There’s a very persistent myth that MBA admissions committees “don’t like” older applicants, especially the over-30 types. Statistically, that seems like a reasonable assumption: the average age for students at most full-time U.S. MBA programs is in the mid-20s, and only a small percentage of students are over 30. That means that MBA programs are committing age discrimination, right? And it means that if you’re over 30, you’re probably hosed in the full-time MBA admissions game… right?
Um, no. MBA admissions committees care deeply about “fit”: they want to admit candidates who will be successful members of the MBA community, and they want to admit candidates who will be easily “recruitable” when they graduate. But for the most part, MBA admissions committees don’t really care about your age, exactly.
Odds are good that if you’re an older MBA applicant, your career has probably evolved in a very specific direction, and a general management degree such as an MBA might not be the best option at this point in your life. But if that isn’t the case for you—and if your career trajectory reeks of post-MBA success—then your chances of admission might be better than you think, even if you’re getting a little bit grey around the temples.
Don’t believe me? Then I strongly suggest that you venture over to one of my all-time favorite MBA applicant blogs, the aptly named MBAover30.com. The blogger is actually in his mid-30s, and he was admitted to Booth, MIT, and Wharton for the class of 2015. He’s a great writer, and he knows what he’s talking about.
A few posts that I particularly appreciate:
• MBA Admissions Age Discrimination and Rookie Hype. My favorite line: “…the over 30 demographic… has wholesale self-selected out of the full-time MBA admissions process.” No, really: the adcom doesn’t hate you just for being old. Older folks just don't bother to apply to full-time programs very often. • Why I’ve chosen the Wharton School of Business. Yes, your friendly blogger appears to know absolutely everything there is to know about Wharton. And yes, his unbelievably thorough research definitely helped him get in. • The Truth vs. Playing the Game in MBA Admissions Essays. Stop lying about your experiences, people. It usually doesn’t help. • Getting in to a Top Business School. My favorite line: “Most people who’ve tried to cut corners on the GMAT have ended up marching to their own funeral on test day.” I couldn't agree more.
And if you need more perspectives from a successful MBA applicant, check out the archives of the always-wonderful Money 9111, who certainly faced some hurdles during the application process, much like the fine fellow at MBAover30. Both bloggers would probably agree that the MBA admissions process is much more nuanced and complicated than we sometimes think; you won't necessarily get completely blackballed just for a single weakness in your profile. And you probably won't get blackballed at all just for being over 30.