10-02-06, 12:07 PM
OK I used the search feature but nothing came up.
What is it like compared to boot camp? Most of what I have seen it seems like it is even more physically demanding than boot camp, and it sounds like there is more classroom time.
If someone goes to PLC than decides they don't want to join the Marine Corps, they are free to do whatever they want, as long as they dont recieve any tuition assistance right? This is what I've heard but havent been able to comfirm it.
If anyone has any links about PLC, particularly what you actually do there, that would grea too. I have tried but havent found much. Thanks
10-02-06, 12:48 PM
That should at least get you started.
10-02-06, 12:55 PM
OK, starting point: http://www.marineofficer.com
Google searches for "Marine OCS" "Officer Candidate School" and "PLC" may also yield good results. Also Google "USMC Candidate Regulations" and get a copy of the Candidate Regs, that'll give you a pretty good look at what's going on.
OCS compared to Recruit Training:
Briefly, here's the difference. Boot Camp is meant to put each recruit into a "Basic Marine" mold. It teaches discipline (defined as "Instant, willing obedience to orders, self-reliance, and teamwork.") It "checks the box" on all the basic skills and qualifications that every Marine must have (rifle qual, PFT, swim qual, gas chamber/NBC quals, MCMAP Tan Belt qual, basic field firing techniques, basic patrolling tactics, drill and ceremonies, uniform wear, history, customs/courtesies, first aid, etc.) and graduates Marines into the fleet or the reserves. It's all about getting hundreds of recruits per company, from just as many different backgrounds, to function as a team and as a Marine in the operating forces. When you graduate recruit training, you will be a Marine, period.
OCS is different. The mission at OCS is to "Train, Screen, and Evaluate candidates to determine whether they possess the physical, intellectual, and moral qualities necessary to serve effectively as company grade officers in the Operating Forces." It's like one big job interview. When you graduate OCS as a PLC candidate, you technically don't even rate the title "Marine" yet, until you accept your commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. You'll go back to college and be expected to maintain your fitness for commissioning with little or no oversight. You are correct that you can decline to accept your commission if you so choose, however, if you took any financial aid, you'll have to either pay it back monetarily or through an enlistment in the Marine Corps.
Boot camp is a 13-week straight shot. OCS as a PLC candidate has 2 different options. If you contract/get selected before the end of your sophomore year, you'll do 2 6-week courses (Juniors/Seniors). One the summer after you get selected, and one the summer after your junior year. If you contract after your sophomore year (as I did), you'll do one 10-week straight shot (Combined). Personally, I'd recommend the 10-week course if you can work it that way. More recovery time (though still not much), and generally a better learning curve.
Differences? OCS is far more about individual effort. Physically speaking, the PT is light-years away harder than at recruit training. You've gotta have a 225 PFT MINIMUM even to qualify for OCS, a 245 is recommended as a minimum competitive score for PLC applicants. You'll PT probably somewhere between 4 and 6 mornings a week, and the only time you'll run on pavement is for your PFTs. You'll run, A LOT, uphill, downhill, sideways, on dirt, through mud, in PT gear, boots 'n utes, with wargear and weapon, and then you'll run some more. Lots of time on the O-Course, endurance course, and the CRT (Combat Readiness Test). Academically, it's a little more challenging than boot camp, but still mostly at a 10th grade level. You'll spend a fair bit of time in classes, covering Marine Corps History, customs/courtesies, uniforms, basic tactics, operations orders and all the misc. subjects that you've gotta cover, like fraternization, sexual harassment, etc.
