Typical age of MBA applicants ranges from 24 to 27. However, if you fall outside of the range, we have some special advice for you. For international students, we have a special section for you as well.
Older and more experienced candidates have different needs and desires from an MBA. Deciding whether or not to pursue an MBA involves conscious self-evaluation for all candidates and especially for experienced or older ones.
- You should take account of your personal goals. Do you want a family? What kind of life will satisfy you? Who is dependent on you and how can you best help them?
- You will want to analyze your professional goals. Where do you want to be in five years? Would you like to manage people or do you prefer fewer managerial responsibilities?
- It is important to evaluate your financial goals. What kind of salary do you desire? How will an MBA help you achieve it? How will you finance your education? Are you comfortable with educational loans? Can you sacrifice two years of salary in the present? When is your educational investment likely to begin to pay off? Can you wait that long?
The preceding questions may assist you in your evaluation of whether it’s too late for you or necessary for you to begin an MBA. However, it is possible to delve even further into whether an MBA will take you where you want to go. In terms of professional change, determine more precisely where you like to be.
- What sector, position and even corporation would you like to be working for? Also, in economic terms, where would you like to be?
An MBA generally increases earning potential, but consider also where you are now and whether the degree will improve your earnings potential and worth.
- Recognize, in your evaluation, that an MBA may initially be an economic setback and the salary will start to pay off later down the line.
- Evaluate statistics on earning averages after completing an MBA at particular institutions.
At the end of the day, after evaluating all the statistics of earnings and worth, your interests in terms of professional growth and flexibility, and your personal desires, success comes down to individuals and what they make happen. It is up to you to determine whether the MBA is the right means to assist you in achieving your desired ends. Companies often claim that they do not privilege an MBA over someone with experience in the field. In both arenas, individuals learn, grow, and improve. Companies hire individuals who have been successful in the past.
An MBA, especially one later in one’s career, is most useful to individuals who would like to change sectors or positions. For example, individuals who seek to move from banking to consulting, or into management positions (in fact, these people often find their MBA most satisfying). The MBA is also useful to individuals who want to rapidly learn and attain skills needed for different positions.
In addition to the two-year MBA program, the other options to consider for individuals later in their careers are the more flexible means of attaining an MBA including online, part-time, and executive MBA programs.
Many schools do recruit and encourage younger applicants to apply. Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford Business School and Harvard Business School are among those with a reputation for accepting younger applicants, but many schools admit few young applicants. Even those schools that do accept large numbers of young applicants are quite selective in their choices. In both the application process and the experience of business school itself the younger applicant faces special hardships, which are important to be aware of.
Young applicants face several challenges in the MBA application process. They have to compensate for a lack of work experience with leadership roles, higher than average GMAT scores, higher than average GPA, even more focused career goals, recommendations showing maturity and preparedness, and uniqueness (in some manner).
Leadership experience is especially important.
- In essays as well as during the interview process, it is important that younger applicants show admissions officers or interviewers what leadership roles they have taken on, what they have learned in those roles, and explain with concrete examples.
- Younger applicants will especially want to highlight larger roles, which help to display their unique knack for leadership.
- Successful younger candidates can show that their uncommon leadership abilities exceed the average college student, through experiences such as being elected College President, internships in fields that recruit few undergraduates, or entrepreneurial experiences.
Business School Experience
At school, younger students sometimes experience difficulties relating to fellow students. Other business school students, who tend to be older and more experienced, come to school with different interests and home lives, as they sometimes have families and different backgrounds. These differences can cause mutual misunderstanding and ultimately limit the forming of lasting relationships and networks that many people go to business school to create.
In the classroom, younger applicants need to continue to show that they do have legitimate and interesting experiences to share and make this clear to professors. Overall, it is important that younger students keep their self-confidence in the face of older students. Younger students must respect older students for the greater breadth of experience that comes from spending time in the “real world,” but remember too that they were accepted because of exceptional ability (however young) and do indeed have things to offer the class and the professional world.
In the job application process, younger students may have difficulties with certain career paths. Venture capital firms, for example, often seek MBAs with greater professional experience. However, consulting firms and banks are happy to recruit younger, more energetic MBAs, though they may hesitate at first to put younger MBAs in management positions.
