Applying To B-School As An Older Applicant
At most top B-schools in the US, the average MBA age falls around 28 years old. For older applicants, the idea of entering the MBA world at a later age can be daunting.
But experts say there are several ways that older applicants can still be competitive when applying for their MBA. Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed tips for applying to B-school after years in the workforce.
DEMONSTRATE PROFESSIONAL GROWTH
One aspect that makes older applicants attractive to admissions committees is their linear career progression.
“The admissions team wants to admit students who continually seek to learn and advance their skills and leadership abilities,” Blackman writes. “Even if you have held the same job for several years, you should demonstrate career progression. This can be in the formal sense, with increasingly higher-level job titles. Or by pointing out how you have gradually taken on greater responsibilities.”
The best way to demonstrate professional growth, according to Blackman, is to convey it through your letters of recommendation.
“Coach your recommenders to address this upward trajectory in their letters of support specifically,” Blackman writes. “That will help convey your dedication to your professional development.”
SHOW LEADERSHIP SKILLS
Older applicants may have an edge over younger applicants when it comes to leadership experience. Blackman says it’s especially important to show strong leadership in your applications.
“The best MBA programs value outstanding leadership,” she writes. “If you are applying to Harvard Business School in your mid-30s, you better have already developed tremendous leadership skills and have a lot to show for them.”
To convey leadership, utilize your essays to show how you’ve led others.
“Try to paint a vivid picture of your most significant leadership challenge or of a time when you led with integrity or motivated a team to achieve a shared goal,” Blackman writes. “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.”
Fit is always important when it comes to the MBA – regardless of age. Blackman recommends choosing the right type of program for your goals.
“If you’re quite advanced in your career, research what type of program best fits your professional goals and personal life,” Blackman writes. “You may find that a part-time MBA program or an executive MBA program will allow you to meet your goals with greater flexibility and less disruption.”