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WHAT SHOULD I STUDY IN COLLEGE?

 

 
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Lt. Grose,  
Hello, my name is Kevin Lentz.  I am 17 years of age and a senior in high school.  I am from a small town of about 18,000 people in southern Mississippi and have the largest desire to become a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps.  I was most impressed by your collection of Marine text and commitment to respond to all emails, so i decided to write and ask a few questions.
To begin with, I am hunting for commissioning programs.  I have already applied for NROTC Scholarship and to the Naval Academy, but the most important decision I've made so far was to enter the Delayed Entry Program for USMC Reserves.  I'm on a split program that will return me to civilian life in time to go to college.  If the scholarships or the academy don't come through, I'll try Platoon Leaders Class in the summers while a Reservist, or attend a college with NROTC and try the college program there.
 
I know I want to be a Marine Corps officer, but my biggest concern is what college major I should choose.  From your experience, what majors prepare Marine Officers the best? Does it really matter what a canidate majors in?  What did you major in?  I'm very interested in History and Political Science, and I've also looked into Civil Engineering, but I'm not sure if I want to persue a technical career.  I've been told that technical careers were the best for the Navy, and Air Force, but what about the Marines?
If you could please respond, I would greatly appreciate it.
 
Sincerely,
 
Kevin T. Lentz

 



Thank you for your email and your interest in my advice. Your letter shows commitment, thought, and intelligence.

My thoughts about college and what to major in falls into two categories. What you want and what the Marine Corps wants. To tell you the truth, the Marine Corps does not really care what you major in. One of the prerequisites for a commission is a college degree and your mission while attending school is to get that diploma. Within limits, the Marine Corps not only has little interest in your choice but does not take into consideration your education when assigning you to any particular job once you are in the Fleet.

Take me for example. My background as an enlisted Marine was a highly technical field as an avionics technician for Harrier aircraft. I went to a full year of training after bootcamp and was taught how to repair over 40 pieces of complicated avionic gear using computers. Additionally, I was trained how to repair the test computer, including rewiring, in the event that it breaks down.

After being accepted to the MECEP, I took a ten-week prep course to get ready for a technical, college-level course load. In college I studied calculus, chemistry, physics, and an endless line of computer programming and engineering classes. I majored in technical communications (an engineering degree) with a focus on computers and web page design. Additionally, I worked on my own projects at home designing web pages, learning HTML, and teaching myself the ins and outs of upgrading my own system. I graduated college with honors and wanted to be a communications officer, thinking I was best qualified for the job.

The communications field and the data processing field had just combined and I was hoping to land a job doing the DP, specifically something to do with computers.

Despite this extensive background, I was assigned as an adjutant with not much chance of changing over since adjutants are hard to come by these days. I petitioned to Corps for reassignment stating the above facts but to no avail.

Now do not get me wrong, I enjoy what I am doing and get a great deal of satisfaction as an adjutant. It fits my personality and work ethic and I consider myself well-suited for the job. But it goes to answer your question about college and supports my view that it does not really matter much to the Corps what you study.

If it does not matter to the Corps, then it falls on what you want. I knew some people who were aware of this fact and concluded that they would take an easy degree and have a good time in college. My take on this was this: How many times in my life am I going to go to college? How many times in my life will the Corps pay for a four year degree and have my GI bill pick up my tuition? With this in mind, I decided that I had better take advantage of this opportunity and make the best of it. So I chose a good degree that, while not being the easiest road, provided me with a solid technical base and was also marketable to a large part of the job market, in and out of the military. It was the best decision I could have made and the knowledge I gained from this degree touched many areas of my military life including the job I am doing now.

So my advice to you is to work for a degree in something you like. As the world gets more and more technical, technical degrees become more valuable. But if you do that, make sure you balance that out with classes in psychology and history. On leadership, history and psychology are invaluable!! Keep yourself well-rounded and learn how to learn. THAT will be your most valuable lesson out of college. As an officer, you had better know how to learn, how to absorb information, process it, and them make an educated decision for action in a short amount of time.

I hope that this answers your questions and if there is anything else I can help you with, just drop me another email.

Semper Fi and God Bless.

-- Lt Grose
 

Email -- jdgrose115@polyglut.net
Web -- http://members.tripod.com/~jdgrose115/

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