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What Older Students Should Know About Applying For Business

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Michael@VeritasPrep Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts
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What Older Students Should Know About Applying For Business

Post Sat Apr 23, 2016 4:41 pm
Helpful Tips on Applying to Business School

Business schools often seem full of 20-something year olds who have a hunger and the energy for education. Being an older student gives you a different narrative. But what exactly is an ‘older applicant’? An older applicant is someone three or more years older than the average age for a given school for example Columbia University’s average age for MBA applicants is 28 together with Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, Kellogg University, Tuck University, and Michigan Business School. The average age in Harvard University is 27. Harvard Business School also recently disclosed that the latest entering class includes 23 students, who got their undergraduate degrees a decade or more ago, nearly twice as many as this year’s graduating class. It is therefore obvious that if you're 31 or older, you are an older applicant.
However, in Europe, the idea is slightly different having an average age of 28.6 at London Business School and close to 6 years work experience. International Institute of Management Development (IMD) has its average years of work experience close to 7years, Cambridge University averages at 6 years and Oxford averages at 5.8 years. Such statistics, clearly show that the number of older applicants is quite low.
Some of the main factors as to why there are less old MBA applicants include self-selection, opportunity cost, and the desire for change. The opportunity cost of an individual who already has a successful career and has upper level management positions and a higher salary can appear disruptive and unnecessary. Additionally, many older applicants opt to apply for a part time or Executive MBA programs.
So what are admission committees considering as they go through the list of applicants? The top Business schools in the United States are focused on young and smart candidates who can be molded easily rather than experienced candidates. Christie St-John, director of admissions at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management says ”while more is generally better, too much can be a problem, since some recruiters believe older candidates are too set in their ways”
MBA admissions committees highly consider the post-MBA employability of any student they would admit. It is definitely harder for employers to take up older employees due to the fact that younger applicant more closely fits the expectations of the recruiters. Leah Derus, an MBA MIT graduate and MBA Admissions Consultant in NYC stated that the two reasons as to why employers hire younger candidates is due to the fact that they want to maintain a certain age hierarchy within their organization and to pay their employees cheaply.
However, being an older applicant may give you an edge in how and what you will contribute as a classmate. One way in particular is that older applicants tend to have experience across industries and functions, which creates a multi-dimensional, dynamic perspective.
Sara E. Neher, assistant dean for MBA admissions at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, says that another advantage of being an older MBA applicant is that they have clear sense of why they’re getting an MBA and what they plan to do with it after graduation.

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