In today's world of instant gratification many seem to think that they are entitled to all. The decision to become a Marine Corps officer is one that life should make for you and you should not strive to become one just because you want to be one. A four year college degree simply means you are academically eligible to try to become an officer and it does not mean you are cut out to be an officer. Not everyone is a leader and not everyone can become one. Our personality dictates who we are and not our levels of education. Honesty about oneself is the key here.
Whether you are leading your Marines into battle or are in charge of your work office, a Marine Corps officer has a responsibility that not all of us can handle or want to handle. It is important that you clearly understand that the role of an officer is 100 percent different than that of an enlisted Marine. The only thing the two have in common is that they both get free military tax preparation. Do not make the mistake of thinking that when you enlist, you have the option of officer or enlisted. It is important you figure out where you naturally fit into and to not force yourself into a position you have no business being in.
SOME OF THE QUALITIES FOUND IN OFFICERS ARE
Open minded, well organized, self-disciplined, self-motivated, confident, stern, quick thinkers, well organized, responsible, honest, loyal, professional, and understanding. These are just a few of the traits an officer must possess. An officer will earn the respect of his Marines by setting the example. Leadership by example is essential to an officer's success and it is you who must earn it.
EXAMINE WHO YOU ARE
And make your decision only after you have been completely honest with yourself. Never assume that a college degree equals leadership abilities and never assume that you are so flexible that you can become both enlisted and officer. There are reasons the majority of people become enlisted which is why it is rare that someone can do both with great effect. The facts of life are that if you fit into one role, then you most likely will not fit into the other. This same concept applies to life. Not everyone can just apply to a job and expect to be the one in charge. Those who lead and assume the most responsibility are those who are clearly separated from the masses because of natural talent in most cases. Self-evaluation is the key to determining where you best fit into.
NATURAL LEADERS WILL GROW UP SEEING THEIR NATURAL GIFTWhile others grow up seeing that they have no natural leadership qualities. There is nothing wrong with either path since we are all wired differently. As we grow up we may lead our group of friends or we may be the leader of our sports team. Or maybe we never felt comfortable in the leadership role and preferred to receive and follow orders instead of giving them. Many times our friends gravitate toward us, and very often natural leaders just strive in the spotlight. If you look at your circle of friends, you should be able to see who you are personality wise at the ages of 17+. In many cases future officers mature well before their peers and tend to stick out in this area. Your work and school habits are also great indicators of whether you are officer or enlisted material. Most future officers excel in school and by excel I mean they have good study habits and are B average students. If you struggle in high school and barely pass it or have a GED, then statistics prove that your future may not be in the officer side of the Corps. How you act in your home is also a great indicator of who you will be in the future. If you always have to be told to do your chores, then this is a sign of things to come. Sure, most teens have to be told to do their chores, but there are many teenagers who do things before they are told as they anticipate and foresee things in life. Taking initiative and being responsible as a teen is a huge sign that you have good qualities in you to serve as an officer. And I am speaking about evaluating yourself once in your junior year of high school or any point after that. Prior to this you simply won’t get a good grasp of who you are because in most cases you have yet to grow and mature into who you will become.
A COLLEGE DEGREE IS A POWERFUL WEAPON IN LIFE
But on the battlefield being book smart can get Marines killed, and in the office it can lead to micro management and just overall bad leadership skills that will have your unit with mixed thoughts about their leader. “All brains and no common sense equals no concept of reality.” Officers are not better then enlisted, they simply have a very difficult mission which is nothing like the mission of the enlisted Marine. If you want to be an officer because you get paid more or do not work as hard physically, or live in better quarters, then I suggest to you to seek employment elsewhere.
THE PATH TO BECOME AN OFFICER MUST BE CLEAR AND NOT POLLUTED WITH FANTASIES
Today you have many people who wish to serve as enlisted Marines first to then try to earn a degree while in the Corps and then transfer to the officer side. Many times the enlisted recruiter recommends this path. Well the reality is that this path of enlisted first is an incorrect one to take if your main goal is to become an officer in most cases, and here is why: The recruiter only wants you to enlist first for one huge reason. That reason is so he can get credit for recruiting you. He knows that if you want to become an officer, your best bet is college first and not the enlisted USMC first. All a recruiter cares about is getting you to enlist. This is why when you mention the word "officer" to a recruiter, he will always persuade you to enlist as an enlisted Marine first. He then may feed you some classic bullshit about how Marines who are enlisted first are more respected and looked up to more since they know the ropes. This is all said to hook you into what he is selling. I guarantee you a recruiter can more or less spot which applicants actually have true officer potential and which ones just want to become officers. That is why they lick their chops when they see that you want to become an officer, but are clueless as to how the game is played. Since the recruiter may clearly see that you have no legit chance to become an officer, he won’t come out and tell you this. Instead he will play along and mislead you and by the end of the day he will have you convinced this is the route for you and that in a few short years you will become an officer just like that. It just doesn't work like that. Bottom line is this: If you know right now that you want to become an officer and feel you have a legit chance at achieving this goal, then don’t enlist into the reserves or active duty first. It's just not necessary.
