Why Business Schools Love Military Applicants

Earlier this month we announced that Veritas Prep has partnered with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) to donate 50 scholarships to qualified IAVA Member Veterans — 25 for GMAT prep courses and 25 for graduate school admissions consulting services. Since then, we have talked to many applicants (and would-be applicants) with military experience who wonder if they’ll fit in at business school. And, they want to know if business schools are really looking for applicants like them.

The short answer is a resounding YES!!! Business schools constantly seek leaders and young professionals with exceptional decision-making ability. Just because you don’t come from a business background, don’t fool yourself into thinking that MBA programs won’t be interested in you. You may have exactly the type of experience and temperament that MBA admissions officers want to see.

One of your best strengths as a military applicant will likely be the leadership experience you bring to the table. Any stories that you can relate about directing a group of men and women to achieve a tangible goal will speak volumes about your ability to lead, and most business schools value this trait above all else. You are also likely to have great examples of teamwork, which will further help an admissions committee picture you fitting into a classroom at its school. Don’t be shy about sharing these stories, even if you think they’ve been told a thousand times before. Focus on these accomplishments in your essays and interview, and — more importantly — spell out what you learned as a result and how it will help you in your next career.

Yes, you will face challenges as a military applicant, too. The most obvious one is that your great experiences have had little to do with business. You therefore need to show the admissions committee that your skills are directly transferable to the business world. More to the point, you need to show that you see how these skills will translate, and that you know what your own strengths and weaknesses are. You may not have any practical experience in marketing or finance, but you understand why it is important that you have knowledge of them. Moreover, you can demonstrate your desire to bolster your knowledge in these areas by taking a pre-MBA course or two, particularly in accounting and finance.

If you have taken any business-oriented courses that won’t show up on your transcripts, be sure to let the admissions committee know about it. Admissions officers will understand that you’re relatively new to the business world — in fact, they love nothing more than an applicant with loads of raw potential whom they can shape into a business leader — but they will look critically for evidence that you have the ability and motivation to learn business principles. It’s less a matter of “I hope they don’t notice I don’t have business experience” and more a matter of “I need to show them what I’ve done to overcome that lack of experience.”

Thinking of applying for the IAVA scholarship? You can apply through IAVA’s site at therucksack.org Application materials must be submitted by Tuesday, December 27 and winners will be notified by January 9, 2012!