What Separates the Winners and Losers at OCS?

To kick this off, I want to say that the following is strictly from my experience and what I thought about the topic. I was a part of the 234 class (Delta 2nd PLT) in the summer of 2020.

While adapting to covid-19 and all the mitigation that comes along with it, trying to present yourself in a way that will make you shine brighter became more difficult. For instance, there were no company level billets, PT was reduced, and some events were even cancelled (not all were due to covid however).

Nonetheless I, along with many  others, still graduated.

The biggest piece of advice I could give to anyone about anything about OCS is to be flexible.

Things change and you have to be ready to stop a dime and prepare to do a 180. As for me, I’m currently finishing up my senior year at Virginia Tech and will be commissioning in May of 2021.

This topic can vary greatly, as many people have opinions on what the winners and losers are, and what separates them. I think that the biggest thing that separates them is in the preparation. The more you prepare for OCS, the better off you will be. When the weeks get busy, you will be able to tell who prepared and who did not (it often correlates well with who stays up past lights frequently and who doesn’t).

Here is a basic outline of what you should prepare if you want to do well at OCS.

The Winners

If we are setting the winners as those individuals who stand out to the Instructors and other candidates then this is what you will need to know. In order for others to perceive you as a winner, you’re going to want to be as prepared as you can when you arrive on Brown field.

That means mentally, physically, and educationally. Knowing a lot of the academic information will help you greatly when it comes time to take notes in classes when you are struggling to stay awake (yes, you will be that tired eventually).

To be prepared to stand out physically you should be able to run a 295+ PFT.

However, in your preparation you shouldn’t only focus on the events in the PFT (pull-ups, crunches, run time). You should work on all sorts of calisthenics, run more than just 3 miles at a time and occasionally add some weight to those runs, and definitely hike on your own. The best way to prepare yourself emotionally is to set your ego aside. You will have your moment at OCS where an instructor just won’t leave you alone. Don’t worry, we have all been there and it will end. Just be ready for it.

The Losers

I can only imagine that the “losers” in this situation are people who end up getting dropped and do not graduate. These individuals often get dropped for a variety of reasons. Some don’t meet the required academic standards (anything below an 80 is failing at OCS), some don’t make the leadership grades, and sometimes you see people dropped for integrity violations (cheating on a test, lying, contraband, etc.).

I saw the most people get dropped because they DOR (drop on request). Most of those individuals decide by about week 3-4 of the 10-week program that the Marine Corps is not for them. Outside of DORs, the most common reason for candidates getting dropped was simply because they didn’t have the grades in the leadership category. Those grades mostly consist of the Leadership Reaction Courses (LRCs) and Squad Unit Leadership Evaluations (SULEs). The best way to prepare for those is to know your 5 paragraph order, and to simply be confident in your own leadership. If you can do that then you will be fine.

Remember that the LRCs are not designed to see how you can solve the problem, but rather how you are able to deal with failure and coming up with a new plan because, as you will hear many times, no plan survives first contact.

Bottom Line

To simply put it, what separates the winners and losers at OCS is all in the preparation of the individual.

Study and prepare beforehand and you will do okay. Learn to deal with failure, as most candidates will fail at some point. The key is to learn from it and move on.

Written by:

Jason Powers

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