What is it Like to Join the Marine Corps?

Follow me along on my journey in becoming a Marine


Photo by SSgt Andrew Mocarski

Jamaine Bennett adds his picture to the wall under the Poolee section. Eventually he will have a picture under the Marines section

Savana Moore, Staff Writer

If you’re a high school student, chances are you have seen a military recruiter in your school or at school events trying to get people to join. It can be daunting for a young person to speak to military recruiters, seeing as it is such a big life decision on the line. If you are wanting to speak to a recruiter but are too scared, take a look at some of my personal experiences in doing so. 

I never really thought much about joining the military, especially after being by my husband’s side through his time as a Marine recruit. But, after I looked into it and got more information, I realized that it could actually be a really great opportunity for myself and my future, and it would give me the motivation to become a better version of myself. 

Everyone’s experience in joining the military is different. In my case, the first thing I did was take the ASVAB. The ASVAB, or the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, is a test that you have to take in order to determine which jobs you will be able to qualify for in the military. It was being offered at the time here at West, so I signed up for it. The minimum score to join as of now is 31 for each branch except for the Coast Guard, which is 40. It is a multi-section timed test, so I studied for about a week before taking it. A few weeks later I got my scores back and I was ecstatic to see that I got a 92 overall, which was good because it gave me a very wide range of job options.

An ASVAB results sheet sits on a desk (Photo by Savana Moore)

After I took the ASVAB and decided that I definitely wanted to commit myself to this, I did some research online. I looked at a number of things to decide which branch would be best for me; physical standards, job opportunities, base locations, education opportunities, veterans’ experiences, and even uniforms. 

At first, I wanted to go with the physically easiest branch, which I found to be the Air Force. So, I went on their website and gave my information to have the recruiter for my area contact me. After a few days I received a text from SSgt Bendas, and he told me that I would have to wait to start my process based on my graduation date and the time I wanted to go to boot camp. I still stayed in contact with him though, and I asked him all the questions I had about joining the Air Force. I knew I wanted a job in journalism or photography, but with the Air Force and the way their job selection works, I was told it wasn’t very likely that I would get the job that I wanted. That’s when I started looking into other branches. 

As I was looking, I also realized that I wanted to have more pride in my career and not just do it because it’s the easiest option. I started thinking about being a Marine. I already had a good relationship with the recruiter for my area due to my husband joining, so I told him that I was interested in becoming a Marine. We set up a meeting here at school and we went over screening questions as well as the benefits and opportunities offered by the Marine Corps. I was asked at the end of the meeting if I wanted to accept the challenge and say yes to becoming a Marine. And I did. 

To get the process going I needed some of my medical records released, so I went through the process of figuring that out. The Marine Corps also has strict height and weight standards, as well as physical fitness standards. So while I wait on my medical records to be released, I am working hard to meet those standards. Once I do I will go to the recruiting office, which for our district is located in Wilmington, and I will be able to sign more paperwork before going to MEPS.

In order to swear into the United States Marine Corps or any branch of the military, you have to go to MEPS. MEPS is the Military Entrance Processing Station, and for NC, it is located in Raleigh. Your recruiter takes you up to MEPS, and due to the distance, you are provided with a hotel room for the night. You go through 

An example of what goes on during Poole functions. Future Marines do PT at the beach (Photo by SSgt Andrew Mocarski)

a number of group physical screening tests, in which you do have to strip down to your underwear. However, privacy is given, especially for women. You will take the ASVAB and choose your MOS. A MOS is your military occupational specialty, which is basically your job. After you go through all of these tests, you will then swear in. MEPS can be a long process, but as long as you do what you are told it will be fine. 

After you complete the initial process of joining, you will be given your boot camp ship date and you can take a breath and relax a bit. But, the work is just getting started. You will be put into the Delayed Entry Program as a Poolee, and there will be a Saturday each month taken for “Poole functions.” Here, you will meet with other Poolees and prepare to become United States Marines. These functions will happen each month until you ship out to boot camp. 

Your ship date will be on a Tuesday, but you will have to go to the office the day before. You and your family will wait for a bit while the recruiters do their thing. Eventually, you can either say goodbye at the office, or your family can follow you as you go to MEPS for the final time. They will watch you swear in and then say goodbye to you for the next 13 weeks. After you are done at MEPS, you will go into your hotel where you will be under the care of military officials until the next day. As a marine recruit, you will take a bus from Raleigh all the way down to Parris Island, SC. Once you get there and step off of that bus onto the yellow footprints, you have officially taken the first step toward becoming a United States Marine.