Advice for Future Officers in High School

If you’re in high school and aim to become an officer in the Marine Corps, consider the following discussion and goals for your planning.

The Realistic Odds and the Importance of Backup

If 1 out of 3 OCS attendees fail (worse odds for females), and less than half of applications are accepted, your odds of becoming a Marine officer are tough even if you’re a qualified college student. If you are in high school, there are too many variables and hurdles between you and commissioning to stake all your hopes and plans on the Marines. With humility, be open to the idea that you will change over the next several years, and it is not impossible that what you see as your destiny now will be the wrong path for you in the future.

So major in something that would put you on good career track if the military does not work out!

Even if you join successfully, you’re most likely to leave after your first 4 year tour. Don’t expect to “live happily ever after” just because you served in the military!

Clarify Your Motivation

So you want to become an officer? Why?

Have you considered the pros and cons of both officer and enlisted routes? Also: don’t fall for these prevalent officer vs enlisted myths.

How much do you know about the Marine Corps? Make sure to have informed motivation.

Your Goals and Preparation Now:

Leadership Development

Demonstrate and develop leadership by assuming positions of leadership whenever possible. Make it a goal. Try to get a mentor, hopefully a retired service-member, and take him out to lunch once a month to pick his brain about his service, about leadership, and maturity in general. If you want to lead Marines, it’s time to grow up.

Once at college, get involved with as many extracurriculars as you can, and strive to be a leader or founder whenever possible. Competitive athletics and volunteer activities are looked upon favorably as well.

Read as much of the Commandant’s Reading List books on Leadership, and apply the principles early.

Physical Fitness

Maintain and build a high level of physical fitness–well beyond a 300 PFT, which is only one “slice” of what combat fitness or OCS fitness looks like. Playing one or two college sports is a start, but does not necessarily translate to Marine Corps fit perfectly.


Your GPA is going to be a deciding factor on your application. The closer you can be to a 4.0, the better your odds. Soberly audit your own study habits and strive to be the best student you can be.

Candidates ready for inspection
Do focus on building discipline!

Things That Can Wait:

A High-and-Tight (Or Moto Tattoos)

Don’t be that guy. Tattoos could torpedo your application.


Telling People You’re Going to Be a Marine Officer (/Combat Veteran/American Sniper)

Until you take the oath and get pinned, you are not an officer.
Until you take the oath and get pinned, you are not an officer. Save it for this moment.

Why are you bragging about something you haven’t accomplished yet? Additionally, if you fail you’ll look even worse. Also, the people who have actually “made it” to the level of accomplishment you strive for aren’t bragging about it, are they?

Connecting with an OSO

Talk to an OSO once you’re in college. No need before that.

In Closing

Early preparation gives you a significant leg up on your competition. Use your time wisely and focus on improving yourself while keeping an open mind.

Leave a Reply