Your OCS application has many components, but one of the most overlooked is the letters of recommendation. When the board looks at two candidates with roughly equal packages, the letters of recommendation can easily make the difference between acceptance and a rejection letter.
Consider a wide variety of people to write your letters of recommendation. The important thing to keep in mind is that the writers need to know you personally. It doesn’t matter if George Washington, Mother Theresa, and General Patton recommend you if they don’t really know you. That being said, extra weight is given to any of the following characteristics:
- Military service, especially high-ranking officers
- Those who have seen you in leadership roles
- Long-term relationships, who can attest to your growth
If a similar picture is painted by a variety of people who know you well, the positive testimony will be a strong and cohesive argument in your favor.
For content, a general recommended outline is as follows:
- Open with a specific recommendation for the individual and program
- Call out the most prominent character traits for success in the program
- Explain the personal relationship to give credibility to the praise
- If possible, tie the writer’s military experience and credibility to the candidate’s potential
- Close with a strong statement connecting the candidate’s character and leadership to the recommended program
An (Ideal) Example:
To the Application Board of OCC-234,
I am writing to recommend Chesty Leftwich for the OCC-234 class of Officer Candidates School.
In the four years that I have been his mentor, parish priest, and football coach, I have been impressed with Chesty’s integrity, leadership, academic success, and drive. He has proven himself to be an exceptional athlete, a valedictorian in his school, volunteer in his community, and a natural leader. I met Chesty when he was just a college freshman at State University, when he asked me to be a mentor for the non-profit start-up he funded, Social Justice Through Football. Since then, he has only grown in stature as an accomplished but humble young man.
From my 21-year career as a chaplain in the United States Navy, when I served for 15 years with Marine Corps units, I can honestly attest that Chesty has all the potential and motivation to be a great success as an officer. He has a sharp mind, a patriotic desire to serve, and a passion to lead with humility.
Although the University, his church, and teammates will be sad to see him go, I’m confident that the US Marine Corps will be better off with the commissioning of Chesty as a Second Lieutenant after OCC-234.
Father Patrick Flanagan
Captain, USN, Retired
Filed Under: General OCS Adviceapplication, oso, recommendation letter, USMC OSO, USMC recommendation letter
The Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS) is the entry-level training for Marine officers, equivalent to recruit training for enlisted Marines.The training takes place at the Marine Corps Base Quantico. The school trains, screens, and evaluates potential Marine Officers. Unlike other Military services, the Marine Corps officers generally complete OCS to earn a commission.
Unlike NROTC, Officer Candidates School is done solely out of Quantico, Va., and is the most difficult program on both a physical and psychological level. This process is based on an initial applicant process composed of interviews, references, and physical fitness testing.
The training can be a 10-week course, or two six-week courses broken down into two separate Summers after the sophomore and junior year of college. The program is designed to screen and evaluate candidate’s fitness standards to prepare them for leadership positions in hostile and stressful environments.
Entry to the Officer Candidates School comes from several different commissioning programs:
- Officer Candidates Class (OCC) for college seniors and graduates
- Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) for college students with one or more years left in school
- Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC)
- Enlisted Commissioning Program (ECP) for enlisted Marines with a college degree
- Meritorious Commissioning Program (MCP) for enlisted Marines within 18 months of graduation
- Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP)
Officer Candidates must pass a series of tests before being admitted into the Officer Candidate School. Upon completing a satisfactory interview, the OSO (Officer Selection Officer) then makes the decision to move the candidate onto the next step. The candidate must complete a short essay about why they want to be a Marine Officer, provide identification (usually a birth certificate and Social Security card), pass a background check, provide five letters of recommendation, and complete a physical medical exam.
After successful completion of these steps, the OSO may then conduct the Officer Candidate through a Physical Fitness Test. Upon reaching a score on the test that the OSO deems to be acceptable (usually in the range of 225 and above), the Officer Candidate then signs their contract.
After all of the needed information is sent to a review board, The board will review and determine if the Candidate should be accepted to Officer Candidate School These review boards generally meet only once a month. After receiving a majority vote of acceptance from the review board, the Officer Candidate is officially accepted into the Officer Candidate Program and scheduled for a class.
Training in the OCS
OCS screens potential officers using a program designed to test and assess the candidates with an emphasis on confidence and leadership abilities. This includes evaluated events such as the leadership reaction course and small unit leader evaluation exercise.
The Platoon Leaders Class( PLC) normally consists of two six-week training sessions taken between consecutive school years, which occur in the summers with no commitment during the school year. Young men and women at any accredited four-year college or university are eligible for this class, but must have one of the following to qualify: SAT score of 1000 or higher, ACT score of 22 or higher, or ASVAB score of 74 or higher.
Training also includes academic and field topics. Academic subjects covered include Marine Corps history, leadership, close order drill, weapons handling, and general military subjects such as land navigation, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, interior guard, moral and ethical leadership, and basic combat. Officer Candidates in a PLC Senior course run and hike an average of 250 miles (400 km) or more during a six-week period.
Filed Under: Marines, Recruiting