Lessons Learned for the Mental and Physical Challenges of OCS

Thanks to a recently graduated OCC candidate who volunteered to share his advice and thoughts on the physical and mental rigors of OCS!

My personal experiences at OCS

Every selected candidate on his or her way to OCS will be understandably nervous. Whether that be at the airport when you arrive, when you first meet your sergeant instructors , or when you first get selected in your pool. I was nervous as soon as I first heard stories from guys who went to juniors.
Use that energy to be prepared in every aspect.
  • Practice leading your pool in PT
  • Make friends with local NROTC midshipmen
  • Learn OCS knowledge
  • If you are muscle-bound, run every chance you get
  • If you are a naturally good runner, build up your muscular endurance
  • Read as much as you can on the internet , thousands of people have gone through the same thing that you are about to. The more you prepare yourself the more confident you will be.

The Challenges of OCS

OCS is extremely tough, anyone who says it’s not is lying. You will lose your motivation at times, you may even question your devotion to your career path. Stay the course and it will be over faster than it seems. Look to your platoon mates for strength. Lead them by example. Become the leader you aspire to be.
A few OCS events will challenge you in ways your civilian life never did. I was a PT stud in my pool and lead my squad in multiple pt events yet events like the Endurance Course pushed my physical limits. Run as much as you can before you ship. Run your local hills until you can’t run anymore. Then, once you get to OCS strive to be at the front of your squad in every event. You will eventually be prepared.
The Confidence Course will be familiar to fans of "Full Metal Jacket"
The Confidence Course will be familiar to fans of “Full Metal Jacket”

The Confidence Course will be nerve wracking for candidates that have a fear of heights. It is completely normal. My best advice to overcome this is to visualize your success and understand that failure is not an option. As long you do not cheat or lie at OCS, and do not under any circumstances accept failure, you will graduate.

Pride and Leadership

Something that was not stressed to me prior to OCS was swallowing my pride. A lot of candidates , myself included, were the proverbial “alpha males “of their  circle back in civilian lives.
At OCS there are no Alpha Male candidates.
You will be screamed at and embarrassed during your time on Brown Field . It happens to everyone. Be humble and understand that the role of a Sergeant Instructor is to stress you in an already stressful environment. All discipline you receive should cause you to not make the same mistakes in the future. Any insults should roll of you like water off a duck. Know who you are, who you want to be, and act accordingly.
The worst thing you can do is let the stress get to you and cause you to falter.

Running in the Heat and Preventing DehydrationIn Closing

To summarize, push your limits every day in preparation. Run farther and lift harder than the day before. Study your OCS knowledge. Practice being humble and setting the example. At OCS, lead by example–many pay it lip service, but few live by it. Be someone that your peers look up to. Be proud of yourself at the end of the day.
Become the man or woman you aspire to be and at the end of your cycle you will have graduated as a Marine Corps Officer.

4 thoughts on “Lessons Learned for the Mental and Physical Challenges of OCS

  1. I am heading to my first summer of PLC this coming summer. I have looked online for what happens on the first few days, but found nothing. What can I expect?

  2. How much does specific grades in college courses matter? Or is it only the final GPA that matters the most? For example, I have multiple W’s , 2 F’s and a D on my transcript. However, I have retaken these courses and my final GPA will be 3.4-3.5.

  3. When a lady I knew found out I was a graduate of OCS, she told me her son was currently in OCS but it seemed to him that they were not teaching him how to be an officer. I told her they were not trying to, other than drill and some Marine history, they were trying to put him under as much physical and mental stress as they could to see if he could take it. If he could they will pin a brown bar on him and teach him how to be an officer at the Basic School. If you are going to OCS, prepare for the most stress you have faced up to that time in your life.

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