I can't really say that I am the best source, but I thought I'd give you some information based on my research and answers I have recieved from posts to this forum. I'm sure someone out there will correct me and/or back me up :-).
Posted By OCSProspect on 21 Jan 2012 10:16 PM
In terms of the eligibility requirement I had a 1270 on my SAT (in 2006), graduated from a state college with a degree in Economics. My GPA was a 3.55 (within the Econ Department it was 3.8+).
It is my understanding that SAT scores are only used to set a minimum for applicants; that is, it doesn't matter how good your scores are as long as you meet the minimum. I actually think I read somewhere that the panel doesn't even see your SAT scores(?), but maybe I'm thinking only of the officers who conduct the OCS interview. I had a GPA of 3.5 and I was told that was average -- so I will pass that onto you by saying that your GPA is average. I'm in your shoes, so it's just something we have to accept :-). That being said, I recieved a BS in Electrical Engineering and a BS in Mathematics, and was told that I would be competitive given that I have a degree in Electrical Engineering (I actually don't recall anyone saying anything about the fact that I earned two degrees). It is my understanding that Engineering degrees (among other technical degrees) tend to be "more competitive" than non-technical degrees (i.e. Economics), but that shouldn't be a cause for concern for you... read below.
Since graduating in 2010 I have completed 2 AmeriCorps programs (1 part-time state, 1 full-time VISTA) and am currently serving as the VISTA Leader for a third project (for those not familiar, AmeriCorps is a National Service program administered by the federal goverment). In about 7 months I will be awarded the Presidential Call to Service Award for 4000+ hours of lifetime volunteer and community service work. Other than my National Service positions, my other work experience was typical working through college employment (retail, on-campus, etc).
This is where I think you will be really competitve and possibly even standout -- 4000+ hours of volunteer and community service, wow! That's probably 10 times more volunteer work than I have. That will definitely give you "good leadership potential" status.
I am also a member of my county's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT, next time there is a tornado or something look for us in the green hard hats) and am working on completing my Professional Development Series certificate through FEMA's Emergency Management Institute.
I'm sure this will help, so make sure to put it on your resume and somehow draw attention to it -- you will somehow want to mention it during your interview. (Also, if you've had any leadership postions as a member of CERT or any volunteer work for that matter, then be sure to put it in your narrative.)
I have also currently been looking into and have emailed someone about volunteering with our local Coast Guard Auxiliary. I figure this would be a great way to get some insight on some of the daily operations as well as to network and possibly get a Coastie's recommendation. Would it be advantageous for an OCS applicant to have Auxiliary experience? I plan on doing it either way, I am just wondering.
I can't say from experience, but I think this would be a great idea if you have the opporunity. Us desert and mountain folk who live 3 hours from the nearest CG station don't have those opportunities, so that may help you stand out.
There are two blemishes that I am currently worried about.
1) When I was 17 I was charged with a misdemeanor drug and paraphernalia charge (marijuana). I was never convicted of anything, instead I was put into a diversion program where I had to complete these classes and in turn stay out of trouble for the following year. After a year the charges were dropped and my record was wiped clean (I know for a fact that nothing in the state comes up and I was able to pass a FBI fingerprint background check for the AmeriCorps; however I know it can still be find, I have worked at a nonprofit getting former inmates jobs for the past couple years, if anyone on this board knows the ins and outs of background checking it is I
) Even with this being the case, it would still be something that I would disclose to both a recruiter and the panel. And to be honest, in a way it is something I am glad that happened. Going through that process and seeing how it effected my ability to get into college (which was a hassle) and missing out on my first job opportunity due to it; it served as a wake up /its time to grow up call right before leaving high school. That maturity helped steer me clear of a lot of the other non-sense some of my college buddies got themselves into. That sort of behavior was not what defined me then, and is certainly not something that I am involved with now.
As long as you can pass a background check, then I don't think this would be a deal breaker. That being said, I really have no idea and you should most definitely contact a recruiter as they will know. Also, when you call them I recommend going through their pre-application checklist (some simple yes/no questions to make sure you are eligible to serve in the military) as it may save you many hours of time researching. I had a close call because when I first was interested in the CG I spent many hours researching and trying to figure out which area of the CG I really wanted to pursue, then I contacted a recruiter only to discover that insect allergies are an automatic DQ -- luckilly, I was tested for a bee allergy after I found this out and it came back negative. But it was close call :-).
2) Right now my credit is kind of shot. There was this huge fiasco made with getting some education award benefits paid, and while it was not my fault it still hurt what was otherwise a good credit score (between a 750-800). The University is currently working with me to get that cleaned up and they assure me it shouldn't be an issue, but you never know. Regardless of that outcome, that issue will be resolved before I begin the application process as well as paying off some very minor credit card debt that I have(its now under 1k and will be paid off in the next few months). Other than that my only other debt will consist of about 14-15k in student loans.
I think your income-to-debt ratio needs to be under "30" (I think this is what my recruiter told me), so as long as you meet that (or come close) then you should be good to go. 14-15k student loans is nothing -- I have $50k! (Plus a vehicle loan of $25k, and I think I am right at 30 for income-to-debt ratio.)
As for the rest of your post, I will leave that to someone else with actual CG experience to comment on :-). Based on your achievements and career interests, it sounds like the CG will have what you are looking for as long as you are very, very patient :-).
My final advice... contact a recruiter to get the ball rolling -- it is never too early to start (as I am figuring out). Also, get all the paperwork into your recruiter for MEPS and go to MEPS as soon as possible. (Just my experience.) Good Luck!