Why I’m Not Getting Either A Part-Time MBA Or An Executive MBA

MY STATUS AS A CAREER CHANGER

The abbreviated version of my goals include transitioning from full time employment and part time entrepreneurship to full time entrepreneurship. I also plan to do so within the same general industry that I work in 9 to 5, a fact that makes my goal a reasonable one that can easily be backed up with prior experience and training.

QUITTING THE JOB

Being that I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve never been particularly attached to jobs. Any job that I have ever had has served two purposes and two purposes only: 1) to pay bills while I worked something else on the side 2) to develop skills that I could use in the development of my own enterprise.

When you cross reference that little piece of info with the fact that I took a pay cut to come to my current job (it was about a 700% better opportunity for about 75% of the pay) it becomes apparent that I wear no “golden handcuffs” (job perks/pay so great that you have a hard time leaving, even when you hate the job itself–although, I love my current job; it was my previous job that I hated).

THE NECESSITY OF GETTING A FULL-TIME MBA

I’ve had some level of success in my past business ventures; however, it has never been enough to “take me over the top” (leading to burnout, then starting again from the drawing board). To that end, I’ve identified several skills that an MBA will provide. Additionally, the network of a strong MBA alumni (certain schools in particular) will be critical in helping me meet the goals that I will be outlining in my upcoming b-school application essays.

Finally, the experience that I am looking for is geared more toward transformation and less toward taking some classes to be a better “manager”. Honestly, the latter is just not an exciting enough reason for me to pay big bucks and sit in class for two years; I wouldn’t even bother with an MBA if that was all that I wanted to do with one.

THE HARD CLIMB OF TOP 10 MBA ADMISSIONS–POST 30

Once I accepted the reality that a full time MBA was the way for me to go I stumbled across pages of online op-eds and the like stating that “over 30″ MBA applicants to top 10-15 programs might have better chances of success by collectively donating our organs to the world’s largest pink slime factory; I disagree.

Though there is a persistent rumor that admissions rates are lower for older applicants, the opposite of that rumor may in fact be the case. Also, due to the common 30+ responsibilities (families, mortgages) that I mentioned earlier a full time MBA program is too much of a commitment for most people in my demographic; hence, few bother to apply to more than a local, part-time program to begin with.

Nevertheless, those of us who are over 30 have specific challenges to overcome if we hope to earn a spot at a top-rated business school. My search to identify and hedge against those challenges inspired me to start this blog.

MBAOver30 offers the perspective of a 30-something, California-based entrepreneur who is applying to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Northwestern, Berkeley, UCLA and the University of Southern California. He hopes to gain acceptance to the Class of 2015 and blogs at MBAOver30.

Previous posts on Poets&Quants:

How I Totally Overestimated The MBA Admissions Process

Musings on MBA Failophobia

Letting Go Of An MBA Safety School

When A Campus Visit Turns Off An MBA Applicant

  • Dan Gonzalez

    Could you tell us which one put you in their waiting list? To not waste time and money applying there.

  • Bub

    I am white and when I lifted heavy weights I always got asked if I played football or told that I should play football.

  • pjordan29

    Ditto the reasons from Smi_josepha. However, my reasoning is much, much more simple: I wanted an MBA from a top tier school and I just happen to live right down the street from one (literally) and they have an EMBA program, of which my company will pay 25%. I am very lucky to be in this spot.

  •  Congrats Sherry! I’ve seen your comments around the site and I was hoping you’d block out the naysayers and apply anyways.  I’m so happy to see that you were admitted to your 1st choice school.  Where will you be heading in the fall?

  • You have a valuable perspective on this issue. And I agree that it is not age, but personal fit that matters most. There is a case to be made for full time, part time and executive MBAs for different people with different circumstances. Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

  • congratulations!

  • Guest

    I wish you the best of luck. I applied to two of the best Canadian schools for full-time MBA. One accepted me without hesitation (and with some money, too), while the other put me on the wait list, then got back to me and said I’d be accepted into their part-time program, but not full-time, as I had too much “experience” (read: too old for them). I’m 42. Glad to be going to where I’m wanted.