Another big difference is the mindset. Boot Camp is a "succeed or die trying" kind of place. It's VERY hard, if not damn near impossible to "quit" boot camp. Once you're there, you signed the contract and you're in it for the haul. OCS, on the other hand, you've gotta WANT it, and I mean with every bone in your body, 'cause starting at week 4 for the 10 weekers, and I imagine after week 3 for the 2x6 weekers, you can quit. I mean you can knock on the duty hut hatch, say "DOR" and be on a plane home in less than 48 hours, never to get another chance to return and with a piece of your honor left on Brown Field. It's that easy. OCS is designed to weed out the ones that can't hack it. It's a numbers game too. Everything is evaluated. 25% of your score is academics, 25% physical events, and 50% leadership. Your leadership score is based on evaluations from your "billets," whereby you're placed in a leadership role, from squad leader all the way up to Candidate Company Commander, and evaluated by your staff counterparts (and they are merciless- good luck when you end up as candidate platoon sergeant or candidate company gunnery sergeant). Also, you are evaluated for leadership during SULE I and SULE II (Small Unit Leadership Exercise) which are fireteam and squad sized tactical reaction courses, where you basically end up running through the woods and around Brown Field with your team solving reaction course style and tactical problems rotating through the team leader/squad leader positions, as well as the Leadership Reaction Course (I and II), and Fireteam/Squad in the offense scenarios. Written tests are generally multiple choice, but also include 2 essay style exams for History II and Leadership II. Graded physical events include PFTs, CRT, Endurance Course, and O-Course. All of these evaluations are graded. Anything 83% or below is considered "Marginal" performance and result in a notation in your eval file, and anything below 80% is considered failing, also resulting in a notation in your file. Get more than one of those, and you're in danger of probation and/or disenrollment from the course (ie- you can't hack it, thanks for trying, go home, don't come back). Also, missing too many training days due to light duty/bed rest can result in disenrollment for "Failure to Evaluate," which can send you home, though you may get a second chance the next year at the discretion of the Battallion CO.
Other differences- Boot camp is totally self-contained. At OCS you'll get off on the weekends starting at the end of the 3rd week. You can go to DC, Stafford/Woodbridge (the towns closest to Quantico), and get some time off. It's considered training though- they give you enough leeway to see if you screw up. Integrity is also a BIG thing. I saw candidates disenrolled for unintentionally misreporting their crunch count on their PFT- by 2 reps. DO NOT BE AN INTEGRITY VIOLATOR. It'll get you thrashed in boot camp, but it'll get you thrown out at OCS. IT- At boot camp, if you screw up, expect to pay in sweat. At OCS, expect to pay in sleep- there's no quarterdeck or pit, just 300 word essays. At boot camp you get 8 hours a night and are forced to sleep. At OCS, your 8 hours a night is time to sleep, yes, but also to do EVERYTHING ELSE you need to do for the next day, including prepping/remarking gear, turning over billets, writing assigned essays (300 words, only words with 4 letters or more count, EXACTLY 300 words, on the assigned topic, properly formatted, spelling and grammar counts, each word that counts underlined, numbered, with the number circled. Screw it up, prepare to do it again, along with another essay on "The Importance of Attention to Detail." But at OCS, we as a platoon definitely were a lot tighter than boot camp.
Bottom line, the Corps does NOT want officers who don't want to be there, or who can't perform- we can't afford it when you're putting Marines' lives on the line.
Prior service experience is a major advantage- it'll help you through the course, 'cause you'll already have a handle on the basic subjects taught, as well as the "Marine Mindset," though in later parts of the course, non-prior candidates tend to catch up pretty quick and at times surpass the priors. Prior service also carries the risk of making you overconfident or even arrogant. Don't fall into this trap. I would recommend being a 92-day reservist before going to OCS. Some Marines/Officers like to badmouth the 92-day program, but it's a GREAT way to get enlisted experience before you get commissioned, which is invaluable both at OCS and throughout your career as a Marine Officer.
So that's it in bumper-sticker length summary. If you've got additional questions, feel free to shoot me a PM, I'll reply as I'm able.
10-02-06, 06:24 PM
Wow thanks, that was more than I hoped to get. The only other thing I can think of is:
How hard is it to get into? Do you have to meet the requirements and then some?
10-03-06, 02:43 PM
Getting selected is always a nebulous proposition. PLC is the "stopgap valve" whereby the Corps can ratchet up or down it's number of officer accessions. What this means is this: The Corps is going to get a fixed number of new officers from ROTC programs and USNA every year. Those numbers stay more or less the same due to the necessity of keeping those programs active with a certain number of candidates/midshipmen. PLC/OCC/MECEP etc. suffers from no such limitation. As such, they can increase or decrease the number of selections however best fits the needs of the Corps.
