Sunday, January 24, 2010

U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 'A' school - Defense Information School overview

Wow, that's a mouthful... For me, finding information about MC 'A' school was a bit frustrating.  I hate walking into a situation blind or even moderately hazy.

I, Glenn Slaughter, aka "Your Hero", will change all that!

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Check out the Defense Information School Course Catalog for a listing of all the courses you can take.  Scroll down to Visual Communications and click the link next to Basic Mass Communication Specialist Course - USN and that will show you an overview of what you'll study as an MC.

Click here to go straight to what you'll learn as an MC. (These links worked as of 11-18-2014)

Here's a list of stuff you may want to know about MC "A" school:

This is what my experience was like.  Yours may be different.  Flexibility is key!
  • I arrived at Ft. Meade, Md Sept. 23, 2009 and I graduate Apr. 15, 2010.  That's almost 7 months.  This is the longest "A" School in the Navy. (unless the Nukes beat us)
  • 99.9% of the people I met, from the second I arrived, were nice.  Good vibes are here!   
  • Every branch is here! I've saluted Army, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.  Learn the ranks!
  • I started out sharing a room with 3 others, and a head (bathroom) with 15 others.  From there I shared a room with 1 other, then finally got my own room with its own head.  (the student leader or section leaders get these)  After a couple of weeks, everyone had a room with a refrigerator in it. 
  • PT is only difficult for a few.  We get up at 4:30am Mon, Wed, Fri and do push-ups and sit-ups.  Then we run, outside when it's warm enough, in the gym when it's too cold.  It's too cold right now.  Outside we run to cadence like in "Full Metal Jacket". The hardest part is lack of sleep.
  • The food is good.   The DFAC, or dining facility, serves bfast, lunch, dinner.  There's a sandwich station, salad bar, grill, hot baked foods, desserts, and tvs with ESPN that we can barely hear.
  • Classes aren't too difficult for me, but they've given trouble to a few.  Here's why:
    • They hate a certain aspect, like writing or taking photos.  We do it all here.
    • They have trouble talking to strangers.  We take photos of random people and interview instructors we've never met before.
    • They can't handle the military side of life here.  For example, being on time to everything.
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    The best way to excel here is to have a good attitude.  This is relatively safe, structured learning environment designed to prepare recent boot camp grads for the real deal: THE FLEET.  Be prepared to work on your weak points.

    For example, I can be on time but I'm not great at having my uniform 100%.

    I realized this the first day when I got called out by a 1st class petty officer for having my sleeves rolled up incorrectly.  I didn't get upset, I just realized I had to double and triple check myself every day until I got better at looking squared away.

     It helps me to know I'm on display every day.  As the student leader I stand in front of the detachment, which averages 60 souls based on class levels, and give briefs twice a day.  You can be damn sure someone notices if I'm not A+.

     While I'm on the topic, the structure of the student body is:



    Three sections of about 20 students each.  One section leader and one assistant section leader, themselves students,  head each section.

    Section 2 is pictured on the left during their evening duty muster.

    The section leader and assistant section leader assign specific cleaning tasks to each student.




    That's six section leaders with one student leader acting as the bridge between them and the chain of command that runs the detachment.

    Each section has duty every third weekday and every third weekend.




    Those on duty muster (meet) at certain times to clean the building.  And when it snows, the duty section shovels.  It's fun for about 10 minutes.





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    Alright, the next post is going to jump ahead to present day.  There will be stuff left out that's happened from the time I arrived til now.  Should've started this blog sooner...

    51 comments:

    1. There are now four duty sections, and a student leader and assistant student leader.

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      Replies
      1. Sounds like a bigger job for the section leaders!

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    2. How difficult is it to get this job? I'm in the process of joining the military right now, and this is the job I want to have. I'm open for other options, because as a Navy brat and an Army wife, I know how the military is and they can't guarantee anything... But I'm just curious as to how hard it really is to get the job you want. Also, since the A school for this job is so long, do you ever get to have visitors, or get to leave on the weekends? Ft. Meade is not far from my hometown, so I'm just wondering if I would ever be allowed to have my husband visit during the weekend.