  • Smi_josepha

    As somebody who is getting a part-time MBA, I love the idea.  It has nothing to do with being over 30.  If people focus on age, they’re focusing on the wrong thing.  Here’s why I love it:
    1.  My network is simply more valuable.  My classmates all have a lot more experience and the maturity that goes with it.  And they all are working right now in a diverse set of industries.  We’re no longer competing for jobs, we’re trying to leverage each other’s jobs.
    2.  I apply what I learn as I learn it.  Imagine studying something in semester 2 and then not using it until 2 years later.  Compare that to studying something on Saturday and using it on Monday.
    3.  I won’t be broke when I graduate.  This means that I don’t have to accept a job I don’t like just because I’m neck deep in debt.  It means I can launch a company at any point I want to.  It means I’m not desperate when I get out of school.

    Thinking back, if I could travel back in time for my engineering degree, I’d do it part-time as well.  There are things that only school can teach you and there are other things that only a real job can teach you.  Part-time education gives you both. 

  • Guest

    I wish to remain anonymous, will that be alright?

  • BennyJH

     It should be as easy as emailing or calling the admissions office of the school.  I am sure they would be interested in what you have to say. 

  • Anonymous

    Where can one report fraud on an MBA application?  I know somebody who made up things on his application, lied about his job experience and got an admit from one of the top schools!

  • Guest

    Can one report fraud on an MBA application?  I know somebody who made up things on his application, lied about his job experience and got an admit from one of the top schools!

  • Thanks for the encouragement everyone.

  • If you are in the “over 30” group and want to join a full-time MBA program then you face an admissions challenge not shared by fellow applicants under 30: you are more likely to negatively impact the ranking of the business school that admits you.

    For example, the Financial Times (FT) uses criteria such as salary differential and class employment level at 3-months post-graduation as means to rank full-time MBA programs. While there are individual exceptions, in general more senior graduates from full-time MBA programs take longer to place through on-campus recruiting and experience a smaller salary differential.

    There are clear personal and career-related goals that guide applicants to the MBA path best suited for their needs. Indeed, in my experience not too many people who invest the time to clearly understand their goals are really struggling to identify the path that appears best suited to achieve those results. If you fall into this “over 30” group and, thanks to your careful analysis, feel best-suited for a full-time MBA path then think ahead strategically about the admissions process and how best to present your case.

    On the top of the list of what a more senior applicant can offer to an MBA program is the ability to enhance the classroom experience for everyone in the program. Peer-to-peer learning is a valuable part of an MBA experience and being able to put more than others on the table in this regard is something to highlight.

    With regard to post-MBA career goals, the “over 30” applicant has to allay the fears of the admissions officers that he or she will not spend months languishing without a job when the program wraps-up. In general, the firms that come on-campus to interview are looking for the mainstream MBA candidates when it comes to seniority and experience. A more senior MBA student vying for the same on-campus interviews as a classmate with, say, 10 years less experience is going to have to convince the employer that he or she really doesn’t want to be compensated for that additional experience and will be just as keen and satisfied with a job designed for someone with a decade less of organizational experience. If possible, a more senior candidate should be able to present a post-MBA career path that does not depend on the same on-campus recruiting process designed for the mainstream candidates in order to convince the school that he or she can hit the ground running.

    These are not insurmountable hurdles and, as I wrote above, there are plenty of exceptions. In order for a more senior applicant to be successful in being admitted to a full-time MBA program it is important to understand the concerns you present to the school and present your case for admissions with these in mind.

    Best wishes for success in your studies and careers,

    Daniel Szpiro

    Dean
    Jack Welch Management Institute
    Strayer University

  • If you are in the “over 30” group and want to join a full-time MBA program then you face an admissions challenge not shared by fellow applicants under 30: you are more likely to negatively impact the ranking of the business school that admits you.

    For example, the Financial Times (FT) uses criteria such as salary differential and class employment level at 3-months post-graduation as means to rank full-time MBA programs. While there are individual exceptions, in general more senior graduates from full-time MBA programs take longer to place through on-campus recruiting and experience a smaller salary differential.

    There are clear personal and career-related goals that guide applicants to the MBA path best suited for their needs. Indeed, in my experience not too many people who invest the time to clearly understand their goals are really struggling to identify the path that appears best suited to achieve those results. If you fall into this “over 30” group and, thanks to your careful analysis, feel best-suited for a full-time MBA path then think ahead strategically about the admissions process and how best to present your case.

