Catch Part I of our Getting to OCS series here
Part II: Your First Meeting and Filling out the Rough Application
In the last post, we covered the first steps for becoming a Marine Officer. This post will detail what will be covered in your first meeting and provide a few tips to ensure everything goes smoothly.
You’ll probably be greeted by a Second Lieutenant, who will sit down with you and discuss your suitability based on the pre-screening questionnaire. He’ll give you a no-nonsense assessment of your relative competitiveness for OCS, and work through the pre-screening form step by step. Next, he/she will likely ask you questions to figure out why you want to be a Marine Officer. They’ll begin by asking you directly, so make sure that when the OSO asks: ‘So why do you want to be a Marine Officer?’ you have an answer ready.
They may also show you a set of ‘dog tags’, a collection of values inscribed on dog tags or pieces of name placard, of which you’ll be asked to choose the three which appeal to you the most and explain why. This is merely to help determine you determine your motivation, and is not formally assessed.
Once the OSO has a basic idea of what your qualifications are and what your motivation is for becoming a Marine Officer, they’ll begin walking you through the forms, samples of which have been attached to this article.
Filling out the paperwork
The most important, and most time-consuming (expect to spend around 2-3 hours filling this puppy out) is the Rough Application, which is due 5 days from the date you meet with your OSO. The RAPP is just like any other job application, it requires immense amounts of personal information, much of which you haven’t had to fill out in years.
What you should do as soon as you receive the form and start filling it out:
- Order your SAT/ACT score reports (ask your OSO where to send them)
- Order an official transcript from your University, as well as
- Order a driving record check from your state’s DMV (They’re usually about $10)
- Schedule a dentist’s appointment (specify that you’re doing it for a USMC dental form)
- Acquire a copy of your medical records
Personal Information Questionnaires
Your OSO will also ask you to start looking for references. The Marine Corps has specific forms for each of your references to fill out, referred to as ‘Personal Information Questionnaires’ (see sample). Each PIQ contains a simple ‘check the box evaluation’ as well as space for a letter of recommendation. You will be required to submit a PIQ from the Dean of your school, two professors, and two employers; however, you will be highly encouraged to seek as many recommendations as you can.
In your final application, your OSO will be filling out an evaluation which will be sent to the Officer Candidate Selection Board. If your OSS is far away, or if your OSO is busy, you’ll likely have limited interaction with them; therefore, an OSO and family friend suggested providing them with an explanation of your Myers-Briggs Personality Type and a Gallup StrengthsFinder report. These reports, however, trivial they may seem at first, provide pointers on unquantifiable aspects of your application: your personality, the way you interact with others, your leadership style, etc.
In the next post, we’ll cover what happens when you submit your Rough Application, as well as the next steps you should begin thinking about moving forward with the process.