Current and former members of the armed forces possess numerous skills that admissions boards value in an MBA candidate. Real-world leadership experience, the ability to strategize and think on their feet, and being able to work well under high-pressure situations are just a few of the advantages a veteran brings to the table when applying for business school.
Coming from the armed forces rather than a civilian career path prior to business school can give rise to certain challenges when drafting an application, but it’s important to keep those concerns in perspective. The Tuck 360 MBA Blog at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business has recently published a post dispelling some common myths for military applicants just in time for its upcoming Military Visit Day on May 1, 2017.
“The thought of applying to an MBA program and separating from the military can be intimidating, says Jarett Berke, a second-year Tuck student and a former USMC pilot.
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“For years, we have had a steady paycheck backed by the U.S. Government, where layoffs were improbable and pay raises and promotions happened on a schedule,” he explains. “We’ve established ourselves within our respective communities, and our families have developed close relationships with others in our commands, squadrons, or platoons.”
With that in mind, Berke addresses eight common myths on the minds of prospective veteran students. Here’s an overview of his advice, but definitely check out Berke’s article through the link above for more details.
Myth: Being older puts you at a disadvantage. The maturity, experience, and poise that often comes with age are a major benefit to your classmates and the school. If anything, I would say that being older is actually an advantage.
Myth: My partner won’t be able to find a job. Unemployment in the area last year got down to 1.9%, and there is no shortage of really interesting companies. Many partners end up working for Tuck, Dartmouth, or the hospital, and there are scores of very successful small businesses always in need to high quality people.
Myth: My GMAT score is the most important part of my application. Wrong. The GMAT is just one piece of the puzzle, and you should think of it as a hurdle. Ultimately, the Admissions department looks at the whole person, including: experience, essays, interview, GPA, GMAT (or GRE), and career goals. Make sure you focus on all aspects of your candidacy, not just the GMAT.
Myth: A part-time MBA is equally valuable. Part-time or “executive” MBAs are great for people who want to take the next step in a career they ARE ALREADY IN. If you are pivoting (like all veterans), a top-tier full-time MBA puts you in a different population. You become an MBA with a military background, not a military person with an MBA. This may sound trivial, but it makes a big difference to employers. Plus, taking two years to focus on yourself is an opportunity you may never have again.
Myth: Vets don’t add much value to study groups. Military officers spend their careers making important decisions with limited information. We figure stuff out. We are quick learners, and we can get things done. The courses in business school go deep on a range of topics, and while there may be a few topics that someone in your group has experience in, the majority of the curriculum is new to everyone. Your ability to learn quickly, figure things out, and communicate effectively make you VERY valuable to the teams you are a part of.
An MBA is a great next step for transitioning veterans no matter what branch of service they come from. Applicants from the military should know that business school admissions teams highly value their experience, so if that’s your background, make sure your applications highlight those powerful and unique qualities.
Hosted by the Armed Forces Alumni Association (AFAA), Tuck Military Visit Day, themed “Setting You Up for Success,” will be Monday, May 1, 2017. During the event, you’ll get a chance to see what distinguishes Tuck among top-tier business schools and what you need to know to transition from the military into the right MBA program. Register here.