This week is a good time for all of us to think about and celebrate our military. If you are actually in the military or are a veteran, it’s also a good time to think about b-school.
Business schools have always had a positive bias towards military applicants, which makes sense. No matter where you plan to apply, you can guarantee that every school will be keenly interested in your leadership experience and as a core component of military training, leadership is also a core competency expected from every b-school applicant. In short, it’s a natural fit. The military is obviously one of the strongest training grounds for being a leader. In fact, there may be no better place in the world for sharpening the skills of leading others than in the service of the military.
When coupled with a diminishing applicant pool size, now is a great time to consider going back to school if you are in a good spot to transition out of your military assignment.
As an officer, you have likely had opportunities to directly lead a wide diversity of individuals and motivate complex groups to work in harmony. High quality precision and thoughtful decision-making have been a daily routine, so re-focusing your experience in the secular world post-military will be the key to convincing schools you are ready to make the switch.
One mistake to avoid is using too much military language in your application.
The military service speaks for itself, but everyone in the military knows well that each branch has its own language. This means you must be careful when describing your experience to a committee of non-military business school folks so that you don’t lose them in the jargon. The longer you have been in the military, the more likely it is that you may not even recognize this problem. A good way to remedy this is to have a non-military person or consultant read your essays.
Always try to frame your past experience around your future vision, one that does not involve the military.
When you think of the translatable skills you bring to the table and how they will fit into a post-military career plan, it can help you find the everyday language to articulate your move. One final tip: b-schools expect military applicants to have confidence in their plans. While b-school is obviously a place to re-set your professional trajectory, it would be off-putting to the adcoms for a military applicant to come in without a clear plan forward. Even if you are not quite sure what you will do, at least project a solid idea for now so the admissions committees will give you full credit for your military training, part of which includes decisiveness. And thank you for your service!