Army Officer: Officer Candidate School Overview

In OCS, college graduates and Soldiers with degrees get the opportunity to challenge themselves and become officers. Learn about the Officer Candidate School here.

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RICKY JONES I woke up one day, just sayin' you know, I'm gonna join the United States Army, to make life better for my family. After bein' in the Army for eight and half years, I knew to commission, and become an officer, I knew that that would be a challenge. But if you let go who you are, you might become who you 'ought to be. And you know I’m always up for a challenge. OCS stands for Officer Candidate School. It's a twelve week course, where the end goal is a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army.

CPT DANIEL COLSON The majority of the candidates that we get, they're called College Option so, they're, they're out of college they've already graduated college.

CPT ERIC WILLIAMS If you're a College Option you will go to basic training. That's a nine week course and it's just to get everybody on par, to teach you to be a soldier. And then there's the in-service route where a soldier who's currently enlisted could apply and go through a board, to be selected to OCS.

CPT DANIEL COLSON It's very nice to have that balance between prior enlisted, as well as the College Option, because that prior enlisted can bring the Army with them and help us as instructors, to kinda, show them what the Army is about. You come back to this phase and it's like being in basic training all over again.

RICKY JONES It was very intense, it was very - like a couple of days where I wanted to back off and say, you know what, I'm done with this. But as long as, as long as you keep your eye on the goal and the end factor, you'll be fine.

CPT ERIC WILLIAMS OCS is broken down by three phases. Your six weeks is the basic phase. PT events and a classroom academic portion.

RICKY JONES Like it's constantly going every day. You start the classroom portion about zero five thirty and you go all the way to eighteen hundred. But what they do is they just immerse you – like you’re drowning into so much training.

CPT DANIEL COLSON We make them take exam after exam, really test their intellect. We give 'em confusing information just to see what decisions that they're gonna be making and get 'um making those decisions on their own. Phase two's the intermediate phase. What they'll do is they'll do is they'll change from a black ascot to a blue ascot. And then that very next minute, they'll actually go back around stage and this is where they actually find their branch. Just sinks in that, hey, I'm in the Army, this is gonna be my job from now on. You see 'um just, uh, really take off from there.

RICKY JONES So then you're considered intermediate officer candidate. At that point you're getting ready to go to the field exercises.

CPT DANIEL COLSON When you go to the field we're focusing more on them as group. Get them to come together as a squad develop SOP – which is standard operating procedures. They change one hundred percent, just right coming out of the field. They're more confident. They know what they know now.

RICKY JONES And then at that point, they make a decision across the company, if you're eligible to go to the white phase. And once you make it to white phase, it's like a breath of air – it's like, oh my goodness. They start addressing you as a second lieutenant. They salute you every day.When you walk in the rooms, they call the rooms to attention. You start feelin' the rewards that you’ve earned.

CPT ERIC WILLIAMS During that phase they do a lot of mentorship. They have opportunities to, kind of, learn from senior leaders what it means to be an officer.

RICKY JONES To be a good leader – if you break a soldier down, you always build them up. It's ok to make a mistake, but take that mistake that you made and put it in a tube bag and build from that. Be able to adjust at any moment and be flexible. That's the main point that we want, we want that agile, adaptive leadership.

CPT DANIEL COLSON By the time you leave here, you will be able to stand up in front of soldiers and say, "Follow me."

CPT ERIC WILLIAMS We're looking for candidates that have the ability to think through a problem set and then make a decision and execute it with confidence. In order to apply to OCS you have to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and you have to be between the ages of eighteen and thirty.

RICKY JONES Mind you I started this process three years ago because three and a half years ago I didn’t have my degrees. I had to come here with my mind set. I had to come here hungry. I had to come here knowing that I would not leave here without being a second lieutenant.

CPT DANIEL COLSON It just all culminates to that graduation. You just see that pride in them when they graduate – when they walk across that stage. They're ready to take that leadership role and it's definitely an exciting thing to see.

RICKY JONES My uncle, he was like that father figure to me. He's a, gonna give me my first salute. My name is Ricky Jones. I’m currently a second lieutenant in the United States Army.