Five Tips on How Schools Can Appeal to Military & Veteran Students
Veterans Day (celebrated on Nov. 11 in the United States), also known as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, is always a great time to revisit what you can do to attract talented military and veteran students to your programs.
According to Hanover Research, military and veteran students view business degree programs positively. Business degree programs, specifically the MBA, are increasingly favored among both active duty personnel and veterans. Those surveyed “perceive business degree programs to be a strong source of career advancement both within and outside the military.”
Several factors can make an MBA program uniquely suited for learners with military backgrounds, including the concentration areas, availability of a hands-on curriculum, flexible formats and support services. For example, the NC State Jenkins MBA reports a significant percentage of Jenkins students are either active duty military or veterans.
Based on our experience at the Jenkins Graduate School of Management, MBA programs should consider the following five tips for attracting military students:
- Offer flexible formats. Online MBA programs have become widespread, but flexibility is paramount. Case in point, Jenkins military students cite the program’s asynchronous online format as a key differentiator. This gives participants the freedom to complete their degree from anywhere in the world, at their convenience (rather than being required to log on at specific times). Additionally, both Jenkins online and on-campus Professional MBA formats can take as little as 21 months or up to six years to complete. If your program employs a similar malleable and/or asynchronous structure, market it to military candidates.
- Emphasize support services. Studies and anecdotal feedback show that support services are extremely important to military learners. When reaching out to these prospects, outline the support they will receive during the application process and throughout their time in school. For example, the NC State Veterans' Education Office supports student veterans and their dependents while applying for and managing their tuition assistance programs, such as the VA Education Benefits, Post-9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program.
- Focus on face time. Face-to-face interaction still pays off even in today’s digital age. Identify military bases within your campus’ target geographic areas and arrange a site visit to promote the program and answer questions. In our experience, talking to military candidates one-on-one has proven to make a lasting impression.
- Highlight military benefits. Not only does NC State’s application process look at applicants holistically (including in-person interviews) – an attractive aspect for many military learners – but the Jenkins MBA also waives the application fee for these candidates and considers military services in its GMAT waiver application.
- Know your audience. The military audience is no different from any other prospective MBA segment to which you’re trying to appeal. In this case, are there particular areas of study that military learners are interested in? At NC State, we’ve found that many of our military students are particularly drawn to our supply chain management concentration, as it plays on strengths they have begun to build while in the military. Likewise, your institution may have particular areas of focus that are of interest to military applicants.
About the Author
Christine Ferrell is director of Marketing at Jenkins Graduate School of Management, NC State University.