High school graduates have a lot to worry about. Diplomas in hand, they now face college roommates, cafeteria food, dorm rooms, a larger courseload and a campus full of people they don't know.
But for Collin Sponable of Our Lady of the Assumption parish in Latham, a recent graduate of Christian Brothers Academy in Albany, those are trifling matters: He's more worried about being a first-year cadet in military school, The Citadel in South Carolina.
There, they firmly believe in earning your place.
"They call the freshman 'knobs' because they buzz our heads and we all look like doorknobs. We have to stand at attention when an upperclassman addresses [us], always address the upperclassmen as 'sir' and be willing to act like an idiot," said Collin. "But I kind of like it. I find it amusing."
In a few days, Collin will leave for a month of training, where he and fellow first-year cadets will not only be physically conditioned, but also introduced to the way things run on the Citadel campus.
"The students are broken up into companies and each company has their own barrack. And I know already that a knob is not allowed to walk in front of another company's barrack; they have to take the path behind it," he explained. "When they get to the academic buildings, they have to go in the side door, never the main entrance."
He'll also expected to rise early every morning to sweep the barracks, do push-ups, and be standing in formation when his superior enters the room for inspection. This is part of what the "knobs" are expected to learn during summer training.
Despite these intimidating circumstances, Collin is eager for the competition in his major at The Citadel, civil engineering; and excited about the Arabic course he plans to take, about possibly trying out for their NCAA Division I baseball team, about life in Charleston and about getting involved in campus ministry.
"They have services on campus every Sunday and I'm definitely going to make it a point to go every week," Collin told The Evangelist. "It's especially important to keep your faith down there. You need something to hold onto and believe in."
He also believes his first year "will be great, because all of us knobs will all be going through the same experience. At night, in our barracks, we'll be laughing and remembering the kid who messed up that night and had to do push-ups and the look on his face. We'll form a bond."