Guest Post: Marine OCS Guide on Family Sending Their Candidate Mail

This guest post courtesy of our friends at Marine OCS Guide. I would highly recommend you study all the great information they have up, and of course, send the below to your friends and family!

While at Officer Candidates School, receiving mail is often one of the most enjoyable moments of any candidate’s day. However, there are certain thing that should and shouldn’t be done as a candidate and as parents/significant others/friends when receiving and sending mail. I’ll address this post to two different groups, first the parents, significant others, or friends sending mail to a candidate at Marine OCS. After I address that, I’ll discuss what candidates should and shouldn’t do when sending and receiving mail at Quantico.

Parents and others sending mail:

At Officer Candidates School, mail is distributed every day except Sunday. When your candidate arrives at Officer Candidates School, he/she will send you a letter in the first few days informing you of his/hers new address which will look the address listed below. Candidates find out their company and platoon upon arrival, so don’t attempt to figure out beforehand, you’ll just have to wait a few days for the exact address.

Candidate Last name, First, MI.
___ Company, ___Platoon
Officer Candidates School
2189 Elrod Avenue
Quantico, Virginia 22134-5033

Candidate families greeting their successful candidates on Family Day, OCC 209
Candidate families greeting their successful candidates on Family Day, OCC 209

When sending mail to a candidate at Officer Candidates School, it’s important to be positive and encouraging. Your candidate will likely be under a great deal of stress, so the last thing you want to do is cause him/her more stress by sending discouraging letters. When you do send your candidate a letter, make sure to send it in a normal, discrete looking envelope. Sending any outrageous post cards, funny stickers, etc won’t cheer up your candidate as much as they will cause some ridicule from the Sergeant Instructors.

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Officer Candidates School: Sample Schedule

Do you feel like you have so much information about OCS that you don’t want to be any better prepared? Of course not!  Check out this real training schedule for OCS in 2008. While this is a few years old, I bet a 1989 OCS schedule would still be nearly identical to one today. Regardless, if you’d like to get into the precise events that … Continue reading Officer Candidates School: Sample Schedule

Recommended Motivation: Extra Credit

Candidates, there are so many motivators out there who bother me every day with questions like, “What more can I do to prepare for OCS?” that I am debuting a new series of posts. This summer’s posts will give you plenty of ways to use up all your time before OCS to get ready or motivated for your future Marine Corps life. From an applicant: … Continue reading Recommended Motivation: Extra Credit

Recommended Motivation: Are You Reading?

Candidates, there are so many motivators out there who bother me every day with questions like, “What more can I do to prepare for OCS?” that I am debuting a new series of posts. This summer’s posts will give you plenty of ways to use up all your time before OCS to get ready or motivated for your future Marine Corps life. The Commandant’s Professional … Continue reading Recommended Motivation: Are You Reading?

The Ultimate OCS Mental Preparation and Leadership Knowledge Guide

A candidate asked me the following question. Since it’s an important question, I’m making a post out of it to have higher visibility for everyone to see where I”m coming from Candidate Jessica’s Question: Hi! I am shipping out on May 20th! I am very excited but super nervous! I am not worried about the academics or physical training, as I am in very good … Continue reading The Ultimate OCS Mental Preparation and Leadership Knowledge Guide

Top Fears for Females–Conquered

“Help! How can I beat the tough odds at OCS for females?

If you’ve wondered that, then you’re not alone. In my graduating class, less than 20% of females were remaining. Most of these went immediately to a delay at TBS due to injury. Scary figures, right?

This platoon is about to meet their Sergeant Instructors for the first time

If you are intimidated or discouraged by these facts, STOP! The odds are tough but just let that be motivation. The 1 female in 5 who graduated with us was probably the best prepared and most dedicated. Just determine to be that one and you will become an officer in the Marines. Do not let doubt creep into your mind. You can be the best prepared, and you can do it. Thousands have before you.

I will use this post to answer questions that females have asked before.  I did not have females in my company, but the “neighboring” company did, and obviously I’ve had plenty of female friends successfully complete OCS. I will only answer questions that I think I can do justice to.

Q: What advice do you have for females going in?

A: Overall, it’s no different from my advice for men. Know the most knowledge you can, memorizing all the general orders perfectly and studying all the pubs I have on the site. Study! Work out hard! If you can keep up with the sample workout on this site, you will be in good shape. Get all the sleep you can before OCS. You’ll lose a ton there.

Q:  I am working right now on my upper body strength and I have printed out information to study ahead of time. How many miles a day/week should I be running? Is there a max of miles I should be running at a time? What other upper body exercises should I do to prepare?

A: I recommend working on upper body and core especially, as your loads will be similar to the heavy loads carried by the males. Working in heavy squats and lunges will help develop core and lower body strength ahead of time. I said heavy, no 5 lb Jillian Michaels dumbbells here. For running, aim for 15% increase in mileage per week. If you develop shin splints, run on a softer surface, ease back a little, and do stretching and mobility work. Try foam rollers, for example. For upper body exercises, do push ups, pull ups, bent arm hang, and something to work your shoulders like military pressing dumbbells. They’ll make you hold your rifle out or up for extended periods of time, definitely a good idea to build some deltoid strength.

Q: I see that the attrition rate for females is high of dropping out. How many females typically go to OCS? And how many actually pass? What would be a good PFT to aim for to prepare for OCS? Any other information you have for females and to prepare for OCS this June would be nice.

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Second Lt Challenge Coin

The 2018 OCS Graduation and Commissioning Gift Guide

“What should I get a graduating or commissioning candidate?” is a question asked by many family members unfamiliar with the Corps. The following were my favorite gifts when I graduated OCS and commissioned (on the same day). If you have a new Second Lieutenant en route to The Basic School, check out our TBS gift guide. 2nd Lieutenant Challenge Coin This coin pays tribute to … Continue reading The 2018 OCS Graduation and Commissioning Gift Guide

How Academics Are Taught At OCS

Although much of the time at OCS is spent in classroom time, and academics are 25% of candidates’ final grades, tests are probably one of the easiest challenges to overcome at OCS. Academic failures do send some candidates home, but in my experience leadership and physical fitness send more.

ocs classroom
OCS Classroom on family day, final week Dec 2009
Academics takes a very routine process at OCS, not unlike in the rest of the Marine Corps.
The stages are illustrated here:

Death By Powerpoint

  • Classes are given by enlisted and officers who are knowledgeable in the particular subject with cookie-cutter outline powerpoints.  Sometimes dry, these lessons are one of the enjoyable things about OCS for the optimistic candidate.  I at least kept a good attitude about them throughout.

“Knowledge”

  • All candidates are given a book, called your Knowledge, and expected to study at night and at certain scheduled times of study, which are very helpful.  It merely contains outlines of all the same powerpoints given by the instructors.

Informal discussions in the squad bay

  • Different staff members, including your sergeant instructors will have more informal lessons involving more questions-answer sessions and discussion in the squad bay after a few weeks.  In my opinion, these were very helpful if somewhat long-winded, and you get treated like near-adults sometimes in these discussions.  When the sergeant instructors tell stories of the fleet or their personal experiences, I remember paying rapt attention.  Good training.

Prac Apps

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