Enlist First, Try to Commission Later?

This question is from a few weeks ago but should help clarify the thinking of the many applicants who have not been selected this year.

Candidate’s Question:

I had a few questions about being selected for OCS. I am 21. I contracted twice for the PLC program and was not selected because of my PFT run time which was 25:40 the first year and 23:30 the second year. I am now a senior in College and will graduate in May of 2012. From what I hear, OCC, which is more competitive than PLC to begin with, has gotten even more so due to the budget cuts. Also, that Air contracts are pretty much in a “logjam”. The January 2013 board is only Reserve, the June 2013 board is females only, and the next active board is in October of 2013. I want to fly eventually.

I was planning on going DEP right now, go enlisted right after I graduate so I’m not being a bump on a log for 3/4 of a year, and learn what it means to be a Marine and get in that brotherhood and mindset before I can learn how to lead Marines.

I’ve heard mixed results from this plan and many people on airwarriors.com say not to enlist if your goal is to become an officer later. But aren’t there plenty of prior enlisted people at OCC?

I have a friend of the family who is a Captain in the Reserves and he said the MOS’s with the lowest cutting scores are usually Intel, Comms, anything Aviation, or Logistics. I would have my degree so I would be a PFC out of boot camp, I could then, from what I’ve heard, pick up LCpl and then Cpl within 3 years. Do you think this is an accurate statement?

Some people are telling me to just wait and try out for the October 2013 board, but I really do not want to wait any longer to get into the military. I thought I was going to AFROTC field training two years ago, then PLC last summer and this summer. Waiting any longer after I graduate would seem like I was spinning my wheels. Also, if I don’t get selected then, it would be a year wasted because I think that the pilot age cutoff is 28.

Any answers/advice/corrections to anything I have said that you could provide would be greatly appreciated and valued.


If you enlist, you will probably end up getting STUCK enlisted. There are even fewer slots with more competition for officer slots among the enlisted than among civilians. Go do charity work or volunteer or get a job, PT, burnish that resume and application, be patient and wait for the next chance! If you ask a recruiter if you should enlist, he will tell you whatever you want to hear.

Air contracts, correct.

OCS PFT Finish Line, the Parade Deck
See these Candidates? That’s called “running.”

OCC, extremely competitive, yes.

Get a 300 PFT. Don’t go A to B via Z. Many, many enlisted Marines want to go officer and have much better PFT scores than you, have combat experience, and have not gotten selected. Do you really think you’ll get selected as a Corporal ahead of Staff Sergeants with 290 PFT & 290 CFT with combat experience?

Your run time is very poor. You should have been able to take off more than two minutes in a year. Perhaps your dedication level is not appropriate for your current goal.

12 thoughts on “Enlist First, Try to Commission Later?

  1. Agree. It will take a couple months to even go to boot camp, then become a Marine, then work your way to Corporal; it will take about 2 years time from now before you can submit a package and be considered for ECP.
    Best bet is to use the invaluable information about physical fitness provided on this website and else where on the WWW and bring the run time down as well as doing other things to pad your resume to make a competitive OCS application.
    To become a Marine will take lots of hard work and effort but that’s why we earn the title. We want it more than anything and will do what it takes to wear the coveted Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
    So go hit the pavement and show us that you’ve got the mettle.

  2. Thank you for this post. I have been toying with this dilema for a couple months now. I’ve finally decided to apply for the officer route. If I don’t get it, I will enlist. As a female, I do really think we have it a lot easier for the PFT requirements. I can do the situps and flexed arm hang but I have to work on my run. My personal best is 22:24 but it’s been a couple years since I’ve run competitively. I’m really glad I found this blog. It’s been really helpful already.

    1. I am a prior enlisted 0311. I have two combat deployments. One to Afghan and was squad leader in Iraq as a Cpl. I graduate in Dec. from college and am trying to go back in. Do not think being prior enlisted will help. If anything it has made the process very complicated and difficult for me. The only, and I mean only help is I have great PIQ/Letter of Rec from all of my old officers. However, just that alone is not going to get me selected. Plus the Marines “green to gold” program is small and competition is fierce. My company 1st sgt would not even meet with me to discuss it, let alone sign off on my package for it.

      1. Wow. That is very disappointing to hear about the lack of support especially. Paperwork getting you down? That is the bread and butter of an officer’s life right there!

        In all seriousness, good luck, persevere, and hopefully see you in the ranks one day.

      2. Things are moving, but slowly. The cuts sure are not helping either. I just wanted to get across that trying to go enlisted to become officer is not recommended.

  3. I strongly disagree. If your goal is to be a Marine and to lead Marines, then you can accomplish such a goal no matter what side you join (officer or enlisted). Being a prior Sgt at OCS, I am certain, aided my success while there. And as far as the process goes, it was much easier for me to get accepted into PLC than any others college student. My experience as a Sergeant not only helped me at OCS, but it will also aid me in being a better officer than I otherwise would have been. Enlisted Marines, especially NCOs, see the Marine Corps from a different perspective. Being able to relate to this side will alloy you to understand your Marines better and, in turn, lead them far more effectively. But that’s just my opinion.

    Semper Fi

  4. I enlisted straight out of high school joined the reserves. I got selected for PLC last month for this summer. I got selected as a PFC. E-2. Ran a 287 PFT. No prior combat experience obviously, literally straight out of boot. I pick up lance next month. Had a 3.1 GPA out of high school. And I graduated from a class of 6. Alot of team sports of course and letters of rec from all my teachers and coaches really bolstered me. End of the day hard work does pay off. Stay humble. God helped me get here

  5. I have the same problem. I met with a local recruiter yesterday with intentions of going through the process for OCS (I graduated with my Bachelor’s this year) but was told that enlisting would make the process more easier than me trying to get references and going to the boards and what not, so I agreed to take that path but I’m really wondering if the recruiter who gave me this advise had my best interest at heart and if doing it the other way around is really the better way. Please for a response ASAP, thank you.

    1. You spoke with someone who is most likely just an enlisted recruiter, not an officer recruiter. He does not handle officer candidates and he only has an enlisted quota to meet.

      Do what’s right for you, not some random recruiter!

      1. Hello, I’m joining enlisted I’ve yet to go to bootcamp but it should be anytime now, I was wondering who and how do I get into contact whit an Officer recruiter so I can know what to do to make the jump from enlisted to Officer. Thanks

      2. Actually Javier, try to set up an appointment to talk to an OSO as soon as you can, just to get his overview of the process. Then, once you’re in, seek out your unit’s career advisor. This will be once you hit the fleet, after boot camp and your occupational specialty school. They will help keep you in the loop as to how and when you could make the jump. It will be several years, so buckle up!

  6. I swore in on the 7th of this month with my Associate’s degree, knowing I would need a Bachelors in order to apply for OCS. After reading these comments, the answer remains unclear. Is it really all that difficult to apply for OCS during your enlistment? By the time I become a Corporal with my Bachelors, is it really that hard to transition over to officer?

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