Applying For The MBA As An Older Applicant
You’re in your late 30’s now and you want to pursue an MBA.
Still, you’ve heard what people say: The older you are, the harder it is to get into an MBA program.
Stacy Blackman, of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed how older applicants can successfully pursue an MBA.
The average age of full-time MBA students is 28. That doesn’t mean b-schools won’t accept older students interested in pursuing the higher degree (also see Am I Too Old For Harvard Business School?).
“Certainly, older MBA applicants do face certain obstacles,” Blackman writes. “But these applicants get into the top programs every year. If you know an MBA will advance your career, you can and should apply.”
Use Your Age To Your Advantage
Older MBA applicants can position themselves for success by conveying how they’ve progressed professionally.
“If you’re applying to an elite school like Harvard, which values great leadership, you should’ve already developed terrific leadership skills,” Blackman writes. “Many people with great leadership skills have achieved a lot by the time they near 40.”
Blackman says older applicants can use their age to their advantage by demonstrating their great achievements.
“Proving that you are a strong and accomplished 40-year-old leader, and balancing that with the fact that you want to improve in order to get to the next step, is tough to pull off,” Blackman writes. “That said, ‘old’ people are admitted every season! If they can demonstrate great achievement balanced with a legitimate need or desire to return to school, then they stand a decent chance.”
The Challenge of Opportunity Cost
Blackman does warn older applicants that the one major drawback to pursuing an MBA as an older candidate is opportunity cost.
“Mid-career professionals generally have larger salaries than younger applicants,” Blackman writes. “Sacrificing that income for up to two years to do a full-time MBA might not be feasible in many circumstances.”
However, that doesn’t mean that all options are off the table. Blackman says older applicants can consider other options for an MBA.
“Getting an EMBA is a great option for older candidates,” Blackman writes. “Many schools offer part-time programs for professionals who plan to continue working while studying.”