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    3. It's a small rate, which makes it tougher to get, but if you're willing to wait (by entering DEP), then your chances are better. The most important thing is score well on the written/verbal ASVAB stuff, and be firm on wanting MC.

      You'll have liberty every weekend, unless you have duty, which is roughly once a month. So yep, no problem on your husband visiting.

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    4. Im planning to enlist as an MC, and I have a wife and young child. Seeing as how this is a 25 week 'A' School, I wanted to know if my family could be relocated there (Ft. Meade temporarily) off base. I know I'd already be collecting BAH while in Basic, but my understanding is that this length of time in 'A' School qualifies dor family relocation...please advise?

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      1. if they move them now then they wont move them to the command after. I think you should wait till you get to the command

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    5. Yes, your family can come live with you.

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    6. Joseph repost that comment please. Blogger rejected it for some reason.

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    7. What C schools are available for MCS? And what are the chances of getting into one right after A school?

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      1. When I was there, and I believe it's still the same, there was a video, a broadcast (radio), and a photo/multimedia C school. It was common for one or two top-performing A students to go directly to C before entering the fleet.

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    8. how hard would it be to cross rate to MC

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      1. As of four months ago, it was not possible to cross rate to MC. (And the numbers probably haven't changed much since then.) We're at 102% manning levels so right now it's boot camp pipeline. Once things become more balanced, it'll open up, but probably just to strikers at first.

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      2. Check out FY14 Manning under Zone Information:

        http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/enlisted/community/administration/Documents/MC%20SLIDE.pdf

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    9. Nuke "A" is 18 months (+/-), SECF is 10-14 months depending on rate, MT "A & C" school takes 10 months and AECF is 9-10 months. I would say hardly the longest A school in the Navy.

      Just saying.

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    10. Thanks Tucker, yeah we're not even close. My recruiter tried to get me to go nuke after I scored well on the asvab. No way. Lol

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    11. How does liberty work at Ft. Meade? My girlfriend should be getting there pretty soon and I would like to visit her two weeks after school starts as I'm deploying right after. Would she be allowed out of the barracks? And if so to what extent?

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    12. You'll be able to visit her in the afternoons after school, and on weekends. She won't have overnight liberty until several weeks after that.

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    13. Hi Glenn, I know it's been a while since you've taken the ASVAB but I was wondering if you could help me figure out something...I see the MC rate requires a computed (VE+AR) score of 110 to qualify. In my math VE(PC+WK) the max standard score is 62 and for AR it's 30. Which gives a max of 92. Am I computing something wrong?

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    14. I just took a look at the numbers and my eyes are glazing over. The man you want to ask is Master Chief Tom Goering over at Navy Cyberspace. His contact form is a bit tough to find. From the home page click Navy Blog then you'll see a red Contact Me link where you can type your question. The ASVAB computations have changed several times since I took it, but he stays current on that stuff.

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    15. Hey Glenn, I have an Associates in Television Broadcasting and I'm currently full-time employed as a TV news Photojournalist. I want to expand on my career and join the Navy Reserves. Does everything I've read on this blog still apply to reservists? Do you know if reservists get any BAH for family while in this lengthy 'A' School?

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    16. I just asked an MC who used to be in the Reserves, and he says yes you get BAH.

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    17. What I don't f-ing understand about the NAVY is that for something as simple as making videos, taking pictures, and writing, you have to have an f-ing 110 ASVAB score to be looked at. What kind of BS is that? I remember my asvab score was somewhere in the mid 50s and I had a bunch of crappy job offers. I've been making and editing videos, pictures, writing, and designing websites since I was f-ing 10 years old. SELF TAUGHT. What kind of BS are they trying to pull? Do they know the easiest college degree to get is a communications degree? I seriously can't comprehend this nonsense.

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    18. The maximum ASVAB score is 99. The requirement for MC is Verbal (VE) + Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) = 110. I don't know how they came up with the 110 though. If you took the exam and scored poorly on those two portions, there are study guides that can help. I picked up an ASVAB guide in Barnes & Noble and it helped a lot. It tells you exactly what to study for.

