The outlook for enlisted Marines looking to earn an officer commission are promising in 2016. But even with the number of available slots on the rise, Marines need to take steps to stand out among the competition.

Marines applying for the Enlisted Commissioning or Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education programs will face a Though selection rates for ECP and MECEP are high, they are not guaranteed. A board comprised of 11 officers who reviews every application to select only the most competitive candidates. those most likely to make the grade.

Corps officials want to commission 150 prior-enlisted Marines in fiscal year 2016, which is almost a 50 percent increase from the number of mustangs commissioned in 2013.

The selection board looks at a variety of factors, from command comments and academic ability to job performance and potential. Lt. Col. Matthew Kessler, head of Marine Corps Recruiting Command's officer programs at Marine Corps Recruiting Command, oversees sits over theis process.

Here are eight things that he ways he says can help Marines should do to improve their chances of making He provided the following tips to help you make the cut.

1. Do your homework. MRCR's websiteThe Marine Corps Recruiting command website ( is a great place to start. It lays out examples of everything Marines will need to include in their application package. you will need.

The service's enlisted-to-officer programs will select more Marines this year than in the recent past, but preparation is key. Here, Lance Cpl. Justin L. Morrow, a fire direction controlman with Echo Battery, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, reads a novel from the commandant's reading list in 2013.

Photo Credit: Sgt. Paul Robbins/Marine Corps

Kessler also recommends speaking with a Also speak with your career planner who as they can He will be able to provide key guidance throughout the application process.

2. Get fit. Officer Candidates School is very rigorous, and a strong physical fitness test is crucial PFT will only carry Marines you so far. The average selectee has (though it is worth noting the average selectee had a 279 PFT score, and peak fitness is a must at which comes in handy at OCS where Marines you will be carrying a pack, hitting the obstacle course, and doing other training many haven't doing things you may not have done since boot camp.

Corps officials want to commission 150 prior-enlisted Marines in fiscal year 2016, which is almost a 50 percent increase from the number of mustangs commissioned in 2013.

Photo Credit: Sgt. Kuande L. Hall/Marine Corps

3. Get experience. Officers are go-getters, not ones to meet the bare minimum. Deployments are a great way to show your mettle.

Board members will also look at billets Marines you have filled, and ways by which they've collateral duties in which you helped their your unit or other Marines. Make sure all personal awards and decorations are documented.

A member of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepares for a patrol during a desert survival and tactics course in Djibouti. Corps officials recommend that enlisted Marines considering becoming an officer should highlight their deployments when applying.

Photo Credit: Sgt. Steve Lopez/Marine Corps

4. Get letters of recommendation. from current and former leaders. The cComments from current or former leaders about a Marine's of senior Marines that speak to your leadership carry significant clout. potential carry significant weight. They see things that often are not evident when looking at a Marine on paper Marine. Be sure to get their endorsements.

5. Hit the books. The board wants to make sure prospective officers you can able to handle the academic workload could face in their careers. Take prep tests to get your college entrance examination scores up. Make sure you have a strong showing on your college transcripts for the courses you have taken.

Kessler also recommends getting some tutoring if needed. Selectees in recent years averaged 1130 on the SAT, 24 on the ACT, 81 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test AFQT, and carried a 3.3 grade-point average.

6. Get involved in your community. Community service always helps. Officials are looking at the whole package. They want officers who contribute to their neighborhood and society. Volunteer work and other community service speaks to leadership potential. Make sure this is documented in the application.

Cpl. Gedeon Brenovil, a civil affairs specialist assigned to 4th Civil Affairs Group, talks to a kid at an orphanage in Leogane, Haiti, during Operation Continuing Promise in September. Enlisted-to-officer selection boards look for Marines who have taken on deployments and billets that help their units and the service.

Photo Credit: Sgt. James Skelton/Marine Corps

7. Mistakes are OK.Don't let a mistake keep you back. Though you may have come in with a waiver or gotten into trouble early in your career or gotten a waiver to enter the service(depending on the severity), the board does not have a zero-defect mentality, Kessler said.

A Marine who is able to learn from and move past such an event shows resiliency, which is a characteristic sought in future leaders.

8. Once selected, get a mentor. A company grade officer will be able to assist by prepping you for the physical and mental demands you can expect at OCS, The Basic School, and life as a Marine officer.

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