[OCS] Looking for career advisement

NorincoHater

New Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2021
Messages
7
Hi, first post on any military forum board and eager to talk to any serviceman or veteran who could help provide some career guidance on my intents to go through Army OCS within the next < 5 years. Some background, if necessary:

Info:
  • <1 y 'til B.S. graduation in an engineering field, may have a graduate degree by that time too
  • ~1 y of civ-sector work exp.
  • Coming from a T10 uni; unfortunately one that kicked both its students off campus for well over a year and its ROTC since the 70s (never had that opportunity :frown:)
  • Still need to acquire personal fitness discipline
Interests:
  • Seeking to become an officer in arenas of either military doctrine or special forces (18A)
  • Avoiding militaristically untrained or direct commissioning 'chair force' desk programs
  • Conflicted with the desire to just go to OCS vs. need to seek higher ed. (to strengthen fidelity of post-service civ-sector employment opportunities) before entering the uniform, due to an inculcated albeit pragmatic fear of unpredictable service length, and associated uncertainties with a future after the military
  • Considering 'gap year' fellowship opportunities in the areas of pub pol, nat. security, and/or govt. after B.S. graduation to improve the resume
  • Strongly interested in the service for the defense of home and country itself; would have wanted to try transferring out to USMA this year (had age not been a nasty disqualifier for me)

Fundamentally, I'm at a crossroads in terms of figuring out the most optimal timing for me to apply to OCS. That is my deliberation.

Some MOS's I'm eyeing require a rank greater than lieutenant, and I know just going to OCS after B.S. graduation (or even w/ M.S.) won't yield more than an O-1. That is why I'm considering applying to law schools right after graduating in order to improve my probable entry rank, but that would make me at least 26 yo by the time I can first apply to OCS, and perhaps too old for some MOS's.

I don't know anything about what it's like to apply to OCS, let alone how incoming officers can rank/prioritize their volunteer preferences for MOS's, and how having a professional degree/qualification plays into that verdict: for instance, I would hate to attend OCS after getting a J.D. only to be assigned to the JAG Corps (don't get me wrong, I like law—save for its manifestation as an entire career in the military). The military is often a short-lived home where there's so much more uniquely germane to the armed forces within which to partake, anyone can practice law outside of it.

Can anyone help me by referring to someone/something, resources, or career advisement? Any tips as to the timing to my decision of entering the force?
 
Last edited:

Devil Doc

Teufel Doc Boot BGO
Joined
Apr 25, 2018
Messages
4,387
On my first Med cruise I was a hayseed from Alabama. Still am. One day in Venice I struck up a conversation with a local and said, “You speak good English.”

He said, “No, I speak English well.”

That was one of my life’s defining points and I always remember him when I want to comment on exquisite word-smithing.
 

Capt MJ

Ancient Mariner, Salt-Encrusted
10-Year Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2008
Messages
12,378
I recommend seeking out the appropriate Army officer recruiter to find answers from an official source for many of your questions, especially with regard as to how the OCS application and MOS selection work.

If physical fitness routines are not part of your life now, why not start today? That is definitely a large part of the military culture, at every age, and I would say the Marine Corps and Army are strongest in that culture. The later you wait to attend OCS, the less fun a sudden immersion into physical training will be. You have control over that right now.

As for graduate degrees, all the services emphasize those as part of normal career progression. There are full-time assignments as a graduate student, at either military graduate schools or civilian, as well as Tuition Assistance which can be used for remote or after-hours courses during tours of duty where there is time to do that. And, after military service obligations have been fulfilled, and any other time in service requirements, upon separation you can use your Post 9/11 VA educational benefits at graduate school (easily googled).

There is nothing wrong with starting as an O-1, if that’s the MOS that best fits you. Your peers will be all different ages, from different commissioning backgrounds.

Most military JAGs come from civilian law schools. Similar to other MOS, some stay for their initial ADSO, some a bit longer, some a full career.

Civilian employers like to hire former military officers for their experience and real-world skills in leadership, resource management, ability to operate in high-pressure operational environments, ability to learn fast and acclimate to new situations in dynamic or volatile surroundings, understanding of accountability and responsibility, willingness to make tough decisions, resilience, risk analysis skills, security clearance, tech skills, general health and fitness, usually not found in civilian age peers - not just academic learning.

You wrote at length and well about your various questions, but I was unable to discern your motivation to join the service as an officer, any mention of leadership or desire to serve, though a theme of “improving your resume” did seem to surface. People join the service for a range of reasons but stay for others.

Don’t overlook the Army Reserve or National Guard as a way to serve and get military officer experience into your resume, if you want to pursue further degrees and a civilian career.
 
Last edited:

NorincoHater

New Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2021
Messages
7
Thank you Capt. MJ for your advice, I will follow-up via PM just to shed a bit more light, but thank you for entertaining this question as a first-timer on these forums, really just trying to figure out how to depressurize the motivations, concerns, and desires I have for entering the service.
 

