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The Tuesday Q&A: Am I Too Old to get an MBA?

August 02, 2011 :: Admissionado Team

Got a question about those MBA applications? Stuck on an essay? Need a little clarity? Chances are, you’re not the only one.

Thankfully, Admissionado founder and Harvard MBA Jon Frank has an answer… for everything admissions-related. And he’s going to share all of his answers with you, right here, every Tuesday.

This week, we’re talking about age. Are you ever too old to get an MBA? Let’s find out…

I joined military service after graduating from college and have been retired from the army for seven years. I am now 33 years old. I took GMAT two years ago, so my score can still be used to apply for my MBA this year. By the time I’d begin a program, though, I’ll be 34…and I’ll be 36 years old when I finish school.

Is that too old?

Happy to offer up some advice here. Yes, you will for sure be on the older side. This means that for US programs, you will need to do some research to see which programs are most open to older candidates. HBS, for example, is not, whereas Tuck, Ross, and Duke are.

From there, you should also consider European programs. There, the average age tends to be even 5 years OLDER than the range in the US. IMD, for example, is known for finding its graduates GREAT jobs (highest salaries) after graduation, and they specialize in older candidates. And yes, you will be able to find a job; the trick will be to convince the adcom that you are NOT at a dead-end in your current career. That’s not what they wanna see—they wanna know that for unusual reasons, you are just a bit older than most. You are still very eager and willing and able to roll up your sleeves alongside the younger folks, and work hard! Military service is a GREAT reason you are a few years behind. They are accustomed to this.

When I was in HBS we had one girl in my class who was 37. And, again, HBS typically does NOT admit older students; if it was possible there, it’s possible for anyone…. That is, if you account for this carefully in your app and apply to the right schools.

Hope that helps. And GOOD LUCK.

— Jon Frank

Got a question you want to ask Jon? Email info@admissionado.com!