Applying to Business School: Tips for Older MBA Applicants

MBA EssaysWhile researching potential MBA programs, many applicants find themselves older than the typical student at their target school. Thus, they ask themselves whether they should still bother to apply, and how they should distinguish themselves from younger business school applicants

As with any MBA candidate, statistics such as GPA and GMAT score do matter, however the emphasis on these quantitative aspects of the application is somewhat shifted for older candidates to the factors discussed below. Although these are important factors for candidates of any age to keep in mind, they are more critical for older ones to use to their advantage:

Display Greater Focus
If you are an older MBA applicant, the Admissions Committee will expect you to be more mature. As such, you should show greater self-awareness and display more specific direction than younger applicants do. Clearly identify why you need an MBA, what you want to pursue post-MBA, and how the specific program you are applying to will help you achieve those goals. These goals could include personal development, knowledge gaps that you need to fill, and courses you are looking forward to take.

Discussing your future goals in a focused way is especially important if you are applying to one-year programs, as you will not have as much time during these programs to feel your way around or explore. You will want to present to the Admissions Committee that you know what you need, and that you know how you will use what their program offers.

Leverage Wealth of Interesting Experiences
As an older candidate, you will likely have gone through more experiences at work, in life, and in the community. Interesting experiences could range from exciting strategic shifts to crisis management. Using the knowledge you have gained from these episodes and their aftermath as fodder for your essays not only allows you to highlight your personal qualities and how you have developed, but also to show what you can contribute to classroom discussions.

MBA programs consider the diversity of experiences, perspectives, and networks their students bring to campus to be assets. With more professional and life experiences under your belt, use these to differentiate and strengthen yourself from other, less-experienced candidates.

Play Up Leadership Abilities & Expertise
At this point, it will also help to showcase how you have been able to lead teams, accomplish goals, or mentor others. Even if your official job responsibilities do not directly involved leadership over others, you can still highlight leadership experiences at work, and at your extracurricular activities, in other ways.

You may share the realizations you have gained through your leadership experiences and how they have impacted your leadership style, as well as the motivations behind them. Relate how an MBA will further develop these and help you make an impact on the world around you. You may also identify specific valuable expertise that you can contribute and that your peers can leverage in the classroom, especially if these are in a rare field.

Doing all of the above will present you as someone who will use his or her vast experiences to enrich the experiences of their peers, and of the school community, as a whole.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.