Application Advice from a Successful Candidate: Part I

Thank you to Candidate C for taking some time to share advice you learned through your long, yet successful, Application! Stay tuned for more parts throughout this week.

Advice on Applying

Apply early and often. I applied for the US Naval Academy my Junior year of high school and continued applying for 2 years after that with all of the baggage that applying to a service academy carries. I also applied for the USMC delayed entry program to enlist in the Marine Corps if I was not accepted to a college.

When I didn’t get accepted to the Academy, I applied for NROTC my senior year of high school. I didn’t get accepted through around 5 boards and contacted the NROTC unit at the university I was attending and applied for the NROTC college program to which I was accepted. I didn’t want the college program to be my only option so I contacted the OSO in the area about applying for PLC the summer before my freshman year started. I applied for and submitted for every board since the beginning of my freshman year and was not selected for 8-10 boards until I was selected to attend OCS via PLC over winter break of my sophomore year.

How to Look Better on the Application

You do not have to apply to the USNA or NROTC if you do not want to but remember that on your OCS application there will be a checkbox for, “Have you previously applied for an officer program such as the academies or NROTC?” The Marine Corps wants to know if you have attempted to apply for an officer program in the past.

Are you a person of good moral character? If so, then prove it. Be active in your community and volunteer.

What is the Process for PLC/OCC?

Screening Call

Classic Marines Recruiting PosterGet in contact with your local Officer Selection Officer (usually a Captain on first shore tour or newly promoted Major) and they will ask you a couple questions over a phone call to determine basic eligibility for a USMC Officer program like your name, age, citizenship status, high school/college degree status, and if you have any major physical or mental problems that the OSO should know about. The OSO might talk to you a little about what you want to do in the Marine Corps and what the Marine Corps can offer you but the phone call won’t last more than 5 minutes or so.

In-Person Interview and Basic Screenings

You arrange initial contact with the OSO and when you finally meet the OSO in person you will have do an interview with the OSO and maybe a few others in the room. It depends on the office and the staff that work there. In Chicago, for my NROTC Marine Option interview with the OSO, I was in a room with a Captain, a First Lieutenant, a Warrant Officer, and a Staff Sergeant and they barraged question after question to me while I was still out of breath from the Physical Fitness Test that I had just ran. In Minnesota, for my Platoon Leaders Course interview, the OSO just sat down with me in his office and asked one question: Why do you want to be a Marine Officer? If the OSO determines that you are mentally qualified (aka you can have a conversation with another person without freaking out) the OSO will gather other documentation from you and send you down the pipeline for a medical exam at MEPS. Somewhere in there you will run a PFT to see if you hit the minimum standard of 225.

Disqualifications

If you’ve passed all of the rigorous tests above, congrats, you aren’t anywhere close to done. Your medical and criminal background will be checked and if something stands out, stand by to get disqualified. If you get a DQ for something DO NOT despair. I was disqualified by DODMERB for 3 health issues and with a little work and perseverance had those 3 red marks on my DODMERB page disappear. Depending on your situation, you may be put through the DODMERB process or the MEPS process, both of which are terrible but necessary evils. If you qualify for all of the above, the OSO will put in your package to the regional board, and at that point your potential career is in their hands.

Part II of III: Circle back tomorrow!

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