    On the top of the list of what a more senior applicant can offer to an MBA program is the ability to enhance the classroom experience for everyone in the program. Peer-to-peer learning is a valuable part of an MBA experience and being able to put more than others on the table in this regard is something to highlight.

    With regard to post-MBA career goals, the “over 30” applicant has to allay the fears of the admissions officers that he or she will not spend months languishing without a job when the program wraps-up. In general, the firms that come on-campus to interview are looking for the mainstream MBA candidates when it comes to seniority and experience. A more senior MBA student vying for the same on-campus interviews as a classmate with, say, 10 years less experience is going to have to convince the employer that he or she really doesn’t want to be compensated for that additional experience and will be just as keen and satisfied with a job designed for someone with a decade less of organizational experience. If possible, a more senior candidate should be able to present a post-MBA career path that does not depend on the same on-campus recruiting process designed for the mainstream candidates in order to convince the school that he or she can hit the ground running.

    These are not insurmountable hurdles and, as I wrote above, there are plenty of exceptions. In order for a more senior applicant to be successful in being admitted to a full-time MBA program it is important to understand the concerns you present to the school and present your case for admissions with these in mind.

    Best wishes for success in your studies and careers,

    Daniel Szpiro

    Dean
    Jack Welch Management Institute
    Strayer University 

     

  • Agreed; and asinine is not even the word for it. One of the things that irritates me most is how many admissions consultants automatically try to push 30+ candidates into Part Time, EMBA and European programs without even hearing about their goals. I saw this recently in a gmat website forum and it really got under my skin; it’s so friggin dismissive. http://www.mbaover30.com

  • Horray for you Sherry! I’d love to hear more about your story; and I’m sure that my readers would benefit from your perspective as well. http://www.mbaover30.com 

  • I’m looking forward to the experience Michael. Thank you for contributing to the discussion! http://www.mbaover30.com 

  • Guest

    Congrats!!!  People need to realize that everyone’s situation is different and using 30 as the over/under line is asinine.

  • Sherry

    Bravo! I, too, am over 30 and got the executive/part-time MBA question over and over. I was so scared by the comments that anyone over 30 had such a bad chance of getting into a good program that I was in a near panic. My reasons for choosing a full time program were very much the same as yours (though I am not an entrepreneur) with the added reason that I didn’t want to take the extra time that is required for part-time education. I held my breath and submitted applications to a range of schools, always keeping in mind that if the over 30 prejudice was true, I could go part-time if necessary.

    I am happy to report that I got in my first choice school and got a nice scholarship, too. So, a big bronx cheer to the naysayers who told me that my age was going to hurt me and I should lower my expectations 

  • I went back to get my full-time MBA at age 38, and even worked in the graduate business school 20 hours a week, because I came up with the same group of reasons as you. And, aside from people asking if I am a black pro athlete, I got the same questions.

    My experience was great. I was in a class of around 100 and although we had several 30-somethings, I was as close to 40 as they were 30, and I was the oldest in the class. 

    Being the oldest in the class carries some implied responsibility, I believed at least. I ended up winning a mentorship award for helping other first and second year students, since I had significant work experience and volunteered quite a bit of my time to help anyone who needed it in the program, however I could.

    A few eye-openers for me was that I had forgotten a lot of stuff I learned in undergrad as a business minor, such as stats and finance equations. Also, I needed to become an expert at the MS suite, fast. I was pretty good, but I spent a lot of time mastering excel and powerpoint very quickly. My classmates were already very proficient. Not having been in a classroom in so long was strange at first as well. Much more modern, of course. 

    Although I’ve run businesses that required for me to manage younger generations, it’s different working with them as colleagues in teams. Invariably, they looked to me to lead every group project, which I’ll bet you experience as well. I would recommend accepting different group roles, instead being the “natural” leader because of a few grey hairs every time. 

    At the same time, I was REALLY impressed with how smart, talented and driven my classmates were. It was so much fun to interact with them and be surrounded by so many amazing people. And, if you are still a single man, the co-ed factor is nice to be a part of as well.You’ll be back in a very large pool of educated, very intelligent and attractive young ladies. 

    In short, I will bet you love going back full-time. It’s rewarding and exciting to collaborate with so many great minds and will give you a very new and different perspective on business and yourself. You may also think much more globally and in integrated systems upon graduation.

    Good luck!