Updated: Nov 21
What exactly is an "older applicant"?
Every time I chat with an MBA applicant, I am always surprised by how many think there is a specific age cut-off for applying to business school. But the truth is that there is no particular age cut-off for business programs.
So, what does it mean to be an "older" MBA applicant?
There is no hard and fast definition of an older MBA applicant, but generally speaking, they are students who are returning to business school after taking a few years off. This could be for various reasons, such as raising a family, starting a business, or working in a different field.
Whatever the reason, older applicants have usually gained some valuable real-world experience that can make them stand out from their younger counterparts. So don’t let your age stop you from pursuing an MBA – here are some tips that can help you stand out in the application process.
Highlight Career Progression
Older applicants to MBA programs often have an impressive array of professional experience. Highlighting your career progression in your application will show admissions committees that you're a motivated and driven individual who is ready for the rigors of business school.
However, this can sometimes make it difficult to succinctly convey one's career progression on a resume or in an application essay. So how can you ensure that your application reflects your experience and accomplishments?
Here are some tips for highlighting your career journey in a way that will impress admissions committees.
Tip #1. Focus on the skills and experiences that you've gained throughout your career.
Don't list job titles and dates - try to give a snapshot of what you accomplished in each role. What challenges have you faced? How did you overcome them?
Tip #2. Be prepared to talk about how your previous roles have led you to pursue an MBA.
Start with your current role and then work backward. It's important to articulate how your previous roles have led you to this point. How did your current position come about? What skills and experiences have you gained in your current role that prepared you for business school?
Tip #3. Ask for recommendations from people who can speak to your professional accomplishments.
The best way to make your career journey stand out is to ask for recommendations from people who can speak to your professional accomplishments. Not only will this give admissions committees a sense of your work history, but it will also provide insights into your character and motivations.
To get the most impactful recommendations, be sure to ask people who know you well and can highlight specific examples of your successes. When asking for recommendations, give your contacts plenty of time to write a thoughtful letter - last-minute requests are often less compelling.
Demonstrate Strong Leadership as an Older Applicant
Older MBA applicants may feel they have an edge in the admissions process. After all, maturity and experience come with age. However, more than simply being older is needed to guarantee the admissions process. Mature MBA applicants must demonstrate strong leadership skills.
Here are ways to showcase your leadership skills and make yourself stand out from the crowd.
Demonstrate your confidence in the interview.
If you can show that you're a confident leader in the interview, it will go a long way toward convincing the admissions committee that you're the right candidate for their program. This means being able to articulate your accomplishments and goals for the future. It also means being able to handle difficult questions with poise and grace.
Plus, it'll allow you to show off your wit and charm! So don't be afraid to let your personality shine through in the interview - it could be just what you need to stand out from the crowd.
Write a solid personal statement.
In your personal statement, you'll have an opportunity to share your leadership experiences and highlight what makes you unique. Be sure to focus on how your leadership skills have helped you in both personal and professional settings. It would be best if you also discussed any challenges you have faced as a leader and how you coped with them.
You should also explain why you want to pursue an MBA and how you believe it will help you attain your long-term career goals. By demonstrating your leadership skills and explaining how this will help you to achieve your goals, you can increase your chances of being admitted to the b-school of your choice.
Reflect on your experiences.
Nobody's career is linear, and admissions committees understand that. If you've taken a non-traditional path or faced any challenges along the way, don't be afraid to talk about them. Thinking about how different situations have made you who you are today can be incredibly valuable when crafting your career story.
Admissions committees respect applicants who are honest about their good and bad experiences. Be honest about any detours or setbacks. Don't be afraid to be candid about any challenges you've faced along the way, and take some time to write down what you've learned.
Choose the Right Program
For anyone considering a return to school later in life, getting an MBA can be a great way to further one's career and earn a higher salary. However, choosing a program that best fits your needs is vital as an older applicant.
Here are some tips for narrowing down your choices:
1) Consider your goals:
What do you hope to achieve with an MBA? Are you looking to switch careers, start your own business, or gain more leadership experience? Many different types of business programs are available, so make sure you pick one that aligns with your goals.
2) Look at the curriculum:
The coursework involved in an MBA program can vary significantly from school to school. Make sure you look at the syllabus beforehand to know what to expect.
3) Consider the location:
One of the most important factors when choosing a program is its location. Do you want to study in a big city or somewhere more rural? Consider your lifestyle and needs when making this decision.
4) Think about timing:
Many programs have strict deadlines, so check them before applying. If you don't meet all the requirements, don't be discouraged – there may be other programs that would work better for you.
Age can be both an advantage and a disadvantage when applying to business school. Older applicants can often be at edge compared to their younger counterparts as they may have more work experience and are more mature. They may also be more focused on their goals and better understand what they want to achieve.
However, age can also be a disadvantage. Older applicants may have gaps in their resumes and may be competing against applicants who are just starting their careers. But by following this advice and strategies, you can successfully get into MBA and achieve your career goals.
And if you're still thinking you're a little older going back to school for your MBA, you're definitely not alone, and Mr. MBA is here to help you every step of the way!
We know this will be a really important stepping stone in your career, and we want to ensure you have everything you need to succeed. We offer personalized advising, flexible course options, and a community of students and alumni who are ready to help you reach your goals. Contact us today, and we'll show you how you can get accepted into your dream business school!