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    19. Hey Glenn, I'm an E-5 in the reserves, thinking of cross rating to MC. Do you know if school would be a little different for me, such as a liberty and rooming? Or does rank and prior service not matter much?

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    20. School would be different you you. You'd get your own room for sure. I'm pretty sure you'd be on your own for liberty and PT. There's a former ND2 there now that I can try to put you in touch with if you want.

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      Replies
      1. Yes, fill me in. Definitely wanted more information from ND2. I'm in the same boat.

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      2. Let me see if I can track him down. I'm not sure if he's still at the school. I'll ask the current students. Shoot me a message on the Facebook page and remind me please.

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    21. what is the annual salary for a MC specialist?

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      1. That will depend on your rank. Check out Navy Cyberspace for the latest pay chart. It's run by retired Master Chief Tom Goering and is a great source for current, accurate information.

        https://www.navycs.com/charts/2014-military-pay-chart.html

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    22. Hello,
      I'm graduating with a B.B.A in Marketing. I have been thinking of joining the Navy but really trying to figure out what job I would be good for. Does a bachelors help "pipeline" you into this MC A-school? I do understand that I will first need a 110 score in the aforementioned areas on the ASVAB. Also, please forgive my ignorance and misuse of any military jargon.
      Thanks in advance for your response.

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    23. Hi, your degree will make you a more attractive prospect. The Navy loves enlisted with degrees. That said, you won't know if the job is available until you get to MEPS and talk to a detailer. The recruiter will not know this information. My advice is get an ASVAB study guide, kill the test, and tell the recruiter you only want MC. This should reduce the possibility of them trying to push you towards a undermanned job. Hit me up with any questions.

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    24. Hi Gleen. Unfortunately I was a bit shy of the added scores at 103, so I'm assuming that would disqualify me from MC, right? If I join the Navy, I am positive this would be my top pick for a rate. I wanted to retake the ASVAB since I didn't study prior to taking it, but my recruiter suggested not to since I'd risk scoring in the lower mental group. I have a bachelors in Sociology and minor is Psyc. My cumulative GPA in college was barely a 3.0, but I'm a good writer. I've always excelled at processing information and presenting it to people...

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    25. Hi Glenn. Just wondering if there are any exceptions to having an added score of 110 in AR and VE. I was slightly shy at 103, but I really want this rate if I do enlist in the Navy. I wanted to retake the ASVAB since I never studied but my recruiter suggested that I do not since I would risk scoring in the lower mental group. I have a bachelors in Sociology, minor in Psyc. Learning about people, writing, and taking photographs are all passions of mine. How long were you in DEP prior to going to basic?

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    26. Hello, I'm not sure about exceptions. I'll check on that. If it was the actual ASVAB and not the practice one (at the recruiter's office) then you can retake it after 30 days. Your score should improve after getting a study guide, but keep in mind the test changes, so it is possible your score will go down. I was in DEP for seven months before I shipped out.

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    27. Hello Glenn I am snmc newly struck stationed on a ship over in Hawaii I am married and haven't received orders yet idk if this thread is still looked at but I was wondering if I'll see my wife a lot will I be more shore duty or sea duty and whether or not I should attempt to talk the detailed to sending me to a school on the way to next command

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    28. Hey Glenn was a pac sn just picked up mc and was wondering what life was like as I am married and wanted to know if I'll have a a lot of time with her I know different rates have different hours. Also eligible for the make up exam for e4 advancement is 65% right now so do I have a chance in reality btw stationed on a cg and have had no contact with any mc at all

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    29. Congrats on MC! Your hours on shore will be a normal 8 hours, starting at 7a or 8a. Making E4 for MC is pretty easy. It only gets super low at E6. Hit me up on the I Am Your Eyes Facebook page if you want to talk more. I check those messages pretty often.

