OCS Is A Fluid Problem Set

We’re getting some great questions in response to our email campaign. We will be sharing the most compelling questions and answers as part of our Q&A series.

Q: How do I show myself to be physically capable, adapt to the lifestyle/culture of the Marines, and above all, demonstrate competence and reliability in the eyes of the instructors and fellow candidates.

A: Great questions. Sounds like you are off to a great start. Asking questions of your OSO/OSA and reading the blog are incredibly helpful. I would also highly highly recommend contacting a 2ndLt from your office (even better if they are on PTAD) and asking them if they could meet for a beer. Then talk about OCS with them.

The honest truth of the matter is that no one cares what you did in college unless you are a prior service Marine. Everyone else comes in about even. It’s similar to when you went to college and no one cared about who you were in high school. So don’t worry too much about “stacking up”.

The board selects you, because they believe you may have what it takes to become a Marine Officer. Keep reminding yourself of this at OCS.

Physically, here are a few blog articles to help you benchmark your performance. PFT scores average 275, however, I’ve seen Marines with as low as a 245 induct and graduate OCS. Most of the PT at OCS will be sprints with body weight exercises. You will only run over 3.5 miles a few times.

I think it would be unfair to say that OCS is all mental.

But, don’t underestimate your own ability to psych yourself out. At OCS this is “called going internal.”

Basically, a candidate is told they suck, so they believe they will continue to suck. This becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. As important as leadership and physical fitness are, I’ve seen more candidates essentially drop themselves rather than outright fail PT or leadership. Don’t haze yourself, but treat everything as a learning opportunity.

I would highly recommend reading Making the Corps by Thomas Ricks and Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. Making the Corps follows a platoon as they go through bootcamp. I highly recommend this because it includes commentary from the DIs. Understanding the underlying purpose of events and “games” at OCS will help you keep the right attitude. Gates of fire will motivate you and it captures the culture well, if historically inaccurately. One Bullet Away by Nate Fick has the absolute best book account of OCS I have read. It’s worth your time.

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