Overall Pros and Cons
Overall the MBA experience for younger students is not an easy one. Yet despite the difficulties experienced in the application process and in study, the young applicant does have the advantage of completing the degree early—especially important to women, who later, for personal reasons, may want to take time out from the professional world. Also, it is a good path for the over achiever who is used to being among older people. Young applicants who are not so used to it should carefully select the schools they apply to according to their percentages of younger admits. Younger applicants will find themselves jump starting their careers early and may possibly be spending more of their professional lives in unique, exciting roles where they can make a greater impact.
Recommendations for College Students Eager to Enroll in Business School
If you are in college and interested in entering an MBA program immediately after graduation, getting accepted is not likely to be easy. For current undergraduates as well as business school bound high school juniors and seniors, looking into various MBA options early may pay off. Universities as diverse as Harvard, Carnegie Mellon and Indiana University offer ways for students to complement their undergraduate degrees with an early MBA.
- Harvard Business School allows juniors to apply to a program in which they are guaranteed a spot at HBS after they complete 2 years of work.
- During their junior year, applicants take the GMAT and complete an application. Applicants are notified of acceptance in the fall of their senior year. After completion of their undergraduate degree, accepted 2+2 students enter the work force.
- The jobs they take need to be approved by the business school. Though the HBS program does not shorten the length of time a student spends in school, both students and HBS are ultimately well served by the 2+2 program.
- It allows students to be able to focus on gaining work experience and enjoy the comfort of already being admitted to a top-MBA program, and the school is guaranteed a committed and experienced student.
- The Kelley School of Business offers an Accounting program in which undergraduates can earn both an undergraduate degree and an MBA in just five years.
- This opportunity, open to juniors majoring in Accounting or Finance at Indiana, gives students the possibility of earning an MBA with an Accounting concentration in just one extra year and also relieves them of the GMAT requirement.
- Indiana has excellent job placement statistics and consistently pumps out solid MBAs with the high level Accounting skills valued by businesses.
- Tepper School of Business also has opened its doors to Carnegie Mellon Computer Science majors that are interested in applying to business school and gaining an MBA and Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science in just 5 years.
- Applicants still will need to gain admission by submitting an application, resume, GMAT, essays, interview and recommendations, but they are offered the bonus of gaining an MBA from a top school with just one additional year of schooling.
- Though ultimately the Department of Computer Science determines eligibility, good grades, high scores, internships and maturity go a long way toward gaining acceptance.
Other schools too offer similar 5 year or early acceptance programs for undergraduates. So young applicants, take a closer look at alternative programs that are out there!
International Applicants for Overseas Business Schools
- A great method to find out detailed information about overseas business schools is to attend different MBA tours, which hold forums all over the world to connect interested applicants with business school admissions staff.
Assessing Language Challenges
- Some students may find that getting used to life in another country is challenging. Academic, language, or personal adjustments can be difficult, so be sure to give yourself a chance to adjust—for most of us, these things just take time.
- Classroom time, for example, is packed with discussion, debate, projects, and student presentations. International students will want to familiarize themselves with teaching styles prevalent in the region and be sure that they are comfortable with them, or at the least open to them before school begins.
- In addition, for non-native English speakers who lack experience in English-speaking classrooms and professional environments, language difficulties may be an obstacle. As part of your b-school application, non-native English speakers will be required to take the TOEFL exam, an English proficiency test. This test requires study and rigorous preparation for many applicants. Score requirements vary according to school, but most schools do provide clear guidelines on what score is acceptable. After completing the TOEFL, the best way to meet the challenge of entering a program in English is to practice and prepare.
- Take English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, sometimes offered during the summer at particular business schools, or a Business English course, if a student’s vocabulary and business language is more problematic. However, keep in mind that with foreign languages improvement does not happen overnight. It requires time, hard work, and patience.
- It’s also important to note that one of the primary factors in obtaining internships and full-time jobs in the US is extremely strong spoken English language skills. For those students whose English language skills aren’t strong, they often don’t fare well in the interview process. So, they find themselves without the types of opportunities that they’re really seeking.