across several continents.

22% Veteran Students

22% of the Citadel Graduate College are veteran students studying locally and abroad with The Citadel ranked as #1 Public College for Veterans in the South.

24 Undergraduate Majors

The Citadel offers 24 undergraduate majors and 39 minors.

#1 College for Alumni Giving in the South

The Citadel is ranked #1 College for Alumni Giving in the South with a current alumni network of over 39,000 people.

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