T Nation

Considering Joining USMC

I’m Danny, 17 years, senior in high school.

I’ve come to a conclusion that there is a possibility of me joining the Marines after graduation. Right now I’m borderline yes/no because of the sacrafices I will make at home to be somewhere else. Also, the mental/physical challenges that await me. If there’s anyone with experience in the service, I’m just wondering if you guys could give me a heads up. Any tips, advice, stories, whatever, would be appreciated.

(Oh, I forgot to mention that what pulled me in was a Pull Up Contest held at school by recruiters. I did 15, tied for third most in the school.)

I agree, your decision will have positives and negatives (either way you choose).

With the info you gave, here’s my best advice:

  1. Are you planning on going to college? Even if you don’t know what you want to do with your life (some of us STILL don’t) go to college. Even if you don’t think college is for you. Trust me. You can always join the military next year.

  2. If you plan on graduating high school and “looking for a job” join the Corp. You’ll learn a lot, see the world, meet a lot of interesting people, learn discipline, and learn job skills.

Talk it over with your family and friends. Also, get feedback from a friend or relative that was in your position in the past.

And one last note: recruiters are paid to recruit. They are very good at what they do…again, trust me. Their advice will be very one-sided…a lot like a car salesman!

Good luck.

Here is what I would do:

  1. go to college and get a 4 yr degree
    (use your college time to get into really good shape)
  2. Take the ASVAB
  3. Score more than a 75, and go to OCS (officer canidate school)
  4. Earn your commision.

I wish I would have done this:(
Good luck to you

Will, I’m kind of curious why you say you wish you had done that. Thanks.

I say that in part because, after I graduated college I wanted to be an officer. So I was looking at the USMC and the USAF. After much deliberation, I joined USAF, as an enlisted person (I make about 13000/yr, an 0-1(2nd Lt.)makes about 3,200 base pay a month). My plan is/was to go to officer school after a year, but it look like I will have to wait longer. That is why I say go to college first, because the application process is easier.

Thanks for the input Jeff and Will.

Yes I am planning on going to college for 4 years. It would be nice to have a four year grace period to get into shape and a degree, (then apply for OCS?). Tell me more. I took the ASVAB a year ago and made a 95/99. And what do you mean by ‘earn my commission’, Will?

My father and two of my uncles served in the army. I’ve asked them for their opinions/experiences, but I just want to know more! Wouldn’t hurt to know what I’m getting myself into.

Earning your commishion means becomming an officer. They are commisioned officers (O-1 and above) while enlisted can achieve non-commishioned officer (NCO) status. That is just E-4 and above for the Marines.

I agree that going to college first is the smart way. I spent two years in college before deciding to join the Marines. I eventually went back and finished my degree and don’t regret the decision. At least I knew that I had to put college off for a time to get my head on straight.

There was a time I was considering being an officer but really enjoyed the enlisted way of life. It can be a lot of fun and you aren’t doing the paperwork that an officer does. You still deal with some of the same headaches though.

My senior year of high school(1995), I had decided to join the USMC because I really wanted to play in the Marine Band (Yes! I was a Band Geek, and still am at heart!!). Well they had me scheduled for basic trianing in the fall after I graduated.

Even though I had been accepted to three really good schools (w/scholarships), I still wasn’t jazzed about going to college yet. Well after giving it a lot of thought, I had decided I wanted to go college while I was still young (plus at the same time as my friends).

I called my recruiter the day I was to go in for my physicals, tests, etc. and told them I had decided to go to school instead. What a pain in the rear!!! I had to speak to upwards of 4 officials, including my cousin (by marriage) who had recruited me in the first place. They were very persistant, and even rude at times. My mom was even getting calls at work.

I’m not bashing the Marines at all. It’s a great opportunity. However, before you make a big commitment like this-make sure it is truly what you want yo do.

Good luck!!


You should read the book Shugart talked about in his blog if you have time – “Jarhead”. This may help you make a decision.


BY anthony swofford, I think

also read “One of us”

BUt I dont know who the author is right now

I still get phone calls from recruiters 3 years after I told them I wasn’t going because of a scholarship to college. I got one about a week ago. They are very persistent.

I have much respect and appreciation for our Men and Women that serve in the Armed Forces, home and abroad. Before you join the Corp ask yourself one question. Am I willing to sacrifice my life for my country? Joining the service, especially the Corp in these times is a very serious decision for one to make. Take in mind that joining the Corp is almost a one way ticket to Iraq. I am not trying to persuade you from joining if that is what you feel you should do, but at your young age your future is wide open. If you decide to join and defend our country, good luck and god bless.


I did four years in the artillery (Army) right after high school. It was alot of fun and tought me soooo much about people and the world in general, not to mention how to blow shit up! I planned on going to school right after my 4-year term was up (in my third year of school right now). With that in mind I purposely decided to do something fun in the Army (shoot big cannons) instead of learning a skill. I mean, if you wanna learn a skill from the military join the Navy or Air Force, no sence in joining the Core or Army if your going to be in supply or working on computers because you could still ge getting into a position to be blown-up or shot at. If there’s one thing you remember though it’s this, no matter WHAT your recruiter tells you, if it’s not in writting, it’s not going to happen! Wanna cash bonus, fine, get it in writting. Wanna be stationed somewhere in particular, fine, get it in your damn contract. These people will look you straight in the eye and lie to your fucking face! I’m dead serious. Don’t trust ANY of them. Consider yourself a highly-wanted rookie ball player and get as many benifits as humanly possible in your contract. They will tell you that you can only get, say, the GI Bill and a mediocre cash bonus, WRONG! Demand the GI Bill, big cash bonus AND duty station/job of choice. Trust me, as long as your ASVAB score is high, they’ll give in.

Hope that helps, if not ask more q’s.

one of us

JAck ruppert or rupport

Thats all


The best thing I ever did was becoming one of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children. Completely changed my life for the better.

In my experience, there is nothing you can do to prepare. Whatever you think it will be like, it isn’t.

Just keep a positive mental attitude. No matter how much you think your Drill Instructors are dicks, remember everything they do is for a reason. To make you a Marine.

Good luck and Semper Fi!

A couple of good reads to help in your decision:

-Spare parts

-into the crucible


I can’t say enough positive things about the Corps. Even General Tommy Franks , when addressing the Marines in Iraq, said that if he had a son that he would want him to be a marine! The difference between the Corps. and the rest if the services is culture. The Marine Corps. has such a deep tradition and a unique culture. Being the smallest service in the bunch, they have to do everything better just to survive. And I can tell ya, I’m not bashing the other services, but as a general rule Marines are much more disciplined.


If your looking for a specific technical skill, another branch might just be better for you. Here’s why. When you enlist in the Marines, you are enlisting to be a Marine first and foremost. In the Corps., every Marine is a rifleman. Period. Cooks, all officers, even the admin guys. Marines are a tight bunch, I think this is due to the shared experience of all.

I work in the fire service, and I can always tell who was a marine just by working with them. There just a little bit tighter, more disciplined, and always acclomplish the mission at hand. I believe the Marines produce great leaders, and those leadership skills transfer into the civillian world no matter what civillian area.

Good luck with your decision, I can’t speak highly enough about the corps.

Semper Fi!

Also, if you listen to servicemen and women talk, you’ll notice a differance.

You join the Army, but you become a Marine!