He might also add that it's easier to become an officer once enlisted and that you can go to college while in the USMC and have them pay for it. There is some truth to these words, but you need to clearly understand that this route of enlisted first is a very difficult thing to accomplish. And going to college while on active duty is also possible, but it is not always as easy as they may make it seem. And of course going to college while in the reserves is very possible, but don't forget to think about what happens to your education if your unit gets activated for up to one year and understand the money you get for college while in the reserves is not what you may be thinking. The process of going from enlisted to officer does not occur just because you want it to. Many variables come into play, so make sure your recruiter clearly explains the entire process to you. Do not agree to go enlisted first with the plan to transfer to the officer side until you clearly know all of the requirements you must first meet. And don’t let anyone tell you that they can guarantee you this path.
REALITY IS THIS
The best path to becoming an officer starts with college and never the enlisted Marine Corps. If you had your heart set on being enlisted and you first enlisted into the Marines and once you had served a few years you felt that you would be a better fit as an officer, then and only then should you make your move. Many people enlist who never dreamed of becoming an officer, but once in others saw potential in them and they themselves also realized they have what it takes, so they then make their move. Remember, there is a huge difference in a person who knows they want to become an officer but feels they must serve as enlisted first for whatever reasons, and in a person who goes enlisted first and then realizes he may be a better fit for the officer side of the Corps. Programs that allow you to transfer from enlisted to officer are in place for those who choose enlisted and then while serving realized they might be a better fit in the officer side. These programs should not be used for people who have always wanted to become officers and somehow are tricked and or misled into enlisting first for no good reason. For anyone to tell you that if you want to be an officer that you first should become enlisted is just preposterous and irresponsible on their part. No experience is necessary to become an officer. If it were necessary then the Marine Corps would of made it mandatory for future officers to go enlisted first. And the idea that all Marines should experience boot camp is also bullshit seeing as the process to become an officer is about 1,000 times tougher both physically and mentally then the enlisted 90 day boot camp.
--If you have the idea of enlisting first to become an officer, then stop and think about everything that must happen for this to come true:
Keep in mind that shit happens in life. You can deploy and this will delay your college. The USMC may tighten their rules and you may not be allowed to try to become an officer. You may not like the USMC. You may start a family and not want to live this life. Deaths in the family can cause you to change. Who knows. Just make sure you are looking at this with an open mind.
- You must enlist into the Marines.
- You must pass boot camp.
- You must get into an acceptable college.
- You must earn your four year degree.
- You must get accepted into one of the programs to become an officer.
- You must pass this program.
I will say it again. If you know right now that you want to become an officer, then apply to Rotc or to a college and go from there. There is no need to be enlisted first and any Marine who tells you otherwise is irresponsible and misleading you. Think about what it says to all of you future Marines when a Marine tells you some officers are respected more than others. It puts into your head that while in the Marines you are going to respect some Marines more so than others and this is a dangerous thing to teach future Marines. All Marines earn their respect and all Marines can lose it by being idiots, so don’t let a label dictate the level of respect you hope to one day achieve.
DO NOT VIEW THE PROCESS OF ENLISTMENT AS IF YOU HAVE TWO CHOICES BETWEEN OFFICER OR ENLISTED. FIRST DO SOME HONEST SELF-EVALUATING AND YOU WILL CLEARLY SEE WHAT PATH IS BEST FOR YOU.
It is very easy to convince yourselves that you should go enlisted first. Trust me, this is not necessary and it is a huge waste of time and resources. If thousands of officers have been successful by not enlisting first, then why mess with what has been working for many years now? Be patient and be mature when making this decision. Trust and believe in yourself and in your abilities and in the end, you’ll end up right where you belong. I know and understand it sounds cool to be enlisted first, but remember that it is not necessary.
