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Older Applicant? How To Boost Your Acceptance Odds

While the average age for b-school applicants hovers around the mid-20s, that doesn’t necessarily mean older applicants are immediately cancelled out.

Stacy Blackman, of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed tips for older MBA applicants and how they can gain a competitive edge when applying to the MBA.


Blackman says older applicants will especially need to show how their career has progressed over the years when applying for the MBA.

“Avoid looking stagnant,” Blackman writes. “The admissions team wants to admit students who continually seek to learn and advance their skills and leadership abilities. Even if you have held the same job for several years, you should demonstrate career progression. This could be either in the formal sense, with increasingly higher-level job titles. Or, by pointing out how you have gradually taken on greater responsibilities.”

Additionally, Blackman says, it can be helpful to have recommenders highlight your career progression.

“Make sure to ask a current or recent manager for that recommendation,” Blackman writes. “A letter from a supervisor who worked with you eight years ago might raise a red flag. If you do select a recommender from the more distant past, make sure that you have really kept in touch and they can speak to your professional progression and work habits now.”


Experts also suggest that older applicants highlight strong leadership skills. This can be beneficial for older applicants, especially since younger applicants likely won’t have much leadership experience.

“For your essays, find professional or personal anecdotes that show how you have galvanized or improved the work of others,” Blackman writes. “Try to paint a vivid picture of your biggest leadership challenge, or of a time when you led with integrity or motivated a team to achieve a shared goal. You want to show how you always attempt to do more than a good job, and strive to leave your mark on whatever situation you’re in.”

Tyler Cormney, co-founder of MBA Prep School, says it’s important to know the difference between an individual accomplishment story and a leadership one.

“The best way to tell the difference is that a leadership achievement represents a result or outcome that you couldn’t and didn’t reach solely on your own,” Cormney writes for P&Q. “Leadership is about achieving your goals by harnessing the energy and ideas of other people.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, Poets & Quants

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