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From Military to MBA

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Kristin Roth

Students with military experience bring leadership and teamwork skills to the classroom.

Kristin Roth is associate director, Admissions, The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

 I’ve written about this before but it bears repeating: MBA programs value students with military experience. At Tuck, our military students bring a high level of leadership, teamwork, grace under pressure, and gravitas to the community. They contribute strongly in the classroom and to their study groups and project teams. Military MBAs have proven themselves in multiple areas and recruiters value the knowledge and experience they add, gained from their years of service and from their MBA education.

Service members and veterans have a lot to grapple with as they consider whether an MBA is right for them. What will I gain from an MBA program? Where can I go with an MBA? What will it cost? What type of program is the best fit? As in much of life, the answers to these questions aren’t clear cut and immutable. So much depends on you. But as you consider the next step, keep the following in mind:

MBA Value

An MBA is a versatile degree. A general management program gives you a rigorous foundation in all aspects of business. You’ll learn how to transition your leadership skills into a civilian environment, how to create a financial model, and how to analyze a company’s marketing strategy. You’ll learn about the consulting, finance, manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, and energy industries. This helps you build a portfolio of skills and experience that will be invaluable throughout your career.

Career Choices

Many military veterans will find they have opportunities to land great jobs as they transition out of service. The choice to do an MBA is based not only on what you want to do in your first job out of the military, but also on what you want to do 5, 10, and 20 years out. With your MBA knowledge, the experiential learning you’ll receive in your MBA, and an amazing network of peers, faculty, and staff at your fingertips, you’ll have the ability to move in almost any direction you want, now and in the future.

The Bottom Line

Various schools offer differing levels of support to veterans, on top of what you’re eligible for from your VA benefits. You’ll want to be sure you understand your VA benefits eligibility and understand what the school offers. Tuck is one of the top schools that participates in YRP without limitation on the number of vets enrolled. Some schools cap enrollment at a certain number, frequently on a first-come first-served basis. Be sure to check into each school’s maximum funding level, which makes your financial obligations much smaller as you move through the program. The VA offers a great website, the GI Bill Comparison Tool, which will help you learn more about what each school offers. One caveat: always double check the information you get with the schools themselves, as things can change.

Best Fit

This requires both soul searching and school research to determine best fit. All applicants need to consider the program size they prefer, the location that works best for them, the program’s distinctions from other MBA programs, as well as many other factors. Specific areas that active-duty military and veterans may want to think about are environment, financial support, percentage of veterans in the school/program, personalized support with academic and career issues, and special programs for veterans.

Good luck with the admissions process!