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Tips for Veteran MBA Applicants

Military service members typically make up 5 to 10% of any given cohort within the top 25 MBA programs.

But what exactly does it take to get into a top B-school? And what should veteran applicants look out for when researching MBA programs? Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently offered a few tips for veterans who are considering a transition from active military service to B-school.

FOCUS ON FIT

When it comes to the MBA, fit is perhaps one of the most important considerations for applicants. But, Blackman says, fit is even more critical for veteran applicants.

“Their background is quite different from most candidates, and going from active service to a classroom can be challenging,” Blackman says. “Having strong outlets of support from the school makes a world of difference.”

Blackman suggests veteran applicants to do research on what types of support groups or programs are available at B-schools.

“Begin by finding out how many military veteran students are in the MBA program,” Blackman says. “Too few fellow servicemen and women may leave students wishing for more relatable peers. Next, find out what kinds of special programs for veterans exist. Does the business school have student clubs or organizations created specifically for veterans? Also, learn whether it offers personalized academic and career support to help veterans translate their military skills into civilian life.”

LOOK FOR RECRUITING EFFORTS

B-schools will typically have admissions events specifically for military applicants—which is a good sign that the MBA program is military-friendly.

“If the school doesn’t host an admissions event specifically for military applicants, your job is a bit tougher,” Blackman says. “However, you can still determine how eager the program is to recruit veterans by looking at whether it provides support services starting during the application phase—not only once you get in.”

SEEK OUT FINANCIAL AID

Veterans have access to a number of financial incentives, including waived application fees and dedicated veteran scholarship funds. One program that Blackman recommends considering is the Yellow Ribbon Program.

“Under this program, the federal government matches, dollar for dollar, any financial aid that participating schools commit, essentially providing eligible student veterans with free or reduced-cost tuition,” Blackman says. “It is designed to make out-of-state public colleges, private institutions, and graduate programs more affordable for veterans. Schools offer varying levels of support under the Yellow Ribbon Program.  For example, NYU Stern School of Business will offer up to $30,000 per year in Yellow Ribbon scholarship support, and the VA will provide up to $30,000 in additional funding. Meanwhile, Stanford GSB will match up to full tuition and mandatory fees (minus Stanford medical insurance) for MBA students who are Yellow Ribbon eligible and opt to receive these benefits.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q

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