That said, I'd also add the following. My OSO has a 100 percent selection rate for the packages that make it to the selection board. This is a direct result of an excellent prescreening process. If you have a good OSO, he'll take a good look at what you're submitting and work with you to get it as competitive as possible- it's in their best interest to hit their quotas with good, strong candidates.
Physically, the minimum PFT to even go to OCS is a 225, with a minimum of 8 pullups, and a 24:00min 3-mile run time. DO NOT take this as the standard to reach. Competitive PFT score for PLC is about a 245 at minimum, and 255 for OCC (for those already possessing a 4-year degree). Again, don't just depend on the minimum. It's in your best interest to be as strong as possible before you go to OCS, both in power and endurance (though I'd recommend the latter as somewhat more important- OCS is like a marathon run at a sprint pace).
Academically, you need a 2.0 GPA minimum to get selected. Surprisingly, this is really not a big deal as far as exceeding the minimum- they're just looking for decent academic progress- they don't expect a bunch of potential Jarheads to be super overachievers in civilian colleges. Though I'd recommend having a good reading habit established, as well as a well-developed ability to write clearly and concisely, using proper spelling and grammar.
Other than that, there's the Moral/Security Clearance type qualifications. No DUIs, no major police involvement, no outstanding traffic tickets, etc. Goes without saying, but don't be openly homosexual, per the homosexual conduct policy. Also in the medical department- if you have any old surgeries/nagging injuries/conditions that require or required in the past a doctor's care/regular medication, make sure they're thoroughly documented, and that you have evaluations from specialists stating that they're NOT any sort of impediment to you being able to perform your duties. If you have any old injuries that are still nagging problems, GET THEM DEALT WITH before you go to OCS. If you have something that's just a nagging problem under regular circumstances, it WILL get aggravated at OCS, and that can lead to your disenrollment for medical reasons, no matter how good of a candidate you are. Keep in mind that after you get commissioned, your first 6 months is going to be spent at The Basic School, which is definitely physically demanding. So even if you squeak by at OCS, you'll feel the pain at TBS, which risks you getting dropped back to Mike Company (the PCP/MRP of TBS).
When you walk in with your rough application, have everything put together and checked over twice, organized and presentable. Attention to detail, initiative counts, and it will be noted by those evaluating you, even at the OSO level. If they ask for 4 character references, get 6. Try to get a good spread, that includes retired military if possible. Get evals from people who have seen you in a leadership role. They're looking for people who have the potential to lead Marines in a high stress environment.
Above all, be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that this is what you want. Go up there dedicated and determined to finish.
Now, all of this is a little flexible. When I applied, I had a substandard PFT (236 on the initial run at OCS). But the rest of my package shined, and that offset it. When I got to OCS, despite my bad initial PFT, the rest of my scores were high, and that kept me in the game long enough to get my PFT up. By the end of the 10 weeks, I had dropped 2:18 off my run time, and picked up 4 pullups.
Initial PFT at OCS: 236
3 Mile Run: 21:22
Final PFT at OCS: 273
3 Mile Run: 19:04
If they see you putting out, and I mean with every ounce of effort you've got, making yourself drop from exhaustion instead of quitting, working out on your downtime, and going the extra mile, they'll keep you, even if you're hurting on your physical scores. Your platoon staff has a LOT of pull in determining whether or not to keep or drop a candidate who's on the fence. Convince them that you're worth keeping, and you'll stay. Give them the impression that you're a sh*tbird, and you'll be on a plane before you even knew what hit you.
Again, if you've got any questions in addition to the info above, shoot me a PM and I'll get you my phone number, we can chat that way.
10-03-06, 09:50 PM
Yea I'm pretty good with PT but its the other stuff I'm worried about. This is only my only question left, you pretty much covered everything else.
Do you still need a 1000 on the SAT if your already in college? Such as, If I'm a junior or so would I need to take the SAT again?
10-04-06, 07:19 AM
That's something you'd have to work out with your OSO. I believe you have to have an AFQT of 75 on the ASVAB for starters, though that could be wrong. SAT requirements I'm not sure how flexible they are- how close are you?