MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE
HAVE A BACK-UP PLANYou must plan for after the USMC and you must always plan for your future just in case you are not allowed to enlist, or you change your mind. Remember, most Marines will only serve one enlistment, and those who make a career of it will be around 38-40 years old when done. Also remember that many of you who wish to serve, for one reason or another will never bother enlisting or will be denied enlistment. This is why you need to have a plan for your future. If you are in high school and wish to enlist one day it is in your best interest to live your life now as if you will not be allowed to enlist. This means always do good in school and treat your future as if you will go to college or enter the job market. Just because you may serve in the Corps, this doesn't mean that your life after the Marines will be any easier, so plan for it. And just because you wish to serve, this doesn't mean you will be allowed to. One of the biggest mistakes made by young Marines is that they often fail to think about their lives once they exit the USMC. Even if you plan to make a career out of the military, you still should have a back-up plan. Trust me; your future can go much smoother if you put some thought into it prior to enlisting. Don’t make the common mistake of getting fixated on serving that you forget to look at the bigger picture. You can read more about life after the Marine Corps at the following link: Life After The USMC
ACCEPTANCEYou must admit to yourself right now before you enlist that you will hate many days in the USMC and that you may often regret enlisting, and this is not open to debate. No matter who you are, serving in the Corps will eventually get to you and accepting these facts now will allow for you to better enjoy your enlistment. If you refuse to accept these facts now, then when those days come, you may be very miserable and filled with anger. Do not enlist thinking the USMC is this awesome place where everything runs smoothly and where life is always fair, because it is not. Many Marines are often disappointed once they arrive in their units because they begin to see a very different Marine Corps than what was sold to them and by this time, you are stuck to serve out your contract. You have been warned!
DO NOT FORGET TO LOOK PAST BOOT CAMP
If you enlist and ship out to boot camp, you most likely will pass it. Boot camp is only 90 days of your entire multi-year enlistment and it is structured to be passed and not failed. It is your entire enlistment that defines you as a Marine and not a 90 day boot camp. Save some of that Ooh Rah Gung-Ho motivation for when after you graduate, because this is when you will need it the most. Boot camp is the easy part of being a Marine, so when preparing for the USMC, it is in your best interest to also prepare for after boot camp and to not focus on boot camp so much. I understand that passing boot camp is a huge first step and therefore you will give it all of your attention, but you have to prepare yourself for what comes after boot camp also since boot camp is practically a given to be passed barring injury and only lasts three months. So you earn the title of Marine. Big deal. After that comes the hard part and just because you may graduate boot camp, it doesn't mean your road will now be easier.
You have to believe in yourself and you must trust in your decisions. Even when you fall down, you must understand this is all part of the process of growing up and of life. Learn to get up and to move on. Make a decision and go with it. Right or wrong you will learn from your decisions. There isn't always a "perfect" or "best" path to take in regards to the USMC. What works for you may not work for others, so learn to have some faith in your own decisions. Be cautious in who you listen to when gathering advice. Most people including Marines are naturally biased and will often steer you in one direction. It is important you listen to as many people as you can and try not to lend too much weight to what any one person has to say. The information found here tries its best to be non-biased, so learn from it.
HAVE FAITH AND TRUST IN YOURSELF AND IN YOUR DECISIONS
BE REALISTIC IN WHAT YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH
Do not set unrealistic goals for yourself. Be very honest in who you are and in what you are actually capable of. There is no shame in admitting you are not Rambo, or cut out to be an officer. Learn to separate fantasy from reality. Wanting to earn your college degree while wanting to serve in the infantry when you know you hate to study and love to party is not a good realistic plan, as an example. Understand that it is best to serve a few years before deciding to make a career out of the USMC. For most who serve, one enlistment will be enough. When planning your military future, never forget that as a civilian your ideas will often seem very easy to accomplish, but once in, you very often see that things don't always go as planned for one reason or another.
Do not enlist to prove anything to anyone else. Do not enlist because of the image or reputation the USMC sells you. Enlist because the USMC best fits your wants and needs, and or because you are willing to accept the adventure no matter what it may bring. If you enlist because you think you are a tough guy and because you prefer muscles to brains, then you may not want to enlist. The Marines are looking for that well rounded individual and not some immature kid who thinks killing is cool. I know we all want to be bad asses, just make sure this isn't your primary reason for enlisting into the Corps because it most likely wont go as you dreamed. And contrary to popular belief, you can find a brotherhood and camaraderie in the other branches, so don't fall for the hype that only the Corps can give you these things.
ENLIST INTO THE MARINE CORPS BECAUSE YOU TRULY WANT TO
WHEN YOU SHIP OUT TO BOOT CAMP, LEAVE YOUR PAST LIFE BEHINDIn order for the USMC to make you into a better person, you must allow for change to occur. This can’t happen if you refuse to change and if you are hard headed. Leave all your bad habits at home, leave all your drama at home, leave all your racial issues at home, and leave all of your personal grudges at home. Basically what you want to do and what the Marine Corps wants is for you to come in with a blank slate. Let them build you into that person you asked to be. Keep in mind that very often who you were prior to enlisting often carries over while you serve. So don't expect to emerge as a totally new person. On the outside you may be a fresh new person, but on the inside 9 out of 10 times you are still going to be the exact same person you were before you enlisted. You can read more about how boot camp and the USMC might change you at the following link: How The USMC Might Change You
DO NOT EXPECT TO LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER JUST BECAUSE YOU SERVEServing in the Corps does not mean your life is now set. When you are done with the USMC, you basically are shown the door and you must move on with your life with very little help if any from the USMC. They will not hand you any money or a job and they are no longer responsible for you at this point. Just being a Marine veteran does not mean the world owes you anything, so don't expect free handouts. You have to get out there and get your job just like anyone else and you have to get out there and enroll into a college, if you so desire. Life is not always easier after the USMC, so prepare for that. Since most of you will only serve one enlistment, it is very important you understand that once you exit the Corps, life can very often be tough. The Life After The USMC page will explain this topic more in depth.
THE USMC IS NOT LARGER THAN LIFE ITSELFDo not act as if serving in the USMC is a matter of life and death. There is more to life than the Marines. Do not make the Marine Corps out to be something it is not. If you become a Marine, then be very proud, but do not cross that line where you become an arrogant and an immature asshole, because when you do you give others the fuel they desire to poke fun at the Marine Corps. If you must talk crap, then at least have correct facts and first-hand knowledge to back up any claims you make in regards to the USMC. It is very important you remain as grounded as possible when serving. You do not always have to announce that you are a Marine. Many years after you have served, the Marine Corps will just be one chapter in your book of life, so don't make serving out to be something it is not and try your best to never forget where you came from.
UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE GETTING YOURSELF INTO
Don’t expect the Marine Corps to adapt to you, you must adapt to them. Know what your job will be, and know what the real USMC is like as best as possible. Do not judge the USMC by any video, movie, or video game you may of seen. Do not think the Marine Corps is like boot camp or like what a recruiter may say it is like. There is a lot about the Marine Corps that you may not know about, and this is what Future Jarheads is all about. This website will talk about many issues that most Marines and the Marine Corps itself refuse to speak about and it is important that you have this knowledge prior to enlisting.