Capt MJ

Ancient Mariner, Salt-Encrusted
10-Year Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2008
Messages
12,378
Thank you Capt. MJ for your advice, I will follow-up via PM just to shed a bit more light, but thank you for entertaining this question as a first-timer on these forums, really just trying to figure out how to depressurize the motivations, concerns, and desires I have for entering the service.
You’ll need a week on the Forum and 5 posts to gain PM function.
 

NorincoHater

New Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2021
Messages
7
I figured that one out indeed—this should be post #5 for me. I'll reach out to you in a week's time then, if I may speak to you in private this is.

If this thread can be closed for further comments, that would be appreciated.
 
Last edited:

SF_DAD

Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2020
Messages
187
Army OCS grad here. 18 series prior to OCS, and I instructed ROTC at the end of my career. Here’s my advice for OP...

Until you are self disciplined with your PT you may as well forget about OCS or 18A, end of discussion on that.

OCS slots ar competitive and just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you will get a slot for the school. There were a number of candidates in my class (1995) that had a masters degree.

ROTC will help you get the discipline you need with PT if that is your route. It’s possible to attend ROTC while in a masters program, as long as you are willing to hang out for the required number of semesters.

I have a good friend that spent 16 years as an 18C, 18F, and 18Z who finished law school and accepted a direct commission. With 20 total years of service he was only bumped up to O-2, so good luck with that plan.

Nail down what you want to do and start working toward that goal.
 

Devil Doc

Teufel Doc Boot BGO
Joined
Apr 25, 2018
Messages
4,387
@SF_DAD great advice.

I have an SF story I’d like to share but not on this thread. Far be it from me to derail a thread.

I’ll put it in the military feel good thread.
 

Capt MJ

Ancient Mariner, Salt-Encrusted
10-Year Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2008
Messages
12,378
Army OCS grad here. 18 series prior to OCS, and I instructed ROTC at the end of my career. Here’s my advice for OP...

Until you are self disciplined with your PT you may as well forget about OCS or 18A, end of discussion on that.

OCS slots ar competitive and just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you will get a slot for the school. There were a number of candidates in my class (1995) that had a masters degree.

ROTC will help you get the discipline you need with PT if that is your route. It’s possible to attend ROTC while in a masters program, as long as you are willing to hang out for the required number of semesters.

I have a good friend that spent 16 years as an 18C, 18F, and 18Z who finished law school and accepted a direct commission. With 20 total years of service he was only bumped up to O-2, so good luck with that plan.

Nail down what you want to do and start working toward that goal.
Excellent points. I usually comment on OCS/OTS competitiveness, and these thoughts are all spot on. I am a Navy OCS product, and I didn’t realize until much later in my career how OCS selection worked and how truly fortunate I was.

Service OCS/OTS/direct commission programs are used as adjustment valves to bring in top-quality candidates to meet the annual production goal for new O-1s. The needs of the service will always prevail. The candidate can have an excellent package, but the service can and will cherry-pick exactly who it wants to meet numerical and other recruiting goals, saying “no” more than they do “yes.”
 
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
129
so if I understand your issue

you are getting along in age and want to be a spec forces officer, but don’t currently have physical fitness discipline,

you would not be satisfied with being an 01 SF officer so you are considering 3 additional years for law school so you can get higher rank as a lawyer but don’t want to be a jag officer

you want to defend the country in uniform but are concerned with how all this will impact your post service career because being in the military can be unpredictable.

id suggest spending some time with a really good career and life specialist .
 

cb7893

5-Year Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2011
Messages
2,714
I'm at a crossroads in terms of figuring out the most optimal timing for me to apply to OCS.

id suggest spending some time with a really good career and life specialist .

Nail down what you want to do and start working toward that goal.
Norinco,

You appear to be a smart, thoughtful, and successful person. Your thought process reminds me of a hundred conversations with my DS, who is an AROTC O-3. He is/was excellent at laying out options, gaming them all out, and waiting to the last possible moment to pull the trigger. Once he commits to something, it becomes his single minded pursuit.

If you commit to OCS you will commit to the Army and its decisions, come what may.

My son just graduated from Ranger School with a young man, about his age--a Chinese-American, graduate of University of Chicago, homeowner in San Francisco, where he worked for Goldman Sachs. He enlisted as an 18x, a shortened enlisted track to Army Special Forces. He reported for duty and basic training the same as every other enlisted guy/gal and given no special treatment because of his educational/professional background. Had he failed SF Selection or Qualification he couldn't just quit and go back home to his old job. He would have been at the mercy of the big Army the same as every other enlisted guy/gal and given no consideration because of his resume. He could have ended up mowing the grass at Ft. Polk. Don't worry. Officers don't mow grass, unless it's in their own yard.

Whatever your specific goals may be, at this stage of your life, you should do it with that single minded pursuit. This is particularly the case with the military, since there are no early off ramps if you decide you're headed in the wrong direction.

Beware of recruiters. Get everything in writing.

Best of luck!
 
Top