Ten years ago, the question on everyone’s mind was, “Am I too young?” Back then, the more experience the better…the older the better…
More recently, top schools such as Stanford and Harvard have stated that they are taking a closer look at younger candidates, and are even willing to admit candidates with no work experience. One reason behind this was that some candidates may be so successful two to three years out of school that they would not consider going back at that point. Thus, the schools would be missing an opportunity to admit some exceptional talent. Some applicants are just plain ready right out of college. A few have started and/or run a business in school, participated significantly in a family business, or gained applicable experiences via other avenues. They have focused goals, are personally mature, and are truly ready to take the plunge. Yes, some of these schools are opening their eyes more to less experienced candidates, but this does not mean that younger candidates overall have a better chance of success.
Younger candidates will have their fair share of challenges. They will need to work harder to prove that they possess the focus, confidence, and maturity necessary to excel in an MBA program. They will also need to prove that they have enough insights and experiences to be a contributing member of the student population. Being a subscriber to the Wall Street Journal since first grade will only get you so far; personal experiences are far more valuable to other students’ classroom experiences. Finally, younger applicants will need to convince the admissions committee that they have focused career goals and solid reasons for going back to school so soon after their undergraduate degree.
Even if you are young, if you can achieve all of the above, you can have a good shot at getting in to a program that is right for you, and should not be worried that you have not hit some imaginary cut-off age. When deciding if you want to apply and where you want to apply, your age might be one element you consider, but it should never be the sole deciding factor.
For more robust guidance on your MBA application essays, check out the Stacy Blackman Consulting Essay Guide Series – school specific guides with essay tips, sample essays, information on what your target schools value and more.
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