Great information! I'm reading A Sea Story: Officer Candidate School. It takes you through week by week through the mashings and even the coursework. Very interesting.Since my first post appears to be a success (thread on Joboy's "OCS stories/experiences") I've decided to open a new thread on AW to provide some realistic insight to Navy OCS. As for my OCS experience, I am an OCS graduate (class 07-00 commissioned Dec 1999) and now serve as a class officer at OCS. The information I'm posting here can generally be accepted as true until OCS moves to Newport, RI in the fall of '07. After the move, this information should be considered speculation or hearsay only.
First, I want to address the issue of the OCS environment. Some have complained that OCS does not prepare them for the fleet, it is not realistic, etc. My response: you are correct, OCS IS NOT LIKE THE FLEET!!!! That is absolutely true, and for a reason. OCS is an assessions program, which means that for the majority of those who undergo training here this is their first experience with the military. Since OCS is only 12 weeks, there is not enough time to teach all the information that you can get later anyway. OCS is designed to teach critical SKILLS that are applicable across the wide range of responsibilities encountered as a naval officer. Skills become a part of who you are by changing the way you think about situations, so OCS creates scenarios that, although they may be "unrealistic", help you view situations through the lens of those skills. OCS-specific inspections, certain military protocol and procedures all work together to provide an environment which aids you in adopting new skills such as attention to detail, time management, teamwork, honor-courage-commitment, working through discomfort, etc. For students who already have certain skills, those aspects of OCS tend to be less challenging simply because they don't have to work as hard to meet the required standard. For individuals who may be lacking in certain areas, that doesn't mean you are a bad person, it simply means you need to work harder to reach the standard.
Now, what is the best way to prepare for OCS? As with any mission, you need to determine what the objective is that you are trying to achieve, and then plan your preparation accordingly. Per OCS's mission statement, OCS trains men and women "morally, mentally and physically". It is my PERSONAL opinion (not an official command statement) that 12 weeks with adults does not do much to "train" morals. By this stage of life, you must already have moral character within you, and OCS provides an opportunity for you to test your character and hopefully refine/direct what you already have. I would challenge you (once again, PERSONAL opinion) to examine your own morals/ethics/belief system and decide if military service is in line with your own beliefs. I'm not a chaplain so I won't get into all that, suffice it to say that OCS is not the proper place or time to begin wrestling with these issues. There are chaplains here who are available for counseling if needed, but you would do yourself a favor to work through this beforehand. Enough on the "moral" issue.
Preparing MENTALLY. Some have said that OCS is just a big mind game, and while there may be some truth in the statement, there is also a purpose to it. It has been proven over and over again that the human body (including the brain & its ability to think/make decisions) can overcome much more than most people believe, and as long as the body doesn't physically break (i.e. get injured) the sole factor that determines success or failure is the decision of the mind. A career as a naval officer has the potential to include situations where you will be responsible for making life-and-death decisions, most likely when you yourself are under extreme duress. To use an analogy, if you knew you would eventally be in a life and death situation where you would need higher-than-average levels of strength (say, be able to push 500lbs), you would be completely foolish to not challenge those muscles ahead of time, engaging some sort of strength building regimen to prepare yourself for that moment. In the same way, the mind needs to be trained for those moments down the road when it must function perfectly under extreme circumstances, so you prepare it by putting it in practice situations where the stress level is raised and allow it to respond in the simulated environment. In case you haven't recognized it yet, part of that "simulated environment" is OCS. OCS is designed to create stress in certain situations in order to develop your "mental muscles" and prepare you for greater challenges down the road. So, anyone who tries give you a shortcut, or "gouge" on how to beat the system is shortchanging you and stealing your chance to improve yourself. Just as mentioned in the "moral" statement above, if you are already used to dealing with stressful situations then OCS won't seem too difficult. What does that mean in specifics? OCS will expect you to "toe the line" on every regulation written in the Officer Candidate Regulations (OCR), so familiarize yourself with the OCR as soon as you get here. On memorized items, don't settle for "the general idea". The big three (Code of Conduct, Chain of Command and General Orders of a Sentry) must be memorized VERBATIM. WORD FOR WORD! All other items are "key elements", but even those must include ALL key elements. Another good preparation is to begin analyzing why you make your decisions; even when you make a bad decision (and you will), if you have a rational thought process behind your decision (as opposed to a random choice) you will A) stand up better under the tongue-lashing to come, and B) have a starting point to adjust your thought process and avoid the bad decision in the future.
