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  • Confused about OCS vs Specialist

    I'm hoping someone can clear this up for me, my research seems to just be confusing me more.

    It looks like in order to enlist at the E-4 Specialist rank you must have completed a Bachelors Degree. But in order to qualify for OCS you only need 90 credits, not necessarily the degree. Is this correct?

    I have not yet enlisted and I'm trying to decide if I just enlist now, can I still enter as a Specialist if I finish my degree before I ship to Basic, or should I just wait to finish up the degree before enlisting, enter as a Specialist and then take on OCS? I plan on completing my BA this summer. I'd like to ship out to Basic in the fall if possible, but will wait if it means a higher pay-grade and a better chance of getting in to OCS.

  • #2
    Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

    In some states in the NG you only need 60 credits to qualify for OCS, 90 for a commission and then you would need to complete your degree to be eigible to be promoted to Captain someday.

    I have not yet completed my degree so I enlisted as an E3 (PFC), begin traditional OCS in my state in May and will end up commissioning and completing my degree around the same time next year. If you are interested in accelerated OCS (8 weeks long) that may have different requirements, so I cannot speculate on that program, but I'm sure someone will chime in.

    If you complete you degree first, it would be less things to juggle during OCS and as an E4 it is a little more pay. I chose to enlist right away as I was pushing the age cut off at the time.

    Good Luck!

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    • #3
      Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

      Yes, if you complete your BS fore you ship off to basic you will be promoted to E4.

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      • #4
        Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

        I would caution you on this line of thinking. Make your decisions based on your long-term plan for success, even if that requires a short-term sacrifice. Whether you pursue a traditional enlistment or an OCS enlistment, make that decision based on your own goals and priorities, and not your initial pay grade. I've seen way too many sharp Soldiers ruined by OCS, because they pursued OCS for all the wrong reasons.

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        • #5
          Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

          Thanks everyone. Honestly at this point I'm not 100% that I want to pursue OCS, but I would like to enter as a Specialist if possible. I think the cut off is 35 so that would give me a year to get familiar with the ARMY, with the Guard and decide from there which route I want to go.

          If I enlist before I complete my degree, but complete my degree before shipping to Basic, would I still enlist as a Specialist?

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          • #6
            Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

            A 2LT without the 4 years enlisted background earns $474 a month in drill pay compared to $259 a month for a Specialist. To most, it is not about the money but if you have the education, experience, and leadership potential and drive to lead soldiers, then there is nothing wrong with giving OCS a shot. The point is that branching Medical Service Corps will not be a guarantee pursuing the OCS route. But do not sell yourself short because many become officers without an enlisted exposure to the military.

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            • #7
              Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

              Originally posted by Solrider View Post

              If I enlist before I complete my degree, but complete my degree before shipping to Basic, would I still enlist as a Specialist?
              I heard that as long as you can get that information prior to shipping, you can ship at the appropriate grade but you will need to clarify that with your recruiter.

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              • #8
                Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

                Thanks for the replies everyone! You've helped make things a bit more clear. Now I need to hunt down a recruiter to talk to.

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                • #9
                  Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

                  Originally posted by fmcityslicker View Post
                  A 2LT without the 4 years enlisted background earns $474 a month in drill pay compared to $259 a month for a Specialist. To most, it is not about the money but if you have the education, experience, and leadership potential and drive to lead soldiers, then there is nothing wrong with giving OCS a shot. The point is that branching Medical Service Corps will not be a guarantee pursuing the OCS route. But do not sell yourself short because many become officers without an enlisted exposure to the military.
                  That 2LT also pays his own meals, uniforms, and related expenses; and he had to have at least three years of college, working towards four, which incurs both dollar costs and opportunity costs. Since there are far fewer 2LT positions than E1-E4 positions, he likely has a far longer commute to drill. If he's a good 2LT, he's also doing a good bit of military work on his own time.

                  This is not to say that OCS isn't worth it, but that the economic benefit isn't as great as it might first appear. Additionally, if money is someone's primary motivation for OCS, then he has already failed before he has even started.
                  Last edited by matthew.ritchie; January 31st, 2012, 10:29 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

                    I'll also add that in the past year I've had at least 4 soldiers get discharged because they dropped out of OCS and they had no MOS to fall back on because they enlisted as OCS option. Going to OCS after serving a couple years will give you a better understanding of how the army/guard works and you'll actually be able to see the role of officers in a unit.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

                      Originally posted by matthew.ritchie View Post
                      That 2LT also pays his own meals, uniforms, and related expenses; and he had to have at least three years of college, working towards four, which incurs both dollar costs and opportunity costs. Since there are far fewer 2LT positions than E1-E4 positions, he likely has a far longer commute to drill. If he's a good 2LT, he's also doing a good bit of military work on his own time.