Dispelling the top 5 Enlisted vs Officer Myths as seen by a Marine Corps officer veteran
Click on the below image to learn more about the following myths:
Officer prospects must join the military ASAP
Officers have the same role as enlisted, only with a college degree
Everyone is officer material
Programs like MECEP are for those who already plan to become officers, but will enlist first
High School graduates have a two equally valid options: Officer or Enlisted
- Officers who were prior enlisted (Mustangs) are not given more respect by the USMC. Each individual Marine chooses who to respect and no one Marine has more respect as a general rule. What very often happens is this: You have many enlisted Marines who hate officers for their own personal reasons. So when they meet an officer who was prior enlisted, they kiss his ass because they feel they have really earned it and it makes them view the other officers as less of officers. These are the actions of juveniles and in most cases these are the Marines you do not want to be around. I never once looked at an officer who was prior enlisted any differently than those who earn their commission through other means. For starters, officers do not walk around wearing a badge telling us how they received their commission. An officer is an officer and unless you know him personally, you will never even know that they were or were not prior enlisted. The concept of being enlisted first does make it seem like you would be more respected, doesn’t it? If you think that you need to be enlisted first, then you are basically saying you have no confidence that you can earn respect by not enlisting first, right? What does this say about your character?
- Those Marines who kiss the asses of officers who were prior enlisted in many cases are Marines who have issues with all officers and this is just a way for them to hate on other officers more. I'll prove this point: If a prior enlisted officer fucks up, them some Marines will not get upset since he was once enlisted. But if an officer fucks up who was not prior enlisted, then all hell comes down on him and many Marines will hate him for his fuck ups. Do you see the level of immaturity in that example?
- The reason many enlisted Marines hate officers is because they are either jealous of them, or they have a problem with authority figures. Officers are not there to work like the enlisted Marines work. They have a different mission and are on their own schedule. Time after time I heard Marines saying they hated this officer or that officer. Those are the Marines who are just assholes and will have problems with the police, with their parents and with any authority figure in their lives. Learn to accept your role and don’t bitch at what others do or don’t do. It is very stupid to hate an officer because he doesn't do what you do, but the Corps is filled with many who do this day after day.
- As an officer it is in your best interest to learn from those who have been there and done that. The quickest way for a new officer/Marine to lose the respect he has is to show up to a new unit and think you know it all.
- Officers are people just like you and I and just like enlisted Marines. Some will be more fair then others. So don’t expect to have the perfect officer in charge of you all the time and if you become one, don’t expect everyone to greet you with open arms. You go through several officers in your enlistment as a Marine. Officers are rotated in and out of units. Like any work place there will be some good ones and some bad ones. And being a brand new boot officer is just like being a brand new boot enlisted Marine. You have to learn the ropes from those who have experience.
- If you want to become an officer and if this is your ultimate goal, then do not enlist into the reserves or enlisted USMC first unless you are forced to because of citizenship issues or something like that. That just is not the proper path for those who know they want to become officers. Don’t graduate high school with the idea of being an officer and then enlist into the reserves first just because you want to experience boot camp or something silly like that. This may sound like a good cool plan at 17-18 years of age, but it is a waste of time and resources in most cases. You want to try to achieve your first goal as soon as possible and wasting a few years as enlisted is a waste of time.
- Today many want to become an officer while in college, or feel that they must start the process as soon as possible. They look for the shortest program available and they act as if it’s a matter of life and death that they become officers right now. This is due in part because of the desperation many of us have to belong to a group/branch. Different programs are out there such as the PLC, NROTC or OCS programs and each of you needs to find the one that best fits your plans and lifestyle. Do not pick a route just so you can be cool and then tell everyone you are going to be an officer and so you can play pretend Marine. Self-evaluate and pick the course that will benefit you the most. EXAMPLE: Don’t pick the PLC program just so you can be cool and start the training early. Pick it because this is the best option for you. Just because your buddy went through program X, does not mean you should also. Different strokes for different folks. In a perfect world you want to go to college, have fun, and grow and mature as a person. You live a little, you see what life is all about, and when you graduate, if you are still motivated to become a USMC officer, then you go apply.<<<< That is the ideal route to become a USMC officer.
- Remember, there is a huge difference in going enlisted first and then while serving you realize you may be a better fit for the officer side of the Corps and in those who know they want to be officers but choose to go enlisted first.