Marine Corps recruiting poster "How do you know if you're cut out for the Corps?"

Application Advice from a Successful Candidate: Part III of III

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.

What was your relationship with your OSO like?

I worked with three OSO’s since I started my initial application for NROTC my senior year in college and two for PLC in college.

Marine Corps recruiting poster "How do you know if you're cut out for the Corps?"
“We’ll tell you,” basically

The first OSO really was not impressed with the interview we had together. I don’t blame him; I was a nervous wreck after running a PFT outside a government facility in the winter of Chicago, Illinois two weeks after leaving the hospital for a back injury caused by running and lifting. I bombed the initial PFT with 60 crunches, 12 pull-ups, and a 24 minute 3 mile run which is 184/300 and not qualifying. I knew I could run a 250 PFT because I ran a 250 with the delayed entry program pool functions before my injury but I had to run the PFT that day because the OSO said something along the lines of, “You have had 2 weeks to recover from a benign injury you will be fine”.

The first interview I ever had in my life was in a small room in PT gear, soaked from snow and sweat, with heavy breathing and a high heart rate. I sat at a long table with a Capt, a 1stLt, a SSgt, and a WO as they launched question after question at me and criticized me to see how I would react. I did not react very well at all!

The second OSO I worked with was for the PLC program in Minnesota. He worked with me until the end of my freshman year of college when there was a turnover with another Captain, the OSO I work with today. I impressed both of my OSO’s by nailing the interview, attending every OCS pool function and performing well at each of them, acting as a small unit leader during OCS pool events because of my NROTC experience, my PFT and CFT scores, and overall attitude/mentality.

What are good goals or standards for application metrics these days?  (PFT/GPA/etc)

These numbers are purely my approximations from what I have heard from the OSO and other candidates:

GPA Goal

Above 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. I currently have a 2.6 college GPA.

PFT Goal

275, Of course you should shoot for 300 but that number is the average PFT of PLC candidate selects during the last board. The 3 mile run is generally the hardest part of the PFT. Not everyone was a cross country stud in high school and you may have just started a running regimen, and that’s ok as long as you can max out the crunches and pullups. All OCS hopefuls should be able to do 100 crunches and 20 pullups and run at least a 24 minute 3 mile. You will not be competitive unless you can run a 275+ PFT, as accepted PFT’s under 270 are virtually unheard of and will not get you through OCS. When training for the PFT, make sure you can do over 100 crunches and 20 pullups because from my experience you will almost never just run a PFT. My first OCS pool function was an overnight event at a Marine reserve base and at 0500, after everyone had pulled firewatch, we stepped off on a 2 mile hike up a significant amount of elevation with 35-40 pound assault packs and rifles. It was some negative degree out and snowing hard. We ran the PFT in a park then hiked the 2 miles back, passing 30 pound kettle bells and ammo cans up and down the column. The hike was followed up by a 3 hour pt session and a frozen MRE for lunch. That is a taste of what you will be doing at OCS. For the package I submitted I ran a 290 PFT.

CFT Goal

300, the CFT should not be difficult for physically fit officer candidates, especially when you do it without boots and utilities at a pool function. Good goals to shoot for are 2:45 movement to contact, 91+ ammo can lifts in 2 minutes, and 2:00 for the maneuver under fire. This event is much shorter but more intense in my opinion than the PFT and for good reason. Mental toughness is more important in this event than overall physical fitness; you can always push a little harder!


None, but if you have any you have to report them on a form.


27+, this is not as important as GPA and PFT but it is another number that helps the board decide between 2 seemingly even candidates. I had a 33 on the ACT with a perfect score in English and reading.

Concluding Advice

Be extremely aggressive when seeking leadership or community service opportunities, make tons of calls and send tons of emails.

Be realistic with your workout goals but always strive to push your limits. Above all, never quit. I was rejected for officer programs many times as read above and it hit me hard every time. They don’t want me, I’m not good enough, other candidates are superior, etcetera. Get over it and make your next resume better than the last.

If you are lacking in an area, make sure you identify the problem(s), assess the situation, and act on it.

If your GPA is not where you want it, then eliminate partying on the weekends. Wake up earlier to make better use of your day.

If PT is lacking, quit a club you don’t need to be in and work out in that time. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be prepared to fail a lot and learn quickly. Remember that from the moment you step into the OSO’s officer to the moment you leave the military, you are being inspected informally and you should act as such.

If you are reading this, then you are potentially on a path that requires mentally tough and physically tough individuals who are capable of exerting violent action on the enemy one minute and humanitarian aid in the next all the while commanding some number of United States Marines.

Study the proud heritage of the USMC and make educated decisions on whether or not this is what you want to do with your life. It is definitely the road less traveled and your friends will not understand what you go through. Even from attending pool functions your friends and family as well as yourself will start to see changes in things like your physical fitness and your attitude. If you want to earn a commission as an officer in the most effective fighting force that exists, start running as soon as you finish reading this!

-Candidate C

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