MBA applicants who are older than 30 years (or closer to 40) often ask these questions:
– ‘Is it too late for a full-time MBA program?’
– ‘How do bschools look at MBA applicants over 30?’
– ‘After I cross 30 years, should I even try for full-time MBA programs?’
– ‘Will my age force me to choose between an Executive MBA or Part-time MBA?’
– ‘Am I too old for an MBA?’
Most of these ‘senior’ applicants are considering conventional American 2-year full-time programs. There are several 1-year programs where the average age is closer to thirty (in fact, higher than 30 for a few bschools). But when it comes to the regular 2 year full-time MBA, there’s a statistical and psychological bias that comes into play the minute you move to the wrong side of thirty.
For pretty much the same reasons as their 20-something competitors would – a full-blown immersive MBA experience, expanded career opportunities (including a change of geography, industry, role or all 3) and a chance to be part of the elite alumni network and yeah, big bucks!
In fact, after crossing 30, the need to give their careers a fresh lease of life is even more that it might’ve ever been in their twenties. An executive MBA or a part-time MBA can’t deliver the same bang for their buck. So those are kept as backup options.
It’s also tougher to leave a stable job after reaching a mid-level management position with a handsome salary for a full-time MBA degree. But even if the MBA applicant is willing to take the risk, bschool admission teams don’t seem to be as enthusiastic about the decision. Why?
The psychological bias that we referred to earlier results from the following assumptions.
1. MBA students over 30 will find it more difficult to get jobs. So the placements statistics for the bschool (an important parameter for MBA rankings) will be adversely impacted
2. The salary jump (if at all there is any) for 30 to 40-year-old MBA graduates will be lesser than it would be for the 20-something graduate. This is another crucial parameter for MBA rankings.
3. Then there are the other perceived belief that older MBA students will not fit into a class that has a lower average age.
Now that you know the reasons for the bias, the plan-of-action might seem intuitive. See how many of the admission officer’s concerns listed above can you address in your MBA application during the admissions process.
Your story-line needs to be stronger than the others – specifically the post MBA career goals. What jobs are you aiming for? How will an MBA help you get there?
Typical questions you might think, but the answers need to be bullet-proof and the application executive strategy needs to be extra solid. A mature MBA applicant with an immature, or half-baked storyline is the best way to strengthen the bschool’s bias against folks like you. Don’t give them more ammunition to use against you.
Help them understand how the grey streaks of hair and the slight paunch that is showing are signs of wisdom and prosperity which you have gained in abundance in the extra years you’ve put into the corporate world. Modestly, show them how you can teach those kids in the class a lesson or two of your own.
At MBA Crystal Ball, we’ve helped those who are over 30 (one was 40) get into some of the best bschools across the world. So if you fall in the 30+ club and need some help in overcoming the bias during MBA admissions, get in touch: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com.
Hope these views help you better answer the question ‘Am I Too Old for an MBA?’ next time it pops up in your mind.
Do you know of any applicants who got into the top bschools after 30? What were their profiles and what schools did they get into?
Here are some success stories of MBA applicants over 30:
– MBA in USA with scholarship after 9 years experience
– How I got into an Ivy League university at 32
– How I got into Stanford at 35
– Second MBA from Switzerland for HR consultant after 30
– MBA after 35 in Canada with Scholarship despite low GMAT score
– Second MBA degree abroad (USA) with scholarship after 30 from Sloan Fellows
– IIM Lucknow (IIML) IPMX one year MBA after 10 years experience
– MBA after 40 from ISB
– Sloan Fellows Program Review: MIT vs LBS vs Stanford – MBA after 30
– MS at Michigan Ross with scholarship for an older candidate with an over-represented profile
– MBA after 8 years experience: Student life in UK
And a special one to end the list:
– Granny gets an MBA: Oldest MBA student in the world?