Jul 13, 2011

Am I too old (or young) for an MBA?

There was a time when the average work experience of the candidates in the business schools was more than even 6-7 years. On the other hand, today, many schools take a close look at younger candidates, many with no work experience at all (think about HBS 2+2, Yale's silver scholars or Stanford's deferred enrollment). And there is no reason why the average age/work epxerience will not change in coming years.

So while you wonder whether you are too young or too older for the business school of your choice, consider following facts:

  • There is no right age to apply. It’s not about age but about your professional maturity, readiness, and the point in your career that count. These things can often be linked to age, but not always.
  • If you are someone who is 35+ years, have worked for 10 years, it is pretty certain that adcom will be looking for the evidences of very strong leadership skills in your profile.
  • Adcom looks out for the candidates who can gain from as well as contribute to the breadth of experience and diversity in the class. If you are young and have limited experience, you may need to showcase how you can contribute to the overall experience of your classmates. Some candidates have their startups, involved in family business from a young age or have worked extensively while studying that can add more perspective to their work experience.
  • If you are one of those who are applying to the business schools in your mid 30s, adcom is specifically going to look at your motivation to pursue an MBA.
  • A 23 years old who has lot of insights and higly focused goals will be more impressive than a 28 year old who is not very sure why he/she needs an MBA.On the other hand, there is no reason why a 40 year old who has demonstrated great career progression, good execution of application and has the right reasons to go back to the school will not have a good chance in making it in!
Bottomline: Irrespective of how old or young you are, you have to do a good job of explaining why you need MBA at this point of your career. If you think you are too young or too old, you will have to do a GREAT job in doing this.

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