Saturday, February 20, 2010

Business Schools Tap Veterans' Potential

There's a growing effort among business schools to attract former military members into their MBA programs. Veterans are often prized for their leaderships skills and alternative perspective. In addition, "they've been responsible for lives, which brings a gravitas to classroom discussion," says Deirdre Leopold, director of admissions at Harvard Business School. Harvard, which relies on students' personal experiences to drive the school's case study method, reports that veterans comprise 3% of the class of 2011.

Even though business schools are seeking them out, veterans often have trouble paying MBA tuition, which can cost upwards of $150,000 for two years. As a result, schools have started offering large scholarships, often in partnership with the government. An increase in government funding through the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and the Yellow Ribbon Program, which gives a lump sum payment to each student beyond the GI Bill's offer, have also helped.

The same qualities that make veterans attractive to business schools have also caught the attention of corporate recruiters. "They automatically know how to work in a team and they have respect," says Stacy Blackman, an M.B.A. admissions consultant and president of Stacy Blackman Consulting in Los Angeles. Bill Brenton, director of the leverage finance group at Credit Suisse Group, says a recent internal study found that employees with military backgrounds tend to be very successful, often due to a sense of discipline and ability to build camaraderie.

Build a stronger business by utilizing people with transferable skills from non-traditional backgrounds.

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