Guest Post: Advice for USMC OCS Female Candidates

Candidate Allison shares her advice, having completed OCS last year.

I just graduated in the summer form OCS as a female. And I left with a fractured foot after graduation. Luckily I was PLC so it didn’t mess with my TBS date and I was thankful that I didn’t have to repeat OCS. The 12-mile hike was what caused a stress fracture. It was extremely hot and I knew I was dehydrated from about mile 3 to the end. If you get the chance to drink gatorade at night and on the weekends, do it. I had plenty of water, my sweat was water – no salt. A 5-mile run a couple days after the hike turned my stress fracture into a full blown fracture.

Female SI yelling at OCS Candidates
Female Sergeant Instructor Helping Candidates Understand

In my platoon females went to medical all the damn time. For aches and pains if I really had to guess. I know that some used medical as a “shameless” ticket home. If you don’t display the leadership qualities they are looking for, you go home. If you can’t climb a rope, you go home. If you can’t climb a rope and are failing every other event, you go home on board #1.

So words of advice to females:
1. Unless you think you’ve got a broken bone and you can’t walk around or hold your weapon without excruciating pain, don’t go to medical. Everyday you will wake up with aches and pains. a Corpsman will be in the front of your squad bay to take injured/sick candidates to medical. It’s tempting. I would be lying if I didn’t think about going to medical for aches and pains.

2. Drink gatorade/powerade at every possible opportunity. Don’t get soda and beer on the weekends, or if you do, have one and drink plenty of water and gatorade, especially on Sunday for at least 2 hours before liberty ends. PT on mondays after liberty are generally some of the most challenging, and thats not an accident. We had more heat casualties on Mondays after liberty than any other days.

3. Don’t take things personal. Try to avoid typical female mindset of forming cliques and talking trash about someone- EVEN IF YOU KNOW THAT CANDIDATE IS GARBAGE. There will be nasty-suck-at-life candidates, but that’s not your job to determine that. You can and should go to those candidates and help them, let them know where they need to improve and ask if you can help them. If it’s physical stuff, we had a pull up bar and a rope outside of our squadbay, but don’t forget that rest is an equally important aspect to getting stronger.

4. Female SI’s are the worst. Our entire company agreed that one of our SI’s was the worst. She was in our faces from day 1 to family day. We dreaded every day she was on duty and we knew that every night she was on duty we would be dumping our footlockers, stripping our racks, removing name tapes, and cleaning until 5 minutes to 2100, and that firewatch would have extra tasks for the night, and we would all be up at 0300 putting the squadbay back together.

5. Be a leader, not a SI. If you get a billet, be loud, be assertive, but don’t call people out and be little them. You’re not a SI you’re a leader. You need to make sure your squad, platoon, etc, is doing whats necessary, but you don’t need to scream at them and call them names.

6. Don’t leave hair in the head. Especially at 0445 when firewatch has to clean it up.

I could go on all day.

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8 thoughts on “Guest Post: Advice for USMC OCS Female Candidates

  1. It’s such a shame that the few female members of the military who slack off, like the medical-going candidates you mentioned, do so much to contribute to the misconception that we’re all whiney little girls incapable of handling the various struggles that come with military life. Most women in the military, and especially in the Corps, are every bit as capable as our male counterparts. We’re resilient in the face of challenging circumstances and we’re tough as hell, physically and mentally — no more and no less than the guys. I just wish THAT was the reputation that carried through the ranks; instead, we’re often misjudged as ill-equipped for service by our brothers (and even our female superiors) due to the horribly suffocating idea that we all need our boo-boos kissed while everyone else works hard.

    To all the girls/women out there who are considering OCS (and other forms of service): unless you’re truly tough as nails and willing to work your ass off — that which all candidates, male AND female, really must be — then please don’t even bother showing up. Bowing out doesn’t make you less of a smart individual or good person — it just means that military life isn’t for you. You’ll still surely do something great with your life. Unless you’re honest with yourself now about whether or not you can do it without being a whiney baby, you’re doing a great disservice to the rest of us.

    Conversely, to all the qualified, no-BS women out there who are considering OCS or have already made it through (like the author of this article): I’m just as proud to serve alongside you as I am to serve alongside the men who fill our ranks. Semper fi, ladies!

    *steps off soapbox*

    Sorry about the rant. Can you tell I feel strongly about this topic…? 😉

    1. I want to chime in on the medical issue. I went to OCS last fall and graduated. Ignore what the SI’s say about medical. The fact is, I wouldn’t have survived without their help. I hadn’t prepared the way I should have to run in boots, and it took a huge toll on my legs/knees/ankles. I wasn’t the WORST candidate, but there was more than once I thought I’d get sent home for medical, especially as the hikes got harder. I developed two stress fractures after the 12-mile hike. Fortunately, that wasn’t until the very end and I had completed all of the other graded events, but I missed all of the PT during the last week.

      That said, the medical staff did wonders for me. They kept me in the game when I surely would have fallen out otherwise. It doesn’t make you a slacker to go to medical over legitimate issues, but there is definitely a danger in going too much. Walk a fine line, be wise, listen to your body, and use medical when you truly need it and no more.

      The photo in this post is from my platoon. It certainly brings back “fond” memories. 🙂

      Your advice is sound. Good luck in the fleet.

  2. To go with Erin’s comment, the candidates who didn’t do so hot at OCS, left for medical reasons, got sent home on boards, etc..there were a few that I got the chance to know. I hung out with a couple of them on liberty or worked on some cleaning task and got a chance to know them. They were all really intelligent, really nice people. OCS can make a genius look like a complete fool. So more reason to rally behind and help some one who is struggling and try to help them out. If they didn’t deserve the opportunity, they wouldn’t have been selected.

  3. Allisons’ comment ” If they didn’t deserve the opportunity, they wouldn’t have been selected.” THANK YOU. EXACTLY.

  4. For PLC Juniors, at what point are females sent to boards? I have read that the attrition rate for females is high. If there is a small number of solid female candidates left towards the end of the cycle, are peer evaluations done to send people to the boards?

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