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    30. My significant other is going to be going to Ft. Meade for his MC A School. I live about 2-3 hours by plane & am trying to plan my visit(s) up for when he starts to get weekend liberty. It's been pretty hard to figure out the hotel situation nearby. Are there any resources or recommendations you can provide? Otherwise I may just stay in Baltimore & rent a car.

      Also after he does this 170 days of A School, is there a possibility that he will be directly sent off for C School? He's currently a reservist but vying to go active service or active reserve if he can.

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    31. Fort Meade has a brand new hotel called Candlewood Suites. It's right next to the Defense Information School. Their phone number is (410) 674-7700. On April 4 the base is implementing a new visitor access policy. In the past, visitors could just drive on base after a vehicle search. Now they'll have to stop at the visitor center and get a pass. They can be reached at (301) 677-1064 or (301) 677-1065.

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    32. I don't know how the reserves work but when I was at the school there was a chance to go directly to C school after A. I think now they try to have fleet time between A and C school.

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    33. I tried to look up the 'I am your eyes facebook' but only found a closed group using another language in the description. My name is AN Montano and my NC1 has contacted the MC ECM to switch me to pact seaman and get me the MC rate. Right now the only thing stopping me is having a recommendation from an MC. I missed the score by one point so I need a waiver and the are happy to do so if I have a MC mentor of some sort. I am currently stationed in Norfolk and would like to get in contact with more people in the community. Someone can use it for their eval while they mentor and explain the rate. My email is desirem19@gmail.com if you can talk more. Thank you!!

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    34. I could not locate the facebook page you spoke of. I found one that had the description in a different language but it was a community page. I have a lot of questions because I am working on striking and my NC1 contact the MC ECM to get work out the details. I need to contact a local MC specialist in Virginia and was hoping to get in contact with more people. My name is AN Montano and my email is Desirem19@gmail.com thank you for your time!

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    35. Hmmm...how did you try to get to the FB page? Did you click the link on the right column? It's working for me. Here's the link, just hit me up there and we'll talk about it.

      https://www.facebook.com/I-Am-Your-Eyes-122199361139641/

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    36. I just typed a long question here, so if it already posted, I apologize. My son is graduating from boot camp next Friday and then coming to Ft. Meade. When will he be able to have his computer/cell phone/civilian clothes? And if we give him his cell phone at the airport in Chicago, will they ship it home similarly to boot camp or will they simply take it until he can have it? Can you describe the phases of liberty he will earn with a timeline? Thank you so much in advance.

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    37. Yeah it duplicated but I deleted it no worries. It's been a few years but I can tell you how it worked for me, and it's probably still similar. All personal items are stored in a secure area of the barracks on Fort Meade. After two weeks he'll get that stuff back. I'll ask about the phases but for us we had full overnight privileges in about a month. I'll post more here if I find out.

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    38. Ok here's what the barracks just said:

      "They get their cell phone right away. Overnight liberty, not until phase two, which is one month after checking on board, provided they complete all their quals. They get one overnight on phase two with an immediate elder family member as their liberty buddy. They get phase three if they pass functional area one with an 80 or higher. Then they can do as many overnights as they want."

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    39. Thank you so much! This information means so much to us!

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    40. No problem, hit me up on the Facebook page if you have more questions. Just search I Am Your Eyes or click the link on this site...it's on the right sidebar, real tiny words.

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    41. As long as my score is good and I stick to wanting MC, I should receive it? I'm a photographer looking to gain experience in the field, get published and see the world. This is my dream job in and outside the military.

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      1. Unfortunately there's no way to predict what will be available when you go to MEPS. Not even your recruiter will know, as that information is shared with someone called a detailer, who hands out jobs at MEPS. The MC community is very small so there's not as many jobs being handed out compared to the larger ratings. (like aviation)

        That said, you can try to avoid some of the BS that sometimes comes with the enlistment process. Get an ASVAB study guide and score high (you're more marketable), be willing to enter the Delayed Entry Program if a seat at the Defense Information School isn't immediately available, and tell the recruiter up front that you only want MC (less chances of them trying to push you towards some other job).

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