Veterans Prized at B-School, Says WSJ

After having worked with military clients who nabbed spots at top business schools, even without stellar GMAT scores, Stacy Blackman tells Diana Middleton of the Wall Street Journal that veterans often excel in an MBA program because “They automatically know how to work in a team and they have respect, an important characteristic for business schools.”

B-schools have beefed up their efforts to bring veterans into MBA programs, where ex-military are prized for their leadership skills and ability to bring an alternate perspective to the classroom, school administrators tell WSJ. The funding increase in the GI Bill, as well as the Yellow Ribbon program,  help make a dent in MBA tuition, which is prohibitive for veterans lacking  income from several years at a traditional job.

Easing the Transition

Although their contributions to the classroom are undisputed, many veterans need to work on their quantitative skills to keep pace with their more business-oriented classmates, Middleton writes. Veterans must also figure out how to translate their military experiences into corporate speak, or risk facing ambiguous reactions from recruiters.

“The adjustment to coming back to school is significant for them,” says Deirdre Leopold, director of admissions at Harvard Business School. The school helps ex-military ease into campus life in many ways, including hosting a résumé workshop specifically geared to translating military experience into recruiter-friendly language.

At NYU Stern School of Business, meanwhile, the pre-term program known as Summer Start allows nontraditional students to “get more involved with campus activities and spend more time becoming acclimated to the business world,” says Isser Gallogly, executive director of MBA admissions.

By and large, corporate recruiters say veterans bring teamwork skills and a penchant for leadership to their companies, Middleton found. Bill Brenton, director of the leverage finance group at Credit Suisse Group, tells WSJ that an internal study found that employees with military backgrounds tended to be highly successful due to a sense of discipline and ability to build camaraderie.

Veterans made up 20% of the firm’s internship class last summer””part of a firm-wide effort to recruit more former military, says Brenton.

For any veterans scouting out military-friendly MBA programs, check out our post from January on the Best Value B-School for Veterans.  Based on a study issued by Military MBA, the research provides a more comprehensive look at business schools than mainstream magazine ranking systems, which are subjective and geared toward traditional, not military, MBA students.

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