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Corps of Cadets freshmen get taste of military life
Cadet says program is a 'big culture shock'
North Georgia College and State University ROTC Commander Christopher Mauldin watches a North Georgia College & State University “frog” crawl past as they attempt to complete the obstacle course Friday afternoon at Pine Valley.

For most freshmen college students, orientation doesn't involve learning how to throw a grenade or survive in the wilderness.

For freshmen entering the Corps of Cadets at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, that is only the beginning of their orientation process.

The university is one of six senior military colleges in the nation. This week, it is holding Freshmen Recruit Orientation Group week. Over the course of six days, freshmen cadets, or "frogs," get their first taste of life in the military.

The week begins with a new uniform and a haircut. All male cadets have their heads shaved at a local barber shop. After the first day, cadets are assigned to a company and start learning about drills, military ranks, customs and courtesies, weapons cleaning and a multitude of other lessons.

Cadets will participate in rigorous physical training ending with a three-mile run to the top of Crown Mountain. Sunday morning, the frogs will hold a graduation ceremony and get a few hours rest.

"I think our FROG week is second to none. It treats people with respect but it's tough, and when they graduate on Sunday, they will have a feeling of great accomplishment," Col. Tom Palmer, Commandant of Cadets, said.

Freshman Robert Romaine is preparing to negotiate the grenade assault course at Pine Valley, North Georgia's training facility. He admits the week has been challenging.

He said the most difficult part is waking up before the sun rises.

"It's a big culture shock," Romaine said.

Though FROG week is physically exhausting, the purpose is not to get new students to drop out of the program.

The week is designed to assimilate new cadets into the corps and help them develop leadership skills.

"It's not unlike any Army Officer Training course that you would see, but we are more interested in the leadership aspect of training," Palmer said.

The obstacle course at Pine Valley has many opportunities for students to display their abilities.

The challenges the squads face are designed to bring them together as a group and see who stands out.

"We're watching to see who the leaders are," Palmer explained.

Macy Turner is a freshman who intends to become an officer in the Army when she graduates from NGCSU. She said she has learned a lot over the last few days.

"It's challenging. It really tests how mentally prepared you are and physically. It pushes your limits every day," Turner said.

Classes will begin Wednesday, when new cadets will have to learn how to juggle all of their responsibilities.
"It's almost like a full time job being in the corps.

It's not that it's extremely physical but that it never ceases. The hardest part of it is figuring out how to manage your time," Palmer said.

On top of classes, cadets have to participate in physical training and drill exercises. They will have to maintain a clean bunk and a good grade-point average.

Every spare moment will be filled with some form of training.

"They are 24/7 military. You don't take your uniform off just because the sun went down," Palmer said.