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New cadets move in, begin training at Virginia Military Institute

LEXINGTON (WSLS 10) -- More than 500 new cadets are learning the ropes at the Virginia Military Institute.

506 cadets entered the school this past weekend marking its third largest class yet, according to a VMI spokeswoman.

It began on Saturday when 506 new cadets matriculated with Saturday.

Monday marked day two of learning the VMI way.

"It brings back memories," said senior regimental commander Timothy Davison. "As a rat you don't really think much, you don't really know what you got yourself into."

Three years before being in the leadership position he's in today, Davison was a "rat."

The class of 2020, perhaps uncertain of what to expect it embarks on matriculation week, will endure nine days of training before class even begins.

"It's a crammed nine days but they learn everything that they need to know for the most part about VMI," Davison said. "These nine days the cadre do an excellent job at teaching them."

Four rats dropped out by Monday. The remaining break into four squads for the week. Their cadre make sure the rats are aligned, standing and moving correctly into position as part of drills and ceremonies.

Monday is also the day rats pick up their uniforms.

"Once they start getting into the camouflage uniform and the white uniform, that's basically the uniforms we wear most of the time," Davison said.

It's an experience unlike most college students endure.

"I just hope that they appreciate the fact that not everyone their age is doing something like this right now," said senior Dakota Woodgie. "It's probably a lot tougher than what most kids their age are doing right now. They just need to appreciate the fact that that's going to pay off in the long run."

Classes begin August 30th.

This year's class is made up of 60 women, 95 recruited NCAA athletes and students from four foreign countries.