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.
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.
An MBA generally increases earning potential, but consider also where you are now and whether the degree will improve your earnings potential and worth.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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