                      This is not to say that OCS isn't worth it, but that the economic benefit isn't as great as it might first appear. Additionally, if money is someone's primary motivation for OCS, then he has already failed before he has even started.
                      Originally posted by RSP NCO View Post
                      I'll also add that in the past year I've had at least 4 soldiers get discharged because they dropped out of OCS and they had no MOS to fall back on because they enlisted as OCS option. Going to OCS after serving a couple years will give you a better understanding of how the army/guard works and you'll actually be able to see the role of officers in a unit.
                      I understand that you both think going the enlisted route is a better idea in which it may be but for both of your examples, I have witnessed the other side as well in which there were paramount successes.

                      There is no scenario/situation fits all category but just wanted to let the OP know there are other options and a higher path if qualified and motivated. Believe me, before I went to the dark side, I justified and rationalized on the purpose on remaining enlisted. What I have accomplished now through years of hard work; was worth the sacrifice. Yes, I am a mustang but I do not guage the officer on prior enlisted vs no enlisted experience because I have seen pros and cons in both but as a young trooper was conditioned to believe that the officer with an enlisted track was a much better officer. Not true.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

                        Originally posted by RSP NCO View Post
                        I'll also add that in the past year I've had at least 4 soldiers get discharged because they dropped out of OCS and they had no MOS to fall back on because they enlisted as OCS option. Going to OCS after serving a couple years will give you a better understanding of how the army/guard works and you'll actually be able to see the role of officers in a unit.
                        Perhaps that's not a bad thing?

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                        • #13
                          Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

                          Originally posted by Polo08816 View Post
                          Perhaps that's not a bad thing?
                          Interesting observation haha. I met some specialists that enlisted to that rank due to their degrees and I asked them why did they not pursue the officer route and a couple of responses were "I did not know or I was told that its better to go enlisted first before becoming an officer". They have already met people who went the commissioned route after college and they had wished they done the same.

                          The OP is in her 30s so she should be more than mature enough to handle the rank.

                          Again, every case is different but I think it is better to provide their full options and then let them decide. And personally, I suggest for qualified individuals to pursue the path that can return the best dividends.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

                            I'm really glad I found this thread. I am a Florida native who moved up to Boston, Ma after college for a job. Well- that job wasn't challenging me enough- and I am not liking the winters up here in New England.
                            I have always wanted to serve, so I applied for OCS with the MA NG. I was accepted, but not for the accelerated (federal) program for OCS or the full 57 days after BCT. They selected me for the traditional (state) program, which is OCS 1 weekend a month for 18 months. I don't like the thought of not commissioning as an Officer until 2 years- especially in a state where I might not want to live in forever (brrrrrr). I have heard how easy it is to get IST, but not as easy for Officers?? This is kinda swaying my decision to go 09S and instead try and get my dream MOS as 35F-- AND I called around some offices down in Florida (where I am from) and what do you know- they have 35 F slots open as long as I pass the DLAB. If I pushed myself the hardest either way and tried for NCO in those 18 mo-2 years- then why not just go enlisted now instead of OCS? My BCT/AIT would be around the same training time and I believe I would be much more prepared to go into OCS later on.

                            Sorry, this was a Lengthy explanation for where this question is coming from- but would I encounter any deterrence if I were to apply for OCS right after AIT?

                            Ever encountered any Officers who regretted not going to AIT?

                            I know I will be going in as an E-4 Specialist either way, but would I have to wait for an OCS slot to open in the future if I don't go now?

                            Thanks for your input guys- really helps.
                            "I would rather walk to success rather than run to failure"- saw this quote on a similar post. Really stuck out

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                            • #15
                              Re: Confused about OCS vs Specialist

                              You seem really uncertain about whether or not you want to commission. If your dream is 35F, just enlist for a while and decide later if you want to try to go to OCS. Unless you're up against the age limit or something, you don't come off as being certain that you want to lead soldiers as an officer.

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