First of all, who is considered an older applicant? Now there is not a universal cutoff that determines what an older or younger applicant is, but rather there is more of a guideline. Generally you want to base this determination off of the average age of the student body. The average age for most of the top full time MBA programs is typically about 27 or 28 years old, but as we learned from our GMAT prep, averages don’t tell us a lot. Even looking at the middle 80% age range of full-time MBA programs, most students are between 25 and 31 years old.
So, if you have more than 7 years of work experience, at the time of application, you will be at the upper end of the range. In other words, if you’ll be 30 or older at the start of the program, you’ll be above average. There is no cut off, though.
Every year, full time programs admit applicants in their mid 30s, however these people are outliers. Just as a candidate with a GMAT score that falls outside of the middle 80% of a school’s range must justify how they will succeed academically, an applicant that falls outside the middle 80% in age range must justify why they want an MBA, why now, and how they’ll fit with the program both culturally and professionally.
If you are an older applicant, what can you do to maximize your chances of admission?
Make it clear why you want an MBA now.
Admissions officers are going to see your age, your college graduation date and the years of work experience you bring, so there’s no sense in trying to hide or downplay this aspect of your profile. Instead, make sure you have a clear and coherent response for why you want to get your MBA now, how it fits into your professional path, and how receiving a full-time MBA is the best possible path to achieve your goals. Know that the admissions committee will be looking at this portion of your application with extra scrutiny. I guarantee that every 32 year old who was admitted to a top-tier, full-time program had a very clear and compelling argument for why they should be there. Nobody stumbles into a top-tier program with 10 years of work experience who simply said, “I’m looking to expand my career opportunities and improve my management skills” without providing significantly more detail.
Also, don’t forget to do thorough research on each program to which you are applying. Talk with current students and recent alums who were a little older in their class and pick their brains on school culture, the ways they got involved, and their overall experience. Get on your target schools’ websites to find out what clubs interest you most and include these in your application essays to show the admissions committee that you’re serious about getting involved! At Veritas Prep, we have expert consultants for older candidates and can help you refine your professional goals, why you need an MBA now, and how you will contribute to your class.
Consider applying to a part time or EMBA program.
Many business schools, including Stanford and Wharton, offer other programs such as EMBA, part-time and executive education tracks that may be better suited to candidates who will not likely take advantage of the immersive experience of a full-time MBA. If you have 7 or 8 or more years of work experience, be sure you are considering all of your options. Leaving your full-time job for two years is not always the wisest option for people later in their careers and will not provide the same ROI as for younger candidates. Think through which program makes the most sense for where you are at in your life and career and what you desire out of your MBA experience. Generally the part-time and EMBA programs attract an older applicant pool given the structure and set-up of the programs. With whatever program makes the most sense for you make a strong case for how the offerings best align with your development needs.
If you need help with any of the advice above or have questions, give Veritas Prep a call at 800-925-7737 to speak with an MBA admissions expert, or request a free MBA admissions consultation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! For more insights and advice, check out Veritas Prep’s blog, and be sure to find Veritas Prep on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
Veritas Prep is the largest privately-owned test prep and admissions consulting company in the world. Since 2002, Veritas Prep has helped thousands of applicants gain admission to their dream schools using its team of experienced consultants and a personalized game plan for each client.