MBA Application Advice for Older Applicants

SAT/ACTFirst of all, who is considered an older applicant?

Now there is not a universal cutoff that determines what an older or younger applicant is, but rather there is more of a guideline. Generally you want to base this determination off of the average age of the student body. The average age for most of the top full time MBA programs is typically about 27 or 28 years old, but as we learned from our GMAT prep, averages don’t tell us a lot. Even looking at the middle 80% age range of full-time MBA programs, most students are between 25 and 31 years old.  

So, if you have more than 7 years of work experience, at the time of application, you will be at the upper end of the range.  In other words, if you’ll be 30 or older at the start of the program, you’ll be above average. There is no cut off, though.

Every year, full time programs admit applicants in their mid 30s, however these people are outliers, Just as a candidate with a GMAT score that falls outside of the middle 80% of a school’s range must justify how they will succeed academically, an applicant that falls outside the middle 80% in age range must justify why they want an MBA, why now, and how they’ll fit with the program both culturally and professionally.

If you are an older applicant, what can you do to maximize your chances of admission?  


Make it clear why you want an MBA now.

Admissions officers are going to see your age, your college graduation date and the years of work experience you bring, so there’s no sense in trying to hide or downplay this aspect of your profile.  Instead, make sure you have a clear and coherent response for why you want to get your MBA now, how it fits into your professional path, and how receiving a full-time MBA is the best possible path to achieve your goals.  Know that the admissions committee will be looking at this portion of your application with extra scrutiny. I guarantee that every 32 year old who was admitted to a top-tier, full-time program had a very clear and compelling argument for why they should be there. Nobody stumbles into a top-tier program with 10 years of work experience who simply said, “I’m looking to expand my career opportunities and improve my management skills” without providing significantly more detail.  

Demonstrate fit.  

Also, don’t forget to do thorough research on each program to which you are applying.  Talk with current students and recent alums who were a little older in their class and pick their brains on school culture, the ways they got involved, and their overall experience. Get on your target schools’ websites to find out what clubs interest you most and include these in your application essays to show the admissions committee that you’re serious about getting involved!  At Veritas Prep, we have expert consultants for older candidates and can help you refine your professional goals, why you need an MBA now, and how you will contribute to your class.

Consider applying to a part time or EMBA program.  

Many business schools, including Stanford and Wharton, offer other programs such as EMBA, part-time and executive education tracks that may be better suited to candidates who will not likely take advantage of the immersive experience of a full-time MBA.  If you have 7 or 8 or more years of work experience, be sure you are considering all of your options. Leaving your full-time job for two years is not always the wisest option for people later in their careers and will not provide the same ROI as for younger candidates.  Think through which program makes the most sense for where you are at in your life and career and what you desire out of your MBA experience. Generally the part-time and EMBA programs attract an older applicant pool given the structure and set-up of the programs. With whatever program makes the most sense for you make a strong case for how the offerings best align with your development needs.

If you need help with any of the advice above contact us, we’d be happy to help.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free consultation. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

2 Ways to Prepare for Your Campus Visit

Business School VisitWhile time consuming (and often expensive), visiting business schools is a key component of your application process. While you have the opportunity to learn about the campus environment, culture, and student body, the admissions committee has the opportunity to learn about you.

So, where do you begin?

1) Do Your Research
First, do your research. Your business school visit begins long before you actually step foot onto a campus. You will need to narrow down your MBA search so you know which schools you most want to visit. During your initial research, determine what factors are important to you in a business school community. Does the school foster a collaborative environment, or is it more competitive? Does it have a larger or a smaller class size? Do most students commute to campus or do they live within walking distance?

Some of these factors may be more important to you than others. If you’ve always lived in an urban environment, do you want to continue that lifestyle and look into NYU Stern or UCLA Anderson, or are you interested in living in a rural community like at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business? If you are going to business school with a partner, you might want to consider the percentage of partnered students in your target programs as well.

Determine which environment you will thrive in. The environment makes up the campus culture, which is an important thing to understand about your target programs before you visit.

2) Start Networking
Once you’ve determined a handful of schools that you want to visit, start networking (if you haven’t already)! Part of your initial research process might involve networking with alumni and admissions officers, but if it doesn’t, now is your chance to get to know some of the people involved with your target programs.

There are several MBA admissions events throughout the world all year long. You can meet with admissions representatives from top programs at events like The MBA Tour and the QS World MBA Tour. At these events, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know admissions representatives, alumni, or both! Talk about your goals and why you are interested in their program. They’ll be able to talk about program specifics that will help with your post-MBA goals, or put you in touch with people who know more.

You can also start to reach out to the leaders of the clubs you are interested in joining once you get to campus. These conversations will help guide your application essays and give you a stronger sense of the school before you hit submit. If you can showcase your understanding of and fit with the program, it makes your applications even stronger!

As you can see, campus visits take a lot of time, so start early. A great place to start your initial search is with the free Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools. With this tool, you’ll learn about schools’ class sizes, average GMAT scores, percentage of partnered students, and so much more. The networks that you start to build with this information will come in handy when you begin visiting campuses. Check out our next post to learn more!

