Posted on September 18, 2020

Case Study #5- A Veteran’s Journey to Duke Fuqua, Tepper, and Cornell

Introduction: After serving in the military for a few years, veterans make a transition into civilian life.  Some immediately get a job on the civilian side, while others decide to return to school after the military to prepare themselves for a new career. After having served in the military for three years, former MER client Tim (not his real name) worked in the energy sector for five years.  After eight years of work experience, Tim felt that his career had hit a plateau. He was keen to use his leadership experience in the military and the negotiation skills acquired in the energy sector to take up higher responsibilities.

Tim wanted someone well versed with the MBA admission process to guide him through the admission process and reached out to us. MER supported him with his application for 3 top business schools CMU Tepper, Cornell Johnson, and Duke Fuqua. Tim secured admits from all of them. He chose to attend CMU Tepper.


The present case study showcases Tim’s career history, extracurricular activities, career goals, and highlights of our work that led to his success.

Name: Tim Scott (not his real name)

Age: 38

Country: USA

Academic: BBA- Energy Management

Institute: University of Oklahoma

Industry: Military/ Energy

Work Experience: 8 years

GMAT: 720 (V 41/Q 49)

Target Schools: CMU Tepper, Cornell Johnson, Duke Fuqua

 Work Experience: At 22 years old, Tim started his career with the United States Army as a manager. He took over an organization of 40 personnel, challenged and motivated employees during training, and was ranked in the top 10 percent of managers. In the Army, he was promoted to Mortar Platoon Leader, a specialty position for which he was selected among all the other mangers.  After having served in the US Army for three years as a manager, he accepted roles in the Oil & Gas Industry centered on negotiating operating agreements and contracts with external partners for the drilling of Oil & Gas wells. His current role as a Land Analysis Professional involved a significant shift in responsibilities. His career growth in the Energy sector was average because the company went through two major layoffs, and the growth opportunities were limited.

Extra-Curricular Activities: Tim was a leader in the Army Family Readiness Group, United Way, Oklahoma Food Bank. He ran the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon conducted in honor of the service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II. To stay connected with the Army, Tim continues to volunteer through the 'Army Family Readiness Group' and the 'Oklahoma Food Bank'. He gives back to a community by providing continued support for military families and by assisting veterans in need. His interests include hiking, fishing, and woodworking. He loves spending time with his wife and kids.

Career Goal: The minimal opportunities for growth fuelled his desire to pursue an MBA. Tim's post-MBA goal was to join a Leadership Development Program with a focus on Operations at Amazon or Johnson & Johnson. His long-term goal was to work for a Consumer goods manufacturing company as Director Operations. He feels that his military experience in general management, leadership, and strategic operations/logistics provides him an edge.

MER's Approach: To gain an in-depth understanding of his profile, we first administered a questionnaire of 20 questions about his background, values, professional career, accomplishments, leadership stories, career goals, extra-curricular activities, and interests. After scrutinizing all his personal and professional stories, we started working together on his application to showcase his candidacy for his three target business schools -CMU Tepper, Cornell Johnson, and Duke Fuqua.

Some of the key highlights of our work together are:

  1. We first evaluated Tim's profile to get a complete picture of his personal attributes and professional achievements. We decided to highlight his experience in the military as a Trainer, leader, and then subsequently as a strategist. Our strategy was to highlight his leadership qualities, expertise in negotiation, and a keen desire to excel.
  1. MER segregated and synchronized the information provided by him for answering the essay questions per the mission and values of each business school. We guided him in presenting his candidacy to demonstrate his fit with the admission criteria of respective schools.
  1. The most challenging part of the application for Tim was the essays since he was not sure of the required inclusions, sequencing, the flow of the essays, and values cherished by each business school. We helped him in selecting the highlights of his career, which could well pave his way into his desired B-Schools. We created a strategy for handling essay prompts of 'impact' essay of all the three schools that needed to be approached differently.
  1. We also advised him to attend admission events and connect with current students and alumni to gain additional insights into the program and its culture and share those insights in the essays. Cornell's essay, in particular, required him to engage with current students and alumni to explain how their insights influenced his decision to apply to Cornell. Specifically, his conversations with a fellow veteran and a Cornell student provided him valuable insights about the program's culture and resources.
  1. Lastly, MER helped him showcase his core values of discipline and perseverance acquired in the Army and his leadership experience from the military throughout his essays.

Outcome: Tim succeeded in securing a seat in all the 3 business schools we collaborated on, CMU Tepper, Cornell Johnson, and Duke Fuqua. After significant deliberation, he decided to join CMU Tepper.

MER Views: MER was delighted to work with a disciplined and hard-working professional like Tim. His army background was quite evident from the way he reverted in a disciplined manner within the stipulated timeframe. From the outset, Tim seemed confident, determined, and self-assured to make it. His leadership qualities and analytical skills captivated us. We especially enjoyed assisting him in showcasing his unique military stories in his essays and are proud to be a part of his MBA journey. We congratulate him on his incredible success and wish him all the best for his career ahead.

For Tim's testimonial  of MER's Services, click here

Free Resources:

Case Studies

10 Key Essay Tips with Examples

Essay Analysis of Other Top Programs-2020-21

MER Students Share their success Stories

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

You may email Poonam at with questions about your application for the 2020-21 admission cycle. You may sign up here for a free consultation.