Preparing PHYSICALLY. Physical training has several uses at OCS, some of which go beyond the "pass the PFA" minimum. Since the mind dwells inside the body, one way to create a stressful environment for the mind (see "mental" portion above) is to stress the body. YOU WILL GET TIRED AT OCS. Plan on it. But, as mentioned before, the more you push yourself and prepare ahead of time, the less ground you will have to cover to meet the Navy's standard. The maximum standards for the Navy PFA are 105 curl-ups and 87 pushups (male)/48 pushups (female). Running: as fast as you can for 1.5 miles. These are the MAXIMUM scores; I won't be divulging the minimums, since the tendency would be to simply do enough to pass instead of challenging yourself to do your best (ref. my previous statements on challenging yourself now to prepare for future requirements). Form is important on curl-ups and pushups. If an instructor sees you using incorrect form, your count can be nullified and you will have to start over regardless of the time remaining. Running: the Physical Readiness Test (PRT) consists of a 1.5 mile run, but the normal morning runs are usually longer, so don't stop all your workouts at 1.5 miles. Run on a road or hard surface to work the muscles in your legs properly; a treadmill isn't the same, since all you do on a treadmill is hold yourself up while the "ground" goes by beneath you. Your legs need the practice of pushing your body forward. Additionally, don't wait until a few weeks before your report date to start running. Yes, the muscles and cardiovascular system may adjust fast enough to be ready for the minimum standards, but the vast majority of injuries seen at OCS is a result of bones/tendons/ligaments not being strong enough. These parts will thicken & strengthen over time, but they need more than just a couple weeks. Start running a few months ahead of time so that you have time for your WHOLE body to adjust, as well as to give yourself time to improve on your run time.
While this post doesn't cover everything about OCS, I hope it provides a good starting point for individual preparation. OCS is challenging, but so is the life of a naval officer, so see it as a chance to maximize your potential in your future career.
Only thing I would add to that is: show up in running shoes that can get you through the next 6 weeks in case they have to special order your shoes.The only real gouge you need prior to OCS is to study appendix B. Other than that, just go in with a good attitude and be ready to learn as you go.
I would hold off on the chain of command until you get there. You can memorize the ones toward the top because the probably won't change much, but the bottom ones will.Question on gouge: I've started to study and memorize Appendix B, but what should I prioritize? I know the Big 4 are the Code of Conduct, Orders of a Sentry, Rank Structure, and Chain of Command. What about the Watchstanding Principles, or the breast insignia? Should I shoot to just memorize the entire Appendix?
You’re going to have to eventually. Definitely the big four. Other candidates will have memorized and you’ll feel real behind without ver batim memorization. Try it in front of someone if you can before you go. Breast insignia is a big one and actually some of the trickiest to get down. But also don’t sacrifice conditioning. Good luck! Don’t DOR and you’ll be fine.Question on gouge: I've started to study and memorize Appendix B, but what should I prioritize? I know the Big 4 are the Code of Conduct, Orders of a Sentry, Rank Structure, and Chain of Command. What about the Watchstanding Principles, or the breast insignia? Should I shoot to just memorize the entire Appendix?
They don’t ask this. You’ll only be asked by an officer during your final inspection. You can do either or. I wouldn’t make a big deal of singing it. One guy in ours did and they told him to stop immediately because he couldn’t sing. At all.I heard a rumor while at OCS if the DI asks you to recite Anchors Away or the Marine Corp Hymn you can not sign it. Instead have to yell it as if you are reading a letter. Is this True?
On the other hand, if you’re a good singer, they might actually enjoy it. My roommate was a trained opera singer, and he belted that shit like he was on stage. He had every staff member in that room with smiles on their faces.They don’t ask this. You’ll only be asked by an officer during your final inspection. You can do either or. I wouldn’t make a big deal of singing it. One guy in ours did and they told him to stop immediately because he couldn’t sing. At all.