The MECEP candidates also found that the road to becoming an officer means using a varied style of leadership.
"You can't motivate candidates the way you do enlisted," said Candidate Juan Lightfoot, a student from the University of Washington, who is once again a sergeant until he completes college and is commissioned. "When you're dealing with enlisted Marines, you kind of have to get them to fear you, but with candidates you can't do that. You have to encourage them. That was the hard part ... carrying over my enlisted characteristics."
For some of the Marines who had already worn enlisted stripes, OCS didn't hold a candle to boot camp in certain areas.
"Boot camp was a mental challenge that OCS could never compare to," said Lightfoot, who has spent five years in the enlisted ranks.
While it may be easy for recruits to settle into a routine at recruit training, Schrage said the candidates didn't have that luxury.
"At boot camp you're given time to do everything; you have a set schedule," said Schrage. "Here there's a set schedule, but things change and you have to work around them."
Another difference noticed by the Marines who traveled to OCS via MECEP was the physical training.
"We had PT every day at boot camp, but here it isn't as often, but it's more intense," said Schrage. "Here, everything is more on an individual level."
Most would think the prior enlisted Marines would stand out among the candidates, but that's not the case.
"At the beginning you can tell who's MECEP or ROTC, but after about two weeks, you can't tell the difference anymore," said Yarbrough. "They all look and act the same from that point on."
For the Marines who conduct the training at both recruit training and OCS, there is a difference in how they feel about their jobs.
"The amount of job satisfaction you get training potential Marines at OCS compared to boot camp is minimal," said GySgt. Douglas L. Smith, AMOI at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., who came to Quantico for the summer to serve as a Platoon Sergeant for 3rd Platoon, "G" Co. "You take recruits who literally act like they don't know their left from right and three months later, you scream something out and they're flying. At recruit training, we get to see the end product and here we don't."