Liberal Arts degree/Military service - MBA admissions

sm444's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 11

Hi everyone, long time lurker here.

I am currently a liberal arts major at a non target university, who would eventually like break into IB. I fully understand that graduating with a soft degree like history from a non-target is essentially useless. With that said
I plan on commissioning into the Military as an officer after I graduate. I hope to one day serve in a Special Operations unit (be it 75th RR, NSW, or SF). I have always wanted to do this, make no mistake I'm not doing this in order to break into IB in the slightest - it is one of my goals in life to serve.

My question is, would a retired SOF officer with a liberal arts degree be able to make it into several M7 schools? From what I understand, most admission boards favor veterans. And provided one did graduate from an M7 school, coupled with prior Military experience - would employers necessarily care about his undergrad degree? And would he be in a favorable position?

Thanks, any help is appreciated.

Comments (13)

May 7, 2014

Yes, but what level you get promoted to is SUPER important. Adcoms don't understand the military that well, so go for the highest officer title you can get, they won't understand the nitty-gritty of what people inside military truly view as prestigious.

May 7, 2014
OpsDude:

Yes, but what level you get promoted to is SUPER important. Adcoms don't understand the military that well, so go for the highest officer title you can get, they won't understand the nitty-gritty of what people inside military truly view as prestigious.

I plan on retiring after I make O-4/O-5 (Lt. Commander/Commander respectively).

May 7, 2014
sm444:
OpsDude:

Yes, but what level you get promoted to is SUPER important. Adcoms don't understand the military that well, so go for the highest officer title you can get, they won't understand the nitty-gritty of what people inside military truly view as prestigious.

I plan on retiring after I make O-4/O-5 (Lt. Commander/Commander respectively).

I'm a vet. Do you have any idea how long it will take you to make O-5?

May 7, 2014
td12:
sm444:
OpsDude:

Yes, but what level you get promoted to is SUPER important. Adcoms don't understand the military that well, so go for the highest officer title you can get, they won't understand the nitty-gritty of what people inside military truly view as prestigious.

I plan on retiring after I make O-4/O-5 (Lt. Commander/Commander respectively).

I'm a vet. Do you have any idea how long it will take you to make O-5?

I was thinking the exact same thing. Trying to break into Investment Banking as a post-MBA associate 39-40 years old will be pretty miserable and unusual. Make O-3 and get out like everybody else who isn't a pilot with a 10+-year commitment. Even staying in 8-10 years to make O-4 would put you at a further disadvantage, let alone all the way to O-5. I'm guessing sm444 needs to do some more research.

May 7, 2014
MilitaryToFinance:
td12:
sm444:
OpsDude:

Yes, but what level you get promoted to is SUPER important. Adcoms don't understand the military that well, so go for the highest officer title you can get, they won't understand the nitty-gritty of what people inside military truly view as prestigious.

I plan on retiring after I make O-4/O-5 (Lt. Commander/Commander respectively).

I'm a vet. Do you have any idea how long it will take you to make O-5?

I was thinking the exact same thing. Trying to break into Investment Banking as a post-MBA associate 39-40 years old will be pretty miserable and unusual. Make O-3 and get out like everybody else who isn't a pilot with a 10+-year commitment. Even staying in 8-10 years to make O-4 would put you at a further disadvantage, let alone all the way to O-5. I'm guessing sm444 needs to do some more research.

I'm fully aware that it takes around 18-20 years to make O-5, I didn't know that it would put me at such a disadvantage. I had thought the more experienced the officer, the better his chances at breaking into IB were.

Thanks for the help/information. I'll definitely consider that.

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May 7, 2014

Yes, you can absolutely get in with what you've told us. Special forces that AdComs are aware of as being elite is always a plus.

My understanding though, is that stats are incredibly important for military applicants. Unlike MBB or IBD or other "standard" jobs, AdComs don't really know what you're doing in the military, and they don't necessarily relate it all that well to b-school. Basically, I understand that to mean that every single military officer sounds pretty damn impressive, but it's hard to distinguish between someone in the the 101st Airborne and Weapons Officer on a submarine (I think those are both things).

So you haven't given us GPA, or what you'd expect your GMAT to be (based on SATs?). As a history major, your GMAT is even more important, since you'll need to prove quantitative ability somewhere, and your degree and work experience likely won't do so.

As for jobs, plenty of jobs are available to veterans, and there are a number of programs to help veterans get jobs, especially in banking.

Banking:
https://credit-suisse.tal.net/vx/lang-en-GB/system...

http://careers.jpmorgan.com/student/jpmorgan/caree...

Tech:
http://www.google.com/edu/programs/google-student-...

May 23, 2014

BGP2587, The Banking links that you gave are awesome! I am applying right now for both. Do you know of any other programs such as these for military people?

May 7, 2014

I've worked with a number of military candidates, and it isn't entirely true that admissions folks are unaware of your military bona fides. Some schools have Vets Club members help with both outreach and screening, and those guys surely know their stuff.

Also, many military guys are competing against each other, so you need to stand out based on your peer group.
@"wannabeaballer" -- can you chime in?

I personally like a liberal arts degree combined with military training, but make sure you get your quant courses in -- I've seen some very strong military guys who figured it was just leadership in extreme environments. But you are competing against ROTC and Academy guys who have taken STEM courses in undergrad

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-... Ask away!

May 7, 2014

I don't think you understand that as a college student, stating that you want to want to commission and serve in a special operations unit is about the same as me saying that my plan is to graduate from college and work at KKR as a post-MBA associate. I'd focus on your immediate goal in school, which is to do well enough that when you commission you aren't stuck in an unsexy branch.

May 7, 2014

With that said, in order to command a troop at the special missions unit level (think delta force or ST6) you have to be an O-4. I was told that former SMU Officers are highly valued in finance, is there any truth to that? Thanks

May 7, 2014

I love the ambition but let's stop and think for a second. Why are you even talking about ST6? You haven't graduated from college, been accepted to OCS (which is a bitch in of itself), been accepted to BUDS as an officer, passed BUDS, passed advanced training, etc.

Many kids think that just because they have a college degree that they're a sure thing for OCS. It's not that easy.

May 7, 2014
td12:

I love the ambition but let's stop and think for a second. Why are you even talking about ST6? You haven't graduated from college, been accepted to OCS (which is a bitch in of itself), been accepted to BUDS as an officer, passed BUDS, passed advanced training, etc.

Many kids think that just because they have a college degree that they're a sure thing for OCS. It's not that easy.

I'm not taking anything for granted, I apologize if I'm coming off as a prick. It wasn't my intention. I definitely know that competing for a SpecWar billet coming out OCS is highly, highly competitive.

May 23, 2014