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FAQs on OFFICER PROGRAMS

 

I want to apply for an officer program, but I don't know anything about it.  Where do I start?

What is PPEP?

What's the difference between PPEP and ACET?

Do I need to be an HS or have a health care background to qualify for the Physician Assistant (PA) program?

Do I need to get my whole application done before I set up an interview?

How do I arrange for an interview?

How long is an interview good for?

What information do I have to provide the interview board members for an OCS interview?

What should I say in my narrative memo?

How can I become a Coast Guard pilot?

What's the difference between a temporary commission and a Reserve commission?

Does it matter which test score (ASVAB, ACT, SAT) I use to qualify for an officer program?

Will the ESO help me with my application?

If I want to apply for more than one program, do I have to prepare more than one application folder?

 

I want to apply for an officer program, but I don't know anything about it.  Where do I start?

Your first step is looking at all the options open to you and deciding which of the programs best suits your desires.  You can get an overview of all the programs elsewhere on this web site.  Look at all the references linked to that information and check the specific qualifications for each program that interests you.

What is PPEP?

PPEP is the Pre-commissioning Program for Enlisted Personnel.  It's essentially a degree-completion program plus OCS.  At the moment, applications are not being accepted for PPEP.

What's the difference between PPEP and ACET?

PPEP is a college-completion program plus OCS.  ACET (Advanced Computers and Electronics Technology program) is a degree-completion program without OCS.

Do I need to be an HS or have a health care background to qualify for the Physician Assistant (PA) program?

No.  The program is open to all enlisted personnel who meet the program's requirements.

Do I need to get my whole application done before I set up an interview?

While it's not a requirement that you have your whole application completed when you go for your interview, for a number of reasons it's a good idea to have most of it done.

First, you have to provide the officers who sit on your interview board with a number of the items that make up your application.

Second, the report of your interview prepared by the board is only good for two years.  So that it can be used for as long as possible, it's a good idea to get your interview done as close to your submission deadline as possible.

Third, going through the process of completing your application will likely prompt a lot of soul-searching which will help you answer the questions the interview board officers put to you. 

How do I arrange for an interview?

If you're stationed in the vicinity of Sector Delaware Bay, CGAS Atlantic City, or TraCen Cape May follow the procedures laid out on "The Interview" page of this web site.  This entails identifying a convenient date and location for the interview and using the on-line interview registration application.

NOTE: interviews at these three commands are conducted on quarterly rotation.  That is, if you want to have your interview at TraCen Cape May, it will have to be in October, January, April, or July.  If you want it in any other month, it will be conducted at one of the other two commands.

If you're not near one of these commands, contact your ESO or administration office.  Some units hold interviews on a set schedule, while others arrange them  when applicants ask for them.  You should schedule your interview as close to the application submission deadline as possible.

When selecting a date, make sure you take into account the deadline for submitting your application to the local recruiting office, the time it will take the interview board to complete its report, and the time it will take your ESO/administration office to have your application delivered to the local recruiting office.  Check with your ESO/administration office to find out what date they need it to ensure timely delivery.  The deadlines are published every year on Coast Guard Recruiting Command's web site.

DO NOT ask for an interview less than a month before an application deadline asking for an interview.  Because of officers' different schedules, it is often difficult for whomever sets them up to find three officers who fit all the requirements of your program and who have the time.  This is truer the less warning you give the person who sets up the interview.

How long is an interview good for?

The report of your interview can be used for two years from the date of the interview board members' signatures.

What information do I have to provide the interview board members for an OCS interview?

Contrary to popular belief, you do not provide interview board members with the complete contents of your application folder. Under the heading “The Responsibilities of the Interview Board Members”, guidelines from the Coast Guard Recruiting Command state that “… interview board members receive ONLY the same items in an application package that a selection panel member receives. This excludes medical, legal, or security checks and other qualification information. Interview board members should conduct their assessments from the information contained in the applicant’s narrative, transcripts, and letters of reference and/or command endorsement, as well as from the information obtained from the applicant during the interview.” (emphasis in original)

So what, exactly, should you provide? Here’s the list:

  • résumé,

  • narrative memo,

  • CO endorsement,

  • up to two letters of recommendation,

  • college transcripts (if applicable),

  • CLEP test results (if applicable),

  • proof you've satisfied the math requirement,

  • copy of each degree you've received (if applicable),

  • proof of your qualifying SAT/ACT/ASVAB/AFCT score,

  • up to five personal awards, and

  • Employee Review summary (from DirectAccess).

For civilians, the list is slightly different.  Ask your recruiter for a list of items you must provide.

What should I say in my narrative memo?

Your narrative memo is something like the cover letter a civilian job applicant sends with his/her résumé.  This is your only way to directly address the members of the selection board.  Its purpose is to:

  • explain why you're applying for the program,

  • convince the members of the interview and selection boards to look at the rest of your application,

  • call attention to elements of your background that are relevant to the program you're applying for, and

  • provide or refer to information that might not be covered in the rest of your application but which is important to those deciding if you should be a Coast Guard officer.

For more details, go to "The Narrative Memo" page of this web site.

How can I become a Coast Guard pilot?

There are only a couple of ways for enlisted personnel to become a Coast Guard pilot.  One is to get selected for OCS and then apply and get selected for flight school.  The other is to get selected for the AVCAD program.

What's the difference between a temporary commission and a Reserve commission?

Generally, enlisted personnel who don't have a bachelor's degree receive a temporary commission when they graduate from OCS.  This means that if they fail as an officer by getting passed over twice for promotion they revert back to their last enlisted rate.

Reserve commissions are for enlisted personnel who have bachelor's degrees and don't have the required time-in-service.  An SA right out of boot camp can apply for a Reserve commission through OCS if she's got a bachelor's degree.  If someone with a Reserve commission gets passed over twice for promotion, s/he is dismissed from the Coast Guard.

For more information, go to the "Differences Between Officers and Enlisted personnel Career Paths" page of this web site.

Does it matter which test score (ASVAB, ACT, SAT) I use to qualify for an officer program?

Neither the members of the interview board nor the selection board will ever see your test scores. Those scores are purely a screening device. If you have the required minimum score (listed in the Personnel Manual), your application goes to the selection board. If it doesn't, you don't get considered.

That being the case, a high ASVAB score works just as well as a high SAT or ACT score – or a barely passing SAT or ASVAB score, for that matter. Those who set the qualification requirements wouldn't accept scores from all three tests if they considered one more indicative of your ability than the others.

Will the ESO help me with my application?

The short answer is most likely no.

All the information you need to apply for a position as a Coast Guard officer is available through many sources, including this web site and the downloadable Officer Program Application Preparation Handbook.  Officers are expected to be able to read and interpret manuals, fill out forms, and make appointments for physicals on their own.

This doesn't mean your ESO won't answer questions.

What it does mean is that he/she won't edit your narrative memo, check to see if you have all the documents you're supposed to have, if they're in the right order, etc.  The list of what you're supposed to provide in the application is on the check-off sheets and elsewhere on this web site.  And your memo is supposed to contain your words.  The guidelines also provided on this web site should give you all kinds of ideas for what to say in your memo.

The ESO's job, with respect to officer program applications, is extremely limited and boils down to setting up interview boards and sending your application to CGRC so that it arrives on time.

If I want to apply for more than one program, do I have to prepare more than one application folder?

The short answer is "yes".  Since the selection boards may be scheduled to meet at the same time and since applications for the various programs are reviewed by different people, you must submit a separate application folder for each program you want to apply for.

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Last Modified 10/21/2014
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