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! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. You can read more articles by her here

How Much Does The MBA Program You Attend Affect Your Lifetime Earnings?

Business School AdmissionsBloomberg BusinessWeek has just published the results of its second annual study of the lifetime earnings of graduates from the world’s top MBA programs, in partnership with PayScale. While the data are interesting, the headline’s not necessarily earth-shattering.

The key takeaway? Graduates of HBS, Wharton, and other ultra-elite business schools earn more money over the span of their careers than grads from any other MBA program. HBS grads earn the most, comfortably ahead of second-place Wharton. While these numbers are certainly interesting, there were a few other numbers in the article that piqued our interest more.

What Does It All Mean?
I’m not going to tear the study apart; I think it’s a really fascinating subject, one that gets right at the heart of what we do here at Veritas Prep. But, as the article states, the study does have its shortcomings. First, the study excludes harder-to-measure compensation items such as stock options, meaning that it might look at the Stanford GSB grad who joined Google back in 1999 as a relative pauper.

(As an aside, check out the guy in the picture in the new BusinessWeek article. Looks like he’s driving a car that can float in water, some sort of high-end amphibious convertible. We want one!)

Also, as far as I can tell, the survey doesn’t compare apples to apples as far as carer paths go. Of course the MBA who builds a fast-track career on Wall Street is going to make more money than the grad who joins a leadership development program at a medium-sized manufacturing company. Does that mean that the former grad necessarily got more bang for his buck from his MBA program? (Or, is an MBA “not worth it” unless you’re going to embark on one of those seven-figure career paths?)

What We Really Want to Know
The real question that we’d like to answer — and, again, this study deserves credit for getting closer to the answer than most others ever have — is how much more a business school grad makes over the course of his career because he attended a given MBA program. Undoubtedly, a large part of the appeal of a top business school is that it opens the doors to those seven-figure banking careers (and attractive management consulting gigs, terrific leadership development programs, challenging brand management opportunities, etc.). But, what numbers the study uncovers will be heavily impacted by what careers a given school’s graduates pursue. A school that sends a high percentage of its grads to investment banks will certainly show higher lifetime earnings than a school that sends a large number of grads into the non-profit sector.

One way to at least partly solve this problem would be for the study to break out graduates by job or industry. That may prove challenging because graduates switch jobs a lot, and in some cases breaking down the numbers may make a certain school’s numbers too small to be statistically reliable, but it would be an interesting exercise.

Intriguing Stats Regarding Salary Increases
Beyond that, we were intrigued by the measure of how much certain business school grads’ compensation increases over 20 years. Interestingly, the average increase for graduates of the top 45 MBA programs was 75%, which mirrors the average increase that the general U.S. population sees. Of course, MBA graduates’ salaries start out much higher than most typical U.S. workers’ so you’re talking about a larger dollar gain over those 20 years, but this was still interesting to us. If a business school prepares a young professional to lead, wouldn’t you expect top business school grads’ salaries to increase faster than that of the typical American? It’s an interesting question.

And, some top MBA programs — such as Ross, Yale, Sloan, and Tuck — have graduates whose salaries increase significantly less than the average American’s. That’s not a list a school would want to be on! But, again, there are so many factors in play (including, as one MIT Sloan representative pointed out, the fact that many grads may go into entrepreneurship, which may produce an artificially low salary number for some grads). So, again, very interesting numbers, but be sure to take them all with a grain of salt.

Let’s Do Some Research!
Finally, getting back to the question I raised earlier — how to know how much a business school is responsible for a graduate’s lifetime earnings — probably the only way to truly answer the question would be to conduct a controlled study from start to finish. Find a population of promising young professionals who are considering a variety of career paths, randomly assign them to each of the country’s top business schools, and then watch their earnings over the next 20 years. Now that would be an interesting study.

Anyone interested in being randomly assigned to Harvard?

If you’re planning on applying to business school this year, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with one of our business school admissions experts today. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

The Best Way to Get to Know a Business School

Continuing our new MBA admissions video series, this week we answer the question of how an applicant can get to know his target business schools. The question came up at a recent discussion among some of Veritas Prep’s admissions experts, and we all agreed that the most powerful way to get to know a school still is the one that takes the most effort: visit the school!

The explosion of schools’ web sites, video tours, online communities, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, etc., has made it very easy to start researching schools. None of these, however, can replace the value of visiting campus and having lunch with a current student, sitting in on a class, and seeing for yourself what makes a school unique vs. other top MBA programs. School visits not only help you learn whether or not a school is a good fit for you, but they will also help your admissions chances by allowing you to demonstrate your true enthusiasm for the program.

(You can go to YouTube and watch the video in a larger size.)

Of course, you may not always be able to visit every school that you’re considering. These trips can be costly and require you to take time out of work. But, if at all possible, given how competitive the MBA admissions environment is, we always recommend that an applicant at least visit his top choice to make sure that it’s really the best possible fit.

For more help in selecting your target schools, Veritas Prep offers the Diagnostic Session, and one-hour consultation with an admissions expert who can help you narrow down your school choices and evaluate the best — and most realistic — business schools for you. Just visit this page and scroll down to “Diagnostic Session” to enroll!