The Tuesday Q&A: What B-schools Are More Open to Older Applicants?

QUESTION:

I’m 32 years old and I want to attend a full-time MBA program. I know full well that my age could be an issue, but I want that full-time MBA experience, so I’m going to go for it. What schools out there are more open to older applicants?

ANSWER:

I hear you, dude. There’s nothing quite like the b-school experience, and a lot of that has to do with the culture and experience of just being there, outside the classroom. So you shouldn’t have to give that up just because it took you a few extra years to come up with a career plan.

And, yeah, your age could be a bump in the road for you, but it’s not the end all, be all. When I was at HBS, there was a 35-year-old woman in my section. And there are older students in every section, at every school. It’s just not the norm; most b-school students are in the 26-29 range, so anything outside of that becomes “an obstacle.”

The key is proving to the adcom that you’re not lazy (“gosh, why’d it take Joe Smith so long to figure out what he wanted to do with his life?”), that you’re not stuck in a dead-end career (“Oh no, it’s almost too late for him to make a go at it”), and that you will roll up your sleeves in dig in.

But let’s get to what you really asked: which schools are more open to older applicants? Look, it changes every year (this year, schools are swinging younger, but next year, they could go in the other direction…) but right now, this is what I know:

Open to older applicants:

Wharton
Ross
Duke
Tuck
CBS
European programs

Like ‘em young:

HBS
Stanford
Yale

Again, nothing is set in stone and you could have a shot anywhere, if you play your cards right and present a smart application.  But you asked the question, so that’s my answer : )

Good luck out there,
Jon Frank

2012-2013 MBA Application Deadlines Are Rolling Out…